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Although Szeki Chan seems right at home in her sleek, Lower East Side boutique, only a few years ago she was hawking her jewelry from a vintage cabinet on the sidewalk, just down the block. “I was shocked when I sold a necklace on the street for $45,” she recalls.
Just as she didn’t intend to set up shop, she never meant to start a label. “I was in Hong Kong, depressed, missing my boyfriend, and my mom suggested I enroll in some jewelry-making classes,” explains the petite designer, dressed in crisp lines accented by giant, quirky, circular-spectacles from Japan. Turns out she had a knack, and—after saving up her earnings, working odd-jobs, and selling her wares on weekends—she moved into her first storefront in 2008, only four months in. “I lived in the apartment above it then, so I barely got out of my pajamas each day,” she says.
Now, Szeki runs a mini empire from her eponymous boutique—which is just around the corner from her old location—where she sells her jewelry and accessories lines and her apparel collection 7115. “I love watching people try on my clothes and learning more and more about the female body,” she explains. “I’m less excited about designing new pieces than perfecting old ones.” It’s all about the evolution. —carly pifer
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