Jul 25, 2018
I Got a Story to Tell: Rochelle Moore, Living Her Best Life Through Her Worst Pain
PHOTOS: Candace Howe
I am not an online shopping kind of woman and I don’t follow clothing boutiques on social media, but for some reason around October 2017, I was on Instagram and hit follow for Love Pink POSH. I’m not completely sure why I added them to my daily feed, but from what I remember, the woman modeling the clothes for this black-owned clothing boutique in Williamsburg, Brooklyn was simply intriguing.
Not too long after I hit follow, I found out that the model’s name was Rochelle Moore and she was the 30-year-old owner of Love Pink POSH. I remember writing on one of her post, “the next time I’m in Brooklyn, I’m definitely stopping by.”
A few weeks later, I was in Brooklyn with my friends for Jay-Z’s 4:44 concert at the Barclays Center. The morning before, we stopped by Egg in Williamsburg for brunch. After eating, we began walking through the neighborhood. After walking a few blocks, we hit the corner of Berry and N. 10th Street where I saw a huge pink sign that read, Love Pink POSH.
As we walked in, Rochelle was standing behind the counter looking just as fly and stylish as her Instagram pictures. She greeted us with the biggest smile, and an hour later, we were still in there talking. We connected instantly, and talked about everything from why she opened the boutique to the difference in the Brooklyn today and the Brooklyn that she grew up in.
I quickly learned that there was so much more to her than her impeccable style and captivating smile, and I knew that she had a story to tell. I learned that Rochelle is a woman of immense strength.
As we talked, the Brooklyn-born entrepreneur acknowledged that through the pain of losing her mother, the closest person to her, she became the youngest black boutique owner in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
I had no idea when we would talk again, but we exchanged information.
Three months later, I began writing for Brooklyn Magazine, and Rochelle was one of the first people that I thought of interviewing. I called her, and a few months later, I was back at her boutique learning how she found the courage to live her best life through her worst pain.
Rochelle was a little nervous, so we started with something that I call Rapid Fire to loosen up a little.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear:
Cash: Cash Money records taking over for the 99 and the 2000
Love: Heart, soul, boyfriend, family, mom
Brooklyn: My foundation
Love Pink POSH: Passion and love
Tell me about your love for Brooklyn growing up.
I was born in downtown Brooklyn, but grew up in Flatbush and Canarsie. And I loved everything about growing up here. There were so many different cultures represented, especially the Caribbean culture. I had so many friends and just loved being around the people. But, I must admit that Brooklyn was one tough borough, and in a sense, I’ve always felt like if you can survive here, you can survive almost anywhere.
Brooklyn gave me strength.
How was your relationship with your mom growing up?
My mother has always been my best friend. Growing up, she was strict and didn’t play around when it came to my education. I got in trouble all the time for talking too much in school, and even though she was strict sometimes, I always wanted to be with her.
When I was 15 years old, my mom decided that we were moving to Florida. I was sad and hated that we were moving. I remember my mom said to me, “Do you want to go live with your father?” And as much as I hated leaving Brooklyn, I could never leave my mother.
What part of Florida did you move to and was it hard to adjust?
We moved to Coral Gables, and yes, it was extremely hard to adjust. When I first moved, I went to three high schools, so I definitely had a culture shock coming from New York City. I went from being a student at an all black school to moving to Florida and graduating from an all-white school.
Florida was very Americanized, and I almost never saw black Americans from different cultures. But in Brooklyn, I almost thought that everyone was from different countries outside of America.
So, it was definitely a huge adjustment, but my mother made sure that I had everything that I needed to adjust and cope with this change.
After you graduated from high school, did you go on to study fashion?
No, I went to Florida International University in Miami and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology/Sociology and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology.
But, it’s so funny, I’ve always been into fashion. I used to paint clothes in high school and I loved styling myself, as well as other people. For a long time, I was a stylist in Miami, but I started out as an intern at a boutique in Miami called Style Mafia where I did everything from inventory to marketing. I traveled to other boutiques as well because the owner did wholesale and retail, and so I had to go market at different boutiques in Miami to sell her clothes.
Was that your first introduction to seeing how a business runs?
Not at all. I watched my mom, who was an entrepreneur with a strong work ethic.
My mom’s nickname for me was Rush. I remember her saying to me, “Rush, I’m going to open a business.” And I was like, “Okay.” In two months, her business was open. She launched a home health aide agency.
My mom was strategic and smart about her business moves. Because she was an RN, she could always fall back on being a nurse and working in the hospital if anything happened with her company.
Did you help her with her company after college or did you move back to Brooklyn?
I graduated in 2010, and stayed in Florida and worked with my mom at her company. Four years later, in September 2014, I left and moved back to New York.
In January 2015, I was actually planning to go back to Florida for like a week to spend time with her when she called me and said, “Rush, Lion King is here, and we have to go.” So, I’m like, “yes, let’s go see it.” So, my mom bought the tickets and everything was planned.
It was Saturday, January 24, 2015 that I was supposed to go down, but then on Friday, January 23, 2015, I got a call that she had a stroke.
Had your mom been sick?
No. And I will never forget, I freaked out completely because I’m like, “this lady barely has a sniffle.” I think I’d seen my mother sick probably three times in my life, and that was with a cold. She was super healthy. She ate healthy, she’d go walking in the evenings and constantly drank water, but she worked extremely hard.
Did you keep your original flight or did you go immediately?
I changed my flight and flew down the day that I got the call. I remember being on the plane bawling my eyes out. The person next to me was like, “Is everything okay?” I was just crying, snot coming out my nose and everything. I just needed to get there to be with her.
When I got there and saw her, I was at ease. She looked at me and smiled. She couldn’t speak, but she was alert and that meant everything.
Did she progressively get better in those following days?
Well, the next day they brought her from ICU to another floor and I was trying to bathe her when I noticed that her body got very stiff. She wouldn’t move, which was drastically different from the day before.
I kept saying to the doctors and nurses on the floor that something is not right with my mom. The day before, I would touch her and she would nod her head in response. It was like she became a vegetable in one day. They ignored me and kept saying that they were going to come and check on her, but they never came. I went through hell in that hospital.
The next day she had a cardiology appointment. So, I’m telling the cardiologist that she wasn’t like this at first. The day before she was up, able to nod her head, blink, and just respond to you in a way.
Did the cardiologist take you serious?
Yes. Immediately, he said, “Okay, something is not right.” So, he called a neurologist, who then said, “Get her to a CT scan right away.”
My mother’s brain was swelling. They had to do an emergency surgery and give her a craniotomy where they took part of her skull off and put it in her abdomen so that the swelling on her brain could go down.
So, you basically saved your mother’s life.
Yes, in a sense. I could have lost my mother in two or three days, but God gave me at least two more months with her. And I’m so appreciative of that. As I always say, that was like the hardest and best time of my life.
After surgery, she went to the ICU, and I refused to leave the hospital. I remember times when family and friends would say, “Oh, Rochelle go home and take a shower. We’ll stay with her.” No one was going to pay attention to my mom the way that I would, so I refused to go home. I made sure that every single strand on her head to every single toenail on her foot was okay. It was my turn to take care of her the way she took care of me.
My mom passed Mach 30, 2015.
After your mom passed, did you return to Brooklyn?
No, I stayed in Florida for a little over two years to run my mom’s company.
After everything happened with her, I went through a lot of legal things with some people including her husband that she was married to for a year and ten months. He and his son tried to basically take everything my mother had. And I went through that for almost two years shortly right after her services.
I literally felt lost, naked, and I had no safety net or anything to fall back on. I prayed, I prayed and I prayed. I’ll never forget going to bed that night praying and crying uncontrollably. Literally, the next morning I woke up and said, “I’m going to open a store.” That must have been October or November 2016.
Did your mom know that opening a store was a goal of yours?
Yes. I said that I was going to open it on my mother’s birthday in honor of her because while I was interning at that store in Miami she used to always say, “Why don’t you just open your own store? I’ll help you put it together, just open your own store.” My response was always, “Mommy, I’m young and I don’t want to do anything. I just want to enjoy myself, go to work, come home and get paid.”
And when I thought about it, I was like that’s crazy. Years ago, mommy said that I should open a store, and finally God told me that it was time.
By December 2016, I had everything ready to go—the license, tax ID number, and all of the other documents needed to make everything legal. I didn’t know how I would do it, but I knew that I would.
So, within a month, you had all that you needed for Love Pink POSH. Did you also have the location solidified?
No, but I started looking for the location. I was still in Florida while I was looking. I started working with a real estate broker in Brooklyn who showed me different storefronts. Actually, my current storefront was one of the properties that I saw the first day that we went out.
I started negotiating on this property because I loved it. When I walked in, I remember saying, “Yes, this is it. I feel it.”
I put an offer out there, we began negotiating and then I went back to Florida. A few days later, I got a call that they went with another company with a bigger name for even less money.
For months, I kept looking, and then I finally saw another spot on Grand Ave., which was much smaller. I didn’t really want that space, but I thought, “Oh, maybe God wants me to start small.” That spot ended up falling through, and I remember feeling like I was completely over all of it. Right after that, the real estate broker contacted me and said, “Remember the space that you saw on 10th street?”
At first I didn’t know the building that he was referring to, so I asked, “What space?” He said, “The one that you liked but they ended up going with another company? Well, their contract fell through.”
After that, did you remember that he was talking about this space?
I don’t think that I completely remembered, so I said, “Alright, well let’s go there so I can see it again.” We got here and they actually showed me this space and the space next door. They were going to cut the space next door into three. So, I said, “I like this one, let me go with this one, and it’s already ready for me to start getting into.” I negotiated and ended up getting it for less than what I originally offered.
Did you feel that this must have been the location meant for you?
Honestly, I wasn’t sure. I still wanted to talk to my mom because every decision that I made, I always felt like if she didn’t bless the situation, I wasn’t going to do it. Even when I was trying to move back to New York and leave her that was the hardest thing ever. And for a very long time, I blamed myself because I felt like if I was still in Florida, she would be okay because I would have been helping her.
I still go back and forth with that.
So when did you know that this was the right move?
I was telling someone the other day that my thing with my mom was the number twenty-seven. Anytime I see the number twenty-seven I feel like she’s there. She had me at 27, and I lost her when I was 27. My grandmother was born March 2, 1927.
Everyone close to me would say, “she’s with you,” but I would never feel her near me. And I remember praying asking God to show me her presence, but not in a way that scared me.
Did he show you?
The day that I was going to sign the contract for the store, I kept listening to the radio hoping that one of her two favorite songs would play. They didn’t, but I went into the room to sign the contract, and I said to the broker, “when I open the store, make sure that you bring your girlfriend by so that she can come shopping.” He said, “I will. Her birthday is coming up.” Just out of curiosity, I asked, “When is her birthday?” His response was, “the 27th.”
I know that it may sound cliché or coincidental, but it meant so much that I started tearing up. I signed every single paper like that was my mom telling me to go for it.
Does the name Love Pink Posh have any special meaning?
I came up with this name six or seven years ago when I was styling in Miami. I created a page that was for models because I didn’t want them to always come on my personal page. So, I made a business page, and I just named it Love Pink Posh. I honestly don’t even know how I came up with it because it’s been so long, but I said I was going to use that because mommy knew that name.
Do you think that your mom is proud of you?
Yes, I believe that she wanted me to pursue whatever I was passionate about. Some days, I get scared like, “I hope she’s proud of me.” I’m not where I want to be yet, but at least I’m actively taking steps towards greater, and I believe that she’s proud of the steps that I’m taking.
Are you proud of how you have pursued your passion and worked hard despite what you have gone through?
Being an entrepreneur is not a quick walk in the park. It’s very hard and I believe that you should really choose something that you love because that’s what helps you to keep going each day. There are many days that I sit and think, “Am I supposed to be doing this?” I really get discouraged sometimes, and then, random people will DM me and say, “You motivate me,” “I’m so proud of you,” and “You inspired me to open up my business.” And those are the things that keep me going.
Then, I think about my mother. She was not a quitter. She would want me to keep going. But the most important thing that she would want is for me to be happy.
What are some life lessons that your mom taught you that have ultimately helped you become the woman and entrepreneur that you are today?
I always had a million “friends,” and my mom would say, “Rush, too much company is no good.” When everything happened with my mom, I went from having about twenty friends to literally two. Two friends that I could actually call on and know that they were there for me, which proved to me that my mom knew that everyone who smiles in your face and comes around when everything is great is not your friend.
I remember being really young and I had an aunt who lived in a big, pretty house, and we lived in an apartment building.
I went to her house and when I got back home, I said, “Mommy, auntie’s house is so big, nice and pretty.” She said, “Rush, do not watch what people have because you do not know how they come by it. Anything you want in this life you have to work hard for it.” As I got older, I learned how my aunt got certain things and it wasn’t anything that I would do.
I learned that anything that is worth having and anything that you want in this life you have to work hard for it.
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