Some intrepid shoppers might argue that with the exception of Barneys New York (and a few good consignment stores) there's nary a reason to head uptown for a good offbeat shopping fix. That was until we discovered the jewelry gem, Annika on East 78th Street.
On a recent visit one early summer evening, the door to this slip of a store was steadily swinging open and closed with a brisk current of traffic—customers that had clearly been here before to pluck one or two new designs from designer Annika Inez's handmade costume jewelry pieces.
Sure, a far-flung side street uptown is an unexpected locale for a store that could easily become a magnet for downtown's fashion set, but that's part of what we like about it. "It's small, it's a little bit odd, but I didn't want the pressure [of being downtown.]" says the pretty Annika. "Opening here feels more like opening a studio." Whether it's the soft-spoken Annika herself or another nimble co-worker, all the jewelry is crafted at a small table at the register, where customers can watch beaded wooden bracelets, enamel teardrop earrings, or bold vintage chain necklaces take form.
In fact about 90% of the raw materials Annika uses are vintage, and the designer creates a new theme given her stock of elements every season. "I work on stuff until I find a common thread," says designer who was born in Sweden, studied interior design at Parsons in New York and today lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
While Annika is no stranger to bold color, this summer shades are more pronounced than ever with concentrated strokes of reds and yellow taking the center stage. It's easy to become addicted to stocking up on Annika's creations, and the eye-popping affordability makes it likely you'll depart with more than one goody in your bag. "I wanted to keep it fun," says Annika who's priced most pieces under $100.
While she also has a wholesale jewelry line that sells at more than 700 stores nationwide, everything stocked on the Upper East Side is largely "new" vintage and almost always one of a kind. There are also plans for an additional store, but even with more locations, Annika Inez is not about to lose its unique positioning. "If I did, it would be a small," says Annika. "And of course, it would have to off the beaten path."
Who would expect one of New York's most exciting and affordable jewelry stores on the far reaches of Upper Manhattan? Swedish-born designer Annika's one-of-a-kind creations are unusual and addictive.