Ramy Brook Sharp started her eponymous fashion line from the bedroom of her Upper East Side apartment, so it’s no wonder she still pinches herself when walking into her flagship store on Madison Avenue. The Daily caught up with the designer to hear about how she’s enhanced the shopping experience—safely and stylishly—in recent months.
How’ve you been since we last saw you?
Busy! But I’ve been good. I definitely can’t complain. We’re working hard; we’re in market right now, getting our showroom in order, and doing appointments over Zoom. Things are still going forward, and we have found new ways to connect.
Did you stay in New York City during lockdown?
I was primarily out in the Hamptons and worked from there. It was great to be able to connect with the team via Zoom and conference calls. At our store on Madison, we had to be creative and safely adapt to the lockdown. We set up a phone number where you could text members of our store team and they could answer any questions, as well as having anything delivered to you. During that time, we still rotated looks in our window. We wanted people going for a walk to still see newness and excitement.
We’re sure your customers appreciated that!
Yes! Customers were buying more online. Our plan is to keep the text message service line, but in a more personal way. The text message will go to a manager, or someone from the sales team, similar to a concierge service, where they can follow up and build a relationship. I feel the advantage of having a brick-and-mortar store is the personal connection you build.
Did quarantine change your perspective on anything?
I love the culture of our company. When you walk into our corporate office, it radiates happiness; the lights are bright, there’s music, and there’s people around. There’s a great attitude. That obviously couldn’t happen in lockdown, but I found our employees didn’t lose their drive. It was interesting that we could work remotely and maintain that same level of drive.
Did lockdown influence your designs or design process in any way?
There was a lot of uncertainty about what people would wear going forward. The world has changed in terms of attending shows, parties, dining, and weddings. It made me think of the kind of clothing that women will wear; clothing that’s not event-driven. We cover lots of bases, and we do have tops, dresses, jeans—all for easy dressing. But what I did learn is that loungewear is going to be more important for women, as it’s easy and accessible to go out. We always wanted to do something along those lines, but we’re going to speed that process up and offer another level of loungewear for Spring.
You’ve been front and center on Instagram. Who takes your photos?
We’ve always worked with a great mix of photographers. But with the pandemic, we had to get creative this summer. When we needed to do a photo shoot, my daughter—who is 16 and beautiful—did it with me. My son is a filmmaker, he’s off to college now, but he filmed a behind-the-scenes video. Our photographer, Sebastian Faena, came and took the photos with his iPhone from a distance. As a mom, nothing is more exciting than working with your kids.
Any posing tips for us?
I’m a harsh critic of myself, but the one thing I do like to do is show a positive attitude. Most of my photos are smiling or laughing, anything that shows happiness!
How have you been managing other editorial shoots?
We’re still working with amazing models, but remotely. We just finished a shoot with Jasmine Tookes. She did it in her home with a photographer she chose. We sent a deck of how we envisioned the looks, and she did a great job and sent us beautiful photos. Last week, we did another photo shoot with Lorena Rae, who is staying in Monaco, following the same process. For our editorial shoots, we’re usually on location, but we were able to figure out a way where these photo shoots can happen, thanks to these gorgeous, fabulous, and smart women. We sent them clothes and an idea, and they went with it.
You originally started Ramy Brook in your apartment on the UES. What do you remember about this time?
I feel like it was yesterday! It started from my bedroom. As I started to learn more about the business and met amazing helpful people, I was able to come up with a collection of six tops and one dress. I did my first trunk show at my sister’s house in New Jersey and quickly learned how to produce the clothing. As we were growing, I needed more space, so I took another apartment in the building. My kids were still little, so it was nice to walk only a few doors away.
That’s a good commute to the office!
Exactly. After three years, it started to take off and that’s when we found a space in Midtown. We’ve since had to knock down the walls of three other offices to expand.
And now you have a stunning store on Madison Avenue. What do we need to know?
I love the store. We’re actually celebrating our one-year anniversary this month! I’ve been an Upper East Sider since I moved to New York. I love walking up Madison Avenue and felt if I had a store on the UES, it would be ideal to be around that area. For two years, we walked around learning about different retail spaces. It worked out for us that 980 Madison became available. I can’t think of a better place; we really lucked out!
What’s the shopping experience like right now?
We leave the double doors wide open, so people know we’re here to welcome them. The minute you walk in, there’s a table with hand sanitizer and masks. We’ve got three chairs in the middle of the store and a little table where people can relax. We have a big couch by the dressing rooms, so when you’re shopping with friends or significant others, they have a place to hang out. It’s a feeling of safety first and then you see the great product, the beautiful colors, and the smiles of our employees. It’s a very happy, upbeat, and positive atmosphere.
How do you feel when you walk in the doors of the store?
It’s still feels new, so I get that excited feeling. I pinch myself that I have a store on Madison Avenue!
UES haunts like The Mark and The Carlyle are nearby. What’s your go-to cocktail?
I like white wine, and in the summer, I like rosé. I usually meet a couple friends at The Surrey rooftop or The Mark. It’s been fun to sit outside!
And we hear you’ve even got rosé and tequila in the store?
Yes! I like when people come in and they can feel at home, so that’s where the wine came in! We have to-go wine glasses, too. It’s a cute tumbler that people can take with them. Of course, not everyone is in the mood for wine, so we also serve water, coffee, and soda—and tequila!
What’s next for the brand?
The loungewear, which is new for us. We’re going to build out that collection. Additionally, we’re continuing to add new silhouettes we introduced, like denim, swim, and cover-ups. We launched sunglasses and a perfume this year as well, and it would be fun to add to that with some more accessories. Possibly candles! We’re going to continue to grow the business throughout.