Bernadette Libonate left her job as director of merchandising for Playboy Enterprises and opened her own boutique, Milly & Earl, in Williamsburg this spring. “I handpick each item from a number of local designers to be as cohesive as possible and stay on message,” she tells us. “The message is meant to be relaxed, casual, stylish, and hip. I don’t presume that the story I’m telling has never been told before, I just believe I have really beautiful pieces that can come into your life and make you smile.” The 32-year-old, who named the shop after her boyfriend and their dog, bought the space from a friend and former Playboy colleague who’d had her own boutique there called Honey & Hazel. “I changed the aesthetic to a well-curated space with a classic feel and a modern attitude, with a larger focus on jewelry,” she says.
Though she’s only lived in Wiliamsburg since last year, she plans to stay—and to do what she can to give back. “If I don’t have what people need, I direct them to Alter or other nearby locations,” she says. “I want to grow the business along with the neighborhood, which is another reason I enjoy working with local designers. Williamsburg has a strong sense of community, and I’m here to be a staple for the ‘hood and lay down roots.”