Preston Konrad is a retail guy. He’s worked as a creative director around the world for top brands like Ralph Lauren and hosted a TV show — but he’d never had a shop. That changes today when he opens his store on W49th Street between 9/10th Avenue, in the space that used to be occupied by November 19.
Preston has been in Hell’s Kitchen since 2005 and runs an international brand consultancy, but working from his apartment during COVID got too much for him. “I was looking for an office for weeks after hitting my pandemic plateau,” he said. “I went over to WeWork on 43rd and they’re like, ‘and this little desk to be yours for X amount’ and I’m wondering where the other people sit.”
He checked his Instagram DMs after coming out of the tour and saw a message from his friend Matt Fox at Fine & Dandy. “Matt said ‘what do you think about Clark’s space?’,” Clark Chung is the owner of November 19 who moved to the Lower East Side during the pandemic. “I thought that I really needed an office, not a store. But then I said ‘wait a second — this could be the best of both worlds’. Everyone thinks I’m crazy,” he said.
Preston had recently launched his own fragrance brand — and was building that business online with his 114,000 Instagram followers. He’s started with a range of candles, each inspired by a place or moment in his life. “My Instagram followers have been all these places with me,” he said. “So every morning, I show the view from my highrise building,” Highrise is the first fragrance in his collection. Upstate links to his second home in the Catskills, Doheny Drive to time living in LA, Montmarte comes from his journeys to Paris, Ellsworth from summer trips to Maine. “I wanted something that they felt connected to. Everything’s come from Instagram, we launched exclusively online and we’ve spent $0 in advertising. So they’ve been my loyal family and they are now going to get to come and experience it in person. It’s a hard thing buying fragrance online,” added Preston.
“This is space is for the people who have been with me on social media for years. Now they can come and hang out. I designed the space to look like my apartment — and they know what my apartment looks like. So it’s kind of like a bit of like us getting to know each other better,” Preston told us.
The back of the store is configured to be used for work and meetings. But his retail ambitions might mean that will get squeezed. “It’s just candles right now. I’ve done a really nice little like collection of other things just to round out space, like beautiful pillows and throw blankets. We’re going to expand each fragrance into multiple categories in the fall. So you’ll be able to touch, lather as well as burn,” he said.
The store opens at noon today — and Preston is happy to have Fine & Dandy as a neighbor. He told us: “I discovered them as a customer and now we’ve become friends over the years. I go in there like five times a week. It feels like my closet. So now I’ve got my closet down the street and my living room here!”
Preston Konrad, 461 W49th Street, New York, NY 10019. www.prestonkonrad.com