Jackson Heights resident starts fashion company

Peachi app helps users find personal style

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

In an age of online shopping, many people find themselves spending more time and money trying to find the look that’s right for them.

In fact, about 30 percent of online shoppers say they purchase clothing items in three different sizes, in the hopes that one fits.

With this knowledge, Justin Ramos, a Queens Village native and Jackson Heights resident, built the fashion company, Peachi.

Justin Ramos, Peachi founder

Peachi is an AI-powered digital dressing room application that’s partnered with 400 brands, allowing users to develop their own personal style.

It’s an interactive platform that offers various features to get to know one’s style, such as styling games, the ability to pin and save items, as well as photographing clothes already owned to determine what to work around.

Ramos, 31, attended Amherst College in Massachusetts, where he played baseball and football.

He said that while he’s a software engineer by trade, key events earlier in life such as his sports career are what inspired him to develop this app.

“My football coach was really big on the whole idea of ‘look good, feel good, play good.’ When I graduated college, I understood how to do that in the athletic fields, but thought about how that translates to a profession,” Ramos said.

“I said, ‘Let me build something that helps people look and feel great every day, so that they can be their best selves, and just feel confident when they walk outside the house.’ That’s how Peachi was born,” he continued. “I wanted to build a tool that really helps people understand their style and find great pieces for them in a much easier way than currently exists.”

One of Peachi’s most personalized features is its sizing calculator, which uses sizing data from various brands to calculate a user’s size in a different brand.

Because the program is only about six weeks into development, the sizing calculator is currently available for men’s sizing.

Ramos plans to expand the tool to meet women’s needs in the near future.

“We ask you a series of questions, such as what the brand of your favorite shirt is. If someone says they have a shirt from H&M that fits perfectly, or another one from Zara, they’d click on that. Then we ask what size that shirt is,” he explained.

“We’re able to use that information for a bunch of different brands, and figure out what is the best size for you. Then we send an email with brands that we work with, and the sizes you should wear in that brand,” he continued. “So we might say, ‘You said you’re a large at Zara, but you’re actually a medium at H&M. That’s a big problem we found, where sometimes you can be a large in one, but a small in another brand.”

While the brand does not manufacture clothing itself, it is connected with hundreds of big name brands including Balenciaga, Calvin Klein, Burberry and Adidas.

Peachi is participating in an accelerator run by Antler, a global venture capital firm with offices worldwide, including in New York.

“Antler has been really helpful. They have this idea called ‘first principles,’ which identifies what must be true in order for this vision of the future to happen. We know that people have issues right now shopping online, so that’s what kind of started us to go down that path of figuring out the problems people have,” Ramos said.

“We’ve been scientists the last six weeks, having hypotheses, asking questions, learning and just doing small experiments on each step,” he continued. “It’s really helpful to have people in your corner who have invested in and built a lot of businesses before, giving you guidance along the way.”

About 1,000 people around the world are currently using Peachi, and Ramos expects that number to grow.

Those interested can visit Peachi’s website, download the app on their mobile device and follow the brand on social media @staypeachi on Twitter and Facebook, and @keepitpeachi on Instagram.

Program empowers locals with dementia

‘Stories in the Moment’ engages folks through movement, storytelling

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

The community of those living with dementia is often underestimated—due to the lack of representation and positivity surrounding the subject.

A Rego Park resident is trying to change that in her neighborhood and its surrounding communities through “Stories in the Moment,” a co-creative dance, movement and storytelling program designed for people living with dementia.

The initiative was founded by Magda Kaczmarska, a dancer, choreographer, teaching artist and creative aging advocate.

Kaczmarska dedicates her career to empowering individuals and advocating for brain health-related issues, as shown through her other efforts including “DanceStream Projects,” “Every Body Moves” and “BrainFM.”

She’s also a fellow at the Atlantic Institute, focusing on expanding access, confidence and agency around brain health.

“I created ‘Stories in the Moment’ out of a desire to really extend the resource of dance as a vehicle for connection, community building and storytelling,” Kaczmarska said.

The Queens chapter of “Stories in the Moment” has been connecting virtually since April 29 of this year, meeting for one hour a few times each month.

“Dementia is a neurocognitive, degenerative condition. It influences people’s ability to feel like they can connect and communicate as fluidly as they may have in other points in their life, it might influence people’s fluidity in movement and it can influence memory,” she continued. “I think that dance can really be a unifying language, and can facilitate a democratic and equitable space for people to be able to connect, in community and in communication. In ‘Stories in the Moment,’ we connect around themes and topics that are really universal, and it can be as mundane as hobbies or favorite dishes in the kitchen, or it could be larger, like what community means for you.”

Although Kaczmarska initially formed “Stories in the Moment”  two years ago with Dementia Action Alliance, this local chapter was made possible for the Forest Hills, Rego Park and Kew Gardens communities through a partnership with Queens Community House, a nonprofit organization.

Wendy Kwan, director of Social Adult Day Services at QCH, said that the center is proud to partner with Kaczmarska and provide a home to localize her vision.

“Our mission is to really help the members of our community, to give them tools so that they can live successfully. I think Magda’s program really ties into that because it helps the members of our program who are physically frail or have memory loss to really engage with each other,” she said. “Even those that may have had a little harder time conducting on Zoom, we’ve seen them actually contribute to the programming in the ‘Stories in the Moment.’ So that’s been really exciting for me.”

Kaczmarska is a proud recipient of a grant from the Statewide Community Regrants program, a partnership between New York State Council on the Arts and Flushing Town Hall.

“It just felt like it’s like a stamp of approval from the community saying, ‘This is an engagement in the community that matters,’ she said. “And I felt like that was really meaningful.”

This Queens chapter of “Stories in the Moment” has been connecting virtually since April 29 of this year, meeting for one hour a few times each month.

Each session begins with an introduction and greeting, followed by warmups, moving together, group storytelling and a cooldown.

The series culminated with “Summer Celebrations,” a session to celebrate the community formed.

“I founded ‘Stories in the Moment,’ but because it’s a co-creative, community-based program, I think it’s really important to recognize that the program doesn’t exist without the individuals,” Kaczmarska said.

“It’s become and it continues to evolve because of the individuals that bring their voices into it,” she continued. “So I facilitate, but ultimately, it’s our program.”

Kaczmarska currently lives in Rego Park, and emigrated to the U.S. from Poland when she was a child.

She said that being a queer immigrant herself, she’s familiar with the feeling of being ostracized—one that folks with dementia often face.

I think as an immigrant, I have experienced what it’s like to be an outsider, and how important it is when you find, or you identify communities of belonging,” she said.

“They can be chosen communities and may not necessarily be your blood family, but I think over the course of my life, I’ve been privileged to have several, chosen communities that have felt like home and family to me,” she continued. “The heart behind the work that I do is to extend that healing power of community to others, and I do it through dance, because that’s my craft.”

Kaczmarska and the team at QCH all feel that dementia is underrepresented—even misrepresented—in society and in the media today.

Bringing programs like “Stories in the Moment” into the community not only helps people living with dementia become connected and empowered, but also shows the public that these individuals are just as capable of expressing their stories, artistry and emotions as they are.

“I’ve been really, really excited to connect with communities here, especially just recognizing that there’s still a lot of stigma in our community and the arts serve as a powerful way to kind of build dementia-friendly spaces to find shared language,” Kaczmarska said.

“I wanted to step into that need and partner with an organization—like Queens Community House—that has been really serving this community for years and especially over the course of the pandemic.”

Kaczmarska added that she is proud to have received a grant from Queens Council for the Arts, which will support 12 more sessions of “Stories in the Moment” with QCH.

Online sessions will begin later this month.

For more information about “Stories in the Moment” or to inquire about registering, contact Wendy Kwan at Queens Community House at 718-592-5757 ext. 230, or email [email protected].

Fogo de Chão partners with Queens Together to feed locals

First Queens location to open in Elmhurst later this year

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

Fogo de Chão, an internationally renowned restaurant founded in Southern Brazil in 1979, will soon make its Queens debut.

Later this year, the restaurant will open a brand new location next to Queens Center Mall in Elmhurst—marking its first Queens location, fifth in New York and 67th globally.

In preparation and celebration of the upcoming opening, Fogo de Chão partnered with Queens Together, an organization formed during the COVID-19 lockdown to address food insecurity.

Last Friday, the two groups came together at First Baptist Church of Elmhurst to provide fresh, high quality meals to over 1,500 community residents.

Fogo de Chão and volunteers worked together to provide people with meats butchered and prepared on their full-sized mobile churrasco grills.

Folks enjoyed their signature churrasco-style meats—Fraidinha and Picanha—along with mixed greens and their well-loved potato salad.

“Coming to Queens is such an amazing opportunity for us because it’s the most culturally diverse city and borough, and that’s what we love to do at Fogo,” Katie Calvin, general manager of Fogo de Chão, said.

“Especially for people who are from Latino or Hispanic countries, they often don’t have somewhere to go that feels like home,” she continued. “That’s why we love that we’re coming to Queens; we’re really excited.”

In addition to the Queens event, Fogo de Chão is committed to providing for the communities they serve, and arranges for mobile events to take place across the U.S.

Queens Together was also proud of their presence at the event, continuing their mission of empowering, representing and supporting the local restaurant community, as well as Queens residents in need.

We’re just trying to be a forward-facing program. We try to close all the gaps and connect people with food and services, and with restaurants in general, our biggest thing is trying to help them stay in business,” Devin Kloss, media director at Queens Together, said.

“Our goal is just to be somebody that they can call when they have a question, and then either we’ll find out the answer, or we’ll find the person to get them the answer,” he continued. “That’s really our goal.”

Mets third baseman Eduardo Escobar helped prepare food at the event.

Also in attendance was third baseman for the Mets, Eduardo Escobar, who is a big fan of the restaurant.

“It was actually a really organic, beautiful connection that was made with Eduardo. He started to eat at Fogo, and we started to hear him saying, ‘Fogo power,’ and ‘I play better after Fogo,’” Calvin said.

“Now we have luckily have a really tight-bonded relationship, and a percentage of our sales go to his foundation, where he provides to kids mostly in Venezuela with baseball materials, opportunities, food and supplies.”

Escobar spoke fondly of Fogo de Chão as he helped prepare the meats that went out into the community, and is happy that the restaurant so close to his heart is now physically close to him, where he plays baseball.

“The food is just so delicious, and I love everything about it. The people are also so nice,” Escobar said.

“Everything they’re doing to help the community is so important and special, and this is an amazing opportunity,” he continued. “God bless this restaurant. The food helps me feel at home.”

Fill the Form for Events, Advertisement or Business Listing