LaValle opened her clothes store earlier this year in Grady’s Collective Market, located at 923 Fulton Street, a space where up-and-coming entrepreneurs hawk their wares.
LaValle’s store, where she sells clothing, footwear and dishes styling advice, is only 100 square feet. That’s a far cry the floor space she commandeered in earlier years, but LaValle isn’t worried. One day, she plans to open a full-size store of her own.
“I’d like to go forward with my own space hopefully by next year,” LaValle said.
She was born in Flatbush but grew up on Long Island. After high school, she landed a fashion internship that required traveling back and forth to Paris.
“It was a pretty amazing experience,” LaValle said.
That led to work as a stylist for Hollywood celebrities; her list of former clients includes Mark Wahlberg, Kirsten Dunst, Rosario Dawns and Wesley Snipes.
After more than a decade of styling, LaValle changed gears, going to work as a buyer for the clothing store Institute in SoHo. She was there until October of 2007, when the store closed over a rent dispute.
“I had to decide on what direction I want to go in at that time,” LaValle said.
After much thought, she began a series of fashionista odd jobs, including selling jewelry at Union Square. The brisk trade she did there convinced LaValle a small business would work.
“My whole thing in picking clothing is to offer something that people don’t really know about, but that’s really innovative,” she said. “I’m more about really interesting things without a brand name behind them.”
The subtle but sophisticated items in her store go hand-in-hand with the Clinton Hill neighborhood where she lives and works.
“I like the quaintness and the prices of a nice community shopping area,” Lavalle said. “I don’t want to be in the mishmash of the Atlantic Terminal Mall.”