Norman and Jules Toyshop

As a mom, toys now play a huge part of my life. A good chunk of my day is spent on the floor with Hermione playing with the various dolls, blocks, books or musical instruments that live in her toy bin. I am very selective about what I will let her play with. At this age almost everything she touches ends up in her mouth so I have a very firm no plastic toys rule. I also want to inspire her to be creative with her play so none of her toys light up, use batteries, or play fake music. We are a mostly wooden toys and handmade dolls family.

Some of Hermione’s favorite toys are actually ones we have made her ourselves like her Wonder Jars. She also loves her shredded coconut sandbox and her homemade “sled”! The sandbox is just an empty Honest Company Box filled with shredded coconut I had left over from making granola last year.

Her sled is another box lined with soft blankets that I tied a twine pull cord onto. Before bedtime she sits in it with her stories, and favorite doll “Beverly”, and I pull her around the house while I get her bath and nursery ready for bed. It sounds silly but she loves it!
When Hermione is playing with store bought toys they mostly come from Norman and Jules Toyshop in Brooklyn. This amazing store has the most well curated collection of treasure and goodies I have ever seen. Each doll, block, instrument and book is unique, gorgeous and completely up to my non toxic, made with love standards. Many of Hermione’s friends including her BFF Beverly the SnugglyUgly Monster  came from Norman and Jules.

Married couple Courtney and Avi were kind enough to answer a few questions for me all about their shop. I hope you enjoy!

If you have little ones on your holiday list head over to Norman and Jules’ recently launched website to pick them up a friend of their own. This Tutu Rag Doll would be great for a little girl, or these gorgeous blocks, or this awesome rainstick. Happy shopping!

Tell me the story behind Norman and Jules? What made you decide to open a toyshop in Park Slope?

Avi and I have both lived in Park Slope for over a decade. We each came to the neighborhood in our early 20′s, met here and now have a child here. We felt a void when we were looking for toys, decor and books for our daughter and felt that others must feel the same way! Since we shared the dream of being shop owners we decided to open the toy shop of our dreams in our own community. Norman and Jules is named after each of our Grandfather’s. 

What makes Norman and Jules so unique?

Our relentless need to find new things. Avi and I are both researchers. We love to find hidden treasures and things that will make others happy.

I love how sustainable, and handcrafted all of your gorgeous goodies are! What is your criteria when picking toys to stock your shelves?

We like to know that the materials are being harvested responsibly that the people that are employed by the companies are being employed fairly and that each toy evokes the imagination and creativity of young minds.

 Do you each have a favorite item you carry?

Courtney: Lieschen Müller hand-made dollAvi: Tegu Blocks 

Hermione has been nudging me to get to work on her first Hannukah and Christmas (we celebrate both in our house) What are your favorite gifts for a baby girl?

Jeanette Farrier one of a kind sari blanket. Snuggly Ugly Rag Doll, Grimm’s Grasping Beads, Glockenspiel,  and a mushroom night light.

Does your daughter Charley have any say in what you carry? Is being the kid of toy shop owners so much fun?

If we gave Charley a say in what we carry the whole store would be filled musical instruments, baby dolls and muffins!!! So not yet, but I’m sure as she gets older she will have her say. She definitely has some nice toys at home, but we are very mindful of not over indulging her, after all, she has a whole store to play in.

Lastly, if your family was going on a dream holiday vacation where would you go and what essentials would you bring with you?

The mention of a vacation sounds really nice!  

If it was a family holiday vacation. Nantucket. Essentials would be some comfy clothes, an iPad, and a few toys to keep Charley happy.

If it was a Courtney and Avi holiday a villa in Fiji. I would need nothing except the sound of the ocean and my sweet husbands company and some good books. Oh and maybe an iPad so we could check in on Charley.

In The Spotlight- Juice Lane

I can’t believe Labor Day is only a week away. This summer has completely flown by! Doug and I have had the most special few months in the Hamptons with our baby girl. Every day has been an adventure as we get to know her better and better. The tiny infant we moved out here with at the end of June has morphed into a full-fledged chubby baby who laughs, smiles and has quite the personality! As we were on a walk the other day I noted to Doug that these past two months are probably be the most time we would ever spend together as a family. Yes, once his incredibly generous paternity leaves ends we will still see each other every morning and night but we will likely never again have two straight months of family time. So, as our extended family summer vacation draws to a close we are doing our best to savor every minute with lots of walks, beach time, farm trips, and baby snuggles.

One of our favorite discoveries this summer has been Juice Lane. As bonafied green juice fanatics Doug and I are always eager to try a new juice spot. Juice Lane in Wainscott makes incredible pressed juices that we have enjoyed almost every day this summer. As regulars we have gotten to know the owners, twin brothers Ian and Justin a bit- such nice guys! They were nice enough to answer a few interview questions for me all about their juice!

Sadly, as of Labor Day Juice Lane will be closed for the season but I have my fingers seriously crossed they will be back next summer!

Tell me a little about how Juice Lane came to be. Why pressed juice?

My brother and I used to live in Los Angeles and we wanted to open up a juice bar the in Brentwood but I ended up moving to London and by the time we were both back in LA, Pressed Juicery had opened. We have both been avid juicers for many years and were excited to bring the benefits of organic, cold pressed juice to the Hamptons.

What led you to open your first location in the Hamptons?

We have been coming to the Hamptons since we were 3 years old. Our grandparents discovered Sag Harbor over 40 years ago so we would always spend our summers and holidays at their home. The light bulb went off when we kept coming out each summer and were not able to access our favorite healthy juices in a high quality and consistent way so we decided to launch it ourselves. We wanted to launch a high-end consumer brand and what better place to launch it than the Hamptons?!

How do you come up with the delicious blends for each juice?

We were like little scientists for months trying to come up with the correct balance of ratios and formulations- we tried our best to make our green juices drinkable. We believe we have great palettes for juice and that our product is the cleanest on the market so you can taste the difference.

What makes your juice different from others available?

We partnered with our acupuncturist and holistic practitioner in Los Angeles, Dr Michelle Kung, so w based our juice formulations on eastern medicine – this definitely sets us apart from others. Along with the fact that we do not use fillers, water, agave, and sea salt as a preservatives – just pure juice!

Do you have a favorite juice? Mine is the Farms 1 (yum)!

Justin’s favorite drink is called Circulation, it consists of apple, lemon, and ginger. I really like the zing of the ginger and it is a powerful super food antioxidant that combats inflammation, aids digestion, and improves both blood circulation (hence the name) and liver function.
Ian’s favorite drink is Skin Glow. I finally found a way to enjoy an all greens drink without feeling like a glutton for punishment. I enjoy knowing that my body is getting an overwhelming supply of vital nutrients to reduce inflammation and help alkalize the body. The addition of apple makes it a little sweeter and the cilantro acts as a detoxifier.

Juice Lane also carries a well curated variety of healthy snacks and treats. How do you choose what non-juice items you will stock?

Everything we sell in the store are products that we love and have been using or eating for a while.

Do you have plans to open other Juice Lane locations in the future?

Yes, we definitely plan on opening up other Juice Lane locations in the Fall. We are currently assessing our options so stayed tuned! To join our mailing list please send us your email to news@juicelane.com

Besides Juice Lane what are your five other healthy Hamptons must visit spots?

  1. Flywheel
  2. The beach to run and get grounded
  3. SLT
  4. Yoga Shanti and Kama Deva
  5. Provisions for their healthy and delicious food
In The Spotlight- Jessica Karp of Hu Kitchen

I am always on the hunt for new restaurants, juice bars, markets, and takeout spots that fit into my clean, green, plant based eating philosophy. One of the joys of living in NYC is just when I think I know my city inside and out, I discover someplace new! Sometimes the new discovery turns into a minor obsession, as was the case when I was first introduced to Hu Kitchen. Hu Kitchen is a dream to me. From delicious pressed juices, to smoothies, to amazing prepared food, to the crave worthy mashbar™ I never tire of options when I visit. My most recent fixation has been the Rustic Root Vegetable Mash topped with Magic Mushroom Mix, hot sauce and cilantro. Go to Hu, try it and thank me later!

Being the Hu fan (fanatic?) I am, I was thrilled when owner and co-founder Jessica Karp agreed to answer a few questions for me about how she and her brother Jordan came to create Hu Kitchen, what their slogan means, and so much more. I hope you enjoy this latest “In the Spotlight” interview with Jessica!

Jessica Karp

Jordan Brown

1. How did the idea for Hu Kitchen come about? Do either of you come from a food or restaurant background?

It started with my brother, Jordan. He was a real estate developer for 8 years until he was inspired by Dr. Mark Hyman’s UltraMind Solution. He randomly picked up the book in the Las Vegas airport after a rough weekend. The book set him off on a “wow, what am I eating?” journey that resulted in his reading everything under the sun and trying every dietary theory out on himself. He questioned the conventional dietary wisdom and became a bloodhound for all of the tricky semantics used in the food industry that allow unhealthy foods to masquerade as healthy foods. I started to come around to his way of thinking after I had my daughter and started her transition to solid foods. I was ready to make a change, and he told me to read In Defense Of Food by Michael Pollan. I was immediately on board at that point and saw real changes in my body and mind. We decided to pull the trigger on a “no-BS,” more primal food concept that came to be Hu Kitchen. We had no real food industry experience, but we sought help from industry experts and immersed ourselves in the food and wellness worlds. We think that being outsiders at the beginning was an asset in an industry that gets by by putting cheap, refined foods into the customer’s body. If you look at the state of our society’s collective health, that methodology is not sustainable, and people are revolting against it. Our goal is to provide product and a place for that revolution.

2. What does the name Hu Kitchen and your slogan “get back to human” mean?

Get Back to Human is really about three things: First, it’s about getting back to eating simple, real, minimally-processed foods with ingredients that our bodies evolved to recognize as food. Second, it’s about getting back to a pre-neurotic relationship with our food and with eating in general. There is so much conflicting information out there these days about what to eat and what’s good for you; it can be overwhelming and confusing. We thought it was time to simplify. The easiest way to simplify is to go back to eating real, minimally-processed foods. The words “healthy” and “natural” have been hijacked, and it is time to take them back. Lastly, to address the Kitchen part, we wanted to create an environment that was welcoming and homey for New Yorkers, a kitchen away from home and the office where they could come and eat together, where they could check their scrutiny at the door and allow us to curate a delicious meal for them made with the highest-quality ingredients.

3. Hu Kitchen serves a very specific (and incredibly delicious) menu of food, juices and smoothies. Can you tell me a little about how you designed the menu and what standards a dish must meet in order to be served at Hu?

We designed our menu with the intention of offering something for everyone – regardless of their chosen food paradigm – with the one common theme being the highest possible quality ingredients with no “fake” or “weird” ingredients that our bodies will reject. We wanted to offer something for the vegan, the Paleo eater, the carnivore, the gluten-intolerant, the person just seeking good, clean food. Regardless of how you eat, we want Hu to be a place where everyone (all humans) can meet and eat together. All of these different food choices are having a balkanizing effect on communities. We wanted to unite all eaters under the banner of quality and awareness.

Because of that stance on quality, the standards a dish must meet in order to be served at Hu are quite high. Aside from the dishes themselves having to be delicious, creative and exciting, we are excruciatingly stringent about the ingredients we use. We have an in-house guide we have created that outlines every specific criterion for every ingredient we use. As an example, when it comes to sweeteners, we only ever use unrefined organic coconut sugar, raw unfiltered honey and maple syrup in everything we make at Hu. For all the meat that we serve, we are very strict about making sure that that animal ate the way it was supposed to eat: no GMOS, grass-fed, grass-finished for cows, wild fish, etc. You get the idea.

4. By far my favorite part of Hu Kitchen is the mashbar ™. Genius idea! Can you tell me a little more about the mashbar™ and how it came to be?

That was all Jordan! He needed a snack solution because he refused to eat frozen yogurt or “health bars.” He would go to Whole Foods and simply grab ingredients for a snack – almond butter, berries, cacao nibs, chia seeds, coconut shreds, honey, etc. He would just throw it all together, mix it up, and that was that. Pretty humble beginnings for such a runaway success!

5. I know it’s hard to play favorites but do you have a favorite item on the Hu Kitchen menu?

It has to be the House-Cured Bacon, Organic Egg and Kale Sandwich on our Grain-Free Hu Bread. No, wait, the Dairy-Free Cauliflower Puree. Actually, maybe the Organic Baked Grain-Free Chicken Tenders. No, it’s our Almond Butter + Puffed Quinoa Chocolate Bar. Having a hard time with this one – can we move on?

6. Any future plans you can share for Hu Kitchen?

Right now, we are just focusing on getting Hu Kitchen to be the experience we want it to be. We are also about to start selling our chocolate bars and kale chips online and in other retail venues. From there, we will see. Our mission is to change the way humans think about and eat food, so we obviously have big plans to expand as much as we can to achieve that goal. One step at a time, though. We want to make sure we get this one exactly right first.

7. Lastly, if you were going on a dream winter vacation where would you go and what five essentials would you bring with you?

Right now, I’m very into a Montana winter escape. Dog-sledding, winter sports, cozy cabin vibe with lots of time spent reading by the fire. Five Almond Butter + Puffed Quinoa Chocolate Bars – no question.

In The Spotlight- Eco Chick Starre Vartan

Unlike Starre Vartan, the subject of today’s In the Spotlight interview I was not raised in a very eco-friendly household. To be fair I grew up in Manhattan in the 80′s; consumption and consumerism were all the rage. Growing up we went through paper towels and bottled water like they were going out of style (actually they were!) We used tons of plastic and cleaned our house with incredibly toxic chemicals. We never thought about where our food came from or concerned ourselves with eating in season. Pineapple in NYC in February? Great!

As an adult I am constantly trying to make my daily life more green and eco friendly and have certainly come a long, long way in recent years. I no longer use paper towels. All my my cleaning and personal care products are eco-friendly and non-toxic. I don’t drink water that comes from a plastic bottle. I eat a plant based diet that is as local and seasonal as possible. While I have a ways to go, I do my part everyday to make sure my daughter will have a planet to live on.

Starre Vartan, the founder and editor-in-chief of Eco Chick and its sister site, Eco Chick Escapes is a wonderful role model when it comes to green and eco-friendly living. She’s an oft-quoted green living expert  and the author of the The Eco Chick Guide to Life: How to Be Fabulously Green a wonderful read on how to be chic, fabulous AND green!

Starre was kind enough to answer some of my questions about being an Eco Chick and what we can each to do be more green (and more fabulous) every day!

What lead you to be an Eco Chick?

I don’t think I ever became an Eco-Chick, I was born one—or at least I was raised as one. I started my life in Australia playing in the ocean with my father, who is an avid surfer; being in the ocean and exploring the rock pools along the Sydney coast is one of my first memories. I came to be raised New York’s Hudson Valley by my grandmother, and had unlimited woods, wetlands and lakes to play in—mine was a very unstructured childhood spent mostly outdoors when I wasn’t in school (and even my elementary and middle school had a ‘school forest’ which I now know is a pretty unique thing for a public school in a tiny town!) The animals, plants and mushrooms were my friends and we had lots of dogs and cats, and I loved learning about all of them; I was an avid young scientist. My grandmother had a huge garden and fruit trees on our property, and just down the road, a small farm gave us beef; our neighbors always gave us their extra eggs. And my grandma had lived through the depression, so there was very little waste in our household. So living a healthy, sustainable, and environment-conscious life was just how I was raised.

What does being green mean to you? What defines an Eco Chick?

Being green fundamentally means understanding that the connection between personal health and environmental health is tied together inextricably. An Eco-Chick is a person who works, in whatever ways are in their power, to reduce their impact, keep informed, and stand up for human, animal and planetary health.

What is your favorite part about what you do?

I love being able to meet all the other people who are as crazy-passionate as I am! Seriously, it gives me such a tremendous lift when I see someone take whatever it is they care about, whether that be fashion design, educating kids (or adults), cooking, computer programming, furniture design, music, or marketing, and start using it for the good of our stressed and disintegrating (but resilient) environment.

What are three green things you do every single day?

I’ve been vegetarian for almost 20 years (the anniversary comes in a month!), which I think is probably the thing that has most significantly reduced my carbon footprint, my pollution impact, and has directly combated animal suffering. The stats are undeniable; animal consumption contributes more global warming gases to the environment than all the transportation in the world, and all that animal excrement pollutes entire ecosytems, like the already-stressed Gulf of Mexico.

I ride the train or public transportation almost every day, and try to do so wherever I travel. And I wash myself and keep my home clean with all-natural products (some of which I make myself to save money); I learned early on living in a house that was perched on a rock ledge above a wetland that you should never, ever put anything down a drain that you wouldn’t want to drink later.

Do you have any dirty, not so green habits?

My worst is definitely flying; traveling is in my DNA (both sides of my family are quite peripatetic) and it is the thing that makes me happiest in the entire world. I’m glad that newer jets are much more fuel efficient, but it’s still a massive carbon dump every time one hops on a plane.

For a lot of people the process of “going green” can be daunting and overwhelming. What advice would you give to someone wanting to begin to make their life more green?

Start with what you love; if that’s your kids, start feeding them healthier foods, teaching them about where that food comes from (you will learn some fun stuff yourself!) and how much gets wasted. Similarly, if you are a cook, start researching where your ingredients come from and what’s in them. If you work in marketing or law, look into pro-bono cases you might get involved with; if you are a writer or artist, think about the parts of the natural world you most strongly connect with and use them as a springboard to communicate what might be challenging them.

Are their any green products or companies out there that you love right now?

I’m loving Tradeya which is a platform for trading services or talents for other services and even stuff; it’s basically bartering brought into the new millennium. I like it because it keeps money out of corporate hands and gets people to think of what they have to offer that’s not necessarily always valued by credit card companies, banks, and financial organizations. For similar reasons, I love Airbnb!

You are a big traveler. What are some of your favorite destinations to go to get away?

Costa Rica is a top favorite, and every time I go back, I’m more and more impressed with their initiatives; the country eschewed having an army and started educating its citizens in environmental conservation decades ago, and now it’s paying off – it’s also a beautiful place, and the food is terrific.

I spent two months living off-grid on The Big Island of Hawaii, and it has become one of my favorite places in the world; I’m actually figuring out how to move there (and yes, live off-grid)! It’s definitely one of my spiritual homes in the world. Conversely to all of that, I love London and the English countryside around Bath; the English sensibility strikes a chord with me as a writer, and there is something about the natural areas there that keep calling me back. And whenever I get a chance to go to Italy, I take it; I just eat, and eat and eat! I also just went to the mountains outside Mexico City and I was completely floored; Mexico is incredible! I can’t wait to go back, hopefully for several months. I love eating there too!

If you were going on a holiday vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go and what five essentials would you pack?

I think Chile is my next destination; I recently edited a story in Coco Eco about Valparaiso, Chile and it sounds fantastic, filled with history, culture, lots of local artists and dramatic scenery and hiking. I would take my trusty black & white striped scarf that goes everywhere with me, my camera (I’ve gotten into photography in the last couple of years, and I think I’m getting better! I love taking portraits of local people), my water bottle – I drink water from the tap pretty much everywhere, my journal, for notes and sketches, and my laptop, which enables me to work anywhere in the world (I’m so grateful for that)!
In The Spotlight- Elena Brower and Alexandra Lyon Perelman of GIVESCENT

I am very picky when it comes to personal scents. I prefer simple scented oils over expensive, toxic perfumes. In fact, I rarely wear a scent at all as I find most of them overpowering and artificial smelling.

When I recently discovered GIVESCENT I was blown away at how quickly I became enamored of this irresistible, delicious scent made from pure oils. I have not been able to stop wearing it (and smelling myself)!

Created by yoga guru Elena Brower in collaboration with Alexandra Lyon Perelmon GIVESCENT combines notes of citrus, vanilla and almond into a hard to resist concoction. Free of alcohol, formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates and sulfates I feel safe dabbing it onto my skin every day. My favorite part about GIVESCENT is that a portion of the proceeds from each bottle are donated to Women for Women International. Nothing feels better than knowing you are giving back while pampering yourself.

Knowing how much I love GIVESCENT, Elena and Alexandra were kind enough to answer a few questions for me for this most recent installment of my “In The Spotlight” series. Enjoy!

What lead you to create GIVESCENT ?

Elena:

I’d been mixing my own oil blends for years. We wanted to create sensual, grounding oil blends that everyone would love. Our first was inspired by my time spent teaching during the first sultry summer days on the island of Sicily. Alexandra smelled my Italian-inspired creation and loved the citrus sexiness of it. This blend became GIVESCENT Signature. She committed to making this happen and it was a privilege to watch her build this project.

Alexandra:

I’d always noticed how amazing Elena smelled as she taught her yoga classes. While pregnant with my second son, I begged her to make me a bottle of her sweet almond oil blend that she often wore during class. I wanted a scent that was captivating AND clean – a cleaner alternative to the perfume I’d worn in the past, one free of alcohol and other toxic chemicals. Soon after she gave me my first bottle, I started mixing the blend myself. Everywhere I wore the scent, people would stop to ask me what I was wearing. I soon realized we should bottle the scent and share it with others.

What makes GIVESCENT your ideal/ signature scent?

Alexandra:

Our irresistible signature scent reminds me of my favorite place: Italy, and helps us GIVE to others.

Elena:

This was my first distinct blend that I actually recorded and was able to replicate, and everyone who smells it finds it – in Alexandra’s words – captivating.

Scents can really transport us. When you put on GIVESCENT where are you transported to?

Elena:

When I teach in Sicily, I stay at the Becchina estate in Castelvetrano, where Olio Verde is produced, amongst other treats. For me, GIVESCENT is reminiscent of the smell of the orchards, where you can find lemon trees, green grass, fig trees and of course, olive trees. A magical part of the world. I’m hoping to go back in July 2013.

Alexandra:

Some of my favorite memories are from summers spent on the Italian coast. I specifically recall the fragrant scent of Sardegna: a mix of the warm, rich earth, the salty Mediterranean, and sweet, sun-ripened fruit.

How did you decide to partner with Women for Women International on GIVESCENT?

Alexandra:

When Elena and I decided to share the beauty of GIVESCENT, it was important to us that others benefit from the project as well. Both of us are mothers, teachers and activists; for us, giving to WFW seemed like the perfect mission. We are honored to contribute to such a meaningful cause, and help women survivors of war rebuild their lives. As GIVESCENT evolves, we look forward to sharing our proceeds with other charities that support women worldwide.

Elena, is there a connection for you between your work as a yoga teacher and GIVESCENT?

Through my work as a teacher, I meet many innovators and creatives, so I’ve been educated about toxicity in our cosmetic products by Joshua Onysko, founder of Pangea Organics, and a dear friend.  He taught me to be more selective about the ingredients in the products I put on my skin. With GIVESCENT, we aimed to create something cleaner than other fragrances and to keep toxicity out of our bodies. I also want to wear something delicious as I share space with hundreds of people each week.

Do you have additional scents or products in the works?

We have GIVESCENT orange in the works-a warm, sensuous blend of neroli, bergamot, cedarwood and jasmine absolut. This blend will benefit Christy Tulrington’s organization, Every Mother Counts, a wonderful charity that raises awareness for global maternal health. GIVESCENT orange will be released this spring in time for Mother’s Day.

Finally, if you could go on a fantasy holiday vacation where would you go and what five essentials would you pack?

Elena:

I would go directly to the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur to practice yoga and hike every single day. I’d take my boyfriend, a bunch of Nadia Narain’s candles, body oils from Pangea and redflower, a great book, and my favorite crystals.

Alexandra:

I would go right back to Italy with my husband Jonathan and take long long walks, and spend as much time in the water as possible. This is where we have spent some very meaningful moments together. I would take:

A stack of books (Edith Wharton & Zora Neale Hurston are my favorite authors)

Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essence

Raw Chocolate bars from FINE AND RAW

My vintage Pucci caftan;)

And of course, GIVESCENT signature

In The Spotlight- Cari Smulyan of Bubby’s Vintage

Some people just have great style. Every time you see them they look perfectly put together and perfectly effortless at the same time. Cari Smulyan is one of those people. Cari has an amazing eye for style and design. Looking for the perfect every day dress? Just ask Cari. She will email you ten options that are not only perfect, but perfect for you. On top of being a great stylist Cari also has an incredible vintage jewelry line, Bubby’s Vintage. Whenever she is in NYC I selfishly host a trunk show for her so I can snap up some new goodies for myself.

Cari’s styling tips have helped make my life much eaiser. Ever since working with her getting dressed is a much easier event for me. Thanks to Cari I have tons of photos on my phone and computer of go to outfits that I love and look great on me!

A little while ago Cari was kind enough to share her tips for staying stylish during the work week. Today I am putting her In The Spotlight as she answers all of my questions about style, her creative process with Bubby’s Vintage, and her dream vacation. Enjoy!

1. How did you start Bubby’s Vintage? Why vintage jewelry?

A couple of years ago I was having brunch with a friend on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and while we were waiting for our table we stumbled upon Green Flea, a flea market that happens every Sunday at 77th and Columbus Ave. The next Sunday I went back and found such amazing stuff. I was in heaven. When I showed my family and friends some of the amazing treasures I found and they asked if I would shop for them for the holidays. I decided to start a small website to direct family and friends to where they could buy cool and unique things I found. Within a few months what started out as a hobby had grown so much I had to start an ecommerce website. I quickly got bored just finding things. I started seeing how I could recreate the amazing things I found into modern fashion forward pieces while keep the beauty of it’s history.

Ever since I was little I have always been a lover of all things vintage. I find the journey of vintage jewelry amazing and love thinking about all the people whose life it has passed through. Also, contemporary costume (and most fine jewelry for that matter) can’t hold a candle to the craftsmanship of both fine and costume vintage jewelry, especially pieces before the1940’s.

2. Tell me a little bit about your process in creating a unique piece for Bubby’s.

 This is a tough one because it is like asking a painter how they start a painting, I don’t know the exact process, it just sort of happens. I spend a lot of my time at estate sales, and flea markets. I hunt through piles and cases of jewelry to find pieces that speak to me. I know I have found a piece I have to have when I look at it and I am flooded with ideas on how I am going to turn it into a new piece. There are also times when I will go to my markets with a specific mission in mind. For example, I want to make a bunch of long Art Deco dress clip necklaces so I look for that specific item. I also get a lot of inspiration from what I see people wearing on the street and what the latest fashion trends are. From that I start developing pieces that I think would accompany that fashion.

 3. You are also a stylist. What is your process of working with clients like? What do you hope to help your clients achieve through working with you?

 It all depends on the client, but usually I will ask a new client to fill out a questionnaire so I can get a feel for their current style, what they are looking for from me, and what they are hoping to achieve from our time together. I ask all of my clients to send me pictures of styles they love and want to incorporate into their wardrobe. In our first meeting I go through their closet and style the look they are trying to achieve from clothes they already own. I also create a list of items they are missing so the next time they go shopping they know what to look for. After we are finished I give them a list of examples where they can find the pieces they are missing at a price point they are comfortable with and pictures of what I have in mind for them. The reason I first style my clients from their own closet is because I believe that 90% of women and men buy things in the style they want to have or like, they just don’t know how to put it together. That’s where I come in.

4. What are the wardrobe essentials every woman should own?

  1.  A pair of jeans that fits them beautifully and that they feel confident wearing.
  2. Little Black Dress
  3. Classic white button down shirt
  4. One black, one cream, one tan and one navy crew neck sweater
  5. Classic black blazer
  6.  A white t-shirt
  7. One pair of black heals and one pair of nude heals they love and can walk in.
  8. Tall boots
  9.  A statement necklace
  10.  A simple and classic belt and a simple and classic brown belt.

 5. What are your go to stores for clothing, both high and low. 

 Target

Forever 21

The Gap

Urban Outfitters

Saks Fifth Avenue

Intermix

Planet Blue

Bloomingdales

Piperlime

 6. When going through your closet what is the best method for deciding what to keep and what should go?

 I have three areas in my closet; trend clothes, classic forever pieces or as I call them “my archive pieces”, and current basics. I think this is how everyone should look at his or her closet. There is the theory that if you haven’t worn something in six months or one year then you should toss it. That isn’t true for all clothes.

 With your trend clothes (things that are currently hot and what everyone seems to be wearing) if you haven’t worn it in a year it needs to be tossed.

 The same goes for your current basics. If you haven’t worn them in one year they need to be tossed. Also with current basics if you think you need a new version of the same thing then trust your gut, you probably do. Put it on your to do list.

 With your classic forever pieces or “my archive pieces” hold on to them because they really never go out of style. While it may be two years before you wear them again they are still pieces that should be held onto.

 Finally if you are on the fence about something put it in a bag in the back of your closet. If you go back and get it out to wear in the next few months then keep it. If you go back to that bag six months later and nothing has been touched in it you are ready to toss those things.

 7. Are there any trends or looks you are loving right now?

 I love all the leather I am seeing. Nothing makes me feel sexier then a pair of great black leather pants. I love that you can find them in both real and vegan leather and at all price points. Leather is great because you can dress it up or down. It looks great with a jean shirt or with a sequin top or jacket. Speaking of jackets I still love the waterfall collar trend. It looks great on everyone and is so sexy.

 I also love all the color and bold prints we are seeing in pants.

 8. Lastly, if you could go on a weekend getaway anywhere where would you go and what essentials would be in your suitcase?

 Yikes, this is a tough one. There are so many places I want to go. I guess since winter is coming I would love to go to Jackson Hole Wyoming to go snowboarding for the weekend. My suitcase would have the following.

Leather leggings

Free People Aztec sweater jacket

Long sleeve silk blouse

Jeans

Crew neck sweater

Faux fur vest

Super cozy cowl neck pullover sweater

Tall Frye boots

American Apparel white v-neck t-shirt

Pashmina

In The Spotlight- Rachel Winard of Soapwalla Kitchen

When I find a product I love I immediately want to share the discovery with everyone I know. Such was the case when I discovered Soapwalla Deodorant Cream. As I have previously exclaimed here this stuff is truly amazing. I have tried many, many natural deodorants and NOTHING can stand up to a hot NYC day or a Soul-Cycle double like Soapwalla. 

I was so excited when Rachel Winard, the genius behind the Soapwalla line agreed to answer a few questions for my “In the Spotlight” series. To learn all about what lead her to create some of the best clean products around and what is next for Soapwalla check out her answers below!

What lead you to create Soapwalla?

I started experimenting in the kitchen about 10 years ago when I was going through the meandering process of being diagnosed with systemic lupus, an inflammatory chronic autoimmune illness that manifests in a number of ways but often includes very sensitive skin. My skin was so irritated and it seemed that everything on the market (I tried pretty much every ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ product I could get my hands on) made my skin feel worse, not better. Out of sheer desperation, I started experimenting with foodgrade items to see if I could create a skincare regimen that would work for my particular needs. My first products were my restorative face serum and lavender french clay soap, as those were the products I desperately needed to calm my skin down. My line grew with me — whatever product I needed, I created. I perfected the line over 7+ years and premiered it November 2009.

Why is using a natural/clean deodorant so important? What’s wrong with the conventional brands I was using in the 8th grade?

My philosophy is: if I wouldn’t put something in my body, I probably shouldn’t be putting it on my body. Conventional products, including deodorant and antiperspirant, are filled with chemicals, preservatives and fillers, many of which have never been tested so we’re not sure of the longterm effects on the body. Of the small percentage of chemicals that have been tested (only 11% of the approximately 10,500 ingredients used in personal care products), the overwhelming number of those — 76% or 884 — have been listed by the US National Institute of Occupational Safety as toxic.  Buying natural, ethically created products is an easy way to limit our exposure to harmful chemicals. And with the wealth of gorgeous high-end natural skincare companies on the market today (Tata Harper, Rahua, Pai, just to name a few), you won’t miss your old stuff one bit!

What makes Soapwalla different from all of the other natural brands out there? Why is it so effective and amazing?

There are so many amazing businesses doing what I’m doing that I feel blessed to be in their company. When I set out to make a product, I go into full-on research mode. I’ll spend months (and months, and months) perfecting a recipe until I get it just right. I won’t rush the process just to get a product to market, and I won’t settle for second-best ingredients. Since I personally formulate every product, I rely heavily on feedback from friends and family. I believe that this hands-on approach, coupled with my diligent ingredient sourcing, allows me to create products that are among the best on the market.

Why is Soapwalla a creamy texture that you apply with your fingers? Is there a benefit to this method over the roll on?

I tried other application methods but ultimately nixed the for a few reasons: I like the minimalist packaging — I think it’s a nicer design and is much lighter on plastic usage; the user has much more control over how much and where they’d like to apply the deodorant. It means you don’t get random white streaks on your clothing, and you can cover the entire armpit, making the product that much more effective; there’s no need for unnecessary waxes or hardeners!

Have you always been into natural health and beauty products? If not, what drew you to them?

I wasn’t! Before my diagnosis, I was a typical consumer – I figured if products were on the shelf, they were safe and I didn’t need to worry about them.

Besides your deodorant tell me a little bit about the other products you make. Do you have a “favorite child”?

My deodorant cream is the most popular, followed by the moisturizing body oil and restorative face serum. However, the new Lip Locked are quickly gaining a following, which makes me SO happy. I spent about 18 months on the recipes (tweaking about 2,500 times) before I was absolutely satisfied that I had a great vegan lip balm. I’m really happy to hear positive feedback from customers about ‘em, because I love them, and I’m crazy particular about my lip balms — they must have staying power without coating or making my lips feel waxy, and they must stay put (I hate when lip products migrate into my mouth. Who wants to eat lip balm?). And they must be vegan. Virtually every high-end lip product on the market has beeswax or honey, and I was adamant about using a foodgrade wax that would provide coverage.

For me personally, I cannot LIVE without my restorative face serum.  It’s the only thing that calms down my skin and keeps my lupus butterfly rash under control.

What’s next for Soapwalla? Any exciting new plans or products your can share with us?

Ooh, yes! I have some fantastic products in the works! This fall, I will be premiering a line of facial care specifically designed for those with acneic and oily skin. This includes a facial cleanser, toner, and spot treatment. I’m so excited about this trio – it’s been months in the works. I’ll also be releasing a line of healing balms that can be used on babies and adults alike.

Are you a fan of any other natural beauty products besides your own? If so what are your “desert island top five?”

Oh yes!  I purchase from Spirit Beauty Lounge all the time. My current favorites: Tata Harper’s Resurfacing Mask and Rahua’s Voluminous Shampoo - it’s the only shampoo I’ve found that doesn’t exacerbate the blisters I often have on my scalp as a result of the lupus.  Alongside those, I’d have to bring my face serum and deodorant and a huge vat of coconut oil with me to that desert island!

Finally, if you were to go on your dream summer vacation where would you go and what essential/can’t live without them items would you bring?

My dream ANYTIME vacation is Costa Rica. I would move there in a heartbeat :-) I’m ready to go now!  I’d have to bring my partner, violin, yoga mat, hammock and kitties. I’d be set for life!

What girl doesn’t love a good bag? I know I do! Clutches, totes, satchels, I am an equal opportunity bag lover (bag obsessor). However, there is one particular bag that holds a very special place in my heart. Baggu. In a gorgeous array of colors and patterns these eco-friendly, reusable bags are not just for the grocery store. I have used mine as a shopping bag, beach bag, tote, place for my wet spin clothes etc. etc. I keep a Baggu in every one of my purses so no matter where I am I always have one at the ready. I long ago gave up taking disposable shopping bags from stores, and thanks to Baggu I am always carrying my purchases in style.

Being a huge Baggu fan I was thrilled when co-founder Ellen Van Der Laan agreed to answer a few questions for my “In the Spotlight” series. Check out her answers below!

Ellen Van Der Laan and Emily Sugihara

 

1. Tell me a little bit about Baggu bags. What lead you to create them?

My childhood best friend, Emily Sugihara, and her mom, Joan Sugihara, were looking for a well designed, cool, but still affordable reusable shopping bag but couldn’t find one. Emily had an econ and fashion degree, and her mom is also really gifted in design and happens to be an amazing seamstress. Together they decided to start the business. I was working in fashion advertising in New York as a designer, and I did the branding at nights after work with Emily at her apartment. It just grew from there!

2. How did you come up with the unique “bag in a bag” design for Baggu?

Emily and her mom wanted to use up the fabric that was left over from cutting the handles of the bag, when the pattern was cut out. They designed the square pouch from that material, and made the bag almost entirely waste-less.

Baggu's Summer Shop in Brooklyn

3. Why is it important to carry your own bags when going shopping?

Well, of course there’s the obvious – not creating waste by using disposable plastic or paper bags. But I also think just being conscious of not creating that waste makes me more conscious of using a reusable option whenever possible. As an added bonus, you feel really cool carrying a good looking bag. We knew that was really important to us – to make the bags still feel stylish. Because ultimately that’s the real reason people are going to use them.

4. Baggus come in so many fun colors and patterns, what is your inspiration for each bag?

Inspiration comes from a lot of different places, but usually we have a theme in mind. It could be a time period, artist, or region that drives our choice of color and prints. Our last wave of releases was really influenced by the graphics and apparel from 1980s surf culture. We did a lot of polka dots, teals, peaches and yellows.

5. Do you have a favorite Baggu?

Yes. It’s the standard Baggu, in the constellation print we collaborated on for the No.6 Store. I just love it.

6. What do you use your Baggu for?

Everything – not just carrying home shopping purchases, although I use them everyday for that. I’ve used the Baggu in my purse to sit on grass – my Dad has even used one as a sun hat at my sisters graduation. I use my Big Baggus for laundry and going to the beach. Baby Baggus for carrying lunch to work. All sizes make great gift wrapping, and the gift of the bag is an added bonus.

7. Besides Baggu, do you have other favorite green items or products you love to use?

There’s a soap company called Common Good  – it’s great. They make hand soap, dish soap and laundry detergent. All plant based, not synthetic. You buy reusable containers, and then you can refill your bottle at the refilling stations they have around the city.  The refills are super cheap – maybe $2.50 for a bottle of great smelling soap products. The best part is it actually lathers and works. I wish this idea of refilling stations would become more mainstream – there are so many products that wouldn’t have to be packaged in disposable containers if you could easily refill at grocery stores or drug stores.

8. What are your goals for Baggu’s future? Any big and exciting plans you can share with us?

We’re looking into expanding our retail presence…

9. Finally, if you could go on your dream summer vacation where would you go and what essential/can’t live without them items would you pack?

I grew up in coastal southern California, so when we traveled we never did the whole island/beach thing. So I’ve never been to Hawaii and right now that’s my dream vacation.

I’d definitely pack my luggage with Baggu zipper bags – they make packing and unpacking so much easier since everything stays organized. Have to have sunscreen – I just started using Viva Sana sunscreen since it’s non-toxic. My Kindle – I’m totally addicted to it, especially while I’m traveling. Lip Balm – I’m very into this Vapour one right now. I’d bring this Tata Harper hydrating spray I just got – I think I could spend hours lying on the beach spraying my face with that stuff – it smells so good! And then sunglasses and my iPod.

Welcome to my “In the Spotlight” interview series. There are so many people who I admire in the world of food, health, fitness, and beauty. To introduce them to you I decided to start an interview series with some of my favorite people who help make the world more clean, pure and simple. Who better to kick it off than the wonderful Spirit Demerson, founder of Spirit Beauty Lounge? Spirit is my go to for all things green beauty. Her site is always stocked with the best and latest makeup, skincare, fragrances and more. I know I can shop with confidence as Spirit has personally vetted all of the products she sells to make sure they meet her high standards of green beauty that is both good for you, and the environment. Without Spirit my life would be quite a bit less glam!

How did you first get involved in the world of green beauty and what led you to open Spirit Beauty Lounge?

I spent my whole life trying to reconcile my love of luxury beauty products with my commitment to a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.  I longed for a place to shop where all of the products were as clean & green as they were effective & beautiful and that place didn’t exist so I created it!

Why is it so important to make sure our makeup and personal care products are clean?

Just like what we eat,  what we  put on our  skin goes directly into the bloodstream (think nicotine patch), except unlike what we eat, it doesn’t get filtered by the liver. We should consider everything we use topically as carefully as we do our food with regard for our health and the planet.

For someone who is new to green beauty and may find it a bit overwhelming to change ALL of their products where would you suggest they start?

-We designed a Spirit Beauty Lounge Eco-Beauty Essentials Green Makeover Boxto meet the needs of “girls gone green” in a fun starter box!

-Think about the types of products that sit on your skin, that you apply every day, like deodorant,  lotions and moisturizers first. Because they aren’t rinsed off, they are more likely to penetrate the skin and accumulate in your system. It’s ok if you work your way down to something like mascara last.

-If you’re using prescription skin care and have decided to go off of it, give your system at least a full cycle (28 days) to detox before starting up a natural line.

-If you’re (like most human beings) too busy to memorize an encyclopedia of ingredients to avoid, find a trusted source to buy from who is committed to purity.

-If you buy natural beauty products at Whole Foods, make sure they’re marked with the “Premium Body Care” standard – everything else is questionable.

What are the main offenders one should look out for when shopping for makeup and beauty items?

Some of the yuckiest  ingredients I still see being used in a lot of beauty products are:
-Eythyl, Methyl, Propyl & Butyl Parabens
-Phenoxyethenol
-Propylene glycol
-Synthetic fragrance
-PEGs (Polyethylene Glycol)*
-Petroleum or petrolatum
-DEA (Diethanolamine)
-TEA (Triethanolamine)
-Methylchloroisothiazolinone &
-Methylisothiazolinone

 

What are your current favorite items available at Spirit Beauty Lounge?

Our site is truly a collection of my personal favorite beauty products in the world – For my daily routine, I’m a Tata Harper devotee and for body, I swear by Vered Organic Botanicals
Signature Scent Body Oil 
 I think every woman should consider switching to Soapwalla Kitchen Deodorant Cream  it’s pure and it works!

Do you follow makeup trends? If so what is one look you are loving right now?

Absolutely – the best thing that’s happened this season is the Return of Lipstick! Nail Polish was the “new lipstick” for so long but bold, bright lips are back and I love it!  Dewy skin is another look I love.  I think gorgeous glowing skin is a backlash to the near theatrical make up look of reality show starlets last year.

Finally, if you could go on any fantasy summer vacation this year where would it be to and what five essential items would you pack?

I love the Cote D’Azur, Corsica & Provence…the food, the hotels, the yachts.  It’s not exactly ecotourism but being a natural girl doesn’t have to mean roughing it!  I do always like to pack light and leave plenty of room for shopping so I pare down my travel kit to my: