How did you start Alimentari Flâneur, your specialty grocer?
I started Alimentari Flâneur with $25k and a hopelessly romantic idea of wanting to tell my own story. The previous summer, I had done a similar pop up at Maman in Soho named after my grandmother, Grace Balducci. The idea behind that project was to show my family who I was working for at the time, that our history and legacy still had relevancy and that people would connect to a story about quality produce presented beautifully. Just as my great grandfather and grandfather had done. I also felt strongly that the only way my family’s business would effectively compete with the proliferation of grocery via Amazon, Walmart, Target was to introduce smaller footprint, exceptionally well curated, hospitality driven grocery markets with an emphasis on fresh produce and specialty provisions. Unfortunately, my family didn’t believe in the vision so I ultimately decided to do it on my own. I also wanted to tell a story influenced by my time living in Paris and traveling abroad, where I would spend my days discovering beauty while wandering.
What's your favorite part about the New York creative community?
The sheer commitment to collaboration and genuine support of one another. It’s deeply, deeply inspiring. I love that we all recognize one another’s work and champion our individual and shared successes.
What's inspiring you right now?
My mother’s work ethic. My grandmother’s love and warmth. Laila Gohar is a huge inspiration. She’s so talented and is truly fluent in the language of beauty. She said that she doesn’t always know how to describe what it is that she does and I thought that was beautiful. If she is the Hermès of whatever it is that we do, I want to be Ralph.
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