A sixth-generation Indian-American jeweler lives in a cozy space that is also her jewelry line’s base of operations.
Madhuri Parson wanted a studio apartment in a full-service building with enough breathing room to live and work. Several months and 20 apartments after she started her search, she found what she was looking for at Abington House, on West 30th Street.Credit…Andrea Mohin/The New York Times
For many New Yorkers, living in a full-service doorman building simply means being able to receive Amazon packages and FreshDirect shipments headache-free. But for Madhuri Parson, a sixth-generation jeweler whose Hudson Yards studio has doubled as her company’s base of operations since she moved there in the summer of 2016, it was an absolute must.
Ms. Parson had been living in her brother’s two-bedroom West Village co-op since 2011, when she came to the city to learn the ins and outs of the jewelry business, first at the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Gemological Institute of America, and later in the design and sourcing divisions of Liz Claiborne and David Yurman.
“It’s ingrained in Indian women that we wear lots of jewelry — a lot of gold, 22-karat usually, gifted by someone who loves you,” she said. “I was inspired by my family’s Old World heritage, but I wanted to blend it with a modern sensibility.”
But shortly after she devoted herself full-time to producing her own line, she realized that she would have to find a better place to run her business than out of her brother’s apartment.
“I was basically traveling half the year,” said Ms. Parson, who worked in corporate marketing on the West Coast before deciding to take up the profession practiced by five generations of her Indian immigrant family. “And he started getting a lot of packages from DHL and FedEx” — or more often than not, as he didn’t have a doorman building, a missed package notification. That meant her brother would have to make the trek to the shipping office before whatever it was got sent back.
“At some point, he was like, ‘You have to figure out what you’re doing,’” she said.
She started looking for her own apartment in the spring of 2016, and 20 apartments and several months later, she found one that met her standards: a studio at Abington House, a Related rental building on West 30th Street.
“I had visualized a space like this, open plan but with separation between the kitchen and the bedroom and living room,” Ms. Parson said, describing her corner-unit studio with soaring ceilings and a huge window overlooking 10th Avenue. “It also has really nice light. The first time I saw it was 4 p.m. on a summer day.”
She had thought that finding a place would be a relatively simple process. She knew she wanted a studio in an elevator building — as a frequent traveler, she preferred not to have to lug her suitcases up and down the stairs. And a doorman was a must. Not only did she need someone to receive valuable shipments, she wanted the additional security because of the nature of her work.
But as she quickly discovered, many Manhattan studio apartments are less-than-charming shoeboxes, particularly in the West Village and SoHo, the neighborhoods she initially set her sights on. And as she would be living and working out of her apartment, the bar was higher than it might otherwise have been for a businesswoman who spent half the year traveling. Also, even buildings described as “luxury” often didn’t have in-unit washer and dryers, which she considered a deal-breaker.
“When I was growing up, my parents would say, ‘Your house is your temple,’” Ms. Parson said. “I didn’t really understand it when I was younger, but as I got older I understood that you want to keep your home nice and clean and welcoming. A lot of apartments didn’t feel like temples; there was no sense of peace.”
$3,100 | Hudson Yards
Occupation: Jewelry designer with her own line. Family in India helped make introductions to gem dealers and the jewelers who execute many of her designs. “It’s very difficult to build a supply chain,” she said. “The craftsmen I work with have plenty of work — it’s them deciding if they want to meet with me.”
Walking along the High Line: is her preferred method of transportation; otherwise, she likes to use Citi Bike.
Why she likes the building: “Here, I feel a good general vibe. Everyone is friendly but gives each other space. Fundamentally, I feel independent and private here.”
She saw another studio at Abington House early on in her search, but it was “a very, very tiny studio with a beautiful view, and I thought maybe their spaces were too small,” she said. But the building’s leasing agent kept in touch, and she eventually agreed to come back to see another unit.
“Walking back through the lobby of this building, it just felt like home,” she said, adding that she found comfort in the lobby’s natural hues, the cozy fireplace and the tall windows that let in plenty of natural light.
The only problem? She didn’t like the second studio, either. While slightly larger than the first, it was still too small, although it also had a stunning view.
Hesitantly, the agent offered to show her another unit on the fourth floor, warning her that she might not like it: It was larger, but faced 10th Avenue and had no view to speak of.
“But even outside in the hallway, I was like, ‘I feel it!’” Ms. Parson said.
“The layout was the major selling point. I didn’t care that it had an obstructed view,” she said. “I felt a really good energy in here.”
And moving in that August, when Hudson Yards was a massive construction site years away from becoming a major attraction, she was offered a relatively low rent. She now pays $3,100 a month.
In the years since, she has found the space conducive to the needs of her growing jewelry line, which is now sold at Bloomingdale’s and Moda Operandi, among other places. She has never had a package lost or stolen. And when she is not at the gem markets in Jaipur, India, or at jewelry shows in London, she can print documents in the building’s office area or reserve rooms to meet with clients. She also books the lounge every December for her annual holiday trunk show.
“It’s funny, sometimes going into a building, the amenities seem like the last thing you’d use,” she said. “But here I actually use them a lot more than I thought.”
Living and working out of a studio apartment, even a large one, can be a challenge. But as a renter and a frequent traveler, she didn’t want to splurge on a one-bedroom, paying for more square feet and walls than she needed.
“A studio made a lot of sense,” Ms. Parson said. “I wanted someplace that would be big enough for my purposes. But I’m also an entrepreneur, so I have to watch expenses. ”
For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.