Emma Rogue Arrives on NYC's TikTok Block
Rogue's new thrift store is the latest TikTokker-owned retailer to land on Stanton Street in Manhattan.
In my first in-person interview in over a year, I was, appropriately, surrounded by a bunch of TikTokkers dressed way better than me. —Kate
I have entered TikTok Block, although I don't realize it yet. I’m at 53 Stanton Street in New York City to interview Depop and TikTok star Emma Rogue, who is opening her first IRL thrift store this Saturday, June 5. As creators Vienna Skye and Victoria Paris sort through their donations in the background, Rogue tells me that her store, also called Rogue, is the second TikTokker-owned retailer to open up on the block this spring. This prompted her and Matt Choon, TikTokker and owner of the neighboring store Bowery Showroom, to start referring to the stretch between Forsyth and Eldridge streets as “TikTok Block.”
“It's going to be the spot,” Rogue says. “Like, this is going to be the block to be on.”
Or maybe it already is. The Bowery Showroom, a vintage and lifestyle brand, boasted over 2,000 attendees at its March 31 pre-launch event, and TikToks documented lines around the block. Over a week before its own opening, Rogue had 650 RSVPs for the big day.
Despite the block’s proximity to NYC institutions like Katz’s Delicatessen and Russ & Daughters, the falling rents instigated by the pandemic suddenly made Stanton Street a place where a recent NYU grad and FIT fashion student like Rogue could make the impulse decision to go IRL with her flourishing Depop career.
“I've been thrifting my whole life and I never thought about thrifting for the purpose of reselling,” Rogue, who is in her early 20s but prefers not to give her specific age, says about her foray into Depop. “But I was just at the thrift store so often seeing stuff that wouldn't fit me but was cool. I was like, ‘I know someone is going to love these.’”
Depop itself noticed her success and invited her to work part-time at their Soho space before offering her a full-time position in early 2020. But she ended up turning it down to focus on the street fairs and pop-ups her reselling success had earned her. Then the pandemic hit. Then Rogue got on TikTok.
TikTok has a huge audience for thrifting, and creators like Paris also got started on the app by promoting their Depops. Rogue managed to combine users’ love of Depop with their similar passion for small business content, first going viral for a video showing how she packs an order. The followers snowballed from there.
“I get so many messages like, ‘Oh my gosh, you inspired me to start my Depop. You're motivating me. I want to own a store eventually,’” she says.
Rogue is keeping things in the TikTok family. Not only are Paris and Skye contributors to the store's inventory, but Rogue also asked artist and TikTokker Dahlia Raz to come down from Boston to draw a mural for it. In the future, she even hopes to make her own pieces.
“Everything's opening back up now, the vaccine's out, people are not so scared anymore,” Rogue says. “So when I tell you it wasn't in the plan, it really wasn't in the plan, but the opportunity was there and I had to jump.”