The late morning light shines through the dozens of skylights overhead giving the pristinely folded clothes a warm enticing glow. In the backyard, red paddles sit on a green ping pong table, leaned one on top of the other. The ball perfectly seated where the handles diverge. Back inside the store, the dressing rooms are the size of some New York apartments, and there is room to roam– a far cry from the closet-sized shops you so often come across in Manhattan. Concrete + Water is more than just another boutique in the heart of hipster-driven Williamsburg. It’s a hangout. And to some, a lifestyle.
Run by husband and wife team, JD Gluckstern and Hannah Dilworth, the young couple strove to create a space where they would be able to spend time together, and one that would also allow them to get to know the unique crowd that makes up their eclectic neighborhood.
Store ownership had always been a dream of Hannah’s who has a background in editorial and styling. JD, a deejay, had plans of opening a nightclub and had been scouring the NY real estate market when he came across 485 Driggs Ave, the store’s current setting. “We knew it was a perfect location,” explains JD. “Being in Williamsburg drives a lot of character from the store. We wanted something bright and fresh. Somewhere we could create the vision we had in our heads.” The timing was right for their joint venture despite the vast difference in schedules they were both living. “Sometimes I would be getting up for shoots at 4AM and he would just be getting home from the club!” laughs Hannah.
They named their collaboration Concrete + Water, after a blog they had shared while living in Australia years before. They liked the fluidity mixed with the structure of the name… although they often get mistaken for a construction company (no, they cannot help you with your concrete water spill!). Their fashion sense is universal, unique, and high end. Their rule: simply stick to what they like. “We’re not trying to force one point of view or another,” JD says. Hannah continues, “I had a lot of designers I knew and loved from being in the industry for so long. A lot of them just happened to be local. However, when we were looking for men a lot of what we were drawn to tended to be international—particularly Scandinavian. We’re not trying to necessarily be New York local based, but a mixture. We like to say you can pick up our store and put it in a lot of different cities and it would still work.”
Concrete + Water is now two years old, and JD and Hannah have become newlyweds. They say the transition from lover to business partner has been easy. “We have complimentary skill sets. We’ve always been able to do things together and help each other without bumping heads in the process,” explains JD. He heads up the business and financial side, and she handles the accounting, relationships, and day-to-day maintenance. Together they’ve created a place that perfectly mixes both their talents and styles.
They’ve found a way to marry their individual passions into their venture as well. “The nice thing is the fashion and music circles are mutually beneficial for one another,” says JD. “They are tightly connected which makes it easy to do both.”
Which leads us to tonight, a night like so many others, where the store has become a space for the friendly neighborhood owners to host an impromptu party for their customers. The skylights now only frames the night’s stars. JD is deejaying for a gaggle of close friends while Hannah is entertaining. The paddles aren’t on the table—they’re in use and the competition is fierce. Full shopping bags sit next to the purses of old customers and new friends.
They are a couple in love… with their neighborhood, with their little boutique, and with their life. And these days, they’re both home, together, by 4AM.
Lindsay DeLong is the Managing Editor of The Fullest. She’s proud to say she’s won a fair share of ping pong games in Concrete + Water’s backyard. Find her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media via @lindizzaster.