Avril, I know you’re from Ireland, and Quy, from Texas; how did you both end up in New York?
Avril: I’d wanted to move here since I was really young. I have one aunt who lives in New York and she's amazing and very into fashion. Me and my sister would come over to visit her, and were just like "Oh my God," because that kind of glamorous lifestyle isn't something we’d ever seen in Ireland. So, I think that put it in my head from an early age and I just knew that as soon as I finished college I wanted to work in fashion and there aren't that many opportunities in Ireland. I was meant to move here with a friend, but she fell in love before she ever made it over, so I was like, "I'm just going to go on my own!"
Good for you. And you never left! What about you Quy?
Quy: I moved around a lot as a young kid with four siblings from California to Portland to Kansas to New Orleans and ended up in Texas. It was creatively limited in certain ways, but arts were big in my high school so I studied sculpture and drawing and painting and photography. I ended up coming to New York to go to Cooper Union to study sculpture, photography, and Super 8 filmmaking, and then eventually did woodworking as well. But my real education in antiques came from my first career job working for Fritz Karch, the Director of Collecting at Martha Stewart. We spent every day finding antiques and celebrating and lifting the stones on things that were overlooked and deemed unimportant. I learned so much through that process. I had had a lot of education in art and art history that tied back with antiquities, but not necessarily antiques in terms of what it means to live with them in the contemporary world.
Is there something about both of your upbringings that drew you to the world of vintage and antiques, and this notion of looking back to move forward?
Quy: Living in Texas, with a lot of racism and bigotry, especially being a refugee [Quy’s parents are from Vietnam and China] and extremely poor, art was an escape. Even as a young kid I already had inklings of collecting and because I couldn’t afford anything else I collected rocks and insects, and categorized everything, looking and studying differences. As a product of poverty, we spent our lives at thrift stores and bought everything used. By doing that I was automatically exposed to fifty years-worth of ideas and styles and color palettes and patterns and materials. I learned so much from constantly seeing and being able to, at a young age, look at things with a discriminating eye but a very open mind.
Avril: I’ve collected vintage since I was very young. I grew up watching a lot of Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe films so at the start my approach was much more romantic and nostalgic. I mean, I wore a 1950s full-skirted black Frank Usher dress to my debs [prom]! You couldn’t get the type of clothes that I wanted to wear in Ireland, but I was lucky because my dad lived in London so I would visit him and go to these vintage warehouses and come back with suitcases filled with things. Vintage was my porthole into another world. And when Quy and I first started seeing each other our shared interest in it was part of why we connected.