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Bright Future: Future Glory’s Apprenticeship Program

At the base of a beautifully constructed Future Glory handbag lies the beating heart of its operation: the apprenticeship program.

For co-founders Theresa Lee and Jennie Chen, their mission to create amazing handbags is one and the same as their mission to support social change. On top of donating a portion of every sale to local San Francisco-based organizations, their apprenticeship program provides women from these organizations with skills training and employment.

Future Glory

“Being able to change someone’s life in a sustainable way,” Jennie notes, “it’s been an amazing thing to witness.”

Their first apprentice, Lisa, was introduced to Jennie and Theresa through Because Justice Matters and has been with the program for more than six months.

“I get a lot of satisfaction out of the precision that’s needed for marking the cloth and cutting it,” Lisa says. “It’s part of the foundation of what they do, and if I don’t get it right, well then, it won’t be right. I like being at the base and having a sense of order and reason.”

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Having been through tremendous hardship throughout her life, Lisa not only finds a renewed sense of purpose through her work with Future Glory, but also by being part of a company that directly supports other vulnerable women who have been in similar circumstances.

“It’s been extremely rewarding because I personally relate to the cause and I get to help other people in a way that is very important to me,” Lisa says. “Part of what life is about for me is having purpose and meaning, and making amends for hurting myself and others in the past. This is a perfect way for me to do that.”

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In addition to making a positive difference in her own life, Lisa also mentions that Future Glory’s mission helps bring more attention to human trafficking and domestic violence, as well as opens the door for more women to come forward.

“I see it down the line as benefitting victims of horrible crimes,” she notes. “A lot of sex trafficking and domestic violence, people don’t talk about. I didn’t talk about my experience for years, until I got into therapy. I think a lot more goes on than what is disclosed. Businesses like this help put it out to the public that this is something that needs to be addressed.”

As Lisa steadily draws a line on a new sheet of cloth, we can see the satisfaction in her eyes as she finishes and grabs her scissors.

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“I see a greater purpose to this,” Lisa continues. “I love doing it and being paid to do something that you love and have it affect society in a positive way—what greater thing could you ask for?”

 

Future Glory

Leaving Their Hearts In San Francisco: Meet Future Glory

Combining compassion, grit, focus and faith, Theresa Lee and Jennie Chen founded Future Glory with the hopes of making a difference, one handbag at a time. Based in San Francisco, these best friends fit together their strengths and experience (Theresa holds a decade’s worth of experience in design, and Jennie in finance) to not only domestically source and handcraft beautiful, highly functional handbags but to also give back to their community.

“We came up with the idea for Future Glory during an idyllic weekend at Coachella,” Jennie recalls. “We were inspired by being around people who had a dream and then followed it. Plain and simple, we wanted to give back and design bags for women, by women.”

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Using their business as a means for social change, a portion of every sale goes to San Francisco-based organizations Freedom House and Because Justice Matters. But Jennie and Theresa didn’t stop there—they also started an apprenticeship program to provide women from these organizations with skills training and employment.

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“We have a very local story,” Jennie says. “Having these organizations right here in San Francisco makes it possible to connect on an individual basis.”

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Inspired by their beloved San Francisco, Jennie and Theresa not only incorporate the city’s beauty and technology into their handmade pieces, but they also partner with organizations like Because Justice Matters to help create a safe refuge for women in the vulnerable Tenderloin district.

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“We created Future Glory with hopes to empower marginalized women,” Jennie says. “We’ve been able to see what local organizations have done, firsthand, for women who have been victims of sexual exploitation and domestic violence, and it really resonated with us.”

If it’s true what they say about good things coming full circle, then this is truly just the beginning for Future Glory—and a brand new beginning for the many vulnerable women they hope to reach.

Check back here to learn more about Future Glory, and be sure to check out Future Glory’s feature story in this month’s Designer Showcase.

 

Mabel Chong Jewelry Designer

Mabel Chong: Jewelry Designer & Modern Day 49er

If you hold one of Mabel Chong’s designs in your hand, you can be sure she held each stone first, turned it over and over in her hands, held it up to the light, and studied it intensely to make sure it was the perfect piece to create exquisite designs around.

“Making jewelry is like a puzzle… buying stones is the beginning of this puzzle process,” Mabel says, as she starts combing through the bright rows of gems at a local gem fair in Sonoma, CA.

Tagging along with Mabel, two other 11 Main team members and I have just entered a whole new world. The gem show is a culture all its own, and the blinding sea of colors, shapes and people is overwhelming. Sticking close to Mabel, she fearlessly leads us through the crowd, laser focused on finding treasure.

Mabel Chong Gem Show

Mabel Chong Gem Fair

“I’m inspired by nature. Sometimes small imperfections are what give gemstones their character,” Mabel says. “I look for different things, depending on the collection I’m working on or a specific piece I’m making for a customer.”

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Mabel has a long list of orders for customized pieces from customers. One is for a young woman who has been dreaming about having Mabel design her wedding jewelry for years.

“I make a lot of customized wedding rings and jewelry,” Mabel says. “Right now I’m finishing pieces for a really lovely girl. She said that when she was younger, she told herself that one day, when she gets married, I would be her jewelry designer. It made my day.”

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As we continue on to the next vendor, I can see that something has caught Mabel’s eye. Picking up a beautiful blue-green gem, she tells me she’s been looking for the perfect shade of moss aquamarine—and this might just be it.

“I love working with moss aquamarine,” she says. “It goes well with both cool and warm colors. I also like organic and geometric shapes that are very unique.”

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The stones Mabel sources are the heartbeat of her designs. I can see the satisfaction spread across her face as she puts certain pieces aside. “Sometimes I find gems that I just have to have,” Mabel says, as she uncovers a stunning piece of labradorite. “I may not have a design in mind for them yet, but I know they will eventually find a home. I’ll look at them every day until I know exactly what to do with them.”

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When Mabel’s carefully chosen gems eventually do find their homes, they are showcased in unique designs that mix feminine and classic with a little bit of “modern edge.” Mabel notes, “I blend a little East and West, old and new, raw and polished.”

As she mulls over her finds on a tray, I can almost see the designs forming above her head. “I make a story out of every piece I make,” Mabel says.

For Mabel, the stones she sources are just the beginning of the beautiful stories she’ll weave together in her designs. We just can’t wait to see how these will end.

For more on Mabel and a behind-the-scenes look at her design process and inspiration, check out her featured story in our Designer Showcase series here.

Mabel Chong Hot Pot 11 Main

Some Like It Hot: Traditional Chinese Hot Pot With Mabel Chong

If there’s one universal hot pot rule, it would be that you don’t “hot pot” with people you don’t like.

It’s one of the most social of meals and we felt incredibly lucky when one of our favorite shop owners, jewelry designer Mabel Chong, invited us to this. We originally thought we’d be sitting down with her for a simple interview for our Designer Showcase series, but we ended up sitting down to one of the most delicious culinary experiences we’ve ever had. And of course, we just had to share (we also couldn’t wait to recreate the experience with our family and friends).

Forget fondue, once you go hot pot you never go back. Tag along with us as we reminisce with some drool-worthy photos and simple tips to have your own indoor or outdoor summer hot pot. Enjoy!

Emmett

Designer On A Mission: 11 Main Welcomes Emmett McCarthy

In 2005, fashion designer Emmett McCarthy opened his boutique in New York City’s trendy Nolita neighborhood and launched his womenswear line based on the belief that “fashion is for now, but style is forever.” Featuring his trend-right styles and attention to detail, Emmett’s boutique fulfilled his vision of creating a “creative think tank” for his design process.

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“I want to use this store as a window to the world… so people can see this as a fashion laboratory.”—Emmett

It’s been an interesting and colorful journey for Emmett since first learning how to stitch on a 1940s sewing machine in his family’s home.

Emmett became inspired to pursue fashion design as a full-time career while he was attending high school at the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven, Connecticut. The day after graduation, Emmett moved to New York to attend Parson’s School of Design and went on to design for major menswear companies in both Europe and the U.S., with aspirations of launching his own line of womenswear.

Shortly after appearing on the second season of Project Runway, and after many years of honing his signature style, Emmett did just that. But he didn’t just launch a new womenswear line, he also launched a new take on the designer-customer relationship.

Emmett McCarthy Fashion Sketch

“I go in the direction of what my customers respond to. Luckily, I’m able to see what women want, firsthand, in my boutique.”—Emmett

Emmett goes far beyond the individual creative process when designing new pieces for his line. Not only is he inspired by the chic street style he sees every day just by stepping outside his boutique, he is hands-on in every aspect of EMc2 and loves being able to react immediately to his customers’ reactions to his designs.

Today, Emmett wants to take his vision and designs a step further with his new shop at 11 Main. “I love the idea of bringing the Elizabeth Street shopping experience to anywhere in the world,” he notes. “I want to level the playing field by making my designs available to everyone.”

But it’s not just about making stylish clothing attainable to the masses. Emmett welcomes having a direct relationship with shoppers at 11 Main. “I want to take out the intimidation factor and demystify high-end boutique shopping on a wide scale,” he says. “I look forward to expanding the creative process I have now in my boutique, to a larger audience.”

Emmett’s new shop at 11 Main is expanding rapidly and features his signature investment-worthy designs with a twist on timeless style:

 

It’s been 10 years since Emmett got the fortuitous casting call to appear on Project Runway. Emmett may not have walked away with the $100,000 grand prize, but he didn’t need it, and this year notably marks the 10-year anniversary of his beautiful, one-of-a-kind boutique.

Photos courtesy of Emmett McCarthy

Lavender Collins

Lazy Afternoon: The Perfect Easter Cocktail

If you’re looking for the perfect way to accessorize your Easter outfit, stop scouring your jewelry box immediately and read on.

There’s only one accessory you need this coming Easter: A refreshing cocktail in hand. And what could possibly go better with your pastel palette than a Lavender Collins?

Nothing, that’s what.

Follow closely to recreate the ideal Easter refreshment.

Lavender Collins (serves 1)Ingredients

  • 1 ½ ounces gin
  • ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ½ ounce lavender syrup
  • 3 ounces club soda
  • Lemon wedge or lavender flower for garnish

Lavender syrup

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tbsp dried culinary lavender (simmer until sugar dissolves, cool, then strain.)

For more fun and festive Easter ideas, head here.  Now go forth and hide some eggs, looking fabulous in your Easter pastels and matching accessories!

Fritz with filmakers Ben Gonyo and Mike Martinez

Struggle, Strength, Perseverance, Rebirth. Meet Fritz: An Artist Re-Emerging

“Struggle = Strength. Let’s make a movie.”

This was just one of the messages on the postcards that filmmakers Ben Gonyo and Michael Martinez started sending Fritz shortly after they met. Ben and Michael were looking for subjects for a film they were doing about making it in the contemporary art world, and instead the story took on a life of its own when they met Fritz, a 70-year-old artist in Rochester, New York, who was struggling to bounce back after the death of his girlfriend, Darlene, the love of his life.

Fritz is hard of hearing and moved to New York City in the late ‘70s to become a professional artist. After years of rejection, he became a professional machinist instead, solitarily and diligently working away repetitively, while dreaming about ideas for new pieces of art.

“Keep making art. The world needs it.” Ben and Michael continued to send Fritz inspiring messages like these during a cold winter over 2 years ago. They believed in his talent and longed for Fritz to pull himself out of mourning and isolation. A life-long friendship emerged from this as Fritz slowly began to find his inspiration again.

Photo courtesy of Ben Gonyo

“My seed paintings represent birth and the life cycle. Everything begins with a seed, from a human to an idea. I tend to use bright colors on these. This is a happy time. It is the beginning of things… This is life. It is universal. We all started this way.” —Fritz

Fritz started carving out his place again, but this time it wasn’t to be recognized by the unpredictable art world he attempted to break into more than 40 years earlier. It was rooted in getting back to a place inside his soul that pushed him to keep going, to keep making art.

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“My NY Times prints are hand-carved linoleum block prints… They take a long time to create. ‘Old Man Asks to Start Over,’ has to do with regret. It’s rather sad to think that some of us will get to the end of our lives and look back with regret.” —Fritz

Today, Fritz continues to find new inspiration, and Ben continues to help support him by managing his shop at 11 Main. His collection includes his increasingly popular fractal drawings:

Photo courtesy of Ben Gonyo“People don’t realize that I often experience the world in a very fractured way because of my hearing loss. I have to piece things together in social settings or conversations. I don’t just pick up on things easily. I took that idea and adapted it to a visual art style. I started with animals, but I plan to do other things as well.” —Fritz

 

Fritz will appear in a documentary on PBS later this year. If you’d like to get to know him sooner, you can in this 12-part film series by Ben and Michael. Be sure to take a behind-the-scenes glimpse into Fritz’s journey in his Shop Owner Story:

When asked what Fritz’s friendship has meant to Ben personally, and what viewers of the upcoming  documentary can take away, Ben simply answers, “Never give up believing in yourself. This goes not only for art, but more importantly, one’s own personal resolve.”

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“I feel good today, I feel alive… things are looking up for me. Two years ago, I was depressed. We made a studio in the basement and I started doing prints again… I wake up every morning, I do my art, I feel accepted. I’ve made it.” —Fritz

Photos courtesy of Ben Gonyo

striped bow tie

Come On, Get Happy: Spring Wardrobe Refresh

Besides the promise of warmer weather, blooming flowers and the ability to leave all those heavy jackets at home, there’s a new kind of spring headed our way. There’s still the lovely flood of light, breezy layers and pastel prints, however, spring is not the delicate flower it used to be.

We’re drawing some spring inspiration from our shops and giving our closets some refreshing confidence. Get an uplifting start with new spring staples such as bold prints, rich, romantic hues, and striking, dreamy color combos.

Power Pastels: Spring trends can often times look like a giant box of Sweethearts, however, pastels still pack a powerful punch. These accessories aren’t messing around with stunning pops of brighter, lighter colors.

ANYA SUSHKO Handbag

Anya Sushko Grande Sunburst Handbag from Blount Fashion

Purple Polka Dot Tie

Purple Polka Dot Tie from Weekend Casual

Pastel Wayferers

Semi-Rimless Wayfarer Sunglasses from SUNGLASSES

Pastel Statement Necklace

Crystal Flower Necklace from Two Lil’ Birds Jewelry

Modern Florals: Not your average blooms, these pieces are replacing the laid-back florals we’re used to with lovely, dramatic colors and prints. Some call them moody. We’d like to call them simply gorgeous.

tracy reese georgette dressTracy Reese Silk Georgette Dress In Claret from Alys Grace

Milly Floral Dress

Milly Floral Chloe Dress from Alys Grace

Floral Romper

Floral Long Sleeve Romper from Hems And Fitz

Double The Stripes, Double The Fun: These standalone statement pieces are the best of the best in striking stripes for spring. (Can you say that three times fast?).

JOA Striped Skirt

JOA Striped Skirt from Relished

Striped Dress Shirt

Fine Stripe Egyptian Cotton Men’s Dress Shirt from Alara

Torn By Ronny Kobo Striped Dress

Torn By Ronny Kobo Ambrosia Dress from Boutique To You

Cashmere Striped Crewneck

Cashmere Striped Crewneck from Ivory Row

Walking On Sunshine: One of the best ways to incorporate spring’s bold new color choices even before the weather starts to warm. Skip forward in these brilliant new kicks in all shades of happy.

Lane Fuchsia Suede Flat

Lane Fuchsia Suede Flat from Elaine Turner

Converse High Tops

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star High Tops from Dress Code Clothing

Privileged Heels

Privileged By J.C. Dossier Riot Studded Stilettos From AKIRA

Ash Cool Wedge Sneakers

Ash Peach Wedge High Tops from Solestruck

From spirited prints to pastels that pack a serious punch, this spring we’re taking style cues from our shops and stepping out with confident new closet staples. With courageous color choices, upbeat accessories and powerful pieces to happily replace our bulky jackets and coats, we can’t wait for blue skies and longer days. Hello, spring!

11 Main’s Kim Brown and Shop Owners in the News

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Fashion Week has officially wrapped and our Director or Merchandising, Kim Brown, offered her commentary as one of Pantone’s influencers in their Fashion Color Report Fall 2015. As someone who takes great care in hand-selecting 11 Main shops and boutiques, Kim is a lover of color and sees first-hand the impact color can have on a shop, brand or product.

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Kim’s pulled together a collection of her favorite 11 Main products, all of which are inspired by Pantone’s Color of the Year, Marsala. From jewelry to fashion to home decor, Marsala is a versatile hue that will give you just the right amount of spice. Need inspiration? Be sure to check out Kim’s picks on 11 Main!

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Wondering what other 11 Main finds people are loving? From AnneSage.com, Aventura, Country Living, Vogue.com, RealSimple.com, StyleBistro.com and more, 11 Main shops are feeling the love from some of your favorite site and publications!

 

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Sudbury Dining Table, $755

11 Main Shop: SmartFurniture

As Seen In: AnneSage.com

 

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Lovejoy Bowl Pendant Light Fixture, $345

11 Main Shop: Fix Studio

As Seen In: AnneSage.com

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Gia Earrings, $950

11 Main Shop: Mabel Chong

Red And Teal Heart Table Runner – 14″ X 26″, $35

11 Main Shop: The Recoverie

Model OneAM/FM Table Radio Frost White/Ember Red, $180

11 Main Shop: HiDef Lifestyle

As Seen In: Aventura

Country Living

Eames Floral Pillow, $55

11 Main Shop: The Pillow Collection

As Seen In: Country Living

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Medallion Colors Wine Glasses, $36

11 Main Shop: JAF Gifts

As Seen In: StyleBistro.com

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Colorful Butterfly Wine Charms, $25

11 Main Shop: Loralyn Designs

As Seen In: StyleBistro.com

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Heart Shaped Cork Coasters, $4.20 – 4.60

11 Main Shop: The Path Less Traveled

As Seen In: RealSimple.com

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Kelly Wearstler’s Classic Legs, $1495

11 Main Shop: Bloom By Anuschka

As Seen In: Vogue.com

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Crest Bottle Opener, $44 – $60

11 Main Shop: Vessel

As Seen In: Vogue.com

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26″ Telescopic Extendable Back Scratcher Massager Padded Handle – Fun Colors, $8

11 Main Shop: Deals Only

As Seen In: Vogue.com

We’re so excited to be able to bring you so many amazing shops and boutiques, and clearly others are excited to find out what’s on 11 Main, too. What are some of your favorite 11 Main shops or products?

From East To West: A Road Trip To Our Favorite Shops

From East To West: A Road Trip To Our Favorite Shops

This week we’re excited to launch a virtual cross-country road trip, taking several happy detours along the way to our favorite shops in locations all across the U.S.

Join us, shop with us and say hello to the best shops in each region. Cruise through the West Coast for cool vibes and casually chic styles from shops like Alys Grace and Seattle Thread Company, and make sure to treat yourself to some wining and dining with gourmet kitchen essentials from VESSEL. For luxe leather and bright bohemian accessories, stop in the Southwest at Hawle Leather Co. and Barse Jewelry. And shoot straight to the heart of it in the Midwest for finely crafted clothing and a little heartland charm at Lur Apparel and Closet Barcode.

Quick ski getaway, anyone? Score some seriously cool slope style and après-ski gear as you escape to the specialty shops of the Rocky Mountains. Even if you’re trying to master the bunny slopes, you’ll look cool doing it with bright bamboo skis from Liberty Skis.

And finally, finish up on the East Coast for some style cues from up-and-coming boutiques in Brooklyn and beyond. Check out cool capes from Cleverhood, downtown chic duds from InVogue USA, and don’t forget to pick up a sweet Southeast vintage find from The Jewelry Lady’s Store.