Meet Nilea Alexander

Nilea Alexander Passerbuys
Nilea began selling vintage at the Brooklyn Flea in 2008. She met her husband, Lamine, while he was working at a French restaurant in Soho. In 2013, shortly after they got married, they decided to open Cafe Rue Dix in their neighborhood of Crown Heights, a French and Senegalese café serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. One year later, the couple expanded their business to the space next door to form Marché Rue Dix, combining Nilea’s favorite things: travel, design, retail, and vintage, all next door to her other favorite hobby: eating!
Top, Maki Oh ;    Jeans, Vintage Levi's

Top, Maki Oh ; Jeans, Vintage Levi's


After having a child, my normally lazy morning routine became regimented very quickly. I am usually up by 7:30am getting her ready for her day. She starts school at 8:30, so I tend to drop her off in my PJs and then return home so that I can focus on getting ready with little distractions. I find this to be the most important part of my day. If I take 30-45 minutes to really pamper myself and put a bit of effort into my self care then I feel armed to face my day.

ON HER favorite books

I mainly gravitate to fashion and art books. I find them visually stimulating and inspiring. I communicate so much throughout the day that when I have down time I prefer easy visual graphics as opposed to stories and words. This particular book is a fashion book that documents fashion from the 60's.

On Opening a restaurant

I married a restaurant man. My husband had already worked in the industry for 17 years when we met. I, on the other hand, was an experienced diner—I always joked that eating out was like part time job for me.  I never thought that I would end up in the restaurant business. I have always been in retail since I was old enough to work and that was my thing. However, after we got married opening a restaurant just somehow seemed to make sense. There was a void of good restaurants in our neighborhood at the time and we were both ready to start a new venture. So we did. 

nilea alexander passerbuys
I still take time out to do my favorite part-time gig: eating out. I make time to treat myself to lunch or dinner alone or with friends at least a few times a week. I enjoy it and it makes me happy.
— On something she does that's just for her

On Running a business with her husband

Each of us found our lane and we stay in it. I take care of the things that I am good at and he does the same. For the things in which we both lack experience we hire help. It requires constant communication but what better person to be in communication with than your partner? Every couple is of course different so really taking the time to define those roles is important and should be considered in the very early stage of entering business.

On HER Beauty Routine and favorite products

I find that natural and simple works best for me. I use a charcoal and witch hazel soap, followed by a witch hazel toner, and coconut oil for moisture. I am crazy about Cocovit Coconut Oil because of its pure extraction process and I love the way it feels on my skin. I use Gold Label's vegan Matte Lip Pens because they literally last all day. I apply it once in the morning and remove it with some coconut oil at night before I go to bed. These are simple products that give maximum results. I love that.

ON Shopping and personal style

I am a traveller so I pick up things along the way. I tend to sell more than I keep as I am also the owner of a vintage store (Marché Rue Dix) that is adjacent to the restaurant. My personal style is one of someone who has been collecting clothing and accessories for decades. I always have on something interesting and usually have a fun story as to how I got it. I just wear what feels right to me at the time.

On her nightly routine

My husband works nights, so on the weekends after my daughter is asleep and he is out working I have glass of wine, order food, and watch Netflix. It’s actually my favorite time of the day.

Jeans, Alexander Wang ;    Top, Zara    ;    Shoes, Maryam Nassir Zadeh

Jeans, Alexander Wang ; Top, Zara ; Shoes, Maryam Nassir Zadeh

Photography by Heidi Lee