Chandra Greer first came to my attention when she was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine in a feature on Women Who Started Over. She went from being a successful marketing executive to owning a chic stationery store called Greer in Chicago. I became acquainted with her on Twitter (you can follow her @GREERChicago) and knew right away that this stylish woman of substance would be right at home at 55 Secret Street.
Chandra Greer: I was on the accounts side in advertising and I enjoyed the work - coming up with ideas, getting ad campaigns produced. But I remember working really hard and people, my co-workers, would say, "You should be working that hard for yourself."
It's funny. I read the piece you did on Josie Natori where you mentioned that she almost opened a McDonald's franchise. I almost bought into a Taco Bell franchise when I left my job. I was really close to doing it but it's not enough for me to run a business to make money. I needed to have a message. And, I don't eat Taco Bell...
Chandra: It's from John F. Kennedy's inaugural speech in 1961. He was talking about geo-political relations and he was saying that dealing with each other in a respectable, honorable way is not a weakness, it is a strength. People think that it is weak to extend kindness or consideration to another person. To me, you are strong enough and secure enough to extend yourself in that way.
Nichelle: How long did it take you to embrace social media?
Chandra: I've been on Twitter for about two years and I started to hit my stride on it about six months ago. I just try to be myself. It's different for me because I am the face of my store, but it is also kind of personal because the brand is me. I also designed our website and do all of the writing and product uploading.
Nichelle: Speaking of Twitter, you and I are always shooting the breeze about all kinds of things, from fashion to books and wine and I wanted to know some of your spring favorites in these areas. Let's start with makeup and skincare. Are you partial to anything right now?
Chandra: I recently rediscovered Clinique. It was my college brand and now they have this new formula Even Better Makeup with SPF 15. That stuff is amazing. I am also really liking MAC eye shadows.
Nichelle: How about fashion. What are you really loving this season?
Chandra: I'm really liking Alexander Wang a lot right now. My style is "pretty-tough" to "edgy-pretty". Also, I have a serious shoe problem so a lot of what I've picked up for spring is footwear. I like these Sigerson Morrison gladiator sandals and I love the "warrior woman" in the description of these Chloe sandals. I think that might sum up my style even better than the pretty-tough, edgy-pretty description. I also love plastic shoes and sneakers.
Also love a lot of VPL this season - especially the strappy, slouchy things.
Chandra: I told you about the Clairborne & Churchill pinot noir, but here's another wine I love, Peacemaker Cabernet. I'm also liking zinfandels now.
Chandra: There are a lot of good ones out there now. It seems to me they are a little more sophisticated now. I've also been enjoying sake all of a sudden.
As for the book I just finished reading, it's called Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan and it's a fascinating look inside Japanese culture from two unusual perspectives, journalism and the sex industry.
*Store photos by Kitty Sheehan