Funny Pretty Nice Is NYC’s Vintage Destination
By Anika Ljung
Tucked away in the East Village, this secondhand boutique melds style, sustainability, and expression.
If, three years ago, you told Natalia Spotts that she would soon own one of the most popular vintage boutiques in New York City, she wouldn’t have believed you. Maybe because owning a business at 25 sounds irrational to even the most ambitious of people, but perhaps more because she had already graduated Parsons with a degree in communication design and was working nowhere near the fashion industry.
The year was 2019, and Spotts had just made the only-slightly-impulsive decision to quit her full-time job in animation when she was met with the uncomfortable realization that too many are familiar with: “How am I going to pay my rent this month?” Her solution—inviting her friends over to shop her closet—grew into one that changed the entire course of her life and career, landing her where she is today: founder and CEO of Funny Pretty Nice.
Born out of a pep-talk given to Spotts after a particularly unhealthy break-up, the brand’s catchy title and colorful aesthetic are a message of confidence and self-expression for fashion lovers everywhere. “I was talking to my friend on the phone and she was like, ‘Natalia, you’re funny, you’re pretty and you’re nice, and you’re going to get over it,” Spotts said, laughing. “I immediately knew that was the name.” An online and in-store secondhand vintage boutique, Funny Pretty Nice boasts a variety of curated pieces ranging from clothing, to shoes, to accessories, with supply updated consistently. “It brings up that nostalgic experience when you’re shopping of that older sisters bedroom in the nineties and 2000s,” Spotts said regarding her inspiration. Though her education and early career path led her astray, being part of the fashion industry was not unfamiliar for Spotts. She worked in thrift stores all throughout high school, collecting a wide array of secondhand and vintage pieces that grew into a source of daily joy and passion for her. That decision to have her friends shop her closet in order to make rent for the month turned into a huge success. “I can do this. I can sell clothes,” Spotts remembers thinking. “So I invited them over the next week. And then the week after that. And pretty soon, my friends and my Instagram mutuals were like, ‘Why don’t you just make a website so that we can stop coming over?’”
By that time, COVID had plummeted rent prices for New York City commercial spaces. Spotts noticed a small, sunny building a block away from her apartment that had been vacant for a while, and was approved for month-to-month rent. On March 11, 2021, Funny Pretty Nice opened its doors for what Spotts thought would be a two-month pop-up shop. Now, a year later, the vintage shop is bustling with buyers every day, and a second undisclosed location is set to open mid-May.
Because of the constant in-store and online demand, curating a collection of vintage clothing and accessories is something Spotts has mastered. When she’s not at the shop or working on the business end, she’s attending estate sales to find unique pieces that keep her customers coming back for more. “Sometimes I get on the train, I get off at one stop, fill up the suitcase, and get back on to go to another one [estate sale],” Spotts said. “I also have lovely vintage wholesalers from overseas, like the UK and Italy. I FaceTime them and hand-pick stuff from their warehouses from a lot of different places.” She has also become an integral part of the East Village fashion community, making friends with men and women alike who have an eye for vintage (one woman, who worked at Henri Bendel and Donna Karen, provided the store’s stock for almost three months). “I’ve been to every single little old lady’s apartment on my block,” she laughed. “They’ll put everything in a pile for me, and I’ll just go through it.”
A true small business, Spotts and her sister, Stella Spotts, run the day-to-day operations of the brand: its storefront, online shop, and label. “The most comforting thing and the aspect that makes this partnership possible is always having someone you can rely on and who will have your back no matter what,” Stella said. “We are able to bounce ideas off of each other constantly and even though we live in such close proximity, we never get tired of one another.” The pair never expected the business to explode the way it did, as what began as a passion project in an attempt to gather rent money has turned into a community-based business for fashion lovers and sustainability activists. Last year, Funny Pretty Nice launched their own namesake, eco-friendly clothing line inspired by trends in what Spott’s clients love to wear and buy. “The fit of the top, the bust of the top, they all kind of come from or are inspired by different vintage pieces,” said Spotts about her designs. “Also, two-piece sets are hard to come by in the vintage world. I wanted to be able to provide that for vintage lovers.”
With her keen eye for fashion and eclectic style—her closet staples are a good pair of jean shorts, white cottons, and printed trousers—Spotts has dedicated herself to bringing her love of vintage to the forefront of an industry dominated by fast-fashion and ready-to-wear. “My main goal is to make secondhand and sustainable fashion more widespread,” Spotts said. “However I can make the message that vintage can be really beautiful and a part of your closet on a daily basis would be my sentiment.”
You can shop Funny Pretty Nice in store at 64 MacDougal Street in New York City, or online here.