A certain aesthetic dominates Pinterest and design blogs these days. Designer Emily Henderson calls it the “California Casual Minimalist” look, characterized by “live-edge wood, hand-thrown/studio pottery, wicker, rattan, fringe, tassels and linen that has been washed a million times with frayed edges.”
The look includes small-batch textiles, hand-thrown ceramics and pillows sewn from vintage textiles from countries on the other side of the world. And if you live in Brooklyn, myriad shops peddle items that can help you achieve this aesthetic, including a handful that produce and sell their own unique products.
Across from the soon-to-shutter Horseman Antiques on Atlantic Avenue, the thoughtfully curated store Layla Brooklyn is a shopping destination for design-savvy Brooklynites in the know. Its one-of-a-kind, hand block-printed bedding, tablecloths and napkins come almost exclusively from India. Handcrafted home goods also include flat-weave dish towels and rugs, and colorful hand-loomed cotton terrycloth towels.
“Eighty-five percent is based in India,” said owner Alayne Patrick, who opened Layla long before Indian block prints were fashionable. “It’s working with the real crafts of India and hand weaving, hand looming, hand block printing and embroidery.”
Patrick, a former fashion stylist, designs the patterns from scratch or redesigns vintage Indian patterns. Most of her products are dyed and printed at a factory in Jaipur, India, where she knows all the sewers, block makers and printers by name. Patrick also designs and sells clothing and jewelry. She opened Layla in its original location on Hoyt Street in 2001, after an eye-opening trip to India.
“I went to India for totally personal reasons, and found things from antique jewelry to antique textiles, and people to really teach me about them,” Patrick said. “Here in America, we only knew kind of the kitschy India stuff. So, I started by bringing over a lot of antiques and selling them to people. My whole thing was about the techniques and the people who know these crafts and can still do this delicate work.”
Layla is open only four days a week, Thursday through Sunday, and doesn’t sell home goods on its small e-commerce Web site. Prices range from $8 for a washcloth to $700 for a king-sized quilt, and more for some jewelry items. Unlike many small Brooklyn boutiques, Layla sells mostly its own label, along with a few small linens brands, like Les Indiennes and the Brooklyn-based Mia and Finn.
“I feel like there’s very few of the super-cool, unique stores left,” Patrick said. “I want to be someone that nobody can do what I’m doing. It’s so nice to have something that’s unique, and in a small little space. That, for me, is what having a shop is about.”
At Leif in Williamsburg, pillows made from vintage Thai or African fabrics are produced in the boutique’s Greenpoint studio, along with other textiles and a bath and apothecary line. The shop also sells its own line of pillows made from linen and handmade cottons from India.
“For the Thai fabrics, I source them myself by scouring the textile markets in Thailand,” founder Stacy Longenecker said. “For the African fabrics, I work with someone who directly sources them for me.”
Prices for the pillows range from $98 to $300, and average around $150, and candles are priced at $30 to $50.
“I used to make our candle line in my own kitchen,” Longenecker said. “But luckily we have someone else pouring them for us locally now.”
Longenecker started the Web site in 2011 with just a small assortment of home goods, while she also had a full time job as a copywriter.
“I grew the business gradually and after a couple years was able to do it full time,” she said. “The brick and mortar store opened five years after the online shop. All of a sudden I felt that opening a physical store was the right move, which I did not expect.”
Longenecker said most of her business is now done in the store.
“The Internet has changed a lot in seven years,” she said. “I’ve found that people really respond to the in-person shopping experience.”
Nearby, the carefully curated Mociun Home sells hand-thrown ceramics, glassware and textiles by dozens of makers, including their own line. Caitlin Mociun opened the home goods store in 2012, selling home products alongside her fine jewelry line.
“The home goods were a way to make my store more accessible for my jewelry clients,” Mociun said.
Mociun and her team have scouted home goods from all over the West Coast, Philadelphia, and, of course, Brooklyn. Some of her most popular ceramics lines are Brooklyn-based Recreation Center, New York’s Eric Bonnin and Illinois maker Robert Blue.
“I want it to be something special. I want whoever’s work I’m carrying to be something that I’m not seeing everywhere,” she said. “I really do my best to find something that’s original out there and doesn’t look like something we’re already carrying.”
Prices range from $5 for a greeting card to $1,000 for a cast concrete bowl. Her own simple, modern ceramics line, produced in Bushwick, includes a $38 bowl and a $48 dinner plate.
“It’s a very clean, more about form, ceramics line that we do well with,” Mociun said of her own line. “I’d like to try it again because I feel like our clients really like pattern and multiple colors.”
[Photos by Susan De Vries unless noted otherwise]
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