En Route: Pink Olive

Photos by Joanne Pio for The Style Line

Pink Olive – Williamsburg

Address: 370 Bedford Avenue (Between S. 4th and S 5th Street)Williamsburg, Brooklyn 11211


Celebrating the little things is what entrepreneur

Grace Kang is perhaps most proud of. As the creative mastermind behind thriving small business Pink Olive (with sister businesses including Pink Olive School and subscription service OliveBox) it’s safe to say Grace knows a thing or two about bridging the gap between business and passion – two elements she heavily attributes to the reasons behind why she does what she does.

“Since I consider myself to be half creative and half business, I understand what [small businesses] are going through and want them to do well. I’m on their side,” Grace explained in our interview below, “

Life is all about being present in the moment but also learning something new each day. It doesn’t matter if you run your own business, or you work for another company, we all need to invest in continual learning and fine tune our craft.” With Grace and her team’s commitment to thoughtful curation and maintaining a community-first approach, Pink Olive has become a destination for those in search of beautiful objects that inspire conscious consumerism, and more importantly, fun.

It’s easy to get lost in the shelves of beautiful paper goods from the likes of Rifle Paper Co. to local Brooklyn letterpress shops to independent glossies and artisanal candles and soaps. With multiple storefronts all throughout New York City, Pink Olive has created a haven for independent makers to showcase their product in an intimate and nurturing space. “There is nothing we value more than giving back to our community, by listening to them and changing with the times,” Grace shared, “We also love supporting other local businesses and find that when to work together for the mutual benefit of delighting our customers, everybody wins.” A win-win situation for us as well, as we had the recent opportunity to meet with Grace and three of her equally passionate Gift Selling Specialists Leah, Rachel and Allie for an afternoon at their Williamsburg store. Without giving too much away discover more from our afternoon featuring exclusive moments from our visit captured by Joanne Pio for The Style Line.


Grace Kang, Founder of Pink Olive

I’m originally from Korea, where I was born and spent my childhood.

As a toddler, I always looked forward to May 5th, aka Children’s Day. It was my happy day, when my two sisters and I got to enjoy simple pleasures like eating ice cream and going to the playground. I still remember that feeling and hold onto the importance of finding everyday joy in the little things.

My family moved to the Las Vegas/California area when I was seven and eventually to the east coast when I was 13. My father wanted my sisters and me to have equal opportunities and not be bound by Korea’s double standards. In general, my father was my greatest inspiration growing up, and he remains a big part of who I am today. He always had a way of making things look effortless and believed in pursuing your dream and going after what you want. His confidence in my abilities encouraged me to be fearless in everything that I do and trust that everything will work out for the best. He passed away almost four years ago, but his strength still lives within me.

Everything that I enjoy in life, I share at Pink Olive. My daily routine goes through a filter of whimsy, old-world and relaxed happiness. I like to balance my life & work (if there is such a thing) with my husband and adorable puppy named Oliver in NYC and in the country. I love exploring new neighborhoods, going window-shopping for inspirations and eating my way through every town. Yes, I love to eat and dream about my next meal.

Talk to us about leadership. How have opening Pink Olive boutiques informed how you lead? Do you think personal style plays a role in leadership?

As I get more and more into my business, I realize how important it is to build a solid foundation around my team. Personal style definitely plays a role in leadership because being a good leader is about inspiring and motivating others. When I started my business, I used to think that I can do it all. I made the number one mistake of not delegating as much, keeping all the processes in my head and trying to balance it all. It wasn’t until the third year into my business that I fully grasped the idea of bringing my personal style into my leadership and having it work for my lifestyle.

As for my team, I generally look for someone who has a good attitude and zest for life, as well as a desire to learn. I always say that I can teach someone retail, but I can’t teach him or her to have integrity or strong work ethic. That has to come from within. When I can bring out the best in each team member, we can carve the path together.

Based on the three physical store locations, how would you characterize the Pink Olive community and do you think each store is reflective of its neighborhood?

Pink Olive would not exist without the support and encouragement of our community. There is nothing we value more than giving back to our community, by listening to them and changing with the times. We also love supporting other local businesses and find that when to work together for the mutual benefit of delighting our customers, everybody wins.

A few years ago, we also created our first ever Good Gifter Program that rewards our customers for being such great gifters and for coming back to shop with us. We truly value our customers’ time and hard-earned money and want to reward them by making their experience with us even more fun! It’s been a rewarding experience for us to see such a positive reaction, and we recently introduced this program to our online customers.

All three of our neighborhoods fit the clientele of our ideal customer, but in slightly different ways. The three stores are like children – they’re all similar but distinctly different. Our East Village location appeals mostly to creatives, single ladies, aunties/uncles, newly engaged couples and tourists. Our Park Slope location attracts creatives as well, but also many first-time families and Brooklyn locals. Our newest location in Williamsburg has a similar vibe as our East Village shop, appealing to creatives, single ladies and gents, families and definitely tourists!

What is one question you wish people asked you more often?

I wish people asked me how I slow down from the crazy, busy life. Living in NYC is fast-paced and busy, and I do love every moment of it. However, I also grew up in the burbs and need my quiet time to bring me back to calm. I think everyone needs those few moments to themselves each morning to regroup and recharge for the day. I also wish people asked me if work can be fun. And my answer would be an astounding YES! Life is too short to dread going into work. If you don’t love what you do, find something that makes you excited. Also, when you can incorporate a little bit of fun into your day, even in the smallest of ways, you become one step closer to finding your purpose in life.

We love the appreciation for fostering awareness and support for budding business through the Pink Olive School. Beyond the celebrating and fostering the creative aspect of your business, what story do you hope to tell through your efforts with Pink Olive?

As a mentor to creative businesses, I created Pink Olive School/Retail Recipes to shed some light on the “business” side of running a product business in a way that creatives can understand. Since I consider myself to be half creative and half business, I understand what they’re going through and want them to do well. I’m on their side. 

Life is all about being present in the moment but also learning something new each day. It doesn’t matter if you run your own business, or you work for another company, we all need to invest in continual learning and fine tune our craft.

We’ve also noticed Pink Olive’s affinity towards paper goods.  In the age of digital everything how do you think Pink Olive reminds the community to consider picking up a pen and paper?

We are such huge paper lovers so I’m glad you asked this question! Paper can extend the life of great design and reach to more people – it’s also one of the reasons why we started our sister company OliveBox, our subscription box for paper lovers. People are now longing for the simpler times when we used to get excited by getting a real, physical piece of snail mail or a surprise gift. Part of it is nostalgia, but there is also something genuine and thoughtful about taking the time to actually write out a letter, assemble a gift box or send a card. Even just a “hello” or sending a gift “just because” can be enough to brighten someone’s day.

Every month, we carefully curate some of our favorite paper finds that will enhance your lifestyle based on a theme. When customers sign up, they will not only be giving this gift to themselves (or people they love), but they will be receiving a gift they can pay forward with each piece of mail and snail mail they send back out into the world.

How are you making your creative endeavors count?

Pink Olive is a more than an ordinary gift shop. It’s a creative place with a mission to inspire giving and beautiful living. When our customers walk into the shop and feel inspired to give something thoughtful, we know we have done our job. Our motto – love.gift.smile – is the groundwork of everything that we do at Pink Olive. 

At Pink Olive, we also have a secondary mission in discovering creative talent and giving them the opportunity to grow their business through our stores. There is an art and a science to running a business, and I love coming up with new ways to do even better than the last. This is where business can become fun and rock & roll together – when our designers do well, we do well.

The Style Line was built on the premise of discovery, exploration and transit. With this in mind, if what is your “style line”? 

Whether I’m working in the store, out on a leisurely stroll, or meeting with designers, colleagues, customers, or potential team members, I am constantly on the hunt for unique finds. To me, there’s nothing more exciting than discovering a hidden gem or talent, and I feel very fortunate to live in NYC where I am always inspired by my surroundings. I hope Pink Olive becomes a similar source of inspiration for everyone who walks through the door! I love mixing and matching old with new, both in our shops (you’ll spot a variety of collected vintage props throughout the displays!) and in my personal style. I like to do the unexpected. Even when things are working well, I’m not afraid to shake things up and start fresh. After all, we all need to evolve with the times, which means always being willing to experiment.

“Celebrating personal style is about creating your “happy place.” Every day is filled with special moments and even non-occasions that need to be celebrated, and we want to make that happen for our customers. 

Pink Olive is about celebrating the little things and feeling loved.”

Leah Pellegrini – Gift Selling Specialist

I make a mean avocado toast and have a penchant for goofy puns.

I’m a big believer in small beauties, in following your gut, in the wisdom of street art, and in the healing powers of a sunset or a mug of hot tea.

How has your work with Pink Olive inspired or informed some of your off-duty passions and pursuits?

Every day at Pink Olive offers a new creative challenge, whether I’m writing posts for our blog, styling shots of new products, or designing graphics for store events. It’s like regular exercise to strengthen my creative muscles and keep my imagination limber for my off-duty artistic projects (which range widely from photography to illustration to hand-lettering). Grace is also an amazing advocate for our team members’ unique passions. With her immense support, one of my favorite personal pursuits – snapping New York street scenes on my Instagram account – has developed into an official line of limited-edition photo cards that we now sell in the store!

What have you discovered about yourself, that you might not have had you not joined the Pink Olive team?

I’ve always embraced whimsy, but my position here has helped me see the deep value in a whimsical approach to both work and play. Creativity isn’t just a quirk, but an asset; warmth and enthusiasm aren’t just positive personality traits, but valuable resources; and an appreciation for the little joys in life can truly be infectious.

The Style Line was built on the premise of discovery, exploration and transit. With this in mind, if what is your “style line”?  

I walk and jog an absurd number of miles every day and always take the long, convoluted route home, just to spend as much time on the street as possible. It’s a miracle I haven’t been run over by now – I’m always looking up, down, and all around for unexpected bits of inspiration instead of actually watching my step. My favorite thing about New York’s aesthetic is its messy, hodgepodge honesty: the shiny skyscrapers sharing the same block as ancient churches, the wobbly bits of surprisingly wise graffiti, the apartment buildings engulfed in ivy and layers of peeling paint. My personal style has a similar slant. I like to mix Converse sneakers with red lipstick, sharp blazers with silk pants – and I’m never one to shy away from bold prints. For me, it’s all about owning your story and wearing your heart on your (literal) sleeve.

Rachel Eudaly – Gift Selling Specialist

I have two primary rules in life: “Quality over Quantity” and “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

I’m a wife, daughter, sister, friend, (and dog mom). I value all of the relationships that give me those titles, and try my hardest to give them the time they deserve. In my free time, I love watching movies, playing with watercolors, sewing (and other home decor) projects, and taking the dogs on walks in our Fort Greene hood!

How does the Pink Olive environment inspire your personal style?

I am constantly impressed by the beautiful and clever creations we receive from our stationery designers. I’m always inspired by a fun color combination or new motif that they’re featuring. As a Southerner (I’m from Arkansas), I wear a lot more color and patterns than the typical New Yorker. Just like merchandising in the store, I look into my closet and get inspired to combine a different color palette and mix of prints.

Walk us through your day-to-day at Pink Olive – What is one element that makes it cohesive and that you look forward to the most?

I work in both our Williamsburg and Park Slope stores. The customer base and buying trends are quite different between the two locations. Williamsburg gets a lot more tourists, which is so fun. I get to meet people from all over the world, and help them find the perfect NY memento. In Park Slope, I get to interact with more families, and love helping them celebrate all of life’s milestones. I feel fortunate to be plugged into two different communities, and love connecting with our customers in both hoods. In both stores I spend a lot of time merchandising, working on our wholesale business, and doing upkeep on our website.

The Style Line was built on the premise of discovery, exploration and transit. With this in mind, if what is your “style line”? 

Ultimately, I’m a practical gal. I need to be comfortable working on my feet all day and still be dressed for the elements outside. I’ve never been a trendy dresser. I wear what I like, and what works for my lifestyle. Nowhere in the world does multi-purpose, practical dressing look as good as in New York. I love that NYC allows people to express themselves fully, without limits. I love the international flavor in NY and seeing how styles from all over the world get picked up and mixed together. That blend is NY style to me.

Allie Blanchard – Gift Selling Specialist

Outside of my time at Pink Olive I am a student of psychology and student of life!

I consider myself to be a connoisseur of the simple treats of life, finding personal joy in everyday interactions and adventures. In my free time I enjoy riding my bike to explore new places and I’m also actively involved in research on creativity and imagination, two of the things I believe to be most essential and valuable in this world.

What do you enjoy most about what you do as a member of the Pink Olive team and what do you hope to contribute to its overall story?

As a member of this incredible team I enjoy the fact each of our unique styles, talents, and interests culminate in a retail setting in which we can share that with people, both city locals visitors from afar. I hope I contribute the energy that supports everyone’s creative projects and extends the loving and welcoming vibe of our Pink Olive family to our store’s neighborhood and those that visit us!

Would you your position has Pink Olive and has presented unexpected sources of creative inspiration? 

Pink Olive is all about unexpected sources of inspiration! Every person I meet comes into the store because they were drawn to something that spoke to them personally. My job is to make a connection with an individual and learn about them so I am able to meet whatever needs and wants they may have and ultimately make their day better. The stories people tell about how they ended up there with me in that moment are fascinating and energizing, and remind me that the world is a pretty small place!

The Style Line was built on the premise of discovery, exploration and transit. With this in mind, if what is your “style line”? 

I find much of my style inspiration from the way that people personally interact with the city. Those of us that live here are like the blood that flows in the concrete veins that have been built around us, and we are all so busy that we tend to forget how connected we are to one another. My personal style is a combination of comfort and color that I think is a blend of the way the city forces us to live, which is somewhere between being on top of developing trends and dancing to the beat of your own drum.