Category Archives: indie shopping

you’re invited: small biz saturday trunk show!

I’m doing my Thanksgiving weekend sale a little differently this year: live and in person!

evolved zipper pouches

Come out to the small-but-awesome Covet boutique in Arlington, VA to see the latest from my evolution collection, as well as fan favorites from previous years. I’ll have lots of pretty things for everyone on your list, even the guys!

As always, everything is limited edition or one-of-a-kind, and of course, everything will be on sale!

Where: Covet // 5140 Wilson Blvd // Arlington VA, 22205
When: Saturday November 28 // 11am – 6pm
Why: handmade awesomeness // holiday shopping // support indie business

Tell your friends (or drop hints) by sharing this post, or the Facebook invite.

If you’re not local, no worries: all the pretties will be available online, stay tuned!



the little fact no one mentioned in the latest urban outfitters scandal

I could have titled this post “Why I don’t shop at Urban Outfitters,” but if I did it would be really, really, really short: because I want the real thing.

Let’s back up a bit, shall we? I’m sure you’ve read or heard about the recent brouhaha regarding Urban Outfitters and an artist who claimed they copied her jewelry design. The Consumerist (and many others) wrote stories about it. Twitter and Facebook exploded with outrage about it. There were reasoned rebuttals from Regretsy and others.

truche vs urban outfitters: from Regretsy

The discussions centered around the idea of copying and copyright and whether it’s possible for lots of designers/companies to come up with the same idea at the same time.

For the record, I completely agree that it is possible for lots of people to come up with the same idea at the same time. It is entirely possible there was no copying at all going on in this particular case.

But nobody mentioned what I think is much more important than whether Urban Outfitters is a soulless copycat or not (this time…because they have definitely been guilty in the past): that everything about Urban Outfitters (and its classier big sister, Anthropologie) is fake.

Urban Outfitters,  by The Consumerist via Flickr

Urban Outfitters, by The Consumerist via Flickr

I understand that they do in fact work with some independent designers (as noted in their rebuttal to this scandal), which I think is great! I will assume for the sake of argument that these arrangements are beneficial to the artists and designers in question. Fantastic!

But there are hundreds of Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie stores nationwide and in northern Europe. Their Facebook page says they are a “global retailer with a boutique approach.” Estimating generously, how much of their inventory could come from those relationships with independent designers? One percent? Five percent?

Georgetown Urban Outfitters store, by Fatty Tuna via Flickr

The Georgetown Urban Outfitters store, by Fatty Tuna via Flickr

The bottom line is that Urban Outfitters is not an “indie” retailer, and they go to great pains to appear to be so (see “boutique approach” assertion above). Their clothes and wares are not handmade or limited edition or locally (or even U.S.) made. Despite their carefully constructed aesthetic, there is nothing thrift-store unique or vintage or special about what they sell.

Why would I want something that only pretends to be those things, when I can easily find the real thing?

I LOVE to buy from indie designers and shops. I adore owning handmade things and one-of-a-kind goodies. But it’s not as if I have totally sworn off mass market retailers. I am wearing pajama pants from Target at this very moment (why yes, I blog in my pajamas, what of it?), my jeans are from Old Navy, and yesterday I wore adorable silver flats I bought at DSW.

blue tote from Urban

Urban Outfitters vs. Target: can you tell the difference?

The difference is that Old Navy, Target, and DSW have made no effort to make me think that my pajama pants, blue jeans, or silver flats are anything except what they are: mass produced consumer goods, all exactly the same, sold by the thousands at a discount price.

Are the goods sold at Urban Outfitters clever and anti-establishment and “different,” or do they just want you to think they are? Is there any real difference between what they sell and the mass produced fast fashion at places like H & M, except for the carefully constructed, hip-thrift-store look of the Urban Outfitters stores?

leopard bag from Urban Outfitters leopard bag from H & M

Urban Outfitters vs. H&M: can you tell the difference?

It’s funny because I am actually the ideal Anthropologie customer: I fall squarely within their demographic, and I obviously love the indie design “look”. I usually like most of what I see if I happen to wander into one of their stores (and when I was in the Urban Outfitters demographic – aka under 30 – the same was true).

But the faux-indie, faux-vintage, faux-thrift store vibe really rubs me the wrong way. I don’t put fake sugar in my coffee, and life is too short to eat fake cheese. I don’t believe in knockoff designer duds, and I’m not going to buy fake indie designer goods, either.

glasses case from Urban glasses case from Mod Cloth

Urban Outfitters vs. Mod Cloth: can you tell the difference?

Whether or not Urban Outfitters copied that jewelry designer is irrelevant to me. I stopped shopping at their family of stores years ago – when I discovered my love for independent design, and decided that handmade and locally made was better. Perhaps if they didn’t try so hard to pretend to be these things I’d feel differently…but no indie knockoffs for me (copied or not)…thanks.


shop local for the guys on your list

Happy Cyber Monday, friends! I know how hard it is to shop for the men in your life, so I’ve pulled together this little gift guide featuring DC area designers and artists (including myself) who make cool stuff for dudes…all handmade, of course. Just click on the images to be taken to their shops for more information, and to purchase.

Check it out:

handmade tie from Derringer Friday
rust plaid wool tie, Derringer Friday
handcrafted belt from Jon Wye
dinosaurs making toast belt, Jon Wye
handcrafted shaving kit from Herban Lifestyle
MAN shaving kit, Herban Lifestyle
wool houndstooth dopp kit from See Katie Sew
wool & leather dopp kit, See Katie Sew
handprinted moleskine notebook
handprinted moleskine, GoshDarnKnit
tweed ipad cover by Holland Cox
tweed iPad cover, Holland Cox
photographic collage of hockey game
photographic collage, Matthew Parker

A few things for the little dudes, too!

baby afro T-shirt from Bernos
baby afro t-shirt, Bernos
handmade plush squirrel from Tigerflight
sheldon the squirrel, Tigerflight
3D monkey collage from Artmonger
3D monkey collage, Artmonger
handbound book with LEGO base plates
handbound LEGO notebook, Moonlight Bindery

Remember friends, shopping local is better for the economy, plus it’ll make you feel good. 🙂 Also, your dude will have really cool stuff that none of the other dudes he knows will have! Let me know if you need help finding something awesome and handmade for the guys on your list!


shop indie!

Honestly it doesn’t take much to convince me to go shopping. Lately my shopping urge is usually immediately followed by a “just say no” mantra (I’m trying to be less spendy in general), but this past weekend that wasn’t the case. I suppose I was feeling sort of entitled, having been so good for so long, and it being my birthday. And what better place to let go than at an awesome indie craft show like Pile of Craft? I was honestly planning my purchases before the show even started.

My first purchase was one I’ve been eyeing for a while. Juliet over at The Broken Plate Pendant Co. makes these lovely pendants out of solid color Fiestaware plates, and I’ve been wanting the a green one forever, or at least since she started making them earlier this year.

I love green so much, so I have a lot of green stuff and I wear green all the time. That day I was wearing a green flower in my hair and green platform sandals. So, I decided at the last minute to go for contrast instead of matchy-matchy, and got an orange one instead. She only had one orange pendant, so I feel like it was meant to be. 🙂

Well, that opened the floodgates. Right next to Juliet’s table was Giant Dwarf, maker of beautiful felt things, especially these lovely flower headbands, that I see on everyone every time I go to Philadelphia. Guess what? She sells bundles of the beautiful felt she uses! I tell myself this was totally NOT an impulse buy, because I was legitimately thinking about my fall collection and how I wanted to use some felt on one of the wristlets maybe. Anyway, I bought two bundles. 🙂

Speaking of meant to be, my table was right by Fisticuffs. I see him everywhere and have somehow escaped every craft show we’ve both been at without a leather cuff. I knew this had to change ASAP. I’ve always wanted a leather cuff, and I never see any small enough to fit my wrists (except for at Fisticuffs!).

I debated with my neighbor (Tasha McKelvey) for a while on black vs. brown leather…or perhaps something metallic? There were some pretty cool silver ones in the mix, too. But then would that defeat the purpose of a leather cuff? I went back and forth with Tasha for some time, in-between serving our customers. Finally I spied this itty bitty red cuff, and I knew it was the one for me. Red! Only one of my favorite colors! Of course!

I confess this was my only impulse buy. I had in no way been contemplating buying art, but I saw this on the table at Found Studio’s booth and it called to me. It’s green! It says CRAFTY on it! It has eyelet lace on it! And as you know, my sewing room (okay, it’s more of an “area”) is all green. In an effort not to be too reckless, I waited until the end of the show, and I decided if nobody else bought it, then it was obviously meant for me. Guess what?

This last one is a bonus, but totally related because Elisa Shere is also from Baltimore. I actually bought these earrings from her at the Art Star Craft Bazaar in Philadelphia, and I have literally been wearing them every day since!

I have dozens and dozens of pairs of earrings…they are my favorite type of jewelry. But I usually end up wearing silver hoops every day. I am ashamed to admit that before now, I was wearing an icky cheap pair that I got at the mall. They had started to turn a gross non-silver color. How on earth could I preach to gospel of buying handmade if I was subjecting my own earlobes to this nonsense!?

Anyway I lost one of the icky hoops just in time for Art Star, and I had already bought a stack of rings from Elisa at the Spring Bada Bing in Richmond, so I knew exactly where to go for some handmade, real silver loveliness.

I love all of my new, indie goodness! While I try not to shop too much anymore, the money I do spend I want to spend with other makers. Not only because of the idea of creative tithing and supporting my indie craft/design/art community, but because that’s where all the best stuff is. Seriously, why would I shop anywhere else?