Sabrina de Sousa
Meet the co-founder and designer of Dimes, the much loved downtown New York eatery.
For this installment of the Lingerie On Film profile series, we are excited to introduce you to Sabrina De Sousa. She is both co-founder and designer of the downtown food trifecta - Dimes Restaurant, Market and Deli. For the 2019 edition of Lingerie On Film she shot a series of beautiful images while five months pregnant and traveling in Japan.
Can you share a little about your trip and shooting the project?
I had a Japan tripped planned in early Spring. We were in Kyoto and Koyasan and roomed in traditional ryokans throughout our stay. I’ve never been to Japan before but had a pretty strong feeling the simple interiors would bring a lovely quality to the series. There were still a few exposures left when I returned and it was the height of cherry blossom season in Newark, NJ (where I grew up). It felt complete to pay homage and conclude the project this way.
What was your childhood like? How was creativity and self-expression cultivated in your adolescence?
Growing up most of my summers were spent in Brazil with family and as a young teenager, a lot of my free time hopping on the PATH train to go downtown (my mom really encouraged us to go as often as we wanted). Having access to the city exposed me to so many different things. In a way I think this naturally forced me to think creatively and try different mediums to express myself.
Why do you think Dimes has been such a success?
I’m not sure what the secret ingredient is (or how one interprets success) but I know I owe so much of Dimes to the sense of community that has blossomed throughout the years.
"It feels very unique, especially in this city, to have such a Sesame Street dynamic where everyone knows one another.”
Your business has expanded to include a deli as well as a market. What inspired these offshoots?
It was an organic growth. We spent day and night in this neighborhood and realized the need for the new additions. The deli was a way to offer a service to our regulars that were on the move and the market is a place where one could grab local produce and basic pantry items. The market has become my favorite of the three. It’s a really neat way for people to see where we source our ingredients for the restaurant and in a way feels like an invitation to get behind the scenes. We also feature objects that you wouldn’t find in a regular market- a free pass to showcase things that we really love.
You designed the interiors of Dimes as well as a lot of the furniture. Were these creative fields that were always interests of yours, or was this your first foray?
I’ve always had such a love for design but opening the first Dimes in 2013 was my first time conceptualizing an actual space.
How would you describe the Dimes' interior?
It’s like an autostereogram- the canvas is white but if you stare at it long enough you’ll begin to see pops of color. Different shapes and chairs that speak to one another, in harmony.
What kind of spaces inspire you?
In one way I love spaces that consider every inch and crevice as if a designer goes nearly mad contemplating all aspects to make the environment sing. But then I also admire spaces that are carefree and live in a little chaos where you can really feel the life in it. No yin without the yang I guess.
Are there any materials that you love working with?
This often changes but I’m currently repurposing objects from thrift stores and giving them a second life.
What interior designers and/or furniture designers inspire you?
I have an infinite love for Brazilian designers such as Sergio Rodgriguez and Lina Bo Bardi.
What are your main influences when it comes to food choices / new menu development?
Seasonality plays the biggest role always.
What part of owning a restaurant do you like best?
I love that Dimes fosters new relationships. There’s a sweet feeling of family when I’m there.
What is your favorite way to celebrate Thanksgiving?
In solidarity with indigenous peoples. We hosted a meal with the I-Collective at Dimes to re-write the Thanksgiving story a couple years ago. Spending time with the group really taught me about indigenous food sovereignty and how we can take small steps to change the script. Supporting indigenous organizations like nativeseeds.org is a great way to start.
Do you have a favorite traditional or nontraditional Thanksgiving recipe that you can share?
We make a cornbread at the restaurant that uses UTE blue cornmeal from Bow and Arrow foods. Recipe below :)
Makes one loaf ~
4 cups cooked black rice
3 ½ cups apple cider
1 1/2 cups blue cornmeal
1/3 cup chia seeds
1/2 tablespoon maldons salt
1/4 cup olive or coconut oil
1 ½ tablespoons black sesame seeds
Blend about half of the black rice and apple cider in a blender until smooth then place in a mixing bowl along with remaining ingredients except sesame seeds.
Oil the pan with cooking spray or a little olive oil and sprinkle the bottom with sesame seeds. Pour in the batter and tap on the counter a couple of times to distribute the batter evenly.
Cook at 350 for about an hour or until cooked through. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean. Serve slathered with apple butter.
Thank You, Sabrina!