The actress, 53, opened her first standalone shoe store for her SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker collection in N.Y.C.’s Seaport District on Thursday, and a line of well-heeled fans waited for up to five hours to get a first look at the boutique and a chance to talk to the fashion icon, much to Parker’s delight.
“I really love people, and meeting a customer,” she told PEOPLE before the doors opened to the public. “Taking care of him or her and having that exchange is enormously meaningful.”
“It makes all the other nonsense go away,” noting that in a world where people are so inundated with information, “it’s a really nice experience to be talking to somebody.”
The star, whose character Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City became the ultimate style icon of the early aughts, launched her shoe line four years ago, when she teamed up with George D. Malkemus, president and CEO of Manolo Blahnik, U.S.A. The collection first landed in department stores, like Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s. Then she opened pop-up shops in Las Vegas and N.Y.C., which eventually led to her own stores in Las Vegas’s Bellagio Hotel, Washington D.C. area’s MGM National Harbor and the Dubai Mall.
Throughout her second career as a shoe salesman, Parker herself has garnered a little bit of a hands-on reputation. She’s known to get on the ground and fit someone for shoes or run around the store picking out the exact pair that would fit a person she just meets.
In fact, she did that at the opening. “It’s my favorite thing,” she said. “If you take the time, people share with you about their life,” she explained to PEOPLE. “They share their faith, their politics, their home life, their loves, their disappointments, their professional lives. You learn so much about people. You learn about why people are in New York. You can’t believe the reasons why people come to New York. It’s not for Broadway shows and shopping in Times Square. I think that’s the part that’s been the most surprising and the most interesting — the human exchanges.”
While she would call her decision to launch her shoe line more of a “financial gamble than a leap of faith” because she put a lot of her own finances behind the collection, she said it’s not too late for other women to follow their dreams and start a business, too.
“People want to be helpful, so ask for help,” she said. “It’s hard to make that decision and pick up the phone and be brave sometimes or to put all the words you want into a letter. It’s not too late. It just takes some courage and some tenacity.”
This article originally appeared on PEOPLE.com