Sarah Ben Tkhayet, Contributing Photographer

Fun, fashionable and funky — MINIPNG is the newest fashion retailer on Audubon Street. 

The brainchild of Connecticut designer Eiress Hammond, MINIPNG sells clothing, hats, shoes, jewelry and handbags. Some are vintage pieces, while others are handmade by Hammond herself. 

Hammond opened the storefront in September, an extension of a passion for fashion that began just out of high school, when her earliest designs went viral on social media. MINIPNG, Hammond says, brings a piece of New York to Connecticut, particularly the “super colorful, fun and crazy,” side of the city. 

“The store is basically a showcase of what I learned in New York,” Hammond said. “When people walk in, it makes them feel like they’re somewhere that’s not in Connecticut. And that’s exactly what I want.”

As a 19-year-old pre-law student at Wittenberg University in Ohio, Hammond looked to connect with her artistic side, beginning to experiment with painting on clothing. Her first-ever design, “In the City,” was a tank top embellished with abstract faces. Proud of her design, Hammond decided to post it to her Instagram page — a post that kickstarted her career in fashion design.  

Hammond’s post went viral, with thousands of people asking how they could get their hands on her design. She decided to turn to Depop, an online platform that allows individuals to buy and sell pieces of clothing. Once she began selling her tank tops, she recalls receiving as many as 50 orders a day. 

“It was super overwhelming, but it was also great,” Hammond said. 

Looking to expand her reach, Hammond started organizing pop-ups in New York — even the first of these events sold out. 

On top of her commercial success, Hammond was also able to form valuable connections within the city, particularly with the organizer of Hester Street Fair, an independent arts market. This connection allowed her to continue selling her designs at the event throughout the pandemic. 

However, Hammond said that she also faced several obstacles on her designing journey. One of which was online fashion retailer Aliexpress stealing one of her designs — her very first tank top. Fortunately, by June 2020, she was able to get a pro-bono lawyer to help her fight back and enforce the copyright that she had placed on her designs. She also took to social media, posting a video about her experience that went viral and garnered her further support. Eventually, Hammond won the case in court and Aliexpress took the design down. 

Inspired by her designer friends who had stores in Manhattan and Brooklyn, Hammond began her search for the perfect location for her own store, but was faced with a new wave of challenges. She recalled not being taken seriously as a young woman of color, receiving judgment from real estate owners as she searched for a space for her business. 

“When I was looking at spaces, it would be kind of like, ‘You’re the one looking at the space?’” she said. “I just had to work twice as hard in letting them know how serious I was.” 

One property Hammond was looking at in Manhattan fell through at the last minute. However, after moving to New Haven in order to be closer to her hometown of Middletown, CT, she discovered the open space at 77 Audubon St. on her way to Good Nature Market. 

Noticing a for-sale sign, Hammond decided to call the number and started working on bringing her idea for MINIPNG to life. 

As the store has opened its doors, Hammond said she was proud of how the space had come together. Victoria Zapata Quintero ’26 praised MINIPNG for its “unique style” and “one of a kind” vintage pieces. 

Hammond said that she wanted to create a space where even non-customers felt comfortable and welcome. 

“I have kids from [Educational Center for the Arts] across the street and they’ll come on their lunchbreak and just chill out on the couch and that’s fine with me,” Hammond said.

MINIPNG is focused both on the sustainability and the affordability of its products. All items in the store are second-hand, Hammond said, “and there’s a huge range of pricing … from $5 to $200.” Alex Guzman Caceres ’26 voiced her support for MINIPNG’s attention to affordability. 

“They had a sale on Saturday and I was able to get so many pieces for $50,” she said. 

Hammond formally founded MINIPNG as an LLC in 2020. 

Sarah Ben Tkhayet covers Business. She is a freshman in Timothy Dwight College majoring in Global Affairs and Economics.