Finding Vintage

Bostonian Luggage and my grandfather

Bostonian Luggage and my grandfather

A funny thing happened on my way  . . . to a google search. Vintage luggage has been a trend for several years now.  I've never really gotten into it but then I came across a pair of beautiful leather stitched pieces of luggage with the original tags from Dorchester, Massachusetts. It reminded me of some of my own family history so I started the search.

There is something about a vintage suitcase especially with tags that makes you really think about the story behind it.  Who were the owners? Did they travel often? What was it like to travel in the 20's, 30's, 50's? So different than today because of security and technology but not so different than today because when you're setting off on an adventure you're filled with the same excitement and/or anxiety.

In an effort to research more information about the luggage I had acquired, which had the tags Brush Hill tours, I ended up down a rabbit hole in search of Bostonian luggage, the company my grandfather started. As we all know once you begin a google search you end up down a never ending path looking for more information.  

My grandfather started the business in Somerville, Massachusetts in 1955.  I had never asked about it and with luggage on my mind I asked my Dad to tell me more about my grandfather and what he did in the early years.

My grandfather was adopted by his step-father at a young age (unusual back then), went to Somerville High School  graduated from MIT with a degree in Architecture. He was a salesman, entrepreneur, writer, married for somewhere around 75 years and always had a joke. In 1955 he started Bostonian Luggage with three partners, some of whom were his neighbors on Highland Avenue in Arlington.  They opened up their business on Myrtle Street in Somerville.  After the Navy, my dad began helping him fix up the building where Bostonian Luggage was to open and while they were painting my grandfather cut his finger off in a fan (I always thought it was a lawnmower). The business stayed in that location for several years with accounts at Filenes in downtown Boston, until moving to Lawrence where they eventually had to close their doors.  

I found this all fascinating so I continued the google search in an attempt to find Bostonian Luggage. In search after search nothing came up.  I thought - how cool would it be to have a piece of something my grandfather started?  Worth nothing to someone else but tells me more about his story. Finally, while searching on etsy.com I came across LuckyLenoreVintage from Clyde, Michigan. Lucky Lenore happened to have an advertising tag and two luggage keys from Bostonian Luggage for $10. I don't know why it was important for me to have it but it was. From Boston to Michigan and then back to Boston.

It's a small, two inch square tag, with two keys and I don't know how it would have survived all these years but it did.  I love antiques because I am fascinated with the people and stories behind them and in this case it led me down a path to some of my own family history.

Tracy Foley
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Lets go antiquing: Hudson, New York

Lets go antiquing: Hudson, New York

You arrive in the Hudson Valley and you have landed in a mega capital of antique stores that range from places to pick to well-curated collections.  You could spend a couple of days walking up and down Warren Street in the center of town, wandering in and out of shops, cafe's and galleries all the while admiring the architecture of the 1800's row houses.  If you're doing a day trip these are the places not to miss giving you the full spectrum of high-low shopping.

One of the first shops I always love to hit is FINCH. Andrew and Michael have a keen-eye for curating collected pieces.  Their masterful vibe is vintage and modern. A hand painted screen, a collection of carved Hungarian plaques of animal heads and a vintage 1940's leather club chair from Sweden.They're super cool, eclectic style is immediately inspiring. ( @finchhudson )

The Red Chair on Warren is another favorite.  The decor in this shop is how I want my home to look.  A large collection of white confit pots from France, white antique linens, hotel silver, strong pine pieces that are unusual and yet practical.  Her look is consistent and well-collected and I will always leave with something I love. ( @red chair_hudson )

Furlongs is a great mix of high/low art, wonderful glassware and mid-century furniture. I immediately found a pair of cow hide, petit metal chairs and a set of Ralph Lauren chunky high ball glasses.  Their mix is mostly modern with an emphasis on art and glassware. And not for nothing but when I went back to purchase the glasses that I couldn't live without and they were closed (it was a Friday evening) the owner was nice enough to unlock the doors and let me back in for one last look.

Rural Residence. This shop is a wonderful blend of early American antiques with a focus on nineteenth century pieces but mixed with coffee table books on architecture, modern table top pieces that reflect vintage enamelware, and smalls for the home. 

Antigo. It's time to pick so if you're ready to dig this is the place.  What I enjoy about shopping in Hudson is the variety.  If you only want curated pieces then you can find those shops but true pickers can also get a bargain. It's jammed but you will find the brass nutcracker you needed, the hooked rug of your Newfie dog (I bought), a vintage globe and a Bermuda bag that makes you nostalgic.  It's not for the weak and it's not curated. ( @antigo_hudson ) It's a downright treasure hunt.

Colonia.  This small shop carries hand selected decorative antiques where a large porcelain Pharmacie sign blends perfectly with an 1850's painted pine dresser, Italian cafe chairs and vintage framed posters from Italy.  

Regan and Smith Antiques think authentic Eames wire chair meets a nine foot statue of David meets a mid century velvet curved sofa with art and lighting in the mix. It's a great shop to take in the unusual if you're looking to make a big impression with your decor.

Hudson, New York is filled with places to eat, shop and stay and someplace I personally love to shop.

 

 

 

 

 

Tracy Foley
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Field and Supply

Field and Supply

This year the Field and Supply event at the Hutton Brickyards in Kingston, New York was again everything you would expect. . . elevated makers, a hint of vintage, a foodie experience with activities, music and bonfires.

Not your mothers craft fair, Brad Ford has created a place where makers, high and low, new and vintage, come together in a highly curated event full of spectacular back drops.

With ceramics, jewelry and leather goods on the forefront there were also vendors like @brookesboswell hand blocked hats.  Made in the U.S.A. and individually crafted, the attention to detail and construction are apparent. My love for millinery goes back to my mother giving me a beautiful black hat from Georgio's in Beverly Hills (I'm a New England girl) and it was glamorous yet understated. The Brookes Boswell pieces bring me back to that place. 

The Brave Brown Bag based in Ontario, Canada puts a new spin on the tote you're carrying. With a slight paper bag look, these waxed cotton bags are an alternative to your everyday bag and they're not for your groceries. The edges look to be cut with pinking shears, the handles, scale and texture of the shopping bag give it the appearance of leather. An upscale alternative.

On the vintage scene, one of my favorite places to shop when I'm in Hudson is Finch.  Andrew and Michael have created a space for vintage and modern pieces for the home. More than that it's an experience that they create because they are master stylists.  I've been in their shop but stepping into their booth at Field and Supply you understand their aesthetic immediately from the muraled walls, to their carved, German, wood animal heads alongside their mid-century furniture. You kind of want to stay and cocktail with them because they're also super cool.

After a fun day of shopping, listening to the Wild Goats perform, activities like learning to gold leaf, hammering your own ring and chatting it up by the bonfire, I'll be back next year to meet more new makers.

 

 

Tracy Foley
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Duncan Miller Glass: Still relevant.

Duncan Miller Glass: Still relevant.

Cut glass makes for a beautiful table setting. Antique juice glasses, goblets, water glasses as well as pitchers and vases are all readily available at reasonable prices in antiques shops across New England. These pieces often don't survive in full sets but search the internet and you're bound to find a one-off of whatever pattern you're seeking.

The most well known hand-made glass company was Duncan-Miller out of Pennsylvania. What began as George Duncan and Sons in 1874 morphed into the Duncan and Miller Glass Company in 1893 until it's closing in 1955. During this time period many iconic glass patterns were created. For the first several decades the company only produced clear glass but during the 1920's added colored glass, more art deco patterns and mid century influenced patterns.

The colors of the Duncan Miller pieces, the hand craftsmanship (10-14 people handled each piece of glass) and the artistry in their patterns distinguished their work from many of the other glass companies in the Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia region.

In 1955 foreign imports made the production of hand made glass too costly and the plant was closed. Their molds were sold to other U.S. glass manufacturers so their designs remained in production.  Of the many popular patterns the Teardrop pattern, the Cape-Cod (or Early American Sandwich) and their art deco designs are commonly found if you're antiquing in New England.

George Duncan worked in a glass plant before having enough money to purchase it. He started from the bottom and worked his way up, he created designs based on things that inspired him (a pattern with the stem of the glass resembling a silhouette of his wife) and his patterns still live on today. An interesting story of one man's journey.

What I love is that Duncan Miller pieces are still so relevant and affordable today. Fall is a time for entertaining, for gathering around the dinner table and adding some sparkle and color with antique glassware is a fun way to add something special.

 

 

Tracy Foley
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Vintage Fashion: Brimfield take-away's

Vintage Fashion: Brimfield take-away's

I've always loved vintage fashion and it's never been more on display than it was at the Brimfield Antique Show this September.

Every year that I exhibit and shop there seems to be a resounding theme. One year it was rocking horses, another year it was tobacco wraps, and this year it was vintage clothing.  If you're new to the vintage clothing game you might think "yikes! Moths and other peoples clothing." and yes, there's that.  On the other hand it's a time capsule of history.  A wool blazer with a perfectly matching wool skirt and large round glasses, very Jackie O. A mustard yellow dress that is part turtleneck and part plaid skirt but all one piece, very Brady Bunch but just as fantastic. Finding a vintage Valentino wool coat (as I did this summer) that completely translates into my current wardrobe or even a polyester jump suit from the 60" that may not translate but you can appreciate that it has survived this long is part of the fun.  

I love hats and appreciate that a milliner hand created this piece of fashion.  I luckily came across an estate clean out a few months ago where the owner of the home had been a manager at Filenes Department store from the 50's on.  It was like being in a time capsule with vintage clothing from Neiman Marcus, Gucci, Saks and brands with yellowed labels like Jean Barthet New York.  It was a fascinating walk through time but the hats were what drew me in.  All that work to create something so beautiful and my fear that they would get tossed led me to the purchase of six hats.

The vintage clothing market is vast but it's a fun place to get lost in.  If you're looking for some places to shop. Here are a couple of shops that are clean, well-curated and have lot's of great pieces. 

Bitsky Vintage & Upcycled Goods @bitskyvintageupcycle  She is out of Sturbridge, Mass. and has an incredible collection of vintage bags and hats as well as clothing.

Vintage in Vogue. This shop has two locations: Orleans and Provincetown, Mass. and has an incredible collection of truly authentic vintage goods.  She is an expert at curating pieces up through 1970. Stepping into this shop is a fun time-travel experience. Along with the clothing there is a large selection of vintage wedding dresses if you're in the market.

Tracy Foley
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Shop SOHO and beyond

Shop SOHO and beyond

You could go to NYC a million times and always find something new.  I love it.

I love to stay in SoHo because of the neighborhood vibe and of course because of the shopping. Places to stay and shop:

Stay at the NOMO Hotel.  Located on Crosby Street in SoHo it was formerly the Mondrian Hotel. The entrance is not grand, it's perfectly NYC with a graffiti entrance on a side cobblestoned street, Warhol art in the lobby and a great location. Twinkle lights and a garden terrace out front let you see into the glass atrium-like restaurant.

Two blocks away Rowing Blazers is a shop started by Jack Carlson.  Not only is he the founder of this menswear brand, he represented the United States as a coxswain at the 2011, 2014 and 2015 world championships.  For someone who knows nothing about the sport of rowing, I was drawn into the shop because of the collegiate menswear styling, ping pong table, green and navy stripes, vintage lockers, vintage pennants and flags.  Need I say more.  

Next up Gerard Darel clothing. Hip, edgy, preppy and not trendy. I fell in love with a black leather slouchy bag with large embroidered flowers on it. Sounds like alot but it was striking and all you would need which is the vibe of this shop. Classic pieces with an edge.

Finally, I had to have my vintage moment at the Vintage Twin on Broadway.  Classic rocker tee's, fur, denim and everything you like about vintage without the mothballs and well organized.

Dinner at the SOHO Grand lounge: fresh ricotta and gimlets

Tracy Foley
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The Country Store: Let's bring it back

The Country Store: Let's bring it back

Growing up, a favorite ritual was to get penny candy at the Concord Country Store. Wow, does that me sound old.

The beauty of the country store was that you could pick up a little bit of everything. Lunch, homemade jellies, hand-made goods, hand cut soaps, alongside practical items like a needle and thread, cleaning supplies and firewood. Beyond the practicality of the Country Store was that it was a gathering place. You may stop by not because you need something but because you'll run into your neighbor and chat about relevant and irrelevant things going on in your community.

Although, there are far fewer of these gems around today, there are a few still in existence. The Warren Store in Warren, Vermont is one of those special places. The small village consists of The Pitcher Inn (amazing dining and accommodations), Pear and Warren Wedding planners, an art studio and town offices.  All of this running alongside the Mad River with a back drop of Sugarbush Mountain a few miles down the road.

When you slow it down you see more. That's what I realized when we recently travelled to Warren, Vermont. My quick trip to the country store became 45 minutes of lingering. Deciding between freshly baked muffins, Vermont made coffee, a table top book about Northern Vermont, wine and a handmade scarf. All things that I may need at some point but not really. Truth be told my time there was actually spent sitting at a small table, enjoying a cup of tea by the massive antique wood burning stove while I chatted with friends and struck up conversations with locals and skiers passing through for a quick bite to eat. My family probably wondered where I was but with nothing really on my "to-do" list I felt free to slow it down and just enjoy it.

In todays world of rushing around (no judgement here) there is something so great and powerful about spending time in a country store, that feels like someone's home, where you can connect or disconnect, pick up a few provisions or just take in the scenery.

Some of my favorite country stores (that I've actually been to and are the real deal):

The Warren Store - Warren, Vermont

Gillingham and Sons - Woodstock, Vermont

Chutters - Littleton, New Hampshire (largest candy selection on the East coast)

Brewster Country Store - Brewster, Massachusetts 

If you know of any others in the New England area that you would recommend, I would love to visit them. Post or shoot me an email with your suggestions!

 

 

Tracy Foley
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South Africa Travel Inspiration

South Africa Travel Inspiration

Looking back at my business in 2018 I definitely had some highlights. One of them being the opportunity to travel to South Africa with the guidance of Mally Skok (@mallyskok) Adam Japko (@adamjapko) and Julia Naughton from @african_leisure_safaris  Having no expectations and traveling with 16 other people, many of them strangers, was a thrilling experience.

This trip came into my life at a time when I was looking for some adventure and inspiration and boy did I get that. Upon arriving in Cape Town we spent the first three days getting to know this vibrant city through hiking Signal Mountain, eating at amazing restaurants like Hemelhuis, cocktails on the roof top of the luxury Silo Hotel and shopping at local hot spots like Mr. Chandlers House where Michael Chandler creates amazing one of kind tiles and pottery as well as showcases emerging artists in his space. I could go on and on about each of these experiences, especially listening to Michael talk about how he found his inspiration through shards of antique pottery that eventually led him to pursue his passion. 

In addition to all of the shopping, we were able to experience South African wine country and visit Adams favorite wineries. Meeting Adi Badenhorst (aabadenhorst.com/about) was a highlight. Their family winery in the Swartlands of South Africa was an amazing place where we were able to share a meal, take in the incredible mountain views, chat in their kitchen while they made homemade crackers. The experience was authentic, stunning and delicious.

We also browsed art galleries and shopped at home design stores like Pezula Interiors. (www.pezulainteriors.co.za) My new favorite shop. Camilla and her husband Steven have created an amazing aesthetic with their curated pieces which include, botanical prints, unique baskets, custom upholstered pieces and many accessories.  Stepping into this shop you immediately get their clean vibe layered with unusual pieces of their own design. I was completely inspired to refurnish my entire home. I'm always inspired by others in the interiors business who have created a great brand and they have done just that.  

The inspiration I found through this trip was amazing and has certainly inspired me to take my business to new levels in 2019. If your not sure about where you're headed I encourage you to take a trip. There is nothing like meeting new people, having a conversation over a glass of wine and stepping outside of the box to move the needle forward and change your perspective.

Looking ahead I'm focusing on more Water and Main designed product and more one-of-a-kind pieces vintage and new. More changes to my website, more collaborations and pop-up events at brick and mortar locations.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tracy Foley
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Old and New: Mixing it up

Old and New: Mixing it up

Mixing the old with the new has always been my style but I also love to find new uses for old things.

My husband gave me this beautiful pine window frame from Danish Country Antiques, located on Charles Street in downtown Boston.  He gave this to me when we were dating so it was 25 years ago.  Back then I lived in Boston and was always in and out of local antique shops.

Fast forward to our home that many years later.  We inherited some finishes in our kitchen that I would possibly change but I do love the built-ins originally from Scandia Kitchens. To warm up the all white look I took the antique pine window, blew up a few black and white photos of our children and had them matted into the window.  It's one of my favorite pieces in this kitchen.  It fits the space at the desk perfectly.  

I find it's sometimes challenging to display family photos or a collection because it can look messy unless you know what you're doing.  I often hang very symmetrical collections of frames because it looks clean but this is a nice alternative if you have a window frame that is in good condition and is an unusual or larger size.

Tracy Foley
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Road trip to Pittsford, New York

Road trip to Pittsford, New York

I love exploring new places. My last trip took me to the adorable village of Pittsford, New York for an event with Sea Her Shine. (www.seahershine.com)

Pittsford, New York is probably more like a small city because it is a suburb of Rochester.  There are major shopping areas, retail stores and highways but there is also an adorable downtown with antique buildings and boutique storefronts. The Erie Canal runs alongside the city with several restaurants that are all walkable.

A highlight of my trip was stopping into a retail shop called One Jane.  I was thrilled to find this shop because of it's eclectic mix of clothing and furniture.  The clothing she carries has an authentic, hand created, thoughtful appeal.  They are very clearly curated with amazing details, trim, stitching and have more of a one of a kind feel.

The second half of the shop is dedicated to vintage and antique art and furnishings. The first piece I saw a was an antique day bed with turned arms and a velvet green cushion. Amazing! There were some early American pieces, some original artwork by local female artists and a mix of furniture and accessories.

An amazing place to shop if you are headed down 90W from Massachusetts to New York.

 

Tracy Foley
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Let's go shopping. . . Stratford Antique Center.

Let's go shopping. . . Stratford Antique Center.

When you love to pick antiques there aren't too many places you won't go.  

One great spot to shop is in Stratford, Connecticut. It's an easy trip straight down I-95 and the huge Stratford Antique Center is just off the highway.  One thing I love to find is a shop that is multi dealer so that I get a range of things to pick from as well as competitive pricing.  

This shop has about 200 dealers who each have a different aesthetic. I found early American paintings, garden ornaments, English pine pieces, victorian, lighting and primitives. As they say . . .  something for everyone.

The fun of this kind of multi dealer shop is that you can spend hours there. It's filled with lots of inventory and many dealers constantly bringing in fresh items.  I love the mix of pieces that they offer and if I'm going to spend the day antiquing I'm looking for a destination where I can get the most finds.

Connecticut is filled with great spots to shop but this is definitely on my hit list when I'm traveling through the area. Worth it!

Tracy Foley
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If I were going to write a book, it would look like this . .

If I were going to write a book, it would look like this . .

In the Company of Women, created by Grace Bonney, the founder of the amazing website Design*Sponge (http://www.designsponge.com). This book made its debut in 2016 and is more of a reference book of inspiration for me, rather than a book you read and put back up on a shelf.

Whether you're already a creative entrepreneur or someone looking for inspiration, Grace Bonney provides stories from women in different industries, with different backgrounds, all getting it done their way.

I love sharing ideas and hearing stories of how someone achieved their dream, what challenges they faced, what was easy, what was surprising? As women, there are so many things we can all relate to and so many common denominators so why not gain from the wisdom and experiences of others.

The journey of an entrepreneur is not new.  Being able to share your story, no matter where you are on your path to success, and help other women along the way, is just a good thing. If this book isn't already on your must have list, then add it.  

Tracy Foley
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