In His Shoes: Charnier Corey

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Charnier Corey, Captain of Leisure Life NYC

Everyone knows that style grows in Brooklyn and for many of the borough’s movers and shakers, it also comes with endless creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit. Today on In His Shoes we’re getting into the mind of Charnier Corey, the “captain” of BK’s newest retail hot spot, Leisure Life NYC. Perfect location on one of the most popular avenues in BK? Check. Classic meets contemporary design aesthetic? Check. Owned by one of the borough’s flyest fashion ambassadors? Check.

Located in the heart of Clinton Hill on Myrtle Avenue, Leisure Life is poised to become Brooklyn’s go-to destination for menswear. Just in time for New York Fashion Week, we caught up with Charnier to discuss the inspiration behind his brand, whether or not style is something you’re just born with, and why he chose Myrtle Avenue as the home for his newest business venture:

In Her Shoes: Tell us a little bit about your career prior to launching Leisure Life NYC:

Charnier: Prior to launching Leisure Life NYC I had a wide variety of jobs. When I first moved to New York in 2002, I did demolition work on a construction job in Harlem. I was Accounts Payable assistant for Vibe/Spin Ventures which handled the accounting work for both Vibe and Spin Magazines. I taught at Lafayette Educational Complex  in Coney Island, P.S. 163 in Manhattan and also Boys and Girls School on the Lower East Side. All the while I have been pursuing a career as a visual artist. While I’ve worked in several industries, I think all of the jobs I’ve held have prepared me for my responsibilities as the founder of Leisure Life NYC.

In Her Shoes: What influenced your decision to open a boutique on Brooklyn’s Myrtle Avenue?

Charnier: We chose Brooklyn’s Myrtle Avenue because the neighborhood is an untapped market full of artists, students and creative business professionals. We have seen the shift and development in Brooklyn and we would like to be included in the new group of Brooklyn-based boutiques and businesses. The development around the Barclay Center in downtown Brooklyn as well as the impending development of the Brooklyn Navy Yard also impacted the decision. We saw our business model for Leisure Life NYC as being perfect for the cross-section in this neighborhood. The final determining factor was the boutique’s backyard which will be the backdrop for quite a few fun, cross-marketing events in the months to come.

Grand Puba

In Her Shoes: Who are your top three fashion influences (past and present)?

Charnier: Eric Chapman,  Frankie Beverly, and Grand Puba.

When I was young in Fort Wayne, Indiana, there was a gentleman named Eric Chapman. I remember seeing him in a particular outfit that always – to this very day –  inspire me to dress well. His attire was an Adidas Olympic sweatshirt, Levi’s 501 hard denim, and Run DMC “Attitude” Adidas. As a 12-year-old looking on it was the best outfit I had ever seen in my entire life.

A little later I discovered Grand Puba and he elevated my vision of what I thought was fly. His Tommy Hilfiger sweatshirts and rugbys, Girbaud jeans and Vasque boots were a major influence on my personal style as a high school senior.

By the time I discovered Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, I was enamored with the lead singer’s clean look and classic sense of style. I didn’t try to emulate Frankie Beverly’s style but I definitely used him as a model for what I wanted to look like as a mature adult. Wearing white, beige or cream with his ever present cap and beard, Frankie Beverly represented menswear to me before I knew of such a thing.

In Her Shoes: What is a day like in Charnier’s shoes?

Charnier: I wake up at about 5 or 6  a.m. usually before everybody else in the house. I like to start moving when the house is quiet to check my email and social media. Then my wife and I get the kids together for school.

After everybody is ready to go, I drop my wife off at the train and the kids at school. Sometimes I get breakfast which consists of aloo pie with saltfish and sorrel to drink. If I have to check on production I head to the factories, if not I head to the shop. When I’m at the shop, I’m entertaining new clients, taking meetings to encourage new business opportunities and encouraging a general sense of well-being in the community. I spend many hours at Leisure Life NYC promoting my product and the product of others but it never feels like work. On the few nights where there’s an event I have to attend, I usually get dressed at the shop and head out. But on the normal nights I lock the doors and rush off to try and catch my kids before they get in the bed, then I check emails and social media, watch a little SportsCenter or a movie, and go to sleep.

In Her Shoes: What is your personal definition of style? Do you think it can be learned/taught or is it something you’re just born with?

Charnier: Style is the way someone walks, talks, acts, dresses or presents an idea. In my opinion, style is something we’re born with but we can also get style tips to enhance our personal style. The most stylish people are the ones who are willing to take risks. Like for instance, a person like Andre 3000 is very stylish but he has taken many risks to find and develop his own personal sense of style. I think it is important to always present an image that is not readily available. When I dress I like to display my individuality by putting together outfits that mix both vintage and contemporary in a way that is both clean-cut and sharp. Style is constantly evolving and as you mature and increase your fashion vocabulary your style should advance as well. So, when it comes to people with impeccable style, their style can get better. For those with bad style, I guess they still have a chance.

In Her Shoes: What’s next for Leisure Life NYC?

Charnier: We plan to host our grand opening event at the boutique in mid-September. We’ll also be introducing a more complete line of about 10 to 12 pieces with our Fall ’13 line of Leisure Life NYC products consisting of shirts, jackets, hats and more – all made in NYC. We are importing handmade shoes from Namibia made out of kudu hide called “vellies”. The shoes were the precursor to the now famous Clark desert boot. And we have found a family that has been making them for over 30 years in Namibia. We are also revamping our online shop and website to enhance the layout, format and overall goal of our online experience. We have some big-name collaborations coming in the future as well. And last but not least, we’re looking forward to working with people like Ignacio Quiles, Fuse Green, Salehe Bembury and Ali of A Noble Savage.

To learn more about Leisure Life NYC visit  leisurelifenyc.com or visit the boutique at 559 Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.

As a New York City storyteller, filmmaker, digital content creator, and PR strategist, Renae Bluitt created "In Her Shoes" to empower and enlighten women committed to realizing their dreams.

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