Independent Bookstores of the UK

We often get comments about some of our “picks of the day” for The Local Artisan Guide’s social media as sometimes our choices can seem a bit contrary to local artisans. We have overtime decided to include independent and small brands, artisanal foods, sustainable brands and one of our favorite picks, the local, independent bookstore.

In the United Kingdom, the land of Shakespeare, books are highly revered. Neighborhoods everywhere have a local bookstore that offer books from authors old and new. What is special about the United Kingdom is their plethora of antiquarian bookstores. Here you can find ancient manuscripts and some of the earliest books ever printed. In the United States most antiquarian booksellers are carefully hidden away in office buildings in large cities. In the UK it is possible to just walk off the street and into a book lovers paradise. Imagine owning a Medieval manuscript carefully created from a monk centuries ago? Or a Renaissance book on medicine? Well in the UK there are many antiquarian bookstores that cater to this very need. These shops look so quaint and charming to boot that you have to go in to carouse just for the experience alone. Its enough to make you feel like Audrey Hepburn’s book clerk character in “Funny Face”.

In “Funny Face”, Audrey Hepburn played the bookish bookstore clerk for fictional, Greenwich Village independent bookstore, Embryo Concepts Book Shop.

In “Funny Face”, Audrey Hepburn played the bookish bookstore clerk for fictional, Greenwich Village independent bookstore, Embryo Concepts Book Shop.

The UK also offers many bookstores that specialize in rare books. Want a signed copy of Ernest Hemingway’s “A Movable Feast”? Well chances are you can find it in the UK along with countless other authors and manuscripts.

With Amazon and Barnes & Noble gobbling up small bookstores around the world, we salute and highlight some of our favorite local bookshops we have seen so far in the UK. We realize we have only scratched the surface and look forward to highlighting many more, so if there is a local bookstore that you admire please let us know in the comments below.

The colorful facade of  Sokol Books  will draw you in, and once in you are privy to some of the world’s rarest and oldest books any collector of antiquarian would be honored to collect. 239A Fulham Rd, Chelsea, London, UK.

The colorful facade of Sokol Books will draw you in, and once in you are privy to some of the world’s rarest and oldest books any collector of antiquarian would be honored to collect. 239A Fulham Rd, Chelsea, London, UK.

Maggs Bros. Ltd: Rare books and Manuscripts  offers rare books and manuscripts from around the world in every topic imaginable. With two elegant destinations in Mayfair and Covent Gardens, it has a stellar reputation in the antiquarian world since 1853.

Maggs Bros. Ltd: Rare books and Manuscripts offers rare books and manuscripts from around the world in every topic imaginable. With two elegant destinations in Mayfair and Covent Gardens, it has a stellar reputation in the antiquarian world since 1853.

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Peter Harrington Rare Books & Manuscripts  specialises in selling and buying the finest quality original first editions, signed, rare and antiquarian books, library sets, maps and original manuscripts.

Peter Harrington Rare Books & Manuscripts specialises in selling and buying the finest quality original first editions, signed, rare and antiquarian books, library sets, maps and original manuscripts.

South Kensington Books  is the quintessential independent neighborhood book store. Established in the 1940’s, South Kensington Books specializes in Visual Arts, Photography and Architecture and History besides fiction and nonfiction. 22 Thurloe St, Kensington, London, UK.

South Kensington Books is the quintessential independent neighborhood book store. Established in the 1940’s, South Kensington Books specializes in Visual Arts, Photography and Architecture and History besides fiction and nonfiction. 22 Thurloe St, Kensington, London, UK.

Daunt Books  is an popular independent book store chain in London founded in 1990 and located in various local neighborhoods. Pictured is the Chelsea location. 158-164 Fulham Rd, London, Chelsea, UK.

Daunt Books is an popular independent book store chain in London founded in 1990 and located in various local neighborhoods. Pictured is the Chelsea location. 158-164 Fulham Rd, London, Chelsea, UK.

Brick Lane Bookshop  provides Shoreditch the local neighborhood bookshop experience for over thirty years. 166 Brick Lane, Shoreditch, London, UK.

Brick Lane Bookshop provides Shoreditch the local neighborhood bookshop experience for over thirty years. 166 Brick Lane, Shoreditch, London, UK.

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Pages Cheshire Street  is a sister shop to Clapton’s award-winning bookshop,  Pages of Hackney . Pages Cheshire Street is an independent bookstore that showcases women, trans and gender diverse authors across many genres. 5 Cheshire St, Shoreditch, London, UK

Pages Cheshire Street is a sister shop to Clapton’s award-winning bookshop, Pages of Hackney. Pages Cheshire Street is an independent bookstore that showcases women, trans and gender diverse authors across many genres. 5 Cheshire St, Shoreditch, London, UK

Tackle & Books  is one of the most photographed bookshops in the UK, Located in the picturesque town of Tobermory on the Island of Cull, Scotland, UK, Tackle & Books for over 35 years supplies such diverse products as books, computer food, artist materials, fishing tackle & business services. 7 Main St, Tobermory, Isle of Mull, Scotland, UK.

Tackle & Books is one of the most photographed bookshops in the UK, Located in the picturesque town of Tobermory on the Island of Cull, Scotland, UK, Tackle & Books for over 35 years supplies such diverse products as books, computer food, artist materials, fishing tackle & business services. 7 Main St, Tobermory, Isle of Mull, Scotland, UK.

The Map House  was established originally in 1907 as Map and Booksellers by Alfred Sifton and Francis Praed. Now it provides antiquarian maps from around the world.

The Map House was established originally in 1907 as Map and Booksellers by Alfred Sifton and Francis Praed. Now it provides antiquarian maps from around the world.

The Local Artisan Guide is looking forward to exploring more local neighborhoods in London and around the UK. In the meantime we applaud the local independent bookshops that strive to survive in an Amazon world.

By Natalie Rivera

The Local Artisans of Tobermory

Recently whilst on holiday in the Scottish Isles, besides admiring the spectacular beauty of Scotland and the Inner Hebrides, The Local Artisan Guide was lucky enough to stumble (okay we took a ferry to the Island of Mull) upon the town of Tobermory. 

The picturesque town of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, Scotland.

The picturesque town of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, Scotland.

Tobermory is a picturesque town on the Island of Mull (part of the Inner Hebrides) with colorful houses, restaurants and shops lined up on a marina with rolling green hills and trees all apart of an incredible vista. Tobermory Bay was originally a fishing port that has since become home to small businesses, restaurants, small hotels and artisanal shops that offer a range in products including; jewelry, chocolates, soap, pottery, cheese, leather goods, a distiller, art, local fashion, stationary, baked goods and more. 

As you get off the ferry you follow the crescent shape road known as Main Street around the marina with multicolor buildings dotting the landscape. While walking down the street and entering the various shops one observes that many of the shops not only carry local products but many of the products are produced in the shop itself. There are also many products made from local artisans near by on the island.

After exploring Main Street here are some of the highlights in Tobermory:

AN CAMUS

An Camus

An Camus

Slightly off Main Street as soon as you depart the ferry you will come upon the studio and shop of An Camus where Stuart and Helen Orr can be seen working on their glass products, knick-knacks and stationary.

The workshop of An Camus is located in the shop itself where you see many items in the process of being made.

The workshop of An Camus is located in the shop itself where you see many items in the process of being made.

An Camus offers many representations of the sea and wildlife.

An Camus offers many representations of the sea and wildlife.

Its typical to see Stuart and Helen hard at work creating their wares.

Its typical to see Stuart and Helen hard at work creating their wares.

A small example of An Camus’s beautiful glassware.

A small example of An Camus’s beautiful glassware.

ISLE OF MULL SOAP CO.

Isle of Mull Soap Co.

Isle of Mull Soap Co.

Isle of Mull Soap Co. is a quaint soap shop founded by husband and wife team Stu and Sophie who create soap inspired by the culture of Scotland and all the many natural and native ingredients you can only find in the Scottish Isles. Soaps, soap bombs, candles, bath and body, gifts and accessories can be found in this shop along with beautiful packaging and always a friendly welcome.

Isle of Mull Soap Co. has a large selection of soap and bath products.

Isle of Mull Soap Co. has a large selection of soap and bath products.

With such scents as Hot Toddy, Cinnamon & Citrus and Rose & Patchouli, shopping here makes for great souvenirs.

With such scents as Hot Toddy, Cinnamon & Citrus and Rose & Patchouli, shopping here makes for great souvenirs.

Isle of Mull Soap Co. also offers bath bombs, bath and body and great gifts to remind you of your stay in Tobermory.

Isle of Mull Soap Co. also offers bath bombs, bath and body and great gifts to remind you of your stay in Tobermory.

TOBERMORY DISTILLERY

The visitor center for Tobermory Distillery.

The visitor center for Tobermory Distillery.

Tobermory Distillery, where the magic happens.

Tobermory Distillery, where the magic happens.

Established in 1798, Tobermory Distillery is the only distillery on the Island of Mull and one of the oldest commercial distilleries in Scotland. The distillery is unique not only because of its picturesque location but because they offer not one but two distinctive single malts.

The shop in the visitor center of the distillery offers their entire selection of scotch and whiskey.

The shop in the visitor center of the distillery offers their entire selection of scotch and whiskey.

There is even a formal tasting room that you can make an appointment to experience.

There is even a formal tasting room that you can make an appointment to experience.

Tobermory Distillery offers more than just whiskey at the visitor center. Here you can purchase, hats, t-shirts and even soap made with whiskey!

Tobermory Distillery offers more than just whiskey at the visitor center. Here you can purchase, hats, t-shirts and even soap made with whiskey!

Is there such a thing as a “wee dram”? We think not, especially after you taste their whiskeys.

Is there such a thing as a “wee dram”? We think not, especially after you taste their whiskeys.

THE LAUNDRY

Is it a Laundry or a store? It’s both and both are well done.

Is it a Laundry or a store? It’s both and both are well done.

The Laundry is a laundry service with a twist. The twist being that The Laundry is also a boutique that offers products made from local artisans from the Isle of Mull which include fashion, handbags, gifts, candles, bedding and more.

The Laundry offers a selection of fashion, accessories and gifts made on the Isle of Mull. Oh and exceptional laundry services too.

The Laundry offers a selection of fashion, accessories and gifts made on the Isle of Mull. Oh and exceptional laundry services too.

The Laundry offers bedding, which comes in handy for all the Airbnb’s on the island.

The Laundry offers bedding, which comes in handy for all the Airbnb’s on the island.

Handbags made from local leathers are one of the key products you will find in The Laundry.

Handbags made from local leathers are one of the key products you will find in The Laundry.

ISLE OF MULL SILVER & GOLDSMITHS

You can’t miss Isle of Mull Silver & Goldsmith’s cobalt blue storefront on Main Street.

You can’t miss Isle of Mull Silver & Goldsmith’s cobalt blue storefront on Main Street.

Founded in 1975 by Phil Campbell, Isle of Mull Silver & Goldsmiths provides jewelry made by local designers and features Scottish jewelry which includes quaichs, kilt pins, cufflinks, silver spoons and more traditional and contemporary designs.

Jewelry to wear for your kilts to represent your clans is a feature at the Isle of Mull Silversmith & Goldsmiths.

Jewelry to wear for your kilts to represent your clans is a feature at the Isle of Mull Silversmith & Goldsmiths.

The shop also offers a wide selection of traditional silver spoons.

The shop also offers a wide selection of traditional silver spoons.

There is also a wide selection of traditional and contemporary jewelry designs made from local artisans.

There is also a wide selection of traditional and contemporary jewelry designs made from local artisans.

ISLAND BLUE TOBERMORY

Island Blue Tobermory is great place to shop for children’s gifts and art from local residents.

Island Blue Tobermory is great place to shop for children’s gifts and art from local residents.

Photographer Martin Guppy founded Island Blue which includes art from local artists, toys, skincare, candles, scarves, mugs and more.

Colorful mugs and coasters have imagery of the local sea and wildlife.

Colorful mugs and coasters have imagery of the local sea and wildlife.

Many scents made from local ingredients are displayed in the store.

Many scents made from local ingredients are displayed in the store.

Island Blue Tobermory offers a fun, eclectic array of souvenirs from Tobermory.

Island Blue Tobermory offers a fun, eclectic array of souvenirs from Tobermory.

Wood carvings of bird life and mugs of local cattle are a favorite at the store.

Wood carvings of bird life and mugs of local cattle are a favorite at the store.

MULL POTTERY

The welcoming storefront of Mull Pottery.

The welcoming storefront of Mull Pottery.

Mull Pottery was established over 25 years ago using their own recipe for clay ceramics. The shop also offers pottery made by skilled craftspeople including the popular and stunningly beautiful Iona Range. All pieces are handmade, making each piece unique.

The selection of mugs with abstract vistas is a popular sell at Mull Pottery.

The selection of mugs with abstract vistas is a popular sell at Mull Pottery.

Sea and wildlife imagery is a great choice for souvenir gift giving.

Sea and wildlife imagery is a great choice for souvenir gift giving.

The incredibly beautiful (and affordable) Iona Range ceramics make Mull Pottery an amazing stop on your trip to Tobermory.

The incredibly beautiful (and affordable) Iona Range ceramics make Mull Pottery an amazing stop on your trip to Tobermory.

ISLAND CRAFTS

The sea-green shop of Island Crafts.

The sea-green shop of Island Crafts.

Island Crafts Tobermory offers a wide selection of work predominately from artists living and working or with connections with the Isle of Mull.  They sell walking sticks, books, jewelry, stationary, antlers, gifts and more.

Island Crafts offer a unique selection of walking sticks made locally for that favorite of all activities in the Hebrides, walking the hills.

Island Crafts offer a unique selection of walking sticks made locally for that favorite of all activities in the Hebrides, walking the hills.

Beautiful home decor objects made from shells and pairing knives made with natural materials are show stoppers at Island Craft.

Beautiful home decor objects made from shells and pairing knives made with natural materials are show stoppers at Island Craft.

Island Craft also offers accessories, throws and caps made from wool from local sheep that help keep crafts alive and well in Tobermory.

Island Craft also offers accessories, throws and caps made from wool from local sheep that help keep crafts alive and well in Tobermory.

TOBERMORY HANDMADE CHOCOLATE

Just look for the chocolate colored building for Tobermory Handmade Chocolate.

Just look for the chocolate colored building for Tobermory Handmade Chocolate.

Founded in 1991 by husband and wife team Keith and Rhoda, Tobermory Handmade Chocolate offers artisan handmade chocolate with a variety of flavors native to Scotland and the Scottish Isles along with more traditional chocolates. There is also a cozy cafe and well stocked gift shop that offers more than local chocolates to take home.

The shop at Tobermory Handmade Chocolate offers an array of gift giving besides chocolate.

The shop at Tobermory Handmade Chocolate offers an array of gift giving besides chocolate.

Lots of home decor items available at the shop.

Lots of home decor items available at the shop.

Besides being able to buy their chocolates, there is a cozy cafe to settle in and taste and drink all Tobermory Handmade Chocolate has to offer.

Besides being able to buy their chocolates, there is a cozy cafe to settle in and taste and drink all Tobermory Handmade Chocolate has to offer.

Walking down Main Street in Tobermory will have you experiencing more than artisanal shops. There is a multitude of restaurants, bars, churches and more to explore. Then when you are done exploring Tobermory, feel free to travel throughout the Isle of Mull and find even more local artisans honing crafts passed down to them from generations of living in the Scottish Isles.

Can’t miss The Tobermory Hotel in all its pink glory!

Can’t miss The Tobermory Hotel in all its pink glory!

Arnos Hall is community owned facility that hosts events and markets all year round.

Arnos Hall is community owned facility that hosts events and markets all year round.

This former Gothic church is now home to a gallery for local souvenirs and a popular cafe for both locals and visitors alike.

This former Gothic church is now home to a gallery for local souvenirs and a popular cafe for both locals and visitors alike.

It is easy to understand how these vistas inspired so many beautiful depictions in the souvenir shops in Tobermory.

It is easy to understand how these vistas inspired so many beautiful depictions in the souvenir shops in Tobermory.

By Natalie Rivera






Distinctive Father's Day Gifts

Finding a gift for dear old dad on Father’s Day can either be spectacularly easy when you have a father that doesn’t have discriminating taste (a run of the mill tie, some Old Karate, a knitted vest). Or maybe you have an extraordinary father who appreciates the finer things in life, or you want to introduce your father to some of your marvelous finds. If its the latter then this blog is for you.

The Local Artisan Guide recommends the following for distinctive Father’s Day gifts that he will appreciate you went to all the effort for.

D.S. & Durga is a fragrance brand that specializes in scents that recreate experiences. Many of the scents are unisex in nature, however for Father’s Day, “Burning Barbershop” is the perfect scent for dad. The description of Burning Barbershop is as follows: A fire broke out in the Curling Bros. barbershop in Westlake, N.Y. in 1891. All the shaving tonics with their spearmint, lime, vanilla and lavender burned. A charred bottle was found half-full. It smelled like this.

Australian motorcycle brand, Deus Ex Machina, created this trucker hat designed specifically for the dads that want the most out of the warm weather ahead—a cushioned crown, meshed back, and quick-drying design keeps blocks out the sun, keeps ya cool, and looks great in the process.

How stylish and comfortable will your dad be when he slips into his C’H’C’M’ Yogi Elijah Negative Heel Boot. This very affordable suede boot is made in Portugal using the finest suede leathers in Europe.

St. Frank is a home decor brand that features home accessories made from artisans around the world. This St. Frank iPhone case depicts a vintage Kuba cloth from the Republic of Congo, a unique textile featuring complex designs that are created when various geometric raffia pieces are stitched to a plain raffia background. The resulting rough surface is punctuated by repeated geometric patterns with unexpected interruptions in design. Men cultivate the raffia palm and weave the raffia cloth; women then create the patterned textiles. Traditionally, Kuba cloth was used as a wrapped skirt worn during burials. Later, it was incorporated in ceremonial dress for ritual dances and other celebrations.

Rowing Blazers, the brand that focuses on rediscovering and reinventing preppie also offers collections of vintage watches. Here is the Rolex Day-Date reference 1803 dates to circa 1967 and includes its chronometer certificate (a.k.a. "COSC papers") and an extremely rare "The Day-Date" promotional booklet. The dial is beautifully preserved and the case is crisp and full. Wind Vintage purchased this watch from Heritage Auctions in April for $8,437.50, just so there is full transparency on its origin and what was paid. It is understood that the consignor to the auction was the original owner. This watch is currently on view at the Rowing Blazers Clubhouse at 161 Grand Street in New York City. Curated by Wind Vintage.

Nomad Tribe, the sustainable clothing brand has the perfect Father’s Day gifts for the “Woke” dad, here is the Mutuba Organic PlayNomad Shirt, their softest polo yet. Did you notice the musical prints and the 2-tone buttons? (Have another look. Perfect for on the run or the golf course, easily paired with khaki pants, shorts or jeans.

Our picks range from high luxury to extremely affordable and should make dads of all ages pleased you put so much time and attention show them how much you appreciated them being your dad.

Click onto the captions for more product information.

Happy Father’s Day!

By Natalie Rivera



Hudson Yards

Recently Hudson Yards, a complex that includes residences, offices, shops, restaurants and cultural institutions all encased among innovative architecture (innovative for NYC) has opened up to the general public.

The Local Artisan Guide feels its important for you to have information at your hand for shopping destinations whether its on a charming small dead end street or a multilevel complex. Hudson Yards is certainly the latter.

Located at West 34th Street and 11th Ave. (you can take the #7 train to Hudson Yards directly or a crosstown bus), Hudson Yards is where the MTA has housed subway cars for decades (still does). After exiting the highly stylized new subway station, you encounter a complex of new, cutting edge buildings that include residences, the Equinox Hotel, and a very upscale mall for New York City.

Hudson Yards include a complex of residences, office buildings, shops and The Equinox Hotel.

Hudson Yards include a complex of residences, office buildings, shops and The Equinox Hotel.

There is a structure outside the shops that looks like the skeletal system of a bug or artichoke called “The Vessel”. It is a piece that you can enter and explore from the inside (much like the Statue of Liberty). To enter you need to go onto Hudson Yards’s website www.hudsonyardsnewyork.com and reserve a time and day to enter the sculpture (its free). 

In the center of Hudson Yards you will encounter The Vessel, a sculpture you are allowed to enter and explore (tickets available for free online).

In the center of Hudson Yards you will encounter The Vessel, a sculpture you are allowed to enter and explore (tickets available for free online).

After exploring The Vessel you can head straight to the shops across the way. The main store here is department store Neiman Marcus. Neiman Marcus has never been situated in NYC (except for Neiman Marcus Last Call in Brooklyn) so in a city that has been losing iconic department stores for the last few years (Lord & Taylor, Henri Bendel’s etc.) it is nice to have one that has a long reputable establish itself here. Neiman Marcus presents itself in a minimal way, there is no or little clutter. They offer a strongly curated assortment of established and emerging designers in its store. 

Neiman Marcus is the dominant department store at Hudson Yards, located on the third floor.

Neiman Marcus is the dominant department store at Hudson Yards, located on the third floor.

A view of The Vessel and the trains lined up in at Hudson Yards from the interior.

A view of The Vessel and the trains lined up in at Hudson Yards from the interior.

What is interesting in the consortium of stores in the Hudson Yards is its range. Here you can find high end brands such as Christian Dior and Cartier’s, to mid range brands like Kate Spade and Tori Burch all the way to H&M and Zara. All presented much like the high end malls you see in Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai. Downtown in the financial district you have a similar collection of stores in Battery Park City with high end brands, grand architecture, restaurants, hotels and residences all flowing into each other, yet at Hudson Yards there is a difference as the selection of stores at Hudson Yards has a curated feel to it. Besides the brands mentioned there are also more independent brands that you would find by strolling down the streets of Soho but you wouldn’t find their presence in American malls. These brands include Scanlan Theodore, M.Gemi and Hatch to name a few. 

Fendi is one the high end stores you will find at Hudson Yards amongst others.

Fendi is one the high end stores you will find at Hudson Yards amongst others.

Zara and H&M are some of the affordable stores you will find at Hudson Yards.

Zara and H&M are some of the affordable stores you will find at Hudson Yards.

Scanlan Theodore is one of the many independent brands that have opened in Hudson Yards.

Scanlan Theodore is one of the many independent brands that have opened in Hudson Yards.

Also unlike the malls in Asia or in Battery Park City, Hudson Yards strives to have something for everybody as shopping and eating there runs the gamut of all price ranges. You can find both high end restaurants and more affordable eating, like Shake Shack at Hudson Yards. 

Hudson Yards offers besides shops, multiple places of all price points to dine. Shake Shack is amongst food choices at Hudson Yards.

Hudson Yards offers besides shops, multiple places of all price points to dine. Shake Shack is amongst food choices at Hudson Yards.

Many of the shops have still yet to open at the Hudson yards. The experience of shopping at Hudson Yards is similar to the World Trade Center instead there the art structure is part of the interior shopping experience and in Hudson Yards its on the exterior of the building.  Hudson Yards incorporates art installations throughout the interior and exterior of the complex making for a cultural experience too.

Hudson Yards included art throughout the entire complex.

Hudson Yards included art throughout the entire complex.

Hudson Yards is bound to be a popular place to visit in the future, especially if you live there or are staying in Midtown when visiting NYC. It is definitely worth a visit.

By Natalie Rivera

Bleek Street No More

In the summer of 2017 The Local Artisan Guide wrote a blog on the sad state of Bleecker Street. With its high rate of empty store fronts, Bleecker Street was starting to look more and more like a street in the mid-west rust belt. Retailers both local and national were abandoning their shops due to astronomical rent increases while landlords were fine with waiting out for tenants that could afford high rents. A few national beauty brands were moving in such as Aesop and The Organic Pharmacy, but in general walking down Bleecker Street seemed quite bleak. 

Fast forward to early 2019 where walking down Bleecker Street is now a more positive experience. Rents have started to come down however there are still multiple shops that are empty. Unfortunately stores are still closing (Sunni Spencer just shut down) but a few new brands are opening up under the revitalization project “Love, Bleecker.”

Still many empty storefronts dot Bleecker Street.

Still many empty storefronts dot Bleecker Street.

“Love, Bleecker” is a collaboration between Skylight and Brookfield Properties, created to breathe back some life into Bleecker Street. “Love, Bleecker” has acquired four storefronts to introduce four online brands who never had a brick and mortar presence. The four brands are couture retailers Prabal Gurung, men’s leather good brand Slightly Alabama, cashmere brand Lingua Franca and plant based bodega with floral collab Bonberi & Fleurotica

Along with the storefronts “Love, Bleecker” will also introduce art installations, music and more interactive community events in collaboration with the shops. 

#lovebleecker

#lovebleecker

“Love, Bleecker” paired each shop with an artist to have fashion and art play off each other. For Slightly Alabama they paired artist Chelsea Hryrick Browne, who created an installation of intricately hand-cut paper designs that will be displayed in the shop’s windows for 6 months. Her designs, which are layers of hand-cut paper create the illusion of an abstract painting.

Slightly Alabama and artist Chelsea Hrynick Browne collaboration.

Slightly Alabama and artist Chelsea Hrynick Browne collaboration.

Prabal Gurung was paired with Edward Ross who crafted a glass sculptural lighting installation which will live in the space for the year.

Prabal Gurung and Edward Ross collaboration.

Prabal Gurung and Edward Ross collaboration.

Lingua Franca was partnered with artist Ashley Longshore who made a very colorful and glittery painting of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Lingua Franca and Ashley Longshore collaboration.

Lingua Franca and Ashley Longshore collaboration.

Bonberi & Fleurotica have been paired with Signe Pierce who created floral and neon illuminated sculptures. 

Bonberi & Fleurotica collaboration with Signe Pierce.

Bonberi & Fleurotica collaboration with Signe Pierce.

Besides “Love, Bleecker” there have been multiple store openings of brands that have not had brick and mortar stores including; TDE (The Daily Edit), Kilona, St.Frank, Naadam, Margaux, Hill House Home and gold no.8 to name a few. Some pop up shops have opened up indefinitely such as Netluxe, The Citizenry Bunkhouse, Buckberry, Quaker Marine Supply and Greyers. Other more established brands have opened up new locations on Bleecker Street, which include Faherty, Buck Mason, Jay Kos and Marine Layer making Bleecker Street an up and coming men’s fashion destination.

Welcome to Bleecker Street! New brands are popping up along the way.

Welcome to Bleecker Street! New brands are popping up along the way.

So in the end, just walk down Bleecker Street, enjoy the new brands, art and events and remember at the end of the road there is thankfully Magnolia Bakery.

By Natalie Rivera

Unique and Romantic Valentines Day Gift Ideas

When you walk around cities and towns constantly on the lookout for artisans and small independent brands you eventually start to acquire a rolodex of gift ideas in your head for all occasions. Valentines Day is no different so we here at The Local Artisan Guide are quite happy to recommend some of the gems we have discovered over the years for special, unique and romantic gift giving for Valentines Day.

Why be like everyone else and settle for red roses, mass produced chocolate and run of the mill gifts with no time or thought given to them. Here are some suggestions in all price ranges for all genders and relationships that can be bought in New York City or online.

Atelier d’Emotion calls itself a “jewel box” of a boutique and they are right. It’s the perfect place to shop for a Valentine’s Day gift. It’s a small, intimate, beautifully decorated romantic boutique that is highly curated with jewelry, home decor, candles and even artisanal chocolate. You can’t loose if you pick any item from the shop as a Valentines Day gift, however may we recommend the Vitae Ascendere Melting Heart Charm Necklace in 18k Yellow Gold with 17 inches Yellow Gold Chain with Karabiner Clasp. 3D printed, designed and manufactured in NYC.

Artisanal chocolatier MarieBelle is one of the first chocolatiers to add modern eclectic graphic designs to her chocolates along with unusual and delicious flavors. You can buy online but please visit her shops if you can as they transform you to a cafe in a romantic European town. The chocolates are sold in various sizes with her signature MarieBelle New York ganaches in special romantic designs. Each ganache combines the finest single-origin chocolate with eclectic ingredients and artisanal techniques. Offered in a signature red box and wrapped in grosgrain ribbon for an extra special gift.

When you care enough to send the very best in New York City you go to Emily Thompson Flowers. Each arrangement is unique and designer's choice. All arrangements are designed with the finest seasonal materials with a preference for local and specialty flowers and foliage. Emily Thompson welcomes design requests, but *cannot guarantee specific materials*. Design notes and gift messages can be entered at checkout. For guaranteed delivery for Valentines please order by Tuesday February 12th. In honor of love for all, 10% of all proceeds will be donated to Planned Parenthood.

Olfactory NYC is a perfume boutique that lets you customized your very own fragrance for yourself or for that special someone. Create your fragrance by choosing one of their recommended specific accords that emphasize certain emotions inherent to each scent to create a final design that is all your own. Choose a bottle, color and name your fragrance. All for an affordable $75 (they also offer a travel size for $25).

Escaping to a romantic destination is a great way to celebrate Valentines Day. If you are really going for it, grab your passport and escape to a destination across the borders and while you are at it dress his passport in an Anson Calder small leather good. The Passport Wallet conveniently stores all your necessary travel cards and documents in one place. The minimalist construction fits all passport sizes and offers space for boarding passes, customs forms, visas, or any other travel documents. The minimalist design and patent-pending push slots reduce bulk by removing the need for multiple pockets. These cutouts make it easier than ever to access various cards on the fly. By fanning the cards out, you can identify and remove the one you need while leaving the others in place. For an additional $15 you can have it monogrammed too.

Hearts are everywhere and a special gift to give to anyone in your life that you care about are Jan Burtz Porcelain Heart Dishes. Exclusively at ABC, these heart dishes are made by hand from creamy porcelain and a homemade glaze. Their irregular, organic forms bring us back to the basics, accentuating the fluidity and grace of hand-formed wares. Made in Jan Burtz's Connecticut studio, no two pieces are alike, though all are food, dishwasher, and microwave safe. Available in Gold, White and Blush.

Want to give the gift that keeps on giving and giving? The gift that shows your love of the earth and its environment? Why not gift a 4ocean bracelet? By purchasing this bracelet, you will remove one pound of trash from the ocean and coastlines.  Its unisex design is adjustable from 2-5” in diameter, its made with 90% recyclable content post consumer and hand assembled on the island of Bali.

Here is another version of the French tickler. Let’s not forget the romantic, sexy part of Valentines Day with some love paraphernalia. French lingerie brand Maison Close offer besides sexy, beautiful lingerie, an array of tasteful love accessories to make your night of love an unforgettable, sensuous experience.

When giving that romantic gift, don’t forget the romantic greeting card. You can forgo the Hallmark card and go artisanal with Greenwich Letterpress’s selection of Valentines Day cards. They are unique, artistic, romantic, flat printed in the USA using 100% recycled paper, paired with a matching envelop and blank inside so your lover hears your words not some cheesy quote. Even better is that they are quite affordable at $5.

So hopefully you are inspired by our selection of Valentines Day gifts. Just click on the captions for product info.

If you are an original and your loved one appreciates that you think they are unique and deserve the beauty of artisanal craft and design, then these are gifts they are bound to love and cherish.

Happy Valentines Day!

By

Natalie Rivera


Artisanal Toy Shops in NYC

Let’s face it, Christmas and the holidays are for the kids. Your child or the children of your friends and relatives may have been giving hints to you and Santa all year on what they want for Christmas however I am willing to bet there is a lot of plastic and commercialism in the toys that they desire. It is up to you as an adult of taste, style and global knowledge to help expose the children in your life to quality, artisanal toys that feed their imagination, educate and give back to the world.

The Local Artisan Guide has a few toy stores that are near and dear to our hearts and bring out the inner child in us. When an adult loves exploring a toy store, you know you have found someplace special to share with the kiddos.

Below are a few toy stores in New York City that not only make excellent holiday gift giving for children but are a great place to bring them to let them explore on their own and see how amazing an artisan toy can be which helps foster a socially conscious and more evolved child.

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PLAYING MANTIS - 32 N Moore St., Tribeca, NYC

Playing Mantis is one of those rare throwback toy stores that keep the plastic to a minimum. The shop is full of handcrafted toys made from wood and recycled materials to help inspire kids imagination sans batteries. The back of the store has mini costumes of characters you would find in storybooks and there is a carefully curated library of stories from cultures around the world. Its one of the most eco-friendly toy shops around and will help inspire any child’s imagination.

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TEICH TOYS & BOOKS - 573 Hudson St., West Village, NYC

As you enter the vintage circus store theme, Teich Toys & Books offers children a wide selection of classic and hand-crafted toys and books to inspire and engage their minds. There is lack of plastic and noisy gadgets at Teich replaced by hard to find children’s books with occasional live puppet shows and regular story times.

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KIDDING AROUND - 60 West 15th St., Chelsea, NYC

Kidding Around is a renowned children’s store that has a reputation of one of the best Indie toy stores in New York City. They offer an array of eclectic toys, dolls, and games chosen for their capacity to inspire creativity. The shelves are lined with starter chess sets, science kits, and board games. A plus is the friendly, knowledgeable staff that can help guide you to the perfect gift.

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DINOSAUR HILL - 306 East 9th St., East Village, NYC

Dinosaur Hill is committed to purveying handmade wonderments, toys and clothes that challenge the mind, please the eye, and stimulate the senses. The store is a colorful explosion of toys, reeking of old-school charm and focusing more on character than commercialism with its beautifully made toys meant to last. Their artisanal puppets from around the world are a special attraction at the shop.

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MINI JAKE - 178 North 9th St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC

Mini Jake is a modern children's and baby's store, featuring furniture, toys, strollers, clothes, sleepwear, cribs, bedding, diaper bags, mattresses, bassinets and much more. The store is a big draw for the hipster parent that values modern, educational safe, sophisticated and educational toys that the kids will love.

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NORMAN & JULES - 158 7th Ave, Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY 11215

This colorful, neat thoughtfully laid out toy store displays a carefully edited collection of well made, beautifully designed, and thoughtful items – while remaining environmentally and socially conscious. Norman & Jules is for the parent who wants to help foster their child’s love of organic, environmentally friendly and sustainable toys.

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FAO SCHWARZ - 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Midtown, NYC

It wouldn’t be a New York City toy shopping guide without the toy store giant FAO Schwarz. Established in 1862, this New York institution just recently reopened their flagship store in Rockefeller Center where it is continuing their tradition of being the world’s most iconic toy store. FAO Schwarz offers a larger than life offering of every type of toy, game, dolls, cars, educational toys and more. It is definitely worth it for the experience (however the multitude of tourists is a little off putting).

These are our top recommendations and are great destinations if you want to raise or expose a child to a more socially conscious, evolved, eco-friendly and sustainable childhood.

By Natalie Rivera





Notable Gift Shops in NYC

Where best to find holiday gifts, especially last minute gifts? A store dedicated to the art of gift giving! Not a brand with a gift section, not a department store with a gift table, we are talking stores that search the world over for gifts or create gifts locally. Here The Local Artisan Guide list ten notable gift shops in New York City that we have come upon while we scour the city for local, independent businesses. The gift shops listed below will guarantee unique, thoughtful, local, artisanal gifts. Best is that every shop mentioned has very affordable items for everyone on your holiday list.

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TOP HAT GIFT SHOP - 245 Broome St., Lower East Side, NYC

Top Hat Gift Shop is the brainchild of Nina Allen which reflects her world travels and her love of modernist, eclectic gifts. You never really know what to expect here at Top Hat which features home goods, stationary, crafts and well…anything that strikes her fancy yet fits into the modern aesthetic of her shop.

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CW PENCIL ENTERPRISE - 15 Orchard St., Lower East Side, NYC

Pencils for a gift! Definitely if they come from CW Pencil Enterprise. CW offers the Cadillac of pencils in every color and grade. Plus in this charming shop you will find pencil accessories, stationary and items you never knew existed but you must have and gift to your loved ones once seen.

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YUNHONG CHOPSTICKS - 50 Mott Street, Chinatown, NYC

Yunhong Chopsticks offers just one thing in their shop, chopsticks. However they offer every variation and price point for their chopsticks. The chopsticks come in different materials, colors and set numbers. All beautifully packaged making for easy, unique gift giving.

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JOHN DERIAN COMPANY, INC. - 6 East 2nd St., East Village, NYC

John Derian has been a destination for the art of decoupage since 1989. You can easily lose a whole afternoon in Derian’s shop browsing through his many designs (which are all done locally a few blocks away in his studio). Derian has added some additional categories through the years including tabletop, small goods, candles, textiles, stationary and more.

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CHESS FORUM - 219 Thompson St., Greenwich Village, NYC

Looking for classic games like chess, backgammon, checkers, dominoes, Chinese chess and much more? Well at Chess Forum you find these items in all variations from casual gaming to over the top, high end sets. Charming part of Chess Forum is that they also have a chess parlor where you can come and for $5 play a game and increase your chess skills ($1 for seniors and kids play for free).

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CONSIDEROSITY - 131 West 4th St., Greenwich Village, NYC

Considerosity is the perfect gift shop for one stop shopping as you can most likely find something for everyone on your holiday list. Considerosity carries a selection of candles, soaps, jewelry, bags, accessories and more. The collection is comprised of a number of artisanal designers primarily from the New York area and around the country.

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THE MEADOW - 523 Hudson St., West Village, NYC

The Meadow was founded by Mark Bitterman in 2006 out of his love of travel, food and culture. He decided to open a shop to share his discoveries of craft made salts, gourmet chocolates, handmade cocktail bitters, accessories and gifts that every gourmand would love and treasure.

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EARTH SPEAKS - 139 Atlantic Ave., Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, NYC

Earth Speaks is a boutique that offers an array of gifts such as terrariums and air plants, organic skin care products, terrarium jewelry, soap and candles-- all of which are made in-house at their shop in Brooklyn. Earth Speaks also offers locally made artisanal products such as paintings, pottery and jewelry.

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SWALLOW - 361 Smith St., Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, NYC.

Having a hard time finding the perfect gift for that person in your life who has immaculate taste, style and aesthetics? Well Swallow may be the shop for you to find a highly curated gift they are sure to love and not try to return or regift. This petite boutique is full of vases, ceramics, bowls, wall hangings, decorative objects, crystals, sea glass, organic home decor and more. The gifts are so beautiful you will most likely want to keep them for yourself.

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UNION SQUARE HOLIDAY MARKET - Union Square, Chelsea, NYC

Up until December 24th, Union Square Holiday Market is a a must-visit destination for unique gifts created by local craftsmen and artists. With dozens upon dozens of stands. Union Square Market offers up every possible category of gifts from jewelry, to leather goods, stationary, crafts, accessories, home decor, artisanal foods, toys, holiday decor, drinks, snacks and more.

This is New York City so this list is just the tip of the iceberg for unique gift giving but its the local artisanal tip recommended by The Local Artisan Guide so you know its well worth the advice and will also benefit the small, local businesses.

Happy Gift Giving!

By Natalie Rivera




Olfactory Experiences in NYC

Once on a date with a fairly new boyfriend a few years ago my new beau presented me with a beautifully wrapped package. As I tore into my unexpected gift I uncovered to my dismay a fancy bottle of perfume. I was quite frankly a little insulted. “Is he having a problem with the way I smell?” immediately went through my mind. He sensed my reaction and tried to put me at ease by saying he was gifting me the perfume because the scent I was wearing reminded him too much of an ex-girlfriend he would prefer to forget. He gave me a very expensive bottle of perfume that at the time I had never heard of, Annick Goutal’s Eau’d Hadrien (yes my new beau was loaded). I was ignorant at the time of the great gift he had given me, obviously he thought if he was going to ask me to change my scent it would be less offensive if the perfume was one of the world’s most expensive at the time. Since our sense of smell is the sense that brings a memory back the most vividly, I didn’t want him remembering his ex when we were together so I gave up my mixture of Issey Miyake’s L'eau d’Issey with a base of Fresh’s Milk Body Lotion (now discontinued) and started wearing the Eau’d Hadrien

I was not exactly thrilled about this because my signature scent of L’eau d’Issey and Fresh’s Milk Lotion was my calling card at the time, one that had strangers telling me how wonderful I smelled. The Eau’d Hadrien did not mix well with my skin chemistry, it smelled like bug spray when it hit my skin so after awhile I just went without scent. My new boyfriend turned out to be a playboy and we broke up so I gave the bottle of Eau’d Hadrien to a friend of mine and she smelled like a lovely citrus and orange grove the moment it hit her skin (which I believed is what you ideally smell like when you use Eau’d Hadrien). 

Once you find a perfume, fragrance or cologne you love, you claim it as your own and state to the world, “this is my signature scent!”. Well that is fine but for the last few decades there is a great chance that many people around you are shopping around the same places to buy their scents (department stores, Sephora, airport duty free shops) so as you walk into a crowded room don’t be too surprised if your scent is not as original as you think it is. 

That is why I recommend you start looking off the beaten path for a scent that is your’s truly and also offers an olfactory experience when seeking it out. 

In the last few years there have been a few brands both old and new that have created a magical, lovely and at times a bespoke experience when seeking out your signature scent. Many of these brands have gone back in time to how fragrances were created hundreds of years ago and have followed the model of the apothecary. Some brands have gone into the future and have reinvented fragrances by creating them to recall olfactory experiences from around the world that are more unisex in nature. 

Here are a few picks of artisanal brands and olfactory destinations located in New York City but available world wide that are making it easier to truly find a signature scent that you can feel quite confident no one else in the room is going to be wearing.

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Aedes Perfumery - 16A Orchard St., Lower East Side, NYC

On the cusp of the Lower East Side and Chinatown, as you walk down gritty Orchard Street with its small contemporary art galleries and fashion forward independent brands there you will find Aedes Perfumery. The shop is petite, dark and romantic. You almost feel trepidatious by entering but once you do you enter you are immediately enveloped into Aedes’s world of highly curative perfumes from over 75 small independent brands all over the world. Their excellent staff is trained to educate their customer on different olfactive groups and let you explore their scents and what works for you. Aedes also has their own perfume, AEDES DE VENUSTAS. Housed in aubergine glass that is baroque yet futuristic, AEDED DE VENUSTAS offers nine very different scents and experiences, it is definitely a boutique you can lose a whole afternoon in. They also offer candles and home fragrances which make for unique gift giving.

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Claus Porto - 230 Elizabeth St., Nolita, NYC

In neighboring Nolita, the neighborhood has lately become a destination for artisanal perfume and fragrance brands lining the small streets along with other high-end independent boutiques. One of the latest brands to join this unique enclave is Claus Porto. Just entering the shop is an experience in itself with a 42 ft long archway made entirely from Portuguese cork, which visitors can step into and admire Claus Porto’s signature products. The brand is over 130 years old and stems from Portugal and built its name on hand-crafted, artisan fragrances which draw on ingredients from Portugal’s lush countryside. All the artwork is from their decades old archives and besides fragrances you can find soaps, candles, diffusers, bath and body and stationary, all which make for perfect gifts.

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Olfactory NYC - 281 Mott St., Nolita, NYC

Its easy to step into Olfactory from the outside as the boutique is an explosion of all the colors of the rainbow. That is when the Olfactory adventure just begins. The friendly staff will guide you into their process for creating your very own perfume. First you will explore their core scents that  are created using the finest and natural and sustainable ingredients. Second you will explore different variations of your core scent by adding accords that help enhance and customize the scent. Third you will chose the color of your of your bottle and help personalize it and like magic you have your very own custom scent! A plus is that the ingredients are vegan, organic, sustainable sourced, Phthalate And Paraben Free and the packaging is sourced locally. Scented candles, body lotions, body wash and gifts are also available so you can shop for yourself and your loved ones in a sustainable manner.

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Le Labo - 233 Elizabeth St., Nolita, NYC

Is a perfume brand founded in New York City in 2006 and has a mission to customize your scent with a made-to-order bottle to ensure the freshest fragrance at the time of purchase. Created in collaboration with the world’s top perfumers and using only the highest-quality essential oils, Le Labo creates scents that are vegan and cruelty free. The brand’s fragrances, hand-dipped candles, and body products are designed to enrich the senses. Once you select your scent they will freshly blend your bottle and then personalize and engrave your bottle for you. There are also grooming, hair, body, home accessories and an eclectic set of oddities available at this rustic and earthy shop that helps ensure you are creating a unique experience for yourself. 

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Atelier Colognes - 247 Elizabeth St., Nolita, NYC

When Christophe Cervasel and Sylvie Ganter first met, little did they know that their love for cologne and scents would spur a brand that is dedicated entirely to cologne. Hence Atelier Cologne was created so colognes could be worn as pure perfumes. With six olfactory groups they have created over 38 scents that range from flowery scents to nights full of the essence of tobacco. All made in France using ingredients native to France. Atelier Cologne products are with 0% paraben, paraffinum liquidum, GMO, animal derived ingredients, colorants, sulfates and made by artisans and craftsmen. Their charming boutique also offers candles, bath and both, travel sizes and gift sets. 

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Malin+Goetz - 235 Elizabeth St., Nolita, NYC

Malin+Goetz is a skincare brand that operates like an apothecary using the simplest ingredients to provide a healthy product for your skin. They have a curated collection of fine fragrances, each inspired by a traditional perfumery ingredient with a modern interpretation and are perfect unisex scents. The shop shares its owners spare, less is more philosophy with clean minimal lines that is reflected in its packaging. The brand also offers besides skin and fragrances, candles, hair, body products, soap, beauty and gifts.

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Deceim/Avestan - 26 Prince St., Nolita, NYC

Deceim, the beauty brand that has been revolutionizing the beauty world has created a brand of unisex perfumes and fragrances called Avestan. And just like Deceim has brought new concepts to beauty, Avestan has brought new concepts to fragrances by focusing on experiences and scents that bring back memories from world travels. Wonder what an aromatic visualisation of firewood near a tent in Tanzania smells like? Or what the inside of a violin atelier smells like? The smell of copper in a Budapest architecture? Well with Avestan you will be privy to these unisex fragrances that work with the magic of olfactory memory. Currently they have over 15 scents that all included besides fragrances, candles, body and hair products. 

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Santa Maria Novella - 285 Lafayette St., Nolita, NYC

Santa Maria Novella is a apothecary brand from Florence, Italy that can trace the beginnings of its formulation from 1221 with the official pharmacy opening in 1612. Thus the Officina Profumo - Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella (Perfume and Pharmaceutical Oficine of Holy Mary Novella) was born with an emblematic name that gave precedence to perfume or the ephemeral rather than the curative aspect of more spiritual inspiration, the medicinal or pharmaceutical. They catered to royalty, nobles and merchants worldwide and today Santa Maria Novella offers a multitude of aromatic waters, colognes, candles, home accessories for both men and women (even pets). Its a brand draped in history and with a staff that is more than happy to help explain the centuries old formulas that have been past down the ages.

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MiN NY - 117 Crosby St., Soho, NYC

MiN NY is a fragrance brand that operates on a conceptual philosophy of our definition of what constitutes a fragrance. Set in Soho’s Cast Iron District, MiN NY have created over 17 fragrance with such names and experiences as “Shaman” for mystical time travelers, “Moondust” because the moon it is said the moon smells of gunpowder after a desert rain. “Old School Bench” to bring back memories of pencil shavings and vintage desks. The brand also offers candles, haircare, gifts, eyewear and a highly curated selection of artisanal perfume brands from around the world.

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Fueguia - 21 Crosby St., Soho, NYC

Fueguia is an Argentinian sustainable perfume brand that uses only certain natural ingredients, being often very unique and used for the first time in perfumery. These ingredients being used in perfumery are also a great challenge due to the fact that climate change affects the availability, quality and prices of the different botanical species. Because of the scarcity of these ingredients, Fueguia 1833 produces only limited series of fragrances, using the finest natural ingredients available at the time of production. Each bottle shows the year and the lot number of the fragrance that is enclosed – a progressive number from 1 to 400 being engraved on a crystal bottle of each perfume. The boutiques are dark with well crafted vitrines highlighting the scents and adding to the luxurious and unique event of sampling the limited edition fragrances.

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Marianell Soap Bar and Spa - 102 Thompson St., Soho, NYC

Marianella Soap Bar is the brainchild and passion project of mother and son team Marianella and David Foote who recreate the soaps and scents of Marianella’s nostalgic travels and her Venezuelan childhood spent making soaps and beauty products by hand in her grandmother’s kitchen. The fragrances and soaps makes the most luxurious one of a kind bath and body products with no Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, No Parabens, No Harsh Chemicals and No Animal Testing, all made in the U.S.A. Their beautiful, light, airy and cheerful shop features their custom fragrances, soaps, beauty, bath and body, home fragrances and gift sets (they just started a monthly subscription box). 

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The Scentarium - 85 Franklin St., Tribeca, NYC

The Scentarium is by appointment only and once there, its owner Sue Phillips will help you create a bespoke signature fragrance that captures the essence of you and gives you a custom perfume to wear and cherish. Whether its just you or a party of 50, Sue Phillips will educate you on perfumery and help you decide what is right for you by introducing you to groups of scents and then mixing and matching to get the unique scent that you desire. Sue also offers her own scents that she has created throughout the years.

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Bond No. 9 New York - 9 Bond St., Noho, NYC

Bond No. 9 New York is the first American parfumerie to be headed by a woman, Laurice Rahmé, who gives homage to New York City by giving every New York neighborhood a scent of its own. The brand is very civic minded, campaigning for and spreading peace internationally and raising funds for the cause via their universally loved “Scent of Peace”. The store itself is a Alice in Wonderland experience that will have you browsing through the city via your olfactory senses. 

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Kilian - 946 Madison Ave., Upper East Side, NYC

Founded by Kilian Hennessy, Kilian is a luxury perfume brand that seeks to create perfume the way it was made in the late 19th and the early 20th century, but adding a contemporary twist at the same time. Kilian’s concept of their “eco-luxe” philosophy that each bottle can be refilled and kept for a lifetime help put them on the map worldwide. There are over 35 scents in the collection, each telling a story with names like “Arabian Nights”, “Asian Tales”,  and “In the Garden of Good & Evil”, every scent evokes ultimate sophistication and timeless luxury.

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Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, 898 Madison Ave., Upper East Side, NYC.

Think of Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle as a publishing house for the industry’s very best Perfume Designers. As their editor, Frédéric Malle guides them individually through their creative process to ensure that they are always transcending their limits. Together they create works of art that will be the perfume classics of tomorrow. With a team of 13 perfume designers, the shop resembles an elegant home, a contemporary interpretation of a 1930s Parisian apartment with the clinical design of a fragrance laboratory. There are celebrated features including Frédéric Malle’s own signature smelling columns and refrigerated perfume cabinets. Besides helping educate the customer on olfactory elements, there are limited editions, candles, home scents, beauty and gifts. 


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Twisted Lily - 360 Atlantic Ave., Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, NYC

Twisted Lily is a unique fragrance boutique and apothecary featuring hard to find niche, indie and natural fragrances from all over the world. This Brooklyn bright and cheery boutique curates fragrances that are created from just a few blocks away to the far side of the globe. Twisted Lily also features modern apothecary products such as skincare, grooming and beauty lines. 

So there is a small sample of olfactory experiences in New York City. There are also a few honorable mentions such as Alchemlogie, Joya, Annick Goutal and more.

Besides finding your signature scent, all the brands mentioned are perfect destinations for thoughtful, unique, beautiful gift giving for the holidays.

I am now confident when I walk into a room that my scent is as personal and unique to me as my fingerprint. I will not reveal the brand or formulation I chose because this is truly “my signature scent”. My fragrance will forever bring up vivid memories of just..me.

By Natalie Rivera



Sustainable Holiday Shopping Picks

Now that the holidays are having their official start and Black Friday is upon us, The Local Artisan Guide is here to help advise you on your shopping picks, specifically sustainable gifts.

Sustainable brands are no longer a trend, they are here to stay and more are starting up every day. Happily there is sustainability in just about every category, whether its apparel, accessories, beauty or home, you can find a brand that has a mission of creating the most sustainable of products. Here are just a few suggestions for holiday shopping:

Joyn is an sustainable leather goods brand bringing you hand-to-market goods with transparent pricing and ethical practices. Joyn keeps alive crafts and traditions and believe in products that empower the cultures they come from.

Miakoda is a women’s brand made in an ethical factory in NYC with all sustainable materials, even their packaging is recycled. not many brands can say that.

Have a dad that watches Fox News and loves Donald Trump? Here is a great way to get them a sustainable gift without them trying to return it. TruHugs makes a sustainable blanket that everyone on the political spectrum will love.

Mud Jeans not only makes a sustainable denim, they also have a “Lease” option, meaning after a year you have the ability to send back your denim to the brand where they will recycle and create another denim item.

Ten Thousand Villages is a way for you to shop with intention for ethically-sourced wares — and to share in the joy of connecting with makers and artisans in ten thousand villages.

Natalie Perry creates ethical and sustainable everyday luxury jewellery inspired by the stories she has collected on her travels. Each piece is made using Fairtrade Gold, recycled silver and ethically-sourced gemstones and conveys themes of unconventional beauty, imperfection and disintegration, with a delicate and fragmented aesthetic.

One Love Organics founder Suzanne LeRoux has loved beauty for as long as she can remember. She embarked on formal studies in aromatherapy, integrative herbology, holistic nutrition and cosmetic chemistry while still practicing law full time. With the support of her family, her passion project quickly evolved into a full-fledged natural skincare business. Skin Savior Multi-Tasking Wonder Balm does the work of four beauty treatments in one.

So there you have six brands who have sustainability in their mission statements and are here to stay but only if you shop from them. The old paradigms and business models of brands that are not sustainable are dying off, here is your chance to be on the vanguard of a new shopping age that is a win/win for all.

Natalie Rivera


Fashion AND TENNIS, A LOVE MATCH

This pass week there was a crossroads of two popular events in New York City; the 2018 US Open and New York Fashion Week. It was a very appropriate interchange as lately there seems to be more attention to the ladies fashion choices at major tennis opens than their game (except for the finals women’s match where the public was stunned by Serena William’s major upset, her response and her fine for violations that have been deemed as sexist). 

Recently Bernard Giudicelli, the President of the French Tennis Federation (FTF),  damned the black catsuit that Serena rocked in the French Open as, “disrespectful to the game”. Giudicelli is currently working on implementing a stricter dress code in the future for the French Open. This is surprising considering France is synonymous with fashion making one think the FTF would if not encourage at least be fine with Serena’s tennis catsuit. However let's not forget this is the country where they restrict women from wearing Burqas. Serena William’s catsuit, designed by Nike, was not only meant to be fashionable but to be functional as the form fitting outfit helps Serena’s blood circulation. Serena Williams has a serious medical condition of blood clotting that almost proved fatal when she gave birth to her first child and the catsuit works to prevent her condition from reoccuring. 

Serena William's black catsuit has inspired officials to make and enforce stricter dress codes for the French Open.

Serena William's black catsuit has inspired officials to make and enforce stricter dress codes for the French Open.

Serena said she felt like a “Warrior Princess” when she wore her catsuit outfit however it wasn’t the first time a catsuit had been worn at a major tennis tournament. In 1985 tennis player Anne White made the tennis officials at Wimbledon clutch their pearls when she wore an all white catsuit with leg warmers (remember it was the 80’s). It was politely suggested she change her outfit for her remaining matches (which she did). 

Wimbledon judges were not feeing Anne White's white catsuit in 1985.

Wimbledon judges were not feeing Anne White's white catsuit in 1985.

Just recently at the 2018 US Open, tennis player Alize Cornet courted controversy when after an outfit change due to extreme heat, she realized her top was on backwards. After moving court side, Cornet quickly removed her top briefly exposing her black sports bra. The chair umpire informed her that she would receive a code violation for removing her shirt on the court (something male players seem to do without any rebuke). 

This is the moment Alize Cornet inspired the tennis court umpire to penalize her for removing her top to switch it around.

This is the moment Alize Cornet inspired the tennis court umpire to penalize her for removing her top to switch it around.

The incident caused an immediate media uproar identifying the sexist action forcing the United States Tennis Association to rapidly issue an apology to Cornet. They stated that she did not break any rules and will not receive a violation. Although it may not have been the chair umpire’s intention to bring upon so much attention to her tennis outfit, that is what is the match is being ultimately remembered for and not the formable game she played.

This year at the 2018 US Open we saw Serena Williams start off her first match by displaying her love for fashion in a one sleeve tutu by Nike with fishnets stockings that was not only stylish but enhanced the fluidity of her movements while playing. Throughout her matches she delightfully surprised the audience with her fashion aplomb which on any other player would have dominated the attention but with her magnificent sportsmanship we can easily recall her moves on the court as well.

Serena's debut tennis tutu for the 2018 US Open was right on point.

Serena's debut tennis tutu for the 2018 US Open was right on point.

Serena Williams kept up her fashion IQ during the 2018 US Open.

Serena Williams kept up her fashion IQ during the 2018 US Open.

Women’s tennis wear has been able to evolve throughout the ages otherwise women players would still look like Victorian ladies, covered in long white dresses with puffy sleeves. Throughout the last 140 years as women’s rights and fashion evolved so did the tennis outfits and their rising hemlines. Although there was always guidelines and rules during tournaments, it was women players throughout the ages taking chances in fashion that gradually led to what women players can wear today. 

Tennis wear when the sport first became popular to women was quite constricting with corsets, long sleeves, lots of crinoline and a hat! 

Tennis wear when the sport first became popular to women was quite constricting with corsets, long sleeves, lots of crinoline and a hat! 

The sleeves and skirt are long but at least they are white!

The sleeves and skirt are long but at least they are white!

Karol Fageros was banned from her tournament because she wore gold lame tennis shorts underneath her tennis dress. 

Karol Fageros was banned from her tournament because she wore gold lame tennis shorts underneath her tennis dress. 

Pro tennis player Gertrude Moran scandalized the tennis world by wearing a tennis dress so short you can see her ruffled knickers.

Pro tennis player Gertrude Moran scandalized the tennis world by wearing a tennis dress so short you can see her ruffled knickers.

With the advancement of technology in textiles for sportswear both women and men should be allowed to wear outfits that help improve their game with comfort and ease. The reason Wimbledon players donned tennis whites in the first place was because you can see perspiration less with white, yet with the advancement of textiles Wimbledon is still fanatical with rules on tennis whites. If a particular fabric or particular style helps you perspire less and play better, why shouldn’t a player wear it? 

High end designers such as Stella McCartney have collaborated with large sports wear brands such as Adidas to create fashionable tennis dresses so amazing you want to wear them off the court too.

High end designers such as Stella McCartney have collaborated with large sports wear brands such as Adidas to create fashionable tennis dresses so amazing you want to wear them off the court too.

Inphorm  is a growing activewear brand making a big splash in the Athleisure wear trend combining fashion and function.

Inphorm is a growing activewear brand making a big splash in the Athleisure wear trend combining fashion and function.

Inphorm  is starting to rise up in the ranks of tennis design with pro players like Jacqueline Cako  gladly wearing their fashion forward outfits.

Inphorm is starting to rise up in the ranks of tennis design with pro players like Jacqueline Cako  gladly wearing their fashion forward outfits.

Pharrell Williams collaborated with Adidas for a futuristic look at tennis wear.

Pharrell Williams collaborated with Adidas for a futuristic look at tennis wear.

Fashion is a reflection of our civilization and culture. Monitoring and policing professional tennis tournaments at this point in contemporary society is not an example of evolving. There is a reason Athleisure wear is all the rage now; women want to go about their day looking as stylish as they can but not sacrifice comfort, why would this be any different for sports? Luckily brands such as Nike, Adidas, Lululemon, Athleta and outstanding rising NYC based fashion forward brand Inphorm are spearheading the evolution of combining fashion and function. While tennis associations can always provide guidelines for their players hopefully they will be open minded enough especially in the #MeToo age to regard a woman’s right to not be told what they should wear.

When tennis associations (or any sport association) decide to let up on strict rules and regulations regarding the fashion aspect of sports wear perhaps in the future it will not be first thing that people or the media pay attention to but the player's sportsmanship and talent. Fashion could then be the secondary fun topic it was always meant to be.

By Natalie Rivera 

 

Sustainable Father's Day Gifts in all Price Points

For Father's Day The Local Artisan Guide is here to help you shop more sustainably for Father's Day gifts. Whether you are shopping for an older father/father figure or a new dad, The Local Artisan Guide has gathered some impressive sustainable AND stylish gifts to give to your father in all prices points from high end to extremely affordable. 

NOAH WAXMAN

Noah Waxman began his first collection with a few styles built by hand in America. Now the Handmade in USA collection celebrates the best in American boot-making. The USA boots blend a rugged Americana vibe with modern lines and unexpected colors and textures. The leathers represent some of the best in America, from locally sourced skins like Chromexcel and Shell Cordovan from Chicago's Horween tannery to American Bison. All USA boots are Goodyear welted for exceptional performance in all weather and years and years of life.  This is the classic American work boot, taken to new heights. The Hudson is a cap-toe lace-up boot that will last ages. Chicago-tanned Horween leather with a distinctive butt seam on the toe makes the Hudson boot stand out from the crowd. $595

ECOALF

Ecoalf is a retail brand that uses recycled and ecofriendly resources for their products. Their Briefcase isn an ultra-light bag perfect for your gym days, weekend trips or your day-to-day routine, thanks to its wide capacity. Equipped with hand and shoulder handle for maximum adaptability. It is made of 70% polyester and 30% recycled PES from plastic bottles. $168

WeWood

Helios is the new minimalist WeWOOD model with steel case and Flex-wood strap: The most recent eco-friendly WeWOOD solution has been created for those who understand the importance of substituting leather with alternative and more ethical materials without compromising luxury and beauty. Canvas and wood thin layers are combined with the finest horizontal laser engraving to reach the best flexibility. Made in Italy. $119.95

ALLBIRDS

Allbirds, the eco-friendly shoe brand has created a lounger with soft comfort in a smart silhouette that makes every experience a little more leisurely and a lot more cozy. The upper and the insole are made from superfine New Zealand Merino wool, the bottom is a lightweight dense foam that make this a perfect indoor and outdoor shoe. The wool makes is so comfortable you will not need socks and it helps minimize odor. $95

EVERLANE

Everlane, one of the most sustainable and transparent retail companies around has a great father's day gift for you, a softer cotton shirt. This cotton poplin shirt is lightweight and smooth, but gets a special garment-dyed treatment for a more lived-in feel and coloration. Great for when crisp and formal just isn’t what you want. Free shipping with first order! $48

PATAGONIA

The Small Text Logo LoPro Trucker Hat features a traditional, structured front ball-cap fit in a trucker setup: organic cotton bill and crown; polyester mesh back for increased ventilation. The six-panel design with front stitching, lower front-crown profile and pliable, precurved bill provide all-day comfort. Snaps in back make sure you’re well-adjusted. Patagonia is the leader in eco-friendly and sustainable retail fashion. $29

MUJI

The name "MUJI" is derived from the Japanese phrase "Mujirushi Ryohin," meaning "No Brand Goods." The resulting products are streamlined, environmentally friendly and beautiful in their simplicity. Over the last 20 years, MUJI has developed a worldwide following with a guiding philosophy that emphasizes innovative and simple materials, processes and packaging. Work manufactured by the company is featured in MoMA's collection. The MUJI Notebook Set includes five ruled notebooks, each with a different colored spine. 30 sheets per notebook. $3.50

 

So there you have seven great sustainable Father's Day selections in all categories and price points. Whether you are teaching your father about sustainability or he's all on board and happy that you are thinking the same way, sustainable gifts are not only thoughtful, responsible and eco-friendly, they are likely to last much longer and mean more to him with time.

Don't forget, shopping around your neighborhood for local artisans is also a great way to get conscious gifts for your father.

In the end a good father will love to have quality time spent with their children. If you can't be there with him this Father's Day and perhaps your dad is not ready for sustainable gifts, a donation in a charity he is passionate about is also a great gift. If your dad was an awful dad, may I recommend sending him a donation in his name to YOUR favorite charity. WIN/WIN!

As for me I will be giving my dad Yankee paraphernalia as any time I try to give him a thoughtful gift it goes right into the magical armoire where I never see his precious items again. Maybe one day the Yankees will be a sustainable sports brand on their own? One can only dream...

Happy Father's Day

By Natalie Rivera

CONSCIOUS MOTHER'S DAY GIFTS FOR THE SAVVY MOM

The Local Artisan Guide has a few last minute ideas for those of you who have yet to get your mom a gift (or if you are a mom in the know you can direct your family to this link). 

Is your mom savvy, thoughtful, unique, conscious, ecofriendly and loves artisan craftsmanship? Then this is the list for her.

RICA Bath and Beauty products are fresh-made to order in Brooklyn NY. Mixed “farm to vanity” style with organic and local grown ingredients (when possible) and sourced from the farms of Long Island’s North Fork. Made without synthetic preservatives, colorants, parabens, sulfates or petroleum, everything is USA made in a Gowanus, Brooklyn studio housing their production facility.  RICA BODY

RICA Bath and Beauty products are fresh-made to order in Brooklyn NY. Mixed “farm to vanity” style with organic and local grown ingredients (when possible) and sourced from the farms of Long Island’s North Fork. Made without synthetic preservatives, colorants, parabens, sulfates or petroleum, everything is USA made in a Gowanus, Brooklyn studio housing their production facility. RICA BODY

Foundrae is a jewelry brand which is more than jewelry: they are modern heirlooms, ones that allow the wearer to express something of herself to the world, and like all heirlooms, these pieces tell a story through customization.  FOUNDRAE

Foundrae is a jewelry brand which is more than jewelry: they are modern heirlooms, ones that allow the wearer to express something of herself to the world, and like all heirlooms, these pieces tell a story through customization. FOUNDRAE

Amour Vert is a eco-friendly, sustainable fashion brand that plants trees for every tee you buy (almost over 170,000 trees planted so far).  AMOUR VERT

Amour Vert is a eco-friendly, sustainable fashion brand that plants trees for every tee you buy (almost over 170,000 trees planted so far). AMOUR VERT

These colorful, flowery culottes are a great must have piece of clothing from the fashion brand Archerie.  ARCHERIE

These colorful, flowery culottes are a great must have piece of clothing from the fashion brand Archerie. ARCHERIE

The Hat Shop collection features its own eponymous label as well as the work of up to 20 local milliners. Besides the beautiful artisanal handmade hats you can have a hat custom made for mom.  THE HAT SHOP

The Hat Shop collection features its own eponymous label as well as the work of up to 20 local milliners. Besides the beautiful artisanal handmade hats you can have a hat custom made for mom. THE HAT SHOP

Angela Roi is a vegan friendly fashion accessories brand that is not only stylish but donates proceeds to animal humane associations.  ANGELA ROI

Angela Roi is a vegan friendly fashion accessories brand that is not only stylish but donates proceeds to animal humane associations. ANGELA ROI

Indego Africa is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering artisan women in Africa through employment opportunities and education. Plus you get beautiful home and fashion accessories which is always a great mother's day gift.  INDEGO AFRICA

Indego Africa is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering artisan women in Africa through employment opportunities and education. Plus you get beautiful home and fashion accessories which is always a great mother's day gift. INDEGO AFRICA

Brilliant Earth is the global leader in ethically sourced fine jewelry, offering beyond conflict-free diamonds, gemstones, and environmentally responsible gold and platinum. Here is a replica of Princess Diana's engagement ring but lab grown and affordable.  BRILLIANT EARTH

Brilliant Earth is the global leader in ethically sourced fine jewelry, offering beyond conflict-free diamonds, gemstones, and environmentally responsible gold and platinum. Here is a replica of Princess Diana's engagement ring but lab grown and affordable. BRILLIANT EARTH

Tom Dixon is a highly stylized London furniture and lighting brand with amazing gifts for Mother's Day like this air candle made in London.  TOM DIXON

Tom Dixon is a highly stylized London furniture and lighting brand with amazing gifts for Mother's Day like this air candle made in London. TOM DIXON

Whitby is a fashion handbag and accessories brand that gives 15% of its proceeds to non-profit organizations to help nonprofit partners to prevent the exploitation of girls through education. This "She Thrives" journal is the perfect gift for mom's, daughters, friends, etc.  WHITBY

Whitby is a fashion handbag and accessories brand that gives 15% of its proceeds to non-profit organizations to help nonprofit partners to prevent the exploitation of girls through education. This "She Thrives" journal is the perfect gift for mom's, daughters, friends, etc. WHITBY

Malin+Goetz is a New York City based beauty and fragrance brand with award-winning formulations and iconic packaging, made locally. Their fragrances are guaranteed home runs for Mother's Day gifts (and if you order $100 or more you get a free geranium hand treatment gift, use code MOTHERSDAY).  MALIN+GOETZ

Malin+Goetz is a New York City based beauty and fragrance brand with award-winning formulations and iconic packaging, made locally. Their fragrances are guaranteed home runs for Mother's Day gifts (and if you order $100 or more you get a free geranium hand treatment gift, use code MOTHERSDAY). MALIN+GOETZ

What all these gift suggestions have in common is that they are of quality, unique, well thought out and give back to the community. Show your mother that you think the world of her this mother's day!

Natalie Rivera

Ethical Shopping for Black Friday

It's here, Black Friday. That day of the year that jump starts holiday shopping with cut throat sales on brands across the board. 

Whether you plan to shop at a Brick and Mortar shop or go online, The Local Artisan Guide has made some suggestions to highlight some of the many brands that now focus on ethical and sustainable products that you should know about.

BRACKISH BOW TIES  is a Bow Tie brand made in Charleston, SC.  No dyes are used, giving each tie a unique coloring. The feathers are all-natural and sustainably sourced. Each tie arrives in a hand-branded, pine gift box. including a list of the feathers used and instructions on how to care for your tie.  www.brackishbowties.com

BRACKISH BOW TIES is a Bow Tie brand made in Charleston, SC.  No dyes are used, giving each tie a unique coloring. The feathers are all-natural and sustainably sourced. Each tie arrives in a hand-branded, pine gift box. including a list of the feathers used and instructions on how to care for your tie. www.brackishbowties.com

ROTHY'S  is a San Francisco brand that created a women’s flat with low-waste, low-impact materials, hand-assembled for high quality and durability. The flats fit true-to-size and have a removable insole and 3D knit upper for seamless comfort. Machine-washable in cold, gentle cycle; air dry only.  When you finally are ready to replace them simply send them to their Rothy’s recycling facility and help close the loop in making our planet a better place.    www.rothys.com

ROTHY'S is a San Francisco brand that created a women’s flat with low-waste, low-impact materials, hand-assembled for high quality and durability. The flats fit true-to-size and have a removable insole and 3D knit upper for seamless comfort. Machine-washable in cold, gentle cycle; air dry only.  When you finally are ready to replace them simply send them to their Rothy’s recycling facility and help close the loop in making our planet a better place.   www.rothys.com

ANITA DONGRE GRASSROOT  is a sustainable luxury brand born to revive, sustain and empower India's crafts and artisans. The brand translates village art into design for the globetrotting woman, and showcase the handcrafted traditions of India in contemporary tales. Grassroot works with rural artisans to create local employment opportunities, empowering every village to become a self-sustaining unit.   www.anitadongregrassroot.com

ANITA DONGRE GRASSROOT is a sustainable luxury brand born to revive, sustain and empower India's crafts and artisans. The brand translates village art into design for the globetrotting woman, and showcase the handcrafted traditions of India in contemporary tales. Grassroot works with rural artisans to create local employment opportunities, empowering every village to become a self-sustaining unit.  www.anitadongregrassroot.com

PATENT OF THE HEART  is a handbag and small leather goods brand made in Turkey. Designer Elif Akaydin has artisans create her sophisticated collection made with the finest European leathers and materials. Patent of Heart assures you every bag purchased is not only made with high-quality craftsmanship, but with a strong sense of functionality and style. A portion of profits helps contribute to worthy cause especially helpings young girls attain an education.   www.patentoftheheart.com

PATENT OF THE HEART is a handbag and small leather goods brand made in Turkey. Designer Elif Akaydin has artisans create her sophisticated collection made with the finest European leathers and materials. Patent of Heart assures you every bag purchased is not only made with high-quality craftsmanship, but with a strong sense of functionality and style. A portion of profits helps contribute to worthy cause especially helpings young girls attain an education.  www.patentoftheheart.com

JOE GROOMING  was established in 2002 with a goal to create a natural and organic line of hair products formulated to meet their core objective. By lowering surfactant levels in their shampoos, adding soothing, moisturizing extracts to both cleansing and styling products, and fragrancing with essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances, they have taken the first steps toward achieving this goal.  Extra benefit is for every order of a Joe Grooming product, they donate a bar of Joe Grooming soap to a resident of homeless shelters across the USA.  www.joegrooming.biz

JOE GROOMING was established in 2002 with a goal to create a natural and organic line of hair products formulated to meet their core objective. By lowering surfactant levels in their shampoos, adding soothing, moisturizing extracts to both cleansing and styling products, and fragrancing with essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances, they have taken the first steps toward achieving this goal.  Extra benefit is for every order of a Joe Grooming product, they donate a bar of Joe Grooming soap to a resident of homeless shelters across the USA. www.joegrooming.biz

EDUN  is a sustainable high end fashion apparel and accessories brand that makes all its products in Africa from artisans using fair trade methods and guidelines.  www.edun.com

EDUN is a sustainable high end fashion apparel and accessories brand that makes all its products in Africa from artisans using fair trade methods and guidelines. www.edun.com

APOLIS  is a fashion lifestyle brand founded on the simple idea that people can live better lives when they are given equal access to the global marketplace. Apolis is a socially motivated lifestyle brand that empowers communities worldwide.  www.apolisglobal.com

APOLIS is a fashion lifestyle brand founded on the simple idea that people can live better lives when they are given equal access to the global marketplace. Apolis is a socially motivated lifestyle brand that empowers communities worldwide. www.apolisglobal.com

Black Friday doesn't have to be a consumer nightmare, it can be a practice in conscious shopping. Don't forget to check out your local brick and mortar shops for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, you'll be amazed at the wonderful Black Friday sales and products you will find.

By Natalie Rivera

Ethical and Affordable Diamonds

A few weeks ago I was attending a lecture at the National Arts Club in New York City as they frequently feature talks on fashion related to a book with a particular topic and the author present to discuss and answer any questions.

This particular week they had Aja Raden, a Beverly Hills gemologist, jewelry designer and author who was discussing her New York Times Best Seller, “Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession and How Desire Shapes the World”.

stonedbook.jpg

That evening Ms. Raden displayed her incredible talent for story-telling as she kept her audience captivated while revealing secrets of the jewelry trade. She related true stories and amazing facts about jewelry throughout the ages. I highly recommend the book, it is a fascinating read for both men and women especially if you enjoy history, politics and stories of scandals.

Aja Raden, author of "Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession and How Desire Shapes the World”.

Aja Raden, author of "Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession and How Desire Shapes the World”.

After the lecture I knew I had a blog topic for The Local Artisan Guide as she discussed in detail the diamond trade and all the myths and marketing secrets we have come to accept from this controversial industry.

Years ago a friend of mine who specializes in high end commodities had related to me in passing that diamonds were actually very common and not at all rare. He told me diamonds are hoarded by monopolies and that in reality they really are worth in the area of $300 a carat. He warned me not to waste my money on them should I ever be in market for a diamond. I believed him as he is at the top of his field, however I had no interest in buying high end jewelry for myself and was not looking to become engaged anytime soon so I never really thought about the topic again.

Ms. Raden confirmed my friend’s statement about the false myth of diamonds being a rarity and explained how giant monopolies such as De Beers not only horde diamonds, but through the art of advertising portray to the world a narrative that diamonds are rare stones and hard to find. 

Diamond engagement rings designed by Aja Raden.

Diamond engagement rings designed by Aja Raden.

De Beers used marketing to create and manipulate demand for diamonds from nothing. Many in advertising and marketing point to De Beers as the original creators of modern day marketing and advertising because of this very feat. It all began in 1870 when huge sources of diamonds deposits were found in the mines of South Africa. Before 1870 diamonds were a rare stone that usually found its way only to the aristocracy and the moneyed classes. British financiers purposely made up a plan in 1888 to make sure the diamond market would not be saturated and this included, 1.) creating De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd. to stockpile diamonds and control the price per carat and 2.) create demand for diamonds though advertising and marketing.

Eventually due to both World War I and World War II many fortunes of European family dynasties and monarchies were lost forever, which meant no demand and no one to sell diamonds to. De Beers decided that they would create a marketing campaign in which every family should want and desire a diamond, thus the creation of the diamond engagement ring was born. Although the concept of an engagement ring had been around since Medieval times, diamonds were rarely used as the stone of choice for the ring. Since the United States was one of the few countries during both world wars that did not lose a vast majority of their wealth De Beers focused on the US as their audience and main source of consumers.

Queen Elizabeth II's  Diamond Diadem. Diamonds were used for royal jewelry, crowns and tiaras before large sources were located in South Africa.

Queen Elizabeth II's  Diamond Diadem. Diamonds were used for royal jewelry, crowns and tiaras before large sources were located in South Africa.

Before the world wars the US had little interest in diamonds especially regarding to as an engagement ring. De Beers hired Philadelphia ad agency N.W. Ayer in 1938 to research using marketing and find out what Americans thought about diamonds. They found Americans thought back then diamonds were only for the very rich. N.W. Ayer had to figure out how to convince an American, especially in tough economic times that they needed to have a diamond. What they found was that if the diamond was tied to a emotional purchase such as love and marriage, the diamond would not only be purchased but never resold (another important goal for the diamond industry). That is how the diamond engagement ring was created in the United States.

Creator of modern marketing and advertising N.W. Ayers.

Creator of modern marketing and advertising N.W. Ayers.

N.W. Ayers cleverly instituted a marketing scheme that involved using that relativity new industry, Hollywood. At the time they had big celebrities of the day wearing diamonds and showing off their diamond engagement rings. The agency had the narrative of diamonds and diamond engagement rings written into movie scripts, radio, the press and fashion magazines. They never mentioned De Beers, they just mentioned the idea of the diamond engagement ring (it didn’t matter to De Beers since in the end they would be supplying the stone).

Hollywood was an important medium in spreading the word that diamonds are a girls's best friend. Here are four major Hollywood stars that are synonymous with diamonds. Clockwise Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe.

Hollywood was an important medium in spreading the word that diamonds are a girls's best friend. Here are four major Hollywood stars that are synonymous with diamonds. Clockwise Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe.

N.W. Ayers then started instructing how to buy a diamond making sure the general public was aware of cut, clarity and color but most importantly N.W. Ayers instituted how much a young man should spend on a diamond and gave a formula to the consumers; the diamond industry advised you should spend at least three months of your salary for the diamond engagement ring to give to your intended.

The end result of N.W. Ayer's ad campaign, the diamond engagement ring.

The end result of N.W. Ayer's ad campaign, the diamond engagement ring.

Then the slogan to end all slogans was created for the diamond industry, “A diamond is forever” and since then Americans and now countries around the world have bought into De Beers very successful and long running ad campaign on how every marriage proposal should include a diamond engagement ring. By developing this concept which is just about only 80 years old, De Beers managed to created value over nothing.

One of the best known advertising slogans, "A Diamond is Forever".

One of the best known advertising slogans, "A Diamond is Forever".

When Ms. Raden explained this to us, I could hear some of the gentlemen in the audience start to rumble. The man sitting behind me mumbled to his wife, “Well that is 80k down the drain.” as she tried to shush him. Today when you purchase your diamond, as soon as you exit the store it loses immediately half of its value, then it only goes down from there. So if you are spending 80k on a diamond, you lose 40k as soon as you leave the shop. Most people pride themselves in being financially savvy in their investments, in any other circumstance we would step away from such a lost of income, however the audience for a diamond seems to be unaware of their hard earned money lost forever.

Ms. Raden then displayed slides of the chemical compound that makes up diamonds. The chemical compound of a diamond is C which stands for carbon. Graphite and soot also share this chemical compound. What makes a diamond different from graphite and soot? Its called an “allotrope” which means it is a form of an element that has different physical properties (eg. color, crystal shape, hardness, melting points,  boiling points, etc.) due to different arrangements of atoms or molecules within the structure. So though diamonds share the same chemical compound, the only difference between diamonds, graphite and soot is how the C is arranged. While diamonds are one of the hardest substances on earth, graphite and soot are of course a much softer substance. 

The only difference molecular wise between diamonds and graphite is the molecular structure.

The only difference molecular wise between diamonds and graphite is the molecular structure.

Ms. Raden also informed us that once a diamond is mined it starts to “soften up.” Of course this takes many decades but eventually you can expect your diamond to start chipping away, perhaps not in your life time but don’t expect your great, great grandchildren to inherit a diamond that cannot be damaged. 

Ms. Raden advised the audience if they were seeking to purchase a diamond that she would recommend that they either 1.) get it from a pawn shop as there are many diamonds in good condition available for a small fraction of the price they were originally purchased at. 2.) purchase a diamond grown in a lab.

A great place to find recycled jewelry at a great price is in a pawn shop.

A great place to find recycled jewelry at a great price is in a pawn shop.

Ms. Raden as I mentioned earlier is a gemologist. She related that not only is the lab grown diamond equal to a mined diamond, a seasoned jeweler cannot tell the difference between a lab grown diamond and a mined diamond. They would need special tools in which to determine the light ranges in each particular diamond (using these tools requires a hefty price in the first place). Most lab grown diamonds have “lab grown” lasered on in the bottom. They are not of the family of cubic zirconia they are the same chemical compounds and chemical arrangement as mined diamonds. They are not fake.

Lab grown diamonds obviously jeopardize the diamond industry and the sense of rarity they have worked hard for the general public to believe. De Beers, diamond jewelers and others that rely on mined diamonds will try their best to dissuade the public from purchasing lab grown diamonds by out and out lies and deception. That is to be expected as it is a multi-billion dollar business. They will tell you that mined diamonds are “rare” and lab grown diamonds are “fake” both false statements.

In the last few decades a few jewelry brands have been marketing a “conflict free diamond” meaning that it is not a blood diamond as the diamond trade is one of the most conflict-filled industries in the world with blood, greed, enslavement, corruption and pollution on its hands. In order to distance themselves from this negative press, many brands have stated their diamonds are conflict-free which means they have followed “The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme”. The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme was developed by the UN and outlines the regulations and requirements countries must follow to make sure a diamond is mined and shipped in a humane, legitimate way. Diamonds that meet these regulations are shipped with a Kimberley Process certificate. When you buy a conflict-free diamond, the jeweler should be able to provide this certificate -- if they can't, you should be wary of the stone's origin. Brilliant Earth is a highly recommended brand with high ethical standards for mined diamonds.

The original mine in South Africa where large deposits of diamonds were found and are still mined, Kimberly Mine.

The original mine in South Africa where large deposits of diamonds were found and are still mined, Kimberly Mine.

However as you can surmise a conflict-free mined diamond is still a mined diamond. Mining always brings devastation to an environment no matter what the substance being mined for. So the question is if you can buy a diamond that does not harm the environment, is of excellent quality and has a significantly lower price point than a traditionally mined diamond (forgot to tell you that little fact), shouldn’t that be the logical choice?

Instead of spending 10k on a diamond, you can spend 2k for the same stone, save the rest of your money for your honeymoon, new home, children, travel, a rainy day, etc. No one would know the difference. You would just have to release your mind from a sales narrative created 80 somewhat years ago that we all have fallen for.

When I started to research brands that offer lab grown diamonds I was impressed not only by the product and the ridiculous savings in cost, but that they run their businesses in a transparent and ethical manner you see missing from the diamond industry (actually most industries). 

Diamond Nexus is such a company. Diamond Nexus houses their facilities in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and is proud to offer a product made in American paying their workers fair living wages. They hired old-school master goldsmiths and jewelry-making artisans who believed in quality and make the jewelry right there in their workshops. The company prides itself on its customer service and their customer ratings are quite positive. Best of all they pass on the savings of having a lab grown diamond to you the consumer.

Just one of the many diamond engagement ring designs at Diamond Nexus.

Just one of the many diamond engagement ring designs at Diamond Nexus.

One other benefit of lab grown diamonds is that they can be used in industry for tools in a manner that passes on the low cost of the diamond to the customer. The fact that the environment will not be harmed is a mere bonus as lab grown diamonds have a drastically lower rate of carbon emissions.

Lab grown diamonds.

Lab grown diamonds.

Ms. Raden will be coming out with two addition books for an overall jewelry trilogy (“Hammered” and “Rocked”). She had the courage to reveal the dirty secrets from her field and to give a ethical, conflict-free solution to purchasing jewelry, especially diamonds. She has given the customer the ability of not only purchasing stones in a knowledgeable, ethical manner but also saving themselves a substantial amount of money by not buying into a false narrative propagated by a corrupt and gluttonous industry.

 

By Natalie Rivera

 

The Downward Spiral of Bleecker Street

In doing my research for The Local Artisan Guide, I spend many a day pounding the pavement, walking up and down streets looking for artisanal and smaller brands to feature in our guide. Lately I have been updating a multitude of closed stores which has set off an alarm for me regarding the neighborhoods that occupy both well known brands and smaller artisan brands. Most surprising is on Bleecker St. in the West Village where for the past fifteen years the area had morphed from a bohemian hotspot into a mini version of Fifth Avenue but now resembles a scene from a Rust Belt town. 

A trip down Bleecker Street, West Village, New York City.

A trip down Bleecker Street, West Village, New York City.

Walking down Bleecker St. in the West Village from where it starts on Hudson Ave. to Sixth Avenue is a very disconcerting sight. With the amount of closed storefronts you would think we are in an economic depression or the neighborhood has a high crime rate, however this is not so on both accounts. On separate blocks there is up to a 30 to 40% vacancy rate of shops that once occupied a very trendy, busy street. I have been observing the abandonment of Bleecker St. for the last few years but now with the amount of brands continuing to close there is no denying the ramifications and negative effects of gentrification. 

To explain the situation it’s best to know the history of Bleecker Street. Bleecker St. in the West Village was once the epicenter of a very bohemian part of downtown New York City. Walking down the streets of this part of the city in the 80’s and 90’s you would find mom and pop shops, bodegas, delis, ethic restaurants, laundry mats and diners. There were local bookshops, cafes, jazz clubs and records shops dotted throughout Bleecker. It was the ideal formula of a real neighborhood where your daily needs were met. Rent for a shop back then could be an estimated $1500 a month making it affordable for small businesses to prosper.

It's not only retail stores that have been affected by the rent hike, restaurants too are closing.

It's not only retail stores that have been affected by the rent hike, restaurants too are closing.

Then in 1996 the bohemian character of Bleecker St. started its permanent demise changing little by little the landscape of Bleecker St.. The way this happened is an odd narrative starting with the opening of a bakery.  Magnolia Bakery opened their doors on Bleecker St. in 1996. They sold very beautiful classic American desserts, the kind that would make Martha Stewart proud (plus they tasted of buttery deliciousness). Magnolia Bakery became especially popular when it was featured on a “Sex and the City” episode which helped start the cupcake craze and the even worse craze of people lining up around the corner for baked goods. There was even at one time a Magnolia bouncer! 

Bleecker Street resembles towns in middle American known as the "Rust Belt" with their empty shops.

Bleecker Street resembles towns in middle American known as the "Rust Belt" with their empty shops.

It was around then that the people over at Marc Jacobs started taking notice of the quaintness and character of the West Village and Bleecker St. area and decided over a span of time to open up as many as six separate Marc Jacobs shops instead of one huge flagship (which they already had in Soho). That inspired the landlords in the area to bring up the rents on Bleecker St. where before stores that had a $1500 rent saw it dramatically climb up to $7000 and then eventually a few years later to $45,000. All the new brands were gentrifying the neighborhood which resulted in property values and taxes starting to increase.

One by one iconic neighborhood businesses, restaurants and jazz clubs had to leave as their rents hikes became astronomical. They either went out of business or had to relocate to other neighborhoods. Where less than a few years ago the rents were $75 a square foot, they were now going for as much as $800 a square foot. In turn landlords held out for high end brands to move into their empty storefronts and they did. This in turn led to residential rents going up in the neighborhood. The residential gentrification of the West Village saw the artists, writers, LGBT crowd and more bohemian long time residents having to leave their homes if they did not own them or they were not rent stabilized. In then came in their place the men of finance and the girls of Conde Nast. The whole of Bleecker St. was evolving with brands such as Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Mulberry, Reiss, moving in and setting up a vanity location — meaning it’s more about the image than about retail sales or foot traffic.

Bleecker St. is the land of broken dreams for brands both big and small.

Bleecker St. is the land of broken dreams for brands both big and small.

Bleecker St. became the “it” place to go however over time it was observed that there were never many people actually shopping at these smaller vanity locations. Although Bleecker St. attracted many tourists with the hype, they seemed to preferred to do their shopping elsewhere. Eventually these vanity locations with corporate money backing them started figuring out this particular business model was not working for them. As the rents continued to increase after their leases were up, one by one many of the brands starting quietly closing up their Bleecker St. locations. Marc Jacobs's six boutiques on Bleecker closed down to two shops. The abandonment of these brands makes Bleecker St. look like the land of broken dreams which is not the image one wants for their brand.

Bleecker St. looks like towns with economic depression or high crime rates, but its really current feeling the effects of "high rent blight".

Bleecker St. looks like towns with economic depression or high crime rates, but its really current feeling the effects of "high rent blight".

These rent increases are commonly referred to as “high rent blights” which is described as when rising property values, usually understood as a sign of prosperity, start to inflict damage on a city’s economy. One would think that if you loose a commercial tenant you are galvanized to find another commercial tenant as soon as possible and negotiate a better rent, however landlords have no problem keeping a storefront empty for months or even years on end. In NYC there are tax benefits for the owner of empty storefronts. These benefits were created to help landlords out of times of economic depression but now they are used to to make it possible to hold out to eventually land a much richer tenant like a bank or national chain. The fact that together all these empty storefronts destroy the character and morale of a neighborhood while also not providing businesses that make living in a neighborhood more convenient and functional such as a deli, hardware store or dry cleaners are of no concern to these landlords. 

You might ask what a blog and site that’s main goal is to help guide you to shop smaller brands and local artisans might care about what happens to Bleecker St. and their mass retailers? Well it’s that we are witnessing other neighborhoods that are destinations for smaller businesses in New York City seemingly in danger of following this same pattern that has occurred on Bleecker Street. 

Stores that can make it easier for the residents to live in the West Village such as delis, dry cleaners and hardware stores cannot afford the rents on Bleecker Street.

Stores that can make it easier for the residents to live in the West Village such as delis, dry cleaners and hardware stores cannot afford the rents on Bleecker Street.

In Soho on Thompson St. just in the last two months there has been a multitude of closing of both new and old storefronts. Thompson St. has been a very idyllic street for small businesses. It alone can be the perfect role model for how a neighborhood can function with great small restaurants, delis, cleaners and small artisanal storefronts that sell a wide range of products and services. Yet Thompson St. is starting to have that same look of Bleecker St. with papered up stores and “Store for rent” signs. Two small storefronts that closed recently actually had new tenants right away, however being on the same block they offer the same service, that of a barber. The writing is on the wall as it will be hard enough to keep one barber open on one block much less two. There are harbingers that more streets of Soho, Nolita and Chelsea are experiencing the same dramatic closing of storefronts. I estimate that over 30% of storefronts in the East Village are closed. It’s hard enough for small businesses to survive when they are competing against other larger brands and not being on the beaten path, just add astronomical rents and that will just be the nail on the coffin.

Currently NYC is in a residential building boom but over 80% is for luxury units whereas developers claim it is not profitable to build for middle to low income housing. For years it has been forewarned of the long term ramifications of gentrification on New York City as, “Inequality in housing has reached Dickensian dimensions” . “Among our largest, richest 20 metro areas, less than 50 percent of the homes are affordable.” The middle class is being squeezed to the edge as the rich drive up real estate values and the working poor are shoved farther into squalor… wealth and power get their way without regard for the impact on the lives and neighborhoods of everyday people.”1

Jane Jacobs, an author, sited fifty years ago in her well known book on the subject, The Death and Life of Great American Cities,  “The point of cities is multiplicity of choice. Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” The lost of a sense of community where the wealthy are isolated in their multi-million dollar dwellings is the warning here and it is already happening in certain neighborhoods in New York City.

One solution lately that we are witnessing is the opening of large indoor and outdoor markets that will  be explored in the next blog. Though markets are by far a new concept, in this day and age they are proving to be the key to a small brand’s survival. Many brands have given up on having a brick and mortar store of their own for now so they are participating in a communal way with large outdoor and indoor markets around various neighborhoods in the city. Some interesting shopping communities have sprung up in other neighborhoods due to the rent blights in Manhattan such as Williamsburg, Lower East Side, Dumbo, Cobble Hill, Park Slope, Long Island City and Red Hook to name a few as rents are more affordable there. If these neighborhoods can become more aware and proactive in preventing rent blights in their areas it may just solidify that Manhattan is no longer the epicenter of artisanal shopping.

To end on a somewhat hopeful note, the last two years of Bleecker St. has seen some stores opening up; they are mostly national and international beauty and cosmetic brands such as Aesops, Sisley, Fresh and Bond No.9 (Bleecker St. may soon go by “Beauty Lane”), also some pop up shops and short term leases help keep the landscape from looking like total retail devastation. Enfold and Orla Kiely, two international brands looking to drive up their image in the states have opened recently so who knows what the future is in store for Bleecker St.? Maybe next year or so our site will write a blog entitled, “The Upward Spiral of Bleecker St.”.

By Natalie Rivera

 

Footnote                                                                                                                                                1. Moyer & Company, The Long, Dark Shadows of Plutocracy, November 28, 2014

 

Sustainable Fashion Brands to Watch

 

With Trump announcing to the world that he is pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, an immediate reaction reverberated around the globe of disbelief and incredulity that the United States who has for decades been on the forefront of innovation, science and industry has abandoned its leadership role due to the politics of a man trolling the planet. 

Some people just want to set the world on fire (with polluted coal).

Luckily the vast majority of countries (and to the contrary the United States) are not dying dinosaurs and have a desire to be on the path to sustainability knowing that it is the future. Cities, governments, corporations, farmers, communities and small businesses have been finding ways to make our future more sustainable and eco-friendly and will continue to do so regardless of Trump’s proclamations.

There are some large retailers known for their eco-friendly stance such as Patagonia, Burton’s and Eileen Fisher. Adidas and Stella McCartney just announced they were debuting collections made from recyclable plastics from the ocean, however there are many smaller and lesser known brands built on their dedication to sustainable fashion. Being aware and shopping these brands will help the planet so The Local Artisan Guide is highlighting four brands in the fashion world that go above and beyond for sustainability and accountability while also creating a stylish, well made product.

Rothy’s

Rothy’s is a footwear brand that creates stylish, sustainable flats for women out of recyclable water bottles. Rothy’s has figured out how recycled plastic water bottles can be transformed into a comfortable knitted shoe that fits like a glove and is soft like a sock. Founded by Stephen Hawthornewaite and Roth Martin (two industry outsiders) and based in San Francisco, their goals was to "Create an alternative, versatile shoe: one with the ease of a sneaker but with the polish of a feminine flat. And do it with low-waste, low-impact materials, hand-assembled for high quality and durability.”

Rothy's

Rothy's

Rothy’s shoes are almost like glorified socks as you can wear them, walk in them, spend all day in them then throw your Rothy's in the wash (cold water, gentle cycle, gentle detergent), and let them air dry. They come in an array of colors, patterns and toe shapes (only flats though) and share such qualities as: recyclable, an earth friendly carbon free rubber soul, recycled water bottle construction, washable quick dry technology, flexible sole and upper, blister-free seamless knit, lightweight all day wearability, moisture wicking all weather comfort, reusable packaging plus when you feel they are at the end of their wear you can send them back to Rothy’s to be recycled at their recycling facility.

Rothy's

Rothy's

Rothy’s basically seek to make a comfortable product with the least amount of carbon footprint possible yet still be fashionable and stylish with the feel of luxury. 

Rothy's

Rothy's

Matt & Nat

The name of this vegan brand from Montreal may sound like two friends named Matthew and Natalie (or Nathaniel) getting together and deciding to start a sustainable footwear and handbag brand (that’s what I thought). However Matt & Nat stands for MAT(T)erial and NATure meaning to explore the synergy between the two, the reflection of one on the other.

Matt & Nat

Matt & Nat

Established in 1995, Matt and Nat was created with the idea from the start to not use leather or any other animal-based materials or products in their designs. With every passing year they have continued to explore new innovative ways to remain sustainable and eco-friendly. This includes experimenting with different recycled materials such as recycled nylons, cardboard, rubber and cork. Since 2007, they have been committed to using linings only made out of 100% recycled plastic bottles. Matt & Nat have also recently introduced recycled bicycle tires to their collections.

Matt & Nat

Matt & Nat

Matt & Nat have also adopted a very eco-friendly production and work environment. Their factories operates by the SA8000 standard and their goals are to make this standard a bigger part of their production going forward. The factories are socially compliant and the brand makes an effort to keep to PU (polyurethane) instead of PVC as PVC is much more harmful to the environment. Not only are Matt & Nat's customers getting the cutting edge of ethical and eco-friendly fashion. Their materials are consistently improved and updated with composites that are less harmful for flora and fauna.

Matt & Nat

Matt & Nat

At the office in Montreal, Canada they have made it a ‘cruelty free’ zone with monthly staff celebrations of vegetarian potlucks and vegan cupcakes. They encourage community volunteering for their employees and would like you to upcycle any Matt & Nat product when possible. 

However the most impressive feat that Matt & Nat offer is their design aesthetic which will have you not missing leather goods at all. The brand offers handbags, footwear, wallets, small vegan goods and men’s bags. They manage to cover all the latest styles, trends, colors all while putting out their own unique form. 

ECOALF

ECOALF is an outerwear lifestyle brand for men and women founded by Javier Goyeneche in 2012 after years of frustration with witnessing the excessive use of the planet’s natural resources and the amount of waste produced by industries around the world.

ECOALF

ECOALF

Absolved to create a fashion brand that is truly sustainable ECOALF states “Our goal is to create the first generation of recycled products with the same quality, design and technical properties as the best non-recycled products. That way we show there is no need to use our world’s natural resources in a careless way”.

ECOALF uses a few key materials while producing their products: recycled water bottles are crushed into plastic flakes which then are processed and spun into a rough polyester and then fashioned into a yarn for the fabrics, straps, laces, etc. ECOALF has used up to 70 million recycled water bottles in their production thus far. 

ECOALF

ECOALF

Recycled cottons and recycled wools save water as 1kg of convention cotton needs 2500 liters of water. ECOALF uses the recycled cottons and wools in their outerwear, accessories and knits.

ECOALF also uses recycled fishing nets which are transformed into a fiber used for the swimwear. Used tires are compressed into a material for flip flops, and used coffee grinds are spun into a thread that produces a water repellant fabric used for jackets.

Their store is not only designed to maintain sustainable eco-friendly standards but stands as a place for the community to meet for conferences, exhibitions, screenings, etc. all within ECOALF philosophy. 

ECOALF's Madrid store.

ECOALF's Madrid store.

ECOALF also has started a foundation, The ECOALF Foundation is a non-profit organization whose primary goal is to promote the selective recovery, recycling and revaluing of waste in order to prevent its adverse impact on the environment. This is achieved through the development and application of new scientific and technological advancements – especially with regard to plastic waste products that are found in the marine environment.

For all that ECOALF strives to provide as a sustainable fashion brand, they know if you design outerwear, apparel, bags, shoes, swimwear and flip-flops that its all a waste of time and materials if you produce a product no one finds stylish enough to wear. ECOALF proves you do not have to have a hippie sensibility for sustainable fashion as they create cutting edge fashion with an aesthetic that leans to minimal chic and fashion forward. The brand is growing and starting to do projects outside of Madrid however their online store means ECOALF is available worldwide for those looking to expand their sustainable fashion closet.

BOTTLETOP

The Bottletop Fashion Company is a handbag and accessories brand that sprung from the Bottletop Foundation which was founded by Cameron Saul and his father Roger (Founder of British luxury fashion brand Mulberry) through a design collaboration with Mulberry. From the foundation came a handbag made from recycled bottle tops in Africa that was lined with Mulberry leather in Europe. The bag created a lot of buzz and generated local employment and raising funds for grass roots education projects in Africa.

Bottletop

Bottletop

This bag was followed by another bag designed by Bottletop’s Co-Director Oliver Wayman who discovered the "Bellani", a stunning silver chain mail bag with a distinctly 1970’s feel in Brazil. With the lightweight material, the bag consisted of upcycled aluminium ring pulls held together by crotchet. The bag is made by artisans in Brazil and has lead to the Bottletop Fashion Company being established in 2012 to create a brand that funds the operation of the Bottletop Foundation, which uses contemporary art and music to raise funds and awareness for education projects that tackle delicate teenage health issues such as HIV/AIDS, drug abuse and teenage pregnancy. The Bottletop Foundation supports young people in Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Brazil and the UK.

Bottletop's "Bellani Mini" made from upcycled Aluminum ring pulls.

Bottletop's "Bellani Mini" made from upcycled Aluminum ring pulls.

As a foundation they frequently collaborate with other well known brands such as Narcisco Rodriguez and Idris Khan. The design and quality by Bottletop are a work of art for the craftsman and consumer alike. Their philosophy is “Blending design with technique across cultures, Bottletop creates collections that celebrate true craftsmanship. A timeless ‘created by hand’ aesthetic. The creation of Bottletop products not only enhance the techniques of some of the most highly skilled artisans from around the world but our training programs enable others to join them, supporting themselves and their families in the process”.

One of Bottletop's many artisan workers.

One of Bottletop's many artisan workers.

The brand offers handbags, travel bags, backpacks, clutches, accessories, etc. The aesthetic looks and feels luxurious and contemporary even with the aluminum rings pulls. When you chose a Bottletop bag you are not only purchasing a piece of artisan craftsmanship, you are helping the environment by choosing recyclable materials and contributing to a foundation that helps disadvantaged youths with their community and health.

These are four good brands to start your sustainable fashion closet. Larger brands are starting to take notice of the big, innovative ideas these smaller brands are contributing to the world and proving sustainable fashion is not only a real possibility but a stylish option that benefits all.

By Natalie Rivera

 

Out of the Box Hostess Gift Ideas

This weekend is Memorial Day weekend in the United States and that marks for Americans the unofficial start of summer. In New York City that means a mass exodus on Friday to either the Hamptons or Upstate to escape the chaos of the city. Many of us that do not own weekend homes end up being the guests of those who do and that is when we offer up to our host or hostess a Hostess Gift.

In this day and age it is sorry to find out that many people do not even know what a hostess gift is much less give one when they are entertained in someone’s home. For those who do not know simply put a hostess gift is a gift for your host or hostess to thank them for their hospitality. It can range from flowers, specialty food items to small items for the home (I don’t include wine because I feel that wine is going to be consumed that evening by either themselves or other guests). 

Giving hostess gifts has become a lost art, especially in city environments. Most people in cities complain that their abode is too small to entertain properly and therefore chose to meet friends at restaurants or bars instead. The Local Artisan Guide would like to help bring back this forgotten show of manners and help inspire you to not only think of out-of-the-box items for hostess gifts but to give you an incentive to host a soiree at your home to be on the receiving end of a hostess gift (no matter what size your home is, it’s inconvenient location or your sticky roommate situation). 

The Local Artisan Guide has come up with a few selections of unique, creative hostess gifts in all price ranges from stores around NYC (many items can be ordered online too) that should inspire you anywhere you live to make a thoughtful impression on your host/hostess and reward them for courageously entertaining in this day and age.

Pearl River,  395 Broadway, Tribeca, NYC

Pearl River Mart is a treasure chest of items mostly from China that range from home decor to hard to find Chinese spices. What most shoppers appreciate about Pearl River is how affordable most of the items are. It is not unusual to find a well known decorator browsing through the aisles of Pearl River for party or decor inspiration. A thoughtful hostess gift suggestion from Pearl River Mart is a Daruma Doll. A Daruma Doll is a doll that helps the receiver of the gift set an intention for a wish fulfillment. The different colors represent different wishes i.e. success, love, health, etc. The Daruma Doll has two blank eyes, when you received a Daruma Doll you make your wish, fill out one eye, set the doll in a place you see daily and when your wish is fulfilled, you fill out the other eye. Think of yourself as the genie from Aladdin helping your host achieve their wishes!

CW Pencil Enterprise, 100a Forsyth Street, Lower East Side, NYC

CW Pencil Enterprise is a store dedicated to the art and beauty of pencils. It is a mecca for affordable gift giving, including truly original hostess gifts. The shop is petite but filled with exquisite pencils from around the world and the accessories that go with them ranging from stationary, to notebooks to well designed erasers. A gift that is a stand out for a hostess gift is a Plantable Pencil. Sprout pencils are capped with a bio-degradable capsule containing non-gmo seeds. The pencil itself is a high-quality, cedar-cased #2 but once you've worked it down to a stub you can stick it in the pot of soil (just covering the green capsule on the end). Be sure to water regularly and keep in a sunny place and your plant is sure to germinate. Once the seeds are securely in the soil you can use the remainder of the pencil as a plant marker (so sustainable!!). This 3-pack contains flowers for a very yellow garden. Includes one of each: Marigold, Sunflower, Calendula. Perfect for the host that has a green thumb and access to sunlight. 

Coming Soon,  37 Orchard St. Lower East Side, NYC

Not only is Coming Soon a great place for contemporary furniture and gifts, they already took the time to curate a section of hostess gifts for you making it much easier to just come in and select right away. The contents in this shop are a little bit more pricier but worth it as it will be guaranteed your host/hostess will treasure the selections from Coming Soon. A fun item that stands out is their Domino Set with Spinners. These luxe dominoes are not only stunning enough to find a place on the coffee table for show but they add an activity that guests can participate in on game night. The design elements in this set makes these dominoes meant to be displayed and played. They come with jumbo tournament size two-tone dominoes with spinners in a variety of colors. A little pricey at $180 but that’s a small price to pay for doing game night in style.

Kaas Glassworks, 117 Perry Street, West Village, NYC

Kaas Glassworks is a one of those rare New York stores that you either find by meandering down a street or a friend is kind enough to let you know of its existence. They specialize in the traditional art of decoupage that features images of antique and historical prints. This includes a collection of trays, plates, coasters and paperweights which are both decorative and functional, each piece may be used on a table or dresser, or displayed on the wall with the use of a simple plate hanger. The range of images makes selecting a gift a little time consuming as there is so much to chose from. We highlighted here a tray with an image of vintage hygienic underwear for its unique factor. This particular tray is $142 but for a hostess gift that is functional and a work of art, that is a bargain.

Hopefully these items have inspired you to not only shop for that Hamptons weekend or dinner party coming up but perhaps to buy in stock for future hostess gifts to come. These gifts are guaranteed to have you invited back time and time again. Let’s reward those brave, generous souls who go out of their way to make us memories by wining, dining and entertaining us.

By Natalie Rivera

 

 

 

Who Made My Clothes

In our modern day, first world society we as a post-industrial population are so removed from the sources of our most basic needs that we have become completely not capable of surviving on our own. In the last few years many documentaries and books have come out detailing where our foods come from and the eye opening often scary journey to our table. Now the same movement is occurring in fashion in which many are shining a light on where and who makes our clothing, shoes and accessories. 

#whomademyclothes

#whomademyclothes

 

As a former production manager for retail fashion, I’ve traveled all over the world visiting the factories where the product I was overseeing was being manufactured. I was fortunate to work for companies that were socially compliant however that did not erase my thoughts on how the lifestyle of the workers half a world away from me went about their six day work week and their day to day life. It usually involved living far from home in small dorms, long days mostly standing on their feet working on machinery, doing tedious, receptive work for low wages, little time off and not much room for growth. It takes a special mindset to do this work and most U.S. citizens would not find this attractive for the same reason why the United States has trouble finding U.S. citizens to harvest our crops (a job usually reserved for migrant workers brave enough to risk getting deported).

Factory workers in China.

Factory workers in China.

When Donald Trump says he will bring back the jobs to the United States, it is already too late for most industries as automation is the future. With fashion it would involved building a new infrastructure, purchasing expensive, complicated machinery, training and keeping a staff that would have to be competitive with the rest of the world and the low cost employment they provide. That shirt you pay $20 for would now be $80. In our fast food culture we have become used to a fast fashion business model for the past decades changing the purchasing patterns of fashion that our parents and grandparents did not have access to.

 

In honor of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, where 1,138 people were killed and many more injured on 24th April 2013, Fashion Revolutionary Week has been created with the hashtag #whomademyclothes to put a spotlight on the individual life of factory workers around the world and humanize your shopping experience. 

 

Emergency workers rescuing survivors from the Rana Plaza factory collapse April 24th, 2013.

Emergency workers rescuing survivors from the Rana Plaza factory collapse April 24th, 2013.

“Who Made My Clothes” encourages people worldwide to demand greater transparency, sustainability and ethics in the fashion supply chain. Fashion Revolution seeks to unite the fashion industry and ignite a revolution to change the way fashion is sourced, produced and purchased so what the world wears has been made in a safe, clean and fair way. More information on this organization can be found at www.fashionrevolution.org.

The Local Artisan Guide has been spotlighting local artisans, independent designers and small brands who provide a “Slow Fashion” experience, meaning they create a product that is meant to last not only your lifetime but hopefully for many generations to come. When you purchase from a local artisan you know who created your items and can rest assured knowing you are not contributing to a sweatshop environment where exploitation, safety issues, child labor and extremely low wages are a part of the factory’s worker daily life. 

 

                                 Artisan block printer working on John Robshaw Textiles

So next time you are about to purchase an item ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Would I wear/use this item multiple times a month?
  2. Who made this particular item?
  3. Is it made well and are the materials biodegradable? 
  4. What country did it originate from? Is it a fair trade and ethical source?
  5. Does this brand have transparency in their sourcing and production?

Our society is now dealing with the growing problem of land fills being overrun with clothing that is not decomposing as brands such as H&M, Zara, Gap Inc., etc. are creating products not made well enough to last with synthetic materials and fabrics that do not decompose. These remnants of fast fashion are the new “disposable diapers” of the 21st century and you can help by being a more conscious shopper whether by shopping brands that are more sustainable, upcycling your clothes, shopping for vintage pieces and keeping yourself just as informed as you would for your food. In the end it isn’t only you and factory workers who would benefit from shopping more ethically but everyone else and our planet.

So join us in using the hashtag #whomademyclothes when reviewing brands on social media to help create a safer, transparent and more sustainable environment for all.

By Natalie Rivera

 

Local Artisan Valentines Day Gift Recommendations

Its here! That time of the year when you are highly encouraged to show your bae that you really care about them with greeting cards, chocolates, dinner at an overcrowded, trendy restaurant and a little trinket to seal the deal whilst donning racy lingerie. 

We here at The Local Artisan Guide have come up with some gift recommendations for those who want to celebrate this day of love with style and panache. The selection below is available online (click the link) and at their brick & mortar store. We did the legwork and sought out the greeting cards, chocolates, trinkets and sexy lingerie in a range of price points (Goop we are not!). We did leave the restaurant choice to you.

The recommendations are divided into three groups: for her, for him and unisex gifts. All recommendations are highly curated, sure to please, unique and thoughtful because in the end that is what we all seek from a gift from a loved one. 

 

GIFTS FOR HER:

 

Kempton & Co., Small Leather Pouch, Black, $52

Kempton & Co.'s pouches are great for multiple uses whether its for storing your cosmetics or using the pouch as a clutch for the evening out.

                           

                           

Pierre Hardy Shoes, Memphis Sandal, Mutli Nude, $795

Pierre Hardy Shoes are sexy, au courant and at the same time very lady like. 

Maison Close Black Feather Fan, $90

Let me entertain you! Imagine the surprise on your lover's face when you enter into the boudoir with this burlesques feather fan and...well not much else!

              

              

 

Gurhan Jewelry, Amulet Pendant in 24k gold with cabochon ruby. $2,400

If you are going to go all out and give jewelry to your Valentine, think out of the box with this ruby amulet that will make her think of the middle ages, poetry and being serenaded on a balcony.

                                      

                                      

 Le Labo Fragrances, Rose 31, eau du parfum, $175

Le Labo is a special fragrance brand as you can work on creating your own scents, however their Rose 31 scent is the perfect Valentines Day scent as it is reminiscing of walking in a rose garden.

              

              

Soapology, Fresh Cut Soap, Chamomile, $8

What a special way to show someone you think they deserve the best without emptying your wallet. The natural ingredients and fresh cut soap is not only good for your skin but makes for a beautiful item to add to a bathroom.

 

 

FOR HIM:

                               

                               

Ernest Alexander, Andy Leather Laptop Brief, Brown, $295

This sleek and handsome leather briefcase not only carries your computer in style, the side pocket can carry an iPad and the inside pockets easily hold a man's iPhone, wallets and pens.

                                         

                                         

Noah Waxman, Hyde Park, Tobacco, $595

Here is an innovative way to do color block on a man's shoe that looks like it can go from day to evening in style.

goorin bros., Rooster BBL, $30

You don't have to go into credit card debt to give your man a gift that is unique, fun and you know they will use often.

                                       

                                       

Larsson Jennings, Lugano Collection, $275

A timepiece is always a hit as a Valentine's Day gift and to have it at this price point is a win/win for all.

      

      

Fellow Barber Signature Candle, $60

Your man will appreciate this multi functioning gift as it will make his place smell like a cypress forest and when its done he can use it as a cup. 

Santa Maria Novella, Latte Corpo Uomo, Men's Body Milk, $96

If your man is a history buff he will appreciate this body lotion made from the finest ingredients with a formula used for past centuries for men all over Europe.

 

UNISEX GIFTS:

Taschen, "The Little Book of Pin Up, Vargas", by Dian Hanson, $9.99

What a sexy gift to flip through before you end your Valentine's Day evening.

                               

                               

 Marie Belle Chocolates, 16 piece Caramel Box, $40

These chocolates are so beautiful you may not want to eat them but their innovative flavors will change your mind.

Greenwich Letterpress Valentines Day Card, "Brain on Love" $5

Forget Hallmark, come to Greenwich Letterpress to find Valentines Day cards with wit and romance that you know are also unique at the same time.

So hopefully our recommendations have given you some ideas that will lead to an evening of unconditional love, lust and items you and your bae will cherish forever. 

Happy Valentine's Day!

By Natalie Rivera