Flynn & King product line

We are swooning over Flynn&King‘s line of natural skincare. Their multitasking products are made in small batches using ingredients you can recognize and pronounce. Ready to upgrade your daily regime? Here’s their powerhouse Revive, Balance, and Replenish trio of cleanser, toner and oil.

Flynn & King natural face oil, toner and cleanser

Flynn & King Detox Charcoal soap

Flynn&King is run by Summer Dinh Manske and Corina McDonnell. The duo started making their own products to address their skincare needs, and the small production grew from there to a full line of gorgeous, safe and effective products we’d love to get for ourselves or give as gifts. Summer tells us about their beginnings as a skincare club, their vision and process, and their favorite spots around Bed Stuy.

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A little trivia about yourselves
– Born & raised: born Saigon / raised southern California
– Cups of coffee a day: cups or pots?
– Currently reading: Saga, Deluxe Edition Written by Brian K Vaughan and Illustrated by Fiona Staples (comic book)
– Currently listening to: The Weeknd
– Favorite pizza place: ask Corina 😉
– Hidden talent: I’ve been told I can carry a tune.
– If I didn’t do what I do, I would be a… Professional French Fry Enthusiast or Mars Colonizer.

What inspired you to start your business? When did you guys start?

We both worked at a pretty popular salon / apothecary in Williamsburg that specialized in curating the coolest and newest hair and beauty products. There, we carried a variety of great natural skin care brands and learned a lot about exotic ingredients that made their products special. Though we loved some of these brands, some ingredients used were not natural. We felt that there was an easier way to produce great all natural skin care using only the stuff Mother Nature created.

Corina and I were enthused at the idea and started a skin care club where we learned about natural ingredients and how to make safe and effective skin care. We made products targeted for ourselves, friends, and family’s needs and found it to be super effective, not to mention the fact they smell amazing. We’ve been clubbin’ since 2013 and from then on, our club is going strong and eventually became Flynn&King in 2014.

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What is your production process like, from concept to finished product?

The first step in producing a product is to troubleshoot a problem that needs to be addressed. Our products were made because we couldn’t find the perfect product to address both our needs. With Summer having problems like seborrheic dermititis and combination skin and Corina with problems like dry acneic skin and eczema, we kind of had our work cut out for us. Almost like Goldilocks and the 3 bears, it seemed like the skin care market was saturated with products that were meant for only one skin type or another; too oily, too dry, too boring, too clean, not clean enough, etc.

Being practical and money conscientious Capricorns, we wanted to make products that are multifunctional for our New York lives. Nobody likes a bathroom filled with 30 different products for 30 different problems. We don’t have the time or room for that. We were both used to using 12+ products for a normal skin care regimen, but after long research, we came up with some products we think are multifunctional and effective for most, if not all, skin types, reducing our daily skin care products to just a few. Saving time and money is what we’re all about.

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What are you planning for the next few months?

Flynn&King’s calendar is filled with so many fun projects to last us all year! We’re working with some really amazing organizations that better the world, hosting natural DIY workshops, showcasing at Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar 😉 , and maybe a few new products up our sleeves, I don’t know. You’ll just have to follow us on social media to find out. 🙂

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?

I wish we had done this sooner! This line of business we’re in is terribly addictive. We love every aspect of this work from production of our line to the people we’ve connected with. The necessity to solve skin care problems naturally is an exciting challenge that continues to push us to our limits.

What neighborhood are you guys in? What are your favorite spots?

Corina and I both live in Bedstuy.

Fav. brunch / casual business meet up: Black Swan (crazy amazing Bloody Mary’s and great beer selection)
Fav. snack shack / coffee digs: Brooklyn Kolache Company (yummy mix of sweet and savory kolaches)
Fav. Sunday treat: Dough (Best, fluffiest, dreamiest, yeast donuts. ::drool:: It’s really hard to pick a favourite. They’re all so good.)

flynn & king natural skincare products

Cheers to Flynn & King! You can shop the full skincare line at flynnandking.com. Don’t miss Summer and Corina in person at our upcoming Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar on Nov 28 & 29.

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Soluna Soluna is a design studio focused on accessories and founded by two sisters. Lillian and Helen create pieces that are simple and bold at the same time, inspired by a love of typography and geometric shapes.

The sisters are quite different. Lillian focuses on design and likes her K-pop, while business-oriented Helen prefers peace and quiet. They complement each other and come together in the creative process, drawing inspiration from shared memories and their NYC upbringing.

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Their current collection features pendants, earrings, cufflinks and notecards. Lillian and Helen tell us more about themselves, the Soluna Soluna story, and their plans for the next few months.

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A little trivia about yourselves

– Born & raised:
NYC
– Cups of coffee a day:
Lillian: 4-5
Helen: 1
– Currently reading:
L: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
H: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
by Marie Kondo
– Currently listening to:
L: K-pop music
H: Likes her peace and quiet
– Favorite pizza place:
Unanimous: Inatteso Pizzabar Casano
– Hidden talent:
L: So organized that she can’t find what she puts away
H: So not organized but can always find what she never put away
– If I didn’t do what I do, I would be a…
L: Psychologist
H: News Anchor

What inspired you to start your business?
After spending time in Hong Kong and Seoul, Lillian returned to New York City to pursue a graphic design degree, where she fell in love with a way of thinking and a way of being. As a designer who spent hours in front of the computer, Lillian searched for outlets to work on more tactile things.

In 2007, she took her first jewelry class, where she was introduced to the technique of ring formation and an appreciation for an art form that dates back to ancient Egypt. She took her love of typography and geometric forms and started applying this to jewelry making. Lillian was hooked and she invited her sister, Helen, to join her on this adventure, which they lovingly call Soluna Soluna.

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What is the production process like, from concept to finished product?
Each piece in our collections has its origin from a memory in our upbringing or a place we have visited. We believe that the magic is found in the everyday and from looking at the world through the lens that our parents raised us in, specifically a world based in a grittier New York City influenced by both the American and Chinese cultures and values. Most importantly we create base on ourselves as the starting point by focusing on what we may not be able to find immediately available to us.

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We tend to use different techniques to bring our sketches to life, but focus on casting, laser-cutting and silkscreening to produce our jewelry and line of jewelry and type inspired tee-shirts. Each piece of jewelry is hand finished by us, where one or both of us have polished, soldered and packaged each piece to send it on to another admirer and wearer. We take pride in being able to personally say hello to the customer.

What are you planning for the next few months?
We would love to turn their attention to some custom work after some recent requests for rings and the extension of the area code collection, along with extending the designs for our line of “on-the-go” tee-shirts. Most importantly though, we want to continue to daydream, play and make the things we love for ourselves and others.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
A making space is really important. Ideas can be forgotten or not realized without giving oneself the room to go to to sketch and make things. As Soluna Soluna has grown, so has our tools, materials and ideas. Creativity and ideas come along when we can look at our work-in-progress. After several years of creating our collections on our living room coffee table and commuting to another studio to produce certain pieces, we realized that to be productive we need to designate a making space in our apartment to be the most productive.

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Taking breaks are important. Spending time with people important to us is crucial. We create when we are at a good place in life whether mentally, spiritually or emotionally. Ideas do not appear without us living our lives and having new experiences. Good design come from living our lives to the fullest and creating those memories that can fuel our design.

Finally, reach out to the world beyond what or who you know. We grow because we are interacting with others in our community regularly, and interesting adventures and ideas evolve this way. We definitely cannot design in a vacuum, so in order not to do so, we definitely go seek our own adventures.

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Cheers to Soluna Soluna! You can shop the full collection at solunasoluna.com. Don’t miss Lillian and Helen in person at our upcoming Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar on Nov 28 & 29.

Noted by Adam TurnbullFrom NOTED by Adam Turnbull, with permission of Tarcher Perigee, a division of Penguin Random House.

Greenpoint-based artist, designer and author Adam Turnbull is releasing a new book today, Noted – A Journal to Explore How We Shape, Create and Develop Ideas. The book is sort of a creative choose-your-own-adventure, designed to lead you to new ideas by taking note of the different mediums around you. Any humble scrap of paper can be the starting point to your next great idea.

From Noted by Adam Turnbull© 2015 Adam Turnbull

Turnbull argues that ideas aren’t precious – they’re messy, they’re meant to be explored and worked on and reinvented as they take their final shape. With open-ended cues, the book aims to spark new ideas and jumpstart your creative process, facing all kinds of unexpected mediums. Now you can finally unleash your inner street artist without breaking the law. What would you write on that blank wall?

From Noted by Adam Turnbull© 2015 Adam Turnbull

The concept of the book stemmed from Turnbull’s habit of jotting down ideas on any piece of paper available – postcards, receipts, envelopes… He started binding these objects into small books, and those ‘canvases’ would help shape new ideas. The result is an interactive journal that is sure to inspire you. Whether you use it to document your next trip, come up with a plan for your new business, or help inspire your everyday, Noted is sure to kickstart your creativity. Read on for our Q&A with Adam Turnbull.

Adam TurnbullPhoto credit Nick Brinle

What are readers going to find in NOTED?
Noted is a series of text and images that channel the energy of idea generation and lateral thinking. The book is filled with images of things I have collected over the years—photos, objects, writing, and quotes—along with illustrations that spark some type of visual cue to change your train of thought. For example, when one sees an old envelope they may think of their grandmother’s handwriting, their pen pal as a child, receiving a check in the mail or a bill that has sat too long on their desk.

With apps like Evernote and endless digital options, why is paper better?
I don’t necessarily think paper is better. Evernote and apps serve a specific a purpose and are great. Writing things on paper is a different process than writing in an app. Writing ideas on paper allows a person to make choices in a different way than you can digitally, everyone writes in their own way, especially when getting ideas down. The flow of information, the type of pen or pencil one will use, making mistakes and leaving them on the page—paper allows a much more expressive and unique process when generating ideas than a digital medium. Sometimes when writing an idea down so as not to forget, someone only needs a tiny sketch or doodle or even the association of where the paper came from. However, on a well-developed app everyone is writing and reading the same sans serif font in the same color. I’m not saying this is better or worse, the two are quite different.

How do you shake off a Monday morning funk / creative block?
Eating a good breakfast and having a good coffee is a great way to start a Monday. Writing a to-do list and mapping out the day/week also helps.

What do you love about your neighborhood?
I live in Greenpoint. I like that it has a nice mix of people, a good mix of industrial and residential buildings, and a great park and lots of Polish food.

You can meet author Adam Turnbull and get a signed copy tomorrow, October 7th at Powerhouse Arena in Dumbo, 7pm-9pm.

Rabbit and Dragon marbled cheese board

Rabbit and Dragon is a multidisciplinary studio founded by two creatives: ceramicist Mariko Tanaka and designer Izzy Lezcano. Their handmade goods range from textiles, ceramics, candles or paper goods. Their products are crafted to be functional and add a touch of clean modern design to our everyday lives. The designs are truly beautiful – they just make us smile.

Rabbit and Dragon color plates

Rabbit and Dragon indigo eye pillows

Mariko and Izzy love collaborating, yet they each have their preferred mediums. Mariko makes functional and unique ceramics from porcelain and stoneware. Izzy works with paper and textiles, mixing printing and dying techniques. Mariko tells us more about herself, the Rabbit and Dragon story, and their plans for the next few months.

Rabbit and Dragon - Mariko at work

A little trivia about yourself

– Born & raised: Izzy is originally from the UK, where she studied Landscape Architecture at Edinburgh College of Art, and has been living in NYC for the last 4 years.Mariko grew up on the West Coast and Tokyo and studied at Pratt Institute.
– Cups of coffee a day: 1 cup / cold brew iced coffee
– Currently reading: Werner Herzog, Of Walking in Ice
– Currently listening to: Caetano Veloso
– Favorite pizza place: Lucali’s
– Hidden talent: mixologist
– If I didn’t do what I do, I would be a… horticulturalist on a farm somewhere raising a pack of alpacas.

What inspired you to start your business? When did you start?

Rabbit & Dragon launched in the spring of 2014, and started originally as a collaborative project with myself producing functional ceramics and Izzy Lezcano creating hand dyed textiles and paper goods. We were inspired to create one of a kind, beautifully crafted works with a modern and minimalist aesthetic.

What is your production process like, from concept to finished product?

My ceramics are hand built, wheel thrown or slip cast in stoneware or porcelain. I take inspiration from a Japanese design philosophy, which embodies simplicity, asymmetry, and subtlety, in creating these one of kind pieces. I work out the geometry of the lines and curves and keep things clean and polished. I design and sculpt my ceramic pieces for weeks or months experimenting with different techniques and styles of glazes until I can get to the final product. The dinnerware and plates are all painted or drawn by hand.

Rabbit and Dragon ceramics

What are you planning for the next few months?

I’ve been working on a new line of ceramic cheese boards, mixing dark and white clays bodies to create a natural clay patterned effect. Each one is unique and makes for an exceptional presentation for cheeses or hors d’oeuvres and perfect for the holidays.

We also collaborated to create a new line of beautiful dinnerware plates made by imprinting one of Izzy’s hand cut lino print of botanical design onto clay, which will be presented at the Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar.

Rabbit and Dragon cheese plant plates

Rabbit and Dragon Shibori Wall Hanging

Rabbit and Dragon mini cheese board

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?

Definitely don’t forget to reach out and connect with other creatives for networking and advice. Be flexible to the changing needs of the marketplace and open to considering new opportunities, especially these days many are online. Social media is also a fantastic platform for people to find and see your work.

What are your favorite neighborhood spots?

I’m in Williamsburg. La Superior is a tried and true favorite for their street style tacos and their margaritas are fantastic. Donna for their happy hour frozen cocktails.

Cheers to Rabbit and Dragon! You can shop the full collection at rabbitanddragon.bigcartel.com. Don’t miss Mariko in person at our upcoming Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar.

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We want you to get to know the all-star vendors for our upcoming Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar. From now until late November, we’ll be running a series of interviews with some of these talented makers. We’re super excited to open the series with Rachel Kroh of Heartell Press!

Their beautiful art prints and cards owe their unique aesthetic to a hands-on production process. After creating a design, Rachel carves it by hand on a woodblock and then prints each piece using a letterpress at the Heartell Press studio in Gowanus.

The designs are full of love and warmth – perfect for making someone’s day or brightening up your home.

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A little trivia about yourself

– Born & raised: In Chicago, Illinois until I was 11 when my sporty parents moved us to Salt Lake City, Utah, to be near the mountains.

– Cups of coffee a day: One — my husband and I take turns making it (whoever wakes up first) and we take it back to bed to drink as we quietly wake up and get ready to start the day. I need that time, I feel crazy if I try to do anything else first!

– Currently reading: I just finished Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf. Haruf’s novels are about a small town in Colorado and I love the quiet pace and humble humanity of his work.

– Currently listening to: Currents by Tame Impala

– Favorite pizza place: Table 87 opened on 3rd Ave and 10th street last year and it’s a friendly, unpretentious place with great coal oven pizza. I especially love the pots of roasted garlic and hot peppers they have on every table for toppings.

– Hidden talent: I love to sing, and for the last few years I’ve been involved with an organization that teaches people how to lead groups of people in singing without written music, regardless of age or musical training. So if all the people who are reading this right now were in a room together, I could get us all singing in harmony!

– If I didn’t do what I do, I would be a… There are so many answers to this question — I wish I had twelve days in a week so I could be and do so many things. If I didn’t feel compelled to make art the way I do, I think I’d be doing some kind of counseling or ministry work, being with people who are struggling and trying to help them in some way.

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What inspired you to start your business?

The idea for Heartell Press came to me after my mom got sick with cancer in 2012-2013. She is well now, thankfully, but for a while things were really hard, and between visits I spent a lot of time in stationery stores looking for cards to send her. I couldn’t find what I was looking for, so I started having ideas for making my own.

The first Heartell collection I released in the fall of 2014 consisted of sympathy cards with a warm, sincere tone that lets the giver be present to the person receiving the card, without trying to explain or fix or avoid the hard thing that is happening. Around the time my mom was getting better, I made a change in my work situation that freed up a lot of my time, making it possible for me to devote the necessary time and attention to build a small business from scratch. Heartell is a full line of cards for all occasions now, but I strive to maintain that standard of warmth, sincerity and presence in every card I design.

What is your production process like, from concept to finished product?

Each Heartell card begins by making a drawing on paper to act as a guide for carving. I refine and rework the drawing until I’m happy with it. If it has text, I’ll scan it and set the type on the computer so that the carved letters will be legible and evenly spaced (hand lettering is not my forte!). The drawing also has to be in reverse so that the print doesn’t come out backwards, and the computer is useful for that. Then I print it out again and transfer the drawing to a block. My favorite material for blocks is Shina plywood, which is made in Japan and favored by woodblock printers because it has a fine grain and is easy to carve but is strong enough to hold fine detail. Sometimes I use linoleum blocks since linoleum has different properties that work better for some images.

My favorite part is carving the design by hand using Japanese-style hand tools. Carving is meditative, and seeing the finished design is very satisfying. Printing the blocks on my Chandler and Price Pilot letterpress is the last step, using high quality recycled cotton paper and special inks that are highly pigmented to create bold, saturated colors.

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What are you planning for the next few months?

I’m always adding new cards to the line, and I’m thinking about adding some other paper products for the holidays including table cards, gift wrap and gift tags. I’m starting to sell my cards to retailers so that people can buy them in stores, so I’ve been working on my wholesale catalog.

I’m participating in Gowanus Open Studios in October, which is one of my favorite weekends of the year. Hundreds of artists participate, and we all open our spaces to the public. I love talking to people about what I do and hearing their stories. I might even do some live printing demonstrations so people can see how the press works. And of course, I’m looking forward to being a vendor at the Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar in November! I didn’t get to visit last year but I heard rumors about hot chocolate drinks with giant marshmallows.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?

Running a business means managing lots of different projects and keeping many balls in the air at once. I just read Getting Things Done by David Allen (never thought I’d be reading business books but now I gobble them up like candy!) and started using an app called Trello to organize all my to-do lists and projects. The change has been pretty revolutionary in terms of my clarity of focus and productivity. I’ve tried lots of different systems but I think I have hit on the right one for me, and I wish I’d known about it a year ago.

On a more philosophical level, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that developing an idea and growing a business takes time, and that’s a good thing. I was anxious to figure everything out at once at the beginning, but I’ve realized that if a project is something you really care about (and Heartell Press definitely is for me), you’re going to be doing it for a long time, and it’s OK to build it slowly at your own pace and enjoy the process.

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What neighborhood are you in? What are your favorite spots?

I’m in Gowanus, and I love it! New businesses and projects of all sorts have popped up during the six years I’ve lived here and I feel spoiled having access to so much within walking distance (my home and my studio are a five-minute walk apart).

I live on the same block as the pie shop Four and Twenty Blackbirds, which is a little dangerous because their pies are so delicious. There are excellent art spaces in the neighborhood, including Brooklyn Art Space and Trestle Gallery, Gowanus Art Space and Gowanus Print Lab, and a new place called Craftsman Ave for taking classes. Supplies of all kinds are easy to find at Artists and Craftsman on 2nd Street, Build It Green and the flea market New York Old Iron under the F train overpass on 9th Street, and of course good old Lowe’s.

For drinks I am loyal to Halyards, it opened a couple of years after I moved here and I have now celebrated all kinds of occasions there over the years like birthdays, art shows and even our wedding in 2013.

Cheers to Heartell Press! You can shop the full collection at http://heartellpress.com. Don’t miss Rachel in person at our upcoming Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar!

A new book by Greenpoint-based artist Meera Lee Patel is your new secret weapon to start creating. Start Where You Are, A Journal for Self-Exploration, out August 11th, is a beautiful illustrated gem of a book packed with Meera’s whimsical illustrations and ideas, exercises and tips to ditch your lack of confidence and get working on your creative projects.

"Start Where You Are" by Meera Lee PatelFrom START WHERE YOU ARE by Meera Lee Patel, published August 11 by Perigee, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2015, Meera Lee Patel.

Equal parts journal, manual and art book, Start Where You Are is designed to nurture creativity, explore inner thoughts, and help us focus on how to move forward — with both our creative abilities and life. Read on for our interview with Meera – and a chance to win a copy of Start Where You Are!

Excerpt from Meera Lee Patel's "Start Where You Are"© 2015, Meera Lee Patel.

What are readers going to find in Start Where You Are?

Readers will discover a wide array of prompts (writing exercises, questions, charts, graphics) that ask them to look inside themselves and listen. Each prompt is paired with an illustrated quote that offers a helping hand and encourages the reader to continue moving forward. Self-reflection is hard and can be scary, but as you do the work, you see that there’s an entire world waiting for you on the other side – one that is a bit clearer, stronger, and filled with endless possibility.

Excerpt from Meera Lee Patel's "Start Where You Are"
© 2015, Meera Lee Patel.

How do you shake off a Monday morning funk or creative block?

My favorite way to get my creativity moving is by getting my feet moving. I’m lucky to live in Brooklyn, where there is a non-stop rhythm moving through the air and endless inspiration covering the streets. I’ll go for a quick walk to the small park near my house, or just aimlessly walk through my neighborhood. To me, there’s nothing more inspirational then remembering there is so much beauty around me.

What are some steps to ease a non-creative or beginner into working on their own creative projects?

– Make a list: write down ideas or concepts that you have and work your way through them. It’s much easier to begin a project when your ideas are all in front of you.

– Begin a 30-day creative retreat: every day, make something small – a painting, a poem, writing a few words on a page. Creativity, like all things, is a practice, and you’ll find that as you begin to exercise it daily, it will become easier and easier to do so.

When did you become an entrepreneur?

I began writing and illustrating a few years ago, after I graduated from college and began working as an editor at a publishing company. It was then that I turned to illustration as a kind of solace. Painting became my inspiration, motivation, and a spark in my otherwise dry, monotonous work day. I couldn’t imagine living my life without purpose, and so I decided that a career as an artist is what I most wanted to work towards.

Since then, it’s been a continual battle to find balance – to manage my time between full-time work and freelance opportunities, to keep inspiration and desire close when tiredness and frustration settles in. It’s difficult, but it’s a good kind of fight. My dream is to work for myself, creating paintings and stories that brings a smile or thought to other people, and I’m going to try my best to get there.

What are your favorite spots in your neighborhood?

I’m luckily a short walk away from McCarren Park (good energy) and McGolrick Park (great trees), which are both wonderful for reading and naps and wandering. I’m a big fan of C.Lo Café, an adorable health cafe that opened up a few blocks away from me on Bushwick Avenue. I’m also incredibly loyal to The Blue Stove, which makes the best homemade pastries and pies in the area. I love going there with a sketchbook and spending a few hours working there, people-watching and imagining what other lives look like.

Giveaway!

Start Where You Are comes out August 11th. We were very excited to partner with Penguin to give away TWO copies of Meera Lee Patel’s beautiful book. The giveaway period ended August 13th 2015 at 11.59pm.