Category Archives: Jennifer King

ASK AUSTIN EAVESDROPPER: WHERE CAN I CLEAN A LEATHER PURSE?

Last week, I was at Megan‘s house with with a gaggle of friends watching the election. Everyone was passing around beer, applauding and shouting at the TV by turns, and making what is generally called “a ruckus.” It happens when you’re with birds of your flock.

At some point, I got up to hug my friend Jason, red wine in hand — and this was a fatal mistake.

We hugged too hard, our hands crossed pathways, and suddenly my red wine was knocked. Not completely out of my grasp, but just enough to form a fine spray over two of Megan’s couches, one being pure white. I could just see Megan in the morning, stretching, waking up to a beautiful day, padding into her living room, and being met with the horror: “TOLLY!” she would cry, but in a “NEWMAN!”-like manner. She would have to somehow lug her heavy furniture to the dry cleaners, and they would only partially get the spots out, and when she paid the bill she would shake her head at those damned red spots and curse my name: “Why, Tolly?” she would shout, raising her fist to the sky!

So I sympathized with our latest Ask Austin Eavesdropper question, because it addresses stains, as well as a red staining agent. AE’s style writer Jennifer King took a stab at the answer.

(And in case you’re wondering, Megan’s couches had a happy ending: with a lot of club soda, wet rags and helpful friends, Jason and I were able to get those stains out. But we’re still working on not hugging so erratically.)

Question:
Hello Tolly and Team,

I saw your tweet promoting the “ask” feature on the site at just the right moment. Do you know of a place in central Austin where I can get a red leather purse cleaned? It took its last hit last night after being the victim of some ketchup splatter from a nearby table at the Evangeline Cafe. Eeep!

Huge fan of the blog! Been a follower for the past 4 years.

Best,
Yola

Answer:
Great question! And I have an answer for you, Yola: Austin Shoe Hospital. These guys work with leather shoes AND luggage. I just called my favorite ASH location, the one on Balcones and 183, just to confirm that they clean leather and he said they can definitely do something. He suggested she just bring it in and they will see what they need to do.

It may be pricey if they have to recondition the leather, but it might not be too bad if it’s a small clutch.

There are plenty of ASH locations, and hopefully one close to you: You can find one here.

Hope this helps!

Jennifer

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Good luck, Yola! And if this post was helpful to you, readers, we’d love it if you gave it a shout-out on Twitter (@TollyM)!

Next week, we take on this question: Where in Austin should I propose? (Whoa.) Check back next Tuesday to read our answer!

Image: wolfmaier

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EAVESDROPPER INTERVIEW: Shelton Green, Good & Fair Clothing

Hello, eavesdroppers. I (Jennifer) am going to get a little mushy before sharing our interview today, and I hope Tolly doesn’t mind too much.

There are just way too many reasons to fall in love with Austin – the food, Barton Springs, the music, you name it. But aside from the all the outdoorsy, musical, and delicious things, I continue to fall in love with the creative and do-good folks in this town.

A few weeks ago I met a fella who totally fit the bill of “nice Austinite who’s cool and bright and wants to make the world a better place.”

That sounds about right. Shelton Green of Good & Fair Clothing designs and sells your basic t-shirts and undies. If I had to wear anything for the rest of my life, a good pair of boy shorts and a cozy V-neck would no doubt be two of my top picks. Don’t get me wrong – I still love fashion and clothes, but to never have to think twice about where my clothing comes from is another thing.


Shelton took a similar approach in 2008, which led him to start Good & Fair. What started as a yearlong break from buying clothes altogether, while studying clothing production in the developing world, turned into a business idea to bring shirts and underwear to the states — directly from Fair Trade cotton farmers and clothing factories in India.


Austin Eavesdropper partners with a huge Fair Trade retailer here in town, so we’re already big fans of garments and products that are good and … well, fair. But I wanted to know more about Shelton’s basic tees and undies and how he started a Fair Trade clothing line from scratch.

So, Shelton – your background is in politics. How did you learn about Fair Trade and what inspired you to get involved?

That’s right. For 10 years I worked in Texas politics as a staffer and a lobbyist. I took time off from politics to rethink how I wanted to work and what vocation means for me. I started by launching a coaster campaign in Austin to educate people about human trafficking. We traveled around Texas sharing coasters with stories of freed slaves printed on them. We raised $6,000 to print 80,000 coasters, but I still wanted to do something more – something that would naturally connect with people.

I learned about Fair Trade after encountering Trade as One, a Fair Trade retailer that connects consumers in the west with artisans in the developing world to make goods. The idea of supply chains and how things are made really struck me, along with how we buy things from the developing world.

That’s when I decided to take a year off from buying clothing, to give myself a break from the consumer culture and let my brain and heart think about who’s making my clothes, how they’re treated, and, if I had some sort of choice, how I’d want them to be treated. I began looking for other companies that were more intentional about who makes their clothes. Turns out, there aren’t a lot of people out there making a statement about where their clothing comes from.

You didn’t buy clothing for a whole year? I’d die! How was that experience?

It was freeing. It was a time to reflect on how exactly the clothes I wore were made. It was also a way to untangle myself from the marketing around clothing, status, and identity. We, speaking as consumers, are just bombarded with messages all the time about how wearing the right thing will change your life, get you the right job, or win the attention of the people we admire. We’re told a story that simply isn’t true. It was nice to break away from that story.

You connected with a Fair Trade farmer’s cooperative and factory in India to produce the cotton and clothing for Good & Fair. How was your trip to India and what was that experience like? How did that influence your mission and business?

I wanted to see all the moving parts of the supply chain I was thinking about using. I met the people face to face and shared meals with them and their families, who grow the cotton we use and who make the clothing we sell. The trip itself was tough; I experienced a lot of culture shock. I scheduled the trip myself with only the knowledge from a few books I read about India and how to do business there.

You mentioned that Good & Fair is part of a new Fair Trade factory program with Fair Trade USA. What does that mean, and what’s the difference between “factory” and “cooperative” Fair Trade?

The factory at the end of the Good & Fair supply chain is Fair Trade certified, which is a new thing in the Fair Trade world. My company is part of a pilot program with Fair Trade USA, who is the certifying body for my supply chain. Certifying clothing production on a factory scale is very new, but it’s an exciting thing to be a part of. It’s also a bit unnerving sometimes. We are still learning and watching closely to make sure the program delivers what Fair Trade promises. We have to be vigilant and stay on top of suppliers and working conditions.

What’s next for Good & Fair, the clothing line and the business model?

Expanding our product offering is the next big thing. We have a line of scarves set to come out this fall, if everything goes according to plan. I’m very excited about it. As for the business model, I am not sure what’s next. Our model is wholesale, and we partner with retail boutiques and chains (hopefully) to carry our line. It allows Good & Fair to stay away from extraneous costs and focus on the supply chain and quality products.

What about Austin? How does this wonderful and creative city inspire your business and mission?

It’s hard to get our story out there. People don’t always share the same sort belief or aspirations for what one is doing and what one’s true motives might be. But that’s also one of the things I love about Austin. It’s that same questioning ethos that drove me to question the legitimacy of conventional clothing production. And to find a better way.

Thanks so much, Shelton!

PHOTOS // Esther Havens

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EAVESDROPPER INTERVIEW: Greenhouse Design Studio

Lately, I (Jennifer) have been rather fascinated by the idea of starting a business. Maybe it’s just a phase or growing pains, like when I wanted to be a photographer or a food critic. But nowadays, every time I walk into some of Austin’s most beautifully curated shops (like, Spartan or Take Heart), I get all proud and giddy over the women who own them and the fabulous jobs they’ve done building a business around a product or mission they love.

So when Tolly told me about San Francisco-based Greenhouse Design Studio, I kind of flipped. Owners Laurie and J.P. Furber source all of their eco-friendly, vintage pieces (mostly housewares and home décor goodies) from collectors around the world, as far as Eastern Europe.

I stopped by the Country Living Fair last weekend to visit Laurie and J.P. on the Austin leg of their southwest pop-up shop roadshow. Aside from the classic and sustainable design of their products, my absolute favorite part about the Greenhouse collection is the thought and precision that goes into selecting every item.

When I discovered that Laurie was a former VP for Pottery Barn, it all made sense. She has a true vision for Greenhouse and the kind of lifestyle they’re trying to promote – something that’s simply beautiful, tasteful, and wholesome for the planet.

Laurie and J.P. will be at Hotel San Jose with their traveling Airstream today (Monday, April 30) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for their last pop-up shop of the tour.

But the fun’s just about to start over here on Austin Eavesdropper. I asked Laurie to pop in for an Eavesdropper Interview to dish about the inspiration behind Greenhouse and her curation process.

Let’s do this, Laurie!

1. I want to know more about you! What were you doing before Greenhouse Design Studio?

I always thought I would be a curator in a museum, but took a detour into merchandising right out of college and never turned back. Before Greenhouse, I worked for Pottery Barn. You may have heard of it. I had one of the best jobs: running the mail order division, and I learned a lot there about product, marketing and, most of all, service. All that has come in mighty handy as I launched and nurtured Greenhouse.

2. Describe your journey to becoming a small business owner. How did you decide to “take the plunge?”

My journey to becoming a small business owner was more about my family than it was about my career. My oldest children are teenagers and after years of travel and spending twelve hours a day outside my home, I wanted to change my life to a simpler one that would allow me to spend more time with my family. When my daughter was finishing her sophomore year in high school, I retired from my corporate job so I could spend her last two high school years with her, and be home for my son when he started high school. I haven’t looked back. I love running my own business, I love having my husband as my business partner, and I love dropping my kids off at school every morning and picking them up every afternoon. It’s a dream.

3. You curate beautiful, sustainable, and vintage pieces for your business. What’s your favorite part about the curation process?

Every piece in the collection is something I would have in my own home, so shopping for the collection is like shopping for myself. It’s all fun, but I have to say my favorite part is shopping flea markets around the world. Meeting collectors and hearing stories about the history of the things we buy is so great. I love to pass those stories on to our customers to keep them alive.

4. In addition to promoting a sustainable, beautiful, and comfortable lifestyle through Greenhouse Design Studio, what else inspires you?

What doesn’t? Just looking around my own city of San Francisco is a great opportunity to hone my editor’s eye. Staying in a great hotel will inspire something, eating in a new restaurant will inspire something, even eating in someone’s home. When we were in Lyon, we stayed in a private home and our hostess used vintage jam jars for everything from condiments on her table, to yogurt in the morning, to flowers, to her homemade jam. They were so chic when used in the right way, so of course we started collecting them and now they’re part of the Greenhouse line.

5. What advice would you share with a creative, aspiring business owner?

Find something you love and make a career out of it. Then work will feel like play. I wake up in the morning and can’t wait to start working again.

6. What’s your secret to living a sustainable and beautiful life?

Beautiful is easy: I have a wonderful husband, three beautiful children, and I live in a lovely town that’s like being on vacation every day of my life. Sustainable takes a little more work. The secret is this: remember that when you throw something away, it doesn’t go away, it just goes somewhere else. Try to make each decision about what to use, what to buy, or what to throw away better than the last decision you made.

It was such a pleasure getting to know Laurie! Along with the beautiful online store, Greenhouse runs a very active Green Community and Healthy Home blog. Check it out to keep up with Greenhouse Design Studio and for some great green living resources.

Thanks for visiting Austin, J.P and Laurie! Safe travels back to San Fran!

IMAGES /// courtesy of Laurie Furber and Greenhouse Design Studio

 

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EAVESDROPPER INTERVIEW: Jacq Jones

*Hi Reader!  Austin Eavesdropper is expanding its little team, and I’m excited to bring you some of our first guest contributions.  First up this week: Austin Eavesdropper’s latest art + style writer, Jennifer King.  Be sure to check out her beautiful blog, If I Must Say So.

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Hello, Austin Eavesdropper readers!  A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the third annual Texas Style Council right here in the ATX. Nearly 300 life and style bloggers, business owners, and just all-around fashionable ladies (and maybe a few gents) got together for three days of mingling and learning from some of the most delightful lifestyle bloggers around, including our own Tolly!

As a first-time TxSC attendee, I didn’t really know what I was getting into–just hoping to exchange a few business cards, discover a few new blogs, and learn a thing or two about content development and blogging in general.

TxSC definitely fulfilled all those expectations, but my favorite part was meeting some of Austin’s local, up-and-coming fashion designers in the flesh!

I met Chelsea Jones of the Austin label Jacq Jones during the TxSC clothing swap. I kept staring at her scarf and talking about how much I loved what she had going on there. I quickly learned she designed and made the piece herself as part of her Resort 2011 collection, Toxo-Philite, which means one who loves bows and arrows.

Since Chelsea wears almost everything she makes, I was able to get a pretty good idea of her collection and overall style as I hung out with her more throughout the conference. And then I just went home and ogled over it online for a while. We’re talking lots of hand-dyed silk pieces, colorful hand-sewn panels, and (my favorite part) reverse seams. This is where the meticulous construction shines through, and I love being able to touch and see all the raw edges of her designs.

Not only is Chelsea terribly sweet; she’s also super dedicated to making art, whether that’s through fashion, photography, or graphic design.

Now, let’s get to the interview, shall we?  Take it away, Chelsea!

1. How and when did you figure out you wanted to become a fashion designer? What drove you in that direction?

I don’t know if I ever really decided I was going to be a fashion designer. I sewed a pair of velvet overalls for a stuffed animal when I was about 9 or 10 years old. Without any direction or guidance, I drew a pattern for the overalls, cut out the fabric and began creating the outfit. This first design was completely hand-sewn—couture, if you will—and finished off with turned down hems and tiny buttons. Somehow I just knew how to construct an outfit. I think it was a product of me being so interested in art as a child. I loved picking out clothes, drawing and painting. I started picking out my clothes when I was 3, I hand-painted my Keds when I was 4, and in high school I decided to design and sew my own prom dress. So, this love for clothing has been there all my life. I can’t really say what drove me in that direction, but I do know that I’ve always had an interest in the aesthetics of everyday life. I find design and art in most everything I do.

2. You’ve worked in the fashion industry since 2008, but you’re also a graphic designer and photographer. Which craft do you love the most and how do all three inspire your creativity?

I don’t think I love one more than the other, necessarily. I think mostly I just love working on something tactile. I love working in the darkroom developing photographs because you’re actually handling the image before it appears on paper. Recently I started making jewelry, and love the whole process—handling the silver, forming, hammering and soldering. Seeing a piece of art emerge out of a simple sketch or idea fuels my creativity.

3. What does your studio look like?

A mess. There’s always some sort of project going on. If I’m not making a piece of clothing, then I’m making a mosaic, drawing logo designs, researching inspiration, screen printing, etc. I have original watercolors that my grandmother painted hanging on the walls along with works from friends, or images that I’ve collected. They all play a part in who I am.

4. After working for Marc Jacobs in 2009, you spent a year living in Paris. How did that experience influence your vision for your first collection, Toxo-Philite?

It was mostly a return to personal creativity. In New York I was a little lost and worried about paying bills. I worked long hours and, for the most part, did not create any art. Living in Paris gave me freedom from focusing on what I didn’t have. In all honesty, my year in Paris was not easy, but it led me to a point where I wanted to focus on art again. It was in a little coffee shop in Paris where I first drew the Toxo-Philite logo in my sketchbook and pronounced the name in French. Toxo-Philite means “one who loves bows and arrows.” From age 8 to 18 I shot archery every summer at camp, and for me Toxo-Philite was a reminder to focus on that openness we have when we’re very young, that pure creativity and energy children have. Toxo-Philite was something I created in order to give myself the freedom to use that creativity.

5. What inspires your artistic style?

I love learning about other artists. I think I’m most inspired by seeing how other people execute their ideas. Our minds all work differently, so it’s interesting for me read about what someone else does with a similar idea. I also love reading about different periods in art history. And nature is a big one for me, too. Even though that sounds cliché, it’s definitely an easy place to find inspiration. It’s hard for me to see what I do as a new idea, but I feel that when creating art, I’m showing my viewpoint on something that has been done in hundreds of other ways.

I focus mostly texture and colors. I’m really attracted to patterns and repetition that can be found in nature. Artists I’m interested in right now are Andy Goldsworthy and Georgia O’Keefe’s abstract paintings. Her use of just 1-3 colors and shapes is intriguing to me. I love the balance she creates with such simplicity.

6. What’s your secret to living a creative life?

Practice. Like anything, it takes practice to be good at being creative. I still don’t think everything I do is creative. I have to be careful and allot time to create more, draw more, and to think more openly.

**After the interview, I (Jennifer) met up with Chelsea again to talk more about her plans for Jacq Jones in 2012. She’s thinking more custom-fit, made-to-order pieces, which would be perfect for the picky shopper like me who’s constantly dissatisfied by a fancy but ill-fitting garment.

It’s still in the works, but I can’t wait to hear more about that side of Jacq Jones.

Photos by Jessica Barley and Chelsea Jones

 

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