If you walk in to his shop on 886 Pacific St in Brooklyn without understanding the full scope of what it is, Jimi Gureje will kindly remind you. He will tell you how ten years ago he quit his job as a marketing executive at Verizon and found this building (an old chop shop) falling apart. He wanted to realize his life long passion of creating a boutique for beautiful African dyed, handmade clothing. But that’s just one thread in the amazing tapestry of uses he has created in this space. Bar and social space at night, boutique, classroom, gallery space by day, Jimi even employs young interns from Queens community college to learn the trade of tailoring and his special dying techniques.
Behind his boutique clothing shop is a room called “The Village.” On the door a wooden plaque reads “Renate Albertson Martin” who is the woman to whom he dedicates the space. She discovered Jimi in Nigeria and brought his talents abroad while teaching him how to thrive outside of the world he knew. “The Village” plays host to figure drawing classes, music lessons, art galleries, film screenings, dance and yoga classes, a full bar and outdoor patio, and why not, Taiko Drumming clinics. In fact, the space is also called The Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Center which brings up the most important point Jimi would want you to know, that the people bring life to “The Village.” Kaoru Watanabe came to Jimi a few years ago asking to store his drums in the back of his shop. Jimi’s response was to ask Kaoru what he could do to contribute to the space rather than simply using it. Three years later they have grown to be like family. Jimi even designed Kaoru and his wife’s wedding outfits.
This is the relationship he has built with everyone that uses his space. Places like Gureje are what embody the true potential in a community. Rather than improvement by substitution or displacement, Jimi seeks to bring together the amazing talents and flavors that are already present in a place. So if you feel like shopping, drawing, dancing, having a drink, playing the drums, or bringing something new to this amazing spot, it is well worth a visit.
886 Pacific Street between Washington and Underhill Avenues
Phone: 718 857 2522