2 lifelong friends open midcentury modern furniture store in North Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Along the 1600 block of W. Girard Avenue, two lifelong friends recently launched their grand opening of a unique midcentury modern furniture store in North Philadelphia.

Germantown native Kenya Abdul-Hadi and Steven Brown, a native of Chester, Pa., are most certainly no strangers to having an eye for art and fashion dating back four decades.

"Back in the 80s, we had brands Tribe Vibe, Funky Roots, and Meezan. We transitioned from clothing, and we started doing retail design," said Abdul-Hadi, who is the co-founder of The Modern Republic. "From retail design, we started doing installations."

Those installations later led to collections and the birth of The Modern Republic, an antique furniture store whose mission is to enhance the design process through color, style, and eclectic objects.

"We are a small minority antique business that collects cool fine art. However, we have an advantage because a lot of people don't look like us, and a lot of people don't have our same perspective," said Abdul-Hadi.

Brown says a lot has to do with growing up during the 80s era where fashion was a big part of urban culture.

But he adds that doesn't limit them into recognizing current modern-day trends involving art.

"We don't get stuck in one era as far as when we shop. We just put it together in a collage the way we view it," said Brown, co-founder of The Modern Republic. "We try to make it fun."

This three-year journey took the duo from Philadelphia, where they conducted flea market pop-ups, to The Big Apple, where they established an identity.

After a successful run, they decided to return, but this time in a permanent headquarters in North Philly.

"Growing up, part of being fly was all about going downtown," said Abdul-Hadi. "Me living uptown (Germantown), every day you were trying to get through north to get downtown. North Philadelphia is just a process of getting to where it's more active and more action, so it's a vital part of being in the community."

The store carries items for all different types of customers. For those looking for exotic artwork, decor to go into a personalized garden, or even those seeking something nice and affordable to go into their living room.

Overall, Browns says they're just looking to be that resourceful spot for all types of clients in the city.
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