Wendy and LaRae Kangas are the sister-team behind duo, a beautifully curated boutique featuring vintage and modern goods, located in the East Village. I met Wendy and LaRae through my friend and Still House owner, Urte, who thought we would all get along and suggested that we meet over coffee. The rest is history!
I recently visited Wendy and LaRae at their shop and got to know more about their store, their inspiration, and what it’s like working together as sisters.
How did you decide to go into business together and when did duo open its doors?
We are from Minnesota and moved to NYC in 2006 and then opened duo in 2008. We both have a background working in retail, and experience working in vintage, home goods and with local NYC designers. Through working with independent designers and makers, and incorporating our love of vintage pieces, we developed our own vision for a shop and decided to take the leap and open a boutique of our own.
duo sells a unique selection of goods, from the work of local designers and makers to a vintage collection. Can you give us a glimpse into the shop’s sourcing and curating process?
We carefully curate our store by looking for unique, emerging designers via outlets such as blogs and other social media. One reason why we love carrying local designers is that we are able to find other talented designers via their referrals and word of mouth. We are fortunate to be in a city with so much talent!
Our vintage selection is also carefully curated and sourced from around the country. We remain true to our taste and only buy pieces that we personally love and would wear. We are also selective in the fabrics we choose and in the quality of the items we purchase. We prefer natural fibers that become better with wear, such as silk, denim, linen, wool and rayon. We especially love traveling to the Midwest to find winter pieces. Our home state of Minnesota has great coats, sweaters and denim (think- work wear, hunting and snowmobiling-inspired!).
From where do you draw inspiration for the store’s aesthetic?
The designers with whom we work constantly inspire us. It is mind-blowing to see the work that they create each season. For example, Dusen Dusen is a great inspiration since she even designs her own prints. Her textiles are so full of life!
As for the store’s aesthetic, we tend towards clean lines with a cozy and warm atmosphere. We like to be minimal but not bare. Being from northern Minnesota, we seem to have brought a bit of a Scandinavian vibe to the shop without even realizing it.
The store was always meant to feel like your friend’s closet: come by, find a new outfit, hang out for a bit, and leave feeling a little happier. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and we think that’s important!
What is the best part about working with your sister? Had you ever worked together before opening duo?
Wendy: The best part about working with my sister is that we are always in synch. We never have to explain to each other what we are thinking, which makes working together smooth and natural. There is a lot of hard work involved when running a small business, but we know how to have a blast while getting it all done.
LaRae: We’ve always worked together in some way. Before we opened duo, we had an eBay store…since I am the younger sister, I got stuck with being the “model” for our items in that store!
duo, 337 E. 9th St, New York, NY. 10003