Working Girl

Jill Bradshaw mixes business with pleasure and charity.

All work and no play makes anyone a dull boy. Failure to balance the two has been the downfall of many a Wall Street banker or socialite party girl. If you’re Jill Bradshaw, cooly juggling the two means you can support your art obsessions by owning a posh, successful Manhattan boutique.

It’s the weekend after New York Fashion Week and Bradshaw—the woman behind many of the city’s best-dressed—is calmly seated on a plush couch in her Nolita boutique, I Heart.

Bradshaw fits in with the sea of Sunday afternoon shoppers filtering in one-by-one down the long staircase that pours into I Heart’s whitewashed space. Judging by her long, wavy blonde hair and cat-like eyeliner, she could be mistaken for one of Madison Avenue’s jobless and privileged. But what a mistake that would be.

Bradshaw is working it, and has been ever since her departure from the University of Austin, TX. Business is booming for her five-year-old boutique that offers a selection of sought-after labels including Rachel Comey, United Bamboo, 3.1 Phillip Lim and Samantha Pleet—making it a must-stop for shoppers hailing anywhere from Japan to Australia.

Housed in an underground location, the room’s trappings show Bradshaw’s love for music, art and fashion. Her side projects—hosting Viva Radio program J’aime Musique and her unnamed band that mixes the sounds of the Silver Apples, Broadcast and M83—inspire the lifestyle products scattered throughout the store.

Boutique, band and her other projects all reap the benefits of the large retail space, rumored to be Sonic Youth’s rehearsal location and the set of a Beastie Boys music video. Bradshaw also uses her boutique to aid those starting up in the fickle fashion industry. She recently joined Ladies Lotto, an international women’s network aimed at empowering women in business, and hosted a Q&A session in her store with Triple Five Soul Founder Camella Ehlke.

“I really enjoy doing events like that where they are way more beneficial,” Bradshaw says. “I used to have a lot of parties in here [and] they used to get out of control for a while. Now I like to do things where…people aren’t splashing their drinks everywhere.”

While the affiliation with Ladies Lotto might push Bradshaw into the realm of women’s empowerment, she is quick to point out that her success rested little upon a battle of the sexes. It was drive and passion that established her business, she says.

“I never thought of it as women versus men in an industry… If you want to do something then you should just do it. But I think if I can help someone out and push them to go out and start something then I am happy to be that person.” This is one working gal you can’t help but heart. Kyle Landman