We love tracking a skyrocketing designer or an It Girl in-the-making as much as the next one. But when it comes to up-and-coming local talent, we know it's often those lovely ladies working hard, juggling jobs/school/art, and turning everyday outfits into art that have us just as curious. So, we've whipped our new column "Girl Next Door" to dial you in to all the ordinary-and-extraordinary things your coolest NYC neighbors are up to. In our first installment, Opening Ceremony sales girl and emerging designer Lizzy Okpo tells us a little about her burgeoning clothing line William Okpo, hair jewelry, and her favorite Big City meal. Hint: It ain't pizza.
Name: Lizzy Okpo
Occupation: Business-owner/student/Opening Ceremony employee
I live in/on: Staten Island
Tell us about what you do: "I am the co-owner of the contemporary womenswear line William Okpo. I am partnered with my sister, Darlene Okpo. Darlene and I secretly snuck into designing. Our parents wanted us to have our careers in medicine, and at that time they completely rejected the idea of doing anything pertaining fashion. We loved designing and really wanted women to enjoy our designs, too, so we created William Okpo, which is inspired by our parents—our father is the name sake. I also work part-time at Opening Ceremony!"
What do you love most about your work? "My favorite part of creating William Okpo is being able to butt heads with Darlene, agree/disagree on things, and then dance and sing about our final ideas. Nothing beats that."
How does NYC inspire you? "New York City has given me the kind of tough skin that no other place in this world could. I still get chills driving through New York, because everyday is a new experience."
Describe your daily uniform or the pieces you where to work most? "Typically, I never leave home or even take off my wrist full of bangles, and my fist full of gold rings. All of my hair jewelry is kept in my braids at all times, and my floppy hat is part of my everyday look, too. If I could attach my floppy hat to my braids, I would be satisfied."
Would you live anywhere else? "Well, I have a strong desire to travel all over the world, but Sweden, India, China, Kenya, South Africa....are my dream travel spots."
What's your favorite local distraction from work? "My bedroom. I am a home-body. I am easily at peace if I am home with my iPod blasting in my speakers."
Last meal in NYC, where would it be and what? "Hard one, but it's been a while since I've had Korean bibimbap. That's sounds excellent right about now, too!"
As far as your designing goes, what do we have to look forward to? "Darlene and I are excited about our spring/summer 2012 collection. So many beautiful pieces...you'll have to wait and see!"
If someone recognizes you on the street, what would you like them to say? "Hi!, with a beautiful smile to go along with it."