Karen’s Soap Co.

I’m a sucker for any unique letterform, so of course I instantly loved the SOAP soap from Karen’s Soap Co., but the more I browsed her shop the more clever soaps I found.

$2 from the sale of each Puzzle piece soap set is donated to Autism Speaks
$2 from the sale of each Puzzle piece soap set is donated to Autism Speaks

Her handmade glycerin-based soaps are luxurious and moisturizing, but more than that, they’re fun to give and use. I love the Fish-in-a-Bag!

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Shop Local: Iowa City

iowa_aptWell kids, it’s official. I live in Iowa (new apartment above — painting, ceramics and blanket handmade by me, my mom made the pillow). If you’re like 99% of the people to whom I’ve announced my move, you’re picturing a corn field right now. However, if you’re one of the select few in the know, you’re just a little bit jealous. Iowa City is a great little city that boasts a thriving art scene (in fact, the Arts Festival is this weekend), lots of good restaurants and unique shopping to boot. Of course, you do have to drive through a lot of corn fields to get here.

To celebrate the move, I thought I’d feature some of the many talented artists and craftspeople who are now my neighbors!

The In Touch Clutch ™ by Downstairs Designs is a unique fabric carryall designed to travel with you and keep anything it holds safe and sound. (Letterpress notecards perhaps?)

Dawn Frary of Dewey Street Photo Company not only has the ability to capture the spirit of a place in a photo, she also has a very unique style that adds a sort of magic to her subjects.

4th Ave. Soap Shop offers some of the most intricate soaps I’ve ever seen. Sure to please your nose and hands as well as your eyes, she describes her work as “too pretty not to use!”

Shop Local: St. Louis

Full of little shops and restaurants and seemingly very supportive of the handmade scene, St. Louis is on my short list of cities to explore. In the meantime, here are a few of the talented folks who make the city their home.

Wallpaper Patterned Scarf from the Bungaloo
Wallpaper Patterned Scarf from the Bungaloo

The Bungaloo is a screenprinting studio plastering everything from tee shirts to journals with its intricate and beautiful designs. Each piece is screenprinted by hand and totally fantastic!

Rosemary Mint Soap from Bella Luna
Rosemary Mint Soap from Bella Luna

Bella Luna‘s etsy shop boasts a bevy of pampering goods — from candles to lotion and soaps. Owner Shannon began making soap as a gentle cleansing alternative for her children who suffer from eczema and has branched out from there!

Mr Owlie - Brass Owl Pendant Wearing Monocle Steampunk Necklace by INdosteam
Mr Owlie - Brass Owl Pendant Wearing Monocle Steampunk Necklace by INdosteam

INdosteam is full of jewelry made from bits and pieces found at flea markets and vintage shops. The designs are inspired by the steampunk movement with an asian influence. I love this little owl!

Epically Epic Soap

Citrus Slice - Epic Handmade Orange, Grapefruit, Lemongrass, and Lime Soap Bar with Olive Oil and Shea Butter
Citrus Slice - Epic Handmade Orange, Grapefruit, Lemongrass, and Lime Soap Bar with Olive Oil and Shea Butter

Also hailing from Chicago: Epically Epic Soap. Created by Allison, these bars look as beautiful as they smell. Let’s be honest — the best soaps spend most their lives in the dish untouched, so they might as well be beautiful! If pop art and soap making had a love child, these would be it — perfect for a quirky home or to add a little life to a traditional one.

Mrs. Zebra Handmade Olive Oil Soap with Cedar, Lemongrass and Sandalwood
Mrs. Zebra Handmade Olive Oil Soap with Cedar, Lemongrass and Sandalwood

Shop Local: Madison

Shopping local is probably one of the easiest ways to go green. It also supports and gets you involved with the community in which you live. To that end, I’m starting a new series to highlight artists and craftspeople from communities across the nation. And I thought I’d start with my current residence of Madison, WI.

Projector Journal
Projector Journal

Susan is the woman behind Art Kitten handmade journals. Any of her hard cover, coptic bound journals are perfect for the writer or designer in your life, or for anyone who wants a beautiful place to jot down a note!

Satsuma Luxury Cold-Processed Soap with Shea and Cocoa Butters
Satsuma Luxury Cold-Processed Soap with Shea and Cocoa Butters

Mad City Soaps are made in small batches with olive oil and both shea and cocoa butters. They smell as beautiful as they look! Sue also offers a bevy of parfumes, creams and scrubs if you’re not the bar soap type.

ESEN — Pleat Messenger Bag
ESEN — Pleat Messenger Bag

Known for a clean, modern design sensibility, Pravina Studios creates gorgeous bags perfect for everyday use. Each one is meticulously crafted from high quality textiles, including some limited editions employing vintage fabric. Owner Diana says “Creating things people like and want to use is very gratifying.” I can’t help but agree.

Would you like to see a feature about your hometown or a place you love?  Simply leave a comment and I’ll get right on it!