Just last month, at its new flagship location, Brooklyn Bleu Vintage previewed the acclaimed 1990s Chanel Vintage Collection. This included iconic pieces straight from the runway including accessories seen on supermodels like Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, and Elle McPherson. Founder, Tenisha Light-Caba has always had a love for vintage finds, and her business is a straight reflection of what she adores.
“I started by collecting in Brooklyn and going to all these antique shops. About 10 years ago on every other block, you would have all these incredible people of color with antique businesses,” Caba exclaimed. Now, with a flagship location in Westfield World Trade Center, shoppers are invited to splurge on some of the last archived designer duds on the market.
ESSENCE got a chance to chat with Caba about her expansion into the e-commerce market, Brooklyn Bleu’s new “stylist” program, and what’s next for the timeless brand.
ESSENCE: How would you describe your first step into fashion?
Caba: I styled all my friends in high-school from my own closet, we’d get ready at my house. I’m from the Bay Area and when I moved to Brooklyn, it felt like home. There was so much style and flavor, and I started thrifting and shopping at all the antique stores. It didn’t matter where I worked, I would find a thrift store in the neighborhood. Gradually I built a collection spanning different eras that told a story.
ESSENCE: When did you decide you wanted to create your own vintage collection?
Caba: I hosted a private party and invited all my friends to shop my collection. I started taking private styling appointments and selling at weekend flea markets in Brooklyn and Manhattan. I eventually earned enough money to leave my day job within 1 year.
“So much wealth is being generated off blackness, and the culture – we’re the top consumers. And yet, we struggle and are forced to self-finance our businesses.” – Tenisha Light-Caba
ESSENCE: How do you differentiate yourself from other brands out there?
Caba: Our theme is Fierce, Fabulous Fun. Brooklyn Bleu is a lifestyle brand. We inject attitude and emotion into fashion and accessories. My personal style and taste are reflected in every piece. I like mixing affordable quality pieces starting at $25, with high-end luxury collectibles – like a Chanel necklace or belt from the ’90s we saw Naomi Campbell wearing. This is part of fashion history we can feel and connect to wearing these pieces, It’s also a great conversation piece.
ESSENCE: What would you say is the biggest challenge about being a black business owner?
We need more mentors who can help guide our brands and businesses to the next level. We need more available financing for black businesses or we have to create our own financing. So much wealth is being generated off blackness, and the culture – we’re the top consumers. And yet, we struggle and are forced to self-finance our businesses.
ESSENCE: What are your thoughts about the contribution black culture has made in fashion?
The fashion industry is closely watching our moves, and are being inspired. We are creators. We’ll buy a bag of $3 Bobby pins and make magic, not even knowing we’re starting a new fashion trend. We are innovators and originators. We want to be different and we’re always evolving with “newness.”
ESSENCE: What’s next for you/your brand?
As we continue to establish our Retail and e-commerce platform (Brooklynbleu.com), we’re looking to launch a private label and expand into media and entertainment. Customers can find us at the Oculus Westfield World Trade Center In New York, or Brooklynbleu.com / Instagram @brooklynbleuny.