Meet Monica Paolini

Dress,   Sea
Growing up in the suburbs of New York, Monica dreamt of a career in fashion. She pursued this passion to FIT, only to drop out to work as a Design Assistant at Jill Stuart. A strong believer in confidence and perseverance, she now runs her own fashion label, Sea New York, with business partner Sean.
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Dress,   Sea

Dress, Sea


I wake up around 6:30am, shower, get dressed, then make my son breakfast and cuddle before heading off to Ballet Beautiful. On my way, I’ll put on a bit of Westman Atelier Foundation Stick to cover my dark circles and Chanel Healthy Glow lip balm. I take Vitamin B and fish oil in hopes that it will give me a lot of energy for the day.

on her beginning in fashion and starting sea

The origin of Sea is in Newburgh, NY – that’s where my partner and best friend, Sean and I grew up. We had the intention of creating a company that we could build and work together on. I always wanted to get out of the suburbs and study fashion in the city and so I went to FIT, only to drop out after I was lucky enough to get a job as a Design Assistant at Jill Stuart.

on sea and it’s evolution

I don’t think I’ll ever feel like we “made it” and that helps continue to drive me to work harder and harder. But now that we opened a store on Canal Street, I will say it has been warming and reenergizing to see so many women coming into the store, recognizing the brand and reminiscing about their first piece of Sea.

on the opening their first retail store

We are self-financed and have always felt that growing organically was better for us. We started in 324 Canal St on the 5th floor and when the space on the ground floor came available 13 years later it just felt like the right time to open a store and invite people into our world. My advice to new brands, work slow and steady, focus on sales and understanding who your customer is and what they want from you, that’s what helped us grow.

Trench, Yang Li Men ; T-Shirt, Vintage ; Choker, Vintage YSL ; Pants, Sonia Rykiel
“I think the best way to keep pace with the fashion industry is to run your own race. Find your own voice and continue working to evolve and refine that. That will ensure your collection continues to be authentic and true.”
— on her creative process
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on what goes into founding a fashion brand

When you start out, be confident in your creative direction and be ready to work hard and to persevere through adversity. That’s your foundation. From there you meet factories through word of mouth or from your experience working for other brands. For fabrics and trims, you can visit fabric agents in NY and then go to Premiere Vision in Paris.

on raising a child while growing a business

I have an amazing husband and nanny that allow me to work long hours and weekends needed to put in before each collection is finished. Also, a great team and partner at work that all help to entertain him when at the office.

on her style and shopping habits

As a busy working mom, I’m quite cliché and do most of my shopping online. For my son, Luca, has a great selection of children’s wear and shoes. He loves the Vans store near our store.

I travel to Paris twice a year to buy fabric for the collection and will visit my favorite stores for inspiring vintage finds and to do market research. I like Tom Greyhound for their mix of designers and Lemaire for modern yet feminine pieces that are timeless. Astier de Villatte is the most magical china shop in Paris.

on her home decor

I bought most of my furniture from a mix of antique dealers of Brimfield Flea Market, Red Chair Antiques in Hudson, NY and the store John Derian in NYC.

Dress,   Sea

Dress, Sea

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Jumpsuit,   Sea

Jumpsuit, Sea

on her self care rituals

I think that exercising 4 days a week before I start work really helps me feel fit, focused, and strong. If I feel healthier it brightens my day. I also love a glass of wine at the end of the day.

on her beauty and skincare routine

My grandmother always told me to make sure and only wash your face with cold water - it reduces puffiness and doesn’t dry your skin out. I love using The Vintner’s Daughter Serum to really hydrate both morning and night, and then La Mer Crème de la Mer. I also recommend Bioderma Sensibio H20, La Prairie Skin Cream, Glossier Rosewater Face Spray, Tata Rejuvenating Serum, Westman Atelier Foundation Stick, Chanel Mascara, Chanel Lipstick, and Chanel Eyeliner.

on her favorite records

We try to keep an eclectic mix of music playing in the apartment all the time. Sometimes it’s just putting something classic and mellow in the background while I cook or work, or something that transforms our apartment into a silly little dance party for Luca. Being from just a short ride up the Hudson River and in New York City for all my whole adult life, it feels so good to have such a reflection of all the different tastes here for inspiration or just for fun.

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“There is something about the Beastie Boys story that feels like the story of an entire generation. They were such a reflection of everything I came to love about New York, and their style infiltrated so much of our culture.”
— on her favorite band
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monica’s favorite places in nyc

La Mercerie to meet for breakfast, lunch or drinks in the beautifully decorated showroom.

The Ten Bells for great natural wine bar on the LES

Frenchette for amazing food and wine on West Broadway, and right around the corner from our studio for a special impromptu dinner

Ballet Beautiful, it’s such a peaceful way to work out and get leaner longer muscles, without breaking too much of a sweat.

Soho Sanctuary a serene place to escape the sounds and pressure of NYC. They have the best massages and facials.

monica’s favorite books

Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon

Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors by Stephen Alesch

Patterns by Peter Kopeke

Vilhelm Hammershoi by Mikael Wivel

monica’s favorite films

The Virgin Suicides by Sofia Coppola, my favorite.

Stealing Beauty by Bernardo Bertolucci

Moonstruck by Norman Jewison

Darjeeling Limited by Wes Anderson

monica’s favorite records

Johnny Cash & June Carter by Johnny Cash

Dionne by Dionne Warwick

Harvest by Neil Young

Uptown Saturday Night by Camp Lo

Whitney by Whitney Houston

Dress,   Sea

Dress, Sea