Monday, February 23, 2009

Reverse French Manicure

I saw this somewhere else and then on Fashionista today:

Love it. Tried to do it myself but it was total manicure fail. There must be some trick?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Adventures in the Romper Room

So, after 4 years of higher education, 2 degrees, and 4+ years as a working professional, I have once again become an intern. As my degree of interest in the non-profit world has waned (no doubt due to the 2+ years of rejection whilst searching for a new permanent job), I have often thought about what else I could with my time that I would find fulfilling. In other words, if I was not going to be able to change the world via public policy analysis, in what other field would I excel?

I'd been kicking around the idea of opening a boutique for some years, but that has been put on the backburner for a while, what with the shrinking economy and my shrinking mutual funds making that an impossibility for now. Over the summer I took some classes at FIT on fashion business, and as I found myself unemployed since mid-January with little to no prospects, decided now would be the time to pursue it. If I'm not going to be making any money, I might as well be learning something.

Enter Samantha Pleet. I'd admired Samantha's work for some time... she has a style that is distinctly Brooklyn and she makes vintage-influenced clothes for girls and guys that are totally recognizable and unique. Also her signature is the romper which is one of my favorite things to wear. Anyway, I emailed Samantha (who's studio is based about 20 minute walk from my apartment) to see if she needed any interns at the moment. I told her I could work 2-3 days a week, on a temporary basis, and that I was looking for permanent work but could work with her as long as I was unemployed. She said she liked my aesthetic and that she could definitely use the help, so a couple weeks ago I became one of her assistants. Yes, world, I am a 28 year old intern. To be honest, its ok. In a way, unless I don't think about the fact that I am not getting paid, its fun and not at all demeaning; and the work so far has been a lot more varied and interesting than most of the temp work that I've done in offices.

This past week we were preparing for Samantha's show and party at the Tribeca Grand. Well, not show rather, but presentation. She put together a video of people wearing the clothes, and models stood around wearing pieces, including me, which made me a little uncomfortable, but it was kinda fun. Here are some photos of the models getting ready and the party itself.

I'm not sure what will happen now that the crazyness of fashion week is over, but I'm sure there's much more work to do and much more to learn. I actually have a lot of ideas about how she can make the business run more efficiently. There are a lot more similarities than you would think between running a fashion business and running a non-profit... keeping track of every expense, finding creative ways to make the most out of limited resources, finding people with money and influence to help you out, etc... who knows where this will lead...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Tour of East Williamsburg Bizarro Businesses, Part 2


This has to be one of my favorite businesses on Graham Avenue. First, let's start with the name: Kitty's Cards 'n Things. Emphasis on the "Things." Though it first appears to just be a simple card and photo shop, Kitty's Cards 'n Things is provides a plethora of goods and services. Along with "greeting cards," "back packs," "passport photos," and "video transfer," signs on the door claim that Kitty's also offers XXX and Kung Fu DVD's (starting at $5.99, a bargain!), watch bands and batteries, and if you go inside, you will also discover a large selection of bongs and pipes. Perhaps this is what is meant by "Gifts and Toys." They should mention this is gifts for your stoner cousin who goes to high school in New Jersey. Who, while you're there, would also totally appreciate some lottery tickets. Come to think of it, I feel like this is the kind of business a stoner kid from New Jersey would probably open.


On a somewhat related topic, it has been noted by myself that East Williamsburg local bar Sweet Ups now has a sign declaring it is open at noon every day. Considering they don't really serve food there, what exactly is the point of this? Are we hipsters unemployed in such quantities that we have been driven to drink at all hours of the day? The evidence, as several daytime walk-bys have suggested, points to not yet. But maybe soon.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Rebecca Turbow's A/W 09 Presentation

Wowza, Turbow, you definitely stepped up your game. I'm not very good at writing about fashion in an editorial way so all I wil say about this collection is that it is mature, tailored, and very wearable. And the fabrics! No more jersey! I totally want me some A/W 09 Rebecca Turbow love...

Rebecca Turbow a/w 09 Presentation

This top was my favorite piece from the collection. I totally want to make a skirt inspired by this top.

Rebecca Turbow a/w 09 Presentation

This statement "fan" necklace made a lot of appearances in the collection.

Rebecca Turbow a/w 09 Presentation

Rebecca Turbow a/w 09 Presentation

Rebecca Turbow a/w 09 Presentation

Friday, February 13, 2009

Twigs Salon

Years ago, I worked at a hair salon in the East Village called Soon Beauty Lab. It was a pretty decent place to work, and there were some really talented hairdressers that worked there, but the structure and style of the salon was not the best fit for everyone employed there. So in December, three of the most talented (and coolest, in my fair opinion), opened their own salon on E. 11th Street between A and B. Twigs Salon has a completely different aesthetic than Soon (and a different attitude, as well). Most of their furnishings were picked up on Ebay and in thrift stores. They even have a vintage bar in the lower level where you can help yourself to a beer or some wine while you get your hair did.

The atmosphere is casual, warm, rustic, and mid-century, but not gimmicky or pretentious. I'm so proud of my friends for making their vision come to life. I wish I could do the same!

I took these pictures on Wednesday afternoon when I stopped by to have Julie cut my bangs. Alyssa, Dion, and Evie the doggy were there too to see Janell, and Heather stopped by so we could hang out and enjoy the amazing 65 degree day.





Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Unemployment entertainment

It's week 4 of official unemployment. The first week was nice, the second week I had a house guest to entertain me, but weeks 3 and 4 have been pretty fucking boring, in all honesty. Between applying for the odd job here and there (its slim pickings out there on the internet, today I emailed a contact at AIDS Walk to see if they were hiring and I am supposed to get an interview to be a sign and poster distributor...wooooooo) I am trying to find different ways to pass the time. Trying as hard as possible to avoid shopping, I have been sewing (some, not tons), cleaning & reorganizing, reading (and yes, watching lots of tv), working out, but probably mostly cooking and baking. Cookies from scratch, muffins from scratch, gnocchi from scratch, and today, bolognese sauce from scratch.

Though I've always enjoyed cooking, this is a huge departure from the kind of food I was eating while employed, which generally consisted of food that I could either pop in the microwave, oven or pot and go lie in bed till it was ready. I am making way more than I can actually eat myself. Now I know what a 50's housewife must have felt like.

I have never felt so much that I need a purpose in life.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Scooters and Mortality

Since I was a teenager I have been obsessed with Vespa scooters. Obviously this had something to do with my "mod phase" and too many viewings of Quadrophenia. I had visions of myself zipping around San Francisco in a mini dress and big sunglasses.

So, much to my mother's dismay, I bought my first Vespa, a 1979 P200E when I was 19 years old with money I had saved up from my Bat Mitzvah. $3,000 seems like not that much money in grown-up figures but to a teenager it was a fortune so I was able to save it that long. It cost about $1900 and then about $600 in repairs to make it (nearly) perfect. I bought it over the summer when I was living at my parents house, so once I went back to NY for school I knew I had to have another one, so I did some research and found a shop in Germany that would sell me a 1973 Rally 200 (my favorite make) for $1800 including shipping. This is the bike that I have been driving around for the past eight years.

But as the years go on, I find myself riding it less and less. I find myself favoring my bicycle for short trips around the neighborhood, and end up taking the subway into the city. Today it was unusually warm so I decided to take him out (first time since November) to the Brooklyn Flea market in Dumbo. BIG MISTAKE. A couple miles into the trip, Chip (his name) started backfiring and eventually refused to stay on. I was stranded in a pretty desolate party of Williamsburg near no subways and wearing 4" heeled boots. Fabulous. I locked him to a pole and found a bus stop and am now waiting till Tuesday when Brooklyn Bretta, my repair shop, gets my voicemail when they open, hoping he will still be there and in one piece.

I had forgotten but I had had the same problem with Chip over the summer and had to get him picked up again, this time in front of my house. I am wondering if maybe Chip's life is close to finished. He is nearly 36 after all. There are plenty of Vespas out on the road that are older than that, and since the engine is so simple, it is generally believed that with regular maintenance you can keep a Vespa running indefinitely. However, this comes at a time when I have been riding less and, for some reason, getting more and more scared to ride at all. After back surgery #3 last year I think I became a little more cautious and conscious of my own mortality. And frankly, riding around New York on a Vespa, while convenient, is becoming less and less fun and more and more just plain scary. There are 2-foot deep pot holes everywhere, cars drive too fast and honk at you or cut you off if you're not driving fast enough according to their liking, pedestrians and bikes dart out into the street without looking, and even other motorcycles can be assholes. I've never had a real accident, though I've fallen off a couple times, but the close calls are more than I could count.

So basically, I'm starting to consider selling Chip. He is my baby and I love having him around, but lately I've been feeling like a car might be a better bet for me. I could carry groceries and run errands in it, drive it in the winter, and take trips out of town. It would be more expensive for sure, so probably not realistic until I get a new job, but maybe I need to come to grips that its time to let this scooter fulfill some other kids Quadrophenia dreams. If they can get him running, that is...

Chip, I hope you are safe down there on the fringe of Williamsburg and Clinton Hill. May you be safe from thieves and vandals.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Tour of East Williamsburg Bizarro Businesses, Part 1

I live in a corner of Brooklyn often referred to the "3rd Stop" or "East Williamsburg." Technically I live in Greenpoint according to my zip code but my closest L train stop is the Graham Ave. stop. It is a mix of 20-something and 30-something hipsters, old Italian people, and Poles. The latter two were obviously here first. Naturally, the make-up of businesses in the area generally reflects this mix. Next to newcomer coffee shops like Variety and boutiques like Treehouse, you will have places like Grande Memorial, for all your funeral and tombstone needs ("For 24-hour service call Jerry!" a sign proclaims). But perhaps because of the changing nature of the neighborhood, Grande Memorial is maybe not getting as much business as it used to... not enough 20-something kids OD'ing on heroin unfortunately. So what does Grande Memorial do? They decide to supplement their tombstone business by SELLING BREAD. Take a good look at photo number two below and you can see fresh loaves of French Rustica nestled alongside a stone statue of Jesus:



Good thinking, Grande Memorial. Now next time I am browsing tombstones I'll remember to pick up a couple baguettes.

Stay tuned for more installments of WEIRD EAST WILLIAMSBURG BUSINESSES.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Angela Spencers Irresistable Stuff

As shops and magazines are already pushing spring clothing at us, we here in New York are still in the throes of winter. Today was a balmy 28 degrees for a high, only to continue (if we are to believe the groundhog) for at least another month and a half. Harsh, mother nature, harsh. One of the problems with the lack of winter clothes in stores around this time of year is this is when I find I am constantly losing my winter accessories like scarves, hats, and gloves. My biggest casualty so far of the year was a super-long, super-warm black and white A.P.C. scarf that I picked up at a sample sale last winter, only to be left at Barden's Boudoir in London one night and is probably being worn by some lucky Locust fan (yes, I got talked into seeing the Locust) or perhaps a dandy Turkish man on the Kingsland Road. Though I was upset about that, I am also mourning the loss of my hat by the talented Angela Spencer. I discovered Angela and her line Angela Spencers Irresistable Stuff (A.S.I.S.) at the Brooklyn Lyceum Craft Market in December where I had a table. I did what I often tend to do which is spend all my money I make at craft fairs on other vendors crafts, but my hat by Angela was definitely the favorite thing I purchased.

Not only does she make fabulous stuff for winter but she also has launched a collection of one-of-a-king fancy crocheted collars made of vintage cotton for spring:

I especially love Angela's line because lot of indie knitwear out there tends to look a little artsy-crafty/hippy-dippy but A.S.I.S. is in single-color yarns in practical, basic colors. I miss my A.S.I.S. hat and hope to buy another one again soon.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

City Hall in the snow

city hall

Two tone tights, the compromise

So everyone has seen the amazing 2-tone Chanel tights from F/W 08:

Drool. Some people thought, hey, they're tights, even though they're from Chanel, how expensive could they really be? Oh, snap, $350 on Ebay, nevermind. So, what other options do we have? Some ladies tried to make their own, others (including myself) picked up the cheapo not nearly as cool version by Urban Outfitters:

Sadly, not only did these not quite look right because the front was sheer instead of creme colored, but because the front was so sheer, they snagged and laddered during the first wear. $5 not very well spent if I do say so myself.

The compromise? I found some from Wolford on Ebay ($40) that, while not exactly the same, have the same effect and are much thicker and higher quality than the UO ones:

feb 3 2009

Hat: Brooklyn Handknit; Scarf: by the amazing Kim of Tiny Hearts on Etsy; Jacket: Mischen; Gloves: Leather Gloves Online; Shorts: Topshop; Tights: Wolford; Boots: Vintage; Bag: Self-made; Umbrella: Amazon. Really!

And yes, I am wearing shorts in the snow, dammit. Bundle up on your neck and head and you'll be ok, generally.

Monday, February 2, 2009

the week in pictures part 2

The culinary adventures continued the rest of the week with visits to Teany, Coffee Shop, Oak Wine Bar, Sunset Diner, Motorino, Lombardi's, and special visits to One if by Land, Two if by Sea (restaurant week menu!) and Craftbar, where I had a gift certificate courtesy of guests who stayed with me back last may. We also had some delicious pizza prepared by James Ryang at Keren's now on hiatus Gossip Girl dinner party night. I'd say One if by Land was probably the highlight... we were able to eat in this legendary restaurant based in Aaron Burr's old carriage house, a 300 year old building in the West Village. Thanks to Restaurant Week we were able to experience it for $35 prix-fixe, whereas the regular prix-fixe is $78. The stunning room featured some impressive paintings, ornate chandeliers, working fireplaces, and live piano. Amusingly, they got our dessert order wrong 3 times (first two cheesecakes, then cheesecake for me, then cheesecake for Robin: neither of us ordered the cheesecake), but it was still over all a special experience. Oh, and I gained a couple pounds. To be expected.

Life is back to normal now as I continue to look for work. I had a phone interview today with the Third Wave Foundation for a very cool job that would definitely be a challenge for me, but something I think I could handle as well. Unfortunately, interviewing is not my strong suit and I faltered a little bit. Phone interviews in particular kind of throw me off so I don't know if I'll make it to the next round, but here's hoping.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

the week in photos part 1

Robin came to visit this week from London. We did lots of dining out. Too much to go into detail about everything, but we decided to capture it all in pictures, when we remembered. First off was a journey to Jackson Heights where we had Indian buffet at the infamous Jackson Diner and explored an Indian grocery store. They had an entire wall of different kinds of lentils and bags and bags of spices and snacks. I brought some stuff to take home.