#eebooAroundTown- A visit to Black Ink

Posted by design on Jan 10, 2017 in eeBoo Around Town

Red and brown

Happy New Year! To kick off 2017, we sat down with a long-time friend and customer Susan at Black Ink to hear all about her inspiration for opening two stores in Massachusetts!

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Quick intro, who are you? Tell us a little about yourself!

As co-founder and owner of Black Ink, I am buyer, creative director, bookkeeper, master ladder-climber, curator, repository of obscure product information and chief maintenance engineer.  Luckily my mid-western upbringing gave me the necessary skills to operate a retail business – a crazy work ethic and resilience. Good thing, as I am also a single parent. My kids grew up in the stores, and now as young adults both work part-time with me. We’ve come full-circle!

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In which neighborhoods are your stores located in?

There are two Black Ink stores, the original on Charles Street in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston and the subsequent on Brattle Street in Harvard Square, Cambridge. Our two communities are just three miles apart on opposite sides of the Charles River, yet so different.

How long have the stores been open? Tell us your inspiration for opening and a little about your aesthetic. What kind of goods do you sell?

We first opened on Charles Street in 1994, fortunate to be given the chance to test our theories. As the business grew, product selection was informed by our experiences as parents, home-owners and members of the community. When the opportunity to expand to Harvard Square arose in 2002 we took all that we had learned and prepared to meet the challenge.

Black Ink was named for my favorite color to stamp with, yet our product selection soon expanded from rubber stamps and paper to include just about any category that felt compelling. There was a lot of experimenting as we sought goods that were functional, well-designed and fun to use. My love of paperclips, rubber bands, clothes pins, erasers and ephemera is still obvious in our mix. I discover many things while traveling with my kids, we love to get out and experience other cultures and come back home with a fresh perspective and maybe a few new product ideas.

 What were your favorite toys to play with as a child?

As a child I enjoyed detailed drawing and sketching, and made paper-dolls for my many younger siblings. I also learned to sew my own clothing – beginning a lifetime of projects including ceramics, jewelry making, weaving, carpentry and product design.

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 Which eeBoo toy is your favorite? Why?

eeBoo has long been a creative staple at Black Ink! There are a few absolute favorites/long term sellers – notably the French and Spanish Flash Cards and Bingo sets. Over the years we’ve also kept About Face on our shelves at all times and recently added puzzles. These products are constantly being newly discovered by customers as well-designed and really timeless interactive games. The aesthetic is just right.

Tell us about some of your favorite spots in your stores respective neighborhoods!

In Boston and Cambridge we are accustomed to sharing our community with the world. When asked, my staff and I always recommend local businesses, which are the backbone of our neighborhoods.

Harvard Square, what can I say? Most people begin their adventure in the Yard (Harvard University’s historic epicenter) and wander out to the actual “square” (which is not square by the way) to really experience the essence of our community.  On any given day you will hear multiple languages being spoken, interact with students and locals, and see our ever-changing urban landscape. Look closely for the truly local independent establishments: Harvard Book Store, Curious George,  Leavitt & Peirce, Bob Slate Stationers, and of course Black Ink. On a daily basis we suggest Crema for a great local cafe, and our neighbor Cardullo’s – best deli around – not to mention great people watching from their outdoor tables, Charlie’s Kitchen for a beer, and Tealuxe – not just for tea, for an experience.

Charles Street in Boston is a must for visitors, with probably the greatest concentration of local businesses in the city. Stroll down the street from the Charles Street stop on the Red Line to experience an authentic visit to the city, grab some food, peruse the many shops and boutiques and head for the Public Garden (swan boats, ducklings, et al.)

Hope to see you here soon.

Thanks, Susan! We really enjoyed learning about your stores and how you got started with Black Ink! Something that we at eeBoo noticed on your blog, but that you did not mention in this interview, is that you frequently donate proceeds from your sales to Planned Parenthood and Partners In Health, a Boston-based organization that has been working in Haiti for years on health issues, setting up hospitals and training caregivers.  We want to call out your good deeds and express gratitude toward you for giving back where you can! You’re an inspiration to us and a great reminder to spend our dollars within our communities!

Check out the interactive map featuring Susan’s local picks for both Cambridge & Boston below!

Are you a small retailer? Do you carry eeBoo? We want to hear from you!

#eeBooAroundTown showcases small businesses we work with from around the country. Small businesses are vital to local communities, and are the heart of our business. Do you want to participate in our #eeBooAroundTown series? Reach out to samantha@eeboo.com for inclusion!

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Hanging out in South Brooklyn at Picnic

Posted by design on Mar 23, 2016 in eeBoo Around Town, Just for Fun, Special Interview

Red and brown

Welcome to #eeBooAroundTown, our newest initiative to showcase the many small businesses that we work with around the country through a series of fun interviews! Small businesses are vital to local communities, and are the beating heart of our business. To kick off our series, we hung out with Lindsey Engler, owner of Picnic in Brooklyn!

Lindsey, tell us a little about you! Goodness… who am I? Well, first and foremost I’m a mommy of a 4 ½ year old little gal named Grey who was (and is) the inspiration for Picnic. Prior to owning Picnic I had worked in womenswear for many years doing both fashion show production and sales. After Grey was born I was wandering around our Brooklyn neighborhood while on maternity leave searching for cool, unique infant clothing. When I couldn’t find anything (shocking, as Brooklyn is the birthplace of cool) that I wanted to buy the concept of Picnic started to take shape. I ended up leaving my corporate position when my daughter was six months old, and we opened Picnic when she turned eight months old. It was a completely insane time, but sometimes a hint of insanity goes a long way! Who else am I? A doggy mommy, a wife, a native New Yorker, a BROOKLYNITE, a party thrower, an amateur baker, a traveler, a terrible singer (who sings at the top of her lungs) a reader, a foodie… and I’m also pretty funny…

What neighborhood is Picnic located in? How would you describe your local community? Our store is located in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn. We touch upon a lot of other South Brooklyn ‘hoods so we encompass families from Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill and DUMBO. We have a great mix of families who have been in Brooklyn for an eternity as well as those who have just moved to enjoy the amazing lifestyle that Brooklyn has to offer. In either case we are all pretty passionate about our community and are very much a community based boutique. With the popularity of Brooklyn as a tourist destination in recent years we are getting more of an international crowd then we did when we first opened.

How long has Picnic been open and what is the inspiration behind it?  We have been open for 4 years and I am thankful for each day and each customer. The most rewarding part of owning your own business is growing within your community and in our case, growing up with all of the kids! Our slogan is “outfitting kids for everyday adventures.” When you look at the world from a child’s perspective everything becomes so fresh, fun and exciting. Picnic is about embracing that excitement and providing products that makes both children and parents smile a little brighter. For a little girl there is nothing more fantastic than wearing a dress covered in rainbows or a tutu skirt with a hint of sparkle… the same goes for our guys who love superhero capes and dinosaur tees… we like to help get their imaginations going wild! For the parents, I like to think we provide a nice range of unique, quality products that make them feel good about what they are buying for their children. We always try to address their specific needs while making sure that we add a bit of whimsy for the kids! We sell a range of products from apparel and accessories to gifts, books, crafts, plush toys and more! If it fits within our aesthetic and we think our kids will love it then it makes the cut! eeBoo is a perennial favorite!!! I’m pretty sure we’ve sold thousands of The Cupcake Game!

What were your favorite toys to play with as a child? Imagination is my thing so I’d have to say Cabbage Patch Kids! I was a child of the 80’s and as an only child I LOVED playing with dolls! (Never ask my mom how many of them I actually had… the number is embarrassing…) I also loved legos and dollhouses… maybe that’s why I married an architect?

Which eeBoo toy is your favorite? Why? Okay, I HAVE to say The Picnic Game, right? Actually I do love that one as it is a great gift, totally gender neutral and fun for kids from ages 2 – adult! We play it all the time at our house! However, the new Pretend Play sets have been life changing! They are so amazing and inspire such creativity within our kids! My daughter’s favorite is the World Traveler but they are all AMAZING! We hear there are new versions coming soon!!!

Suggest some local fare. What is your favorite dish, snack, or drink in your neighborhood? Ummm… this is Brooklyn, good food and drink are our THING! Okay, when visiting Picnic (with your child, of course)… we suggest lunching at Bar Tabac. I am a Francophile at heart and this place always does it for me. Tuna tartare for me and chicken paillard with fries (the best fries) for my gal? Oui! My husband has the moules…oh, and don’t forget a glass of Sancerre… or two. Then let’s stop at One Girl Cookies for one of their signature whoopee pies or cupcakes… then, if you need a coffee, or another fabulous sweet later in the day,stop into Café Pedlar just down Court Street… a little pick me up… and the perfect end to a great Brooklyn day…

Thank you, Lindsey for kicking off our #eeBooAroundTown blog series! We loved hearing more about Picnic & your special slice of Brooklyn!

Check out our interactive map below with Lindsey’s picks and of course, Picnic!

  #eeBooAroundTown showcases the many small businesses that we work with around the country!
Small businesses are vital to local communities, and are the beating heart of our business.
small retailers,  want to participate in our eeBoo Around the Town series? reach out to samantha@eeboo.com

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