Mary Z. always had an eye for fashion, beginning her career journey at the age of sixteen while working at Lester’s. Lester’s was the go-to apparel store for all ages, and Mary became a pioneer of the fashion industry in Brooklyn.
Mary would dress her customers, putting together eye-catching wardrobes each season. Her fashion sense and knowledge of fit eventually landed her the position of head buyer, and she’s been going strong for 48 years!
When word got out that Lester’s would be closing their doors in Brooklyn, the community was in a frenzy, especially Mary’s customers. She would get phone calls and text messages from her loyal customers daily saying they couldn’t get dressed without her and wished for her return.
While Mary entertained offers from department stores and New York based companies, she ultimately decided that her heart, soul, and customers were in Brooklyn.
With her buying already done from the previous year, Mary thought to facilitate her customers’ apparel needs as the holidays were quickly approaching.
Introducing the “ultimate shopping experience…”
Paris Pop launched in September 2019 as the first ever Pop-up shop for women’s clothing in Brooklyn, offering imported fashion forward trends as well as modest looks from several European countries.
Paris Pop offers a fun and friendly environment where many customers come and hang out and also enjoy perks such as candies, gourmet “Paris Pop-corn,” coffee baristas, and giveaways. Customers often say, “When we’re bored, we just go to Mary!”
In between Mary’s frequent trips to Europe, I had a chance to meet with her at Paris Pop.
Q. For nearly half of a century you’ve been doing the same job. What keeps Mary going?
A. Job? (She chuckles).I’m with friends all day every day. We laugh, drink coffee, discuss preparations for special events, recipes, and vacations. It’s not a job, it’s my life. It’s fun and I get to shop for clothes and play dress up daily. I don’t see what I do as a job.
Picking up on trends, fittings, and looks comes naturally to me. When I see something, it’s an easy yay or nay. I can tell if something is going to be a good fit on a person when it’s on a hangar. I’m very thankful for the talent that I’ve been given, and for the trust to complete a customer’s outfit for their special occasion. Seems more like a hobby that I love than a job.
Q. What’s next for “Mary Z Buyer” and “Paris Pop”?
A. Where do I begin? For the past few months, I’ve put in 16 to18 hour days working with my family, which has been very supportive of me on ideas to enhance the customer shopping experience. My daughter and son-in-law start every meeting with, “Failing to plan, is planning to fail.”
What’s next for me is doing what I do but through “Paris Pop” where we listen to what customers want in order to help them simplify shopping. I don’t want to say too much just yet as we have launch dates for new platforms, products, and categories.
I’ve been told that I’m likely to be the longest running fashion buyer in the world. In fact, I was told that roughly 30 years ago! I’ve been doing this longer than half of my life!
For the first time since I was a teenager, I took the summer off, and was thrilled. I had beach plans, lunch plans, travel plans, but after a couple of weeks, I felt a void that prevented me from fulfilling what I thought would be a memorable summer.
I missed my friends. I missed my vendors, which I had built relationships with over the years. I’ve dressed the same person as a child, mother, and grandmother. I wouldn’t know what else to do with my life. Paris Pop feels like day one of a new chapter in my life.
With the overwhelming love and support from Mary’s customers and her neighborhood, what started as a pop-up, turned into much more.
Mary invites you to follow her new journey on the Paris Pop Instagram page, @maryzbuyer, for new looks, fashions, and trends, which are posted daily.
Mary is looking forward to servicing the new generation and continuing to be there for her loyal friends and clients.