Inside the Venue: Feng Sway, NYC

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Walking into plant-covered vintage boutique Feng Sway, you may think you’ve stumbled into an urban tropical vintage paradise. This makes the Greenpoint, Brooklyn shop the perfect host for Sofar NYC. We chat with Feng Sway’s Kate Lauter (Founder/Owner) and Jamie Kaufman about running a female owned and operated business, building a community space and shopping Frank Sinatra’s mom’s closet.

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Feng Sway Feng Sway

First Sofar:
My first Sofar I attended was about two years ago in this crazy loft in Soho. The first one we hosted at Feng Sway was in February this year. At the end of the night, I was on the verge of tears because it was such a beautiful vibe. Everyone who attended was really lovely, respectful and present. It was something that we’d never felt before in the shop. People were really vibing and having a good time.

Favorite Sofar artist she’s seen:
Evolfo played the first set at the first Sofar we hosted. It was so dope; they had their own light show. It was super dark in the shop, and the only lights were these pink and red and purple lights. They blew us away. We weren’t ready for it at all. They did an amazing cover of Devo’s “Whip It”.

Dream Sofar act:
Beck and Gil Mantera’s Dream Party

If she could attend a Sofar anywhere in the world, it’d be:
A beautiful rooftop in Spain, in Madrid or Barcelona. I’d love something outside, tropical feeling. We try to make it as green in the shop as we can.

Artist she’s loving right now:
Y La Bamba. We made this connection through one of Sofar’s audio engineers Jake, who is starting up a record label. They came in and filmed a music video in the shop. Also love Little Dragon, Jay Prince, The Internet.

Favorite Sofar Moment:
One artist had just broken up with her boyfriend that day and was really vulnerable about it. She shared that with everyone, and there was a lot of emotion in her set. It was so special and intimate.

On Creating a Positive Community Through Physical Space:
We are a women-owned and operated business. Women are underrepresented in the  business world, so that’s part of our identity; we only hire people who identify as women. We also make an effort to be friends with our neighbors. We know all the shops in Greenpoint, and most vintage shops in the ‘hood are women-owned, so we’re like a sisterhood. We support each other and send customers to each other. We also accept bitcoin as a way to be connected to different online communities!

It’s pretty rare someone doesn’t walk in and not comment on the energy of the space, We try to keep positive things going in the shop. I have a customer who always going to therapy across the street, then comes here after therapy because they say this is a healing place to be vulnerable after therapy.

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Feng Sway Feng Sway

Most Interesting Pieces in the Shop:
We have two buys that were the coolest. One of the craziest places we’ve been invited to shop are Frank Sinatra’s mom’s home. She was a Coppertone model in the ‘50s and very fabulous in general. We have a couple rugs from there, including one with a big lion on it, unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It was a very surreal moment.

We also shopped Betsey Johnson’s beach house. It had a ton of her runway pieces, samples that were never released and furniture.

Where They Find Their Pieces:
Everything is hand-selected, and we do all of the buying in house. (Feng Sway founder) Kate started it online, and she’s been collecting since she was a little girl. This has been her dream since she was 12 or 13. I met Kate serendipitously, we talked for like 20 minutes, and she was like, do you want to open a vintage store? I said yes! We do a lot of traveling – Kate just brought back pieces from Mexico. We also do a lot from the US and South Florida because Kate is from there. Part of the trade is not really telling people where you get your stuff because we want to keep the mystery going.

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Sofar at Feng Sway Selasi Tawia

Why They Host Events Like Sofar:
When Kate and I opened the shop, we decided we were going to make the most of the space. We pay crazy rent, so we might as well make it worth our while. I came up with the idea very soon after opening – what if we make this a music venue? I remembered attending Sofar! We want it to be a regular part of the shop. We want to be more than a retail store, and bring in good people into our space. Maybe they’ll come back and be customers, but it’s not about that. It’s about giving people an experience, and it’s also very cool for us to sit and watch a show in our space.

We’re doing our own weird thing here, and that people are responding to that is super cool. We don’t take anything very seriously and like to have fun with everything we do, try to make people laugh and have fun.

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Feng Sway Feng Sway

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