Our Blog

  1. Catbird x The Real Real

    This is the Catbird collection of our technicolor dreams! We were so excited to work with materials beyond our usual palette, and to treat with reverence these pieces that held their own stories. We thought about the streets of New York, flooded with color, Taglioni’s Jewel Casket by Joseph Cornell, and women who run to the bodega in their nightgown, a trenchcoat and diamond earrings. Our in-house design team carefully extracted stones and tucked them gently and precisely into their new homes which all nod to classic Catbird silhouettes. We’re so proud of this collection, and are really energized by the splashes of luminous color. We hope you like it, too.

    - Leigh Batnick Plessner, Catbird Creative Director

    what's old is new

    in the studio

    the complete collection

    Diamond Baby Pearl Hoops

    Diamond Baby Pearl Necklace

    Holy Cannoli Supreme Charm Necklace

    Diamond Moon Flower Ring

    Double Sleeping Beauty Opal Ring

    Emerald Solitaire Supreme

    Dewdrop Pearl Necklace Supreme

    Full Heart Charm Supreme Necklace

    Marquise Snow Queen Ring

    Topsy-Turvy Angel Hair Ruby Earrings

    Topsy-Turvy Angel Hair Sapphire Earrings

    Pearl Odette the Swan Ring

    Sapphire Moon Flower Ring

    Snow Queen Bangle

  2. Catbird x Hannah Magazine

    Earlier this spring we shot a photo project with our friends at HANNAH, it was a story of strength and beauty, of birthing in all forms. Founder and editor-in-chief Qimmah Saafir created HANNAH as an ode to black women everywhere and true to its conception, this is the story of the many interwoven connections between Qimmah, her daughter Leahn, and Memaniye, the midwife who delivered Leahn 4 years ago.  

    The complete editorial will be released on Friday, May 7th on HANNAH's digital platform (stay tuned!) This is a glimpse, alongside an interview with Qimmah on motherhood, and all of the light and love on set that day. 
    In celebration of the project, The Catbird Giving Fund has made a donation of $10,000 to the National Birth Equity Collaborative, in support of their work in Black maternal and infant health.

    Tell us about how Hannah Magazine came to be.

    I essentially created what I wanted to see exist. I grew up with publications that highlighted and celebrated Black women. Aside from Essence, there were none that I could look to in my early adulthood. I wanted to celebrate Black women wholly, not just celebrities. I wanted to document how amazing we are, in a way that is beautiful and timeless.

    You are also the creator of a digital platform on ‘perspective shifts’ - what do you find most useful for finding perspective, clarity, balance?

    Carving out time for stillness. For sitting with my breath and grounding my heart. ​It's much easier to grant myself grace, allow space to feel something fully and emote when I am grounded in my heart space. Those things always bring clarity.

    What was your inspiration for the shoot? What story did you want to tell?

    I often think about the juxtaposition of soft and strong. How they are often seen as opposites but in fact go hand in hand. The way the earth must be soft to be workable, fertile, and the quiet strength it requires to support the growth of plants and crops. Also the characteristics of the womb. This is what was on my mind when thinking about this shoot celebrating birthing. I really wanted to visually present soft and strong.

    What was your favorite part of the shoot?

    Showing Memaniye a photo of herself in the dress we selected for her. She was hesitant when she saw it on the rack, but lit up when she saw how she looked in it. I live for those moments.

    Describe your perfect day.

    I have yet to master easing into my day with a toddler. I'm normally reactive as soon as I am called to open my eyes. A perfect day is any day that I have control of my time and process. As well as any day spent in nature or with loved ones.

    What is your favorite mother-daughter ritual?

    Our nighttime ritual. We read, we sing, we create stories, we cuddle. When she falls asleep I pray over her. Every night.

    When you are in New York, what are you go-to spots?

    Well the pandemic kind of shut all this down but Ode to Babel, Evelina, Ruby's and Zaca Cafe, Fort Greene and Prospect parks.

    What songs are you playing on repeat right now / always?

    I have an everyday playlist that I add to whenever I hear a song that moves me. It has everyone from Stevie Wonder to Gabriel Garzon-Montano to Tame Impala to Buena Vista Social Club.

    What does jewelry mean to you?

    My jewelry is an extension of my energy. I rarely take off my pieces and I have special occasion jewelry when I want to present my energy even more.

    Questions for Leahn

    What's your favorite color?

    Rainbow!

    Did you have fun at the photoshoot?

    Yes, I got to take some pictures.

    Do you like jewelry?

    Yes, especially pretty rings.

    What's your favorite thing to eat for lunch?

    Square pasta! For lunch or dinner or anytime.

    Can you tell us about your mom? We think she's so cool, she must be such a fun mommy!

    I love my mommy. I love when we play together and go places. She's my favorite mommy.

    Hannah Magazine Jewelry Edit

  3. Catbird Spotlight: Chelsea Mak

    "Like if Norma Kamali skipped cotillion to go to a punk show and then met her godfather for dim sum the next morning before reporting for work in her 80s power suit," is how LA based designer Chelsea Mak describes her eponymous clothing line. How does she wear her own work? "The more unexpected the combination the better...with good jewelry, like all my Catbird pieces!"

    effortless dress is a balancing act inspired by Chelsea’s childhood

    I was born and raised in LA but spent a large part of my childhood in Hong Kong and Taiwan where my parents are from, living in Hong Kong from ages 2 to 6 and then visiting every summer thereafter.

    Being connected to both LA and Hong Kong definitely made such impressions on my style. From LA it was the laid-back casual way of dressing, I learned from early on that even if you spent hours putting an outfit together it should come across like it took you seconds.  From Hong Kong it was the opposite — flip flops and jeans might be considered sloppy so it was a balancing act to exist in both worlds which has translated through my designs — a balancing act between old and new world, high and low brow, east and west.

     

    dressing for this newest spring we’ve been waiting for

    I’m really into the idea of using the Vienna Blouse as a light jacket over everything and the more unexpected the combination the better. I have a floor length muslin slip dress I’d like to wear over it as well as a vintage Norma Kamali piece that’s a white cotton onesie; over jeans and nude bodysuit would be cool too. All with good jewelry, like all my Catbird pieces!

     

    what you can’t stop imagining is worth the pursuit.

     Striking out on my own felt a lot like jumping off a cliff unplanned for.  At the time I was working for a brand I believed in, a boss I looked up to and co-workers I loved also but I could not stop thinking about what the main label of the brand would look like if I started one.  There were so many huge unknowns but I knew that I wouldn’t have been happy if I stayed where I was so I took the plunge.  It was very scary for the first few months but also very exciting.

    The Vienna, Amalia and Gallery blouses are the core pieces in the line so designing a new collection will always feel a bit like building out a wardrobe around those three pieces.  Since they are all quite feminine and bold and in the classic silk white taffeta, I like the other pieces to be more masculine, unassuming and offbeat. 

     A large part of the collection is made from deadstock silks found at the fabric market in Shanghai so those qualities very much dictate how each collection will look.  I also find a lot of inspiration in old movies, books, and bands so each of my collections will usually reflect how I was feeling during that moment in time.

    How Our Team Wears Chelsea Mak & Catbird 

    "I want women wearing Chelsea Mak to command a type of attention that you wouldn’t get from other brands, it’s more about feeling smart and interesting than sexy and showy.Women who wear Chelsea Mak are creative, well-read and in the know and that’s a lot of us!"

    Airina wears the Gallery Blouse with a Dollhouse Locket slung on a Tinsel Chain paired with a Sweet Nothing Choker and a Snow Queen Ear Climber.

    Tatiana wears the Jaffe Top with a slew of Catbird Classics. 

    Earrings: Snow Queen Hoop, Heart Stud, Little Secret

    Necklaces: Gumball Pearl Charm, 18th Century Bow Charm, Anemone Charm on a Sweet Nothing Choker.

    Chelsea's Shopping Edit

  4. Designer Spotlight: Elisa Solomon

    We first met Elisa so many years ago that I have forgotten how many years ago it was. Her Ancienne Ring was one of the first really fancy pieces we carried; we've always loved how her work was tactile and really had the maker's hand in it. Me and Rony both wear Elisa signet rings on our pinkies, and I love that the new Puffy charms Elisa made for us also have the dimension, joy, and sheer beauty that we know and love from Elisa's jewelry! 

    xo Leigh

    What is your first jewelry memory?

    My first memory is with my mom. She loves jewelry and has always worn a unique mix of handmade, cool, fine designer jewelry.  I also remember that I loved wearing her rings as a child (the ones that were her's as a little girl).

    What does jewelry mean to you?

    Jewelry is like a precious time capsule.  Life is filled with moments that we hold dear.  It is special to be able to honor those moments with a jewel. The jewel will always bring you back to a magnificent time in life.

    What originally sparked your interest in jewelry design? And where did you learn the craft?

    I am an artist.  I loved drawing and painting and the idea of making something wearable when I was in elementary and high school.  When it came down to it, I wasn't interested in clothing because I wanted to work with something that had more longevity.  Fabric can wear out, bodies can change, trends can be fleeting.  I wanted to make something timeless.  When I started art school at the University of Michigan, by the first semester I knew my major would be Jewelry and Metalsmithing. I'm very proud of my formal training and also the things I taught myself after college like wax carving.

     What piece do you most enjoy making?

    I love all the Catbird exclusive pieces!  I would say I love making the Viola's Treasure Signet Ring.  I've made many and it's fun that we now offer a mini (the Henrietta) and a large (the Isabel) signet, too!  It kicked off a really sweet, meaningful, classic grouping.

    What are your favorite stones to work with?

    Since I started my collection, I've loved working with Brazilian paraiba tourmaline.  The electric blue hue is amazing.  It has a psychedelic quality.  I also love alexandrite because it changes hues based on light!  The variety of blue to green to grey is unique

    The Puffy Heart and Puffy Letter pieces are so special - can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration and process behind these designs?

    I feel that my charms are special because I hand carve every piece in the collection.  The letters have a roughness and a handmade quality that's special.  The charms are inspired by my kids.  People are looking for ways to carry loved ones close to their hearts and the charms are perfect for this purpose.

    Your pieces are often centered around initials and meaningful letters; do you think of your work as heirlooms?

    Yes, absolutely.  It's always been important to me to work in precious materials so there is longevity in my collection. I also try to incorporate shapes and symbols that are universal and would appeal to a variety of ages and personalities while still sticking to my vision.

    In my own life, my mom and I have already started a jewelry box for my daughter. It is such a beautiful thing passing a jewel down to a loved one.  It makes me tear up even thinking about it!  The thought that a matriarch can wear something, then her daughter, then her daughter, then her daughter, and on and on...it's absolutely amazing. What could be more magical?  The fact that I've made the pieces in Layla's jewel box just brings a whole other level of excitement for me.

    Shop Elisa Solomon

  5. Photo Journal: Sabrina

    Why are you dressed like that? A question posed to those who dress with creativity, vision, individuality - from those who just may not totally get it. For Pratt fashion student Sabrina Brokenborough, she’s adopted the phrase to create a visual diary of her looks, a mix of vintage petticoats and bonnets with heavy Japanese street fashion influence, self described as “very girly. I like big skirts with lots of ruffles and lace. I'm really into florals right now and dusty pinks too.”

    On style evolution.

    I've been playing with fashion since middle school, but high school was really when I was able to use the internet to buy clothes that weren't accessible to me otherwise. I think I saw a Fruits snapshot on Tumblr of some girls wearing Lolita and Gunne sax dresses and it just clicked. I wanted to dress just like them.

    I've noticed a switch in my fashion style recently. I used to wear a lot of primary colors and short skirts, but now I mostly lean into softer pinks and florals. I wear a lot of long skirts now. I don’t know,  I appreciate the way the fabric moves around my ankles when I walk.

    Right now there’s a little bit of a divide between myself as a person and myself as a designer.

    I think going into fashion design I like to explore a lot of unusual fabric combinations and textures while in my usual style is pretty predictable - peter pan collar, ruffle, florals, petticoat, big skirt, and plaids for the fall. Maybe in the future my designs will reflect more of my personal style, but for the moment I'm happy to play with fabrics and textures.

    The fashion industry can be a little intimidating to break into, especially now since the world has been turned upside down. Best case is to get an assistant design position at a brand I love. I don't think I'd go head first into creating my own brand.

    I think it's important to remember that life is really really short and you don't want to waste time being uncomfortable while trying to fit in.

    I feel like especially in the age of the internet it's easy to find a group of people with similar interests experimenting with fashion. Before it was easy to think that no one dressed outside of the norm, but now  the world is really your oyster. Basically, look up alternative fashion tags on instagram and connect with people online with fashion styles you admire. Really focus on buying clothes you feel drawn to. Don't buy anything that you don't 100% love.

    Inspiration lives everywhere.

    I have a collection of old fashion books that I like to flip through. I really liked how frivolous and over the top clothes used to be.I think we lost a bit of that to the practicality of modern life. I like to watch 1950s movies for the costumes especially if they were designed by Edith Head, but sometimes the racism and sexism from those movies make me cringe.

    From the shows. 

    Gucci Fall/Winter 2020. So many dresses with lace and ruffles and beautiful collars. I like how they paired the ornate skirts with soft sweaters and I appreciate how the dressing room was clear so you could get an idea of the amount of work that goes into making a fashion show. I think it's important to highlight the work goes into making clothes and these presentations, it makes you appreciate the art.

    The fashion decade.

    The 1830s! Love the big sleeves and bonnets.

    On icons.

    From real life it’s Misako Aoki, from fiction literally any "girly girl" character in a movie or TV show.

    Elements of an outfit.

    A cohesive theme and matching colors and textures. There needs to be a good color balance throughout, really honing in on the core colors and working around that.

    To jolt creativity in the city, a visit to the garment district will do.

    Just walking around and looking at the different fabrics gets the gears going. I always just walk around and think "Oh wouldn't it be cool if that fabric was used for this or could be made into that?".

    Always berets.

    I have a stack of berets on the top shelf of my closet and I just pick whichever color goes best with the outfit. I love berets. I'm getting pretty close to owning one in every color.

    Places to find vintage.

    I like to lurk around on eBay and instagram for nice dresses. The best deals are from clueless sellers trying to get rid of their grandma's old clothes, that's where you can find gold. In New York I usually scout around the usual places like L Train, Buffalo Exchange, and Goodwill. However, my favorite thrift store is the Philly Aid's thrift store in Philadelphia. I've found the best stuff there and it's always worth the trip - t's a really nice place that benefits AIDS/HIV treatment and research programs.

    The perfect day.

    --Breakfast and tea at Ladurée, they have yummy french toast!

    --Walk around the MET (especially if the fashion exhibit is up)

    --Drink a bubble tea and walk around the Upper East Side window shopping

    --Afternoon tea at Lady Mendl's

    --Buy a bouquet of flowers to bring home :)

    Shop Sabrina's Edit

    Sabrina's Guide to Brooklyn

    Petee's Pie

    505 Myrtle Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205

    Lot of yummy pies! Before COVID they had a cute little outdoor space in the back

    and they would pour your tea in a nice teacup. 

     

    Prince Tea House

    6122 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11220

    Great decor and they light a candle underneath your tea pot to keep it warm. Very

    beautiful interior and a great menu for lunch or dessert. 

     

    OJBK Bubble Tea

    525 Myrtle Ave, Brooklyn 11205

    Their bubble tea is really good and sometimes they display student work in the shop,

    which is always nice.

     

    Fort Greene Park Farmers’ Market

    I like to buy the pies and zucchini bread they have on weekends.

     

    The Brooklyn Museum

    Sometimes they have fashion centered exhibits and it's good for a walk.

     

    Fulton Fabrics

    402 Bridge St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

    Good for when you need fabric in a pinch and can't make it to the garment district.

  6. Designer Q&A : WHITE/SPACE

    White/Space is a collection to be worn and loved! Created by Khadijah Fulton, a Los Angeles based designer and graduate of Parsons, who spent a decade as a fashion designer, before becoming a mother and moving into jewelry. White/Space pursues sophistication in the unexpected, with aesthetic influences hailing from mid-century architecture and ancient goldsmithing to minimalist art and sculpture. Khadijah sat down with us to tell us a bit about everything - from her design background to her grandmother's jewelry!

    Your education and early career is rooted in fashion design. Tell us about your transition to jewelry!

    When I was working in fashion, jewelry was always a personal passion of mine, whether I was shopping for vintage pieces on the weekends (or on inspiration trips for work) or actually creating jewelry with beads and findings in my spare time, which I started to do later on in my fashion career.  I really started learning bench techniques, goldsmithing and stone setting when I was about 1 year into stay-at-home motherhood.  It was the first time in my life that I wasn't devoting most of my time to a creative calling, and I began taking night classes and weekend workshops in jewelry fabrication to get back to that part of myself.

     

    Is your approach to fashion design reflected in your approach to jewelry design?

    Yes and no. When I was working in fashion I always designed for large companies, so there was a clear brand vision, aesthetic and pricepoint that I was designing for.  Having my own brand, I have had to define that myself over time, and functioning as a small brand doesn't work the same way as working as part of a corporate enterprise with in-built teams in place!

    But what has always been a constant is my desire to design pieces that are not only beautiful, but also very realistic for incorporating into every day looks. I love giving women the opportunity to feel special all the time, not just for "special" occasions, and in my fashion career I worked for brands that create real clothes for real life (and real bodies!) as well.

    Where do you look for inspiration when designing?

    So many places! I always love the philosphies and aesthetics in mid-century modernist architecture and design. I also am very drawn to the simplicity and directness of the shapes found in African sculpture and goldsmithing. But when I'm actually working in my sketchbook or at the bench (sometimes I just love how materials come together, and that can spark an idea) I'm also always thinking about how to bring joy and delight to a woman when she catches herself in a mirror, or happens to look at her hand during the day.  I go for the things that bring delight to me, and hope that will also happen for other women who wear my jewelry.

    What is your favorite piece to make?

    Oh gosh! Don't make me choose a favorite baby, haha! There are different aspects I love about making all of them, but the most fun thing is the end, when it all comes together.  Whether it's a simple stud earring or a more complex style, seeing my initial vision come to life is incredibly gratifying.

    The Double Baroque Pearl Necklace is such a special piece. Could you tell us a bit about the inspiration and process behind this design?

    This is one of those pieces that is really inspired by the materials. I love baroque pearls in general because they remind me of the beauty of imperfection.  The wabi-sabi way of looking at things is something that really resonates with me, in its embrace of natural imperfection and constant change, but personally I've always struggled with perfectionism.

    The Double Baroque Necklace is like a 'double down' on the beauty of imperfection! Each pearl is one of a kind, has taken its own path to forming, has grown into its own individual shape, and each one is beautiful and imperfect in its own right.  When you wear it, it has a wonderful weight and presence, it feels good in your hand and is a great converstion piece, on its own or layered.

    I read that your love for jewelry was partly inspired by your grandmother! Could you tell us about some of the pieces you remember her wearing?

    My grandmother was very charming, engaging and elegant, and she loved collecting eye-catching necklaces with large beads, fun chunky bangles and cocktail rings with juicy gemstones.  She had a few precious pieces, but most of it was really great constume jewelry.  The thing I remember most is her style, and how important it was for her to finish off her look with a beautiful piece of jewelry. 

    She had a jewelry armoire that was as tall as I was as a young girl, and each drawer held different treasures.  I remember her getting ready for work, church, or for a friend coming over to visit, and sometimes she would let me go into that jewelry box and pull out which pieces she wanted to wear that day. She never wore a lot of makeup, just red lipstick, a touch of rouge, and a spritz of her favorite fragrance (the legendary Samsara by Guerlain) but she always chose her jewelry with love and joy, and her polished style left an impression on everyone she met.

    What advice do you have for aspiring jewelers?

    Learn as much as you can about the fabrication and fundamentals of jewelry construction.  Whether you want to focus on design, or actually be at the bench constructing jewelry, the more you know firsthand about how to execute your ideas, the better - and that includes education in CAD rendering as well as IRL bench contruction because the two go hand in hand. 

    On the production side, the industry can be very opaque, and there is so much that goes into making a piece of jewelry, that the more you actually know about the work that's involved, the better you'll be able to protect yourself from vendors trying to give you the runaround or take advantage.  Be patient. Making and designing jewelry requires skills that are honed over time, whether you're doing it yourself or someone is doing it for you - it takes time to learn, grow in skill level and find partners you can trust.  And lastly, watch your money.  Whether it's a hobby or career aspiration, jewelry is one of those passions that can be expensive! 

    What do you hope customers feel when they look at and wear your pieces?

    When they look at them, I hope they feel a sense of serenity and optimism, inspired by the beauty of simplicity.  When they wear White/Space I hope they feel like their inner Elegant Badass is shining through, even if it's in a subtle way. 

  7. Meet our Studio

    MEET OUR STUDIO

    Our big, beautiful, sun-drenched jewelry studio is our pride and joy! Meet some of the #catbirdjewelers who not only hand make all of our pieces, but also model for us!

    Made with care in our Brooklyn Studio

    Diamond Pinprick Necklace

    A white (recycled!) diamond floats from a 14k yellow, rose, or white gold chain

    Sweet Nothing Ring

    Our best selling chain as a ring! Dress your hands up with solid 14k yellow gold.

    Holy Cannoli Charm

    A cannoli with pearl filling - made fresh by our #catbirdjewelers

    Diamond Greco Lariat Earring

    A whip of gold, threaded into place with a recycled diamond button. The coolest!

  8. A thing to long for

    A shelf, or bedside table, full of a run of V. Woolf  as published and printed by her own Hogarth Press, and a morning, afternoon, evening to quietly slip one off said shelf or bedside table and read, uninterrupted and furthermore, unencumbered! 

    [From our neighborhood secret bookshop, High Valley Books]

  9. Catbird Spotlight: Borah

    Meet Borah, she is part of our small and mighty and wildly creative in-house design team. A trained architect turned jeweler with over a decade in the business, she shares her full circle Catbird moment, places of inspiration, and a hint (!) at something the design team has been working on, coming soon - we promise!

    How long have you worked at Catbird?

    Coming up on two years in May!

    Hometown:

    I grew up in Westchester but have lived in Brooklyn for the past 15 years

    What neighborhood do you live in?

    Clinton Hill

    What originally got you interested in jewelry?

    When I was little I LOVED going into my mom’s jewelry box and looking at all the pieces she collected over her lifetime. Each piece had a story like a small artifact from that moment in her life. I fell in love with the idea that a charm could bring back memories of childhood or an old love. It’s still my favorite thing about what I do, it’s like creating tokens for future memories.

    When you are at the jeweler's bench, which piece is your favorite to make?

    I feel like I should say one of our more sparkly pieces like the Snow Queen Ring or the Unicorn Horseshoe but I really love making Threadbares!  There’s something so meditative about the soldering and hammering. Each one carries the imprint of its maker and when I worked in the store, I loved seeing the way our customers wore them : one on every finger, a stack of 20, the most delicate wedding band… They’re also one of the first pieces our jewelers learn to make which is really special!

    What piece are you excited about right now?

    It’s an oldie but I’m ALWAYS excited about the Greco Lariat. It looks amazing on everyone and looks great both layered and on its own. And I’m extremely excited about an upcoming collaboration we’re working on with an extraordinary artist!

    Where do you look for design inspiration?

    New York City is always serving up inspiration. I am a subway ride away from some of the best museums in the world -The Met, MoMA, The Noguchi Museum, The Photo Archives at The New York Public Library. It is the setting of some of my favorite movies from the 70s through the 90s. I’m inspired by the things that stand here and feel like they will be fixed forever and by those that pass through--the rain running down your face while you do a midnight run to the bodega.

    What is your favorite material to work with?

    I love a good glowy moonstone.

    What's your favorite part of the design process?

    I love the moments right after we’ve gotten a new project or a design briefing. It feels boundless. It’s like word association but with jewelry…this kind of stream of consciousness designing where most of it makes absolutely no sense but some of it could *possibly* be something worth exploring further. It’s always interesting to see where the freedom of just throwing things out there will take you.

    Describe your journey to Catbird! (Your backgrond and how you learned your craft.)

    I've been making jewelry out of anything I could get my hands on for as long as I can remember (clay, candy wrappers, office supplies, you name it) but for one reason or another, it never occurred to me that it could be a career. It was like it was too much fun to be taken seriously. I wound up going to school for architecture and by my third year, was completely burnt out. My friend got me a job at a jewelry studio he was working at in the East Village because I couldn’t bear another summer internship behind a computer and it was there that I realized that making jewelry for a living was a very real possibility. I was so deliriously happy in that sweaty basement on 9th Street that I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life. I left school not too long after to start my own line however a couple years in I was questioning my decision and thinking about going back to school to finish my architecture degree when Leigh (Catbird’s co-creative director) reached out on Etsy to ask me about carrying my line in the store. I knew about Catbird (obviously…having been a jewelry obsessed person living in Brooklyn) and after texting all caps messages to every contact in my phone and having a celebratory mid morning alcoholic beverage, I took it as a sign that I was on the right path. I had my line for 6 years and have since worked in a number of  jewelry studios and have held just about every position that exists. Being able to be at Catbird doing what I love, 10 years after they unknowingly gave me that boost of confidence to keep me doing that very thing is such a surreal and beautiful full circle moment. 

    What do you love about living and working in Brooklyn?

    I’ve gone to school, worked and lived in the same neighborhood for 15 years. My first apartment in Brooklyn was in a loft across the street from the Navy Yard and years later, one of my first jewelry studios was in that same building with a couple friends that own a furniture company who are now operating out of the same building Catbird is in at the Navy Yard. There’s just something about this community that draws in and keeps creators and creatives. The support that small businesses give each other is so uplifting and it’s so motivating to be around so many people who value creative fulfillment. I honestly don't know if my path in life would've been the same had I lived anywhere else.

    Best neighborhood spots near the Brooklyn Navy Yard?

    Oh man, there are SO MANY good restaurants in Fort Greene…Olea, La Rina, Colonia Verde…I’m also a sucker for a dive and Alibi is one of the best (worst?).

    Borah's Picks

  10. Photo Journal: Bodega Bouquet

    "Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself."

    - Mrs. Dolloway, Virginia Woolf

    We asked our friend Karla Smith-Brown of Olivee Floral to show us the secrets to making your own flower arrangement at home with a few bundles of flowers & greenery from your local bodega / grocery.
    You can watch the full tutorial here!

    Join us in flowering at home! Or if you are in Brooklyn, swing by the Olivee Floral pop up this Valentine's Day at Sincerely, Tommy (343 Tompkins Ave, Brooklyn 11216)
    Karla will be there from 10am to 2pm.

    Hometown: Toronto, ON Canada

    How long have you lived in NYC?

    8 years!

    How long have you been working with flowers?

    My earliest flower memory is being in the garden as a child, planting flowers with my favorite aunt. I will always remember how free it felt to move my hands in the dirt. After deciding to take my love of flowers more seriously, I took a course with Stems Brooklyn and AVS Flower School. Then I began working at Edelweiss Floral Altelier where I truly learned the most about all aspects of the flower industry. Working in the shop was like a crash course with so many invaluable lessons on best practices when handling flowers, and helping clients, along with foundation design techniques. I really admire their work and feel honored to have been part of their team!

    Where did the name Olivee come from?

    Olivee Floral is actually named after my great grandmother, Granny Olivee, the powerful matriarch in my mother's family from Saint Elizabeth, Jamaica. I went back to Jamaica for the first time as an adult a few years ago, and my experience really inspired me to bring her energy and honor my heritage in my work. Olivee's wild, unyielding, natural style is a direct reflection of the lush, bountiful land in Saint Elizabeth and the resilience of its people.

    Where do you look for inspiration?

    Mostly contemporary art, specifically work that explores color theory and texture. Artists I love include Cassi Namoda, Chioma Ebinama, and Tschabalala Self.

    What is your favorite flower? (Okay - what are your top five!)

    It definitely changes based on the season, but right now I'm crushing hard on Poppies, French Tulips (especially Jonquieres Tulips), Japanese Ranunculus, Anemones (especially the Pink Tiger variety- which is featured in our Sassy Pink Valentine's Day offering), and Hellebores.

    Describe your work in three words

    Natural, Vivid, Refined

    What are your favorite bodegas to buy flowers from?

    Broccoli Farm on Franklin Ave, SoHo Garden on Prince Street, and Trader Joes always has some great options too :)

    What's a good tip for extending the life of your arrangement?

    Keep it clean! Change the water in the vessel every other day to prevent bacteria from accumulating and bonus points if you give your stems a fresh trim after changing the water.

    In your opinion, what are the elements of a good arrangment.

    For Olivee's floral's signature style, I believe it's important to use a variety of greenery to create texture, fullness, and choose blooms from different styles, gesture, and size to create interest and use bold complimenting colors with a focal pop to mark the clear star of the show!  

    Thank you for joining us, Karla! Be sure to follow along @oliveefloral, and don't forget to buy the flowers yourself.

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