People Who Make NY Special

The Unicorn Mom

Annie Bruce wants to encourage all of her customers to feel special when they go shopping at her magical store, Brooklyn Owl.

Photo by Michelle Danahy

California transplant Annie Bruce was just a mom who wanted to gift her daughter, Bee, with something handmade. So for Bee’s fourth birthday, she crafted sparkly unicorn horns. From there, a business was born.

Bruce has seen her unicorn-horn company (say that 10 times fast!) grow from an Etsy store to a brick-and-mortar boutique—Brooklyn Owl in Prospect Heights—in just a few short years. All of her products, which range from magical horns of all shapes and sizes to mermaid clips and confetti, are handcrafted in her workshop.

What Should We Do?! caught up with Bruce—who is as adorable as her merchandise—to discuss the unicorn trend, her handmade horns, and her favorite enchanted places in New York City.

Photo by Michelle Danahy

What Should We Do?!: Unicorns are pretty trendy right now.
Annie Bruce: People think I am trying to cash in on that, but I was planning on doing this [opening Brooklyn Owl] anyway. It just so happens that the timing of it aligned with the whole unicorn trend. But I’ve been making my horns for a few years.

WSWD: What inspired you to open up a space?
Bruce: For the past four years, I’ve been making the horns in Brooklyn and selling them around the world from home. We’re excited about the retail location because we get to meet customers, try out limited-edition unicorn horns in new colors and styles, and have a real workshop. We also get to take customers on this unicorn adventure, which is an extra surprise.

WSWD: Yes, we love how the store is interactive.
Bruce: Yeah! When you walk in, we greet you with a warm hug and a horn to wear, and you’re immediately happy. It’s a different, unique experience. Adults get excited about it, too.

Photo by Alex DaSilva

WSWD: It’s not only a fun experience—it’s a confidence booster, too.
Bruce: Thank you for getting it! Confidence is such a hard thing [to achieve], no matter what age you are. We’ve been asked if we believe that the words [on the wall] are magical. No—the truth is, real magic is within you. We just like to bring it out.

WSWD: Do you make all of the horns yourself?
Bruce: I used to make every single one by hand. But now that I’m growing, I have to have help. So we assembly-line them in my workshop [in the back of Brooklyn Owl]. I’m currently working on 300 different size and color combinations for the horns, plus new items like bags and unicorn-fetti.

Photo by Michelle Danahy

WSWD: Why are you called Brooklyn Owl and not Brooklyn Unicorn?
Bruce: When I started, I was making owl clips (I still have some that I sell in the shop). My daughter loves the name Brooklyn, so we were like, “OK, we want it to have Brooklyn in it.” Her favorite animal and one of her first real words was “owl.” So the name Brooklyn Owl was born. It confuses people, but we don’t care. It starts a conversation.

WSWD: If you had just one hour in New York City, what would you do?
Bruce: In the spring, I’d go to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to see all the amazing blossoms. If it were summer, I would spend my hour in Coney Island going on rides and laying on the beach. In the fall, I’d head to Central Park to enjoy the colorful leaves and eat treats from Zabar’s. In the winter, ice-skating in Bryant Park surrounded by the bustle and tall buildings of midtown.

Photo by Antonio M. Rosario/Brooklyn Botanic Garden

WSWD: What are three wishes you have for New York City?
Bruce: I wish for NYC to be the greenest city in the world. I wish everyone who lives here would visit at least one neighborhood they’ve never been to every month, so that we can better appreciate all the cool places/people/food in this awesome city! And I wish for NYC to become more friendly to small businesses, so that we can turn some of these banks and cell phone stores into places that reflect the cool, one-of-a-kind spirit of the city.