All Posts in Gifts

November 28, 2014

Small Business Saturday: Where To Go + Where We’ll Be

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One of many must-visit Small Business Saturday spots

The Thanksgiving feast is over, and hopefully you're all rested up after one (or three) holiday naps. If you haven't already, make sure to give our Thanksgiving playlist a listen—we promise it isn't one of those Christmas-only compilations that gets old after the third listen. A good part of the Thanksgiving weekend fun are the traditions that come along with it—and shopping may play into those, depending on how claustrophobic and patient of long lines you are. It can be easy to forget about Small Business Saturday with all of the unpleasant-looking media Black Friday receives—when tends to be more and more each year, it seems. But this weekend is the perfect time to support your favorite designers, makers, and artists, while checking off people on your gift list at the same time.

The shopping opportunities in New York City are overwhelming, especially once the first snow hits and your trips to various brick and mortars hold more regard (shopping for others is always intimidating, no matter how well you know them). Of course, we're here to help make that a little easier on you. Make sure to pay a visit to your favorite local designers and visit us at one of the pop-up locations we're involved in this Small Business Saturday. Here are our must-visit spots:

Young & Able, Lower Manhattan

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There's a tiny storefront in Lower Manhattan that you won't want to miss. Young & Able is a month-long pop-up retail space created specifically for your holiday shopping needs. You may remember us inviting you to their launch party a couple of weeks ago (which was an absolute blast, complete with a photobooth). You can find some of our designs at the space, but you can also find a selection from all of the designers (which range from local makers in NYC to international designers all the way from Australia) online. The physical space is open from 11am-7pm daily—go give it a see before it closes its doors on December 21st.

345 Broome St. New York, NY

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November 12, 2014

Round-Up: Five Must-Have Scarves for Fall (and Winter)

Photo cred: Francisco Osorio / Creative Commons

Photo cred: Francisco Osorio / Creative Commons

Fall is an exciting time for fashion, and we don't just mean those of us looking to discover forgotten favorites at the back of our closets. With the cooler temperatures comes an opportunity to layer on more complicated combinations of style—some for the sole purpose of keeping us warm, and others, well, just because. If there's one accessory that falls right smack dab in the middle of those wardrobe agendas, it's the scarf. From infinity scarves to delicate silk handkerchief throwbacks, there are all kinds of styles for any situation you can think of.

We corralled some of our favorites below, but (as always) we'd love to hear from you. Make sure to share any standout scarves. We're even interested in those, um, more out-there suggestions—like this. You know what they say about form following function.

Calling All Commuters: Sash-ay Scarf, Vespertine NYC

ACCESSORIES

There's no such thing as being too visible when it comes to biking—day or night. This scarf from Vespertine NYC is a way you can add a little safety flash that won't pull away from your outfit when your bike is locked away waiting to be ridden home. The design features a woven 3M threading that illuminates when in direct light, meaning you stay highly visible without committing to any unsightly neon colors. Coming in at $92, you're jumping in on the 3M trend—and keeping yourself intact—for a steal.

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October 23, 2014

Round-Up: Carry-On Luggage You’d Be Proud to Tote

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Photo cred: Creative Commons

Considering the (sometimes obnoxious) size of carry-on luggage, it can be tough to find one that totes any bit of style. Sure, you can fall to the whims of the smallest of your color-coordinated luggage set—or you could find a beautiful piece that adds a silver lining to the stressful experience that is traveling. The holidays are coming up, and vacations home—or maybe someone more exotic—are filling your work break daydreams. And even if you aren't going anywhere anytime soon, these bags will fit right into your daily commute to the office—you know, when you've got more than a few files to tote back and forth, along with your gym essentials.

So before you start blowing your cash on Christmas presents, treat yourself to some holiday travel style. We've got seven of the most stylish carry-on pieces we could find, for all budgets. Read on and window shop:

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Weekender Bag in Printed Deer Dot, Kate Spade Saturday, $180

Sturdy and well-shaped, this bag from Kate Spade Saturday is small enough to fit into those cramped overhead bins without the threat of losing its form. The polka-dotted pattern is just flashy enough to notice on a luggage conveyor if you decide to check it in.

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May 2, 2014

Travel: Hong Kong Favorites

HK_2014_7Central, Hong Kong Island

I recently returned from a trip to Hong Kong, where I was able to combine some fun urban exploring with consulting work. After a brutal New York winter (which never seems to end!), the balmy spring weather in Hong Kong was incredibly welcomed.

I prefer traveling light even if it means doing laundry, so opted not to check any luggage. I also wanted to put my collection to the travel test, and was pleased (but not surprised) upon unpacking that nothing required ironing even after 24 hours or so of travel time crammed inside a carry-on bag! The styles comfortably transitioned from work meetings to evening dinner or swing dancing. (Yep, I was able to go out dancing one night, thanks to the incredibly networked global lindy hop community!)

HK_2014Styles from the Nicole Lenzen Collection packed and ready to go

The consulting work I did this trip entailed training vendors for one of my apparel clients on a new product development software. They all came into Hong Kong for the meetings, and the office staff who hosted graciously took me out to amazing lunches every day. As a pescetarian I skipped out on the meat dishes but had so many other options I still managed to overeat at every meal! In my experiences, Hong Kong natives really know how to take care of their guests. They always serve you first, literally spooning dishes onto your plate like Mom would do!

We had everything from Cantonese dim sum to Shanghai-style noodles to deliciously fresh Thai food. Of course I couldn't read a thing on any of the menus but at dessert time when I saw this tiny picture of a bee and jokingly suggested we order one, we were all pleasantly surprised by the adorable fried custard goodness that came out! 

One thing that I always find remarkable in Hong Kong is that so many of the restaurants are located in shopping malls, I guess because of the way real estate is developed in such a compact and dense area. It's funny how as they are disappearing in the US, they almost seem to be increasing as centers of activity for all ages there.

My all-time favorite eating experience in Hong Kong is at "Seafood Street" in Sai Kung, a fishing village on the water that's a short trip out of the city and a lovely escape from the high rises. They have huge aquariums of all types of sea critters from razor clams to green lobsters, served up family style al fresca with large bottles of Tsingtao, and finished off with a hilarious, but requisite mango/coconut fish perfectly formed in a dessert mold!

HK_2014_2 Lunchtime shared plates

HK_2014_3 Kiwi smoothie with a city view (albeit from a shopping mall!)

HK_2014_4 Delicious fried custard bumble bee dessert

mango_fishRequisite mango/coconut dessert "fish" after decadent seafood at Tung Kee in Kai Sung

Hong Kong is a shopping destination for visitors of all nations, particularly the mainland Chinese. For the little bit of free time I had this trip, I wanted to escape the areas saturated with global fast-fashion and luxury brands and discover neighborhoods with independent boutiques.

I headed first to Soho, where the steepness of the streets reminded me with fondness of my days of living in San Francisco. I always find cities constructed on hillsides, and their associated alleyways and surprise viewpoints, to be much more fascinating than flat grids (sorry, NY!). Of course that means occasionally getting lost when your smartphone battery dies, or running up against geographically imposed dead-ends.

I had a lovely lunch with a friend from NY who had just moved back to HK, after which she brought me to her friend’s adorable gift shop Visionaire. I continued wandering the adjacent neighborhoods following inspiration, and probably spent an hour inside Mr. Blacksmith combing through their wide assortment of design wares. Not to mention that they have one of the coolest business cards I’ve ever seen, with a sandpaper backing! I found the Sun Street area of Wan Chai absolutely charming, with exceptionally curated shops like Kapok, and others carrying minimal but edgy Japanese menswear labels.

HK_2014_5Geographically imposed dead-ends!

HK_2014_6  Street art in Sheung Wan

kapok_sun_streetKapok on Sun Street in Wan Chaimr.blacksmithKiller sandpaper business cards at Mr. Blacksmith

HK_2014_17Little indulgences: Chase and Wonder bag and rings from Konzepp and Mr. Blacksmith (despite asking, the salespeople didn't seem to know the jewelry designers' names) Read more

May 18, 2013

Profile: John Warren, Furniture Designer

John Warren Designs

Photo by Saunders Moore

SOWA Vintage Market

Photo by Saunders Moore

A few years ago while strolling through the Brooklyn Flea during its first season, I met a furniture designer from Boston named John Warren, and his partner Stephanie. I was immediately attracted to his design aesthetic and creative use of repurposed materials. My studio was in dire need of a cabinet for organizing fabric swatches and sewing supplies, so I decided to commission John to create a custom piece.

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For the cabinet, I specified the dimensions, as well as a general color palette, and some types of materials and details I liked from John's previous creations. I knew that I wanted ceiling tin to be included in the mix, as well as the ability to hold a couple rows of locker baskets–also sourced from Stephanie and John–inside, as they are perfect for cataloguing fabric color cards.

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I then gave John creative freedom to design and construct the cabinet. To my immense satisfaction, he came up with the most beautiful asymmetrically curved shape for the doors, and incorporated vine-patterned metalwork from discarded schooldesks. As a couture clothing designer I tend to have incredibly high standards. I was floored by his craftsmanship, especially the precision with which he cut the wood to match the jagged edges of the metalwork pieces.

John Warren Designs

It was such a pleasure to work with John on my one-of-a-kind cabinet that I wanted to share with you more about the details that went into the piece, how he got his start in craftsmanship, and about the vintage market called SoWa that he and Stephanie now run. To do so, I went up to Boston to see John and Stephanie in their element at SoWa. Here's a bit about how they are keeping Boston hip and bringing vintage back.

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January 4, 2010

Jill – Reclaimed Wedding Dress

As founder and editor-in-chief of green design blog Inhabitat, Jill was only willing to go the sustainable route with her wedding attire. In addition to sourcing minimal impact materials, we wanted to design a dress indicative of Jill's sophisticated style, in a silhouette that was fun and fresh, and also re-wearable. We first started by exploring fabric options such as organic cotton tulles and silks, such as the below.

Jill was then offered her fiance's grandmother's Victorian wedding dress from circa 1900, which was a beautiful lace gown, completely deteriorated in most sections, but intact in others. Jill had already decided that she did not want a full-length gown, but I had to make sure that we had enough material from the vintage gown to create even a knee-length dress! Through careful cutting and efficient patternmaking, I was just able to make it work, utilizing the lace's scallop edges at the neckline and asymmetrical hemline of the dress.

The lace needed to be carefully cleaned and restored back to its original colour, as pictured below.

We both love the colour green, and decided on a hand-dyed ombre (green with a gradation from light to dark) silk charmeuse for the underlayer of the dress. From my collection of vintage lace trims, we selected one to use for the straps, which I dyed using green tea to   match the ivory of the dress lace.

The wedding and reception were held in San Francisco's beautiful Presidio Park, which tends to become cool at night, so we made a custom bolero jacket in a matching green to cover Jill's arms.

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