POLISHED Magazine Spring/Summer 2021

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LETTERS As much as we wish for it to end, COVID-19 is still a prevalent theme in our daily lives. While it continues to be a challenge, we are learning how to live our daily lives in a functional way, without compromising our safety. Following two POLISHED issues created during social isolation, this issue marks our (safe) return to the streets. However, it is not just a return, but a re-analysis of our surroundings. In a time where massive corporations profited the most, our society has developed a new appreciation for the small businesses that make our communities unique, especially here in the greater Boston area. This issue’s editorial focuses on our movement as we return to the world once again. Whether it be through public transportation or in the grocery store, we are incredibly conscious of where we go and how we interact with the world. We have also learned to move with a greater sense of self. We carry ourselves with a new confidence and eagerness, ready to enter the new normal. Thank you to everyone on the POLISHED team for bringing this vision to reality. Your flexibility and resiliency during these special times is incredible.

CONTRIBUTORS Publisher Lasell University Founder Richard Bath Creative Director Joshua Michna Managing Editor Kiersten Brown Art Director Anna King Associate Art Director Dylan Wilson Art Editor Brianna Ricker Associate Art Editor Nicolas Brown Editors Alexis Grant

Cesia Miranda Maggie Powers Anna Richardson Dana Tilton Morgan Trumbull Lead Stylist Emma Ingenohl Stylists Abigail Brown

Sydney Pesaturo Seasonal Stylist Samantha Jenkins Editorial Photographer Matthew Searth Models Dylan Alves

Griffin Bryan


Emily Duval

It has been over a year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. While we are all excited to return to the new “normal”, quarantine and the recent call to end institutionalized racism in the United States have provoked us to reflect on the world, and begin to observe our surroundings through a fresh set of eyes. This issue is all about how society has become conscious of the little things, and how even the smallest movements of one individual can play a part in the big puzzle that is life.

Samuel Gilvar Chanté Gregory Claire Shepherd Media Directors Jaqueline Cordeiro

Madison Cormier Brianna Doody Social Media Team Alexandria Bettencourt

Emma Chai

The features “Strength in The Streets” and “Lady Dye Yarns=Craftivism” highlight how passion and creativity are not only a gift, but a tool to push our mindsets further into the future. “Backbar Boston; Covid and Cocktails” and “Will the Entertainment Industry Survive a Global Pandemic?” showcase how close contact, social industries have designed innovative systems to bring high class dining and concert experience to the home.

Alexis Grant

I am so proud of the work that has been produced, and I would like to thank the writers and editors, as well as the rest of the POLISHED team for their effort and dedication to making this issue special. Just a reminder to our readers that better days are ahead, and we must always remember the power of kindness.

Ashli Roberts

Simone Landry Charlotte Magel Sophia Mazzone Jacqueline Minasian Julia McNicol Anna Richardson Sydney Veilleux Madison Whiteley Blog Director Faith Costa Blog Writers Emma Chai

Alexis Grant Samantha Vega-Torres Sydney Veilleux Faculty Advisors Lynn Blake

1844 Commonwealth Avenue, Newton, MA 02466 | lasell.edu polishedfashion.com | polishedblogger.wordpress.com Polished Magazine | @bostonpolished @bostonpolished

Stephen Fischer Patricia Roy





Designer: Caelan Watson Writer: Tala Khoury

JOHNNY CUPCAKES 6 Designer & Writer: Griffin Bryan

LADY DYE YARNS = CRAFTIVISM 8 Designer: Nicolas Brown Writer: Liah Brown


BRATTLE BOOKSHOP 24 Designer: Anna King Writer: Griffin Bryan

ENTERTAINMENT IN COVID-19 OP-ED 26 Designer: Hope Earle Writer: Emily Ohlson

SNIPS, TATS, SIPS 28 Designer: Dylan Wilson Writer: Kiersten Brown

Designer: Brianna Ricker Writer: Emma Ingenohl



Designer: Kaitlyn Johnson Writer: Caelan Watson

Designer: Joshua Michna Writer: Alexia Santos


Designer: Hunter Spencer Writer: Faith Costa


22 30

Designer: Ciarra Chasse Writer: Emma Ingenohl

EDITORIAL 16 Models: Dylan Alves, Sam Gilvar, Chanté Gregory, Claire Shepherd Clothes: POLISHED Styling Collection Location: Waltham, MA Photography: Matthew Searth

ON THE COVER Claire Shepherd Photography by Matthew Searth

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.

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 - beau@wingpress.com


ichael Tornato, a sustainable menswear designer of Boston, Ma, hopes to strengthen people of color and minorities in their fight against social injustices. His recently established clothing brand aims to empower those who feel as if their voices are not being heard through his military inspired designs. His childhood experiences up through more recent times allude to his brand message, dedication and overall influences that led him to the fashion industry. Being a minority himself, Tornato feels not only a responsibility, but an urge to aid people who struggle against harsh realities of racism in the United States. His work encourages young voices of color to continue speaking up and never stand down beside the human rights they deserve.


Of Argentinian and Dominican descent, Tornato was originally born in Louisville, Kentucky. He resided there for less than two years before he and his family moved to Massachusetts. He attributes the development of his artistry to his childhood and teenage years. Tornato says that, because of his mother’s house rules about television, he found he had a great deal of free time to be creative. “Something my mom discouraged heavily, and not only discouraged, but regulated growing up, was TV. It was specific times, specific shows. So, a lot of that time was spent building Legos or drawing.” said Tornato.

Around 2009, while still in high school, Tornato started reading GQ Magazine. Reading the publication introduced him to the fashion world and familiarized him with aspects of the industry he had not been aware of. He mentioned GQ was writing a lot about cardigans at the time, which piqued a sudden new interest. He bolted straight to H&M and found more than he was expecting when he picked up a copy of an H&M catalog and found himself extremely interested in the photography styles and the introduction of streetwear. “…I was like, you know what. I can do this. So, I got my mom’s camera and said let’s give it a go,” Tornato said. He soon realized photography wasn’t necessarily a home run, so Tornato took a break to focus on studying fashion. He got involved with global blogging sites to further gain insight and make connections. He remembers a blogger from Canada, Lexy Ho-Tai, who was one of the few not posting about street style. She was making pieces from selected patterns and old garments, something Tornato hadn’t even thought of until that point. Ho-Tai’s direction within the industry inspired Tornato to involve himself in fashion design. He wasn’t exactly sure where to start though, so he reached to his mom for help. After months of begging her to help look for a local tailor, she finally found one, Antonio Ayala. Luckily for Tornato, Ayala wasn’t just any guy. He didn’t do average hemming and measuring pant legs, he created custom men’s suits. Throughout high school, Tornato operated beside Ayala on the inner workings of suits and learned what the design industry was like. From this point, Tornato knew this was what he wanted to do and decided menswear would be his concentration. He graduated from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2018 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design and began working on establishing his own brand. It’s been a little over a year since Tornato’s official website launched. The website features his made-to-order pieces, something he’s very passionate about.

Photography Courtesy of Michael Tornato

Tornato always had a clear understanding of the messaging behind his brand and what led him there. In 2017, Tornato was a college senior and the recent election of President Trump impacted the culture around him. He and thousands of other minorities witnessed and/or experienced seemingly never-ending uproars of violence and racism. Day after day over the next several years, Tornato remembers reading headlines about families and parents of color who were too afraid to let their children out to play. Prior to graduating, he developed a thesis titled “Black is Beautiful,” based on a course he took on the historic background of institutionalized racism in the US. “I used to walk into class, you know, it’s in the morning and I hate mornings more than anything. I’d walk in open-minded, but every time I exited class, I would be furious every single time,” said Tornato. Any sense of his that had been unaware of the varying aspects of institutionalized racism were then heightened and ready to combat. Because of the blatant discrimination that developed at the time, he found it most appropriate to write about what was going on right in front of him and what he can further do to help. Tornato believed the most influential impact he could have on the situation was through his designs. His attempt was to provide some level of strength in his garments that he could share to those who felt weakened by the reigning forces of racism.

“I have to speak up for this. I have to do something that speaks for this issue,” Tornato said. A lot of Tornato’s silhouettes are of military and utilitarian style to complement the idea of empowerment. He considers his fabrication to be extremely heavy, embellished with lots of hardware. He incorporates neutrals and solid blacks and greys to remain intact with his messaging. There are few uses of substantial prints, which in turn highlights a utilitarian theme. This approach is all relative to his previously written thesis for college and when it came down to it, he wanted the establishment of his brand to follow suit. To further stress his commitment to helping those around him, Tornato revealed how important it was to the function of his brand to remain as sustainable and waste-free as possible. His collections are made to order, so that he only uses fabric and patterns based on specific demand rather than mass production. Understanding the effort it takes to remain committed to a personal brand, Tornato is willing to put in the work to get him to the next level but hopes to persist along a sustainable route. A recent experience of his attests to his devotion. Tornato visited his family in the Dominican Republic right before the very first lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Little did he know, he’d be stuck there until the middle of July. While in the Dominican, he connected with a garment producer to create a face mask that he had designed for himself. Soon after, Tornato put a few of them up for sale and began receiving orders. Even in the Dominican Republic, he followed a made-to-order protocol; however, the garment producer wasn’t really on the same page. The producer insisted that the industry didn’t work that way and you must mass produce in order to be successful. After ending his relationship with the garment producer, Tornato began handling the production and distribution of his masks in his preferred manner. Through his professional growth and perseverance, Tornato has checked the boxes of having a strong work ethic and ecological creations to back his brand, but the degree he holds his clothing to is extremely valuable, especially in today’s climate. He believes fashion is self-expression. He is not one to underestimate the feeling of what clothing can do for someone and how it may make them feel. For this reason, he is so focused on delivering the message of empowerment through his collection, as he truly hopes he can make people feel an encouraging level of strength. Fashion is part of our everyday lives and there’s no way to strip that from someone. Michael Tornato works to push the boundaries for minorities and people of color who struggle daily to find that extra source of strength needed to fight through. His creations can help do just that. Anyone looking to support a small business is highly encouraged to check out Michael Tornato’s designs through his official website and Instagram accounts. michaeltornato.com; @michaeltornato; @michaeltornatostudios

Tala Khoury



ewbury Street is home to what many believe to be a chic cupcake joint, but unless you have taken a trip inside you are missing all the magic. Many customers are easily fooled by the classic baker’s aesthetic this shop sports; however, it does not sell baked goods, they sell t-shirts. As you enter the store you are confronted with a massive set of vintage ovens that act as a secret passage into the world of Johnny Cupcakes. Once inside the store, you will notice that all the clothing is neatly folded on baking sheets stored in floor-toceiling see-through refrigerators. The t-shirts themselves often feature bakery puns, pop culture references, and of course the brand’s iconic Cupcake and Bones logo. In the early 2000s, a young Johnathan Earle was given the random nickname ‘Johnny Cupcakes’ as a simple gag by a coworker. While printing off shirts for his band, On Broken Wings, Earle decided to press his newly minted moniker onto his own shirts for fun, completely oblivious to the magnitude this action would have on his life. As Earle wore the shirt his friends and coworkers began asking where they could buy their own. Earle recognized the demand and when his band toured in 2002 he brought along some Johnny Cupcake shirts and started selling them out the trunk of his 1989 Toyota Camry. After the tour ended Earle decided to quit both his day job and the band so he could focus all of his energy on establishing his brand. Earle started by selling his shirts online and was able to amass a following from digital word of mouth. The brand continued to develop and In 2005 they


launched their first retail location in Hull, Massachusetts. After another year of steady growth, Johnny Cupcakes was able to open its second location and the flagship store on Newbury Street in Boston. Since then the brand has hosted stores in Los Angeles, Martha’s Vineyard, and London UK. Currently, Boston is the brand’s only brick and mortar, but they have been expanding through the use of their Cake Dealer Program. This is an initiative started with the goal of spreading the Johnny Cupcakes brand throughout the country. This program works with loyal customers and aspiring entrepreneurs to help host pop-up shops for the brand in major cities across America. Johnny Cupcakes clothing is instantly recognizable by its many signature design motifs. Their most prominent style uses pop-culture influences to create clever iterations of their logo, which is already a satirical take on the skull and bones symbol, with the threatening skull being replaced with a harmless cupcake. Another classic design parodies iconic cartoon and movie characters with a big and round drawing style that makes them resemble a cupcake. While these ideas may seem simple and silly they have been able to create a community of dedicated Johnny Cupcake fans from around the globe. The use of universal media & culture as inspiration allows the brand to be appreciated by all ages, from toddlers to teens. This brand has inspired and connected people so much that there are currently thousands of humans with the brand’s logo tattooed on their bodies for life. This brand was founded on principles of love and energy which perfectly capture Earle’s eccentric personality.

Like any company, Johnny Cupcakes has had its ups and downs this past year dealing with the pandemic. Being forced to close its retail space was tough, but the brand was able to easily transition and direct its business towards its stabilized e-commerce website. Earle has also begun live-streaming drops of exclusive and vintage merchandise to combat boredom and a loss of community while being cooped up indoors. As stores begin to reopen, Johnny Cupcakes is in a great position as the way the store is designed already accommodates many safety guidelines. The store is set up to only accommodate a small number of patrons at a time and all the inventory is only handled by the employees. The pandemic has also caused many companies to reassess their sustainability practices after this past year shed much light on the importance of infrastructure. To help reduce its carbon footprint the brand has eliminated the use of polyester bags and began using recycled mailers. Beyond that, the brand is currently looking for other ways to become more eco-conscious. They are looking at different textiles and printing systems in order to maintain a sustainable practice. “We print most of our T-shirts in New England. I am always looking into different types of T-shirts to experiment with”. Earle said

Photography Courtesy of Johnny Cupcakes

Over the past 20 years, Earle and the brand have grown a lot and established themselves as serious advocates of entrepreneurship. With the knowledge he acquired from running the business, Earle often partakes in public speaking engagements to share what he has learned about working for yourself. Earle believes that entrepreneurship “is an important skill because it teaches you how to adapt and how to turn a negative into a positive”. Earle works with everyone from students to corporate executives, and what Earle has learned cannot just be discovered in a textbook. Nevertheless, Earle plans to write a novel encapsulating the adventures of the last twenty years and cataloging his experience as he navigated his life and business.

“The book will consist of hundreds of short entrepreneurial stories from my unordinary journey and I hope that readers will be able to flip to any page, like a time machine, while pulling out slices of inspiration. If I can do this with something as weird as cupcakes on T-shirts and with no educational background, you can do this with anything” Earle said. Jonathan Earle and his brand Johnny Cupcakes are a master class in the American dream, and there is a lot to be learned from this t-shirt brand. This brand was focused on sharing moments from Americana culture and has now catapulted itself to become a major aspect of our current pop culture. You can pick up one of the brand’s delicious shirts online or on Newbury street today, and keep an eye out for Earle’s book as it’s on the way. johnnycupcakes.com; @johnnycupcakes

Griffin Bryan


raftivism is a form of activism incorporating a strong sense of identity and equality. Over the years, art has transformed into an expression of culture, highlighting diversity. Lady Dye Yarns’ Diane Ivey has created a brand where pop culture meets the demands of creativity and inclusion, which incorporates creating activism of art through crafts. This activism is translated into yarn that is hand dyed with bold colors to make crocheted and knitted projects. In her interview, Ivey described what craftivism means and how it has impacted today’s society: “Craftivism is about using craft as a tool to bring about awareness on social issues that are meaningful to anyone. So for me, as a black woman, I am very passionate about Black Lives Matter and am very passionate about women’s rights, and getting people involved in the political process. I am using my art and craft to create awareness around issues to affect a lot of marginalized people. You see this throughout history from the founding of our country with the constitution; when women sewed banners; that’s craftivism. We don’t think about the socks that women were making for the soldiers fighting for World War II or the quilts that were used to show


the impact that AIDS had on the late 80s and early 90s during the AIDS epidemic. That is craftivism, that is all craftivism.” Ivey says. This movement is a large part of Ivey’s brand, as well as identity and equality. In the craft industry, there is a lack of these ideals presented in the forefront of the community. Diversity and inclusion allow for people to understand each other and grow through their collaborative experiences. Lady Dye Yarns is an example of pushing boundaries for those who want to practice involvement and respect. When people ask, “What is Lady Dye Yarns?” this is what Ivey wants them to know about her brand, that it represents equality and inclusion. It’s important to discuss these topics through her art of dying her own yarns that are used for crafting, to connect pop culture to what they are doing as a company. Ivey began her knitting journey working at a yarn store called Mind’s Eye Yarn in Cambridge, Massachusetts. One day, Ivey brought her own dyed yarn to a knitting circle. A friend asked where she had purchased her yarn, and Ivey explained how she had dyed it herself. The following week, the same friend brought in undyed yarn and asked if Ivey could

Craftivism is about using craft as a tool to bring about awareness on social issues that are meaningful to anyone. So for me, as a black woman, I am very passionate about Black Lives Matter and am very passionate about women’s rights, and getting people involved in the political process.

dye it for her. People began to appreciate the beautiful, bold colors she used in her creations, and often asked her to create personalized blends for their own creations. Although Ivey had a full-time job, her peers encouraged her to begin dying yarn on the side.

Photography Courtesy of Lady Dye Yarns

At the time, Ivey was working full time on an initiative for the Boston Foundation to reduce youth violence. In 2011, Ivey realized she wasn’t truly happy where she was and decided to make a career change to the arts, and further her education with the intention of starting her own business. Her initial goal was to have more money to spend on her knitting projects. She planned to do this by selling her dyed yarn at various craft shows and pop-ups. When walking into a pre-existing yarn shop, Ivey felt that the yarn being sold only fit the aesthetic of the shop, rather than the desires of the consumer. She focused her business around the lack of bold and saturated colors in the industry. Ivey took inspiration from the people around her, many of which were prominent graffiti artists. She used her yarn to emulate the way in which the bold colors of graffiti art told important and powerful artistic stories. Lady Dye Yarns has different clubs with kits that can be purchased on their website, each representing a piece of pop culture the brand wants to share through the craft world. Clubs are like subscription boxes that come once a month (based on what box you purchase) that have a

specific theme to them, such as different pop culture TV shows and movies that have made an impact on our society, like Schitt’s Creek and Bridgerton. Movies and TV shows have become something that we are all able to lean on and relate to since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. These movies and TV shows tell a story just as Ivey is doing with her company. At the beginning, she wasn’t making much money off of her yarn, so she decided to make a monthly subscription box to help increase revenue. With her first club subscription, Ivey had 75 people, and for a small business this was a strong start to an amazing business. The subscription boxes really took off in 2019 and were very themed-based. Lady Dye Yarns went from selling 75 of these subscriptions to selling 300 to 400, and the numbers kept growing. The biggest challenge with creating Lady Dye Yarns was establishing a space where the business could expand and grow. Though this could be seen as a positive struggle, it was a struggle all the same. Diane Ivey finds reward in creating high standards for all of her products. Therefore, she is putting several systems in place so her team can work more effectively and have the business grow. Now that Lady Dye Yarns has expanded, the team can have more of an input on different aspects of the company that will help with its growth. Claudia Carpenter is the Director of Operations, and when there is a club idea she is the one that people go to. In 2020, they realized that pop culture themed boxes were the way to go, in order to best connect with their audience. Ivey has two employees in California and two employees in Massachusetts that work alongside her to help the business flourish. This includes Claudia Carpenter, Evelyn Metzler, Cassidy Spiess, and Kayla Nicholson. They all help grow the business by dying and shipping the yarns, handling emails, and helping with the day to day operation. The pandemic of 2020 was hard on Ivey’s business since there wasn’t a place for her team to work from besides home. In the future, Lady Dye Yarns hopes to be in a bigger space and be the industry standard of what diversity and inclusion look like in a company. Ivey wants this to reflect their future collaborations, which would include working on the publication side with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) designers to have more publication work done for their company. Diane Ivey describes how she is not trying to be the next A-list celebrity, but wants to help other BIPOC businesses be successful: “Yeah I’m an influencer, but I am a business influencer. Period. That’s who I am.” -Diane Ivey ladydyeyarns.com; ladydyeyarns

Liah Brown


treasure chest.

ocated in the heart of the city, SoWa Vintage Market is ripe with unique pieces just waiting to be found. Since 2010, founders of SoWa Vintage Market, Stephanie Pernice and John Warren, with the help of other vendors, have been curating an authentic vintage marketplace where customers can find one-of-a-kind pieces. Each vendor has their own collection of vintage items, all ranging in price and focus. Houseware, art, furniture, glassware, vinyl records, magazines, and clothing are amongst the variety of vintage items that can be found in the market. The market is open every Sunday from 11 AM to 4 PM, as well as every first Friday of the month from 4 PM to 8 PM.

The name “SoWa,” coined by the landlord of the space where SoWa Vintage Market resides, comes from the popular saying, “South of Washington Street.” This is a phrase that many Boston locals are familiar with as a way to locate the area. SoWa Vintage Market is part of the Open Market, which features art, food, music, and more. Visitors can shop the Open Market every Sunday, May through October, while the Vintage Market is open year-round. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the SoWa Open Market was unable to resume normal operation in 2020. As for this upcoming May, it is unknown whether or not the market will be fully functioning. Prior to the SoWa Outdoor Market, the Vintage Market was part of an outdoor art co-op called the South End Open Market, which was mainly filled with vendors selling art. Suddenly, there was a rise in demand for vintage goods and antiques, and in 2010, Pernice and Warren were given the opportunity to start their own vintage market. “It took a couple of years to establish a really good following with local people and within the college community. And there are people still discovering our market,” says Pernice. The entire area in South Boston has been nicknamed SoWa and is known as an art and design district, home to galleries, showrooms, and boutiques. Some of these galleries and shops are offer merchandise in a higher price range but SoWa Vintage Market combats these large price tags by providing a broad range of prices, catering to everyone’s personal budget. “We definitely have a college budget,” Pernice said.


The ongoing pandemic has changed much of how the Vintage Market functions. Before COVID-19, the market could host up to eighteen different vendors on any given Sunday. Now, in order to comply with safety measures and social distancing parameters, there are five vendors in the space that previously held eighteen. Each vendor that is there now was faced with the task to bring in a wider range of vintage objects in order to fill the space. Pernice says this actually allowed them to bring in many more interesting items with an even wider range of prices. Other restrictions include having to, at times, limit the number of people in the market itself by having a door person, as well as adhering to the other COVID-19 guidelines. Some of these restrictions also affect how vintage items can be sourced. Each vendor sources vintage pieces a bit differently. Most have a list of contacts who reach out to them with different vintage collections, or vendors can reach out to these contacts to talk about what products they currently have. They also go to vintage and antique shops all throughout New England to source items, even stopping in some thrift stores to see what they can find. “We are very selective. We make sure the stuff that we take meets our quality standards and the desires of our consumers” Pernice said. Another way to find good vintage is to go to estate sales. Pernice says that because of COVID-19, this form of sourcing has become limited in order to avoid large crowds. Because SoWa Vintage Market has an in-person presence, Pernice reveals that at times, people will bring in items and try to sell them to the vendors. This standard is put in place in order to keep the prestige of the Vintage Market and the products being provided. Vintage markets like SoWa are very different from typical thrift shops. The work that goes into curating these collections takes years, and Pernice and Warren want to ensure their clients are only being offered the absolute best and authentic vintage pieces.

As sustainability continues to be prioritized in the current social climate, vintage markets like SoWa are becoming more and more sought out. SoWa Vintage Market saw its thirty seconds of fame in the form of a TikTok. The TikTok got over sixty-nine thousand likes and over 400 thousand views. “Labor Day weekend, we had this explosion of people and then one person actually showed us the TikTok that was made,” Pernice says. This was one of the times they had to have a person at the door. Pernice describes how there has always been a college crowd, but as the neighborhood changes and the internet continues to assist in spreading the word, this crowd grows. This TikTok fame brought a lot of new clientele to the Vintage Market and is still cycling through the internet.

Stephanie Pernice and John Warren are providing their customer base with authentic and exceptional vintage pieces. Being in an area that primarily serves an affluent audience, the Vintage Market stands out against the grain and proves that great finds do not have to cost a fortune. There is something for everyone. SoWa Vintage Market is a one-of-a-kind venue that must be experienced first-hand. For those who are looking to switch up their vintage or second-hand shopping, be sure to check out SoWa Vintage Market in Boston! sowavintagemkt.com; @sowavintage

Emma Ingenohl

Photography Courtesy of SOWA Vintage Market


trend report ss21 Over the course of a year which was spent mostly in quarantine, every aspect of our lives has changed. We have had to adjust in ways which were previously unimaginable except for in a sci-movie. Amidst a global pandemic, we revert to our roots and find comfort in the simplest of things. Distractions are no longer necessary, and we prioritize what is truly valuable in our lives. Our clothes, especially, are a direct reflection of this regression. In this time of uncertainty, neutral toned sweats became our daily go-to as we attended virtual meetings and worked from home. Being comfortable enough to work from- and rarely leave- the couch was how many of us spent most our past year but as life slowly returns to normalcy, we face yet another adjustment. Returning to post-pandemic life allows us to embrace what we have learned about appreciating the simple pleasures of life in order to continue living with a newly found sense of humbleness.

Alexia Santos

Photo or Illustration Credit Line




Lasell Virtual Undergraduate Fashion Show

May 7th

Runway 2021 looks a little bit different this year. However, Lasell University’s undergraduate fashion designers and fashion show production students are working just as hard to bring Runway to a virtual space. From swimsuits inspired by the 1940s, to Regency era evening wear, to sustainably made garments that are sure to spark inspiration, this show has something for everyone. Runway is an essential part of Lasell’s history, and being able to continue the tradition through a virtual space is new and exciting! Make sure to come (online) and show your support! www.lasell.edu/runway2021

Lasell Virtual Senior Fashion Show

May 8th

The Lasell University Senior Designer Fashion Show is sure to be an exciting event. This show has also been moved online for safety precautions due to the ongoing pandemic. Senior fashion design students at Lasell have worked hard and long over the last four years to perfect their craft and create their own collections. Against all odds, these students have persevered and designed seven ensembles that will blow you away. Tune in online to be part of the magic.

Vegetarian Italian Cooking

June 3rd, 6-8:30pm

https://www.thebostoncalendar.com/events/vegetarian-italian-cooking The Cambridge Center for Adult Education presents an online vegetarian Italian cooking course. At this event, you will learn to make various Italian dishes including a delicious baked tofu parmesan! Whether you are a vegetarian looking to expand your palette or an omnivore who is seeking to balance your vegetables with your meat, this class will definitely teach you some valuable skills and new recipes. Admission is $60, and ingredients will be sent out prior. Happy cooking!

MichelleOgraphy Dance Sweat Meditate

June 13th, 10-11am

(in person or via Zoom) https://www.thebostoncalendar.com/events/michelleography-dance-sweat-meditate--21 This is a dance, sweat, and meditation class that is both online and in person. Dance types include hip-hop, afrobeat, and soca, which is an upbeat dance that combines elements of Caribbean and African styles. This class ends with a chakra meditation to help “balance the mind, body, and spirit”. This is the perfect opportunity to get in a good workout while listening to diverse music and freeing your mind! Admission is $20.


June 19th

Juneteenth is a holiday that honors the emancipation of those who were enslaved in the United States. Although slavery was still being practiced in a few states during the time, June 19th, 1865, is widely known as the end of slavery in America. On that day it was declared that the slaves in Texas were free, and since then it has been a day of celebration. Despite the pandemic, there are many ways to give acknowledgement to this special day including, familiarizing yourself with the Emancipation Proclamation and reading work from Black writers like Angela David and Ralph Ellison.

A Boston Pops Salute to Our Heroes

July 4th

Every year the Boston Pops puts on a firework show and a concert for Boston and Massachusetts locals. This year the show will look a little bit different, and will be dedicated to honoring the COVID-19 frontline workers who have risked so much and to those who have lost their lives during the ongoing pandemic. The event will also celebrate the traditional values of Independence Day and feature artists such as Rhiannon Giddens, Leslie Odom Jr, Arlo Gutherie, Andy Grammer, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and more. The show will be broadcasted on Bloomberg Television, Bloomberg.com, and Boston’s WHDH-TV on Sunday, July 4th.

The Art of Ekua Holmes at the MFA

July 14th - January

https://www.mfa.org/exhibition/paper-stories-layered-dreams Ekua Holmes is an artist, an activist, and a lifelong resident of Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. This exhibit showcases her work for children’s books that feature, “Vibrant collages revealing stories of self-determination, love, and community that reflect the artist’s distinctive vision and commitment to Black imagery”. Thirty of Holmes’s works will be displayed from various works in her collection. The exhibit will begin on July 14th and will last through January 23rd, 2022. Come see the spectacle before it’s too late!

Emma Ingenohl 15

restless Our days are filled with constant activity. We talk on the phone as we wait for the train. We carry our coffee and bags from place to place (not everyone goes to work and school), struggling to hold everything in two hands. Every day, all day, thousands of people in metropolitan areas rapidly move from point A to point B. During times when travel is ill-advised, we have become hyper-aware of our every movement and what we carry with us.





ARTS Academy


n Friday March 19, 2021, I sat down with Elisabetta Polito,the Fashion Technology program director at The Boston Arts Academy (BAA) located in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Polito is originally from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where she studied at Concordia University. She moved to the states about 13 years ago when she received a scholarship to attend Brandeis University for her master’s degree in Costume Design. After graduating from Brandeis, she stayed in Boston to work as a costume designer and cultivated a reputation for herself on the mid-sized theatre level. After years of working in theatre, she decided to make a change in her career path, leading to her teaching position at The Boston Arts Academy. The school offers 5 different arts programs: Dance, Fashion Technology, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts & Design. The Boston Arts Academy is the only public high school located in Boston which offers both performing and visual arts programs. BAA has a diversified student population with a majority of students coming from impoverished families who wouldn’t normally have the ability to attend a specialized cirriculum in the arts. Their mission is to “prepare a community of aspiring artist-scholars-citizens to be successful in their college or professional careers and to be engaged members of their communities. Our innovative arts and academic curriculum yields impressive results” (Boston Arts Academy, 2021). Polito describes the school as being “an all inclusive school which has its own culture and prepares students for the workforce”. As the school’s director of Fashion Technology, Polito emphasizes that this “all-inclusive school” provides “its own culture.”. The Fashion Technology program at BAA is a course of study which engages all students in an extensive study of all aspects of the fashion industry, from garment design to understanding the business of fashion. “The fashion program is in its 4th year. It is a 50 student program, and this year’s graduating seniors are the first to have completed all four years within the program,” said Polito. Polito takes a lot of pride in her program and focuses a majority of the curriculum on student input; “It is important that the students have advocacy and a voice within their education,” said Polito. The students at BAA not only attend their designated art courses but their standard academic courses as well. I asked Polito if she could explain the balance of the arts programs and the academic courses.


“Each student has their arts block everyday and then they have their academic blocks, so three academic blocks and one arts block each day. Arts take up 25% of their day, and is their happy place, their go to. I think they love it so much because they are a group of diverse creatives that want to be around people that think alike and feed off of that energy,” said Polito. I then inquired what the main message that she was trying to convey to her students was and her response clearly expressed her heart, sincerity, and commitment to her students. “Before I am a teacher, I am a human being. I think it is extremely important for my students to understand that it’s okay to not be perfect. I truly believe that to do anything right you need to feel good in your own shoes first, and I think we have a lot of discussion about that. I tell my students, design for you. I don’t want a drawing of a white blonde girl. If you are Latina, draw me Latina. If you are Black, beautiful and curvy, then draw Black beautiful and curvy. I feel that representation is very important,” said Polito. Faith Costa: What do you feel is unique about your school? What makes you stand out among competitors? Elisabetta Polito: Students are the most unique [part] about the program because they come in with their own set of ideas of what a fashion designer is. FC: Are you in the process of updating any buildings or school equipment, and are there any art programs you hope to add in the future? EP: There is so much that can happen. The greatest thing about this school is that there’s room for growth. People at the school are always thinking about what can make us better and how we can provide a better learning experience for our students. I believe that the possibilities are endless at this point. We need to be better educators and think about how to cultivate a student and provide more opportunities, and I think that is what BA is trying to do. FC: How can students apply for the 2021-2022 Academic School year? EP: It is an online application. Once the application is received, then there is a scheduled audition. After the student has gone through the audition process there may be a call back. Once all auditions are complete, we go

through and decide who to accept. For the fashion program, 15 students are accepted. We love to see the students in their element during the auditions. Boston Arts Academy aims to find students that are spirited about visual and performing arts, enjoys to work with others, and displays the diverseness of Boston and its culture. The schools admission process was created and curated to give all applicants the freedom to show their talent, capability, and engagement. All students no matter their background or experience are encouraged by BAA to apply. Boston Arts Academy welcomes applicants from all backgrounds. FC: What does the future hold for the school? EP: At this point, we are hungry for more. I want to continue to provide experiences for my students. We want to be able to do more internships and create independent work study opportunities. Every incoming year will come with a different desire and their outcomes will be completely different, and we as the teachers are going to have to adapt to their needs. The opportunities are endless. The Boston Arts Academy Foundation is a non-profit organization which was put into place in order to obtain necessary funds for the school. If you want to support BAA, head to their website at www.bostonartsacademy. org and click on the “Support BAA” tab where you can make a donation and read more about the foundation. Your support can help the artistic community that resides in Boston as well as push the funding of other arts programs throughout the nation. www.bostonartsacademy.org; @bostonartsacademy

Faith Costa

Photography Courtesy of Boston Arts Academy

Brattle Book Shop J

ust beyond the Common in the heart of downtown Boston rests one of the city’s most remarkable attractions; The Brattle Bookshop. Underneath the giant, yellow, 2H pencil on West Street is one of America’s oldest and largest antiquarian book shops. This two-hundred-year-old storefront is stuffed to the rim with books ranging from single dollar editions to literary heirlooms worth hundreds of thousands. It’s almost not fair to call this a bookstore as it is more representative of a prestigious library or museum. Their exclusive selection of products draws in customers from around the world including some who visit the shop every day. The low and affordable prices, and vast shelves of knowledge are what set Brattle Bookshop apart from the competition. Their inventory consists of over a quarter of a million different books and articles across almost every subject. This extensive collection is spread across three separate sections. The first contains general used books and takes up the bottom two floors. In this section, you’ll find shelves that stretch from the floor to the ceiling, packed with stories and information. Next is the top floor which houses Brattle’s highest-valued antiques and most precious novels. This section features a diverse selection of vintage maps, postcards, and photographs, as well as rare editions and prints of classic novels. In addition to the three floors inside, Brattle also owns the lot of land adjacent to their store. This empty space serves as an outdoor market containing thousands of books priced at one, three, and five dollars. The current proprietor of Brattle is Ken Gloss, who inherited the shop after he and his father expanded the business. Brattle Book Shop has been in the Gloss family since 1949 when it was purchased by Ken’s parents to save it from going under. Ken has been working at Brattle since 1973 and through this experience, he has been able to become a master appraiser. Ken is highly respected for his knowledge and expertise regarding antiquarian novels and collectibles, leading him to be featured on numerous television and radio shows. Ken evaluates some of the nation’s most hidden and rare treasures on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow.


He has also been able to use his skills to appraise books and libraries for establishments such as the FBI, Harvard, Boston University, and Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. On top of these accomplishments, Ken gives lectures on the antiquarian book field to historical societies and other book-focused groups all throughout the New England area. Furthermore, Ken is also a past president of the American Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America’s New England Chapter. Staying open for two hundred years is not an easy feat and Brattle Book Shop has dealt with its fair share of hardships. In 1980 the store was tragically burnt to the ground by a fire, which caused them to quickly move next door to their current building. In 2009 a construction crane collapsed and landed right in the outdoor market of Brattle. It caused some damage, but nothing they couldn’t recover from. In addition to freak accidents and an unstable economy, the bookstore has now had to endure multiple pandemics. Regardless of all these obstacles Brattle has not waivered and has no intentions of shutting down any time soon. All of those years of perseverance has prepared Brattle for the most recent pandemic. While it was not available at the beginning of the pandemic, the outdoor market quickly became a favorite of Boston residents to do some safe and socially distanced shopping. Brattle also took to the internet to spread the joy of reading during these times. The most creative service that Brattle offered while their doors were closed were Zoom backgrounds. Knowing that in the new virtual workplace, many needed a professional and clean presentation when on video chat. Brattle decided to start creating custom backgrounds. For a fee of one dollar all the way up to a thousand, the Brattle team would explore their massive collection and assemble a beautiful shelf of books you could proudly display behind you when online. Gloss also started a podcast a couple of years ago that he records weekly. These podcasts cover topics relating to books and their culture, “There are just as many stories to be told outside the pages as in them” Gloss said.

You can find these podcasts for free on Brattle Book Shop’s website under the category “BrattleCast” or on Spotify. In addition to hosting his podcasts, Gloss has been kind enough to offer his lectures virtually throughout the last year to continue sharing his knowledge. It may be unexpected from a two-hundred-year-old used book store, but the Brattle team orchestrated a terrific virtual presence. Brattle Book Shop is currently back in full operation and is open six days a week. The staff have been diligent and focused on following health and safety precautions, and are taking every measure to keep their customers and employees safe in these trying times. You may even come to find you do not have enough hands to carry all of your new and wonderful finds! If you are ever in need of something to read or in need of some inspiration, skip your local library and go treasure hunting at Brattle Book Shop instead. brattlebookshop.com @brattlebookshop

Griffin Bryan

Photography Courtesy of Mark Stern and Alex Gagne




he Covid-19 pandemic has redefined the future of many industries and the entertainment industry is no exception. The United States entertainment industry is valued at $717 billion and accounts for a third of the global media and entertainment sector (Department of Commerce, 2021). Many Americans spend their free time viewing movies, attending sporting events, listening to music and watching concerts. The demand for these activities fuels the entertainment industry making it worth billions of dollars.

pandemic hit the United States at the beginning of March 2020, lockdowns were put into place and movie theatres were forced to close; many for an unprecedented amount of time, and several theatres are still unsure if they will reopen. Meanwhile, others reopened at the end of August 2020, failing to meet expectations. Due to state restrictions, movie theatres in states such as Massachusetts and Connecticut were required to keep theatre capacity down to a 50% maximum, which has caused heavy revenue losses (Tewari, 2020).

One sector of the entertainment industry hit particularly hard by the pandemic has been the film sector. When the

Although many movie theatres put strict sanitation guidelines in place and are encouraging mask use, many consumers are


SURVIVE A GLOBAL PANDEMIC? still uneasy about returning to theatres. As of September 2020 CNBC states that only 22% of movie-goers feel comfortable returning to theatres. The other 78% are left feeling nervous that the other viewers will not follow mask policies or stay home if they are feeling unwell (Tewari, 2020). Many highly anticipated films like "Scoob!" and "Unhinged", which had planned release dates in 2020, were postponed or released on streaming services such as Disney Plus or HBO Max. Mulan was scheduled to be released by early 2020; however, it was postponed and aired on Disney Plus in September 2020. Movie theatres are facing high pressure from streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu. These platforms have lured consumers away from cable and more towards having monthly streaming services instead. Streaming services that have taken off this past year include Apple TV, Disney Plus and HBO Max. These streaming services have drastically decreased the demand to watch movies in theatres. Instead, viewers are watching movies from the comfort of their own homes in their own safe, covid-free bubbles. According to the most recent data, the film industry lost about $32 billion in revenue in 2020 due to the pandemic (Olya, 2020). Consumers are adapting quickly to entertaining from home. Unfortunately, the film industry does not have a defined path to recovery. Nobody knows when or if they will fully recover post-Covid, or if advancements in technology and streaming services will prevail. The music sector is another large part of the entertainment industry that is feeling the effects of capacity restrictions. As capacity restrictions were placed on gatherings worldwide, concerts were one of the first events to be cancelled. Knowing that concerts will be a part of the last phase in the recovery of the entertainment industry, the music sector has had to brainstorm new and innovative ways to let concerts go on without thousands of people in the crowd. In an attempt to make the most of the unfortunate state of the world, many music awards shows and celebrities began performing concerts online from their houses. Celebrities such as John Legend, Chris Martin, Pink and Miley Cyrus have all participated in concert livestreams from their houses (O’Kane, 2020). Photography Courtesy of Aaron Cabrera

With the music industry valued at $50 billion dollars globally, live music is responsible for 50% of the revenue while recorded music accounts for the other 50% of the industry’s value (Hall, 2020). Live music is vital for the profitability of the industry which counts on ticket sales and concessions to increase the net worth of the sector. Despite this, recorded music has been growing exponentially since the pandemic began. Recorded music is a combination of vocal and instrumental, with revenue from streaming, digital downloads and physical sales from licensing. With the absence of live concerts, recorded music has been dominating the industry. Streaming platforms such as Twitch and Instagram TV have allowed musicians to perform easily from anywhere in the world. Advancements in


technology have allowed artists to monetize their streamed performances. Covid-19 has accelerated the trend of shifting the industry towards a streamed content approach. The streaming industry has grown from 9% to 47% of total industry revenues throughout the past six years (Hall, 2020). The future of the music industry is yet to be determined; there is still the looming question of whether the consumers will continue to have a demand for streamed concerts and events or if they will be yearning for in-person concerts. Professional sports made major adjustments to their protocols in order to keep playing. In spring of 2020, the NBA and NHL seasons were suspended along with MLB’s spring training (Danner, 2020). Many professional sports teams were struggling to continue their seasons due to the high contact rate that sports require. Despite frequent covid testing, many players tested positive for Covid-19 which caused several player-toplayer transmissions. The NBA season resumed at the end of July, and the players were all placed in their own NBA bubble at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Disney World Resort just outside of Orlando. The NBA bubble allowed players to practice and go through with games all while being isolated from the outside world. Players were required to stay on Disney property and get tested frequently throughout the week (Medina, 2020). Covid may have postponed annual events along with the 2020 Olympics, and the Boston Marathon, nevertheless, the industry is still fighting to find unconventional ways to allow recreational professional sports to carry on. There is no doubt that the pandemic has made an everlasting mark on the entertainment industry. Lockdowns and capacity limitations have prevented movie theatres from opening, live concerts from being held and professional sports from taking place. Technology has opened a pathway to reinventing the entertainment industry by shifting live concerts and movies to streaming services and moving the audiences of sport games to online platforms. The entertainment industry along with the hospitality industry will be one of the last sectors to recover. Although it has a slow recovery ahead, the entertainment industry is not going anywhere. Due to developments in technology and changing consumer behavior, the industry was heading in a direction that was only accelerated by Covid. The road to recovery will remain unclear until the vaccine is widely available and consumer trends are observed. Until then, many consumers will continue to adjust to the impact Covid-19 has on the entertainment industry by finding creative ways to be amused from the comfort of their own homes.

Emily Ohlson 27


t thirteen years old, Robert Dello Russo set out on a path that would change his life forever. Throughout his childhood, Dello Russo had an innate sense of artistic direction, paired with the ability to spot imperfection, and correct it at lightning speed. After realizing the magnitude of his passions, he took his gifts to cosmetology school to become a barber. As his experience and education grew, so did his dream, and eventually, he opened Boston Barber and Tattoo Co. Boston Barber and Tattoo Co. is a full-service coffee shop, barber shop, and tattoo parlor, where creativity runs wild. It is a one-stop cosmetic experience for all things self-expressive. He wanted his shop to embody a homey setting, inviting guests in to relax, enjoy a nice cup of joe, and spend their day admiring the body art.

In fact, this was one of Dello Russo's biggest challenges. He wanted to brand his business in a way that would allow it to stand alone in expensive and historic neighborhoods. His shop was not focused on riding the trends of the times. Instead, Dello Russo focused his energies on revamping the previous trends he felt should have never faded away. He began the journey alone with two chairs in the studio, but as he invested his resources into the business, he slowly began to build his staff, and he saw the personality of his business take flight.

After deciding on a hybrid concept of snips, tats, and sips, Dello Russo began planning to create a modern and elegant storefront. Much of Dello Russo’s inspiration came from the old school relationship built between a barber and their client. He wanted his customers to get to know him and his staff on a personal level, where an appointment did not feel like an errand, but instead a time to stop in and chat with an old friend. His desire was for the interior of the shop to pay homage to the previous generations of barber shops, where tattoo parlors and old fashion conversation created a harmonious balance.

Now, after fourteen years in the game, Boston Barber and Tattoo Co, has expanded from a one chair store front to a three-location chain. Every year since the opening in 2007, Dello Russo has added one new styling chair to the shop floor-to commemorate the growth and expansion of his client base, and public outreach. Currently, Dello Russo has thirteen styling chairs spanning the original store front in the North End, and seven at the Beacon Hill location. With growth and expansions came great opportunities for the business, beginning with a budding roster of A-list clientele.

“I wanted it to have its own identity and personality, and I have found that the identity is created by my staff. They are Boston Barber & Tattoo Co. They are the heartbeat and epicenter at the core of the shop.” Dello Russo said.

“My crew is family 100% we would do anything for each other.” In 2011, Dello Russo and his staff were able to service players from the Boston Bruins- as a celebration of their Stanley Cup win, by completing the commemorative tattoo piece for offensive left wing, Brad Marchand. Dello Russo and his team wanted to ensure the players received the family treatment. He wanted each player to leave with a deeper connection and possible friendship with the stylists and tattoo artists. In return for this generosity and attention to detail, the team gave Dello Russo and his shop family the opportunity to live every hockey lover’s dream. They let the staff drink from the Stanley cup. While this was one of the memorable celebrity experiences, Dello Russo wants all his customers to feel like a millionaire. He wants to ensure a great rating from all, keeping his artistic standards high, and his pricing low. He calls this the “Hometown Discount.”

Photography Courtesy of Boston Barber & Tattoo Co.

“The pricing is my own doing. We are in extremely expensive and historic neighborhoods, but to me a barber shop must still be a barbershop. The prices are low because like I said earlier, we are old school. I would rather have crowds and volume, people coming and going and always having us on their mind rather than 20 clients paying astronomical prices,” Dello Russo said. While the prices have remained low, at the beginning of 2020, COVID-19 began to overtake the nation and plunge many small businesses into a state of uncertainty. Now in 2021, Dello Russo and the crew have been working with the hand they were dealt. They are currently operating at about 30% of their previous daily operations, but according to Dello Russo, the spirits remain high, and the roots of artistic treasures remain deeply planted in the community. He and the team had planned to open two more locations at the start of the year, but due to health and safety restrictions, his plans were put on hold. Although times are uncertain, Boston Barber and Tattoo Co. shows no signs of slowing

down. Dello Russo and the shop have lived through quite the eventful few months, combating the chaos of COVID-19, in addition to what can only be described a medical phenomenon. In February of 2021, Steve Silva, a manager and key barber at the shop, had a freak accident, that resulted in a battle of life or death. During an appointment, Silva had tripped with a pair of scissors in his hand and ended up falling directly onto the shears. Everyone around him jumped into action, and thanks to the quick reactions of the staff and emergency responders, Silva is now making a steady recovery after emergency heart surgery. While many would attribute the quick thinking of Dello Russo as heroic, he says that no matter what happens, his priority is the safety and comfort of the people he describes as his chosen family, staff and clients alike. “My crew is family 100% we would do anything for each other. We live off Love, Respect & Loyalty,” Dello Russo said. Love, respect and loyalty is never in short supply, but the brick and mortar walls are also a reminder to those looking to follow their dreams. Boston Barber and Tattoo Co, represents what the power of blood, sweat, and artistic ink can produce. “I was born and raised in the city, gotten into my share of life altering trouble. My advice…. SHOW UP every single day. Keep the ideas coming and be patient. Social media has everyone thinking they can do it over night. That is not the case. Remember the real tough guy is the one the gets up and goes to work every day.” Dello Russo said. If you are looking for a new place to relax and add some new body art to your gallery, stop into Boston Barber Co, and join the family. www.bostonbarber.com; @bostonbarbertattooco

Kiersten Brown


Backbar Boston Back b a r

B o st o n

COVID & Cocktails


idden in Somerville’s Union Square resides Backbar, a warm and welcoming cocktail and ramen bar, which makes its name through innovative flavors, nerdy cocktail passion, and gracious hospitality. Their cocktail menu showcases a wide range of flavor pairings and ingenious spins on some of the most well-known classics. Both drinks and ramen dishes are constantly changing with each experimental flavor combination, leaving a patron with something new to taste at each visit. Backbar was established in late 2011 as a sister restaurant with the now-closed Journeyman. Owner Sam Treadway began bartending at Cheers as a college student and worked at two other well-known bars: Eastern Standard and Drink. After bartending in Boston, Treadway made the move to Hawaii and tended a bar during his time there. Treadway was then personally asked, by the owners of Journeyman, to return to Massachusetts to open and run the bar. With the offer of full creative license, Treadway moved back to Boston. At the time of opening, there were three other bars that were up and coming in the area, posing a challenge for the owner and threatening the success of the bar. However, with its small venue and eclectic taste, the hospitality-patronage relationship has served as the foundation of Backbar allowing its personability to set it apart from competing bars. “My first job was at Cheers in Boston, where of course, the motto is that everyone knows your name. I found that, as this was the first time I’ve ever trained a staff and passed down my values as a bartender, the more important things were how to interact with people and making them welcome in your space. I think the reason people come back is that they feel at home, and we became more of a regular neighborhood bar instead of a ‘destination,’” said Treadway.


This direct relationship between bartender and patron is something that inspires the art of cocktail creation because of the instant, good-natured feedback received once the client tries a drink. It provides the opportunity for the bartender to try to find drinks the patron would enjoy, allowing for great conversation as well. This gratifying approach to drink making is what keeps Backbar exciting yet familiar for its customers. Inspiration for flavor pairings can also come from anywhere. “I was at a nice dinner and the dessert course was a salted chocolate caramel tart, olive oil ice cream, and a walnut cookie. I was blown away. I made a cocktail with rum chocolate liqueur, walnut bitters, salt, and garnished with olive oil,” said Treadway. During COVID-19, Treadway has been mixing weekly-themed drinks for patrons to learn how to make online. One of Treadway’s most recent drink-themed weeks was Disney week. Treadway crafted an incredible cocktail based on Disney’s Moana with pineapple, coconut, and lime to mimic the hints of tropical island flavors, along with Teremana, the tequila owned by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who played the demigod Maui in the movie. Treadway’s favorite invention he’s ever made is one he dubbed “The Elvis.” The drink contains a bacon infused banana liqueur with a peanut butter foam, flavors that are immediately recognized as belonging to Elvis’s famous peanut butter and banana sandwich. They even have a drink for magic-lovers called Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to reference felix felicis, the potion of luck which features an apple brandy, vodka, manzanilla sherry, passion fruit, and other subtle flavor undertones. But to Treadway, the happiness of the customer and the ease of conversation is really what’s important. Do you ever find yourself stumped on how to make small talk, or maybe nervous to enter a bar alone? Backbar provides a drink called Writer’s Block. Upon purchasing this cocktail, one is encouraged to simply tell their bartender a little bit about themselves including drinks and flavors they like, and they will craft a drink specifically for that person and their interests. It’s a wonderful way to get to know new people and to allow patrons to feel at home within an exciting and contemporary place they’ve never been to before that pays homage to the classics while creating novel cocktails at the same time. Simultaneously, it allows regulars to enjoy cocktails that aren’t currently on the menu and may be more tailored to their own tastes.

And, of course, the flavor doesn’t stop at Backbar’s cocktails; the kitchen enjoys experimenting with flavor as well. The ramen menu experiments with many different complementary Asian flavors, many with the same process of adding playful twists as the cocktails. All ingredients for the snacks originate from the current sister restaurant Field & Vine, which promotes fresh and sustainably sourced ingredients for all of their menu items. The snack and ramen menu is currently not available to the public as a measure taken by Treadway to protect the business during the COVID-19 crisis, but Backbar does have an online delivery option exclusively for their cocktails. Fridays and Saturdays draw a younger clientele, along with many newcomers, attracted by the “hidden bar” atmosphere. Many college students frequent the spot, and it is also known to be a great first date location due to its cozy and intimate environment. “When it comes to it, people tend to like a shorter time frame, not do a dinner, and can get a creative drink and have something to talk about, which means it’s fun for us to watch first dates and how awkward they are. Other days there are a lot of regulars. Everyone who comes in on a Sunday, I know by name, know their drink. But we get a little bit of everything,” said Treadway.

Photography Courtesy of Eddie DiCroce, Anastasia Flaherty & Backbar

In light of COVID-19, the bar is currently closed, however, Backbar has been hosting virtual cocktail classes and offering cocktail delivery services, which can be accessed through their website. Treadway also posts cocktail-friendly recipes on YouTube on his personal channel, Sam Treadway, for patrons to learn and enjoy these weekly-themed cocktails at home. The bar will remain closed for the time being, but Backbar’s intention is to eventually move towards opening in a smaller capacity once COVID-19 vaccinations are distributed and the virus no longer poses as much of a threat to the safety of both the staff and the customers. Treadway will continue the online delivery services for as long as the state allows, offering a compelling opportunity for customers to take advantage of the delivery services for a pleasurable and flavorful evening. backbarunion.com; @backbarunion; @treadbetter

Caelan Watson

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