05/11/17 11:16am

All photos by Regina Mogilevskaya

Getting a word in with Emma Straub, author and one part of the duo behind Books Are Magic, is nearly impossible while there are customers streaming through the door. And although the Cobble Hill bookstore just opened its doors a few weeks ago, throngs of overjoyed well-wishers are already filling the store in a steady flow. “We’re definitely busy from the moment we open our doors in the morning to the moment we close them at night,” she says.

When BookCourt, the neighborhood’s beloved indie bookstore, announced they were closing, Straub and her husband Michael Fusco-Straub jumped to action immediately. They acquired the Books Are Magic space in October, but Straub says it was the election that really cemented their efforts. “We realized it was so much bigger than just a bookstore,” Straub says. “We needed an open space where people could gather, where families can feel welcome, can get informed.” Thanks to Straub’s established connections with local bookstores (she worked at both BookCourt and at Word in Greenpoint), publishers, and sales reps, the couple pulled off an impressive feat in record time.

The Fusco-Straubs obviously love books and design, and their lovely welcoming space is our new favorite word lair. From the books on the shelves to the sunlit kids room in the back, every swift detail of Books Are Magic takes inspiration from the community in which it blooms. Tulips from neighborhood florists decorate the store’s nooks, while the works of local authors are displayed proudly on recycled BookCourt shelves.

“I’m starting to explore collaborations with other places in the neighborhood, too,” Straub says. “Warby Parker reached out and we’re planning a reading series in their backyard.” In addition to being full of local goodness, the shop is wonderfully spacious, with exposed beams and brick and plenty of sunlight. It’s the kind of place that makes you feel good the second you step through the arched doorway.

Books Are Magic joins an impressive collection of indie bookstores around Brooklyn. Here are a few of our favorites for reading, listening, lounging and browsing. (more…)

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04/25/17 2:24pm

Yesterday marked four years since the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh claimed the lives of 1,132 garment industry workers when the factory building they were in collapsed. Brands like Zara, Walmart, Joe Fresh and The Children’s Place were all found to have been producing clothing at Rana Plaza.

Fashion Revolution Week, April 24-30 this year, is a movement to demand clearer supply chains and safer working conditions, and asking fashion brands for a greater commitment to cleaning up the production of clothing, which is one of the biggest industrial polluters in the global economy.

The truth is that there is enough clothing on the planet to keep us all warm and dry well into the future. Not participating in fast fashion by curbing your shopping habit, or hitting vintage and thrift stores is the best way to reduce waste. You can also shop with these ethical fashion companies that provide safe working conditions and living wages for workers.

Another tactic is to shop local.

New York City was once the capital of the garment industry, and it was also one of the centers of the workers rights movement, which was galvanized, in part, by the horrible tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. The women, largely Jewish and Italian immigrants, working at Triangle were sewing a fast-fashion forerunner–the fitted, puffy-sleeved tops that were essential to the Gibson Girl look. Different century, same story as Rana Plaza.

Today, the fashion industry is still alive and well in New York City, but most off-the-rack pieces are constructed thousands of miles away in Vietnam, China and India. There are still a handful of garment factories in the city though, and increasingly young, quality-obsessed companies that sell primarily online or in pop-ups are producing New York-made garments that you can feel good about buying and wearing. As a rule they’re more expensive than your average Gap tee, but of course they are. They pay your neighbors a living wage. Here are a few of our favorites. (more…)

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01/10/17 11:57am
Photo: Catbat

Photo: Catbat

And so, late one evening, the Catbat became stuck in time. Once mythical–both lynx and bat, philosopher and shapeshifter–now ashes of a gnostic tarot card.

Written for Catbat Shop by Kelley Deane McKinney

A mix between a blazer and a blanket, the Catbat cape could very well be a talisman for our uncertain times. Kat Shuford, the designer behind Catbat Shop, believes that “people of all genders and sizes should feel magical every day,” and that a gorgeous wool, mohair or cashmere cape, sustainably sourced from reclaimed and recylced fabrics, and locally made in Greenpoint, has the power to conjure a charmed existence.

Less than two years ago, Shuford, an artist and website designer came up with the idea for a line of capes, and with basic sewing skills and a DIY attitude, she cobbled together a pattern and searched out a family-run fabric business based in New York. “I didn’t know how to begin,” she says. “But it was just, sit down and do it anyway.” Her web experience allowed her to wear many hats, designing her own site and maintaining her online store. With a little luck and a lot of drive, Shuford found other people to help her along the way and came up with the prototype–one pattern that fits every body type regardless of height or gender. “I kind of did this on a self challenge,” she admits. (more…)

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12/13/16 9:48am

Although it is tempting to just make donations to the ACLU on behalf of all your friends and family this year, sometimes you really need a physical gift. This year, let Brooklyn Based take the planning out of the equation, so you can spend more time signing up for boycotts and protesting to save our planet. From ultra-serious Brooklyn dads to work spouses, and all the other special snowflakes in  your life, your holiday shopping is covered with our 2016 gift guide.

What to get the woman in your life who rocks her Future Is Female t-shirt, is still checked in to Standing Rock, and consistently gives her rent money to Planned Parenthood.

Photo: Slow Factory

Slow Factory’s NASA Scarf ($140)

Celebrate the future by honoring the past with Slow Factory’s NASA Scarves. Each one features a high-resolution digital image of NASA’s first female scientists. Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson, pictured above, “made fundamental contributions to the U.S. aeronautics and space program with the early application of digital electronic computers.” Beyond being a braniac and feminist go-to item, these scarves are also printed on high quality Italian silk from a supply chain that is 100% clean and fair trade. Complement this gift with a copy of the wonderful book Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed The World by Rachel Ignotofsky ($16.99).


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ladyj1

The true gems in your life deserve something stunning, and Lady J +1 is filled with bold, beautiful gifts. The trendiest indie fashion and accessories boutique in Prospect Heights/Crown Heights is also home to the design studio of Lady J Jewelry Designs. Inside the intimate storefront on Classon Ave. you’ll find a huge selection of award-winning jewelry that is known for its use of striking gemstones like Rutilated Quartz and Super Seven Stone, all designed to look as good as they make you feel.

You can also shop other indie designers and artisans including:

Apparel by Mary Meyer, Eve Gravel, Emilime, Family Affairs and Samantha Pleet
Handbags & clutches from Saint Catello
Ceramics by Jonathan Castro and SKT, palo santo
Candles from Morphologically and LoveNature, and much, much more!

Lady J +1 is located in Prospect Heights/Crown Heights right near Berg’N, and everything in store is shoppable online at ladyjjewelry.com. (This season, you can even select in-store pickup and they will have it gift-packed and ready to go for you!)

Get all your gifts and stuff your stockings, too, at Lady +1, open every day 12pm-7pm, except Mondays. Just don’t wait too long to pick out the perfect gift because they procure limited quantities for the holidays, and it all goes fast.

A few things you’ll find in store and online:

ladyj1_sevensisters_detail

This style of Lady J’s signature Super Seven necklaces is already sold out, but there are more available online. The Super Seven stone is so-named because it contains seven different minerals, including amethyst and smokey quartz, and is known to exhibit the phenomenon of St. Elmo’s Fire, an etheric auric light reminiscent of the “holy light” around church towers and treetops visible due to atmospheric electricity. It produces electromagnetic waves, providing a self-luminous quality, and assists one in “seeing” auras. Plus, it’s gorgeous.

ladyj1_rutilatedquartznecklace

Rutilated Quartz is one of the few gemstones desirable because of its inclusions. This gives it a special allure and desirability as a unique gemstone. This one-of-a kind piece features a fine-silver bevel setting and hangs on a 20” silver chain with a lobster-claw style clasp. Fierce and beautiful at the same time.

ladyj1_virgotop

Inspired by the constellations, this Snake’s Tail top by Eve Gravel is full of geometric connectivity. The button-down top features a loose fit, side front pocket and rolled sleeves. Can be tucked or worn loose, depending on the stars.

11/21/16 7:27pm
Learn to make your own medicine at home, the natural way. Photo: Remedies Herb Shop

Learn to make home remedies. Photo: Remedies Herb Shop

This time of year germs run wild, sailing from cubicle to classroom, plaguing even the strongest among us. Add airborne viruses, existential and political dread, and short days, and you’ve got a recipe for everything from the winter blues to the superflu. It’s enough to send a person back under the covers with a bottle of whiskey and bag of Ricolas. Go ahead, call in sick. We all need a day of rest and comfort, where we can wallow in our emotions, rage with fever dreams, and start the healing process. Here’s how to feel better all winter long.

Take a class

If you want to preemptively find a way to boost your immune system and recover from sicknesses more quickly, sign head to Remedies Herb Shop for an immune-boosting tonic. Or, sign up for a class on aromatherapy, soapmaking, meditation, or an introduction to medicinal herbs. If affordable health care goes away, you’ll be still be covered. Remedies Herb Shop, 453 Court St., Brooklyn. (more…)

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10/18/16 10:07am

This matchbox sized storefront sells "big city, small batch" products. Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

Julia Small O'Kelly will welcome you into smallhome with the stories behind all her treasures. Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

Julia Small O’Kelly will welcome you into smallhome and share the stories behind all her treasures. Photos: Meredith Craig de Pietro

Walking into smallhome, a matchbox-sized storefront on Metropolitan near the Graham Avenue stop on the L train in Williamsburg, feels like spiriting through a portal to rural America. Cluttered with handcrafted wares that range from white sage body wash to the perfect red plaid handkerchief, the store’s displays feature creative props like a rusted ladder, and assortment of wooden twigs and a vintage wicker chair. Although smallhome is, well, small, you could spend days sorting through the goods, uncovering treasures that you never even knew you wanted (like an astrologically-themed embroidery hoop).

Upon entering, you will probably be warmly welcomed by owner, Julia Small O’Kelly, who will definitely be wearing a work apron, ready to tell you the stories behind her collection. (more…)

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09/20/16 9:28am
A picture is worth a thousand words. Artist Hansky's mural can be found on the LES. Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

As Artist Hansky’s LES mural proves, a picture is worth a thousand words. This election year, showcase your favorite causes in creative ways–use consumerism as a canvas.  Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

This may be a supremely weird and exhausting election, but it does have one thing going for it–amazing political gear.

We don’t get to vote until November (if you haven’t yet registered you can do so here–Oct. 14 is the deadline), but the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is scheduled for next Monday, Sept. 26. Judging from their swag, the Clinton team is raring to go, with a debate watch party pack that comes with “Chillary” beer coozies. It’s still anyone’s guess whether Trump will actually participate, but either way, you have time to outfit yourself. Take a stand with slogan t-shirts, show your passion for the cause with a baseball cap, or let your guests remember to dump Trump every time they use your bathroom. 

[Editorial note: In a normal election we would give you gear supporting both candidates. This is not a normal election and we won’t pretend that Trump is a normal candidate, or that readers of Brooklyn Based are interested in buying a Make America Great Again cap. If you are, well, Google it.]

Slogan: I’m With Her!

Photo: HillaryClinton.com

Photo: HillaryClinton.com

You don’t have to go look hard for stylish swag supporting Hillary Clinton. She’s got a web store that rivals Barneys, with big name designers like Marc Jacobs and Jason Wu making limited edition t-shirts to support the candidate. Nothing beats this unisex Everyday Pantsuit tee ($30), a fun shirt to support a serious candidate. [Ed. note: Why this doesn’t come in blue baffles us.]


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07/19/16 8:56am
Find sunglasses that fit the shape of the beach you lay on. Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

Find sunglasses that fit the shape of the beach where you bask. Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

Everyone knows you need sunglasses at the beach. Which pair is best for you though, depends on which beach you love the most–each summer destination has a different vibe. Put down the Pokemon Go, and take this single-question, multiple-choice quiz to find out which sunglasses are right for you. It’s easy, and we won’t even force you to figure out what shape face you have.

Finish this sentence. I summer in… (more…)

05/24/16 9:28am
Photo: Buzzfeed

Fanny packs are back, but they aren’t the same one The Rock rocked in the ’90s. They’re cooler. Trust us. Photo: Buzzfeed

Trends come and go, and then come back around. We may not have thought that the 90s dork capsule, the fanny pack, would be returning anytime soon. But it’s definitely here, utilitarian and without irony, and with a brand-spanking new name: The Belt Bag. Or the Bum Pack. Or the Festival Pack. Take your pick, we’re going to stick with fanny pack.

This shouldn’t take you too much by surprise, since other 90s styles like mom jeans and baby doll dresses hang in every store window. In true Devil Wears Prada fashion, you can trace the resurgence of the fanny pack back to the runways. Chanel showed the accessory in the spring/ summer 2014 show in Paris, while Alexander Wang premiered it in New York for fall 2014.

Ultimately, as mused upon in The New York Times recently, the fanny pack is not just fashion, but also puts the “funk” back into function; it allows a sense of freedom, allowing the wearer to unstrap from a tote or a backpack. It promotes the courage to leave home with minimal gear and the confidence that you have everything you need around your waist, leaving your shoulders free to do other things. Use your arms for hugging loved ones, holding a picket sign, doing the wave at a sporting event or dancing your heart out at a festival. Step out in the world and leave (most of) your baggage at home. (more…)

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