The Interrogator with Kai Avent-deLeon

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Nestled in the center of Bedford-Stuyvesant, amongst a backdrop of elegant Brooklyn brownstones, a concept store called Sincerely, Tommy holds court on the corner of Tompkins and Monroe. Inside, a barista brews coffees behind a marble counter top. Customers peruse racks full of independent designers. Tropical plants interrupt the sleek concrete space with lean green fronds. The whole operation feels less outer-borough than it does Nolita–and arguably cooler.

Owner Kai Avent-deLeon opened Sincerely, Tommy in 2014 as a kind of love letter to the neighborhood she’d grown up in, bringing it the elevated, worldly aesthetic that she’d been cultivating for the better part of a decade. At 16, she interned nearby at the now-shuttered Addy & Ferro in Fort Greene. She studied LIM and FIT before moving on to Chanel. Eventually, after getting some bonafides under her belt, she opened her own store. Sincerely, Tommy has been crowd pleasing ever since.

The secret, it seems, is Avent-deLeon’s particular brand of idiosyncratic chic. The wares at Sincerely, Tommy feel almost placeless, in both time and origin. There’s a nod to the ‘70s, the ‘90s. The ‘80s occasionally slips in, though subtly. There’s Paris, L.A., Africa. It is a look that feels less influenced by more obvious trends, perfectly separate from the herd, just like the store itself. Below, we talk to Avent-deLeon about desert homes, traveling alone, and always doing your best.

Kai Avent-deLeon

Place of residence:

Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.

Current occupation:

Owner/Creative Director of Sincerely, Tommy.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

The best version of myself.

Quote to live by:

“Always do your best.”

Kai Avent-deLeon

First job you ever had:

Working as a sales person at Addy & Ferro, a Fort Greene boutique that sold emerging local brands.

Least favorite part of your day:

The “I don’t have a routine”-least part of my day.

Windows down, the song you’re playing is:

“Sara” by Fleetwood Mac.

Three guilty pleasures:

Binge-watching a new show on Netflix, shopping on Etsy, and taking naps.

Kai Avent-deLeon

If you had to watch one movie on repeat for eternity, what would it be?

Endless Poetry.

You have a million dollars to spend on art, you buy…

Well, my idea of art is vast, so I would probably buy an adobe-style home in the desert and invest the rest in something community-based.

Plane, train or automobile for a trip?

Automobile.

What IS your favorite trip?

A solo road trip to the desert. I camped out every night and just drove anywhere I wanted every morning. It was just me, a great playlist, and my imagination.

Personal travel ethos:

Travel alone at least once in your life.

Drink of choice:

Grapefruit kombucha.

Kai Avent-deLeon

Beach house or tree house:

Beach house.

Where was the best meal you ever had and what was it?

Mexico City street food.

What is the best news you ever received?

That I was going to be opening my store on the exact date I manifested.

Briefly describe the best concert you have ever gone to.

Prince at Madison Square Garden. He is my favorite artist, and when I was 16 my mom surprised me with tickets to his show. It was a transcendental experience.

Where do you go for inspiration, peace of mind?

I travel a lot, but the desert landscape is my element and usually where I go to reconnect.

Photos by Atisha Paulson for SIXTY Hotels

Jenny Bahn

Jenny Bahn

Jenny Bahn is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn, specializing in music, fashion, the arts, and culture, both high and low. Her work has been featured in V Magazine, CR, Office, and TIME. She is the Managing Editor of Alpha SIXTY.

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