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My L.E.S. – Juli Raja

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This weekly feature spotlights a wide variety of people who live and work on the Lower East Side.  If you have someone you would like to suggest be featured in “My LES,” please email us here.

What do you do?

I’m an independent clothing designer working with hand woven and block printed textiles that I create with my husband’s family in Kolkata, India.

What are you working on now?

I’ve enjoyed many great opportunities for exposure here in the LES.  In 2008 I was selected as one of the indie designers to show and sell my line at
The Dressing Room Bar & Boutique (75a Orchard St.)

This spring juli raja hand built (that’s my label) joined a fantastic group of local food vendors, designers and collectors that show and sell their wares at the new Hester St. Fair on Saturdays & Sundays.  It’s a wonderful addition to our hood and there’s a green market on Sundays.

How long have you lived on the LES?

My husband and I moved to NYC in the summer of 2004.  To be honest, it wasn’t our first choice of neighborhoods but I fell madly in love with the enormous, deep, enamel white sink in our kitchen and knew this was the place for me.  Living so close to the East River has many advantages too.  Did you know that in less than 5 minutes (on a bike) you can be covered in a cool refreshing mist whipped up by helicopters landing on the river north or south of Grand Street?

Favorite block in the hood?

It’s hard to pick just one block.  I love Clinton Street between Delancey and Stanton.  You can pick up groceries at Clinton Market (great place for fish), dine at WD 50, Falai or have Tapas at Tapeo, pick up Popsicle molds at Costs Less close out market (ya gotta check it out at least once a week)  and have  a suit altered at the new Tailor shop.

Favorite date spot in the hood?

Schiller’s is the best place for a breakfast date.  They have the best bread basket EVER and they make a mean Bloody Mary.  There’s nothing I’d rather do on a lazy Saturday morning than sit in a corner booth at Schiller’s and over-dose on butter and jam while reading the paper with my husband.

Favorite coffee in the hood?

I’m going to have to be honest here, my favorite coffee is the one my husband Kanishka makes for me and sets on my night stand before I wake up.
It should be noted that we do buy our coffee from the Porto Rico Coffee stall at the Essex St. Market.

Favorite slice in the hood?

I’m really not much of a slice girl but if I have to choose… San Marzano Brick Oven Pizzeria.  I had a slice and a glass of wine there with a friend before seeing a band and time seemed to slow down to just the right speed.

Where do you take your visitors when they’re here?

We always seem to end up at Barrio Chino on Broome St..  The first time I ate there was in 2006, during the World Cup.  8 tacos and 2 margaritas later ( they pack a punch) and I didn’t care who won the game.  I think Brazil was playing….   Hands down best place for any type of eater/drinker.

If your friends are interested in the fastest growing, most interesting art scene,  there are dozens of great galleries in the area.  Here’s just a few to start with: Feature, Canada, Eleven Rivington, Envoy, Participant Inc., Sloan Fine Art,  Salon 94 Freemans and more, so many more.  You could spend an entire day looking at art, eating & shopping your way around this fantastic neighborhood.  Take that, Chelsea!

Favorite LES memory?

I came down from Boston by myself for a week before we officially moved all our stuff in.  I wanted to do a little renovation and light cosmetic work on our new pad.   I woke up one morning and walked west down Grand Street to find a hardware store and realized to my surprise that I was living in NYC!!!  It really hit me hard.   There was no “stranger in a strange place” kind of feeling.  I felt like I was home.

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