Ruhling: The Self-Styles Shopkeeper
Flavio Bessah is setting a style scene on the sidewalk.
He carries a petite light-blue side chair out the front door of his shop, Flash 16 Botik, and places it on the colorful Turkish rug atop the concrete.
He follows that with another chair, this one upholstered in a light floral pattern.
Flavio, tall and dark and shy, adds a small wooden cabinet and a half dozen empty frames and artworks to the smart scenario.
By the street planter, which is filled with purple and yellow petunias and serves as an extra seat, he places a glass-topped side table, crowning it with a lamp that has a blue and white china base.
After making a few adjustments – perhaps the pillows on the second chair should be re-arranged and the painting should be moved to the other side – he steps back to survey his work.
“I have to be and like to be involved in every detail,” he says.
Yes, it is a perfect city sitting room.
Flavio’s been working for hours, cleaning, and arranging and rearranging, and he didn’t realize that it’s time to open the boutique, which sells fashion for people and fashion for the house.
This isn’t Flavio’s first shop.
That one, Flash 16, was on Newtown Road, and he closed it last year because of the pandemic after a three-year run.
This boutique, which he is calling Flash 16 Botik , is on 33rd Street off Ditmars Boulevard between the old Key Food parking lot and Chip City.
It has only been open two months; there’s much work yet to do.
The black awning still carries the name of the previous tenant, a juice bar, and Flavio’s still trying to figure out how to fit all his stuff into this, a significantly smaller space.
The designer-brand stock varies – you really need to visit the boutique every week to keep from missing out on the Coach, Versace, Yves Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana and Escada pieces that you and your wardrobe simply can’t live without.
Right by the door, there’s a pair of lipstick-red Calvin Klein stilettoes.
On the back wall, there’s a vintage framed poster of the Beatles promoting their first film, “A Hard Day’s Night.”
In the window, there is a pair of glass and metal table lamps. And over in the corner, by the vintage glassware, there’s an entire section filled with designer handbags.
The clothes racks are bulging: There are frilly dresses, tailored coats, just-plain jeans and shiny micro-mini skirts.
The designer merchandise – some new, some old, some donated, some consigned, all of it in perfect condition – is carefully curated by Flavio, who made his career as a fashion stylist.
Flavio, who is from Goiânia, a city in central Brazil that’s 125 miles from Brasilia, has always been interested in fashion, but it wasn’t until he moved to New York City some two decades ago that he began the collection that ultimately led to his opening the shop.
A journalist by training – he has a degree in the subject from the Universidade Estácio de Sá in Rio de Janeiro – Flavio figured he would write about fashion in the city.
He quickly discovered, however, that the money he was making writing his magazine articles didn’t cover his rent or his fashion purchases.
Working as a fashion stylist, however, did. So did selling styles and style.
Like Flavio’s first shop, Flash 16 Botik – Flash refers to the camera-carrying paparazzi, 16 is the date of Flavio’s birthday and Botik is a play on the word boutique, which is what the restaurant across Ditmars Boulevard calls itself – is proving to be successful straightaway.
Flavio has a good feeling about this store: He thinks and hopes that it will be so popular that he’ll be able to open an entire chain that features his self-styled fashion aesthetic.
He finds the 12-hour days fun and fulfilling, whether he’s unpacking dresses or dressing up the front windows.
“I’m so busy with this right now that I don’t have time to do styling any more,” he says, grinning. “I’m totally dedicated to Flash 16 Botik.”
Nancy A. Ruhling may be reached at Nruhling@gmail.com; @nancyruhling; nruhling on Instagram, nancyruhling.com, astoriacharacters.com.