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Inside Catbird’s Brand New Permanent Residence at Rockefeller Center

By Noah SilversteinAug 10 2023
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Imagine a world where access to fine jewelry was far from arm’s reach — hard to recall, isn’t it? That might be because for nearly two decades, Catbird has been a leading force in democratizing the category so customers get the high-quality pieces they covet for a more widely attainable price.

Since founder Rony Vardi opened the brand’s first Brooklyn outpost in 2004, tastemakers the world over have been migrating to Williamsburg to peruse Catbird’s covetable display cases and add some of its signature glamour to their own jewelry collections. And now, the style set need look no further than midtown Manhattan to get their hands on the brand's finery as it takes up a new permanent residence in Rockefeller Center.

The Center Magazine recently caught up with Catbird Chief Creative Officer Leigh Batnick Plessner and Brand & Content Marketing Specialist Kristin Griesel to discuss the new store, the brand’s ethos, and what this moment means for New York’s jewelry lovers.

How did this opportunity to open a store at Rockefeller Center come about, and why did it make sense for the Catbird brand?

KG: We initially popped up in one of Rockefeller Center’s glass elevators surrounding The Rink in April 2022. The pop-up shop was quite tiny and primarily focused on Zapping our selection of Forever Bracelets. We had a warm welcome from Catbird customers who live uptown or further away from our other two locations, and we met so many new customers… [so] we decided to lay down roots at Rockefeller Center with this permanent store.

Tell me about the aesthetic of this new store location and how it’s an extension of the original Brooklyn location.

LBP: Our new store at Rockefeller Center was designed around a small snip of cherry red velvet; it sat on our desks for weeks and beckoned. We’d never worked with red before and had been inching toward it — we have a small bamboo footstool covered with red patent leatherette in our Wedding Annex. Our Rockefeller red is evocative of a New York apple, an old movie theater curtain, no right turns on red.

We’ve always wanted our stores to feel lived in and quixotic, as if you slipped into someone’s living room that happened to be full of tiny, shiny jewelry. And we want each store to feel different but familiar, from one to the next— like a city home, and a country home belonging to the same charming and kind-hearted painters, poets, long-ago punks. We’re also not afraid of things being a bit worn and threadbare, even from the beginning. The patina of time makes everything more beautiful. Jewelry included.

Catbird is one of the brands at the forefront of making fine jewelry accessible to more people. How did the journey start, and where do you feel the brand is now?

KG: Catbird has always been very considered with the pieces we choose to produce and what they are made of, since day one! Solid 14k gold is at the core of this — we want to create jewelry that can live with you, always, and can be added to and stacked slowly over time. Jewelry is a very personal thing, so it is always our goal to keep it that way and create pieces to style and wear in a way that is all your own.

What do you hope the brand can accomplish with this new Rock Center location?

KG: We look forward to cultivating our Catbird Rock Center community! Rockefeller Center has become quite an exciting hub; we have met so many wonderful neighboring businesses, and customers who work in the neighborhood will stop by on their lunch breaks to say “hi.” The neighborhood is a departure from both Williamsburg and Soho, so we are happy to see the brand take on Midtown!

Catbird is open at 610 5th Avenue Monday to Wednesday 11am to 7pm, Thursday and Friday 11am to 8pm, Saturday 10am to 8pm, and Sunday 10am to 7pm.

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