Uni-Life aims to bring ‘a bit of happiness’ to downtown New Haven

NEW HAVEN — From stationery and cellphone cases to makeup and plushies, the new downtown Asian store Uni-Life is looking to provide customers in the area with “one-of-a-kind products you need.”

The idea for the new store, which opened recently at 1046 Chapel St., was born with two friends from China and Hong Kong, Christine Lin and Szeki Lam, respectively.

Lin said that growing up in China, there were many similar stores that sold “cute” items, ranging from toys to equipment for her hair. But when she arrived in New York and lived there for seven years, she realized that the culture here was different and it was difficult for her to seek out the products she loved.

“I always have problems, so I used to order online and ship it from China,” Lin said. “It could take so long, like, my passion is gone before I get it.”

It got harder when she moved to New Haven in 2018 – her husband and sister own T-Swirl Crepe on College Street – and she decided the shopping arrangement wasn’t what she wanted.

“Why can’t I just open a store for this community,” Lin recalled. “I want to bring more fun things to New Haven, to this community.”

Open for less than a week, she said customer reviews were very positive from all generations, not just younger ones.

The store’s Instagram page features a variety of merchandise such as colorful flower mugs, bunny-themed alarm clocks, Line Friends character figurines, Cinnamoroll umbrellas, and shark-shaped slippers.

“I mean, everyone likes this stuff, we don’t want to grow up, do we,” Lin said.

Since most of the goods were imported from China, Japan and Korea, Lin said, this posed a challenge for business partners during the research process, as they wanted to ensure the products were “cute, unique , beautiful but also affordable” for customers.

Lin also said that she still didn’t know if what she was trying to present, which is the “cute culture” of her home continent, would be well received, so she had to find a balance.

“Of course, everyone likes cute stuff, but the definition of cute is always very different,” Lin said. “So we think, what if we think it’s cute and other people are like ‘no, it’s not for them. “”

But given the location in the heart of downtown New Haven surrounded by Yale University’s campus, Lin said she’s received nothing but positive feedback from local residents, students and passing tourists. over there.

Lin and her friend’s goal is much bigger, however. She said if their first Uni-Life is successful, they will expand throughout Connecticut and even across the country.

“It’s a big dream,” Lin said. “In the beginning, we have to design, put our thoughts into action. That’s actually a big step too.

Lin hopes her store will bring “a little bit of happiness” to her customers and “make their dark life brighter and happier.”

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About Dwayne Wakefield

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