Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Greenjeans in Metropolis Magazine II

As I reported here on Feb. 11th, Greenjeans is featured in the March issue of Metropolis magazine, in Paul Makovsky's "Productsphere" piece about indie retail and curated shopping.

Click here to go to the online version. Scroll down until you see the handsome Shaker chairs!

We're on p. 109 in the print version.

And click here to read the original entry I posted on the 11th.

The popular blog Boing-Boing mentions this piece in a recent post, as well.

Thanks again, Metropolis!

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Report from BMAC & ACC Craft Fairs

We're back! Jae and I had a great time in Philadelphia and Baltimore at the big craft fairs this past week, but as always are glad to be back in Brooklyn. The fairs were great from our point of view, but many exhibitors were saying they thought attendance by buyers was down from previous years. Considering the sizeable amount of money and effort it takes artisans to participate in these fairs, we were sorry to hear that and hope by the end they were able to get enough orders. Nonetheless, we'll be back again next year and hope that everyone else will be too.

As we parused over 2000 booths in four days (!!!) we met many new-to-us artisans and saw lots and lots of wonderful work. Alas, Greenjeans is small in size and we couldn't order from everyone who struck our fancy, but we did start new relationships with a number of artisans whom we are very excited about.

These include: Mary Ellen and Russell Chamberlain (Ohio) who make colorful felted wool bowls, boxes, and balls; Janet and Jay O'Rourke (Oregon) who craft polished wooden boxes for keeping cufflinks, business cards, and other small things guys use; Lisa Crowder (Austin, TX) who makes fresh and chic riveted silver jewelry; and Whit McLeod (California) whose warm, welcoming folding chairs are made from recycled wine casks.

Also coming soon: minimalist wooden cutting boards, botanical silver jewelry on handmade cords, jewelry made from sea stones and pearls, sculptural statement pieces, fine porcelain jars with carved bone lids, fused glass trivets and trays, and more. I can't write about everything right now -- there's sooo much follow-up work to be done today! -- but look for profiles of these and more to appear in the blog over the coming weeks and months, and if you're in the neighborhood watch our window for new works to appear as they arrive at the shop.

We also were able to reconnect with folks we met last year and see their new work. Look for new jewelry to arrive this spring by shop faves Connie Verrusio, Erica Schlueter (Bent Metal), Kimberly Navratil-Pope, Susan Pratt-Smith, and Lulu Smith. We will also be getting new handbags and picture frames (including 5x7s) by Wendy Stevens, and more glasses/vases, perfume bottles, and sculpture by Matt Eskuche.

That's a lot of great new stuff! Glad we ordered a proper jewelry case last week. And how's that display case coming along for us, Dad...?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Last Day of Sale & Closed for a Week

Nothing big today -- just some housekeeping.

(Did you know the Shakers invented the flat broom?)

:: Tomorrow is the Final Day of Greenjeans' First Sale Ever. We're taking 10% off almost everything in the shop, and 15% off woven blankets and handbags. We aren't planning to have another sale again this year, so this is your chance to save on something you've had your eye one!

:: Greenjeans will be CLOSED from Sunday, Feb. 19 - Friday, Feb. 24. We will reopen on Saturday, Feb. 25. We're going to Philadelphia to the Buyer's Market of American Craft, and then to Baltimore for the American Craft Council wholesale show to look for new work and connect with folks we haven't seen since last year. And eat some cheese steaks and crabs!!

:: Since we'll be away, I won't be blogging again until next weekend. But if you need a Greenjeans blog fix, I invite you to cruise around the archives -- there's some good stuff in there!

Til next week, cheers and be well!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Website of the Day: SustainLane

I came across a new-to-me website today that I thought y’all might like to check out: SustainLane. From their mission statement: “SustainLane is the first on-line media company dedicated to identifying, educating, and connecting cities, residents, and businesses striving to create a healthier and more sustainable life.” The focus seems to be on helping people braid together their compatible concerns about ecology, holistic health, and social responsibility, which to me is the essence of conscientious living. There are links to useful resources and interesting articles to be found.

The site also demonstrates something I've been noticing lately, that marketing people have developed what I will call the eco-conscious-chic-lifestyle aesthetic, found mostly in places like the late Organic Style magazine and the Gaiam catalogue (see pictures above). Think lots of bright light, simple cotton clothes, and glowing yoga bodies eating carrots with the greens still on. I love and hate this aesthetic. I'd love to live in a spa-like apartment with a charming little organic garden on my roof, my perpetually serene brow and gentle smile glowing through perfect 8-glasses-of-water-d-day skin. But alas...

Anyway, I digress. The site is full of good content, too, with articles on topics like: green restaurants, how to get your mercury levels tested, green renovation, healthy food for your pets, how to get started meditating, and picking an eco-conscious hotel. I’ve been researching green investing lately, (not that I have millions to invest right now, but you know, there’s hope for the future) and found some good resources here for that, too.

So check it out, share what you find with the people you know, and remember to take one action, however large or small, every day toward living more sustainably.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Consumer Culture: Branding Peace

In this week's New York Magazine, Jada Yuan reports about Deepak Chopra's recent efforts to turn peace into a consumer trend, making peace as marketable as war ("How to Reposition a Brand Called 'Peace'"). Toward this end, Chopra and others have established a non-profit called Alliance for a New Humanity and hired Jeff Dunn, a major brand developer, to "reposition" peace as a brand.

"Real peace isn't antiwar demonstrations," says Chopra. "It's taking care of the environment, helping the poor achieve economic parity, making sure human rights are protected, and finding nonviolent means of conflict resolution." He is considering an inverted peace sign as the logo. "Think of it as the Green Housekeeping seal of approval," writes Yuan.
From our point of view at Greenjeans, this trend has been brewing for a while. We ourselves are what Dunn calls "conscious consumers," those who represent 3-4% of consumers worldwide "who, given a choice between two similar products, choose the one made by a company with better social and environmental policies." (See my post "Consumer Culture: Dollar Voting.") And through Greenjeans we are trying to spread this philosophy. Hence our tagline, "Handmade for Conscientious Living."

We believe firmly that there is space for peace in consumer culture. That there can be integrity and consideration underlying business practices. And that we can all live with beautiful things and make a living while helping to make the world a better place. That is our motivation, and I think that's what Chopra has in mind, too. The movement is afoot...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day!

Giving a sure sign that a holiday is upon us, an unusual number of male shoppers have come into Greenjeans today. I never fully believed it until I found myself on the other side of the shop counter, but it seems to be true: men put off gift shopping until the very last minute. It was so on Christmas Eve, and it is so today, February 14, Valentine's Day.

We have welcomed these kind men and aided their search for something nice for their girlfriends, wives, and daughters. And we have sent them off with presents we are sure will delight their recipients. Only two women have come in today. All the rest, warm-hearted men looking for just the right thing to make their sweethearts smile.

We are staying open a little late for those extremely last minute shoppers. And in case you're still looking for good gift ideas, besides earrings and necklaces of which we have a stunning selection, click here for a recent post I made about gift ideas. Remember, our sale is still on through Saturday...

So today we salute you, dear men of Park Slope, and hope your valiant V-Day efforts are appreciated and well-received.

We'll see you again on Mother's Day...

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Winter Arrives Overnight

After a whole winter free from snow or cold weather, all of a sudden it came all at once. There wasn't even an inch on the ground when we arrived home after midnight last night. But when we woke up today, 2 feet of new snow had fallen, and it hasn't let up yet. We heard on WNYC that at one point the snow was falling at a rate of 10 inches per hour (!!) with three- to four-foot drifts, and it is the second-heaviest fall of snow in NY recorded history. Dad said they didn't get as much up in New Hampshire, but that by Thursday the temperature is supposed to be in the 40s again. This sure has been the winter of extremes.

Most reasonable people are snuggling in their apartments or having fun romping about in the snowdrifts today. But not us. This morning Jae got up, put on his winter boots with glee, and tromped outside to dig the car out of a huge snowbank. When I came down a little bit later, he and our super Giovanni were up to their knees in snow digging with shovels to free our vehicle. I suggested we take the subway, but Jae was determined we'd drive. I think he just wanted to see if he could get our old little Saturn out! And eventually he did, rocking it back and forth and thanking goodness for front wheel drive. I guess nothing gets between a man and a challenge involving his car.
The journey through Brooklyn was amazing, like driving through an urban snow globe. I took some pictures along the way with my cell phone (click here for slideshow). Because the sidewalks are totally buried, people walked in the streets, bundled in coats and hats, carrying groceries or shovels or sleds. Some were on cross-country skis shushing down the street, which is something I really want to do here someday. Some people pushed strollers and I half expected to see one of them with snow chains on the tires. Everyone was smiling, probably glad it's Sunday and not Monday!

We drove very slowly and carefully and it took quite a while, but we made it to the shop. Along the way we noticed that some other businesses are also open today, but many are closed. We arrived an hour late and double-parked across the street along with a few other cars because there are no parking spaces, and even if there was one we'd have to dig it out. Rena was already open at Rare Device next door, and Sergio and the gang were open at Vespa, the hair salon on the other side of us. The sushi delivery guy at Kiku must be annoyed by the snow since his scooter doesn't seem to like the weather. I feel bad for all these delivery guys and hope people who order in today give really good tips.

I doubt we'll get many customers today, but we have lots of other things to do so it's just as well that we're here. I just hope we are able to get out at the end of the day and find someplace to put the car when we get back home! Why was it we didn't we take the subway...? Oh yes, the man and his car... Well, at least I got some pictures!

Happy Snowy Day!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Greenjeans in Metropolis Magazine

I am very excited to report that we have been featured in the March 2006 issue of the smart and fabulous Metropolis magazine (p. 109, on newsstands soon)!

In his regular section "Productsphere," Paul Makovsky writes this month about "indie retail" and "curated shopping," profiling a handful of shops from coast to coast who "offer shoppers unique items in an age of mass production" and "promise to be retail tastemakers." He writes, "Unlike the pop-up retail trend -- low-maintenance stores that appear temporarily in urban areas -- boutiques that mix local and global designs are in it for the long haul, acting as incubators for lesser-known talents with bright futures." Yes indeedy.

Greenjeans is one of the three New York "indie retailers" featured (and actually we're all in Brooklyn), along with The Future Perfect in Williamsburg and Matter on 5th Ave. in Park Slope. It is good company to keep.

About us, Makovsky writes: "Inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, the Mingei movement of Japan, and the Shakers, Amy Shaw and Jae Kim opened this shop last year to promote craftsmanship, sustainability, and conscientious living in the urban market. Greenjeans carries the work of independent artisans such as Brian Braskie, whose Canterbury Rocker (pictured) is made in the Shaker tradition and is available in cherry or curly maple with a woven cotton-tape seat that comes in four patterns and 14 colors."

We are thrilled to be in Metropolis and are grateful to Makovsky for the recognition. It is an honor.

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Sale at Greenjeans, Feb. 11-18

Been admiring something at Greenjeans but haven't taken the plunge?

Well, now's the time!

Announcing 10-15% off almost everything* in the store from February 11-18!

The sale includes all handbags, jewelry, toys, pottery, sculpture, books, scarves, blankets, and more.

We have lots of great Valentine's Day gifts for your sweetie or yourself -- check out yesterday's blog entry for ideas.

It was quite a debate, but after lots of discussion and advice we've decided to offer the sale and see how it goes. Please note that the sale will NOT affect the amount artisans are paid for their work -- we're offering the discount, not them! And if it's a success this year, we might just do it again next year...

So come on by and bring home beautifully handmade work by independent artisans! And thank you!

* Sale excludes furniture, wooden spoons, and custom orders.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Gift Ideas for Valentine's Day

Today I went around the shop to find all the things that are pink, red, flowery, or that would otherwise make good gifts for Valentine's Day (which is next Tuesday, the 14th, guys). I put together a slideshow for you (click here), and below is a list of what you'll find with prices for your convenience. Call us at 718-907-5835 to order over the phone by credit card, or stop on by -- we're open Tues-Sun 12-7pm.

:: Heart Lady (raku finger puppet) by Jane Kaufmann - $24
:: Kalamata Flower Pin (sterling silver & handcolored resin) by Lulu Smith - $105
:: Little Animal (felt and cotton) by Corrie Beth Hogg - $36
:: Red Hardcover Journal with Ribbon by Dennis Yuen - $36
:: Pink Pod Vase (porcelain) by Mary Anne Davis - $44
:: Red juice cups & Red polkadot mug (porcelain) by Mary Anne Davis - $16 and $40
:: Flower charm bracelet & Rings (sterling silver) by Chelle Kraus - $150, $70, $50
:: Ginko earrings, Spiral earrings, Porthole bracelet, & Rings (sterling silver) by Chelle Krauss - $45, $220, $70, $70, $50
:: Red jewelry (Bakelite, silver, coral) by Kimberly Navratil Pope - $44 and up
:: Enamel rings (copper, glass) by Alana Dlubak - $120 - $130
:: Cufflinks, Coneflower earrings, & Tic-tac-toe earrings (sterling silver & resin) by Lulu Smith - $115, $90, $65
:: Jewelry (silver with tin-type photos, film, mixed media) by Connie Verrusio - $30 and up
:: Necklace (coral, turquoise, enamel on copper) by Alana Dlubak - $220
:: Adam & Eve set (raku) by Jane Kaufmann - $80
:: Picture Frames (fused glass) by Ernest Porcelli - $40; (stainless steel) by Wendy Stevens - $32
:: Poppy photograph (Polaroid) by Tim Johnson - $250 framed
:: Perfume bottles (flamed-worked Pyrex) by Matt Eskuche - $76 - $130
:: Red woven blanket (mohair, wool, silk, rayon) by Patricia Burling - $380; Celadon tea set (porcelain blend, teapot + 2 cups) by Kit Cornell - $225
:: Romeo & Juliet (raku finger puppets) by Jane Kaufmann - $48 for the star-crossed couple

This year, give your sweetie something beautifully handmade by an independent artisan from Greenjeans!

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Sunday, February 05, 2006

New Artisan: Alana Dlubak

This weekend we debuted a wonderful new addition to Greenjeans: one-of-a-kind enamel pendants and rings by Alana Dlubak. (Click here for slideshow of available pieces.)

Alana's pieces are casual and classy. They are colorful, simple, and look great with most everything. Once you have one, you won't know how you managed so long without it!

The pendants on adjustable leather cords are double-sided so you two pieces in one. ($80 small; $95 large)

Pendants strung with semi-precious stones are backed with hand-stitched felt. (Prices are all different so please call for quote.)

The rings are enameled inside and out so they feel as great as they look. ($120 small; $130 large)

Enameling is a process of fusing ground glass to metal by heating it at high temperatures. Alana uses copper, which she first cuts into various shapes then sandblasts to prepare the surface. Though she works in a limited range of shapes, each of Alana's compositions is totally unique, so no two necklaces are the same. But they are all eye-catching and wonderful to wear.

Alana, born in a small town outside of Pittsburgh, is a third-generation glass worker. Her grandfather designed and hand-assembled stained glass windows. Her father eventually took over and transformed the business, inventing new tools, machines, and techniques for working with glass. And Alana brings the "craft ideal" back to the family through jewelry making. She lived and worked in New York City for several years before moving to Venice, California, where she currently resides.

We welcome Alana to Greenjeans, and invite you to come see her beautiful work here in the South Slope!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Greenjeans Recommends: David Smith & Miso Stew

David Smith: A Centennial
Guggenheim Museum
Feb 3 - May 14, 2006

On Thursday night, I had the privledge of attending an opening party for the David Smith retrospective at the Guggenheim with my friend R.G. Walking into the museum I was admittedly not a huge Smith fan -- I thought he was only about those brushed aluminum cubes that float in every lousy sculpture garden on the planet -- and had really come to see the crowd, drink free wine, and get a little bit dressed up. But as R.G. and I circled up the ramp looking at Smith's "drawings in space," I was taken by surprise at how appealing and interesting the work is. I have a thing for airy surrealist sculpture from the 1930s of the what I call "stick and ball" variety -- strange tall things by Max Ernst, early Alexander Calder, some of Joseph Cornell's boxes, Giacometti's The Palace at 4am -- and Smith's work falls into, then surpasses, this category. Moreover, I have never seen an exhibition better suited for the Guggenheim's curvy, glowing space than this one. It is incredibly handsome. Writing about it now makes me want to go back and see it again, which I will with Jae, who has always liked David Smith's work, though maybe not so much the aluminum cubes.

Macro Miso Stew

My second recommendation today is this recipe for a macrobiotic miso stew, which I adapted from a recipe by Alexandra Jamieson. I've been making it frequently this winter and Jae and I love it. It's clean, flavorful, hearty, and terribly good for your body. We don't follow a macrobiotic diet -- I just had a good old fashioned New York bacon-egg-and-cheese for breakfast which is about as far from macro as it gets -- but it is my favorite food to make and eat at home (or at Angelica's Kitchen). Enjoy!

Macro Miso Stew

2 tablespoons arame (dried seaweed)
3 1/2 cups water (preferably filtered)
1 quarter-sized bunch of soba noodles
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, sliced into 1/2” thick pieces
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 (1-inch) piece kombu (dried kelp)
1/2 lb firm tofu, cut crosswise into 6 slices and each slice quartered
1 small carrot, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
5 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps thinly sliced
2 to 3 tablespoons miso (white or yellow)
1 cup very thinly sliced bok choy or Napa cabbage
1 scallion, thinly sliced
tamari or soy sauce to taste

Place arame in a small bowl, cover with 1 cup filtered water, and set aside.

Cook soba noodles as per package instructions or until al dente. Rinse under cold water and set aside.

While noodles are cooking, prepare rest of ingredients.

Cook onion in oil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes, then add garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds.

Add kombu, tofu, carrot, shiitakes, and remaining 2 1/2 cups filtered water and simmer, covered, until carrot is just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Put miso in a small bowl and add 1/4 cup stew liquid, whisking until miso is incorporated, then stir mixture into stew.

Add bok choy, stirring to combine. Remove and discard kombu.

Divide soba noodles between 2 bowls. Divide stew over noodles. Top with arame, and sprinkle with scallion. Season with tamari to taste.

Makes 2 main-course servings.

Eat well, and see good art!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Report from the New York International Gift Fair

On Monday, for our day off, Jae and I went to check out the New York International Gift Fair at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. There are thousands of vendors at this fair, but we focused on finding things of exceptional quality and originality handmade by independent artisans in small-scale production. We saw lots of things we liked, but actually placed orders with two new artisans that we're very excited about.

The first, Judy Geagley, is a woman from Kentucky who designs and sews the most loveable stuffed bunnies, bears, and dogs. We've been looking for things that will appeal to little girls in particular and think we've found 'em! Some of the bears have jointed arms and legs, and many have been distressed to look long-loved and carefully repaired, but not in a kitschy way. For youngest children she makes flat stuffed cats and Humpty-Dumptys from tattered old quilts and sweaters (that she washes well before using). Then there are the irresistible chenille bunnies. They should be here in a month or so and I can hardly wait to have them in the shop! I will write more about Judy, a remarkable woman who breaks all stereotypes of the successful entrepreneur, and post more images of her work. Meanwhile, you can see one of her bears on Broadway in the musical Gypsy. How famous!

We also made an order for something we weren't looking for but fell in love with when we saw them: Sol Mate Socks. These are brightly-colored, beautifully made socks of cotton and wool for adults and kids "mismatched with care in Vermont." They are produced in North Carolina by a small team of machine knitters and sewers, then sent up to Vermont for finishing by home-based craftspeople. We will have a few dog coats as well, which are made from socks and lined with fleece. The company is owned by a woman, fondly known as "the Socklady," who got her start knitting nearly 40 years ago and fell in love with making colorful socks in complex patterns, so she started this great business. Look for them to appear in our window display in March!

Another similarly small-scale, ethically-minded company caught our eye as well, Little Merry Fellows. They make tender hats and blankets and stuffed toys for infants from incredibly soft, American-produced organic cotton. But since these are already available to the neighborhood at 3R Living, we didn't make an order with them. (We don't want to be redundant with other shops in Brooklyn, and certainly don't want to disrupt a good relationship between an artisan and another colleague.)

We'll be going to the Buyer's Market for American Craft in Philadelphia as well as the American Craft Council fair in Baltimore later in February to see what's out there and scout for a few more new artisans, and will keep you posted on new work coming in to Greenjeans.

Meanwhile, I have been busy rearranging the shop this week, so please stop by and let me know what you think! I'm trying to give it a lighter, more airy look, but Cousin Jason (who works here occasionally) thinks the front window looks too colorless, so maybe I'm erring on too-airy. I'll post a picture when it's done. Cheers!