Thursday, January 29, 2009

What's Your Style? I Quiz My Friends

So this blog is usually all about me, and what I think. And I don’t profess to be the most interesting person, so this week, I turned it around and asked a few of my friends what they thought! You see, I have made friends with young professionals and business owners alike in Madison, all of whom have their own signature style. And I love chatting with them about where they like to shop, their favorite things they’ve bought and more. So read on for what some of these fab ladies had to say!

Kristin Wild, owner, Atticus

Shayna Miller: What's your signature style? What store best captures you?
Kristin Wild: My style is usually kind of downtown and edgy with elements of practicality thrown in. I get inspired by girls who live on the Lower East Side of New York and the East End in London, but I’m a Wisconsin girl so I have to tone it down a bit. I wear flat boots all winter long, and I usually have some sort of scarf wrapped around my neck because I’m always freezing.
I’m also huge fan of high/low dressing. You know, mixing Aldo shoes with an Alexander Wang dress. It’s fun, and it just makes sense. My shop sells designer jeans, but I’m still a poor twenty-four-year-old! So, I save up for good quality, investment pieces and I buy trendy, one-season pieces at H&M or Target. Of course, Atticus is the shop that best captures my style!

SM: What’s your favorite piece(s) in your wardrobe? How long ago did you buy it, where did you get, why do you like it?
KW: My favorite piece of all time has to be the dress I got while interning at Temperley in London. It was my first designer piece, and Lily Cole wore it on the runway. It’s a mini dress with a plunging neckline and back made from silk with the Temperley Godet print in red, blue and ivory. I’ve had it now for about four years, and I wear it every chance I get!
Currently, my favorite piece is a scarf by Aude that we carry at Atticus. They make the most incredibly soft scarves from T-shirt material and they’re super long so you can wear them a million ways. I wear one every day and usually end up wrapping it three times around my neck to stay cozy!

SM: What's your favorite budget buy you’ve gotten? When did you get it, and what do you like about it?
KW: My favorite budget buy would probably be my pirate pants from H&M. I got them for, like, $10 right after the first Pirates of the Caribbean came out. Ha! I loved Keira Knightley in that movie—she made menswear look so sexy. I’ll wear heels or a feminine silk top with them to balance out the look.

SM: What's your favorite splurge(s), where did you get it, when and what do you like about it?
KW: My favorite splurge would be my soccer booties from Marc by Marc Jacobs (see picture, above!). I adore his shoes, but even the Marc by Marc line can be pricey. I first saw the booties on Shopbop in August of 2007, and I stalked them daily for five months until they went on sale! They’re completely impractical but I’m in love with them.

SM: What’s your favorite local retail store in Madison?
KW: Probably not a fair question for me—I’m clearly biased—Atticus, obviously! I also enjoy shopping at Context for men’s jeans, Bop for Wisconsin staple pieces (Uggs, Chip & Pepper Bucky Badger tees, Juicy sweats), and A Stone’s Throw for workout pants and Smartwool socks.

SM: What store do you wish we had in Madison?
KW: I know it will never happen, but I would love a Barney’s Co-op! A more realistic choice would be Madewell, the new J. Crew sister store. I think it could do very well here. It has good quality basics like J. Crew, but a little more forward in design.
Kristi Moe, owner, Moe Publicity

SM: What’s your signature style? What store best captures you?
Kristi Moe: Accessories because they ALWAYS fit! [I] love bangles, big earrings, hats, shoes, bags. Store: Dazzle!

SM: What’s your favorite piece(s) in your wardrobe? How long ago did you buy it, where did you get and why do you like it?
KM: A grey tweed newsboy cap—bought long ago enough to not remember where I bought it from (see picture). It is so hard finding hats that have the perfect proportion, fit and angle/slouch. This particular hat can be casual or dressed up for a funky style.
I love hats in general because they help you to stand out in a crowd and are a lifesaver for a bad hair day. My tip for finding the perfect hat: Try on every hat you see until you find one that works pretty good. You’ll likely not LOVE it until you break it in and get used to positioning it and get comfortable seeing yourself with it on.

SM: Your favorite budget buy you've gotten: when did you get it, what do you like about it?
KM: I’ve been searching since September NY Fashion Week for an orange (orange is huge for spring) patent handbag that is large enough to carry my padfolio for meetings ... haven’t found ANY. Not even at Dazzle. Very sad. Until I went to Aldo at West Towne Mall the other weekend when they were having their eighty percent off sale and I scored a gorgeous bag for $35! It’s bright orange patent with gold accents and just big enough to fit a padfolio.

SM: Your favorite splurge(s)—where did you get it, when, and what do you like about it?
KM: My favorite splurge is the best accessory ever ... perfume. You’re not a diva until you turn heads because you smell damn good. And sorry girls, I’m not telling which one it is. It’s my secret!

SM: Your favorite local retail store in Madison?
KM: Can I plead the fifth? I have several for different reasons. Atticus because of their commitment to the environment and high-quality, fresh designers; Context because of the life they’re breathing into the fashion scene for men not only in Madison but nationally; Sukara Sterling because she’s just so darn cute and her brand is infectious; Patricia Shoppe because her fashions are reflective of Madison ... ecclectic; J LaMore because Jennifer shows that high fashion can be warm, inviting and personable.

SM: What store did you wish we had in Madison?
KM: TopShop because they make fashion accessible and fresh in a very cool way. They’ve been able to become a successful corporate entity (in the U.K.) while including young emerging designers which is risky for a big business to do; but keeps them from offering bland, cookie-cutter merchandise.
Katie Vaughn, associate editor, Madison Magazine (and fellow Madison Magazine blogger!)

SM: What’s your signature style? What store best captures you?
Katie Vaughn: I’m drawn to simple clothes with clean lines, but I like to accent them with an interesting piece or two—maybe a pair of fun shoes, a bright scarf or cool jewelry. I get a lot of my clothes at Banana Republic (they do simple silhouettes with little extras like pleats, ruffles and touches of embellishment really well), but I look for accessories everywhere.

SM: What’s your favorite piece(s) in your wardrobe? How long ago did you buy it, where did you get and why do you like it?
KV: It’s hard to choose but a few of my favorites are: A black spaghetti-strap wrap dress I got years ago but always go back to because it’s sexy and simple. A dark pink cashmere wrap/scarf that’s warm and provides a nice pop of color. A silver leaf necklace made from a pair of earrings I liked but never wore. My turquoise bikini because it represents the ultimate in easy dressing—if I’m lucky enough to be on a beach, what more do I really need?

SM: Your favorite budget buy you’ve gotten, when did you get it and what do you like about it?
KV: I like picking up inexpensive pieces when I travel. I’ve found great shoes at boutiques and jewelry everywhere, especially markets. I also love buying interesting fabrics, which my mom is nice enough to make into dresses and skirts. A paisley print for a few dollars in Greece became a wrap skirt that I wear with camisoles and sandals in the summer and a turtleneck, tights and boots in winter.

SM: Your favorite splurge(s)—where did you get it, when and what do you like about it?
KV: Good denim is my best splurge. I got hooked at the Blues Jean Bar ( in San Francisco when I lived out west. A great pair of jeans can elevate whatever else you’re wearing—and give you a fantastic boost of confidence all day.

SM: What's your favorite local retail store in Madison?
KV: We’re lucky to have Bop in Madison. They offer ideas for pushing the envelope fashion-wise. And I’m looking forward to checking out Atticus soon.

SM: What store do you wish we had in Madison?
KV: Maybe just more stores in general? I can always use another reason to shop!
Elizabeth Wewerka, owner, Lady Moxie

SM: What’s your signature style?
Elizabeth Wewerka: My signature style is no signature. I like to shake it up and try new things ... to dress for whatever my mood is. I’ll wear anything from boho chic to minimalist to (gasp!) old school St John’s.

SM: What store best captures you?
EW: Lady Moxie: it’s responsible extravagance. It’s green, it’s economical and it’s styling.

SM: What are your favorite piece(s) in your wardrobe? How long ago did you buy it, where did you get and why do you like it?
EW: Currently I’m all about belts … BIG, HUGE ONES. I’ve gotten five or six over the last season and I keep coming up with new outfits that center on them. I guess I like them because they reign in the skirts that I often wear as dresses lately (see photo).

SM: Your favorite budget buy you've gotten: when did you get it and what do you like about it?
EW: My all-time favorite budget buy is an 18K gold and coral cocktail ring that I got for two bucks. I’ve had it for five years now. I love how it makes me think of a trip I took to Hawaii. I really wanted to buy coral jewelry out there but I had the hardest time paying the tourist prices on the islands. I found the ring at a consignment store right after I came home.

SM: Your favorite splurge(s), where did you get it, when and what do you like about it?
EW: My Shanel Regier custom-made corset or my brown Vicmatie boots. The corset was made for me by one of the designers I carry at Lady Moxie and I like it because it’s a one of a kind that fits me like a glove.
The boots I got down at Lori’s in Chicago and I like them because they are very unique “tough girl” boots. Everybody always comments on them when I wear them.

SM: Your favorite local retail store in Madison?
EW: Lady Moxie. But if I’m shopping elsewhere, I’d have to say Woldenberg’s; all of the staff there is soooo good at servicing the customer, even the customers who only shop the clearance racks. I remember going there once before I actually moved to Madison. I was looking at the furs and one of the ladies asked me if I wanted to try one on. I said something about them being lovely but only being able to afford vintage. She tsked and waved her hand at me, pulled one of the coats off the hanger and had me wrapped in it in
about two seconds. When staff can make you feel special like that, it makes a fan for life.

SM: Store you wish we had in Madison?
EW: Honestly, I am very into supporting local shops. So if I could have another shop in Madison, I’d hope for another locally owned boutique.

Congrats, and Divine in Domino

To Goodman’s Jewelers for nabbing the prestigious National Independent Jeweler Award. Goodman’s was one of twenty-seven winners (and the only one in the Midwest) to win the award, based on America’s Best Jewelers National Benchmarking Survey conducted by National Jewelers Magazine.
My interactions with Goodman’s have always been positive and their staff extremely helpful. Goodmans’ president John Hayes accepted the award in New York on January 19. Congrats!

Goodman’s Jewelers, 220 State St. 257-3644.

I was reading the December/January issue of Domino the other week and spotted Divine Chocolate bars on their “Giving Back” page. This particular page is devoted to products that give a portion of their proceeds to charitable orgs. Divine Chocolate is sold at SERRV here in Madison, (formerly A Greater Gift), the fair-trade shop on Monroe Street. I have tried Divine Chocolate and can I just say it’s, well, divine! I purchased a few bars during the holiday season to give out as little gifts and of course purchased some bars for myself, too.
The mint dark chocolate bar is fab and tastes like Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies. They also sell milk, dark, and fruit and nut chocolate bars, too. Or check out the bags of dark and milk chocolate hearts—perfect for Valentine’s Day and only $5 a bag!

, 2701 Monroe St. 233-4438.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Stylemaker Q&A: Jane Kinney

Owner, J. Kinney Florist

Jane Kinney’s shop name J. Kinney might not convey much—certainly not like how the store Dazzle implies glitzy handbags and jewelry, or Jazzman carries suave and sophisticated clothing for the well-dressed man. Like in the tradition of the Barneys and Bergdorf Goodmans of the world, J. Kinney’s notoriety is in the name of her shop and the fact that her store has been around a heck of a lot longer than most Madison retailers—twenty-six years, to be exact.
Kinney’s aptly named shop has touches of her in it—the springy green exterior sign and the wooden-slat front screen door makes shoppers feel right at home—if their home were a quaint cottage.

Madison Magazine: What had you been doing before you opened J. Kinney here in Madison in 1983?
Jane Kinney: I lived in San Francisco for a decade. I ran a store that sold green plants but no flowers, named Jane’s Plants. I had gotten a degree in horticulture from City College of San Francisco.

I’m originally from Madison, and San Francisco is a wonderful place, but it goes on without you. I wanted to be a smaller town and I missed the Midwest since I’m from Madison. So I sold the plant store.

MM: Why did you decide to open another store in Madison?
JK: When I started, I was too new to Madison to realize that people thought that the Square was dead. I thought it was cool. I saw all of the people working downtown and thought it would be a great place for a store [Ed’s note: Kinney’s original store was located on King Street before she moved to her current location on Monroe Street].

I had read about the European flower market approach, which is basically selling flowers by the stem. That seemed to be something that would really work in an urban environment. I think I was the first that displayed flowers out of a cooler and had things marked separately instead of traditional arrangements.

[I don’t] stock traditional flowers like carnations, mums and the other staples. Our focus has moved from tropicals to as many locally grown flowers as we can find.
Even during the winter we have anemones, ranunculus and irises, and those are grown here locally. Probably ninety percent of what we sell is locally grown flowers in the summer. Some are native prairie flowers, and almost all are grown locally.

MM: Why did you move from your King Street location to Monroe Street?
JK: It was a variety of things, but the most important factor was that the rents were so high. And the conveniences of downtown were few and far between, like garbage removal. Running deliveries out of a place with no parking was hard. And downtown has evolved into an entertainment district. It was a slow process and that was the end result. That was a reason that the rents became so prohibitive. Restaurants can afford to pay more rent because they have a higher turnover than other kinds of retail.

MM: What are the differences of running a shop in San Francisco and Madison?
JK: I lived in San Francisco in the ’70s. At that period it wasn’t the city it is now; it was a city that was a series of small neighborhoods that were like their own little towns. I’m sure it’s changed vastly since then. There were a lot of hippie entrepreneurs that were opening stores without much capital.

MM: What do you focus on in the home décor and gift area?
JK: We’ve always been focused on what used to be called “shabby chic” and now would be called cottage style. I mean, not everything in here fits into that category. We just have pretty much stayed focused on that. Now there’s a new emphasis on botanical renderings, and we’re really interested in that. That combines the flower aspect with the cottage style.

We have the renderings in wall hangings, beautiful pillows with botanical images on them and shadow boxes with botanical drawings on them. It’s a more dedicated focus than a lot of gift shops would have.

Another category we have is fragranced candles, which again, is sort of a hybrid of fresh flowers and items for the home. We also have fragranced cleaning products inspired by natural fragrances. Some of our bath and body items are the same pure, natural flower fragrances and high quality fragrance using floral scents.

MM: Why do you think J. Kinney has stayed in business so long?
JK: I think it’s a cross between I have a really clear vision of what I wanted to do, and I just stuck with it. It’s sort of a combination of courage and stupidity. Does that make sense?
MM: Yep, I’ve heard that before!

MM: What’s the most challenging part of being a small retailer, and the most rewarding thing?
JK: The challenging part is that the constancy of it; you have to be here ninety-five percent of the time. It’s sort of like a dairy farmer with a herd of cows that need to be milked. You leave, and the place can sort of crumble!

The rewarding part is being able to surround yourself in what is beautiful. In January and February we’re surrounded by flowers! That’s pretty satisfying.

MM: I know that you sell some fair-trade items, but you also focus on items made in the U.S. and even locally, when you can. Can you talk about that?
JK: We really look for things that are made in this country or made elsewhere under fair working conditions. There’s very little we buy that we don’t know about the producer. If you go to our blog (, you’ll see stories and pictures of who we buy from. Five years ago when I would go to [the gift show that I buy merchandise from] you could hardly find anything that wasn’t made in China.

We also find local craftspeople. We have a woman who lives in the Monroe Street area that makes handbags. We carry handbags that are made in Colorado and the women who make them even design the fabric. We have another new company from Washington state that makes her own hats and scarves.

With the plants, Canada has taken over the market for a lot of the plants, but I don’t like the quality. The Canadian government pays a lot of the fuel costs to get the plants here. But I think their plants are weak and inferior. Or you can go into Trader Joe’s and get orchids really cheap from Taiwan. They bloom for two weeks. If you buy them here, they bloom for months.

MM: What are your favorite items you sell?
JK: My absolute favorite thing these days are these botanical pillows. They’re made in Texas and the design is silk-screened on the fabric. When you put them in a room, it’s as important as what the painting on the wall looks like. They’re gorgeous. ($139.95 by Design Legacy)

Another favorite is candles that are soy based, in a votive. They have a seventy-hour burn time and the fragrances are really interesting and complex. ($34.95 by Kobo)

[I like this] company called Lalo. It’s a jewelry designer from Israel who fashions everything out of high-quality resin. We have a keychain the designer makes that’s a whimsical design and really jazzy. She also makes sets of bracelets out of the same resin. It’s three to five bangles in a color range but can be worn together or separately. They’re really, really fun. ($65 by Lalo)

MM: Where do you shop when you’re not working?
JK: I don’t do a lot of shopping when I’m not working. I like A Stone’s Throw a lot. They have practical clothing that’s still really attractive. It’s sportswear, but more fashionable than some.

I like what Janice Durand has done to change Little Luxuries recently. I think that’s a gorgeous store.

I think Fromagination is very impressive. It looks like it was transplanted from Manhattan.

MM: Why should people “buy local”?
JK: There are so many reasons. One of them is that if people continue to buy more and more from Target and Wal-mart, more of us small retailers will be gone and the world will be a lot more boring than it is now!

And the whole idea of keeping the money in the area, rather than having it sent elsewhere. Imagine a world that had very few small retail shops. Target is good for what they do; they just will never that atmosphere that individuals create.

J. Kinney, 1835 Monroe St. 255-7500.

Sales and Events

Bop is holding their "very own Maxwell St. Days Sale." I have a feeling that this sale will be GOOD. In fact, the store was closed all day Thursday to prepare! Check it out.
Hours: Friday 10a–7p, Saturday 10a–6p, Sunday 11a–5p.
bop, 222 W. Gorham St. 255-2570.

Need any gently-used furniture? The HospiceCare Thrift Store is holding a forty percent off furniture sale through Saturday, January 10. Nightstands, coffee tables and more could be yours for a steal! With the current money situation, I think a nicely discounted piece of furniture will do.
HospiceCare Thrift Store, 122 Junction Rd. 833-4556.

Don't let the winter doldrums get you down—get crafty! Here's Anthology's project schedule for the next few weeks:

January 2–13:
Mini melted wax collage. Bring in photocopies, text, magazine and catalog scraps and work with melted wax on a mini collage. $5.
January 14–23: Comb bound scrap books. Scraps of paper: maps, book pages, envelopes, and notebook paper, bound into a notebook. $5.
January 24–February 14: Valentine cards. $5 for 3 cards (what a steal!)
, 218 State St. 204-2644.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Things I Love

I was out and about earlier this week working on a magazine story and stopped in two of my favorite stores: Fontaine and Iconi. I thought I'd share pics I snapped of some cool stuff I encountered.
First are these gorgeous vintage slipper chairs from Fontaine, priced at $1,635. With touches of Asian, organic and luxe all rolled into one, these chairs are fit for a queen. I've long admired slipper chairs because they always look so stately and feminine in home décor magazines; though they could be fashioned into a more "manly" look by covering one in leather and adding some nailhead trim, too. Either way, I love, love, love these chairs and the fabric they're swathed in.

Next is my perennial favorite Iconi Interiors. So, I'm one of those people that like dressing up. You won't catch me in a T-shirt and sneakers, unless I'm working out. No sir—it's pumps, bangles and dresses for me! That's why I like Coni Marotz's store Iconi, because it reminds me of a time when women dressed up for cocktail parties, wore red lipstick and glammed it up with major jewelry. Men sported smart suits and had pocket squares. Marotz has quite a collection of vintage barware, seen here. She also has an awesome collection of vintage jewelry that I yearn for every time I step in her store. It's like a magnet—I'm drawn to her case of jewelry every time I stop by.
Can't you just imagine a cocktail party in the '50s or '60s, where these glasses were surely used? I sure can. So, combine the sparkly cocktail glasses with one of her major necklaces and you've got my dream world of dressing up for a party, clutching a extraordinary glass all while looking fabulous. Cheers!

Fontaine, 811 E. Johnson St. 310-8002.
Iconi Interiors, 534 W. Washington Ave. 441-0077.

What to Buy Now: Guys

Congratulations to Context for celebrating their third anniversary this past December. The men's clothing retailer even held a party in late December at Natt Spil to fete their birthday.
What's their hot seller right now? Co-owner Ryan Huber tells me that this B.Son for Context hooded zip-up jacket (left) and B.Son for Context button hoody are where it's at. The price point is good ($187 for the zip-up; $145 for the hoody) for such a versatile piece. The most interesting part about these pieces is that B.Son worked with Context to create these garments just for them. If you want one of these exclusive B.Son pieces, you'd better pick them up fast as only fifty zip-ups were made and eighty hoodys produced.
Huber tells me that the store may very well produce a private label in the upcoming months. Stay tuned.

Context, 113 King St. 250-0113.

New Store Opening

Have you ever visited a lululemon store before? I have—in Chicago and Santa Monica—both with my friend Kendal who is absolutely obsessed with lululemon clothing. She's so into lululemon that she works at the Santa Monica store! The yoga and athletic wear retailer has recently opened a store in our parts at 410 State St. This is the first location in Wisconsin.
In addition to peddling clothing the Madison "lululemonade Stand" has a free yoga class every Sunday from noon to 1 p.m. Check it out! (Above: lululemon's Hipster Pant*Den)

lululemonade Stand, 410 State St. 414-510-0624.