Monday, September 27, 2010

Rainy Day brings Himane to WNYC

We got a call this morning from a WNYC reporter who had seen Brooklyn designer Catherine Charlot's umbrella bags at our kiosk in Grand Central last summer. The early morning rainstorm had led reporter, Ailsa Chang, to investigate what happened to all those wind torn umbrellas found crumpled in trash cans. I too was thinking of Catherine this morning as I landed at Penn Station during my morning commute. The "umbrella men" had materialized once again. I could hear the voices before I even exited the station. I walked behind one seller who walked up and down the whole taxi cue chanting "umbrella, umbrella, umbrella, pause...and...repeat". Some people stood hiding under their New York Times, others under a plastic bag, but the majority of people clutched their $5 cheap umbrella- bound to break in a few uses. The sellers quickly passed their "disposable products" to those unprepared for the day's skies.

Catherine's designs have caused me to never look at an umbrella the same. Each one is a potential bag or dress, a design and a metaphor. When I see people carrying a particular interesting design, I think about how she would turn it into a clutch or duffel bag. Just last month I found a rainbow leopard umbrella print umbrella discard on the street which I took home and sent to Catherine's company Himane. This upcycling of abandoned umbrellas by Catherine is an amazing example of using abandoned resources for useful (and in her case very fashionable) products.

WNYC reports that one week Catherine collected 237 umbrellas in one week!
Check out the full story here!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day: Pledge to Buy Local

I am reminded every Fourth of July of my complex relationship with the American flag. In my mind I see the stars replaced with the Adbusters corporate flag hanging from every house and store. And I get discouraged that most people buy flags indiscriminately at their area corporate store made by machines or people far overseas.

But a good friend reminded me today about independence and forced me to think more openly about the flag. So rather than thinking about the meta-narrative of corporate rule and world dominance, I am going to dedicate my flag to my neighbors, my block, my town, my city and everyone who is working hard to make our country a truly better place.

I encourage all to become label checkers and to think about where you are buying your products. Go the extra block to that store that had been in business for years or the new local company that's just starting out whose headquarters are that store. Remember that these small business often reinvest their money into other local business and area employees. That they are struggling to stay in business. If they don' t have what you want they can often order the same product you need in a few days. Even if it is just one product you pledge to buy locally, your efforts will make a difference. For me the celebration of independence starts with cutting the ties of dependency. This Fourth of July- Buy Local!

Sites to check out:
Made in NYC
Business Alliance for Local Living Economies
Made in Usa

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Farmers Market Tour for Food Manufacturers

While our demand for fresh and local ingredients continues to grow, many food manufacturers still rely on the same trade networks that truck food across great distances. To expand their market share and increase sales, they will need to reassess their their existing relationships and work toward forging connections with local growers. And as the cost of oil is predicted to rise again, these new connections will also, in the long term, potentially save them considerable amounts of money.

To strengthen this exchange between growers and producers, NYRIN and NY State Ag & Markets have launched the Farm to Factory pilot project. This Saturday they will be hosting a farmer's market tour for food manufacturers, providing them with personal introductions to growers seeking to sell wholesale produce to NYC companies. All NYC food companies are welcome.

Farmers Market Buyers Tour for Food Manufacturers
Date: Saturday June 19, 2010
Time: Anytime from 8:30 – 11:30 am
Location: Ft. Greene Park Greenmarket, Brooklyn

RSVP to:
Christina Grace, Manager, Urban Food Systems Program
NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
Phone: 718.722.2834

Interested in meeting more farmers? NYIRN is planning another buyers tour in July to the Wholesale Greenmarket at Hunts Point, Bronx. For more information, contact Tzipora Lubarr at or 212-404-6990 x 16.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Undeniably NYC: Ernest Alexander Men's Accessories

Ernest Alexander Sabine's men's accessory label, Ernest Alexander, is based in the garment district in Manhattan. Featuring a beautiful line of messenger and travel bags as well as ties and belts, Ernest made a deliberate decision to support local manufactures and keep's his office one block away from the production line. This allows him to ensure the high quality product he demands as well as employ people within in his community. Hailing from a family of seamstress who came to NYC following World War II, Ernest honors the work of his grandmother and great-grandmother. His beautiful bags are made to durable, classic and made to last. They are available in NYC at Paul Smith, International Playground and Desiron.

Check out this video of Ernest and see images of his production:

*TIP: Interested in producing your product in the Garment District- Contact Garnmet Industry Development Corporation (GIDC) for more information.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Nunu's Chocolate Dreams Come True

When I first met Justine Pringle of Nunu Chocolates she was working in midtown with dreams of becoming a full-time chocolate maker. We would wait in the lobby of her building as she snuck downstairs with a bag of delicately handcrafted caramels for our chocolate box. I remember the day she told me she was quitting it all to focus on her salt-topped treats. She took a big leap and was instantly recognized by national food publications from Gourmet to The New York Times.

Now you can watch her chocolate making in action at the Nunu Chocolates Retail Store & Cafe. The space serves as a chocolate factory for Justine and the open layout allows customers to watch her technique. The store is located at 529 Atlantic Ave between 3rd and 4th Aves in Brooklyn. They are open everyday from 9am-9pm. Just imagine, stopping in on the way to work and grabbing some Espresso Brandy ganache made with Crop to Cup espresso beans and a coffee to go. Swing by mid-day for tea time accompanied with some Earl Grey Ganache. You'll be sure to catch me there some evening soon sipping red wine and eating Mezcal Chili chocolates.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Local Labels is Back & Profiling!

So, we took a little hiatus....but we are back!

Since we last checked in there have been so many new and exciting products being made in NYC from Roni-Sue's Chile Lover's collection to new lamps by perch!

While we have shifted our focus a bit, we are still committed to letting you know where and how to buy local in the five boroughs.

We will be profiling business within the city and products that are made here. Stay tuned for upcoming interviews, history lessons, businesses you didn't really where even based in NYC and how to
buy local from your personal food choices to products for your home. Let us know any new companies or have a product to profile!

*Long Island City Pasta Factory, 1943
Marjory Collins/Library of Congress

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Local Labels at Lyceum Market in Brooklyn- Last Weekend Shopping!

Vist us this Saturday and Sunday, December 19 and 20 at
the Brooklyn Lyceum Craft Market.

We'll be carrying all your favorite made in NYC products.
RE-SURFACE Lamps, Fresh Art monkeys, MJ's Herbals, dinner-ware coasters,
bath teas, journals and more...
All at "last minute shopping sale prices"!

11AM - 7PM

227 4th Avenue, between Union and President Streets, Park Slope

R train at Union St, in Park Slope. We are right atop the station.
15 minutes from Lower Manhattan!