American Two Shot is not your typical hipper-than-thou SoHo boutique. It’s an eclectic space for eclectic tastes. You might find an old Joan Didion hardback or a pencil case that looks like a hotdog nestled in with the racks of clothes by labels like Porter Grey, Timo Weiland, Nomia, The Lake & Stars, and Jonathan Simkhai. American Two Shot (135 Grand Street) carries jewelry and accessories, men’s and women’s wear, and a selection of vintage. The store also stocked those now-notorious hats that cheekily spoofed Cartier’s name.
The founders, Olivia Wolfe and Stephanie Krasnoff, both 28, are Miami natives and IRL BFFs since the age of 13. They see American Two Shot as more than just a boutique — it’s a place that reflects their complementary backgrounds and interests. Krasnoff comes from the business side of fashion, having worked for five years at Theory, while Wolfe worked in film and was a studio assistant for artists including James Hyde. They use their walls as a gallery (right now they’re showing a great series of David Kitz collages), and at night they transform the high-ceilinged, exposed-brick space into a venue for readings, parties, and bands. It’s like a private clubhouse for the pair and their creative friends, only everyone’s invited. Inside the store, there’s also a café run by their fellow ex-Miamian César Vega, who sells coffee sourced from his homeland of Nicaragua.
On the eve of American Two Shot’s first anniversary, Fashionista sat down with Wolfe and Krasnoff to talk about their vision for the store, how working together has changed their friendship, and how they’re making it.
Neither of you majored in a fashion-related field or went to college in New York City. Can you explain how you came to work here in fashion? And what led you to found this store?
Krasnoff: Well, all my internships in college were in fashion PR, fashion sales. So I just thought that that was what I wanted to do. I got a job at Theory doing men’s sales there, wholesale. And then I realized I kind of liked the numbers game a little bit more than sales, so I moved into planning. I did planning for Theory and Helmut for four years. I was at Theory for five years total.
Wolfe: I still don’t feel like I work in fashion, in some ways! My background was in the arts, I worked as a studio assistant for several artists. I also worked in film for a little bit.
Krasnoff: When we started talking about the store we said, okay, this is going to test the friendship. I know a lot of great things have happened when friends have gone into business together and a lot of terrible things have happened. But because we kind of have a balance in our backgrounds, but we’re also totally on the same page when we need to be, we decided it was worth a shot. That, with a lot of honesty and a lot of laughter, gets us through.
Wolfe: That last ingredient is really important!
So when did the idea to found American Two Shot start to germinate?
Krasnoff: It was spring of 2011. And then we opened in the spring of 2012.
Wolfe: We put our ideas together, we found a space, which we fell in love with. We had to build it out a bit. And we actually bought two full seasons before we had opened our doors, because of the timing.
Krasnoff: And we opened exactly one year ago: March 29, 2012.
What are you trying to do at American Two Shot? What is the vision that you bring to retail?
Krasnoff: I think it’s a mix of a few things. But we think of it as a lifestyle. Instead of seeing ourselves as working in the fashion industry, or the art world, or in any one industry, it’s kind of where all those passions merge. There’s nothing that we wouldn’t bring into the store. Like, we just started a music series at the store. We’ve had readings here, and the coffee bar, art works, we have a new show every few months. It’s really about bringing together all the things in our lives that — [To Wolfe] help me finish my sentence!
Wolfe: …That really mean something! I think it almost felt more prevalent, maybe, in the ’60s or ’70s where, when people were involved in the arts, that meant writing and fashion and music and all these things together, and you could be encouraged to be all these things at the same time. And I think maybe in the last few years, people felt like they needed to specialize in a creative field. But it’s really cool when we get to, you know, rep a designer who’s also in a band. Who might also be an artist. All these things are very interconnected, and it’s nice to be able to highlight them individually, but it’s also nice when they can fit together really seamlessly.
Can you explain the name?
Wolfe: In film or photography, ‘two shot’ is just a descriptor for a shot where two subjects are in the same frame. An ‘American two shot’ is when the subjects see eye to eye in some way. When we were trying to come up with a name, we felt like it was a way to describe putting all these different subjects in one frame.
Krasnoff: It means a lot of things: It could mean the two of us, it could be two ideas, it could be broader things. It really could just mean when we’re taking a selfie. [Laughs]
What’s next for the store?
Krasnoff: We are working on producing our own line, on the men’s and women’s side. And we’re also launching e-commerce. Both of those things will probably be poking their heads out in the fall–we don’t know launch dates yet. But just like with everything else, we’re going to try and do it our own way. As much as we’re inspired by other people, we
How do you balance your respective roles in the business? Is it safe to say Stephanie, your passion is more for the business side, and Olivia, you’re more creative?
Krasnoff: Olivia’s Photoshop and I’m Excel. [Laughs] But every decision is made together.
Wolfe: I’m definitely learning more about business.
Krasnoff: So am I. I’m learning more about everything.
What are some of the designers or items that you have that nobody else does?
Krasnoff: Well, we just did an exclusive style with Porter Grey that I’m really excited about. They’ve been a really strong brand with us from day one.
Wolfe: Samantha Pleet just did an exclusive style with us as well.
Krasnoff: On the men’s side, we’re bringing in Public School which we’re really excited about. We’re always looking for something new, something different.
Wolfe: It’s just important to us that people come in here and feel in some way like this isn’t just like every other store. That you’re going to find things that are special. And that the whole experience is special.
Has working together strengthened your friendship?
Wolfe: Yes. [To Krasnoff] Your mom will laugh sometimes about how when we leave the store, we’ll go get dinner. ‘As if you guys don’t spend enough time together!’ There are worse things than working with your best friend.
Krasnoff: We pretty much do everything together. But it’s not as if you can leave the store and work is done. We really blur the lines a lot. As much as we want to bring our lifestyle into the store, the store has infiltrated our lifestyle.
Wolfe: We’re always working, we’re always playing. And we’re always laughing. [Laughs]