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Public eye: Marge Levin, 66

New York street interviews: Stories from the sidewalk as told by real New Yorkers about their lives in the city that never sleeps.

Photograph: Zenith Richards

W 18th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves

What are you doing? Oh, just buying stationery.

Wow, for real? For actual letters... On real paper, that's right! You gotta do it. I work with a printer on this street. They do small jobs for me.

You sound like a professional. Yes, I'm a designer. Right now I'm doing all the packaging for a client who has her own line of personal care products.

Packaging design—meaning you know how to Jedi-mind-trick the consumer into buying stuff? Actually, this client is so successful that she's selling already. I've had a long career—I've done graphic design, jewelry design... I recently had a business where I was importing textiles from a women's cooperative in Cambodia and silver from silversmiths in Mexico. Now I've had more time to get involved with my husband's business—dealing in Asian and tribal arts.

Does that kind of dealing ever get dicey from a legal standpoint? You do have to be careful; make certain that the age and provenance of what you're buying is reputable. There is a long list of things you can't buy or sell.

Like ivory. Right, ivory, feathers... It becomes more and more complicated every year. We deal in old or ancient items, going back to Neolithic stone pieces—which I have not been able to wrap my head around. There are quite a few of them that I just keep looking at and going, "I have no idea what this is."

New York must be filled with insanely rich people who have stuff like this just sitting around in their apartments. Oh sure. The people who seriously collect are really passionate. It's amazing to listen to people talk about these things. You would be astounded at the knowledge they accumulate about the tiniest piece of jade.

Sounds like fun when it's not boring. [Laughs] Yes, it gets more fun if you're patient with it.

On an unrelated note, are you making a Michael Jackson reference with your shoes and socks? [Laughs] Not at all! I think these were probably just at the top of the pile.

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