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






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


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




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 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

 

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