Meet Julie Turkel Abrahamson, mother of two and the founder of luxury kids consignment website, Girls On Greenwich, which is set to launch next month. Not surprisingly, Julie’s schedule has a lot to pack in, what with her dueling roles as mom and entrepreneur. So, when it came to matters of design at home, Julie chose to team up with Homepolish interior designer, Erica Riha, in order to bring her dreams of a cohesive and happy space to life. Beginning in the girls’ shared bedroom, Julie and Erica managed to craft a kid-friendly space that played well with Julie’s minimalist instincts. From there, the tendency for personalized yet pared-back style seeped into the rest of the apartment, resulting in a clean, cozy home that the entire family could enjoy. Below, Julie shares a peek into the design process, plus a few insights into her life as mother and shop owner.
Take us through the process of designing your home with the Homepolish team. How did you and your designer, Erica, come up with a plan that suited both your taste and your family’s lifestyle?
Erica and I bonded immediately over our neat-freak tendencies, and we identified organization and functionality as being one of the top priorities in our decision making. I already had great furniture pieces from Knoll, Paul McCobb, Ligne Roset and Oeuf for the kids, and a fun collection of art, area rugs and decorative objects. Erica helped me go through it all and decide what furniture items to shift around, what items I no longer needed and where to place the art, decor and rugs that I already had. Then, after we figured all of that out, we filled in the gaps and chose a few new pieces of furniture with both style and functionality in mind. That included the comfy chair in the girls’ room and the Ikea wardrobe in the entryway. At the end of the day, we realized that I didn’t have to spend much to achieve my goals of having a comfortable, functional family apartment that reflected my taste.
As a mother and the founder of soon-to-launch designer consignment shop, Girls On Greenwich, you must have a pretty packed schedule! What was the initial timeline of your home redesign, and how did that schedule evolve?
We are in the process now of designing and building the website, as well as gathering beautiful clothes for girls from consignors across the globe. We are doing all of the photography and fulfillment from my apartment. So, yes, I am busy and my space needs to be both functional (for work and family) and photo-ready. I have been investing in and reselling amazing designer products for myself and my girls (first as a hobby for many years, and now as a business).
When Erica and I met, I had literally just sold every piece of furniture in my daughters’ room and purchased the Perch bunk bed from Oeuf—I had removed all the art from their walls and had it in a pile in a corner, along with their toys, not sure what I wanted to do next. It was a mess and very out of character for me not to have it all together. My oldest daughter told me I had five days to get her room together, so that was the timeline I set for Erica to decorate! Erica’s forte is creating gallery walls—and I had such a great selection of art, as well as high ceilings—so we decided to make that the focal point of the room. It took her only about an hour to get that done.
Then, she went through all of their toys and items I had collected, like the Liberty print boxes I had tucked away in their closet and a set of African dolls. She pulled everything out of the closet and was a master at figuring out how to display these collections to bring the whole room to life. I had a tiny kilim rug that I purchased from eBay and we decided to use that in the girls’ room to add a bit of pattern. The gallery wall and the kilim both have a lot of color, so we kept the rest of the bedding white and cream, just as I like it.
The next task was deciding what to do with my entryway, which I originally planned to turn into an office space. Erica witnessed my kids coming home from school with their jackets, shoes and bags going everywhere and she immediately put an end to that plan and encouraged me to use our foyer as a mudroom to deal with family flow. We went to Ikea and designed a tasteful and functional wardrobe that now houses their coats, shoes and bags, and I can just put it all away and shut the doors. I am forever grateful for that suggestion.
We decided to re-arrange my office upstairs in the loft and moved the desk so I can look out through the window that faces east. It is so inspiring to work from here with that view. We also got a rack from Ikea to put next to my desk so I can hang the clothes we are selling on it to keep them organized, while surrounding myself with things that I love that inspire me while I work.
What’s your favorite part about living in New York City’s West Village? What’s your least favorite part?
I actually asked my daughter, Justine, the same question several weeks ago and she said she loves the West Village because “it’s quiet.” I thought that was a funny answer considering there are policemen on horses outside our building every night to keep the noise level down and there are jackhammers everywhere! But I see her point and I have to agree.
New York City is an intense, lively and fast-paced place to live, yet this neighborhood is as intimate and serene as it gets. I love looking out my window and seeing a quaint little garden and a row of brownstones, but off in the distance you can still see the iconic Empire State Building. It’s an incredible juxtaposition of little village living and big city life.
I am originally from Florida and I will never get used to the brutal winters here, so that is my least favorite part of living here for sure.
Your shop, Girls On Greenwich, features a selection of pre-owned designer kids’ clothing. Why luxury brands? What made you decide to fill that void in the market?
The short answer is that people always stop me on the street and ask me where I get my daughters’ clothes and they never believe it when I tell them the answer—most of my girls’ clothes were purchased secondhand from other moms like me with expensive taste! I have always loved investing in designer brands and luxury items for myself, as it gives me pleasure.
I was an early adopter when it came to reselling through consignment stores and eBay, so I managed to find a way to afford nice things. Like most moms, when I had my daughters, I stopped buying for myself and focused on them. There was a little store in my neighborhood called Bonpoint and I fell in love with everything there. But, the only way I could afford to buy clothes from brands like Bonpoint was to resell the items they outgrew, so I started selling their clothes on eBay.
Over the years, I have found a nice community of moms who do the same thing either privately or through eBay, but it can be hard to know what to buy and who to trust. So, I decided to fill a very clear void that exists in the online consignment market and create Girls on Greenwich to establish authority and trust through a boutique-like shopping experience that is worthy of the hard-to-find brands we will carry.
What are your favorite brands to carry/sell?
We will feature secondhand and never-worn items from Bonpoint, Bon-Ton, Burberry, Caramel Baby & Child, Chloé, Moncler, Rachel Riley, Stella McCartney Kids and many more. I know most of the consignors we are launching with personally, so I can vouch for the quality and authenticity. I know some may ask whether it is worth buying such nice things for kids, but for me, it definitely is. When I buy less expensive items for my children, they aren’t that inexpensive to begin with, and the clothes get ruined quickly and are often times not even worth handing down. When I invest in quality products from brands like the ones we plan to carry, I can recoup some of my investment through resale, and so can the next purchaser if the items are kept in good condition.
It makes me happy to see my girls’ things having a second (and sometimes third and fourth) life after we use them, and it’s better for the world in general. It’s a niche market, but luxury childrenswear is growing at two times the rate of the overall childrenswear market, so there is a trend towards moms buying nicer, more stylish clothes for their kids.
We love the neutral white walls and pops of color in each of the rooms in your home! Could you explain to us how you and Erica came up with a color palette to enhance your streamlined aesthetic?
I am a minimalist and my loft-style apartment is a true reflection of my simple, modern taste. We considered adding a lot of decorative pillows in the living room for more warmth and color, but Erica and I agreed that the pillows would create clutter, and it was best to keep my furniture all neutral and use art and a mix of fun, curated kids’ toys to bring color in where needed. The one unexpected purchase that I get the most compliments on is the pink rocking chair in the girls’ room. We were looking for a neutral comfy chair to create a reading nook, and I stumbled upon the pink chair on sale at ABC Home. It’s not like me to buy a pink chair, but we both loved the lines, the fabric and the tone of the pink—and it’s very comfortable to sit in!
How have you managed to craft a space where your children feel comfortable and free to be playful?
Adding a pink rocking chair to their white and ivory room made my girls both comfortable and happy! My daughters also love seeing their own art displayed in their room and we keep adding to the wall when they paint new things. Kids like open spaces and they also like structure, so keeping toys organized in the closets is key for all of us. They have enough space to play in and we all know where things go when it’s time to clean up.
Has your love for fashion influenced the design of your home? If so, in what ways?
Much like my taste in fashion, I invested in great furniture pieces from high end brands like Knoll and Ligne Roset when I moved in, with an eye towards classic modernist pieces that will (hopefully) never go out of style. So far, that has worked out well. When I need to refresh and add color or new textures, I find a fun rug or piece of art versus a complete design overhaul. I know my tastes will change and I’ll need to refresh again at some point, so I can either add new accessories and pieces of art, or I can resell the designer pieces that I have in order to afford the next decorating project.
New York is notorious for small living spaces. What tips would you offer to our readers who are looking to maximize their own square footage?
For me, the key is to eliminate clutter as much as possible. Think carefully about what you have and get rid of anything that does not give you joy or have a purpose. I periodically go through my things to edit my belongings and either consign or donate anything I have not used or do not intend to use. If there is something new you want, consider what you can get rid of in order to make space for it. Also, if you have high ceilings, furniture pieces like wardrobes and shelves that have height for extra storage space are great, so long as they do not become an excuse to hold on to things you really don’t need.
What’s your go-to resource for art? And which piece at home is your most prized on a personal level?
The art in my apartment was either created by a family member (my grandmother was a painter, my dad took the photos of the moons in my living room and my girls’ art is on the walls in their room), purchased on eBay or found—literally found. The painting above my sofa is wild and full of color, and it was painted by an old neighbor of mine who left it behind when he moved. My favorite art find is the giraffe print in my girls’ room—it’s a promotional poster from my favorite childhood book from the ’70s called “May I Bring a Friend?” One day, I was searching for an original copy of the book on eBay and found the vintage poster. I bought it for $70 and had it framed for my daughter’s second birthday. The colors from the book inspired the branding for Girls on Greenwich.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? Will you and your family still be in New York? And what’s next for Girls On Greenwich?
I always say that if I ever move out of the West Village, I will leave New York City altogether! I am not 100% certain I will stay here—I am a third generation Floridian and not sure I am meant for the harsh winters here for the rest of my life.
I have a lot of ideas and plans for Girls on Greenwich. I want to establish the business here, and my ideas for expansion include introducing brands to buy new, love and resell through us.
My concept for Girls on Greenwich is not limited to kids’ fashion—we could expand into stylish home furnishings and other lifestyle products for modern moms as well. My background is in designer brand licensing in the home market, and there is a void in the kids’ market for home products with a European designer style, so I would love to introduce new products and brands that are hard to find on Girls on Greenwich. I want to collaborate with the brands I love to expand their offerings to other home and lifestyle items.
In 10 years, Girls on Greenwich will be a destination for moms, parents and kids who appreciate style that caters to their ever-changing needs. By building a platform online that can handle selling both new and secondhand kids’ products—and keeping a keen eye on brands and trends—we can achieve that goal.