You know what they say, if you can’t do, teach. Well – I’ve never been a creator – at least not with my hands – so artists have always fascinated me. Where do they find their inspiration? How do they transform their ideas from simple thoughts into tangible works of art? How do you even pick a medium??

Thankfully, over the years I’ve met many an artist through this whole blogging gig and I’m lucky enough to call some friends. You’ve met amazing people like Windy Chien and Rebecca Atwood on this site. Today, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Tina Frey Designs. Her new San Francisco studio is officially my new happy place.

tina frey studio tour on apartment 34

Tina Frey Designs is known for its brilliantly simple and modern designs in resin, but her expansive new studio in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood had me at hello. Featuring Tina Frey Designs, along with vintage finds personally curated by Tina, the studio encompasses a retail showroom, shop, Tina’s personal studio where she hand-sculpts each piece, and a warming hut where Tina’s team puts the final touches on each and every piece before they ship.

tina frey studio tour on apartment 34tina frey studio tour on apartment 34

Housed in a gallery-like space that doubles as the company’s headquarters, the space’s interior offers a deceptively simplistic and modern design with clean white walls, lightly-toned wooden furnishing, and pops of color that are seamlessly complemented by subtle greenery and artful florals. Newly installed skylights allow for ample natural light.

Tina is genius that she creates pieces intended for every day use – serving pieces, cups, bowls, champagne buckets, troughs and trays but something about the material she works in – resin – and the unique matte finish give them a luxe feel. Many of Tina’s products serve as statement pieces in the studio just as they would in your home.

In addition to being a retail showroom, the atelier’s upper level serves as Tina’s quaint work area. The “mezzanine creative space,” as she affectionately calls it, is an open-layout studio for bringing Tina’s colorful ideas to life. Each product is personally handcrafted by Tina – beginning with a clay mold that is sculpted into a unique design, then cast into a one-of-a-kind resin vessel specialized by color, before being hand-sanded to completion in the warming hut, sequestered in a corner of the studio.

tina frey studio tour on apartment 34tina frey studio tour on apartment 34tina frey studio tour on apartment 34

I’ve loved Tina’s work for such a long time – so I’m thrilled I recently got to sit down and pick Tina’s brain about how she made the move from finance(!) into working as a full time artist whose work is sold all over the world, is in Moma and featured in Michelin-starred restaurants. Goalz. Read on to get

What was your path to becoming an artist/designer?

I have been doing creative things my whole life and this always came very naturally for me. However, I came from an unconventional background since I studied biology and chemistry, and followed by a business degree in accounting/finance before switching careers. I am mainly self-taught. Although I had art and art history classes in school, I never seriously pursued it as a profession initially since I thought my profession had to be hard and challenging. At some point in my career, I felt that I needed to pursue my passion for creativity. That was 11 years ago now and I have been following my dreams since.

tina frey studio tour on apartment 34tina frey studio tour on apartment 34tina frey studio tour on apartment 34tina frey studio tour on apartment 34

You have such a strong and recognizable look. How did you hone your aesthetic?

The look came about spontaneously. I love making things that are functional with the imperfect wabi-sabi nature. I also like simplicity and minimalism. I like to sculpt the pieces initially in clay and this worked well in translating the aesthetic to the final products which is in resin, and also some designs in metal. I like the resin material since it is rather unexpected and can take on a different look, depending on whether it is cast in a solid color, a translucent color, or make colorful. I like the idea of pieces being functional, yet decorative, whether they are placed in a grouping, or by themselves. I try to stay true to this philosophy when creating the pieces.

tina frey studio tour on apartment 34
tina frey studio tour on apartment 34

What has been the hardest thing about growing your brand/business?

I went into this without a much initial planning about the brand or the business. When I started out, I was learning so much as I went along. You don’t really realize how much is involved until you are really into it and how much work it is. Much of it is just rolling up your sleeves and wearing many hats while trying to grow the business.

tina frey studio tour on apartment 34tina frey studio tour on apartment 34

Where do you turn for inspiration?

I have always loved travel and find seeing new places, cultures, people, architecture, design, and nature so inspiring. There is inspiration wherever you look.

tina frey studio tour on apartment 34

Where do you turn for mentorship? 

Since starting, I have discovered there are so many like-minded people who also started their own creative companies and it is a great network of supportive people and camaraderie and this has been the most fun and rewarding! We encounter similar challenges along the way and it is a great way to share our experiences and support each other in the process. They are all my mentor along the way.

tina frey studio tour on apartment 34

What would you tell your 25-year-old self?

Don’t be afraid to pursue your dreams and think outside the box.

What piece of advice would you offer to other aspiring artists/designers/creatives?

Be prepared for hard work and perseverance. Always be creative with your own ideas, make good quality products, have great communication, and timely delivery to your customers, and you will be fine.

Tina explained that her intention is for her new studio to become a San Francisco destination where designers and design-lovers can experience and shop her pieces in person while discovering an ever-evolving collection of unique works by talented new and established makers. Well, I’m sold. You’re going to find me at her space on the regular.

If you’re in San Francisco, Tina Frey Designs’ new studio is located at 1485 Bancroft Ave, San Francisco, CA 94124, and is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. To learn more and shop Tina Frey Designs, visit and follow along @tinafreydesigns.

To meet more inspiring designers and makers CLICK HERE.

original photography for apartment 34 by andrea posadas creative

Today, I have someone you need to meet. I’ve talked to Girl Crushes and amazing makers over the years, but it’s hard to give today’s focus, miss Laney Crowell, one specific label. She’s an all around power woman. She’s created her own PR and content marketing firms, run social media and editorial content for Estee Lauder and is now taking perhaps the most admirable step of all – diving head first into her passion for clean beauty and intentioned living and sharing her true self with the rest of us. Laney recently launched The Moment – a stunning lifestyle site that is a mecca for all things clean beauty and healthy living. I recently sat down with Laney at my favorite San Francisco health food haunt, As Quoted, to dish on finding your passion and the perfect eco-lipgloss over turmeric lattes (have you had one? No seriously, they’re so good. I quit caffeine nearly 3 years ago now and they give me life.)

Clean makeup must-haves on apartment 34

I feel lucky to have called Laney friend for a number of years now. Her drive, creativity and warmth cause you to simultaneously admire her and want to be her BFF. She’s managed to harness that effortless beauty vibe that I’m always grasping for. So I was hoping her makeup recommendations might help me look more fresh faced!

Clean makeup must-haves on apartment 34Clean makeup must-haves on apartment 34

How did you discover clean beauty / self care?

It started in my search to learn more about food. I’ve always had a really sensitive stomach, I’ve suffered from acne, and I’ve always felt like I had low energy. I started reading about eating plant-based and how great it is for our bodies and our skin. The better I ate, the better my stomach and skin became. Once you start learning about food you can’t help but want to know where it comes from. For me it was a natural progression to see what’s in my beauty products too.

Clean makeup must-haves on apartment 34

What do you love about these five clean beauty products?

These are the products I keep in my makeup bag at all times:

Juice Beauty CC Cream in Dessert Glow

The great thing about this product is that it gives you a little coverage, a little dewiness, and it has SPF. I apply it with my hands and it evens out my skin tone instantly. Juice Beauty is organic, vegan, and toxin-free so they’re one of my most trusted clean beauty brands.

Jillian Dempsey Lid Tint in Dew

This product is so great. It comes in other colors, but I love the dew that turns into a slight rose. It’s glossy, but not too glossy, and gives that instant cool girl look. It’s kinda amazing that this product is made from organic and natural ingredients.

Kjaer Weis Eye Shadow in Transcend

This eyeshadow should win awards. It’s all-natural and certified organic, but the color is elevated and chic. I use it as an eyeshadow and an eyeliner depending on the look I’m going for – for a fancier look I’ll use it with Jillian Demsey’s Lid Tint for a glossy look.

True Botanicals Hydrating Mist

I recently discovered True Botanicals and fell in love with their Clean line. It has done amazing things to help my skin, which broke out really badly when I got pregnant. They gave me some new samples to try like this Hydrating Mist and I keep it in my bag when traveling.

W3LL People Nudist Multi-Use Cream Stick

I love products that I can use in more than one way, and even better if they are doing double duty on top of that. I use this stick as blush and for lip color, plus it has aloe and antioxidants in it so it’s good for your skin. It’s super sheer which I love, and has a gorgeous dewy finish.

Clean makeup must-haves on apartment 34Clean makeup must-haves on apartment 34Clean makeup must-haves on apartment 34

If women were going to change one thing about their beauty routine – what do you think it should be?

That’s a hard question! I’ve been slowly changing my skin, face, hair, nail and body products over the last year and a half and now I’m 99% clean. I think I started with replacing my face serum. I wanted to find something that was just as effective and clean as the toxic version I was using. If I had to recommend one product though, it would be a moisturizer that can be used on your whole body though, like Everyday Oil. Our skin is our biggest organ and we need to treat it well.

Clean makeup must-haves on apartment 34

What do you hope women take away from The Moment

Ultimately The Moment is a beauty site, but a new kind of beauty site. Beauty is so much more than the way we look, beauty is a feeling that comes from joy. I hope that people take away how to feel joy with what we eat, how we live our lives and with how we take care of ourselves.

What is your advice for someone looking to turn their passion into a career?

I started The Moment not because I’m an expert, but because I’m on a mission to feel better and feel more joy in my life. That mission was clear to me, because it’s what I did in my spare time. It took me a while to figure out it’s shape though, that came from journaling and mediating. If I have any advice it’s to take the time to be in touch with yourself and listen to your gut.

Clean makeup must-haves on apartment 34

Journaling and meditating goals. Check! I’m so thrilled that Laney in enlightening us all, not only with her ever-growing clean beauty knowledge, but also with her joy, her positive outlook and her goal of simply helping people feel better. Because you really can’t get mad at that can you? Seems like a long relaxing Memorial Day weekend would be the perfect time to start taking a little extra care of your self, no? Head to the The Moment for even more beautiful inspiration.



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For more of my favorite beauty finds, CLICK HERE

For more interviews with inspiring power women, CLICK HERE

For more of my favorite San Francisco gems, CLICK HERE


photography by andrea posadas

Have you ever met someone with whom you just clicked? Like you’d known this person for a long time and that you’ve always been friends? That was certainly how I felt when I sat down with chef, cooking school & cafe owner and now cookbook author Alison Cayne. If you don’t immediately recognize Alison you would most likely recognize her New York City home as it’s one of the most pinned things ever. And it should be – it’s crazy gorgeous. But that’s not what this post is about. While Alison’s style is indeed impeccable, what she’s really famous for is founding Haven’s Kitchen, a cooking school, event space and cafe in the heart of Manhattan.

Recently, I had the pleasure of enjoying lunch with Ali at one of my favorite San Francisco haunts, and I can’t decide what amazed me more: the fact that she has five kids, that she got into food and started her business with no formal training or that she did it all after 40?! I think I need to go with D) all of the above because Ali’s journey to becoming a cooking maven is both nontraditional and truly awesome. Vogue describes her as a Nancy Meyers movie character come to life after all. We were also twinning on the day we met – if that isn’t a meet cute, I don’t know what is.

Meet cookbook author & chef Alison Cayne on apartment 34Meet cookbook author & chef Alison Cayne on apartment 34

Ali’s path to becoming a chef, business owner and now cookbook author it truly unique. Ali is by all intents and purposes, a home cook. As she explained to me, she always loved cooking and food but never considered it a career. She just cooked, at first for her kids and then for friends, and then as lessons for fellow stay-at-home moms as her children (I mentioned five right?!) headed into their school-age years. That’s when Ali realized she wasn’t only passionate about food but food systems, sustainability and how that all connects to food culture. She realized that where food comes from, how we prepare it and then how we consume it is really a linchpin of human connection. I know, heady stuff.

So Alison decided to go back to school, earning a Master’s Degree in Food Studies from NYU (impressed yet)? She also began working for the Union Square Farmer’s Market (initially as an intern! it’s never too late my friends) running their cooking demonstrations – and meeting tons of local food purveyors in the New York area along the way. But what really inspired me about Ali’s approach to food is her focus on a mission – creating meaningful connections through cooking and eating. Even though farm to table food is now trendy and we all obsessively watch Mind of Chef and Chef’s Table (at least I do!), Ali wanted to take these high-minded concepts and make them accessible to regular folk who likely shop in grocery stores, not idyllic farmer’s markets, who have 20 minutes to make dinner for a hungry hoard every night and who have probably never been taught a proper cooking skill or what celeriac is. Ali realized she wanted to teach others, both about the connection between earth, food and culture, but also how to feel confident cooking yummy stuff. And that’s where Haven’s Kitchen was born.

Meet cookbook author & chef Alison Cayne on apartment 34

But not everyone is lucky enough to take a class, attend an event or stop in and enjoy a bite at Haven’s Kitchen. Hence “The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School” book. More than a traditional book of recipes, Ali set out to make a manual that will help novice cooks feel confident in the kitchen. Because she explains, “my goal building Haven’s Kitchen was to create a cooking school for recreation: for home cooks and people who just wanted to make enjoyable food. Every decision we make comes back to the idea that the kitchen should be a safe, happy, creative place—a haven – not threatening or intimidating, not some far removed, sterile space of Instagrammable perfection. I think the cookbook takes our approach and philosophy and translates it into book form as best as we could.” She went on to explain how those years of teaching cooking to her friends helped her realize that when you’re confident about doing something, you’re likely to do it more often. And if people were to cook at home more often it helps build familial bonds, community connection and is easier on our environment. Win, win win. I love where Ali’s head is at.

Cooking School includes everything from a primer on knife skills to shopping lists for both your pantry and your kitchen appliance closet. The book is then organized around food types, from grains & beans to eggs, salads and sauces. Each chapter not only offers recipes relevant to its assigned category but also includes secrets to key cooking techniques like how to get the proper braise or how to perfectly poach an egg (still a mystery to me!). It helps that Cooking School is also filled with beautiful pictures of mouth-watering dishes – a prerequisite for any cookbook that takes pride of place on my cookbook shelves – but I love that this book goes further than most. When you head to the chapter about fish, you can learn details about the ingredient (like what to look out for when buying fish), the necessary cooking tools (what to use to filet a fish) and culinary tips & tricks like taking fish out of the refrigerator 15-30 minutes before cooking to optimize flavors. It’s these tidbits that will help transform you from a recipe follower to an actual cook – someone who knows and understands details about preparing food.

Meet cookbook author & chef Alison Cayne on apartment 34Meet cookbook author & chef Alison Cayne on apartment 34Meet cookbook author & chef Alison Cayne on apartment 34    Meet cookbook author & chef Alison Cayne on apartment 34

Now Ali cautions, you’re not going to read her book, or any for that matter, and become a master chef overnight. As with anything worthwhile in life, building cooking skills takes time and practice. Ali shares this anecdote to explain:

“I’ll give an example: Tonight I’m having ten people for dinner. I have two vegetarians and a few big meat eaters. It’s January so my vegetable choices are mostly root vegetables and winter greens. I’ve had a four of the guests before so I need to cook something new for them. That puzzle might sound overwhelming to some, but I am confident that I can prepare a few hearty vegetable and grain dishes, roast chickens, toss a gorgeous salad and prepare a sauce or two for drizzling that will work on any or all of it. That confidence, knowing that I have the skills and know-how to make those components of the meal without relying on recipes and that I can get it done in two-three hours is what I hope our readers will eventually accomplish. That way, instead of being stressed about hosting a dinner, I am actually looking forward to the time I get to spend with my friends.”

And isn’t that time better spent that on Snapchat, Twitter or the latest drama on Bravo?? As my kiddo gets older and I start really thinking about things I want to pass down to him, a love of food and cooking is definitely one. In our fast-everything society, where the entire world’s variety of cuisine can be delivered to your door in a matter of minutes, it can be so easy to forget how foundational food is to culture. And to our environment. And to the vitality of our communities.

While I love Ali’s approach to food, I didn’t walk away from our conversation inspired to cook. I walked away feeling inspired as a woman, a mother, and an entrepreneur. Ali is a study of taking the time to discover your passion, invest in it with the full expression of your being and then see that passion through to a place that has real, tangible impact on the world. Her story reminds us that this isn’t something you have figured out when you graduate from college. Or turn 30. Or at any number of other major life milestones. For some it might be a never-ending quest. Could you describe your work in mission form? What impact are you hoping to leave on the people you interact with? Knowing that offers such a profound sense of purpose.

I’m going to ponder my mission tonight over a lovely home-cooked dinner. Like this beautiful Garbanzo Feta Salad!

Garbanzo Feta Salad_Haven's Kitchen Cooking School

Garbanzo Feta Salad

Serves 4 to 6

1 cup dried garbanzos, soaked for 8 hours, or one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
Fine sea salt
Citrus Vinaigrette (see below)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced and held in ice water
2 Persian cucumbers or 1 small
English cucumber, sliced ¼ inch thick on the bias
¼ cup crumbled feta
¼ cup torn fresh flat-leaf parsley

If using dried beans, after soaking, rinse the garbanzos, place in a medium saucepan, and cover with double their volume of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the beans are tender but hold their shape, about 45 minutes. Remove from the heat, add a large pinch or two of salt, and let sit for 15 minutes. Drain and put in a large serving bowl.

While the garbanzos are cooking, make the vinaigrette.

Drain the red onion and add to the garbanzos. Add the cucumber, feta, and parsley, drizzle on about ¼ cup of the vinaigrette, and toss to combine. Add more dressing and salt to taste. Serve at room temperature or chilled.


Citrus Vinaigrette

Makes about 2 cups
1 cup mixed citrus juice, plus the grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste

In a medium bowl, whisk together the juice, zest, mustard, a pinch of salt, and pepper to taste. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until well blended.

Finish with additional salt and pepper as desired.


You can order your copy of Cooking School here

Check out more of my favorite spring recipes, here

Interviews with more crazy inspiring women are right here


original photography for apartment 34 by andrea posadas

Recipe excerpted from The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School by Alison Cayne (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2017. Photographs by Con Poulos

When I started this site way back when, my favorite thing about the interwebs was discovering wonderful, amazingly talented people and sharing their stories. From my girl crushes, to retail therapy, designer profiles and maker interviews, the world of awe-inspiring creativity has always been my biggest motivator. In the coming weeks, I’m going to be bringing you a bevvy of crazy-cool women; case in point, my profile today of Simone LeBlanc who has perhaps the coolest job – professional gift giver!

Read below for some brilliant tips from this super stylish entrepreneurial mom, just in time for mother’s day.

meet the maker, Simone LeBlanc  meet the maker, Simone Le Blancmeet the maker, Simone Le Blanc

How did you get inspired to start your business?
I had been working as a personal life-stylist and loved connecting with people in this way — finding an object for their home or a gift that was ‘just the right thing.’ It opened up a world for me and I realized there was an opportunity in the marketplace for my perspective on gifting. My experience with my clients allowed me to create relationships all over the world, with masterful craftspeople and artisans, building highly customized items that have meaning on an intimate and personal level.

What is your advice to entrepreneurs?
Have a vision and a purpose that truly drives you. Every day I have so much more that I want to create and build. Vision and purpose will get you out of bed each morning, carry you through any rough waters, keep you learning and keep you excited. I’d also say be fearless in your commitment to putting yourself out there. Master the balance of dedication, passion, and detachment. You have to ask the tough questions and be prepared to hear things that don’t always feel great. Have the wisdom to personally detach and take a look at your brand as a business, something bigger than just you. This can be a challenge when your brand is a direct extension of you, but it’s important for growth– I continue to work on this all the time.

meet the maker, Simone Le Blanc meet the maker, Simone Le Blancmeet the maker, Simone LeBlanc

What is the secret to giving the perfect gift?
Always keep the recipient in mind, and be mindful of your relationship and the message you want to send. The perfect gift is something unexpected, yet at the same time on point and personal. It’s meaningful and nuanced and resonates clearly and directly with the recipient. But most of all, be real. If you love what you’re gifting, authenticity will carry through.

What is the best gift you’ve ever received?
Without a doubt the best gift I’ve ever received is my daughter Lillian and the ego-freedom that motherhood brings. (I feel that).

meet the maker, Simone LeBlancmeet the maker, Simone LeBlanc

You have a young daughter – what techniques do you use to balance life as a business woman and life as a mom?
I’ve learned that instinct and discipline are key to bringing all of the moving parts together. Constantly practicing flexibility to roll with it all falling apart, and most importantly, resilience to get back up and pull it all together. And within all of that—making sure I make time to be present with my daughter Lillian, with my husband, and myself.

What do you want for Mother’s Day?
For Mother’s Day, I’d love just a slow, simple day with family. I imagine waking up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and the sound of my husband and daughter in the kitchen together while I linger in bed a bit with some magazines. We’d enjoy a yummy breakfast complete with some fresh squeezed orange juice from the trees in our garden. A lovely Sunday of uninterrupted time with my favorite people.

If you’re still a little stumped about what to get mom this year, skip the flowers or fruit basket and just go straight for one of Simone’s stunning gift boxes. (hint hint if you’re reading this hubby!).


For more inspiring stories, CLICK HERE


images courtesy of simone le blanc

Meet Kai Avent-deLeon, Brooklyn native and owner of concept store, Sincerely Tommy – where boutique meets cafe. Sincerely Tommy is a bright, sunshine filled space containing a wonderfully curated selection of women’s fashion and lifestyle objects. A platform for emerging artists, Kai carefully chooses pieces from up-and-coming designers to display in her store. The shop also serves as a cafe, with plenty of seating for neighborhood regulars and freelancers to enjoy the space. It’s been awhile since we did a Retail Therapy post around here and we’re lucky that Kai recently opened up to Apartment 34 about life in New York, the creative process, and finding a sense of self and identity. If you need some serious inspiration and self-motivation, be sure to scroll down!

sincerely tommy boutique in nyc on apartment 34

Tell us about your New York? Is there any other place you would like to live?
I feel very privileged to have grown up in New York. You are exposed to a lot of culture, and you get to be involved in a lot of things that you wouldn’t necessarily have the same ability to do living anywhere else in the world. Growing up I was involved in acting classes, dancing, and really anything creative. I think that definitely contributed to my passion towards what I do now, and being creative in general. Even now as an adult, I have been able to define my taste and interests because of that upbringing, and dig a little deeper.

sincerely tommy boutique in nyc on apartment 34

New York has had a huge influence on who I am as a woman, and who I am as a person. There is a lot to be said about the city in general – finding inspiration in different places and being able to explore. I personally really enjoy the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side for the old architecture, it reminds me of old New York and growing up there. Around the Met too, the Met and Guggenheim are my 2 favorite museums in New York.

sincerely tommy boutique in nyc on apartment 34sincerely tommy boutique in nyc on apartment 34

I love Brooklyn, obviously, I grew up there. I love the drastic differences between the neighborhoods. Bed-Stuy has a great combination of community and a bit of youth and vibrancy. As I get older and prepare to settle down a bit more, I’m exploring other places. I’m thinking of living in an area that’s more outdoors, with fresh air and more scenic. Maybe somewhere in the desert, or in Africa. This wouldn’t be permanent, but maybe for 3 months out of the year.

sincerely tommy boutique in nyc on apartment 34nyc boutique on apartment 34

What does your creative process look like? Where do you draw inspiration?
I don’t have a set process, I tend to go with the flow in general. When I’m inspired to do something, I just do it. Starting the line for the store, for instance, was just inspired by wanting to wear certain things myself, and feeling like I wasn’t finding those things at an accessible price point. I just started making clothes that were really fun and comfortable. I never studied fashion design or the technical aspects of producing a line, so it was all very new to me. I was just inspired by different textiles I saw in Mexico and went from there.

My inspiration for the store was very similar. There were a bunch of brands that I knew existed that weren’t getting real representation. I saw a lot of talent and not enough opportunity, so I wanted to open a store that allowed those creatives to showcase their design and also be the first store to carry those brands.

sincerely tommy boutique in nyc on apartment 34sincerely tommy boutique in nyc on apartment 34sincerely tommy boutique in nyc on apartment 34

Do you have any side projects in conjunction with Sincerely Tommy?
I’m currently working on a website for interiors, where I’ll be doing consultations for people’s homes and businesses. I’ll also have a small shop section where I’ll be selling small objects. I’m hoping to launch this within the next two months.

nyc boutique on apartment 34nyc boutique on apartment 34nyc boutique on apartment 34

What are the original influences on your personal aesthetic?
My mother and my grandmother have played a huge role – they have their own sense of style that’s really strong and unique, so watching them growing up, how they would dress and how they would decorate their homes, has always played a really big part in my own style and taste.

nyc boutique on apartment 34nyc boutique on apartment 34nyc boutique in apartment 34
Overall, I definitely go for minimalism, and as I get older I want less stuff. If I do buy something, it’s something from a city I visited, and to me it represents that city and the time that I had there, so it has sentimental value. The benefit of minimalism is that the store and my home are pretty much the same. I can always sell something in the store if I choose not to want it anymore. I like natural textures, neutral colors, and things that are very easy to mix and match.

nyc boutique on apartment 34 nyc boutique on apartment 34nyc boutique on apartment 34

We know you have worked closely with your mother and grandmother on Sincerely Tommy. What pieces of wisdom have you taken away from the women in your family?
To be strong and independent. They both epitomize the concept of taking risks and have sought out ventures, whether career or personal, that are the road less traveled. I really admire that and it has helped me develop my passion and way of living life. I admire them so much – they represent and embody strong independent women in every sense.


We can tell you have a strong sense of self and identity, what advice can you offer to women out there who may struggle with going full force at what they want?
Find yourself first. Having a really good relationship with yourself and understanding that it’s constantly evolving is always most important. Once you are at a point of being comfortable with yourself, everything else comes naturally. As human beings we put a lot of pressure on trying to find outside sources to complete us, but once you have figured out who you are, everything else just comes to you. It’s a never ending journey.


To check out our entire Retail Therapy archive CLICK HERE

Check out our favorite makers HERE

Interviews with more inspiring women are RIGHT HERE


image 1 via garance doré / photography by apartment 34 by kat harris photography of the refined woman / interview by laura banas 

One reason I’ve stuck with this whole blogging gig for nearly a decade now is the talented, passionate people I’m lucky enough to meet along the way. I’ve profiled many on da blog over the years (you can check a lot of them out here) and my latest discovery is no exception. As I finally weaned myself from fast fashion (thanks pregnancy!) and have committed myself to a more long-term view of my closet, I like to look for people who are doing really cool things with fashion. The local Bay Area clothing line Eight + Sand – a collection of impeccably tailored basics such as T-shirts, hoodies and button-down shirts – is doing wonderful things in spades. Things like turning how women’s clothing is measured and made on its head. Like sourcing sustainable fabrics that don’t fall apart with the first wash. Like making everything locally. Like jumping into an industry they knew nothing about because they wanted to follow a dream. I recently visited Hawthorne boutique in Oakland to meet Eight + Sand founders Noushie and Ronda to learn all about their journey to create the perfect shirt.

meet the maker on apt34meet the maker on apt34
How did you get started in the apparel business?
Everything we do grew out of a real need that we, or friends of ours, had. We were living in the Bay Area, surrounded by gorgeous, local food prepared slowly, by local wines and craft beers and so much attention to source and ways of making that it was almost cliché, and yet the clothing we were all buying was falling apart after a few washes. We were all going to the same stores, buying the same stuff: made overseas in terrible conditions, treated with dangerous chemicals, produced at dizzying rates, and worst of all, filling up the landfills with waste. Even among people who really participated in monitoring their footprint in other ways— what they eat, the car they drive, who they vote for— clothing was a total blind spot. We were like, “What is wrong with this picture?” So we walked away from our old careers and started building Eight + Sand, hell-bent on doing things differently, on offering people something obsessively sourced, painstakingly crafted, super durable, and totally classic; something where every step of the process, every hand than participated in it, is known and honored.

meet the maker on apt34meet the maker on apt34

What do they think really sets the line apart?
Two big things: One, while there are a few companies gesturing at the idea of the problems we mentioned above, very few people are tackling all of the components. Say, they’re making inroads in terms of educating consumers about the true cost of what they buy but not working with truly exceptional materials, or they’re very artisanal, offering  high-quality goods, but they’re mostly accessories and the conditions of making aren’t really discussed. We’re doing it all: we use some of the finest textiles available from only ethical sources, obsess over craft, prioritize fit with custom grade rules, and do all of our manufacturing locally where minimum wage is the highest in the country and we can actually know the women making our clothes. We use only ecologically sustainable dyes and packaging, organic textiles, discourage power-consumption, and focus on gender-neutral styles that serve all kinds of folks. And lemme tell you something, there’s a reason we’re alone— it is SO hard to do all of this. It’s a whole lot easier to just bend your ethics and triple your profit. But that’s not how we roll. We got into this business to serve people and the planet and that’s what we mean to do, even when it’s an uphill battle.

meet the maker on apt34meet the maker on apt34meet the maker on apt34 meet the maker on apt34
What should women know about proper fit?
The most important thing women should know about fit is that it has nothing to do with them. Clothing companies use sizing charts that contradict each other all day long; they don’t correspond and are not based on bodies, they’re based on algorithms or in some cases, just really old math. Also, fit is subjective. Yes, there’s clearly a point at which something is just categorically too big, but usually fit is much more nuanced than people think— something might “fit” but feel too tight for the amount of curve you like to show. Or maybe your mom thinks it fits but you like things to accentuate your shape more— whose to say? So we don’t trade in “proper” fits. What we do is measure large groups of real women and come up with real, data-driven averages to build our clothes around. This allows us to offer sizing charts (one for every piece) that not only work, but make room for sizing preferences so women can reliably decide what best suits their needs and wants. Everything is based on our customers’ own measurements, so they can easily find their preferred size for their preferred look and feel. No returns. No trips to the tailor.

meet the maker on apt34 meet the maker on apt34meet the maker on apt34 meet the maker on apt34
What would we be surprised to know about how clothes are made?
There’s a lot— it’s a shocking industry— but we’ll stick to three heavy-hitters:
Your clothes are ALL made by people. Often folks think that only “sweatshops” have rows of sewing machines attended by humans at work, and that at “ethical” places, things are automated. This is not true. There are no automated clothing-making machines out there. Every piece you buy was sewn by a person. The issue then is not that those people are doing the sewing, it’s how, how are they treated, how are they paid, how old are they, how are they protected. For example, many manufacturers pay their employees by the piece, which contributes to exploitation and low quality goods. So things aren’t as simple as you might imagine, there’s a lot of research involved.

Those little holes you get in that super-soft Tee from J Crew aren’t from your jeans button, they are the result of a chemical enzyme that wears the fibers of low-grade quality down until they soften, allowing companies to buy extremely cheap materials and make them feel supple in-store. The only trouble being, the fabric is destroyed in the process, making it prone to holes after just a single wash. So you waste money and your near-disposable clothing ends up in a land fill very quickly.
And lastly, there is no reporting required on any of this. Unlike your food which the FDA and other agencies require people to report on, the garment industry is like the wild west. It’s where food was in the middle of last century. And that should worry people very much, but right now, it doesn’t, because people don’t think of clothing as agricultural products, but they are.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?
These days, we’re all about fighting the good fight. There is so much junk in the world, so many objects of poor quality circulating around and messing up our planet, we’re inspired to do better, to be better and help people have another option. To us, making objects that last, that can age and patina with you, that can start well and grow into something like an heirloom, with history and beauty and time, that’s a way to change the world. It’s a small way, but it matters, just like all the other small ways. We believe in working well, on behalf of the planet, on behalf of the incredible people who supply our cottons and threads and buttons, on behalf of a world we want, where rampant consumerism has been replaced by measured, intentional collecting of objects that last.
That’s what inspired us and keeps us going, even when this project gets really hard, and it sure does, we remember what we’re working for.

eight + sand on apartment 34

What do you hope to do next?
In practical terms, we’ll be launching a new “Heritage Collection,” a small-batch collection of pieces made from textiles so special, we could only make around 30 of each piece. It’s all about honoring the rarity and gift of a truly unique fabric, even if we can’t get enough to make as many as we can in our Classic Collection. It lets us spread our wings, experiment with new styles, and bring our customer something nearly one of a kind. We are also experimenting with thoughtful ways to use fabric scraps created during manufacturing which we hope will get us closer to our zero-waste goals.

In more existential terms, we hope to keep educating people on the realities and woes of the fashion industry and encouraging them to think more and better about what they buy and put on their bodies. Slow fashion is new, but it is happening, and we’re proud to be on the bleeding edge. We want to do our best to not only support our own work, but the work of the other talented people working for a paradigm shift in the garment world. We are little but we are mighty!

I am so inspired by Noushie and Ronda. With my love for minimal, timeless style (as you might have spied here) they’re speaking my style language and they’re attempting to make the world better too. One perfect shirt at at a time.

Imagine having a successful corporate career and walking away from it all to become an artist. It’s something many of us dream about, but few actually ever take that leap. But artist Windy Chien was able to muster the strength to do exactly that. Discovering talents like Windy is probably my favorite thing about Apt34. Women like Windy – with vision, passion, creativity and drive constantly leave me in awe. I recently had the pleasure of touring Windy’s San Francisco studio where she is twisting the art world into knots – quiet literally.


Windy is making art out of knots and it is absolutely stunning. It all started in January of this year, when The Year of Knots was born. Windy is teaching herself and creating one unique knot each day and assembling  them all into a gorgeous installation in her studio. They are sometimes based off traditional knots, sometimes explorations. Windy starts every day in the studio with a knot, noting that it helps her achieve her creative flow for the day. It’s become an important ritual in her daily life. And the result is just so cool. Some of her knots incorporate a piece of brass hardware, some lay flat, some are multi-dimensional. She has created a handful in a beautiful black cord – a truly modern take on an ancient skill. Color me obsessed.


But what’s even more remarkable is that rope as a medium wasn’t Windy’s initial goal. As she explained during my visit, she simply wanted to flex her creative muscle, actually exploring multiple art forms before discovering knots. Upon her departure from corporate American, Windy tried out all kinds of creative avenues; pottery, painting, wood carving (her hand carved spoons have also garnered a cult following. Whenever one goes up for sale, it’s gone immediately.) But then Windy discovered knots – yes with rope – like what is often used on a boat – and she was hooked. Upon researching the history behind knot-making, Windy began to see knots as their own form of language. Each knot conveys a purpose, a meaning and tells a story. I totally love that. It’s as if her studio wall is an entire novel with hidden secrets about human history. The knots also just look really really amazing.

But the Year of Knots isn’t Windy’s only project. She is also creating gorgeous knotted lighting and wall-hangings. Each one is unique – many are bespoke commissions created specifically for their recipient. While the wall hangings are certainly reminiscent of 70’s macramé we’re seeing everywhere these days, I love how modern, clean and updated Windy’s pieces feel.


Most recently, Windy has taken her work to even greater heights by doing large scale installations in hotels, office buildings and public spaces. I for one would love to be able to walk beneath a Windy Chien piece every day. For now, I will continue to follow her on Instagram and drop into her Mission-based studio for a little creative pick-me-up. If you’ve been looking for an example to inspire you to chase that seemingly crazy dream – Windy is your woman. She’s proof positive that if you put all your energy into doing what you love, you just might be surprised by what falls into place.

Thank you Windy for letting me spend a truly inspiring morning with you!

If you’re looking for even more inspirational women doing super cool stuff check out this post, this post and this post.

And if you like these kinds of posts please let me know in the comments below. If you’re down, I’d really love to get out there to bring you more stories like this one.

original photography by michelle drewes


Well, 2014 has certainly been a whirlwind year – can’t believe it’s already over! It was by far the best one yet for Team Apartment 34. So many things happened it’s a little hard to keep it all straight. We were able to grow and take on epic new projects. We traveled from sea to sea and saw unbelievable sites along the way. We teamed up with so many talented people and inspiring brands for some of our most memorable collaborations yet. And I personally made some big life changes and steps towards – holy crap – being a full fledged grownup! We’re so ready for what 2015 has in store, but we couldn’t say goodbye to 2014 without reliving our absolute favorite moments of the year.

apartment34-mykonos-guide3 moments of 2014

First, we travelled far and wide. We packed up two weeks in a tote bag {it can be done!} and headed to Mykonos, Greece. Bianca also jet set to Bali and Thailand, landed in Singapore and had fun in D.C.,  while I explored Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, experienced great taste in Colonial Williamsburg and then Bianca lived the dream in Hawaii. We can only hope to keep up our jetsetting ways in 2015!

chocolate-gluten-free-tart moments of 2014

We also attempted to do a lot more home cooking. We found out that going gluten free wasn’t so bad after all! We baked some delicious gluten free treats like these Chocolate Pistachio and Coconut Tarts. And we didn’t stop there! We flexed our wanna-be chef muscles and proved to be heavyweights with this Spatchcock Roasted Chicken and this delicious, gluten-free, Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake.

andiamo-sf-apartment-34 moments of 2014

So naturally, we got pretty confident with our skills and decided to throw an epic dinner party in San Francisco for 12 influencers who continually inspire us, just for funsies! We teamed up with San Francisco based restaurants Trick Dog and Central Kitchen, as well as florists Twigss Florals, event planner Erin Taylor of Bustle Events, photographer Katie Newburn and so many others to throw an over the top dinner-party to remember! That  table….le sigh.

grapefruit-margarita-recipe-apartment-34 moments of 2014

After that, we really could have used a drink. Throwing a party is no joke. Hell, we could have used a drink all year long, and drink we did! Our cocktail series continues to be one of our faves and this girly Grapefruit Margarita made its rounds! Who says you can’t drink tequila on New Year’s Eve?!

drybar-alli-webb moments of 2014

With all of the fun we were having, we wondered, is it possible to have everything? Fun, family, a career? Inspired by kick-ass women like Ali Webb, founder of DryBar, and Alissa Carroll, Editor-in-Chief of San Francisco Cottages & Gardens, who really do have it all, we started an awesome, entrepreneurial-based series called Girl Crush to explore the idea. I also started a more personal, reflective series, with blogger friend Jeanne Chan, of Shop Sweet Things, that focuses on real life issues we all face as women called The Kind of Woman. We’re hoping to keep the discussion going in 2015 – we hope you’ll join in!

apartment-34-office top 10 moments 2014

Confident that we really could have it all if we worked for it, we brought on three summer interns which meant we needed a better space to work in. So we completely made over the team office! We added a big team desk for everyone to work around, designated a seating area for client meetings {and magazine reading!} and created an inspiration board to compile all of our ideas. The end result was everything we wanted! More here.

coffee-and-calligraphy-apartment-34 moments of 2014

With a bigger team, we were able to do more cool shizz like, whatever the hell we wanted! One of our most beautiful collaborations was with the calligraphy studio Bright Room Studio, and local SF roasters, Wrecking Ball Coffee. We dreamed up the ultimate Saturday morning project with calligraphy and coffee in hand!

bedroom-the-line-apt-34 moments of 2014

We even were able to send our photographer to cool places, like this one! We came across some amazing interiors all year long, but The Apartment in NYC, designed by The Line, takes – the – cake! Designed to be 100% shoppable {yep, you can buy that art right off the wall!}, this space is EVERYTHING we ever wanted in an interior!

apartment34_victorian1 top 2014 moments

Inspired by such beautiful design, I realized the space in the loft just wasn’t cutting it anymore. So, we went out and bought a freakin’ house!! It’s beautiful on the outside don’t you think? But the inside? Oh, it’s crazy uggggly in the inside. Seriously crazy {proof here}. Buying a 140 year fixer-upper has been the ultimate test in patience and a serious learning experience in hardcore design my friends. I’ve now learned the language of elevations, lighting plans and costs per square foot. Tons more detail on all this to come in the new year, but with renovations finally about to get underway, we couldn’t be more excited to move in. In six to eight more months…You ready to go on this adventure with me?!

Apartment34_HatchCollection moments of 2014

And put a nice little cherry on top of it all, oh yay, we’re having a baby! The scariest best moment of 2014 was finding out that we were going to be parents and that we would be bringing home our own bundle of joy come March! I can’t believe how fast time is flying and that in just a few months we’ll be meeting this lil’ baby. Holy mother-f’er things are about to get really real around here. Again, you ready to go on this adventure with me too because I’m sure I’m going to need all the help I can get!!

Of course this is only a teeny tiny snippet of what was one of the craziest years I can ever remember. Here are a few other highlights you may have missed…

Other Memorable Moments:

– Learning how to dress the bump!

– Being featured on Apartment Therapy, not once with the updated loft, but twice with our Editorial Director’s glam apartment!

– Unearthing tons of blogs we love!

– Doing pretty cool DIY’s like this Gold Speckled Rug!

Finding fabulous small shops from coast to coast.

– Discovering new San Francisco gems!

– Banking tons of design ideas to steal

Pinning our little hearts out {with SO much new house inspiration to come very soon!}

‘Gramming all along the wall

And with that, we couldn’t be more thrilled to bring in this new year, sure to be packed with sweet smiles, more love and tons of fun!

If you don’t want to miss a thing be sure to follow us on Bloglovin“. It’s a super easy way to get your Apartment 34 updates all in one place!

That’s right. We love women who love to run the show, so it’s a no-brainer that we immediately swooned over Alisa Carroll. She is the Editor in Chief of the newly launched publication, San Francisco Cottages & Gardens {yay for print magazines!}. We also swooned because she is awesome. Like, really awesome! Here’s how this conclusion was drawn:

We sent her interview questions over email {it’s faster- people are busy- idk, it’s the 21st century?} and when she sent them back with the words “cray, cray” in her answers, we just about died. Who was this new and {seriously!} fierce EIC, who was cool enough to quote a Jay-Z song?! We had to know. Thankfully, she wanted to meet us too {?} so we met her at one of her favorite San Francisco boutiques, March {epic!}, where we talked leather pants, dogs with underbites and oh yeah, the important stuff…

With a slew of experiences behind her {and in front of her!}, Alisa shared with us the path to her latest role, a peek into what running a magazine is really like and her advice on…well anything we could think to ask, because we’ll take whatever words of wisdom this dynamic woman is willing to offer up!


Her Background

My path has definitely not been linear, but I’ve always written. For the first decade of my adult life, I was in a band, songwriting and touring around. It was a really defining experience—it helped me find my voice and figure out who I was. But ultimately I wanted life to be a little more stable! I’d always been involved in visual art and design, so I began writing for magazines like Elle Décor and Interior Design, and collaborated with artists and designers to promote their work, Jay [Jeffers] being one of them. We met ten years ago and its been an amazing, inspiring relationship ever since. A few years ago, when I started to feel the pull to go back to writing full time, I was lucky enough to be invited to edit 3D, the annual journal of the San Francisco Design Center. Then Jay and I began developing the book, and I came on board at SFC&G this past December. [My career] happened very organically. To me that’s always a good sign–when something doesn’t have to be forced, it feels like I’m on the right path.


A Day In The Life

Every day is about trying to balance the creative and business aspects of the magazine. I might go from interviewing a designer for a story to meeting with the social media team to editing the product section. For example, this past week we shot a phenomenal home in Monterey, so I was scouting the styling elements and shooting, then hustled back up to the city to do the final edits on the current issue, then worked on researching a story for the next issue. 

On Being the Boss-Lady

[Being Editor-in-Chief] is my dream job, but a magazine is also a train that does not stop! As soon as the current issue is off and running, we’re planning the next. So while we’re all writing stories for June/July, for example, we’re also planning and scouting for August/September.  It’s cray-cray.


On Success

Being lucky enough to know kind, smart, creative people who have been willing to help guide me has contributed to my success. My pinch-me moment was definitely the book launch in London. I walked up to the Chelsea Design Center and there was Collected Cool in the bookstore window. I get butterflies every time I see it on a shelf.

Her Advice 

Find your true voice and don’t compromise it. I had drinks recently with a dear friend, an accomplished writer and editor, who still lays awake at night worrying about the crop of a photo or a font. That kind of meticulousness is really what it all comes down to. I hate to think of what percentage of my life I’ve spent writing “no one” then changing it to “no body” and then back and forth again a hundred times. It’s totally obsessive and ultimately may not matter to anyone (anybody) but me, but it’s the only way to get to what’s beautiful and meaningful. 

It’s also ok to screw it up. There’s a great scene in “The Young Victoria” in which she says, “If there are mistakes they will be my mistakes, and no one else will make them.” It’s important to take a risk. Like, I probably never should have worn my hair in cornrows, but now I know.


About SFC&G

We are committed to creating a magazine that we hope people will feel authentically reflects the beauty and soul of San Francisco. SFC&G is the only design publication that is dedicated exclusively to this city, and all of our coverage emerges locally–we want to distill the creativity of the Bay—from interior design to landscape to visual art–into its pages. I’m excited about our May issue, which is all about verdant living – the experience of the Bay in spring when we head back to Dolores Park in earnest, to events like Art Market and the Film Festival and, of course, to the bar to begin imbibing awesome cocktails with absurdly esoteric herbs. Cheers!

And per Girl Crush tradition, we asked Alisa to answer our rapid fire Q&A!



Thank you to Alisa for such a fun hangout sesh {we’ll take one of everything in that store!} and if you haven’t already, pick up the new issue of San Francisco Cottages & Gardens! — Bianca

original photography for apartment 34 by Aubrie Pick 

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