We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelly Wang and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelly, is there something you believe many others might not?
The advice that following your passion leads to a fulfilling and happy life / career never resonated with me. Years ago when I was at a crossroads in my career, I tried to follow this advice and came up completely empty handed. Where I was passionate, the fit wasn’t right and where the fit was right, there was no passion. It left me completely hopefulness and dejected. I think the truth is that not everyone has strong passions and not every passion is meant to be a career.
Instead, I switched out passion for strengths. My strengths are my superpower, biggest differentiator, confidence booster, and success factor. Instead of looking for things I was passionate about, I looked for what aligned most with what I did best. This eliminated the typical frictions of self-doubt and naturally led me down a path where I have the most opportunity to excel, succeed, and find fulfillment / happiness.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am the owner and founder of Rue Saint Paul, Brooklyn’s sustainable closet. We are the only place in Brooklyn offering new, rental, and pre-owned sustainable fashion. Our mission is to help reduce the fashion industry’s environmental footprint, promote ethical manufacturing, and drive responsible and circular consumption.
I worked in Finance for a decade before starting Rue Saint Paul online in 2018 and opening the brick and mortar shop in 2020. Before starting the shop, I increasingly felt that my career no longer had a place in the life I wanted for myself. This friction and sense of mis-alignment became unbearable. At the same, the desire to carve out a place in the world for myself through entrepreneurship became stronger by the day.
I had always been drawn to clothing since I was a little girl. I remember laying out my outfits before school every morning. Even though I was an introvert and often the new kid in school, what I wore always gave me a sense of courage and power that words often did not. To be able to share that power with others through having my own shop became a dream.
The name Rue Saint Paul comes from the street I lived on in Paris. I was inspired by the many lifestyle or concept stores that dominate Parisian shopping. I loved exploring stores where I would discover up and coming apparel designers while finding a new vase for the apartment or discovering a new lipstick. When I came back to New York, I realized that outside of a few neighborhoods, small boutiques were disappearing from the city and replaced by large international brands. I wanted to create a neighborhood shop that was as inspirational as it was practical like the ones I loved in Paris.
Over the two years of preparing for the brick and mortar opening, Rue Saint Paul has morphed into many things I never expected. When I first started online, I knew nothing of sustainable fashion. I’m a 90’s kid who grew up with lots of polyester and fast fashion. It wasn’t until I started sourcing for the online shop that I started learning about the environmental and human impacts of the fashion industry. There was no going back from there. I knew that if the shop didn’t play a role in promoting sustainable fashion and more ethical consumption, there would be no point in having the shop. I slowly educated myself (and am still learning everyday) about the impact of the fashion industry and identified a set of values that are most important to me. These values are derived from the Higg Index (the fashion industry’s assessment tool for environmental and social impact through the value chain) and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. I eventually settled on 10 Sustainable Values and these are the ethos and guiding principles by which I operate the shop and source my products. The most unique part of the shop is the fact that next to the up-and-coming sustainable designers is apparel that’s available to be rented and pre-loved pieces purchased from our own customers. This aspect of circularity and accessibility is an important value I wanted to make was inherent in the shop.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We would picnic at Governor’s Island, have a beach day at Fort Tilden, eat our way through Brooklyn, have a night out in K-town and hang out all day on a rooftop!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shoutout to our amazing Rue Saint Paul community in Brooklyn and beyond who have shown me over the last year what it means to support small and local. We won’t be here without them and we are more grateful than words can say!