Betsey Lee Celebrates One Year in DUMBO

This week marks entrepreneurial fashion designer (and DUMBO resident) Betsey Lee's one year anniversary of opening up her eponymous shop in the neighborhood. The 26 Jay storefront is open Tuesday-Saturday from 12-6pm and Sunday from 12-5pm and offers an urbane collection of women's clothing, jewelry and handbags -- all produced locally in New York City.

We recently popped in to ask Betsey a few questions ...

BL_storephoto.jpgHow did Betsey Lee get started?
As long as I can remember, I have loved clothing and fashion. After graduating from college, I realized I wanted to put that love to work in a career in the fashion industry. It was the technical side of design that intrigued me the most so I decided to study patternmaking at F.I.T. I worked in the fashion industry for 17 years, for many different designers, first as a patternmaker and later on in both production and product development. All along I was working on my long term goal of having my own business, making my own designs.  Last year the job I had came to an end and I realized that I wanted to start my own business rather than find a new job.  The concept of the clothing and the brand was something that had been evolving over the years through all of my experiences in fashion. My husband became my business partner and Betsey Lee Corp. was born.

Why open up a shop in DUMBO?
I first discovered DUMBO when I was overseeing production at a factory here 15 years ago. I fell in love with the raw, industrial energy of the area. Eventually that love drew me back here to live. I had been living in DUMBO with my husband and son when I first made the decision to start Betsey Lee. So when we were deciding on a location for the store, of course DUMBO was the perfect place to begin our search. DUMBO being a new and growing community made it an ideal environment for the business. It is a blank canvas in the sense that DUMBO's identity is being shaped by all the things that are happening here. I felt that Betsey Lee had something to give to that as well as something to be a part of.

How would you describe the style of your line?
I make clothing that is elegant and stylish, and at the same time, comfortable. It is about making basics in a unique way and creating style out of simplicity. At its core, it is
combining classic colors with a neutral palette and designing modern shapes to compliment all figures. And of course a big part of what Betsey Lee is is that it is made in Brooklyn!

What are some of your most popular items?
We have had a very positive reaction to all of the designs in the store over the past year. A few of my personal favorites are: The Crochet Tunic, The Drape Cape, Ponte Leggings, and The Convertible Cowl Dress.

What are your hopes for the next year?
We plan to launch our website this year and hope to reach more people in other areas of NYC and beyond. We are expanding the store and offering new styles and products every month.

Fill in the blank: Dumbo is working creatively.....inspired locally.


Photo of Betsey Lee (center) with her mother and aunt Betsey Johnson by Marie Havens/ Model photos by Aaron Boldt.