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!
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!
Former Shake the Tree staffer, Mary Potter, created Baba.Tili out of her home workshop in New Hampshire. We love her passion for growing baby succulents and creating artful arrangements using found and vintage containers. Mary has come down to the shop a few times to host planting and custom design workshops.
Brooklyn hipsters move over. Boston is stepping up its game.
“Create Boston” celebrates the collaboration of local visual artists, chefs, bartenders, DJs and musicians. This year’s festival happened in the warehouse spaces of the Design Center near the Seaport. Each artist displayed their work and was paired with a chef and a bartender who created delicious food and unusual cocktails inspired by the artwork! This year’s event included chefs/bartenders from Tavern Road, Oak + Rowan, Drink, Back Bar, Whole Heart Provisions, Bar Mezzana, Trina’s Starlight Lounge, Committee and Tiger Mama! Extra shout out to Tavern Road’s amazing shredded pork tacos! Our favorite music was from a local band Cask Mouse ( with ties to our friends at neighboring Neptune Oyster)!
We love planning out beautiful meals and entertaining our friends. Much of the love is rooted in setting everything up. These new pieces are from Roost and Bloomingville (a Scandinavian design company we recently fell in love with!).
Rifle Paper curates an amazing collection of artwork by Anna Bond, printed onto journals, posters, paper coasters and greeting cards! We love them so much we even framed a few of her art prints, which hang behind the register at the shop!
We have a serious crush on the gorgeous back line of this En Creme dress, modeled by Texas blogger Jasmine of 1 Fine Cookie! As the summer heat transitions to autumn’s cooler temps, this dress is perfect for layering with a crop denim jacket and leather boots!
Apotheker’s Kitchen is a local small-batch chocolate company started by Russ and Shari Apotheker out of the Crop Circle Kitchens! Their bars and super-addictive marshmallows are honey-sweetened and made with love!
Coreterno Candles are handcrafted by Michelangelo Brancato and Francilla Ronchi, Italian designers now living in Brooklyn. We love their unique combination of artistry, symbols and messages of empowerment!
Special thanks to Nishat Nguyen for modeling our new top from our recently discovered French collection, Des Petits Hauts! On a recent trip to Paris we wandered into one of their small shops in Montmartre and fell in love. We were so delighted to get our first shipment this week!
Designer Yumi Kim is one of our best-selling designers! With her bright, floral and feminine aesthetic, she creates the perfect dresses, tops and rompers that become go-to outfits for date nights, weddings and special occasions! Special thanks to Boston bloggers Jess of Champagne Thursday and Chelsea of Chow Down USA for modeling!
One of our most favorite restaurants in town in Myers + Change, a collaboration between James Beard award winner chef/owner Joanne Chang and Executive Chef Karen Akunowicz! This little indie spot serves up their own dazzling versions of Chinese, Taiwanese, Thai and Vietnamese specialties! We love going there on their Monday and Tuesday “Cheap Date Nights” when you can choose from three select menus for $45 for two! Get the “Netflix + Chill!” (photo courtesy of Myers + Chang)