LETTERS For many, COVID-19 opened up a world of creativity in a time of lockdown boredom and a need to stay socially distant. We relied on each other and technology to keep us connected and entertained. In this issue of POLISHED, the reader will experience feelings of nostalgia through the late 90s and early 2000s style elements scattered throughout. This editorial shoot is special as it incorporates garments from Lasell University fashion designers. The concept revolves around two house-bound roommates due to COVID-19, spending their days fully immersed in the technology of today. Their boredom and restlessness has them yearning to dress up and go out, but unfortunately, they cannot. Instead, they rummage through their closets, pull out their best pieces, and put together unique looks, all while reflecting on the nostalgia of their childhoods and wishing to return to times of playing dress up and using VCRs. The title REBOOT was inspired by the word’s meaning; to shut down and start anew. Similar to our old computers and childhood television shows, we will be rebooting our lives as a result of the pandemic. I have enjoyed every moment of my time with POLISHED and getting to know so many enthusiastic and kind people on the team. I will be passing my position as Creative Director to Joshua Michna, and I look forward to seeing where his brilliant and unique creativity brings POLISHED in the future.
CONTRIBUTORS Publisher Lasell University Founder Richard Bath Creative Director Sydney Nekoroski Managing Editor Victoria Capone Associate Managing Editor Kiersten Brown Art Director Anna King Associate Art Director Dylan Wilson Art Editor Brianna Ricker Associate Art Editor Ciarra Chasse Editor Morgan Trumbull Lead Stylist Emma Ingenohl Stylists Emily Garcia Joshua Michna Trend Shoot Style Advisor Samantha Jenkins Editorial Photographer Matthew Searth Models Joshua Algarin Corenna Ryner Media Directors Jaqueline Cordeiro Madison Cormier Brianna Doody Social Media Team Alexandria Bettencourt Emma Chai
It’s time to address the elephant in the room. In this issue, we confront the pressing thoughts occupying our minds during the first year of the decade. With what feels like an endless string of misfortune, the COVID-19 pandemic and acts of social injustice in America have brought individuals to question business as usual. We would like to use this issue to amplify the voices within our community calling for change and working toward a brighter future.
The features “Janji Runs for Water” and “Katharina Jewelry Designs” highlight businesses with missions of giving back. “More than Beautiful” and “Cobble: A Reimagined Dining Experience” highlight two fearless business leaders, innovating and revolutionizing their industries. “Feeding the Future” shows how a nonprofit organization continues to press on in light of lockdowns, determined to serve the community when they are needed most.
From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank all of the writers and editors, in addition to the entire POLISHED team, for their unwavering dedication to this issue. As I say goodbye to POLISHED, I am honored to pass on my title to Kiersten Brown. I have no doubt in my mind that she will lead with confidence and enthusiasm. During times of darkness, I would like to encourage our readers to act with kindness and grace to make their communities stronger each day.
Charlotte Magel Sophia Mazzone Jacqueline Minasian Julia McNicol Anna Richardson Samantha Vega-Torres Sydney Veilleux Madison Whiteley Blog Director Faith Costa Blog Writers Emma Chai Samantha Vega-Torres Faculty Advisors Lynn Blake Stephen Fischer
1844 Commonwealth Avenue, Newton, MA 02466 | lasell.edu polishedfashion.com | polishedblogger.wordpress.com Polished Magazine | @bostonpolished @bostonpolished
4 14 12 FASHION
MORE THAN BEAUTIFUL 4 Designer: Victoria Capone Writer: Catherine King
A COLLECTIVE GROUP OF REBNDS 6 Designer: Dylan Wilson Writer: Liah Brown
JANJI RUNS FOR WATER 8 Designer: Griffin Bryan Writer: Emma Ingenohl
PRETTY IN A PANDEMIC 10
TREND REPORT 12 Designers: Anna King & Sydney Nekoroski Writer: Emma Ingenohl
REBOOT 14 Models: Joshua Algarin & Corenna Ryner Photography: Matthew Searth
FEEDING THE FUTURE 26 Designer: Ciarra Chasse Writer: Griffin Bryan
WHERE THERE’S SIMPLICITY, THERE’S SKINCARE 28 Designers: Emily Chaffee, Myhong Dang, Kaitlyn Johnson & Caelan Watson Writer: Kiersten Brown
LIFESTYLE COBBLE 22 Designer: Anna King Writer: Tala Khoury
KATHARINA JEWELRY DESIGNS 30
DAYDREAM RIVER CO. 24 Designer: Hunter Spencer Writer: Alexia Santos
Designer: Nicolas Brown Writer: Emily Ohlson
ON THE COVER
Corenna Ryner Photography by Matthew Searth POLISHED Magazine is produced by the Lasell University School of Fashion with graphic design support from the Graphic Design League at Lasell University. Visit us at graphicdesignleague.com POLISHED Magazine is printed by Wing Press - email@example.com
MISSION STATEMENT The mission of POLISHED Magazine is to promote and highlight the diverse and vibrant culture and fashion scene of Boston and the surrounding area.
Designer: Brianna Ricker Writer: Faith Costa
azzy Roulhac is the exemplary image of a strong businesswoman. For years, she has used her passion for being a powerful leader and a captivating speaker to create jobs and represent people in the fashion industry. She is a ground shaker, a forward-thinker, and takes advantage of her skills and connections to propel other aspiring innovators to flourish in the industry. She represents creators that would normally have been overlooked by the critical and stereotypical fashion industry, and instead, provides them with the opportunity to be connected and empowered. Roulhac is a woman to watch as she blazes her path through the industry and builds a community that supports strong Black women.
Roulhac strongly identifies with Boston, as she was born and raised in the city. Through the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) educational diversification program, she was provided the opportunity to attend a private boarding school near Cape Cod. Post-graduation, Roulhac launched herself into the retail industry, working as a personal stylist with Nordstrom. This work gave her an outlet to be a creative leader and visionary. Her work ethic and skill for networking and communicating with people from all different backgrounds instantly differentiated her from others her age. The connections she earned and respected were a large catalyst to her success. They exposed her to modeling, to owning a business,
and to being a creative director, an author, and an educator. After five years at Nordstrom, Roulhac chose to use her acquired leadership skills to be a creative innovator fueled by style and fashion. She had the connections and experiences from an early age, and in 2013 she established her first business, Beautiful Bostonian. “I wanted to be more specific and intentional about what drives me and my passion… I wanted to think about how I could make money in a way that not only fueled my passion, who I was, and what I wanted to do, but also uplift other people around me that do so much for me every day. That can be a friend, that can be a family member, that can be all the creatives that I interact with on a daily basis,” Roulhac said. Beautiful Bostonian is what Roulhac refers to as a “creative agency.” She takes advantage of her expertise and her connections to help eager creators and innovators become oriented within a field that they would not have been previously exposed to. Her goal is to manage talented individuals who are underrepresented within the industry. She wants this business to remain local to Boston and represent authentic fundamentals that honor and respect her clients and give them the possibility to be triumphant when the odds are frequently against them. She wants Beautiful Bostonian to, “exclusively promote Black and Brown businesses and talent.” Her site offers a variety of directories that provide the client an opportunity to meet with the Beautiful Bostonian team for help with personal branding, business development, corporate development, personal styling, and subscription. Depending on the option one chooses, the team would then assist in developing or rebranding one’s image, understanding and fixing possible kinks in the systems, providing social media kits, and creating contact lists of references. Her goal is to further someone’s company or clientele, whether that be through photography, styling, modeling, or creative direction. “Beautiful Bostonian was just a style blog. Initially, it documented the huge change that I took as a stylist and somebody in fashion…then I started to realize my influence and the finger I had on the pulse with creatives in the city and projects that were happening. I got signed to model in 2015, and when I started modeling I started making those connections and creating relationships with brands in the city… and with that I started to get introduced with other influencers in the city… we just all started collaborating,” Roulhac said. Roulhac is an advocate for Black and Brown women in the industry, and serves as a leader for her community. She is inspired to use her resources to provide Black women with the opportunities they would not have been normally given, and uses her own connections to help propel the women around her. She is passionate about supporting and furthering Black creators and artists in the industry. She strives to change the paths of Black visionaries and is dedicated to educating and promoting awareness. “Women are my goal, I want to work with women…I think Black faces need to have more visualization in roles of leadership no matter what industry…I am trying to hire Black because I want people to have an opportunity,” Roulhac said.
I want to network, and I want to get back to Black cooperative economies… if we have a bigger emphasis on cooperative economies in our community, then we can change the lifestyles of a bunch of people and level the playing field, we just have to work together, ” Roulhac said. Beautiful Bostonian was Roulhac’s first business venture, but her passion to be creative has led her to be active in several forward-thinking projects and organizations. She is a full-time employee at Uptima Business Bootcamp, which teaches innovators how to be a leader and own a business. She believes in educating and supporting the community of talent around her in order to ensure they are as prosperous as they can be. In 2014, she authored, “Her Story.” The book is an interactive autobiography with names and stories changed to resemble fiction, but still inspired by the real stories and experiences she has had while growing up as a young Black woman. The second edition of the book is in print, to be released within the coming year. Roulhac is also a partner in an online upcycling clothing store called Re/Up Warehouse. The online thrifting brand is centered around unisex and multi-seasonal street style clothing. Her next project, “Jazzy Inc.” is a modeling and talent agency that she is hoping to expand to be bicoastal in California, New York, and Boston. “My most recent business model is a talent agency that is a social experiment…I do think there is an uncomfortable stigma and overall behavior surrounding Black models and Black talent everywhere. I think Boston is a little petri dish of a place that it continues to happen, but I want to see if my influence and the passion and fire that I have to promote myself…can promote a roster of my girls, or a roster of people who may not look like the regular rosters that we may come across. I want to manage people who are underrepresented, and I want to have one of the most powerful agencies out there,” Roulhac said. Roulhac’s passion for being a leader has undoubtedly led her to connect a community that will be forever changed. The opportunities she is providing to underrepresented talents redefines the game for so many struggling innovators in today’s society. She is doing more than running a business; she is creating a movement. She is inspiring the rising generations of creators to push the industry to be better, to stay accountable, to enhance diversity, and to break the social norms that have been dominating the industry for centuries. Roulhac is a visionary of her time. She only sees roadblocks as barriers to overcome, not dead ends, and her team will continue to turn heads as they move forward as trailblazers. By employing the services of Beautiful Bostonian, you are gaining a community, a substantial list of life long lasting references, and becoming part of something profound. When doing business with Jazzy Roulhac, you get the chance to work with someone who truly strives to change lives. @thebeautifulbostonian; www.beautifulbostonian.com
Photography by Ally Schmaling
Beautiful Bostonian is described as a cooperative operation, sourcing talent and innovative ideas from within their community. “Black economies in history have grown off of a cooperative model… say there is a service or a product that is needed, it is first outsourced from our communities from the people we are familiar with, our families, the people we grew up around. I want to employ my friends, I want to collaborate with as many people as I can, I want to create connections,
A COLLECTIVE GROUP OF A
n old streetwear retailer, Persona, was flipped upside down when the everchanging fashion industry caused its downfall. Time passed, and the brand remained retired until former employees Sophanna Ang, Gilbert Moreno, and Chris Oung created REBND. The name stemmed from a quote by their previous employer, referring to his employees as, “a collective group of rebounds.” Before REBND, the co-founders had been a group of collectors of fashion, always involved in the newest trends. The group came from a streetwear background, growing up collecting the newest shoes—one of the main reasons they were the best dressed students at school. As Ang grew older and studied abroad in college in places such as Paris, Belgium, and South Korea, he became aware of the different fashions around the world. Visiting these places left a lifelong impression as to how he viewed fashion and streetwear, believing it was starting to cross over into high fashion with every individual’s interpretation of streetwear becoming blurred. “Streetwear is no longer streetwear to me, it is now just fashion,” Ang said.
REBN REB RE Ang is confident that streetwear can be defined as a little bit of everything, such as skate, shoe, and basketball culture. He believes streetwear can’t just be one thing, it is more of a combination of making pieces and standing out within the community. Many brands have had an impact on the fashion industry just by making what they wanted, something that makes streetwear unique. When REBND sources brands, they do so by combining their personal styles with fashions that are popular at the time. The many different types of streetwear impact what they look for in a brand; REBND is not located in a metropolitan city, so the demographic tends to react to different trends. They create a delicate balance of catering to the locals’ tastes in fashion while also introducing what is trending in the industry.
REBND is dedicated to serving the diverse communities around Massachusetts in ways that some companies have never thought about. This helps to set their brand apart from the many other streetwear companies in the state; they listen and engage with the different types of communities they want to represent through their brand. “We just have a big melting pot in this part of Massachusetts, even in Boston where it is more metropolitan, there is a lot of diversity. I just feel like our civic duty is to really cater to the diversity that we are always around. It is important to cater to the diverse community when we are diverse business owners as well,” Ang said.
The team behind REBND is one of the most influential parts of the company. Moreno is in charge of the technological and financial aspects of the company. Oung serves as the Creative Director, the
Ds NDs BNDs imagination behind the companyâ€™s artistic vision. Matthew Searth, a Fashion & Retail Merchandising student at Lasell University, handles the photography, while Willie Phoeung handles the videography. Joey Ferreira and Emily Pan are sales representatives, who also double as models for the company. Sengphet Tony Havonglasan is one of the companyâ€™s buyers, assisting the team during fashion week and helping the company secure brands and products they have their eyes on. According to Ang, the most rewarding part of the company is being able to shop for merchandise by going to global fashion weeks, allowing their team to see pieces a year before they are released to the public. Often, when Ang and his team go to fashion week and see emerging trends, they already have looks in mind and know how the pieces would fit in REBND. Ang sees this as a way to understand what a customerâ€™s perspective would be when they step foot into REBND for the first time. Similar to many other businesses, REBND had to shut their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the meantime they began to work on business strategies, including working on their own private label of merchandise for the future. REBND remains closed Monday to Wednesday, and in-person shopping is by appointment only in order to keep both the staff and the customers safe. Even though their doors are only open for appointments, they still care about everyone that walks through their doors.
Photography by Matthew Searth
The co-founders donâ€™t want their customers to feel intimidated in their store. They make sure that whenever someone walks through their doors, they are greeted by the staff in order to create a welcoming environment. The staff loves to â€œgeek outâ€? and chat about new clothing and trends with their customers, showing their passion for the fashion industry. â€œWe really want to make our customers and clientele feel like when they come in, they could have a conversation with us. We are just like everyone else,â€? Ang said. Where do they hope to see REBND in five years? REBND hopes to be expanding, opening more doors in different locations
around the United States, South Korea, and Cambodia. In addition, they hope to have a more extensive selection of brands, offering a diverse range of price points in order to cater to everyone. Whether you are looking for a conversation about streetwear, or to simply look around for a change in wardrobe, why not shop at a company that has pride in diversity and inclusivity, and that makes sure their customers feel welcome and comfortable. Just like us, they are a collective group of rebounds ready to talk and learn.
Janji Runs For Water
hat if running could change the world? For Janji, it does. Janji is a Boston-based athleisure company that sees running as so much more than being fit or getting to a destination. For Janji, running is about seeing and experiencing different cultures, spreading positivity, and connecting with ourselves and others. The word “janji” means “promise” or “a declaration” in Malay, and promise is a core mantra within the brand. As stated on the Janji website, “We promise to expand access to safe drinking water in places we run around the world”; the brand stands by this mission every time a customer makes a purchase. The company was founded in 2012 by Mike Burnstein and Dave Spandorfer, who were college students at the time. The idea came to the pair on the bus rides to and from cross-country and track-and-field meets. When Spandorfer was going into his senior year of college, the pair entered a business plan competition and won. A year later, Janji launched into action.
“We wanted to create a brand that allowed runners to give back everyday. For so many runners, there is an obvious need for clean water and our goal was to find a way to really give back from the sport in a way that runners got,” Spandorfer said. Two percent of proceeds from every Janji purchase contributes to the effort to supply clean water. Every season the brand chooses a country to work with, not only helping to provide clean water, but also working with local designers in an attempt to produce clothing that will benefit runners in that designated geographic area. Since each purchase contributes directly to supplying clean drinking water, the brand is able to use running, “not necessarily as a tool to run as fast as you can, but as a way to explore, connect, and change the world,” Spandorfer said. Not only does Janji provide access to clean water and other resources to impoverished countries all over the world, it also operates as an environmentally-conscious company. Sustainability is an integral part of Janji’s mission, as the owners recognize that the fashion industry is the second leading producer of pollution (compared to other industries). According to Spandorfer, “It [sustainability] ties in with our message, using running to explore everything that can change the world.” The brand is able to make more durable products that benefit those who wear the pieces, as well as the world around them. Most of Janji’s fabrics are made from recycled materials. In addition, their team experiments with resources such as microscopic volcanic particles called Runpaca, a mysterious finishing component that makes the fabric all-natural, breathable, odor-resistant, and thermoregulating. Janji is revolutionizing running gear to not only be viable and durable, but to give their customers the best running experience possible.
COVID-19 has unfortunately halted all types of running trips, for the time being. However, Janji’s message is more critical now than ever. Running is a simple, yet meaningful way for people to get out of their house, as there can be some really interesting places to explore in your own backyard or neighborhood. People need outlets and resources during this unnerving time, especially because of the widespread feeling of being disconnected. Running can be a way to connect with both people and nature, a belief Janji stands by. “We have been extremely fortunate because I think we’re a brand that resonates during this time...in an industry that has done quite well,” Spandorfer said. Along with the company’s other explorations, Janji established a campaign called “Call to Adventure.” Runners choose an adventure in their neighborhood, providing them with an effective way to challenge themselves without races that have been cancelled due to the pandemic. Spandorfer says this has caused a spike in the number of people who have participated in the campaign. “Our goal is: ‘How do we get more people who run to think about using running as a way to explore the world?’ Recent events have shown how interconnected we are...and we want to use running as this branch between people, cultures, and countries. The idea with Janji is not ‘How can we make a percentage of money?’ but ‘How can we have a base impact?’” Spandorfer said. Janji has the rare potential to create a substantial impact within the fashion industry by setting a standard for how clothing should be produced. More and more brands are recognizing their social responsibilities, and Janji has gone above and beyond their promise to give back. Janji is changing the world, bringing people together and impacting their daily lives in the process.
Emma Ingenohl How successful has Janji been in fulfilling their promise? So far, their team has provided clean water and other critical resources to a multitude of countries in addition to revolutionizing running gear for their customers and for people in need all across the globe. According to Spandorfer, the key to this success is commitment. “Are you willing to pay for fabrics that are recycled? Pay more towards the production line to make sure you are paying fair wages to workers? I think most brands are trending in the right direction...People want to have a brand or buy from brands that have meaning behind it. They want everything they buy to be a reflection of themselves, and nothing says this more than clothing. With people starting to understand how important climate change is...creating products sustainably is more important than ever. You can look at it from what is the right thing to do, but I think it is also important to see that there is more demand for making products the right way,” Spandorfer said. Photography Courtesy of Janji
Janji undoubtedly creates an experience for their customers and supporters. The brand runs Nomadic trips that take runners all around the world on lifechanging journeys. These trips also live out the brand’s mission; the purpose of the trips is to connect with a diverse group of people and experience new cultures, “while at the same time seeing running as it is retrieved,” Spandorfer said. Janji is strong in its reach and its message; by taking these trips they are able to spread their message internationally.
he COVID-19 crisis has undoubtedly devastated global markets, burdening our beloved fashion industry. Fear erupted as cases rose and lockdowns were put in place by state and local authorities. As retailers shut down, many started to work from home and the uncertain state of the world affected all aspects of life. Fashion was put on the back burner, becoming the least of our concerns. Instead, consumers ventured out to local grocery stores, geared up in face masks and gloves to fight for essential products. Due to high demands, the country faced mass shortages of products such as sanitizing supplies and toilet paper. Production ramped up in warehouses and fulfillment centers—for retailers like Amazon, it was reported that there was an overwhelming demand placed on the workers. Amazon executives urged employees to work more efficiently in order to live up to Amazon Prime’s two-day delivery guarantee. As a result, many complaints and lawsuits were filed against Amazon for creating a dangerous work environment. Countless other essential retailers faced similar issues, resulting in shortened hours of operation and extra sanitization throughout the stores. The pandemic has changed consumer behavior, placing a new demand on retailers to rethink daily operations.
disinfected high contact areas, capped the number of individuals allowed in the store, and turned to omnichannel methods. The more options provided by a retailer to ensure the safety of their consumers, the more secure consumers felt. With online shopping being the main sales channel during the pandemic, many retailers are skeptical whether consumers will ever want to return to their brick-and-mortar stores again. The reality is that many people are becoming more comfortable with shopping online. The Business of Fashion article, “Who is Still Shopping?” noted, that although every consumer is different, the majority expect to continue to shop online for the time being. In order for retailers to get consumers back into their stores, they have to implement services under the omnichannel retailing umbrella. Contactless curbside pick-up and same day delivery services not only cater to the needs of the consumer, but boost consumer confidence.
The country’s attention shifted toward social issues regarding racism and discrimination during the pandemic. The killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor prompted more consumers to support Black-owned businesses and designers, in addition to showing their support through rallies and protests. Many took action to support the movement by As unemployment rates surged and fear around a possible recession posting on social media, signing petitions, and representing their beliefs surfaced, consumers shifted their demands away from fashion and luxury sectors. Retailers were now faced with creating strategies in order to ensure through Black Lives Matter merchandise. Consumers put pressure on the survival of their businesses, all while abiding by local laws. A McKinsey brands, demanding statements regarding where they stood on the Black & Company article shared insight into incorporating key strategies, such as Lives Matter movement. In addition, consumers demanded change from massive retailers that only carried designs and products from white omnichannel retailing, into business practices. Prior to the pandemic, the omnichannel approach to retailing was becoming popular—omnichannel designers. As a result, many retailers participated in the 15 Percent Pledge which assures that 15% of merchandise is sourced from Black-owned retailing involves using multiple sales platforms in order to sell products. The pandemic accelerated this omnichannel revolution, forcing companies businesses or designers. Companies that assured their participation include Rent the Runway, Sephora, Whole Foods, Saks Fifth Avenue, Netto make a huge decision: adapt or go bankrupt. a-Porter, and Target. The unpredictable state of the world caused retailers to question the The fashion industry is continuing to evolve and face the repercussions stability of their consumer demographic. As a result, they turned to of the pandemic. The harsh realities of the fashion industry are becoming technology and uncovered the answers they had been searching for. The Business of Fashion article titled “Who is Still Shopping?” suggested, more apparent to consumers, and through this new lens, consumers are demanding complete transparency from retailers. As a result, many through analytics and research, that there was still high consumer brands are beginning to take accountability for their actions. Consumers demand. The pandemic split consumers into two groups: those who are the key to creating a better and more equal world through the concluded shopping was pointless since they had nowhere to go, and pressures they put on large companies. those who used retail therapy to lighten their mood. The majority of individuals yearning to shop were part of the Millennial and Gen Z Emily Ohlson cohorts, with stable jobs and an overwhelming sense of boredom. These young consumers missed out on milestone events such as proms, graduation, and weddings, and shopping was one of the only solutions to cure their sorrow. Services such as After Pay—a platform which allows consumers to purchase products and pay for them in small installments over a period of time—became widely popular to this demographic. Overall, consumers are still shopping for items that they use in their daily lives during quarantine.
Illustration by Nicolas Brown
As Zoom meetings became part of the new culture, many consumers turned to prioritizing their attire from the waist up. Statement jewelry, makeup products, and fancy attire grace the top half, while loungewear exists on the bottom half. The pandemic tightened the budgets of many, resulting in consumers turning to omnichannel retailers that served as a one-stop shop. Whether they were searching to revamp their home décor or buy a new lip color for their upcoming Zoom call, retailers that provided several categories under one roof were more likely to succeed. Once restrictions on non-essential businesses eased, retailers brainstormed different approaches to reopen their stores. To ensure the safety of all customers, retailers closed dressing rooms, frequently
“Consumers are the key to creating a better and more equal world through the pressures they put on large companies.”
Photography by Matthew Searth Model: Samantha Jenkins
he A/W 20/21 trend forecast highlights the aesthetics and many popular fashions of the late 90s and early 2000s. These trends are seeing a reemergence in the age of the pandemic, many of which were created and popularized by Black culture. Fluffy velour tracksuits, chunky gold jewelry,
full glossy lips, and camouflage cargos transport us back to the days when Aaliyah was the hottest fashion icon and Baby Phat was the most sought-after brand. Butterfly clips, bucket hats, baggy pants, and blinged-out accessories shine bright against an early 2000s Windows computer inspired backdrop, inspiring a bittersweet feeling of nostalgia. Emma Ingenohl
Garments: Hannah Bowerman
Sweater: Hannah Richards
Shirt & Vest: Vannessa DeMore Pants: Joshua Michna
Jacket: Hannah Richards
Dress: Hannah Richards
Corset: Camille Sanchez
CO CO BB BB LE LE A REIMAGINED DINING EXPERIENCE
t’s Friday night, and you’re torn on whether or not you want to kick it in your favorite hoodie or have a friends’ night out. Is leaving your candle lit living room worth it? What about the warmth and comfort of your sofa? Who said you can’t have a candlelit, friends’ night out on a sofa? Chef/Owner Emily Vena and co-founder Rachel Trudel of Cobble want to offer you this exact dining experience. Located in Brookline, Massachusetts, Cobble takes all your favorite aspects of hosting a dinner party in the comfort of your home and reimagines them into a one-of-akind, night out you will be sure to remember. Emily Vena, longtime resident of Brookline, has perfected her culinary skills through traveling and studying in cities around the world. Prior to the opening of Cobble, Vena graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, then traveled to Italy to further her studies in Italian cuisine. She went on to work in the Brookline restaurant, La Morra, for over a decade, getting firsthand experience in fine dining. Vena’s love for natural and organic cooking stems from her father, who owns a third generation produce wholesaler in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Cobble is still in its early stages of being introduced to the public. In February 2020, Vena and Trudel hosted trial dinners in the Village Works, a neighborhood coworking space in Brookline Village; this was the first time they offered their menu to the community. Aside from dining in, Cobble has takeout options and event catering. The nontraditional dining experience of Cobble comes directly from Vena’s love of hosting dinner parties. Initially, she wasn’t quite sure whether taking on a highrisk investment like opening a restaurant was worth it, but she knew if she was going all in, she wanted to do something different. “What would it feel like if you threw a dinner party every single night?” thought Vena. That feeling is what drives dining at Cobble.
Cobble is established in an apartment-like space located on the second floor of the Coolidge Corner Arcade. The wide range of demographics and sense of community within Brookline are just some of the many reasons why both owners find this to be such a great location. Cobble has been able to capture families, couples, and groups of friends of all ages, leaving both the customers and the Cobble team with a comforting feeling of happiness. Many of these feelings come from the serenity of Cobble itself. Furniture leftover from the previous tenant furthers the apartment-style interior design. The dining area is split into four vignettes, each with their own unique curation of furniture, including sofas, dining and living room chairs, and benches all of different fabrics and textures. The carpets are designed with warm colors, while potted plants fill the corners, and prints and patterns canvas the walls. The goal of capturing the essence of a dinner party allows ideas to be communicated through the layout and décor of the restaurant. Not only do Vena and Trudel strive to emphasize the “at-home” feeling, but they put great effort in their menus. Vena curates new menu selections weekly and offers family style dining on Fridays and Saturdays. She releases the new menu every Monday at 11 a.m. on the Cobble website. Her menu is clearly inspired by her father’s produce business, as her focus on vegetables is apparent, although she doesn’t forget about meatlovers by offering Italian-inspired omnivore selections. When most other restaurants don’t change their menus at all, the effort of creating new dishes every week is part of what makes Cobble stand out. “She [Vena] wants to make sure that it’s interesting, but questions if it would become repetitive” Trudel said.
Vena seeks out the freshest and most in-season ingredients from local farmers’ markets, forming captivating menu items. They have served Sausage & Grape Ragu, Braised Portobello, and Vanilla Meringue for dessert. A staple menu item is the Berg Butter Roll, inspired by Vena’s great-grandmother, Grandma Berg, who sold baked goods during the depression to help feed her children. Cobble also boasts about being one of the few establishments in the Boston/Brookline area to operate as a BYOB (bring your own beverage) restaurant. Vena originally comes from South Jersey, where almost all restaurants are BYOB. This is just another factor Vena takes from her past and incorporates into what she loves doing most. While it is no secret that the qualities of Cobble can speak for themselves, Vena and Trudel experienced a slight setback, as did thousands of other restaurants due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This devastating virus put a halt on the world and took a toll on local, small businesses. Trudel noted that one of their original ideas was a communal dining experience, which had to shift completely because of CDC guidelines and restrictions. Takeout options were not available until August, and indoor seating and reservations were not offered until September. Luckily, Vena and Trudel were able to conform the new way of dining in a pandemic to their business model, something Trudel calls “micro-dining.” Cobble is functioning through smaller numbered operations, yet they have maintained the projection of their intended experience.
“For the most part, people are very comfortable with dining indoors at Cobble. If we were to scale our operation, I don’t think people would be as comfortable. It’s like a sweet spot for everyone right now,” Trudel said. Vena and Trudel share a saying as a basis for their consumer relations. “Everything is a conversation.” They encourage anyone with an idea, proposition, comment, or concern to come forward and say it so both owners can work on building the best version of Cobble. Trudel speaks one-on-one with customers, whether it’s at dining tables, over the phone, or with anyone who has a question, so she can create new relationships to build up and grow Cobble. Vena and Trudel express pure excitement about having this level of service, which speaks to the overall message and business model they firmly stand by. To anyone seeking a nontraditional night out, make a reservation and visit Cobble. Their service-based mission, hand-crafted menu, and specially curated décor can only be experienced at their location. Now more than ever, it is very important that we, as citizens, neighbors, and perfect strangers, support local businesses so they can stay part of our communities for years to come. @dinneratcobble; www.dinneratcobble.com
Photography by Allison Sepanek
DayDream River Co. F
or the majority, quarantine has been a time to binge-watch Netflix, try out new recipes, and scroll endlessly through TikTok and other social media platforms. But for Elise Dudley and Sam Martin, owners of Daydream River Company, this has been a time to be creative and make an impact. Daydream River Company is a charming online business selling artisanal décor and accessories through Instagram and Etsy. Located on the Farmington River in northwest Connecticut, the business offers hand-made products ranging from stickers, macrame keychains, bohemian crystal jewelry, and even custom-made functional shelves. The idea for the business was created about a year ago, when Dudley was looking to buy shelves for her dorm room on Etsy. When she ran the possible purchase by Martin, he replied with the idea of building them on their own to avoid paying the high price of the shelves. After purchasing supplies from the hardware store, the couple made their own version of the shelves for only a fraction of the original price. When Dudley decorated her dorm at school with the shelves, she received many compliments. The praise from those around her prompted the couple to start Daydream River Company. They also began to see a high demand for other products, such as jewelry, leading Dudley to learn how to bead and make pendants. They received a great deal of custom orders for various products, such as custom size shelves or jewelry containing a certain crystal or property. Most of Daydream River Company’s sales are made through Instagram and Etsy, and social media has played a significant role in helping to promote the business. “That’s something so great about it [social media]. You see all of these sellers on TikTok and you’re like ‘I can do that!’ so I did it,” Dudley said. The business was able to flourish because of the skills previously acquired by each of the owners. Dudley has always been creative, self-identifying as a “grandmother at heart,” with a lasting passion for crafting in all forms. She taught herself to knit, which led her to pick up crocheting, macramé, and jewelry-making. Dudley purchases cord— which she uses for the keychains—in bulk, as well as the wooden rings and beads used for other products offered in their online shop. Driven by a desire to support small local businesses during the pandemic, all the crystals and gems she uses to make jewelry are sourced locally
by a family-owned business in Connecticut. Although it has proven to be a challenge to find locally sourced products in an affordable price range, they do as much as possible. While Dudley handles the crafting and packaging portion of their orders, Martin has always loved woodworking, and has a background in mechanics and craftsmanship. He handles the financial aspects of the business, in addition to preparing the pine wood used to make the shelves in their basement workshop. After staining the wood, he adds a polyurethane finish which protects the wood from damage. Although there is only one color currently available, Martin has been considering adding more color options of stain at some point in the future.
and Anthropology. Martin attends UConn Hartford majoring in Business. As college students, Dudley and Martin said that it can be very challenging to balance pursuing an education while running a business. She works ten hours a day while taking classes to get her yoga-teacher certification. Martin takes college classes while also serving in the Marine Corps. Due to their busy schedules, they have slightly decreased social media promotions to allow themselves the appropriate time necessary to complete each order.
Dudley and Martin created the business and its mission with college students and young adults in mind. They aim to provide customers with cute, fashionable décor and jewelry at a reasonable price.
As for the future of Daydream River Company, Dudley and Martin would like to create their own website for the business and hope to start promoting themselves on social media once again when their busy schedules allow more time. They plan on adding more products to their shop, such as additional collections of décor and new jewelry.
Photography Courtesy of Daydream River Co.
“Our whole thing is we try to keep [the products] as cheap as possible for production, as well as the amount of labor it takes. It’s really just the two of us that make things, so even though it takes a really long time to do by hand with all the small batches, we really, really wanted people to be able to afford the products because being a young adult is hard. When you’re emerging into your young adult life and trying to decorate your dorm room or your apartment, stuff can get expensive! We just thought it was crazy that all these young people who wanted the ‘modern look’ had to pay so much money for such cute things,” Dudley said. Since both Dudley and Martin know this struggle firsthand, their goal for Daydream River Company is to provide customers with unique, bohemian décor at the most affordable price possible. Dudley is a student at Mount Holyoke College and is studying Psychology
“We typically create the products made-to-order, so like anything else, it has been a lot, but it’s also been a learning process,” Dudley said.
Both Dudley and Martin said that they view the business as a silver lining of the pandemic. Dudley and Martin saw this time in quarantine as a chance to slow down and do something they always wanted to do, but never previously had the time for. They turned a negative time into an opportunity to be creative and craft products that they are proud of. “If you’re able to take away anything from the pandemic, let it be something good. Make your dreams come true during this time when you’re not able to do very much!” Dudley said. @daydreamriverco; www.etsy.com/shop/daydreamrivercompany
ixty-three million tons of food produced in America are thrown away every single year. To put that in perspective, that amount of food could feed approximately 1.8 million people for their entire lifetime. This raises the question of why millions of Americans still experience food insecurity. Pondering this same conundrum, Ashley Stanley founded Lovin’ Spoonfuls, setting out to combat food insecurity and food waste in the United States. Her organization rescues perfectly good food from going to waste, then delivers it to those in need. Established 10 years ago, Lovin’ Spoonfuls has already rescued more than 18 million pounds of food, distributing it to hundreds of thousands of people. In 2020, Lovin’ Spoonfuls reached active status in 40 different towns across the Greater Boston area, and currently feeds over 30,000 people in the community each week.
Stanley was born and raised in the charming city of Boston. After moving away, she started her early career working in the fashion industry, focusing on customer relations and brand communication. Around 2010, Stanley returned to Boston to spend some time with family, but found herself unable to leave. It was here in Boston that she founded Lovin’ Spoonfuls, marking the start of her battle against food insecurity. Originally, Lovin’ Spoonfuls was created with the intent to understand the severity of hunger and food waste, and how they could happen simultaneously. Once Stanley better understood these issues, she began to generate a plan for Lovin’ Spoonfuls to combat them. The organization works closely with over 75,000 grocery stores, bakeries, and other local food sources to rescue fresh food daily. The drivers receive the food from these vendors, then deliver it (on the same day) along eight different routes throughout Hampden County and MetroWest communities. This fresh food helps feed over 30,000 people in soup kitchens, homeless shelters, senior centers, food pantries, domestic violence agencies, after-school programs, and meal delivery services. In 2014, The Boston Globe recognized Stanley as one of the city’s “Game Changers.” This title was welldeserved, as she and her team have revolutionized the food rescue mission and positively changed hundreds of thousands of lives. On the surface, it may appear that Lovin’ Spoonfuls is just another food bank, but they are truly something unique in the food rescue and social services industry. They are able to provide fresh foods to their community, making them one of the only nonprofits that does not limit their clients to non-perishables. Through the practice of rescuing food, the organization is also benefiting the environment. Saving millions of pounds of food from landfills each year prevents millions of kilograms of greenhouse gasses from being emitted into the atmosphere. The organization is not just trying to feed the community, but change the world on a much larger scale.
The ability to become successful comes from Stanley’s philosophy that America’s hunger problem does not stem from a lack of supply, but from its means of distribution. There is plenty of food available, but there is not an effective system in place to distribute it. Realizing this, Stanley built the organization in a way that reflects the root of the problem rather than the consequence. The organization now attacks these problems from a logistical and systematic perspective, allowing them to break out of the traditional mold of a non-profit. This explains how Lovin’ Spoonfuls became New England’s largest food rescue agency in under a decade.
Amidst a pandemic, there has been an economic recession and a record unemployment rate, putting pressure on many families’ ability to put dinner on the table. As a result, Lovin’ Spoonfuls saw immense growth by over 200% in partner applications from other nonprofits. In response to the demand, they added their eighth delivery route, serving Chelsea, Revere, Everett, East Boston, and Lynn. “We have been diligent about staying ahead of potential challenges that arise out of each new phase or stage of the pandemic,” Stanley said. The coronavirus pandemic has also put pressure on many companies to change their operations to be safer and more digital. Pre-pandemic, Stanley would constantly be bouncing around the community, meeting with all kinds of folks to develop strategies and host fundraising events. However, her days are now packed with endless Zoom meetings, as the whole country is trying to adapt to a new way of doing business. COVID-19 has proved to be quite unpredictable, forcing Lovin’ Spoonfuls to readjust their long-term goals. They have had to put future plans and timelines for expansion on hold, as the current state of affairs is demanding their attention elsewhere. “Our main focus is keeping our employees and our partners safe, and our community well-resourced,” Stanley said. With 2020 emphasizing the importance of the health of our communities and our planet, Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ mission has never been more relevant. The most effective way individuals can support their initiative is by joining the Friends of Lovin’ Spoonfuls Program and donating to sponsor meals. If you are not able to make a monetary donation, you can still visit their website and explore other ways to help the team or get involved in your local community. Ending food insecurity may seem like an impossible task, but Lovin’ Spoonfuls is transforming the system and building a future where no stomachs are empty. @lovinspoonfuls; www.lovinspoonfulsinc.org
Photography Courtesy of Leah Fasten & Lovin’ Spoonfuls
“America’s hunger problem does not stem from a lack of supply, but from its means of distribution.” 27
Where There’s Simplicity, There’s Skincare
020 has not been easy. Society continues to face unexpected challenges including ideas of separation, isolation, economic instability, and racial injustice. We have seen many small brickand-mortar businesses across the country struggle through closure, bankruptcy, and an unstable future, yet we have seen a flourish in e-commerce. One business to see a major uptick in sales is Beauty N Simplicity. Based out of Quincy, Massachusetts, owner Mavis Hicks made it her mission to provide quality skincare products that not only produce fabulous results, but also a new found feeling of self-love. In today’s society, many young women struggle with the concept of self-love thanks to the standard marketing practices of the beauty industry. Hicks believes that even just the act of taking care of one’s skin can become a gateway to better self-acceptance. “Self-care is the ultimate form of self-respect. There are so many reasons that women put other things before themselves, and I feel that it is my charge to have a product that helps women nourish themselves, and reconnect with self-care,” Hicks said. When Hicks started Beauty N Simplicity in 2015, it was a small operation. It was what Hicks called her summer and weekends hobby. Apart from selling on Etsy, she would often travel with her products to different craft fairs and farmers’ markets. She used her background knowledge in culinary arts to develop her products; using different blends of sweet almond oil, shea butter, and argan oil, she strived to make every product something that allows people to slow down and find inner tranquility. Her products range from the signature whipped shea body butter, to bath salts and facial toners. Her products are even safe for people with preexisting skin conditions, which is what spawned Hicks’ interest in skincare. “My interest in skincare began in late middle school to early high school. I struggled with eczema. As a young girl, I always had dry skin and skin issues, and I was always searching for a nonexistent cure for eczema. Any type of product that came out on the market I tried, and that fascination carried into my life as an adult,” Hicks said.
Although the beauty industry paints a picture of perfection, Hicks uses Beauty N Simplicity as a way to show women that it is not about perfect skin, it is about loving the skin you’re in. The current state of our world has allowed us to rethink societal values, not only through self-care and health, but also through cultural and social change. On May 25, the Black Lives Matter movement reached new heights when George Floyd was inhumanely killed by Minneapolis police officers. The media storm that followed brought to light the importance of recognizing and working toward ending racial injustice in America. The pandemic highlighted the importance of supporting small businesses, and in alignment with the Black Lives Matter movement, many people began to turn their interests toward minority-owned businesses. Hicks, a proud African American woman, saw an increase in sales and site traffic. Although she was amazed by the numbers, what really amazed her was the types of people now purchasing her products.
“The effects of Black Lives Matter and racial unrest in America has highlighted and brought awareness to many of the African American and minority industries of New England, although they were present years before. Minority businesses needed more support, because most of the time, or all the time, these businesses have great products. It has been wonderful to see the diverse range of women enjoying my products. All women love things that smell good and feel good on their skin, and it’s amazing to go from a primarily African American clientele, to a clientele full of diverse women. It became a new community, not focused on race or skin color, but focused on women supporting women,” Hicks said. Since her business is more of a passion project, Hicks never cited any major problems being an African American business owner, but it wasn’t always easy emotionally. Balancing a full-time job with pouring her energy into something she loved proved to be a long road to online success. E-commerce is a tough industry to find success in due to its competitive nature. For those thinking of starting a small business, it can be frightening. There is no guaranteed success, and for Hicks it was the same. There were times she wanted to throw in the towel because she wanted to achieve an unattainable idea of perfection, but her loyal customers told her to keep pushing forward and to look toward the future. This outlook is something Hicks wants to share with newcomers to the e-commerce world. “Just start and see where it goes. Don’t beat yourself up if things aren’t perfect. You have to rely on things progressing over time. Just like life, it naturally progresses and gets better. You have to start and create it. You have the authority over your creativity and business,” Hicks said.
Hicks’ passion project has now reached a brand new audience, and she continues to create and empower women of every race, shape, size, and sexuality. She continues to bring the importance of self-care and small business patronage to the forefront of our society. Her dream for the future of the company is to expand to big-box retailers, and to create an even stronger presence of natural self-care in the beauty industry. Hicks is currently working on the formula for an all-natural facial cleanser, which she hopes to add to the collection some time in the near future.
Photography Courtesy of Beauty N Simplicity
Mavis Hicks is one of the most inspiring women in the Boston area, bringing her clients back to taking care of themselves, and making sure that women are unified and confident in the way they see themselves. With her heart and soul in the business, Hicks wants to make sure that every woman understands her own self-worth, as skincare isn’t just an act to keep us beautiful, it is a window into self-reflection. Although we are surrounded by a pandemic plagued with darkness, businesses like Beauty N Simplicity are constantly reminding us to slow down, take a breath, and make sure that we take care of our bodies, our minds, and our souls. @thebeautynsimplicity; www.etsy.com/shop/beautynsimplicity
Kath arina Jewelry Designs W
hat is old is now new again. We have begun to see more old trends and styles making a return, one of them being vintageinspired jewelry. Through boutiques, online stores, and Instagram ads, many companies are taking to the trend and selling vintageinspired jewelry, but we have never seen anything like Katharina Jewelry Designs. With passion for bringing new businesses to life and a love for vintage-inspired jewelry, founder/CEO Liz Vanzura knew that she wanted to do something special with her free time during the global pandemic. Vanzura has a background in marketing, working in various industries for over 25 years. She grew up in the automotive industry in Detroit, Michigan, specializing in building brands and even helping launch several well-known companies like Hummer, Volkswagen, and Cadillac. After her time in Detroit, Vanzura moved to Boston, and about 12 years later Vanzura came up with the idea of creating Katharina Jewelry Designs.
Faith Costa: Could you give me the background of the company in your own words? Liz Vanzura: I have always been obsessed with really interesting and beautiful jewelry. When we had the opportunity during COVID-19 to think creatively and get inspired, Nellie Theroux [a Lasell graduate that specializes in fashion and design] and I were searching for what was next. I had met Nellie through working with her and seeing her in the jewelry business, so we thought, “Why not start our own line?” Hence Katharina Jewelry was born. Katharina Jewelry is very purpose-based; it’s based on integrity and hope, inspired by my mother, Magdalena, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Because she has Alzheimer’s, she only has her long-term memory left. When we were growing up, she was a phenomenal role model. She was always very empowering,
inspiring me to pursue my career ambitions. I was very inspired to give back to Alzheimer’s research in her name; I am working with the Alzheimer’s Association to form a partnership and to donate proceeds from our vintage-inspired antique locket line in her memory. FC: What sparked the concept for this company? LV: Love and obsession with vintage-inspired jewelry, and a need to give back in honor of my mother was why we wanted to develop a collection that donated a significant portion of the proceeds. Also, loving the fashion and luxury industries—I worked in the luxury business and really loved that side of the industry. I say that I’m in the happiness business. FC: What is the mission of the company? LV: The mission is really about being purpose-based, at our heart, to help with integrity and kindness. With my mother suffering from that disease, one of the most treasured memories I have is her vintageinspired engagement ring that I now wear every day. When I put it on, it reminds me to be kind and full of hope for the day, and it’s just a beautiful message and a beautiful memory. I know that there are several people that have parents that are suffering from this terrible disease, and if there is something that we could offer in our jewelry line that offers comfort or hope—like my mother’s ring offers to me— that would be a really inspiring message. I’ve realized the further I get in my career that those are the things that matter the most. FC: What are the goals of the company? LV: I would love to be able to make women feel empowered, to make them feel like they are making a really educated and confident investment in themselves and in their family, if they have someone with the disease or if they have someone that they treasure. It’s not about what you buy, it’s about what you’re buying into.
FC: How have you operated during a global pandemic?
FC: What do you feel is unique about your company?
LV: We are a digital company, so all our products are available online. We offer virtual consultations and a lot of education; if you look at our website, you’ll see we have an antique care guide, a jewelry care guide, and educational material on antique diamonds and gemstones. We have a “Style Me” section, where you can answer questions that help you find jewelry that matches your style. We put a lot of time and effort into making it very easy to schedule an appointment; personalized pieces are very hard to get during this time, but virtually you are able to have that one-on-one experience. It’s not about the most expensive pieces, it’s about the pieces that make you your most beautiful self.
LV: I think our uniqueness is the fact that we are an e-commerce business in conjunction with being a personal brand. It is something that is unique in this business, and we embrace it. It’s very easy for me to adapt to ecommerce, and as a matter of fact, I prefer it. It allows us to be incredibly efficient as a company, plus we can bring on other folks to help us virtually. We have a Social Media Coordinator out of New York City who keeps us very grounded in the coolest trends; she actually works full time at Gucci but she helps us in her spare time because she loves the brand. I think those are cool, interesting things that we are able to do during these weird times.
FC: How do you advertise your business? LV: Right now, we are working through word-of-mouth and through developing some really cool partnerships with different charities. I am also on the board of a few charities, like Susan G. Komen, where we intend to help provide for and style some of the women and cancer survivors through a fashion show. It’s a really great way to help women feel beautiful through great times and through trying times. We are trying to develop local community relationships, so we are open to talking to folks about ways we can get out there. I used to teach at Emerson College, so I am really excited to partner with their radio station through the fall to help spread the word about Katharina Jewelry and get people excited. We discovered that the Millennial and Gen Z populations are very excited about unique and personalized options. Nontraditional gemstones and nontraditional engagement rings are things that you can’t find everywhere, so we want to spread the word that we have a great collection. Our goal is to make our audience, from young to old, feel beautiful.
FC: What does the future hold for your company? LV: We are hoping to spread the word and offer more to Alzheimer’s research, charities, and local communities. That’s the whole part of it—there’s a lot of integrity and soul behind us. As I mentioned, I feel like we are in the happiness business, and hopefully we are spreading long lasting memories for lots of folks—especially those like me, who have a parent or grandparent who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Our hope is that we can give back while still employing ourselves and spreading the word to others about our mission. As women, it is important for us to feel good about ourselves, feel confident, and feel beautiful. That is the message that Vanzura is trying to get across to her customers with her brand. In her own words, “I would love people to feel as if they have something unique and special, that makes them happy, and is a great investment in themselves and others. The cause and the purpose of this brand are beautiful, and if we could just pass that along, that is just a beautiful thing to be heard of.” @katharinajewelry; www.katharinajewelry.com
Photography Courtesy of Katharina Jewelry