Friday, May 23, 2008

Stylemaker Q&A



I first wrote about Heidi Anderson’s unearthed, an “architectural and vintage finds” business, when it was housed in the top floor of Hue Gallery. When Hue’s owners decided to change it over Ma-Cha Teahouse, Anderson found herself looking for her own space and she found it: on University Avenue across from Lombardino’s. “I like the location I’m at because it’s within a neighborhood,” says Anderson. “It’s a little offbeat where I am so the rent is low, so I can also afford to be out looking for pieces. I also have this wonderful stoplight that I have a captive audience because there’s a high density of drive by traffic.” (photo, left: red and white metal gas station numbers)

A lot of storeowners I’ve talked to were doing something totally different before they decided to pursue their retail passion full-time. That sounds like the case with you.
I used to do marketing at the [Wisconsin] Union writing membership newsletters and promotional pieces. I’ve found it to be extremely valuable as I update my website and send out marketing pieces to my customers. There were a lot of business skills that collided with my passion for found objects as art for the home.
My interest [in unearthed] is just personal and it’s always been there in my own decorating but I started pursuing seriously five years ago. I took baby steps with the typical route; renting a booth at a mall to see how it feels. Then you see the reaction you get from the public and move forward with that.
I started noticing businesses like Scout in Chicago doing something similar. I wondered if Madison wasn’t right for this. I was always conscious of keeping the overhead low and then I could price accordingly and build my business over time, realizing that Madison didn’t offer anything like this. It seemed urban enough to support it.
I was at Hue [Gallery] for two years. Prior to that I had my own warehouse and prior to that, I was in antique malls. I also sell on websites like vintageandmoderininc.com. That helps me reach the coasts. It’s helped me sell to a New York architectural firm that’s renovating a Manhattan hotel.

Where do you go to find the items you sell?
I tend to concentrate on Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. I go to the small towns and look in the antique shops. What I look for is more edgy and urban than what some stores have.
There’s a great salvage shop in Dubuque, Iowa called Restoration Warehouse. I go to the Elkhorn fair in Elkhorn. I’m always looking.
I do have some people bring things to me now that they know what I’m looking for. (photo, left: industrial stool)

What businesses around town have your pieces?
Pasqual’s in Verona has several stained glass windows that they’ve used as dividers between customer areas and the kitchen. They also bought some decorative urns.
Ken [Monteleone] from Fromagination purchased quite a bit. He was looking for unique character pieces. He bought blue stools, maps, clocks that came from the state Capitol and seed sacks that represented farms in Wisconsin.
Another recent customer was Café Four in Mineral Point. They opened April 1; they make pizzas in a woodburning oven. The owner purchased quite a few things to decorate the space as well, such as tractor and farm implements like harrows and seed wheels. He also bought wooden foundry patterns, dental cabinets to use as serving stations and seed sacks to decorate the space. You know, they just become conversation pieces.

What are some of your most popular pieces?
People have reacted very well to some of the ceiling tins as wall hangings. They have a beautiful orange patina and they’re from an old schoolhouse. The color makes people feel good and there’s that history that can be shared.
People are fascinated by the stories behind everything that has an industrial nature or a utilitarian past, like the vases I have that are made out of vintage wallpaper rollers.
Right now I have a series of posters taken from the old Dick and Jane books and they’re full size. Everyone recognizes those. One person purchased them for a baby’s bedroom; one gentleman purchased it for his office.
When people come in and they recognize something they always want to share a story; like about the lab stools I have from a high school.

What are some unique items you’re carrying right now?
Seven old jewelers’ worktables (left). Each one has the original markings on it from when two jewelers worked side by side on the solid maple station. They have four drawers where the jewelers stored their jewels and tools overnight and they’ve got burn marks from the welding torches. They all have so much quality and character.
I tend to try and find things that I can display in multiples even though they’re unique. You create a sense of design rhythm when you have multiples.
I also have some wasp’s nests that are used as decorative art and hung from the ceiling. It’s a perfect example of art coming from nature that you can use in the home.

What is your artistic process when you refurbish something?
I’m attracted to things thing that have sculptural integrity; things that have character. I do tend to favor things that have an industrial past: farms, factories, schools, even. It’s not like I got out looking a specific item; the item usually presents itself.
Then it becomes a matter of, say, adding a piece of glass to make it a table or adding a mirror to an old Gothic window.

Do you work with interior designers at all?
Occasionally I work with interior designers. I would love for more of them to discover us as a viable option for design.

Obviously the “green” movement is hot. Using found objects for art sounds pretty green.
There was a woman in today that deals specifically in green design and we talked quite a I am crossing paths with other groups locally that have the same interest as recycled, reused, refurbished things.
Right now I’m showcasing the tiles from the Rennebohm’s on University and Randall. The Madison trust for Historic Preservation salvaged all of the prisms and are selling them as a benefit. People can buy them as a little piece of history.

I assume your home contains a lot of your pieces.
It does. It seems to be an incubator for pieces and they sit there a while, and then they move over to the shop. My kids always grew up with strange things in the living room.

How much time do you spend scouting for items?
It’s something of a seasonal issue because spring, summer and fall are much more active. It’s usually ten to fifteen hours a week; half the time I’m scouting, half the time I’m in the shop. That time might include finding a welder to make a stand so that those old floor grates can become pedestal tables. It’s a part of the business I do enjoy.

Do you work with a lot of local craftspeople?
I use a welder, upholsterer, carpenter/woodworker, and someone for metal refurbishing.
Recently I had to go to an auto body shop to find someone to help me restore a brass cabinet (below) from the state Capitol. They’re old fire hose cabinets and they’re gorgeous.

Any exciting future plans for the shop?
I'm teaming up with a talented local jeweler, Mary Jane Armstrong, to display her jewelry in the shop. She often uses recycled material in her work (metalmestudio.com).

unearthed
2501 U
niversity Ave. (across from Lombardino’s) 441-1993
Hours: Thurs, Fri, Sat 12–6; anytime by appointment
unearthedmadison.com

Friday, May 16, 2008

Madison's Hottest Shopping Websites


We all know the virtues of shopping online—it’s easy, you can do it in your pajamas, et cetera. Shopping locally, here are what I think are the best designed and most navigable sites right now. (Above: Lauren Merkin "Eve" clutch from JC Madison)

Context
Co-owners and denim connoisseurs Sam and Ben Parker and Ryan Huber have gained quite a reputation for the most coveted and exclusive denim selection around—and in the world, in some cases. Huber pointed out a pair to me the last time I was in the shop that is exclusive to Context (the only other store carrying the brand was its flagship store). Also check out the website’s “Eco-Denim” tab featuring Nudie Denim and Apolis Activism tees. contextclothing.com

Fair Indigo
Four former Lands’ End execs are the founders of Fair Indigo: Bill Bass, Elizabeth Ragone, Don Hughes and Rob Behnke. This site is particularly exciting because shoppers can get to know the people behind their purchases, like Gladys from Montevideo, Uruguay who makes the brand’s seasonless sweaters. Or check out the new eco-friendly baby line which features recycled fleece and organic cotton. I also like the close-up feature that lets web browsers hold their clicker over a garment and it shows a close-up of the fabric weave and detail of the item. fairindigo.com

The Guild
The crème de la crème of a beautifully designed art website. Originally started by Toni Sikes as a website to market artists’ work to designers and architects, Sikes decided to open up the business to regular old art lovers via The Artful Home catalog. The artfulhome.com website followed. More than ten thousand items like glasswork, paintings, jewelry and furniture are available from 1,200 different artists. The Guild is the leading retailer of original art and craft in the country. guild.com, theartfulhome.com


JC Madison
Owner Jenny Condon moved her storefront in Greenway Station to a smaller storefront in the Greenway Industrial Park in September. The reason? To focus on the website end of her business. Condon's new space has a smaller showroom, but offers more storage space for packing up web orders and storing inventory. Condon says the web aspect of the company has been doing incredibly well. Some of that could be chalked up to mentions in Lucky, People, Marie Claire and, well, Madison Magazine. jcmadison.com

J LaMore

First of all, I’ve got to commend Jennifer LaMore, owner of J LaMore, for the website’s denim selection. Many pairs retail for—gasp!—under one hundred dollars. With a tight economy and more importantly, tight wallets, that’s good for shoppers. LaMore’s site goes one step further and incorporates a “friends blog” into the website where shoppers can connect and discuss their favorite styles and designers. Women can also “pick a friend” from the friends blog and friends are from all over—Birmingham, Ala., Hartford, Conn., Milwaukee, London, Paris and yes, even Madison. jlamore.com

Lands’ End
I would think the site’s most popular feature is the swim finder. Find mix and match separates, slenderizing suits, plus-size suits … the list goes on. It’s all there. Men will also find expanded swim options this summer with inseam length choices and more patterns and styles of shorts. Plus did you know that most of the swim stuff has UPF 50 sun protection? That’s right, kid’s, women’s and men’s swimwear all have built-in protection to block the sun’s harmful rays. Of course the site’s ever-popular casual and workwear clothing continues to be a hit. landsend.com

Sconnie.com
Admit it: you loved your college years. Now relive them with Sconnie Nation’s printed T-shirts, mugs, knit hats, hoodies and much more. Plus you can custom design your own gear whether it’s for that upcoming college reunion, family reunion or work party. sconnie.com

shopbop.com

This one’s a no-brainer. It’s gotten kudos from national pubs (Lucky, InStyle, etc. etc), plus, a few retailers here and there have mentioned it to me as a site they look to for stellar web design. It doesn’t hurt that this site features the uber-trendiest, of-the-moment looks by Marc Jacobs, McQ–Alexander McQueen, Theory, Loeffler Randalleven Lauren Conrad. Seriously, they’ve got so many brands it’s overwhelming. Check out the lookbook that literally builds outfits for you and lets shoppers buy the entire look (how easy is that??), bolster your wardrobe with “Bop Basics” and view the “Top Sellers” tab to keep up with what’s flying off the site. shopbop.com

shoptwigs.com
Another shop that’s got a stronghold on high fashion and the latest cool brands (Tory Burch, rag & bone, Gryson) in the city. Twigs has refocused a lot of their energies on their website, and it shows. Shoppers can pick an item (I chose Rock & Republic jeans) and check out up-close views of the item as well as a top or another item that’s paired with it. The website’s clean, uncluttered look is another bonus for me. shoptwigs.com

Other intriguing, locally owned stores’ websites:
indocara.com—This modern global furnishings store was started by Lands’ End alum Natasha Vora. Her web savvy is evident with an attractive, easy to navigate website.
freemarketorganics.com—Based out of Evansville, founder Amelia Royko Maurer sends out e-newsletters with “Green Tips of the Week.” Her eco-friendly website’s got kitchen goods, apparel, baby stuff and more.
centuryhouseinc.com—Your Scandinavian furnishings headquarters. Perfect for those who love the iconic and sinuous “Le Klint” hanging pendant lamp or the utilitarian, clean look of Nordic furnishings.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I Love This




I was at Fontaine the other week and spied these glitzy, sparkly boxes by Archipelago. Slide out the inner part and inside is a soy wax pillar candle that smells delicious. It would make a perfect gift and heck, you wouldn’t even have to wrap it! Bonus: the box can be reused to hold trinkets or jewelry—it’s so pretty you won’t want to throw it away!
Fontaine 811 E. Johnson St. 310-8002.

Green Scene

Did you visit the Going Green Expo this past weekend, May 2–4? I was pleasantly surprised by all of the great green products that were showcased at this inaugural event. I previously mentioned some of the green retailers/companies that were going to be there, so I wanted to share some pics from my visit to the Expo.

The first booth I encountered was Triple M’s, which sponsored the Green Art Gallery. The station held a contest from March 24–May 1 that featured art items made from recyclable or eco-friendly products. which apparently was sponsoring a green art contest.








Stuff ranged from a “rug” made with fishing nets and floats, a wall hanging made out of tea bags, a dress constructed of plastic sheets (a la Project Runway) and the most spectacular piece, an entire car decorated with found objects. Check it out (the doll heads are a little weird, but admittedly, the car is quite a work of art!).
















Olivetree Essence Beauty
’s booth was like being a kid in a candy store for me. The shimmery, sparkly powders and makeup instantly caught my eye (I have an affinity for sparkly things, OK?). Rows and rows of primer, eyeshadows, blushes and more were laid out for customers to sample. According to Olivetree’s brochure, their mineral makeup contains “no preservatives or fillers that can irritate your skin. Mineral makeup has actually been known to improve skin over time.” The skin-care products sound heavenly, like the clay mask and the coconut sugar scrub. Prices are affordable, so check out the website if you’re interested. shopolivetree.com





Next I strolled over to Market Baskets On The Go, which offers punchy and bright polyester baskets that folks can use for
the Farmers’ Market, on a trip to the park or for a warm-day picnic. Amazingly, the baskets can hold a sturdy forty-four pounds and are collapsible for easy travel. The light aluminum frame helps the basket keep its shape. (P.S.: I’ve seen the solid orange Reisenthel basket featured in last August’s InStyle magazine).

We’ve all seen bamboo used to make super soft clothing (prime example: our April cover) and Hip To Bamboo’s booth was chock-full of soft tees, dresses and cardigan wraps. Just touching the shirts makes you want to buy one on the spot. Prices are a little steeper than your standard cotton T-shirt, so here’s to hoping that eventually prices for bamboo clothing will become more affordable. hiptobamboo.com








One of my favorites: Metcalfe’s Sentry booth, which featured all kinds of yummy food samples. First I helped myself to some Chocolate Shoppe Blue Moon ice cream (sources tell me that the Chocolate Shoppe is developing a red and yellow ice cream especially for Sentry’s Bratfest on May 23–26). The booth also had Otter Creek cheese samples, Potter’s Crackers, various alcohol samples, and displays with sustainable products for sale. Metcalfe's is also promoting the idea of FOOD MILES, or how many miles certain products had to travel, underscoring the importance of buying locally (or as locally as possible). shopmetcalfes.com

Have you tried TerraSource Gourmet Chocolates? The company’s motto is “Specializing in dark chocolates made with the highest quality local, organic and fair trade ingredients.” Let me get this straight: scrumptious chocolates, made with fair trade/organic ingredients and they’re part of Dane Buy Local? I can’t see a downside in that. Plus, haven’t new reports come out that dark chocolate is good for you…?
Anyway, owner Josie Pradella is constantly developing new flavors. One is an antioxidant jasmine green tea-infused flavor; the other is called Blueberry Bliss: a blueberry and Yahara Bay Distillers limoncello infused chocolate. I’m trying that one!
I just sampled the Rishi Scarlet tea flavor I picked up from the show. What a perfect treat!
One more thing: the chocolates are packaged in biodegradable cellophane packaging and boxes are embedded with wildflower seeds so once your chocolate is all gone, you can plant the box. terrasourcechocolates.com

I wrote a tidbit on Ruegsegger Farms/Paoli Local Market a couple of months ago. They made an appearance at the Expo, armed with samples of Blue Marble milk smoothies, Hook’s cheese, Potter’s Crackers and more. The market carries a full line of organic groceries and organic produce. Paoli is the perfect mini-getaway for a warm summer day; stop by the galleries, check out Paoli Cheese and grocery shop at the market. paolilocalfoods.com

Satara, an organic bedding and baby goods store, teamed up on a booth with Creative Energy. New stuff from Satara includes glass baby bottles, Green Sleep mattress pads and diaper covers by Organic Caboose. Pushing aside what a diaper’s used for, I think the name Organic Caboose is really cute. satara-inc.com

Other booth sightings: Travel Green Wisconsin, Yahara Bay Distillers, Sundara Spa, Fair Indigo, Bad Boy Buggies and much, much more. I think the Expo will be a fun yearly event to celebrate and promote green living. Plus, you can shop and eat … how can you go wrong?!
travelgreenwisconsin.com
fairindigo.com
yaharabay.com
sundaraspa.com

World Fair Trade Day

Saturday, May 10 is World Fair Trade Day and to celebrate, Fair Indigo is donating one hundred percent of their sales to education. Half goes to the local school of one’s choice and the other half goes to Fair Indigo’s Foundation, which supports education globally. (Example: if you spend $20, $10 goes to your school and $10 goes to the Foundation).
Personally, I like this shirt from Fair Indigo that would make a great Father’s Day gift!

Fair Indigo
702 N. Midvale Blvd. 661-7662. fairindigo.com

Friday, May 2, 2008

Update/Correction

In our April "Fabulous Finds" Green Clean article, we incorrectly listed Caldrea products can be purchased at Gratitudes. This store is closed.
Another shop you can buy Caldrea products is at Willow Creek.
Willow Creek 6909 University Ave. 836-3911

Thursday, May 1, 2008

New Store Opening! I've Got the Exclusive

My friend Kristin Wild is opening Atticus, a brand new women’s and men’s apparel store on the Capitol Square at 18 N. Carroll St. Wild has worked in retail, most recently as a buyer in Madison as well as in the New York retail world. I spoke with Wild to get a few details on her new boutique, which is slated to open May 10.

What will Atticus sell?
I wanted it to be very relevant to everyday life in Madison. I’ll have clothing you can wear to work, or if you have a day off, you can wear it, too. It will be everything, really.
It’s mostly up-and-coming designers or fusion lines from designers that have been around awhile. For example, if it’s a designer known for dressier clothing, I’m carrying their more casual line.
For women I’m carrying Acne Jeans, Kerrigan, Loeffler Randall, Trovata and Charlotte Ronson. For men I’ll have Loomstate, Relwen and Simon Miller. (Editor’s note: Wild will sell more lines than just these.)

Green is big now. Will you be carrying any green lines?
There will be seven lines I have that are either eco friendly, environmentally conscious, organic or socially conscious. For the socially conscious lines, some of the profit goes to various charities. All of the lines will have a tag on them explaining to customers why it’s eco friendly or socially conscious.

What is the store’s “look” in a sentence or two?
Industrial meets classic. The fixtures are more industrial; there’s silver steel and exposed ductwork. Once everything’s done, I want it to be a warm, inviting environment.

What will your price point be?
It’s a broad range. $50–$250, on average. Accessories, handbags and scarves will probably run $20–$200. Apothecary (brands include Kai and Malin+Goetz) will run $10–$50.

Atticus
18 N. Carroll St. 204-9001.

Events

We all love the Farmers’ Market downtown, right? Well, Madison’s got a lot of other farmers’ markets around the city. Take the Middleton Farmers’ Market at Greenway Station. An alternative to the Saturday morning downtown market, Middleton’s market is on Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The market opens next week on May 8. Find it in the parking area next to Cheeseburger in Paradise.

Another place that’s fast becoming a “lifestyle center” (a la Greenway Station) is Hilldale Shopping Center. Lifestyle centers aim to provide shoppers with an all-encompassing experience: shops, entertainment, dining and access to more basic needs, like grocery stores. What’s great about Hilldale is that it’s got local stores (Fair Indigo, Therese Zache, Jan Byce, Woldenberg’s, etc.) in addition to national chains (Anthropologie, Macy’s, Bath & Body Works, L’Occitane). It’s that valuable mix that draws shoppers in, whether they’re coming to check out a sale at Macy’s (hey, let’s be honest!) or a cool event like this weekend’s Artistic Accessories Show & Sale on May 3–4. According to a show press release, it’s “a show and sale of artistically inspired jewelry, clothing and accessories, unique one of a kind handbags, scarves, textiles, hats and wearable art.” There will be thirty-five-plus exhibitors, including some local artists like Jane Miller (East Side Bags), jeweler Diane Dohm from Dane and Vicky Kusyk Handbags.
Hilldale Artistic Accessories Show & Sale, May 3–4, Hilldale Shopping Center, 702 N. Midvale Blvd. (information: Loretta Dooley, 271-7472).

The Bohemian Bauble always, and I mean always, has stuff going on! This near-south-side gem showcases local artists’ wares in beautiful vignettes and has the friendliest staff. Find bath and body items, jewelry, vintage stuff and much more in this little enclave. This weekend is The Blossom sale on May 2–4. You can’t argue with the entire store being fifteen percent off! Owner Tami Beirne also says there will be a lot of new things for sale, and everyone’s favorite—giveaways.
Also stop by for Gallery Night on May 2 from 5–9 p.m. and get free snacks and drinks and of course, fifteen percent off.
The Blossom Sale May 2–4, 10–4.
The Bohemian Bauble 404 W. Lakeside St. 333-BOHO

One of State Street’s newest shops, Anthology, has declared May as Mom’s Month in the store. From May 1–10, drop in make mom a card for only one dollar. Can’t beat that! Plus, mom loves homemade stuff, right?
Later in the month, drop in to make a button (May 11–16), see a plaster cake demonstration (May 17) or make a comb-bound mini-notebook with stamped pages (May 19–31).
Anthology 218 State St. 204-2644.

One of my favorite stops is Lady Moxie for affordable and gently used clothing. Owner Elizabeth Wewerka always has something special (and new!) for shoppers when they stop in. Speaking of new, Wewerka recently took a trip to California where she met with some fabulous designers that she’s now carrying. Effie’s Heart is a line of comfy cotton items (I like the cute tiered, short sundress) that can be dressed up or down; Melanie Renee features crisp sundresses dressed up in vibrant colors in large exploded (and somewhat retro) prints; Evarize is a line of stretchy knit dresses.
Lady Moxie 6706 Odana Rd. 826-4268. Ladymoxie.com

Who hasn’t been to Dazzle by now? Well if you haven’t been, now is the time to go! The designer-inspired jewelry and accessories boutique just received a large shipment of new items last week. Owner Valerie Martin always is on top of the trends with her items; the last time I was there I spied animal-print items, chunky bangles, lots of metallic items and oversized clutch handbags.
Dazzle 8426 Old Sauk Rd. 826-4455.

Mother’s Day is around the corner, and The Guild has got you covered for gifts. If you’re shopping inept, don’t have a lot of time, or just plain like online shopping better, check out their Mother’s Day Gift Guide on the artfulhome.com website. You can even narrow down your shopping choices even more with tabs like “$250 and under,” “for the jewelry lover,” “for the nature lover” and “more artistic gift ideas.”
theartfulhome.com
theguild.com

Closings

Cheryl Batten’s Bodacious Boutique (1719 Monroe St.) is closing as Batten has decided not to renew her lease for the property. Bodacious has been open five years and from the brands they sell, sounds like they have some pretty fab stuff to choose from during her closing sale: Betsey Johnson, Donna Morgan, French Connection and Cartisse. The sale starts today and will continue until everything sells out (Batten is anticipating it will be done by the end of May). So come early for the best pickings and selection!
Batten is looking forward to her retirement. “I’m going to do something else but mostly, take some time off.”
Bodacious Boutique 1719 Monroe St. 442-7575.

I just saw a billboard on the Beltline for a closing sale at Allen Edmond’s Shoe Bank on Mineral Point Road. I put in a call to the store and no one answered, but I’m pretty sure the sale is going on this week or next. This particular Shoe Bank sells shoes that are considered “one-off” or a tad imperfect. I stopped in one day and the salesman there explained to me that many of the “one-off” shoes have such tiny imperfections that the majority of the shoes are quite a deal since the wearer can’t tell (or feel) the imperfection. He showed me a pair and I couldn’t tell where the imperfection was. So, if you have some money to spend and would like some long lasting and stylish shoes, stop by the Shoe Bank for their closing sale.
Allen Edmond’s Shoe Bank 7412 Mineral Point Rd. 833-3766

The Twisted Twig is closing their doors and also offering exceptional savings on their inventory. Known for their log cabin/vacation home aesthetic, it’s the perfect time to pick something up for a vacation home now that warmer weather is here.
The Twisted Twig 2905 Parmenter St., Middleton. 831-2005

Grape & Co. has closed.