Welcome to the Neighborhood: Eva Joan, 22 8th Avenue
Today we welcome a new small business to our neighborhoods — help us welcome the next. Tell us which new independent store in Greenwich Village, the East Village, or NoHo you’re excited about by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As advocates for local small business, we find great satisfaction in hearing of new independent establishments opening in our neighborhoods. These arrivals give us hope that reports of the death of mom-and-pops have been greatly exaggerated. Whenever such occasions present themselves, we like to share our enthusiasm with the world in the hopes that others will join us in wishing our new neighbors a warm welcome, and more tangibly, patronize and spread the word to help ensure their success and survival.
To you, it’s a treasured item. But time takes no prisoners. And your treasure now looks a bit (a lot?) like a piece of garbage — garbage that you can’t bear to part with. If only there were a store that would help you battle the ravages of time. As it happens, there now is: Eva Joan at 22 8th Avenue (at West 12th Street), a women-owned, non-traditional tailoring and mending shop that helps you creatively reimagine tattered garments and give them a new life.
The store is the brainchild of Bjorn Park and Emma Villeneuve, friends who grew up surrounded by their relatives’ resourceful and often whimsical interventions. The concept for the shop was inspired by their grandmothers, after whom the establishment is named. Eva, Bjorn’s grandmother, was a skilled mender with a knack for seeing possibilities where others saw problems. As a little girl, Bjorn would return from school to find a strawberry or a small bear embroidered in one of her shirts where a hole used to be. Emma, for her part, describes her grandmother Joan as full of fanciful things and a gift for turning small moments into huge ones. The granddaughters had Eva and Joan in their thoughts when, during the pandemic, they took a break from their fast-paced jobs in design and retreated to Marfa, Texas for several months and reassessed their careers. Upon their return to New York, they launched their new venture.
Bjorn and Emma conceived of the store as a one-stop shop for all manner of alterations. If you want to repair a garment, rendering some damage invisible, they’re happy to do that. They both love the hunt and they love a mission. That job might involve the sourcing of materials to match your item’s color and weight, and a repair that restores your article of clothing to an approximation of what it once was. But Bjorn and Emma will also encourage you to go beyond a restoration and, if you’re interested, help you re-envision what your garment could be. They will gauge your preferences, present possibilities, facilitate the formulation of your personalized vision, and give you the freedom to get as weird with the project as your heart desires. To use a popular, simple repair as an example, a moth hole can become a grommet, a reconstruction, an embroidered flower, or a polka dot patch. It’s up to you.
The store will accept a wide variety of projects. Bjorn, for instance, recently worked on a club chair. Eva, on a pillow. Their willingness to take on less traditional repair jobs depends on a variety of factors, not the least of which are the customer’s interest, flexibility, and patience. Ultimately, as Bjorn explains, “they’re there to make really beautiful things for people who care about their things.” And beauty can take time. A memorable and extremely laborious recent example was a quilt dreamed up by a mother as a gift to her daughter, made out of carefully arranged remnants of her deceased husband’s t-shirts.
Eva Joan brings to the neighborhood more than inspired solutions and artistry. It is also trying to instill a better ethics of consumption — one that emphasizes quality and creative mending to maintain that quality. This can involve a process of education. For this reason, Bjorn and Eva are happy to do jobs even on fast fashion items. The quality of those garments may not warrant it, but those projects can easily become steps in a gradual conversion. Customers who start by bringing cheaply made garments for repair end up, a couple of projects down the line, spending half as much as they otherwise would have on used items and using the other half to personalize their purchase. Through these conversions, Eva Joan is reorienting the notion of sustainable fashion away from specialized luxury brands and toward an ethos that embraces inconvenience, patience, and accidents. Practically-speaking, this entails accepting that stains are stories, that things are meant to evolve, and that this evolution presents an opportunity for your creative contribution.
Alongside their belief in the above virtues, Eva Joan’s owners hold a belief in New York, in its resilience and its spine. That’s what led them to open a business here in the middle of a pandemic. As life-long and longstanding Villagers, respectively, Emma and Bjorn relished the idea of becoming part of the local business community, beside longtime acquaintances at January 2015 Business of the Month La Bonbonniere and 2021 Village Awardee Casa Magazines, and bringing back, as Bjorn puts it, “a little bit of the West Village magic” that was historically cast by its once numerous and idiosyncratic small businesses.
Swing by Eva Joan at 22 8th Avenue and welcome the business to the neighborhood. You can strut in proudly wearing your treasured but tattered rags, because you can rest assured that, once Bjorn and Emma (and you) are done with them, they’ll look as if they had just emerged from an atelier, and yet will feel more yours than they ever did before.