Top of Mind
Good People: Kathleen Sorbara
By Crown Affair
Welcome to Good People, an interview series featuring those who inspire us and keep us forever excited for the future. This month's Person is local NYC vintage dealer Kathleen Sorbara. She founded and runs Chickee’s Vintage in Williamsburg, along with her new Chickee’s Vintage Men’s Store just down the street, building beautiful collections of Italian tailored trousers and vintage Gucci loafers, and storefronts that are in and of themselves uniquely beautiful. Below she shares her care routines and daily rituals—read her full interview here:
- How old is Chickees and when did you start collecting vintage clothing?
Chickee opened her doors in 2019, but I’ve collected vintage clothing all my life! Growing up in Florida, my mom dragged me to Goodwills (against my will). Eventually I caught on to the thrill of the hunt, but my passion for thrifting definitely was passed down from my mother!
- Was there a turning point or thought process that led you to open your own shop(s)? Did you always see that for yourself or was it something you sort of grew into?
I started modeling when I was 12, and I always knew that there was a time stamp on my career in that field—I always had my hand in other pots. I come from a family of small business owners; grocery stores, hair salons, general contracting businesses all run through my bloodline. The small business mentality is something that’s always been a part of me. The charming small businesses in the city were one of the things that drew me to New York, and I think I always knew in the back of my head that I’d have my own business here one day.
- What are some of your personal favorite pieces?
Some of my favorite vintage pieces are items with sentimental value, a 1960s crochet dress I picked up on a romantic trip to Tokyo, an antique agate ring passed down to me from my maternal grandmother, things like that. I think my wardrobe stays pretty consistent in the winter months—I always want to be comfortable and cozy. Big pants and cozy knits are always in rotation.
- What does a typical day look like for you? Do you have any rituals you follow?
Lately life has felt consistent, which is a nice change of pace after a crazy two years of Covid. I definitely thrive in a routine, but I’m also a Sagittarius, so I love to get out of the city and go on spontaneous adventures as much as possible. When I’m in New York, my coffee set up usually is what gets me out of the bed—I’ve got a relatively lavish situation: good beans, a good grinder, filtered water, cute coffee mugs, all the things. I try to keep my phone in my bedroom while I make breakfast, and at least give myself 30 minutes in the morning to settle in before my day starts. Lately I’ve been going through my old photo books for inspiration, and I just picked up Rick Rubin’s new book! As far as rituals go, I’ve been pretty consistent about working out this year, which has done wonders for my physical and mental health. I was getting sick a lot last year—I decided I needed to get back to prioritizing myself after prioritizing my business for the past two years. I feel amazing!!!!!
- What has your relationship to your hair been? Past, present, how has it changed over time?
Honestly, my hair is one of the things I love the most about myself physically. I don’t have to do much to it, it’s not that fussy. I chopped all my hair off in 2021 because I needed a change, but I’m growing it back out now and I can’t wait until it’s super long again. Nothing fixes a bad mood like hiding behind a good hair day. On another note, I’ve obtained a lot more gray hairs over the past two years and I’m kind of just rolling with it, I think they’re chic.
My whole life my dad has always said to me “pull your hair back and show off your pretty face.” If I’m ever feeling like a mess, pulling my hair into a tight bun and throwing on a little blush usually gets me out of my funk.
- What is your current haircare ritual/routine? Feel free to give us a rundown—how often you cleanse, what you do in between washes, what products you use and why, etc.
I only wash my hair once or twice a week—I’m pretty low maintenance, sometimes dry shampoo or The Leave-In Conditioner gets thrown into the mix, but I usually just let my hair do its own thing. Since my hair is curly, I always have to wet it in the morning, but I just comb through it with my fingers and let it air dry!
- Do you have a personal philosophy about hair or beauty in general? How does it tie back to your work?
In regards to physical beauty, natural is best, always. I think the ethos of the store also reflects that ideal, so yeah, it’s truly what I believe. Simplicity is timeless, less is more. The world is so sensational now—I think it’s a big statement to choose simplicity in a world of endless choices, endless eBay searches, endless cosmetic procedures. Aside from physical beauty, I think confidence is the hottest thing in the world. It doesn’t matter what you look like—if you’re confident and passionate about your life, there really is nothing more beautiful, in my opinion.
- What kinds of things do you do to care for yourself, inside and out?
Last year I got a new therapist that changed my life, easily the best thing I’ve done for myself, ever. Working out makes me feel good, going to the movies by myself feels good, but more than anything I’ve been enjoying hibernating, cooking at home, and being easy on myself this winter.
- What things make you happiest? What do you do to incorporate more of those things in your life?
Love (familial, romantic, platonic, etc.) makes me happy. Good conversations make me happy. Art and new experiences make me happy. I feel really blessed to have created a space in my community that encourages human connection, especially in a time where people are feeling more disconnected than ever. I’ve really been embracing the gray area in life lately, giving loved ones room to make mistakes, including myself. Life feels more fun when I don’t expect it to be so perfect all the time.
- Interviewed By
Anna Jube in Williamsburg. Photographed by David Cortes.