Say hello to Tennessee Thomas. It seems that she likes to wear many hats, literally and figuratively speaking. You can find her drumming for LA band The Like, DJing at Soho Grand and Tribeca Grand Hotels, speaking out for women’s rights, and lobbying with friends like Sean Lennon against hydraulic fracking in New York State. Her next move? She’s diving headfirst into a completely new venture with the recent opening of The Deep End Club, an East Village boutique inspired by rock star roots and the downtown art scene.
GrandLife: Tell us the story behind the name of The Deep End Club.
Tennessee Thomas: ‘The Deep End Club’ originally came from my dad (drummer for Elvis Costello). While he was on tour in Japan, the band was walking around in the ‘Garden of Tranquility and Peace,’ where they stumbled upon a lake where a large wedding was taking place. The band’s keyboard player yelled out “Deep End Club meeting,” and according to band rules, they had to go in with all of their clothes on. Shortly afterwards, they were all arrested!
GL: Quite the story! How does it relate to the store?
TT: It refers to how I’ve literally just thrown myself into the “Deep End!”
GL: Were there other stores from the past or present that inspired you?
TT: Vivienne Westwood & Malcolm McLaren’s London boutique “Let it Rock” is an inspiration, along with the Beatles’ Apple Boutique in London and Betsey Johnson’s Paraphernalia in New York (which was connected to Andy Warhol’s Factory scene).
GL: What are you currently carrying at The Deep End Club?
TT: The Deep End Club features local artists and designers. In the shop currently we have a selection of artist/musician Adam Green’s pieces, with my favorite being his papier-mâché laptop and cat sarcophagus. The laptop evokes Claus Oldenburg’s papier-mâché abstracted everyday objects, which he originally displayed in a “store” in the Lower East Side that was just shown in an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.
We also carry Mandy Coon’s bunny bags, made by hand in her studio just a few blocks away on St. Mark’s Place. They’re made of leather and hang limp from gold chains. My middle name is Bunny, and my friends got me one of her bags as a gift for my birthday a few years ago. I carry the bag every day, and it wasn’t long before Mandy introduced herself after seeing me carry it in the East Village.
I have a penchant for playful, childlike accessories that demand an explanation. Fashion is a great conversation starter, which is why I wanted to carry Meghan Farrell’s jewelry. As the daughter of a doctor and a nurse, many of her pieces are inspired by medicine – her EKG heartbeat rings and interlocking heart rings are both favorites of mine.
We recently did a pop up for talented milliner Mich Dulce who incorporates cat ears and bunny ears into more traditional hat styles. They’re a lot of fun, made using eco-conscious practices, and crafted by a community of women who Mich trains herself in her native Philippines. We also have clothes by local designers Andrea Diodati and Samantha Pleet.
GL: What do you wish to achieve with The Deep End Club?
TT: I want it to be a place where music, art, and design converge – a place to give exposure to the artists in our community, which I’m the most passionate about. Besides featuring the work of friends, I am also excited to see who else walks through the door! Since we opened a month ago, I’ve met so many incredibly creative people who live in the neighborhood. I hope this becomes an artistic hub, where ideas can grow and collaborations will flourish.
GL: What’s coming in the future?
TT: Leith Clark, the creator of Lula magazine, will be launching her first collection of clothes in collaboration with LA based line Wren. This fall we’ll be featuring a vintage pop up curated by Liz Goldwyn and Karen Elson, holding a charity auction of vintage pieces reworked by designers, and displaying the work of Alia Penner.
In addition to bringing in new local artists and designers, The Deep End Club also houses a treasure trove of hand-picked antiques from A Repeat Performance, Beverly Bronson’s antique shop next door. Beverly has an orphanage in Nepal, which we’ll be organizing events to raise money for that I’m really excited about.
The Deep End Club
156 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10009