Valentine’s Day is almost upon us and it is one of my favorite holidays. Whether you are partnered or single, to me, it is a day that is simply filled with gratitude for the love of the people who are most special in our lives. Yes, it has been over-commercialized, but behind that, is the simple call to action to tell people you love how much you appreciate them. And…chocolate plus flowers helps😊
January is always a time for goal setting and new beginnings. For the last two years I have imagined re-doing the shop displays but was hesitant to take the leap. After our super busy holiday season, I decided to just go for it and we installed new display tables and constructed a wonderful pipe and flange wall system that gives us so much more organized space! Stop by and check it out!
Yes it’s freezing and snowing outside but our beloved bloggers take one for the team! Hats off to Katie Salerno(📷) and Kate (Prep of Boston) for modeling new pieces from Splendid and Misa Los Angeles! Piping hot chocolate is well deserved💕
Looking for a fun local winter activity? We recently discovered Bantam Cider in Union Square. Every weekend they open their Tap Room to the public, offering $10 flights to sample! http://www.bantamcider.com/find-us/taproom
I’m obsessed with always having fresh flowers in the house – on the kitchen table, on the windowsills or as a centerpiece on the dining room table when we have gatherings with friends. I especially love small vases and most often cut the long stem flowers down to size somthey fit into the little arrangements that I create. I often re-purpose small creamers or tealight votive holders!
This fall, fashion has given a happy nod to velvet and a bit of glam! We are excited to see these luxe velvets and slight shimmery textured fabrics on runways and in the shop! Off the shoulder and “cold” shoulder tops still dominate and we are finding more women experimenting and loving the look! Two favorites include Misa LA’s black velvet and Ella Moss’ pale pink top.
Since moving my shop to Boston’s North End (“Little Italy”) neighborhood 12 years ago, I have had so much fun wandering through the small streets, discovering hidden gems, including a few mom and pop old world salumerias. We love entertaining at home and often spend hours cooking for friends, but on a busy work day it can be tough to find the time. In a quick trip to the local Italian charcuterie and cheese shop, I can gather Piave cheese, Fennel Sopressata, Castelvetrano green olives and Rosemary Crackers and be ready with appetizers in a flash! settingnit up is always my favorite part and I love to use the slate board from the shop forma distincitve presentation!
Favorite places include Monica’s Mercato on Salem Street, Depasquale’s on Hanover and Salumeria Italiana on Richmond Street!
I am a huge fan of fresh flowers in small vases! Whenever I get a giant bunch of gorgeous long stem flowers, I find my trusty garden scissors and cut them down so they can fit them in small containers! I love the look of assorted vases in a line down the center of a dinner table! Featured here is the Serpentine Vase from Roost and a few ceramic and milky glass jars from Creative Co-op.
We recently started collaborating with a local photographer, Katie Salerno, who has been doing many of our fashion and styled shoots with local bloggers. Katie recently left a corporate job to follow her passion and build her own solo photography business, focusing on family, wedding, and bridal portraits, as well as fashion shoots. Starting your business takes a leap of faith and a certain deep knowledge that you are kick ass enough to pull it off.
I am frequently asked how I started Shake, 22 years ago. I had been practicing law, doing civil litigation for three years and then running a women’s criminal justice project for five. On the side, I was painting furniture and small home decor with a friend, selling our work in local shops and through makers markets. I had always been drawn to art and creativity, having studied a bit at the museum school in Boston. When the project I was running ran out of funding, I hit a roadblock. I didn’t want to go back to doing litigation, hating the adversarial nature of it, yet I felt compelled to stay in a field that I had chosen and studied for. I found myself applying for jobs that I did not want and the turning point for me was getting a lucrative job offer and declining because I couldn’t imagine myself continuing in this field.
So, on a random weekday morning, having coffee with a friend, I watched a landlord put a “for rent” sign up in a small shop in Brookline and I literally walked across the street and rented it for year . I had been secretly imagining opening up a shop, but I had never worked in retail and really knew nothing about it. However, in that exact moment I let go of all my fears and just jumped into it headfirst, eyes open. I am usually not impulsive and I am very risk-aversive with money but honestly I had no doubt that this would work. I called everyone I knew who made cool things and asked if they would give me things on consignment, paying them only when the items sold. I gathered friends and we built shelving, painted and fixed up the place so I was open in about a month. Since that date in June 1994, I’ve had to move twice and now have a beautiful shop in Boston’s North end, having run a successful business for over two decades all by myself!
If anyone reading this is wondering if they can do it, take a leap of faith and know that you can.
One of my favorite things to do in my shop is come in super early (yes, before the sun even rises) and set up all of the displays! I love the creative burst of energy that actually starts months before at various designer trade shows, open studios, and local handmade craft markets, where I begin the process of imagining next season’s displays. In this business, I am always a season or two ahead,( so, as of this moment in October, I am planning Spring!)
As I shop for beautiful clothes, candles, tabletop, cookbooks, etc..I plan out themes, often based on color, holidays, seasons or specific feelings/images like “comfy, home,” “winter cabin” “rosegold and white,” “paris flower markets” or “moroccan bazaar.” I love visualizing months in advance how it will al come together and flow. So, on these crazy early mornings, double espresso in hand, I move every single item in the shop to its perfect home! I did a massive store turn around about two weeks ago, will do it again next week and then mid November, you can find me at 6 am up to my ears in tinsel, glitter, ornaments and pine scented candles setting up new displays with all things Christmas!
I actually went to high school,with jewelry designer Jill Schwartz, owner of Elements, based in Great Barrington, Mass. We rediscovered each other years later at a Crafts Show and I fell in love with her vintage groove aesthetic. Each piece is handmade using antique and original cast findings, glass, chain, cloth, pearls and stones! Each one is like a mini work of art and adds the final touch to special outfits. we have sold quite a few to brides and bridal parties! (Photos of local photographer Katie Salerno and local blogger Aline Chaprazian)
Finally, mid-October, it feels like true Autumn! As much as we all have loved this crazy extended summer with temps in the 80s, I am so glad to feel the crisp morning air, see the glorious gold and orange leaves, go apple picking, carve pumpkins, eat cider donuts and do all things fall! We have had all of our snuggly cozy knit pullovers, long cardigans, wraps, scarves and coats, hiding the back room and yesterday we finally brought it out. I especially love this patterned light weight coat by Sanctuary ( worn by blogger Rachel Thomas) and this long cardigan by Elan (worn by Katie Salerno, who is our house photographer extraordinaire)
We love to support local small-batch makers and recently discovered McCrea’s Candies! Honestly, I have never been much of a fan of caramels in the past because they awlays felt super hard, tough to chew, and way too sticky. Until now. McCrea’s are a whole new ballgame. – soft, melt in your mouth, just the right amount sweet. Flavors include classic vanilla, rosemary truffle, deep chocolate, single malt scotch ( personal favorite) and black lava sea salt.
These are the brainchild of Jason McCrea, a local scientist, and Karen McCrea, marketing and product development whiz. Originally created in his home kitchen, Jason and Karen now cook up these little wonders in a small commercial Boston kitchen. They use an early 20th century candy cutting and wrapping machine to keep the process traditional!
Sold in pretty tubes for $15, these treats make lovely gifts!
So, let’s chat about SHRUBS…the delicious small-batch variety made from fruit and cider vinegar, not the little green bushy ones. During the Colonial Era, farmers made shrubs as a way of preserving fruit from the harvest, mixing it with sugar and vinegar and bottling it up for a later date! In recent years, indie bartenders and cocktail mixologists have started creating their own flavor profiles for signature drinks! A small amount of shrubs add a fruit punch and tangy bite!
We recently discovered Shrub & Co., a small-batch maker out of California that packs up the sweetest little gift sets using organic fruit and aromatics for all of us home chemists who love to experiment and play with our barware! Flavors include hardest peach, apple, wildflower, honey, spicy ginger and cranberry!
These slate boards by Brooklyn Slate Company are our newest obsession! Sean Tice and Kristy Hadeka crafted this line using slate from Kristy’s family quarry in upstate New York! Each board comes with a soapstone marker!
Love our new Aunt Sadie’s autumn candles, hand-poured in Vermont. The pumpkin and cranberry are our favorites, filling the room with all the cozy feelings of a crisp fall day! Makes me want to stay home all day, bake a pie, read a book, get snuggly on the couch. Gary and Brian started their small batch candle business out of their antique store in the South End back in 90s. Shake the Tree was actually their first store and I remember the day they came in with their candles, wondering if we might be interested in carrying them. Of course, we said Yes! And, years later, Gary and Brian are happily living up in Vermont, and their candles are still one of our best sellers! Stay tuned for their Holiday fragrances coming next month!