Page 1


APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

3


Art shows throughout downtown West Chester. Bring friends and make an evening of it!

FIRST FRIDAY

MAY 5, 2017 5pm - 9pm (rain or shine)

+ 3 0 One-N

ight-Only Art Shows

Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce, 119 North High Street, West Chester, PA 19380 | 610.696.4046 | info@gwcc.org

4

www.GreaterWestChester.com THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH

#WCGalleryWalk

@GreaterWestChester

@GWCC_PA


The

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They're done by a team of people.” –Steve Jobs

Press PUBLISHER Dan Mathers dan@thewcpress.com ADVERTISING MANAGER Nick Vecchio nick@thewcpress.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Nazarena Luzzi Castro nazarenaluzzi.com COPY EDITOR Jon Roth jroth@thewcpress.com CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Kate Chadwick kchadwick@thewcpress.com STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Sabina Sister ssister@thewcpress.com

COLUMNISTS Suzanne Adams wcfoodcoop@thewcpress.com Becca Boyd bboyd@thewcpress.com Jamie Jones jjones@thewcpress.com Andrea Mason amason@thewcpress.com DJ Romeo romeo@thewcpress.com Dr Geoff Winkley drwinkley@thewcpress.com

Dave's Automotive Repair has served the West Chester, PA area with a commitment to service and value for over 40 years. We appreciate your interest and look forward to earning your business.

Published By... Mathers Productions 12 E Barnard Street West Chester, PA 19382 mathersproductions.com 610-344-3463 The WC Press is a monthly magazine distributed free of charge to more than 250 businesses. For a free digital subscription, visit thewcpress.com. For more information about specific distribution locations, visit thewcpress.com/distribution.

Our services include:

Worth

Noting 13 15 29 37 51 65

Our no-nonsense table of contents

LOCAL TALENT TWIG Gardens’ mother-daughter team handcraft interior gardens BUMPOUT The startup developing a first pocket-sized Bluetooth speaker BARTENDER OF THE MONTH We talk about Roots Cafe's locally inspired drinks with Sam Pillion AGAINST THE GRAIN Meet three local woodworkers who embrace a time-honored craft TESORO Leather artisans who are building their brand in the borough PHOTO HUNT Can you spot the five differences in these two photos?

Auto Body & Collision Repair

Full Auto Detailing

PA State & Emissions Inspection

Tune-Ups

Engine Replacement

Oil, Lube & Filter Changes

Full-Service Machine Shop

Brake Service & Repair

Fleet Accounts

Tires & Alignments

Paintless Dent Repair

Belts & Hoses

Exhaust & Mufflers

Windshield Repair and Replacement

Shocks & Struts

Discounted Rental Car Rates

4-Wheel Drive & AWD Diagnostics & Repair

Free Estimates

Same Day Service

Local Shuttle Service

Transmission & Clutch Replacement

Engine Diagnostics

Fuel Injection Service

Visit our website to make an appointment online.

610-696-7153 www.DareAuto.com 301 S. Bolmar Street, West Chester, PA 19382 8:30-5:00 Monday-Friday | 8:30-4:00 Saturday

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

7


accessories event rentals jewelry bakery favors & gifts live music beauty fitness massage bridal flowers menswear dj invitations photography

planning real estate skincare travel venue

DECEMBER 2016 THEWCPRESS.COM

8


Letter

from the

Editor

Dan Mathers shares some personal insight about this month’s theme

Making this magazine for the last five years has allowed me the opportunity to get to know this town more intimately than most. There are a good number of people who are more deeply embedded in parts of this community, and some who are far more invested, but I’ve been lucky enough to gain a passing knowledge of many different aspects of West Chester in my time behind this keyboard. For instance, this month Kate Chadwick has written a story about three West Chester craftsman who are all doing exceptional work with wood. We’ve been waiting for the right themed issue to highlight this story since May of 2015. That's when we first encountered Prowler Bats—a local company manufacturing custom, handcrafted wooden baseball bats— through the photos submitted by Adam Jones in our photography issue. Then there is first-time contributor Courtney Desiderio’s piece about Tesoro, a handcrafted leather accessories company that primarily produces handbags. I was introduced to the company when they reached out to us a few months back (forgive me for being a little out of touch with women’s accessories), but when I started doing some research I realized the company’s designer, Brittany Reed, is someone I’d hung out with in a group of friends one night a few years back. She and I had also worked together multiple times on fashion-related topics for this magazine. Finally, though I rarely write more than this column, I contributed a feature this month about a tech startup called BumpOut, a company who've earned the interest of millions with their soon-to-be-released Bluetooth speaker that fits in your pocket. I met their founder, Zac Pierce, late last year while touring new potential offices with our realtor. It turns out BumpOut were renting an office above West Chester Coffee & Ice Cream Bar for a fraction of its value, with the stipulation that they had to vacate on one week’s notice if another party was willing to pay full price. Well, The WC Press was considering paying the asking price, so we got a tour while Zac and his team were hard at work. Zac happily hopped up to tell us about what they were building, and I was instantly interested. We knew they’d be a great feature in a future issue. I’ve always been proud of West Chester. No matter where life takes me, it will always be my hometown. I founded this company here because I knew there was incredible talent in this community, that there were amazing stories just waiting to be told... and, yeah, maybe a couple of businesses who might be interested in advertising. But, five years ago, I didn’t have a clue just how culturally rich this community was. The more time I spend in this job, the more impressed I am with everything that comes out of our town. And I know there will always be remarkable new stories for me to share from behind this keyboard in the years to come. —dan@thewcpress.com

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

9


ALL

E XC LUS I V E

T U R N S A N Y D E S T I N AT I O N I N T O A R E V E L AT I O N . ©2017 Crystal Cruises, LLC. Ships’ registry: The Bahamas.

New Zealand

INTRODUCING THE NEW CRYSTAL CRUISES,® WHERE ALL INCLUSIVE IS ALL EXCLUSIVE. Join us aboard the illustrious Crystal Symphony® and Crystal Serenity® and discover how The World’s Most Awarded Luxury Cruise Line™ has taken ocean travel to entirely new levels. And soon, our new Crystal Exclusive Class™ ships will refine every exquisite pillar — service, space, quality and choices — of the celebrated Crystal Experience.® These high standards of perfection give discerning travelers all the reasons they need to set sail for the world’s most spectacular destinations. Remaining the World’s Best requires nothing less than this continued commitment. Welcome to the new Crystal,® where all inclusive is All Exclusive.

10

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH

23 YEARS

20 YEARS

CONTACT WHIRLAWAY TRAVEL & CRUISE CONSULTANTS AT 1-610-431-3642 TO BOOK YOUR CRUISE TODAY.


Near and Far

Jamie Jones of Whirlaway Travel explores some travel options abroad and highlights their local counterparts

It all started with Rachael Ray in 2002. With her show $40 a Day, she changed food from mere sustenance to a primary travel motivator. The surprise success of that show helped spawn Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations in 2005, followed by Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods in 2006. We now have guidance to eat incredible local cuisine cheaply like a local, and possibly outside of our comfort zones. As a travel agent, when planning a customized travel itinerary for my clients, their food preferences are always taken into consideration, many times even incorporated into the total travel experience in a very meaningful way. Cooking classes, tasting tours, private chef experiences, festivals, Michelin-starred restaurants, and street food are all ways to turn a typical trip into the memory of a lifetime. Last year I traveled to Belgium and the Netherlands on a river cruise. It was a great way to meander through small towns and taste things along the way, things like smooth Belgian chocolate, crispy twice-fried frites with mayonnaise, and every variation of Gouda imaginable, including a smoky 15-year aged truffle variety that made its way home with me. One of the highlights of the trip was a Trappist beer and cheese pairing. A certified Cicerone (beer expert) escorted us on a journey through the Trappist beer of the region via our tastebuds. We learned about top-fermentation, malts and original gravity, and how they are all used to determine the types of Trappist beers, along with the criteria for calling a beer Trappist. Today, there are only 11 Trappist monastery breweries worldwide, with the greatest concentration in Belgium. Learning the history behind the label and the name brought an appreciation for what could be considered the original craft beer. West Chester has some of the same foodie experiences right at the tip of our tongues. Gemelli Artisinal Gelato on West Market Street is a unique spin on traditional Italian Gelato. Vincenzo, an Italian transplant, has brought the art of gelato-making to the US and incorporated local ingredients for an American twist that has us hankering for a scoop (or three). What I love about this gelato gem is not just what they make, but that they offer a Gelato-making class that focuses on the art of balancing ingredients and the history of the delicious and creamy dessert. The best part is taking home your creations! While I am sure there is value in having an American food option available—a McDonalds or Starbucks—if only to incorporate a sense of familiarity, the way to experience a destination at its soul, to understand its people, is through local food. Food is a part of world history, and it is a part of culture that we can experience with all of our senses. Using all those senses helps build a lasting memory. Knowing the power of food, and how deeply it is embedded in culture, the success of all these foodie travel shows shouldn’t have ever been a surprised. —jjones@thewcpress.com

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

11


Sunny, with 100% chance of success. We make math make sense. At Mathnasium, we teach math in a way that makes sense. Our summer programs are designed to combat summer learning loss—we’ll help your kids retain all they learned in math class this year, so they’re well equipped for a strong start in the fall! Summer Learning Gap

Co

Sum

2015

me

2016

rS

ntin

ued

Stu

dy

lide

2017

Johns Hopkins University study about summer slide: http:// education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/Journals/spring2010/ why-summer-learning/

844-4GETMATH (844-443-8628)

mathnasium.com/collegeville • mathnasium.com/glenmills

12

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


Local

Talent

PHOTO & INTERVIEW Sabina Sister

TWIG Gardens’ motherdaughter team of Carly Manning-Smith and Mindy Hamond are handcrafting interior gardens Tell me how TWIG Gardens started. Carly: For my bridal shower, I didn’t want the typical sit-down thing where everything’s done. I wanted to be hands-on so I could interact with my family. Mindy: Carly didn’t want a bridal shower where people brought gifts. She wanted to come together to make the gifts. So instead, people brought us soil and rocks. C: I wanted my wedding to look like Terrain [the Anthropologie-owned home design store], and I thought, “We don’t need to spend that much—I think we can do this ourselves.” We made all the centerpieces for the wedding at my shower, and people

loved it! That was in 2015, and it was our first workshop without really knowing it. What’s your process? M: We look locally for plants and have a few sources in the Lancaster area. C: We have found greenhouses there with great people who help us out a ton. M: Along the way we’ve learned the containers are just as important. The things we collect now, we sort of have an idea of who they will go to or which business they would showcase well in. Do you find it rewarding? M: Getting the feedback from our customers and clients has really given me a sense of personal satisfaction. C: I’m a teacher just like my mom was, and I always wanted to be making something. Gardening has been my mom’s hobby, and crafting has always been mine. I am so thrilled we were able to merge the two. What has it been like working together? M: It has been so awesome. We’ve always had a great relationship as mother and daughter, and now we have a great business relationship, too. C: We’re playing on our strengths, and we know how to push each other. We know

how to appeal to different people. There are times where my mom will pick out something, and I’m like, “Mom, that’s kind of old!” but then someone will buy it at Roots a week later! What has been the best event you’ve done so far? C: The first event that worked with us was a gala for Safe Harbor, which was a 22-table event, and we did the centerpieces. M: We had over 60 pieces all in my dining room for that! I volunteer there, so I felt really good to be contributing. At the end of the night we had sold everything and donated the proceeds to Safe Harbor. We’re doing it again this year on April 29. What differentiates your business? M: We stay affordable for our customers. That’s why we continue to drive to Lancaster for our plants and hunt around flea markets for affordable glass and pottery. C: I have a small greenhouse in my house now, so I can propagate them myself, which helps keep costs down too. Where can our readers find your work? M: We’re really grateful for the local businesses that showcase us: Spence Café, The Brow Bar and Roots Café.

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

13


14

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


West Chester innnovators have patented the first pocket-sized Bluetooth speaker to produce high-quality sound; their product is on the verge of taking off. story Dan Mathers photos Sabina Sister

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

15


Spring has just sprung, but it’s already time to think about summer! Contact Nick@thewcpress.com to get involved in our annual Summer Fun Guide which comes out every June.

16

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


A

ccording to a Pew Research Center study, 67% of Americans listen to music on their smartphone. For many, it’s their primary listening device. Problem is, there’s no good way to share the experience: nobody likes splitting earbuds, and a phone speaker’s sound is horribly hollow. It’s all too frequent an occurrence to be at a party or hanging on the beach and hear someone say, “Hey, put on some music!” In most cases, I’ve found that the best option for cranking up the volume is sticking your phone speaker-first into a red Solo cup. The sound reflected back out of that cup is tinny with far too much treble... but it’s louder. The only other option is hauling around an eightpound Jambox speaker everywhere you go, so the red Solo cup has become the default for many a millennial.

In most cases, I’ve found that the best option for cranking up the volume is sticking your phone speaker-first into a red Solo cup. But, the red Solo cup was not good enough for Zac Pierce. Zac is an early riser. When he was working in center city Philadelphia, he’d get into work by 6:30am, and by mid-afternoon he was restless and needed to take a daily walk. “By 3pm I’d always need to get out of the office,” Zac says. “I’d be walking down Walnut Street right when kids got let out of school. They’d be walking along, laughing and joking in groups, and there was always one person in the group with his phone out playing music.” Zac noticed the same thing countless others have—that the sound coming out of the phone was terrible—but he decided to do something about it. “I thought: why not make a speaker for that?” At the time, Zac was working at a commercial real estate firm in Philadelphia, a business which he himself had helped grow. He’d started as a sole proprietor within Marcus & Millichap real estate brokerage. After proving himself

there, his team was sought after by competing companies. “We were recruited by some of the top investment brokerage firms in the country. We chose HFF because of their reputation for doing the biggest sale in any market. I physically opened the office here,” he says. HFF are major players in real estate, and while not the largest by numbers of people, they had the number one market share in apartment buildings. “Our office had an investment sale pipeline of a few billion dollars,” Zac says. He also had experience in a startup atmosphere, as a partner for Ballzee, a pocket-sized golf ball cleaner that’s wet on the inside, but always dry on the outside, and was a huge success in the industry. “We launched in 2005 and won Best New Product of the Year at the PGA Merchandising Show, the biggest golf show in the world,” says Zac. “We went on to sell a few million units and our products can still be found in major golf and sporting good retailers.” Zac no longer owns any part of Ballzee, but his experience gave him an idea of the struggles that lay ahead. Confident he could overcome those hurdles, he started doing his homework, researching the portable audio market. “Everything was bulky,” he says, “and

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

17


18

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


you needed a bag to carry it. We wanted to build something that you could just put in your pocket, and nothing that size existed that sounded good. I knew there was huge potential if we could combine the portability and sound quality.” Zac is a big believer in, as he puts it, “Hey man, just go for it!” And so, he went for it, and he founded a company to develop a truly portable speaker that could really produce great sound. The first issue he encountered was that it’s very difficult to get good sound, particularly good bass, out of a small product. To get those rich, low notes, a speaker needs a resonance chamber. That resonance chamber—whether it be the hollow inside of a guitar, the box around a subwoofer, or the cheap plastic of a red Solo cup—serves to reflect the acoustic wave and increase its intensity. The idea that Zac struck upon was a speaker that could compress or expand its resonance chamber. Compress the chamber to fit it in your pocket; expand it to really bump bass. And so tBumpOut, LLC was born, with Zac as its president. The birth of BumpOut was multifaceted. “Part of it was conceptual—it was just thinking about what we could do,” Zac says. “Then a lot of it was just building things to see what worked.” He found his eureka moment when he pulled an old Fuji camera out of storage. “This camera hadn’t been used in ten years, but when I powered it on, the lens extended,” he remembers. “I watched it, and I knew that’s what we needed.” He took his idea to their industrial design firm, Design Branch. Design Branch is another West Chester-based company, run by Joe and Sheila Vaccaro. “We love working with small, local businesses whenever we can,” says Zac. “Joe had a real knack right from the start.” Joe was uncertain if it’d be possible to build the motor into their speaker

Zac found his eureka moment when he pulled an old Fuji camera out of storage. “This camera hadn’t been used in ten years, but when I powered it on, the lens extended,” he remembers. “I watched it, and I knew that’s what we needed.” and keep it to the slim size they needed. “He told me, ‘There’s so much staff in there!’” Zac recalls, “But I told him, ‘If I can use this phone to place a video call to a 3D animator in the Philippines, we can fit a motor in this speaker.” Sometimes all it takes is a challenge, and Design Branch met that challenge. Within a week, they had it, a motorized prototype that extended the acoustic chamber out an extra half inch from the device. Other challenges arose when it came to housing those components. They wanted to develop a product that would fit in a phone case, using the iPhone5 as their mold, but that quickly proved a poor decision. “By the time we’d developed the basics of a speaker case for the iPhone5, the iPhone6 was out, and I realized that if I had a whole bunch of inventory for an outdated phone, I’d be screwed,” Zac say. “So we decided to build something that could fit any make or model.” That’s when they came

up with their coin system. The BumpOut Coin is a patented, repositionable, adhesive device that looks like a nickle. This chromeplated coin sticks to a wide number of surfaces, like countertops, refrigerators, mirrors, and—most importantly—phones and phone cases. Once a coin is secured to your phone case, you can attach or remove your BumpOut speaker at will. The next step was figuring out how to manufacture thousands of these devices. Zac is a deep believer in the power of mentorship. He actively participates in mentoring programs at his alma mater, Upper Darby High School in Upper Darby, PA, and himself maintains connections to whom he turns for advice. “The most valuable thing you can do after coming up with an idea for a product is talking to people who’ve been there before, and finding out how they succeeded, how they failed,” he says.

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

19


20

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


Brian, Zac and Matt (L to R) form the core of the BumpOut team working from their office at 17 E Gay Street. John Marsh is one of those guys who’s been there before, as the former CEO of American Telecast Products. ATP are best known for their Total Gym line of home exercise equipment that you’ve likely seen promoted by none other than Chuck Norris. ATP are based in Exton, PA and Zac thinks of John as a mentor. They meet frequently to catch up or share advice. In one such meeting, Zac and John talked about his BumpOut project. Another of John Morris’ local mentees is Brian Zamrowksi, who had handled some third-party logistics for ATP. Brian spent the last eight years marketing and selling products to QVC. “I sought out consumer products, everything from electronics and toys to holiday decor, to sell on QVC,” he says. It was during a lunch with John that Brian first heard about BumpOut. “John told me, ‘There’s this guy Zac that has a great product. You’re both

young enough to be motivated but old enough to have experience. I really think you should get together with him on this thing.’” Knowing the value of John’s opinion, Brian got in touch with Zac. Right away, he knew it was a great idea, a great product, and he knew he could help with the logistics of manufacturing. “Zac and I met last November,” he recalls, “and we quickly clicked. I came on full-time last year to oversee manufacturing and product development.” Brian came on as vice president of the team now working out of BumpOut’s office at 17 E. Gay St. in downtown West Chester. Brian brings a wealth of experience to the company from his days at QVC, and he talks extensively about the value of doing your homework, focusing on research

and development, and understanding the viability and marketability of your product. “I’ve been on-air over 300 times selling with QVC, and I know how to market a product,” he says. “I also have a lot of experience dealing with factories and manufacturing in China.” That experience is going to prove crucial in the coming months, because BumpOut, like many other recent consumer product launches, decided to pursue crowdfunding to build their brand and raise a little capital. Crowdfunding, in its most common form, works like this: a company develops a marketing campaign, puts together a video of their product, and uploads it to a website like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. They then offer consumers a chance to get in on the potential product at a discounted rate. From there, if enough people buy in and raise the necessary funds for the company, there is an anticipated launch

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

21


A vast array of one-of-a-kind products including... Hip Clothing, Bags, Accessories & Jewelry Incense, Oils and Candles Tapestries, Blankets & Home/Dorm Decor Grateful Dead, Bob Marley & 60s Merchandise Tiedyes & T-shirts Handblow Glass & Local Artwork Tobacco Accessories 130 West Gay Street 610-431-6607 www.moonflowershop.com Portion of proceeds benefit pro-peace and environmental charities 10% Off With Student ID

22

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


BumpOut's Indiegogo campaign has raised 167% of their goal. date for when those early adopters are supposed to receive their product. I say supposed to, because it doesn’t always go that way. The internet is awash with horror tales of crowdfunding gone wrong. For instance, in 2015 a company called Skarp raised $4 million for a product called Lazer Razor, which promised to help you shave with focused beams of light. Lazer Razor was pulled from Kickstarter when it became clear that the company didn’t have anything even close to a working prototype. Other disasters are not so brazen. Many crowdfunded companies are simply overwhelmed by the demand for a latent product gone viral. Suddenly a company founded by a couple 20-somethings in their mom’s garage has half a million in their checking account and not a clue how to fulfill 10,000 orders by their deadline less than a year away. Despite the fact that BumpOut’s Indiegogo campaign currently has 1,051 backers and has raised $87,730 (167% of their initial goal), it seems unlikely that BumpOut will succumb to the hor-

ror scenarios plaguing other campaigns. First off, their team has an incredible amount of experience between them. Beyond Zac and Brian, ownership stakes in BumpOut are held by some impressive partners: Michael Israel, an advisor at Mark Cuban Companies, the startup investing firm founded by the business mogul of the same name; Johnny Nunez, a celebrity photographer with close ties in the entertainment industry—he’s shot for Russell Simmons, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Lebron James, among others—and who served as personal photographer to Mark Cuban’s Shark Tank co-host Damon Dash; Matt Chacko, BumpOut’s executive director, also holds a position as an adjunct professor at Wilmington University, where he teaches courses on empowerment strategies, building brain power, and critical thinking; and even the aforementioned ATP, whose Total Gym is one of the most-successful

and longest-running infomercial products of all time, hold a stake. With the business connections of their partners, Zac’s experience negotiating high-power deals, and Brian’s experience with foreign manufacturing, it’s hard to imagine them being overwhelmed. Also, unlike the Lazer Razor, BumpOut has a working prototype, although the word “prototype” doesn’t quite do it justice. The BumpOut we were able to mess around with sported a sleek, matte-black finish, connected quickly to our bluetooth devices and produced excellent sound. The only holdup on production is the team’s dedication to the details. “We’ve been through a couple different types of prototyping,” says Zac. “The model we have now is just about complete. We’re really at like the five-yard line.” Over the next few weeks, they anticipate getting in a few more samples which will be representative of their finished product. These ten or so BumpOuts will be sent out for “influencer marketing,” ending up in the hands of tech editors, social media celebrities, and others who might help spread the

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

23


24

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


word. They’re already working out their long-lead items, things like their Bluetooth components that will need to be ordered well in advance. From there, they’ll go through product validation with their manufacturer, meaning they’ll be shipped another 500 units. “If the first 10 were all working, and the 500 all come out right, then we move onto making our orders for thousands of these things,” says Brian. Initially, BumpOut told their Indiegogo backers to expect a launch date in May, but as of mid March, they were anticipating rolling that date back. “I say early summer, not to be vague, but to be realistic,” says Brian. “We’re detail oriented, and I’d rather ship a month later and have it sound perfect than ship on time and not have complete confidence in the product. I won’t trade quality for time.” But Zac still maintains optimism about that May date. “If everything goes perfectly, we can get them out in May,” he says. “If you look at our whole production timeline, every step of the way, everything has to go perfectly for us to ship in May, but it is possible.” Zac’s also optimistic about a lot of other things. According to the stats he gave us, roughly 65% of their Indiegogo backers—those 1,051 hoping to receive their BumpOut in May—were aged 33 and above, much older than what they consider to be their target demo. They think the reason for a lack of investment from a younger audience is twofold:

One, because their target demographic expects instant gratification, and two, because it takes a little more financial stability to front $59 for a product that you might not see for several months... and, in some cases, never see at all. Zac sees the bright side of those statistics. “It was an older audience that bought it, but it was a younger audience that made us go viral— our video had four million views within a week. We crushed it with an audience that wasn’t ours, and we’ve got the eyeballs of our core audience.” Brian chimes in, “As successful as we were, we aren’t even selling to our core audience yet.” As a 30-year-old, I fall somewhere just in-between the audience that bought those first 1,000 BumpOuts and the audience they think is most excited about the product, and I guess my motivations are somewhere between, too. I’m much more pessimistic than Zac; I’ve never invested in a crowdfunded product. I hedge my bets and wait to see if the product

makes it to market, then I wait to see what my most-trusted sources have to say about that product. I could’ve invested in a pair of truly wireless earbuds two years ago, but I’m still waiting for The Wirecutter to tell me a worthy product has hit shelves. On the other hand, having handled the BumpOut myself, knowing the product genuinely is everything that its founders claim it to be, I’m excited to snap one to my phone… and my fridge, and my shower door. But for now, I’ll hold off on making a purchase until I can be instantly gratified; Amazon Prime has given me unrealistic expectations about product delivery. However, come May, or June, or sometime “early this summer,” I’m excited to spend my $79.99 on the first truly portable speaker to deliver premium sound quality, so I can finally ditch my red Solo cup for good. I’m confident many of the other millions who saw that first video for BumpOut will join me, and this summer the beach might end up being a whole lot louder.

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

25


26

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


Design Dilemmas Andrea Mason of Perceptions Interiors is a professional interior designer who wants to help you upgrade your space

When looking for your next piece of furniture, consider adorning your home with something handcrafted! There are so many benefits to owning something handmade. The first and most obivous benefit is that it will be a unique piece. You won’t see it displayed in furniture stores, and you won’t see it set out in any other home. Handcrafted items are also well made. Many of the best furniture items are bespoke, made with materials that will last a lifetime by a craftsman intent on creating a lasting work of art. And, if you purchase from a workshop near you, you’re not only supporting a local business, but you might also be purchasing materials indigenous to the area. With all of these amazing reasons to buy handcrafted furniture, we have a few suggestions on where to find your perfect piece: Pennsylvania Dutch Design places great care and detail into everything they build. Amish craftsmen diligently construct each piece using traditional methods, providing heirloom quality to everything they make. All of their furniture is made from 100% solid wood and constructed exactly to the client’s specifications. 128 East Gay Street, 717.823.6249 Johns Brothers Restorations is a family-run business that treats you like family. If you’re looking for a unique piece of furniture that nobody will have, these brothers will provide. They specialize in repurposing, and they also restore and refinish items, giving furniture a second life. A few fun projects they’ve recently completed include transforming an old stand-up radio into a bar, barn doors into tables, and an old bed into a bench. 132 East Chestnut Street, 484.798.7696 Monroe Coldren and Son is a great resource for those with an appreciation for antiques. Specializing in 18th- and 19th-century pieces, these talented craftsmen acquire, restore, and supply antique mantels, doors, shutters, furniture, and countless other architectural elements. They work with clients to restore pieces using their knowledge of antiques and the highest quality materials. 723 East Virginia Avenue, 610.692.5651 Old Soul Decor will repaint, reupholster and breath new life into old furniture. They work closely with their clients, working hard to meld the client’s desires with their knowledge of design and decor. They also sell a fabulous line of pillows from a local designer, Royal Bohemian Home. They are handcrafted pillows made of vintage, ethnic fabrics and every item is made to order. 119 West Market Street, 484.983.7311 Make that next piece of furniture in your home something special that can tell a story. If you are in need of something in particular, these local artists can work with you one-on-one and make anything happen. Put your trust in the hands of these talented craftsmen and allow them to create the stand-out piece you’ve been dying to show off. —amason@thewcpress.com

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

27


28

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


Bartender of the

Month

PHOTO Sabina Sister

INTERVIEW Dan Mathers

We talk about Roots Cafe's locally inspired drinks list with Sam Pillion So, Roots Cafe isn’t the biggest space in town. Is there always someone actively bartending? There isn’t one dedicated person. Everyone knows how to make the drinks, but—as front of house manager—I make them the majority of the time because the servers are busy. Do you consider yourself a bartender? Yeah. Absolutely. I don’t bartend at Roots in the traditional sense, but I can and have before. But you’re responsible for designing the cocktails on the menu, right? Me and the owner, Dan Cellucci, come up with the cocktails together.

What’s the process like? We go through a lot of brainstorming. We have to think about our available space, and creating cocktails that are quick to make but that also offer really complex flavors. Plus, we always focus on local factors, like, having all beers from Pennsylvania. We also place an emphasis on seasonal ingredients. We actually just finished our spring cocktail list that’s coming out. Tell me about that menu. We always try to do a spin on a Moscow Mule, so we’re offering a Spring Roots Mule. That come with house-infused pineapple vodka, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and we use Ginger Brew by Maine Root soda—it’s organic, natural, sugar cane soda. We actually only use Maine Root for all our sodas, so even if you get just a rum and coke, it’s made with really high-quality soda, not just squirted out of a gun. I know ginger is really popular right now, but I can’t bring myself to like it. Got anything else? We’ve got our famous bloody mary, which, like everything else, is made from scratch, so no Tabasco mix. We garnish that with Righteous Felon beef jerky, house-made pickles, celery, lemon

and lime. For something a little lighter, our Bellini is made with fresh peach nectar and prosecco, garnished with basil. How about a good food and drink pairing? The difficulty with giving you a pairing is that our menu switches up constantly, based on the availability of ingredients. But, let’s see… right now we have a Big Hill Cider-braised pork belly appetizer. Big Hill is a local cider, and when you sip one of their ciders with the braised pork belly, it’s pretty cool. And our local cheese plate, which primarily comes from The Farm at Doe Run, a local dairy farm, would go great with a Pinnacle Ridge pinot grigio, which is a great local wine. Do you feel that your drinks are representative of the Roots dining experience as a whole? We really want to put out the message of fresh ingredients in everything from cocktails to the food. Our produce comes in daily, and we only source local ingredients. And soon, when the weather changes, you’ll be able to enjoy any of our cocktails out on the back patio, sitting in the middle of our herb garden. Order a Bellini, and the basil in your drink might come from right next to your seat.

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

29


30

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


Ask

your

Doctor

Dr. Geoff Winkley is a board-certified emergency medicine physician who operates Doctor’s Best Immediate Medical Care

It's starting to feel like spring…well, maybe not, but at least the days are getting longer. This means more time for us all outside. Nothing invigorates the body and quickens the mind quite like getting out into nature after the long, bleak winter. However, there are a few important nature-related health issues to be aware of when you’re in the great outdoors. With a bit of knowledge and preparation, you can reduce your chances of experiencing common warm-weather health issues. Lyme disease and other tick- and mosquito-associated illnesses are on the rise as a result of climate change. For you and your family, this means that these pests are around in greater numbers during the warm months, and that they are surviving into the typically colder months. To protect against tick attachments and bug stings, wear light-colored clothing, preferably that covers the limbs, so that you can see the bugs. Use bug repellant when you are outside; the most recommended repellant for adults and children (older than two months of age) is DEET (10-30%) because of its effectiveness and safety profile. Adverse effects are rare when used appropriately. After returning from outdoor activity, remember to remove clothes and do a “tick check”. Who doesn’t love the feel of the warm sun on their skin? Despite all the research and public health warnings about the harmful affects of the sun, the percentage of sunscreen use is still very low. According to research, all skin types should be using sunscreen to reduce the chance of skin cancer, but the risk is especially high for light-skinned people. When applying sunscreen, remember the teaspoon rule: one teaspoon per body part and two teaspoons for the torso and for each leg. Apply 15-30 minutes before going outside and reapply after 30 minutes of swimming or heavy sweating. The return of warm weather also signals the return of the threeleafed scourge: poison ivy. First you need to know what it looks like so that you can avoid it. Contact with the oil in the leaves, stems and vines causes the itchy and weepy rash. Removing the oil within 30 minutes of contact is best, but even doing so within two hours after contact can prevent or reduce the reaction as well. To remove the oil, simply wash the area with mild, liquid hand soap or liquid dishwashing detergent and scrub with a clean washcloth. Be sure to wash contacted clothing in hot, soapy water because the oil can be transmitted to the skin the next time the clothes are worn. Pets, work gloves and tools and other objects that come in contact with the oil can retain the oil for some time, causing a future reaction when you are not suspecting it. So wash everything including the dog! And keep in mind that, even in winter, contact with broken vines or stems can still cause the skin reaction. The weather will improve soon—it has to. So get outside! Arm yourself with sunscreen and bug spray so you can make the most of your day with no regrets later! —drwinkley@thewcpress.com

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

31


32

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

33


Home

Becca Boyd shares tips on life and cooking on her blog at homebeccanomics.com

Beccanomics

Creating something in your kitchen that most everyone buys at the grocery store is an empowering feeling. If what you make can be stored in a jar in your fridge for weeks, the excitement is not brief; it grows stronger with every delicious, mouth-watering application. These dessert sauces work atop ice cream, pound cake, or straight from the jar with a spoon, and—as is always the case with homemade—you’ll be able to pronounce each and every ingredient. Your friends and family will adore you for these homemade treats. Hot Fudge Sauce makes about 2 cups 2/3 c. heavy cream 1/2 c. light corn syrup 1/3 c. light brown sugar 1/4 c. cocoa powder 1/4 tsp. kosher salt 1 1/4 c. bittersweet chocolate chips, divided 2 tbsp. unsalted butter 1 tsp. vanilla 1. Whisk heavy cream, corn syrup, brown sugar, cocoa, salt, and 1/2 of the chocolate chips in a saucepan over medium-high heat. 2. When mixture boils, reduce heat to low and simmer for about five minutes, whisking occasionally. 3. Remove heat from pan and add the remaining chips, the butter and the vanilla. Whisk until completely smooth. 4. Store in a sealed container in the fridge, up to two weeks. Butterscotch Sauce makes about 2 cups 1/2 c. unsalted butter 1/4 c. water 2 tbsp. light corn syrup 1 c. sugar 1/2 c. heavy cream 1 tsp. vanilla 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 1. Combine butter, water, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally until the butter is melted and the mixture is combined. 2. Add sugar, stir until dissolved. 3. Increase the heat to medium-high and let the mixture boil (without stirring) until the mixture begins to turn light brown. This will take somewhere between 4-8 minutes. 4. Reduce heat to low. When the mixture turns the color of a Werther’s Caramel and bubbles grow smaller, remove from heat. 5. Slowly pour in the heavy cream and whisk until smooth. 6. Add vanilla and salt and whisk until smooth. 7. Store in a glass container in your fridge. When ready to use, remove the lid and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, and microwave again until pourable. —bboyd@thewcpress.com

bdeeney@chestercohistorical.org

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

35


36

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


Against the Grain In a cookie-cutter era, local woodworkers embrace a time-honored craft

story Kate Chadwick photo Adam Jones


38

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


O

DDS ARE, IF YOU’VE NEVER BOUGHT SOMETHING FROM IKEA, YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO HAS, or you’ve at least seen the various memes poking fun at the mind (and sometimes body) bending assembly process of their furniture products. But did you know that the home goods retail giant is responsible for 1% of commercial wood consumption worldwide? While recent decades have been dominated by mass production of consumer products, the craft of woodworking—in some form or another—is one of mankind’s oldest diversions, with evidence found in such long-ago civilizations as the Neanderthals. Primarily tools and other implements of survival—along with rudimentary furniture pieces—were fashioned by our ancestors out of wood. But as the homo sapien has evolved, so too has our love affair with creating things out of trees. In today’s mass-produced marketplace, fueled by the popularity of companies like Wayfair and Overstock, appreciation of the craft, as well as the concept of reclaiming wood, has been enjoying a renaissance. We checked in with three woodworkers who are upping the game here in West Chester, each in their own way.

photo Sabina Sister

Mike Brazill of Brazill Creative Works has a full-time job in the athletic department at West Chester University, but he hopes to someday turn what is now a sideline project and a beloved hobby into his full-time gig. What started out as making pieces for himself, family and friends is now blossoming. “I’ve been doing woodwork for the last six years or so as a hobby, but I actually started selling my works only about four years ago,” he told us. Mike’s pieces consist of home décor comprising wood that’s been, by turns, cut, carved, burned, stained and assembled into such things as flags, family crests, and animal images. A sampling of photos of his works can be viewed on his Facebook page for now... no website as yet, but he’s considering it. An art major in college, Mike’s had experience in most mediums, but woodworking was a love from

early on. “Growing up, I was always around tools and building stuff,” he said. “I have an uncle who was a contractor/builder, and another who was a world-class wood carver. They were always so creative with their work, and I think that had a major influence on me wanting to get into woodworking. Once I picked up my first chisel set, I was hooked. Being able to take a natural piece of material and put creativity and skill into it and turn it into something someone wants to hang in their home is an amazing feeling. I enjoy the entire process from the first cut all the way to the look in someone’s eye when they see the finished product.” Mike has a particular fondness for working with reclaimed wood. “To take a piece of wood that someone was going to burn or trash, and turn it into a work of art is really cool to me,” he told us. “At one point, it

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

39


was a living breathing part of this earth, and then it had a purpose to help build a home or some other structure. And instead of that being trash once the purpose is served, I like to feel as if I’m giving it one more life. And who knows? It could be hanging on a family’s wall for the next 100 years.” Sometimes it’s difficult to pass such things along. “There was a lion’s head piece that I carved, and that was the toughest one for me to part with so far,” Mike said. “But at the same time, I know I’ll be making another one. And I’m happy knowing that someone has it proudly hanging on their wall.”

photo Sabina Sister

I remember cutting grass on the farm, and just thinking about the bat company.

photo Adam Jones

When we caught up with Steve McCardell of Prowler Bat Company, he was en route to New York to pick up wood for the baseball bats he crafts. That’s how it is when you’re a oneman operation. “I’ve been doing this since November of 2014,” he told us. The 28-year-old’s baseball roots run deep, having played since he was a kid, then attending Shippensburg University for baseball before transferring to Penn State to study agriculture. Steve continues to compete in a local adult league in West Chester. “My whole life has basically consisted of baseball and farming,” Steve said. Steve’s father is a farmer, and he said that even while working there, his eyes were on another prize. “I remember cutting grass on the farm, and just thinking about the bat company. It’s just something that I’ve always wanted to do. I absolutely love it. I mean, when I get busy, the work tends to take over a bit, but the love for it is always there.” The company’s name is the result of Steve’s lifelong love of foxes. “Most bat companies are named after the place where they’re made, or the last name of the person who started the company,” Steve told us. “I wanted mine to be different, to stand out in some way.” He drew up the initial logo himself, and cleaned it up a bit with the aid of his graphic designer fiancée. For the name, Steve turned, as most of us do, to the

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

41


42

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


photo Adam Jones internet. “I just started looking for words associated with foxes. I liked Sly Fox, but that’s already taken by the brewing company. So I slept on it, and when I woke up the next day and I said ‘Prowler—that’s the name.” Despite it being such a niche concept, Steve says there are other bat companies out there. “Oh, there are tons,” he said. “There are people out there doing it more as a hobby, there are some middle-of-the-road guys, and then you have the major league-certified companies.” As of last year, there were 35 MLB-certified bat companies, according to Steve. The problem there is that you have to pay “a lot of money” to be certified. As in, $30,000 for the application, plus the insurance costs they require. That application fee alone has literally doubled in the past year. “You have to pay your way. It’s something I’m working towards, though. It is a goal.” Although the bats take up most of his time, he enjoys other woodworking projects. “I’ve done some furniture—going into the shop and making a cool coffee table. It's more creativity than precision. I bought a cheap tabletop lathe, and then as I got more into it, I thought, ‘Let’s spend more money on a better one.’ That’s how it started.”

Although he’s not yet—literally and figuratively—“in the big leagues,” that is the plan. Steve gets the wood from the same place as the big leaguers do, and said “The wood is good, so that’s the most important thing. The steps I’m taking are the ones the major league guys do, it’s just on a smaller scale. For now.” One of Steve’s favorite things is the sound of the crack of a bat hitting a ball, and, according to him, it sounds even better when you make that bat yourself. “To start from something natural and to create something from nothing with your hands—that an awesome feeling,” he said. “I had no real background in woodworking at all, especially on a lathe. It was basically working a lot, putting the time in, and trial and error. A lot of trying.” He laughs. “And a lot of failing.”

It started in high school with wood shop, really

photo Sabina Sister

Once upon a time, Gregg Marvel was an IT guy who owned his own firm. Today, Gregg still owns his own company, but instead he crafts stunning creations like jewelry boxes made from spalted maple for Marvel Woodworking. “It started in high school with wood shop, really,” Greggs told us. “I worked in IT my whole career, but started buying woodworking tools back in 2000 and doing it as a hobby, with most of the stuff I was making for myself.” Now, Gregg does commissioned pieces, producing everything from custom display boxes to bar tops to doors.

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

43


44

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


photo Sabina Sister

Woodworking combines both creativity and precision One of the things Gregg focuses on in his work is live-edge pieces, in which the wood has not been squared off or “cleaned up,” as he put it. “It works well in larger-scale pieces, like tables or bar tops—it’s been a bit of a trend in the last 10 years or so,” he told us. It’s one of two trends Gregg’s noticed: using slab wood for furniture, and the uptick in the use of reclaimed wood. “If you go to newer restaurants or the craft breweries, you’ll see a lot of reclaimed wood, where it still shows all the imperfections—you can still see the saw marks.” Gregg’s marketing consists of his website, a Facebook page, and a couple of how-to videos on YouTube, so most of his work comes via word of mouth from satisfied customers. Although he prefers working on larger projects and pieces—“the ones that take more time,”—he makes smaller pieces and takes them to craft shows a few times a year. “That’s primarily to display what I do and get my name out there,” he said. “When I’m not working on a bigger project, I’ll take some leftover wood I have lying around and make a

few ring boxes or something to fill in my idle time.” Steve gets his wood from a friend in Maryland who owns a saw mill, and experiments with different types of wood. “It’s the combination of both the finished product and the process,” Gregg said. “Woodworking combines both creativity and precision, and it’s something anyone can learn to do. If you do it long enough and learn the precision of it, then you can get more creative and artsy.” To that end, Gregg does a bit of both for custom pieces. “If someone comes to me with an idea, I’ll ask them to send me some photos of examples they like. Then I’ll base my design around that.” This is where Gregg’s IT background comes in handy. “I use a CAT program and come up with various iterations of a project to show them.” Gregg did design and build his own shop, but stopped short of

admitting that he could be considered a carpenter. “Unless they work in the trade, I don’t think people understand what’s involved with those folks—they’re problem solvers. Carpenters are more skilled and practical. Woodworking is more about the love of creating something that’s going to be with someone for a long time. When I’m building a jewelry box, for instance, I might spend 10 hours just putting the finish on it. The time spent in it is not strictly about functionality.” We asked Gregg if he gets as much satisfaction out of his current career as he did from the previous one. “Oh, I get more,” he told us. “Back then I was working, learning, and traveling in order to make a living. This is more open-ended. I work when I want, and I don’t set strict deadlines for projects. If someone orders a jewelry box, I generally give it about fix weeks. I don’t want to rush it. It’s more a labor of love.”

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

45


46

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


Home

Grown

Suzanne Adams shares info on local food and the upcoming West Chester Food Co-op

The very cool Antique Ice Tool Museum on Sconnelltown Road is the venue for West Chester Food Co-op’s first member-owner appreciation event. Food co-op member-owner families and anyone interested in becoming a member-owner are invited to attend on April 30 from 2–5pm. The event begins with free tours of the museum, beverages and nibbles courtesy of the co-op, plus live music and lawn games on the museum’s spacious property. This is a whole-family event! At 3pm, the hot food arrives and everyone can fill their plates and grab a seat for the Member-owner meeting from 3:30-4:30pm. Hang around till the end of the meeting to enjoy a special dessert! Been thinking about joining the West Chester Food Co-op? The member-ownership table will be open at the event and all of the board members and key volunteers will be there to answer questions. The meeting will include an update on the status of the project and will provide an opportunity for member-owner feedback and questions. All member-owners are urged to attend; this is an all-hands call to eat, drink, cooperate, and build our store! The Antique Ice Tool Museum should not be missed. This little gem, replete with West Chester history, takes a look back to when most food was local and food preservation involved a lot of effort. The museum was created by Peter Stack, whose family owned the Brandywine Ice Company, once located in West Chester, and were in the ice business for several generations. The museum focuses on the “natural ice” era—the period up until the end of WWI when most ice was cut from lakes and ponds. Natural ice was big business—at one time the second largest US export! We suggest arriving early to make time to tour this fascinating building. The museum is in a converted barn, on the grounds of what was once the Darlington Seminary for Girls. The flat ground in the back of the museum was used by the school for its natatorium, but we’ll be using it for the meeting tent, with plenty of room left to set up lawn games and let the kids run around. Have a favorite game you like to play? Bring it along with you! Guests are asked to bring a dish to share for the potluck; there will also be hot, prepared food and dessert available for purchase at the event. The Co-op is asking all attendees to bring their own place settings; this will avoid generating a lot of landfill waste from paper and plastic. If you forget, we’ll have “rental” place settings available for $1, including wash-up. Check the event page on the our website for periodic updates; if you plan to attend, please register by April 18 (on the website). Rain date is May 21. –wcfoodcoop@thewcpress.com West Chester Food Co-op promotes access to, healthy, fresh, local food for everyone in our community. We advance sustainable and humane agriculture, support local farms, and strengthen the community through cooperative enterprise. We are working to build a community-owned, full-service grocery store in West Chester. Learn more at www.wcfood.coop/join-us

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

47


48

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


meet the leather artisans building their brand right here in the borough APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

49


50

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


story

I

always found the hand-crafted, leather handbags in the window of The Brow Bar on Gay Street distracting whenever I’d take a walk through town with my excitable Jack Russell, Vinnie. We would always interrupt our exercise to peer through the front window and admire the beautiful handiwork and craftsmanship of those bags—Vinnie has an eye for quality. The array of colors, ranging from turquoise to burgundy, is what caught my eye, and the incredible styles held my attention. The handbags were so modern, but with an infusion of a bohemian element, and I often wondered about the people who’d designed them. Fast forward to a Wednesday afternoon in February, and I’m enjoying the beautiful 70-degree weather that’s teased West Chester on-and-off this winter on my way to meet the minds behind those bags. Tesoro, meaning “treasure” in Italian, is a West Chester-owned company, operated by

COURTNEY DESIDERIO photos

SABINA SISTER 25-year-olds Brittany Reed and Emily Pisano. The young co-owners have embraced the challenges of running a new business and have both made it their full-time job and first priority. These creative and determined women have been producing American-made leather bags, wallets, and accessories— all by hand—since 2015. Their studio space is an unassuming spot, hidden down an alley off South High Street. Just inside the front door is a table topped with trendy leather handbags, looking like a shrine to good style. Beautiful, custom leather work is displayed throughout the entrance, spilling about in shades of brown, red and blue. The space is filled with a chaotic, yet elegant mix of accent hardware, manufacturing equipment and an array of hides

ready to be fashioned into future Tesoro products. The lighting’s clear without being bright, and the neat wooden floors make the large space feel grander than it really is. Their modern studio features a diverse selection of products from previous, current, and upcoming collections. I was transported to handbag heaven and again struck by my recurring impulse to splurge on a gold and creme, hair-on-hide, cross-body Chelsea handbag. But, as a grad student, my dreams of haute couture are just that, and so I dragged myself back to the reality of living on loans and a part-time budget and prepared to meet the team who’d managed to make that dream their reality. With my feet planted firmly back on planet earth, I was greeted by Brittany Reed, the designer of Tesoro handbags, and co-owner Emily Pisano, who handles the communications and marketing side of the business. They were both wearing stylish clothing, smiling and eager to

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

51


52

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


answer questions about their newfound business. The pair were outgoing and intelligent, gracious and driven. Right away I felt welcome. They pulled up a chair and I settled in comfortably beside Brittany as Emily perched at her desk just across from me. We started to chat about life, and building a business, and finding inspiration, and the struggles of entrepreneurship. We also talked a lot about handbags.

BRAINS behind the BRAND the

Brittany earned an International Associate of Applied Science Degree in Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. The decision to work with leather was motivated by her experience traveling abroad to Florence to learn more about couture materials, including visual and textile design. Brittany says, “I lived in Florence for a year in 2013. I traveled to Milan and Paris fashion weeks, attended many trade shows, and I ate a lot of pasta.” Florence is where she found her passion for handbags. “It was the first time I really started to care more about accessories.” It was there she discovered her dream of working with leather. Brittany initially began to forge a name for herself in 2013, when she first started crafting custom leather products on her own, a hobby she made a full-time career when founding Tesoro. Brittany met Emily Pisano at a retail job nearly four years ago. Emily earned a Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising and a minor in French from University of Rhode Island. She traveled to Paris during her undergraduate years where she participated in fashion tours, studied the shoe designs of Galeries Lafayette and learned from French speakers that worked in the fashion industry. “Living in Paris for nine months in college heavily impacted my personal style,” she says. “The style of the women of Paris taught me to favor quality over quantity and further deepened my love of black clothing, good shoes and red lipstick. Paris is the fashion capital of the world and just spending five minutes in the city is

The women of Paris taught me to favor quality over quantity enough to teach you why.” Emily specializes in communications and advertising for Tesoro, encompassing a range of tasks, like planning launch parties, and scheduling art shows and festivals from West Chester to the Hamptons. That’s all in addition to managing Tesoro’s social media accounts and digital presence. “The hardest part about my side of Tesoro is making my brain jump from topic to topic about 15 times a day,” she

says. “Often, I go from creating next month’s budget to writing a blog post, to updating inventory, to brainstorming sales ideas for both the present and six months from now, all while answering the never-ending stream of emails flying into my inbox.” “Brittany and I knew we wanted to work for ourselves and run a business that could make a difference,” Emily says. “We knew we wanted to be a fashion brand, but nothing like the fast fashion companies that come out with a new line every week and have less-than-stellar working conditions for those people actually making their products. Being able to call the shots and see our vision come to life is priceless.” In January 2016 the first line of Tesoro products was launched with ethical and quality components in mind.

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

53


FOSTERING POTENTIAL. BUILDING LEADERS.

RIGHT HERE IN WEST CHESTER!

Choose the early learning program that will bring out the best in your child, one with expert staff focused on building a foundation for joyful, lifelong learning and success.

Choose the Y! Financial assistance available. MONTESSORI

at the West Chester Y

KINDERGARTEN

FULL-DAY, PRIVATE, STATE LICENSED

at the Oscar Lasko Y and Childcare Center

Visit www.ymcagbw.org/childcare or contact a branch today. WEST CHESTER AREA YMCA 610-431-9622 • OSCAR LASKO YMCA AND CHILDCARE CENTER 610-696-9622 branches of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine

54

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


BUILDING a BUSINESS Brittany and Emily work out of their studio, where most of the merchandise is manufactured. The process is intensive and detail-oriented. They source their suede from Hide House in California and work with a tannery based in Florida, whose name they’re keeping a trade secret. “We’re one of the only companies using their leather for handbags, and I would like to keep it that way,” says Brittany. They’ve always tried to source everything within the United States. There are many steps involved in producing a new style of bag, from illustrations, to leather sourcing and cutting, pattern-making and prototyping, all before manufacturing begins. Brittany has a method she follows for every bag. “Each bag is made in an assembly line of sorts,” she explained. “All the bags are cut out, then D-rings and other hardware go in, then lining gets glued, then each bag is sewn in a specific order.” Each design exhibits its own challenges. “Our wallet needs to be sturdy and tough, while the Brittany reversible clutch has to be pliable enough to be flipped around and worn either way,” Brittany says.

bringing awareness to some of the detrimental facets of the industry we are part of.” Those innovative designs are a reflection of the girls’ outgoing and fun personalities. “I feel the bags embody our personal style,” says Brittany. “They have evolved as we have evolved. We are starting to find our personal styles as we develop the brand’s style. I hope within the next year you will see a consistent style that defines

Each original handbag, like those displayed in the window at The Brow Bar below, take between two to seven hours to be hand-stitched.

Tesoro works with that same, secret Florida tannery to help with heat-stamping and hand-dying the leather. They use industrial-sized machines to print the patterns onto the leather that Tesoro then uses for their bags. These machines use hot foil stamping to permanently adhere their patterns to the leather. The duo also work with a company called Smucker Harness Company to help manufacture specific designs. “We were introduced to Smucker from a connection my mom has,” Brittany says. “They are a small, two-man team based outside of Narvon, PA. They are extremely talented, and both men have been working with leather for a long time. They specialize in saddles and other equestrian products, but they have recently just started working with handbags.” Tesoro began working with Smucker when the demand for their bags exceeded their ability to produce them in-house. “Smucker currently help produce the Bucket bag, and the Chelsea bag, although I currently make some of those styles as well—we split the work,” Brittany says. Each original handbag takes between two to seven hours to be hand-stitched. The Tesoro team work hard to separate themselves from other handbag manufacturers. Brittany confidently explained, “The two main things that set Tesoro apart from other brands are our innovative designs and our passion for

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

55


56

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


Tesoro products. That’s something Emily and I are constantly working on.” Emily agrees with Brittany’s description of their style choices, and she extrapolated on what they felt were the important ethical matters. “The mission of Tesoro is to empower women, minimize our carbon footprint, raise awareness of the negative effects of the leather industry and conquer the world. We aim to make every section of our mission transparent for our customers.”

The bags embody our personal style And, true to their word, Tesoro are open about their practices, as exhibited by their mission statement on the company website, which promises, “... we source as much of our hardware and leather from within the US as possible. We do not want to contribute to the

destruction of the environment and the diminishing health of communities… All of our bags will be made from cows that have been raised and sourced within the US. Working with US tanneries assures us that regulations are in place to protect local communities and the environment.” Tesoro is also proud to retail their products in women-owned local businesses, including Phineas Gage and The Brow Bar in West Chester, and M Concept Shop and Shop Sixty Five in Philadelphia.

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

57


58

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


DESIGNS on the FUTURE For a startup, it’s important to keep focus on the task at hand—like the dayto-day necessities of running a business— but it’s also important not to let that bog you down. Without an eye on the future, companies, particularly creative companies, can stagnate. Brittany and Emily are always thinking about the next step. “I always need to be thinking in the present and future at the same time, which can be difficult,” says Emily. “But at least I’m never bored!” The 2017 spring collection features new suede and hair-on-hide handbags and clutches. The Brittany hair-on-hide and red suede handbag is a personal favorite, especially because it is reversible. The new Brittany bag makes it easy to coordinate outfits by alternating between the original fire engine red side and the black and white hair-on-hide side. There is also a wrist wrap to make it really comfortable to carry around, whether at a formal event

or a bar crawl in town. The Mini Shannon handbag is also a wise purchase, with its petite frame, yet spacious storage capacity. This convenient-sized attaché is a light tan, with a long drawstring which serves as a closure as well... not to mention the fully lined pebble grain leather interior. There are also many other accessories available for purchase, including the new Emily Backpack from their spring collection, which I thought was gorgeous and came in an array of different colors. Don’t worry, they didn’t forget about the stylish guys out there: Phineas Gage in on S. High St. sells men’s wallets made by Tesoro. Both women take pride in their busy yet gratifying new careers. Their hands are full managing time between designing, buying materials, advertising and planning photo-shoots. Emily says, “For me, the most rewarding thing about owning a

business is that, at the end of the day, I can feel proud knowing I’m working to create something that’s bigger than myself.” They can’t picture themselves doing anything else and are always on their toes, ready to improve anything they can to better themselves and the company for their customers. Emily was proud to say that, “Besides the fact that we were given such an amazing opportunity to start Tesoro, Brittany and I knew we wanted to work for ourselves and run a business that could make a difference.” At an age when their peers are slogging their way through entry-level positions, or—like me—trying desperately to balance work, life, and grad school, Brittany and Emily are forging a company that’s creating a beautiful product and bettering an industry. In this phase of my life, where I’m balancing life, liberty, and the pursuit of a piece of paper, it is always inspiring to see my female peers being this successful in any industry. Once my grueling years of graduate school come to an end this summer, my plan is to make the Emily Backpack from the upcoming collection my first purchase. After spending time with the girls of Tesoro, I came to admire their work ethic and determination as much as I had come to admire those bags in the window of The Brow Bar.

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

59


60

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


April Playlist DJ Romeo curates a list of the tracks he expects to start earning a lot of air time this month The following is a list of songs that will take over the radio stations in the next few months. You’ll soon know them by heart and play them ‘til they’re tired. But, good news: you can download them first and look like the cool musical genius to all of your friends. djromeo@thewcpress.com

www.djromeo.fm | @DJRomeo24

The Chainsmokers & Coldplay – “Something Just Like This” Brothers Osborne – “It Ain’t My Fault” Lorde – “Liability” Zac Brown – “Real Thing” Zedd ft. Alessia Cara – “Alone” Sam Hunt – “Body Like A Back Road” Calvin Harris ft. Frank Ocean & Migos – “Slide” Maroon 5 ft. Future – “Cold” 311 – “Too Much To Think” Old Dominion – “No Such Thing as a Broken Heart” The Shins – “Heartworms” Ed Sheeran – “Perfect” Cold War Kids – “Can We Hang On?” Coleman Hell – “Devotion” (SMLE Remix) Nicki Minaj ft. Drake & Lil Wayne – “No Frauds” Pitbull & J Balvin ft. Camila Cabello – “Hey Ma” Alt–J – “3WW” Me & My Toothbrush – “Menace” Stargate ft. P!nk & Sia – “Waterfall” SOL – “Marathons” Axel Boy & Maxx Baer ft. MOZA – “Try Loving” Elle King – “Wild Love” Lil Uzi Vert ft. Quavo & Travis Scott – “Go Off” Coldplay – “Hypnotised” Frank Ocean – “Chanel” Little Mix ft. Kid Ink – “Touch” Daddy Yankee – “Hula Hoop” Milky Chance – “Blossom” Lost Kings ft. Emily Warren – “Phone Down” Gnash ft. Johnny Yukon – “Home”

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

61


62

THE WC PRESS VOICE OF THE BOROUGH


Spot the five differences between these images of handmade appetizers from Barnaby’s. Send your answer to contests@thewcpress.com for your chance to win a Barnaby’s gift certificate. (We suggest you spend it on cheesesteak egg rolls.)

APRIL 2017 THEWCPRESS.COM

63


The WC Press Homemade Issue - April 2017  

Voice of the Borough

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you