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Journal

Black Artists + Designers Guild

Black Artists + Designers Guild

"It all started with a powerful post on Instagram. Malene Barnett called out a lack of diversity during a day of panel discussions at one of the design industry’s esteemed centers. Her comments weren’t just about the panel, but about the pattern of exclusivity that still permeates the design world. Barnett took action by founding the Black Artists + Designers Guild in November 2018. She describes it as “a curated collective of black artists and designers throughout the African diaspora.” To date, the Guild has enlisted 80 designers and artists, many of whom gathered for the first time on February 12 at the Décor NYC showroom to celebrate the Guild’s launch with an exhibit of their work."

As we're looking to support the #buyfromBIPOC movement (a celebration of Black and Indigenous People/Person(s) of Color creatives with a focus on slow, ethical, and sustainable goods), the Black Artists + Designers Guild offers another great resource with their online directory and Instagram account. Ever lovers of unique home goods, a stand out for us is Nasozi Kakembo’s collection, Xnasozi, featured here...

Excerpt from The Cut's A Design Warrior: Malene Barnett’s Black Artists + Designers Guild Champions Representation Within Those Fields

Photo credit - Xnasozi

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Spotlight | BlackSheepMade

Spotlight | BlackSheepMade

My name is Alyssarhaye. I originally started BlackSheepMade as a way of funding my study abroad dreams while attending UC Riverside. Within my first few months of opening, I was able to knit my way to Costa Rica for a conservation internship. There I was a part of LAST (Latin American Sea Turtle conservation program) where we worked with the locals of Pacuare and ex-poachers to save sea turtles.

Now, more than two years after opening, BlackSheepMade has grown larger than I had imagined or even planned and is no longer helping only me. Over the last year and half, both my Abuelita and Lola (grandmothers) have been battling cancer. Last Winter, I accompanied my Abuelita to her chemo appointment. She showed me this basket where people can leave yarn in hopes of someone turning it into a beanie for the patients. I found the basket empty. So for the holidays, I filled it up with extra beanies I had for any patients that needed help keeping warm. To keep it going, for every purchase with BlackSheepMade, another beanie will be made for the basket!

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Decolonize Your Turmeric

Decolonize Your Turmeric

Four years after Sana Javeri Kadri moved to the US to attend Pomona College, she noticed a trend taking off. Turmeric, that golden yellow spice native to Javeri Kadri’s home country, India was suddenly everywhere, from lattes to crackers to chocolate. And she had a sneaking suspicion that the people actually growing it weren’t the ones profiting from turmeric’s popularity.

She was right. The modern spice trade is still heavily shaped by its colonialist origins. Farmers in the global South still earn pennies per pound to grow commodity spices, which US-based spice wholesalers sell at astronomical markups. If turmeric was becoming a staple, she reasoned, she wanted Indian farmers to benefit from this trend.

So, in August 2017, then 23-year-old Javeri Kadri founded Diaspora Co. Her Oakland-based company seeks to decolonize the spice industry through direct trade and transparency. This is no easy feat, and Javeri Kadri’s life has been a crash course in business ownership ever since.

“As a young person it’s hard to command authority, so I’ve had to learn how to be a boss...Honestly, if I had known then everything I know now, I probably wouldn’t have done this. But I’m also very grateful that I did.”

Javeri Kadri’s origins deep dive brought her to the Indian Institute of Spice Research in Kerala. It was there that she learned about Pragati turmeric, an heirloom cultivar with a high curcumin content and a short growing season. It’s the best turmeric in the world, but in an industry dominated by cheap commodity production, nobody wanted to buy it. Undeterred, Diaspora brokered a direct purchasing relationship with a farmer growing Pragati turmeric in northern Andhra Pradesh and pays 10 times the average market price.

Not only is she open and transparent about her purchasing relationships, Javeri Kadri has intentionally centered her personal story as part of Diaspora’s identity. As a young, queer woman of color, she knows her visibility as a business owner matters.

“I’ve been open and adamant since day one that this business is a desi x queer x immigrant x woman of color centered one. Queerness is a huge part of my identity and I am deeply invested in folks normalizing queerness, in all aspects of life. Often folks will ascribe a lot of value judgements to a business importing spices from India – and assume a lot about my identity as an Indian woman. Those assumptions can be anything from asking me whether I had pet tigers growing up, to questioning my ability to use a knife and fork, or assuming that I must have grown up in an oppressed backward society. None of those things are true and if folks are going to be consuming the highest quality produce of Indian origin, they owe it to the producer - and themselves really - to have a deeper and more nuanced understanding of where it’s coming from, and what the lives of the people getting it to them really looks like. So I’m here to champion for and be an ambassador for desi culture, for queer culture and for women of color to get paid what they deserve on both sides of the world, here and there.”

Article adapted from Shed’s Maker Stories and an Okay But What Do You Do? Profile

Photo credit: Diaspora Co.

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Scrubadub

Scrubadub

I love taking long soaks, especially this time of year. Then I discovered Korina Naturals, a lovely line of SF-made skin care and it upped my bath game. I’m obsessed with this Pink Himalayan salt to detox, as well as their Geranium Body Polish and Whipped Body Balm. Support a small craftswoman and give Korina a try...your skin will thank you!

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Tumbler Love

Tumbler Love

While attending the Girl Gang Craft event in Oakland, we stumbled across the lovely Alexandra Barao and now we're sort of obsessed...

Alexandra is a potter and educator living in Oakland, California. She grew up in Virginia with red clay beneath her feet, and studied Sculpture & Extended Media at Virginia Commonwealth University, but her relationship with ceramics began after moving to the Bay Area in 2012. 

She creates functional ceramics that are intended for everyday use, made primarily on the wheel and fired in gas reduction kilns. Her work is inspired by minimalist forms and a connection to the earth. This past summer, she had the opportunity to take a workshop at Penland School of Crafts in the mountains of North Carolina, where she created work and participated in the firing of wood and soda kilns. She teaches art at an elementary after-school program in San Francisco and is a member at The Potter’s Studio in Berkeley.

Check out Alexandra's wares at these upcoming events:

12/7 - 9 @thepottersstudio - Berkeley
12/20 @tenderloinmuseum - SF

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2018 Gift Guide

2018 Gift Guide

I’ve been blessed to meet and become pals with some truly wonderful Bay Area makers over the past 14 months...this giving season, I’ve curated a Gift Guide spotlighting their exceptional, consciously made products.

In addition, we’re offering 20% off our tees today through Monday, just use code holidaytime2018 at check out to partake.

Happy shopping!

Alexandra Barao | Nesting Bowls 
Etta + Billie | Lavender Body Lotion
Caramel Caravan Co. | Variety Box
Project Full | Meditation Cushion Set
Raft Wine | 2017 Grist Vineyard Syrah
West Perro | Baja Duna Vessel
Mohinders | Women's City Slippers
Bestowe Gifting | Body and Spirit Box
Roots & Blooms | Face Serum 

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Must See | Thomas Jackson

Must See | Thomas Jackson

We're pleased to share that Heron Arts has a new installation featuring "Tree no. 1," by Thomas Jackson. There will be an open to the public soiree Friday, June 22nd from 7 to 10pm that we'll be attending. RSVP here...

Expanding on ideas he has explored in his "Emergent Behavior" photographic series, Jackson's piece will juxtapose organic and manufactured materials to promote fresh perspectives on the complex balance between natural and manmade systems. The piece will feature a 15-foot "Sango-Kaku” (Coral Bark Japanese Maple) surrounded by floating LED grow lights and plastic take out containers. While Jackson frequently works with organic materials in outdoor settings, this will be the first time he has incorporated living flora into an indoor sculpture. The work presses the viewer not only to contemplate our dysfunctional relationship with the natural landscape, but also to envision a sustainable future in which natural and man-made systems are integrated and intertwined, and more resilient as a result. The exhibition will also feature a number of prints from the “Emergent Behavior” series.

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Spotlight | California Drifters

Spotlight | California Drifters

Instagram is sensational for stumbling upon people you would never have otherwise found or had the chance to know; I recently came across California Drifters and was immediately smitten with their cool, yesteryear vibes and artistic curation of goods. It was founded in Long Beach by Cassandra Malone, who launched an e-commerce business a year ago and has now opened a brick and mortar shop in an up and coming neighborhood to create a more immersive experience. Conveniently, I was heading to Long Beach so I could check out the new intimate space in person…I was mesmerized with desert-inspired feel that reflected Cassandra's lifestyle; we had a great time talking shop and I loved learning more about her vision…In her own words:

“I wanted to create a retail space that felt more like a museum filled with local craftsmen, infused with an authentic feel, that would stay true to the artist. Many of the featured artists in the shop are good friends that I love and support…I only offer products and brands that I truthfully love and believe in personally.

After working with companies, like Seven For All Mankind, I’ve drifted consistently, always inspired by life and nature, while searching for well-imagined works from craftsmen to fill my home. Now I can share these works with the local community and abroad via our site.”

A few of my shop faves (and items I went home with) include:

Earth + Element - Moon Mug

Luna Noel - Earth mood perfumes handcrafted in congruence with the moon cycle with only essential oils, living water and crystals

Loft Creative - Cactus Print No. 16 (as featured on IG)

Mohinders - Women City Slipper

Earth + Element - Gold Triangle Cups

Stop by California Drifters online or say hello in person - 2714 E. 4th Street, Long Beach, CA 90814

Photo credit: Stephanie Castillo

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Spotlight | The Fancy F

Spotlight | The Fancy F

We started following The Fancy F on Instagram when we relaunched with our Flock Wisely theme. We were blown away by the farm’s rare-breed chickens and 1900s inspired egg cartons that look like they could be featured in the pages of Dwell magazine. It’s with great delight that we’ve seen them garner ample press and deserved recognition for their dedication to free range practices and modern sense of style. To learn more, read this in-depth Gardenista profile and enjoy photographs taken by Caity Delphia, the co-founder of the operation. Also, make sure to follow along with them on their beautiful Instagram feed...

"Catherine (Caity) Delphia is a Johns Hopkins–trained medical illustrator and graphic designer who also is a passionate chicken farmer. She and her partner, Aaron Dunn, a landscape designer, together own and run The Fancy F, a year-old, 15-acre enterprise in Hillsdale, in New York’s Hudson Valley, where they raise heritage and rare-breed chickens that produce colorful eggs. And to showcase their product, Delphia took it upon herself to create an egg carton that gets noticed.

To learn her sideline, Delphia began by volunteering at a range of farms—CSA vegetable and meat farms, a tree and topiary farm, and the kitchen garden on a private estate. Along the way, she and Dunn fell in love and began raising chickens at their one-acre suburban home in the Berkshires. After a several-year search, they found their current place, a former thoroughbred farm that had been derelict for a decade. The cleanup is still in progress, but they’ve been able to significantly increase production (they raise six varieties of chickens, plus a small herd of Nigerian spotted goats, mini donkeys, and Randall cows) while still holding down their day jobs.

The farm’s green eggs come in two tones: “true olive” and “minty.” They’re bred mostly from Marans and Araucana crossbreeds. Alas, the different colors don’t produce different flavors, but the eggs themselves are pasture-fresh and meant to be eaten—though, Delphia admits, often people find them too pretty to crack.

But how to create a container that improves upon the familiar pulp or plastic carton? Delphia says, “I wanted to really push the visual presentation of what one dozen eggs could be.” Taking inspiration from the paper cartons in use from the early 1900s through the 1950s, she contacted an old-school box manufacturer in Ware, Massachusetts, and “brought back a piece of history—with some modifications and a modern print.” Delphia designed her cartons to have “a wonderful reveal.” Her chevron pattern is an abstracted version of the subtle lacing known as birchen that some birds have on their necks.

The couple get their chickens from a range of sources: hatcheries, chicken shows (“the Poultry Congress every January in Springfield, Massachusetts, is very fun”), Rare Breed Auctions (“like an eBay for chickens but pricey”), and chicken swaps (“enthusiasts organize these: You meet in a parking lot and buy and exchange chickens”). She recommends Backyard Chickens as a great general online resource.

Stay tuned…Delphia and Dunn are planning to open a vegetable, perennial, and tree nursery this spring."

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Spotlight | Love Fest Fibers

Spotlight | Love Fest Fibers

We came across Love Fest Fibers at November’s West Coast Craft event and have been following along with them ever since. It’s an independent company based in San Francisco that creates yarns from 100% alpaca and merino wool, using materials such as recycled plastic bottle fiber and fashion industry remnants.

Their incredible products and commitment to collaborating with artisans from Washington State, Nepal and New Zealand are right in our wheelhouse. We’re also very taken with their stunning branding, developed by Menta, a brand identity and illustration studio founded by Laura Méndez in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Founder, Britt-Marie Alm was taught to knit and crochet by her mother. She describes her knitting sessions with her as “a little love fest of making things and listening to family stories.” Time went by and she forgot these skills until she moved to the Himalayas, where she worked with farmers and nomads on the Tibetan Plateau. Knitting with locals became a way to connect, learn the language and understand the ins-and-outs of raising and spinning fiber.

Eventually Britt returned home to California, where she continued to focus on international development and philanthropy, and researching fiber traditions. She became obsessed with big, fluffy, chunky yarn, which led her to strike up partnerships with talented yarn makers both at home and abroad to design a range of huge yarn.

“I wanted to focus on yarn that supports traditional livelihoods through the raising of natural fibers, and also find a use for something that now litters our landscapes throughout the world: plastic waste.”

Britt’s dedication to artisans and the environment is commendable and she doesn’t skimp on style, which are three things we applaud. To learn more, read below…

What is the story behind Love Fest Fibers?

Britt: Growing up, my family used to dress my siblings and I in the most beautiful, hand knit clothes. My mother, who had grown up in Germany making a lot of her own clothing, would sit and patiently teach me to knit. Each session of sitting with her was a little love fest of creating things and listening to stories.

Sadly I forgot those skills as I got older, until I moved to Asia. Following a fascination with the Himalayas, I went to live and work on the Tibetan Plateau. Sitting with new friends (mostly gorgeous, wise old women) as they knit became a way to learn language and understand all that goes into raising and spinning fiber. Eventually returning to San Francisco, I continued my focus on international development and philanthropy while at the same time researching fiber traditions locally.

I then got completely infatuated with finding the thickest, most opulent yarn out there. I struck up partnerships with wonderful yarn makers both at home and the Himalayas to design a range of huge yarn. I wanted to focus on yarn that supports traditional livelihoods through the raising of natural fibers, while also finding a use for something that now litters our landscapes throughout the world: plastic waste. You'll find that many of our yarns blend time-tested techniques with recycled materials. We're all about sharing interesting yarn and the process behind making them.

Where is the yarn sourced and processed?

Britt: We currently have two distinct styles of super chunky yarn, the first is West Coast local and the second is made in the Himalayas.

We partner with a family-run mill in Washington State to spin our Pure Love and ReLove yarn range. They raise their own Huacaya alpaca in a meadow steps away from the mill where our yarn is spun. Each carefully crafted bump of Pure Love and ReLove takes 1-2 hours to spin.

Our Tough Love felt yarn line is made from New Zealand wool that is hand-felted by women at our partner workshop in Nepal. A single 50-yard ball of Tough Love takes 3-4 hours to create. Our aim with Tough Love is to create consistent income for our team in Kathmandu after the devastating earthquakes of 2015 and the country's ongoing fuel crisis.

Can you briefly describe the types of yarn that are available?

Britt: Our Pure Love Alpaca line is made from 100% family-raised, undyed alpaca fiber and designed to be the softest super bulky yarn imaginable. Cappuccino, our current color option in Pure Love, brings together the full range of natural alpaca colors into a single, variegated skein. We'll be adding new natural colors and styles to the Pure Love collection with each season. And because alpaca is naturally free of lanolin and other oils, many find it to be hypoallergenic and no harsh chemicals are needed to process the fiber.

Our ReLove line is a fresh take on chunky yarn. Each ball of ReLove is made from our own blend of either alpaca or merino and premium US-made recycled plastic bottle fiber. Each 50 yards of ReLove rescues some 10-15 plastic bottles from being landfilled. That means the blanket you knit from 2 bumps of 100-yard ReLove Merino reuses some 60 plastic bottles. Recent figures show that over 90% of the plastics we consume in the US end up in landfills; that is millions of tonnes of plastic that could be put to better use and that's exactly what we're hoping to do! 

Our Tough Love line is skillfully hand felted. Using water, soap and muscle power, they transform New Zealand wool into hearty felt yarn. The full line is dyed locally in Kathmandu to create our own range of vibrant colors.

Interview and bio courtesy of Imagiknit and Knit Purl

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