Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Who's That Gal: Hopie from Block Shop Textiles

We first found out about Block Shop Textiles through a friend and quickly fell in love with their prints, mission and story of two sisters starting a business doing what they love. We were lucky enough to catch up with Hopie, the soon to be graduate of Harvard Business School, to learn more about the Block Shop story and their mission to create beautiful textiles that are both socially conscious and environmentally sound. 

Name: Hopie Stockman
Age: 29
Hometown: Princeton, NJ
Current ‘Hood: Cambridge, MA
Educational Background: Brown University, Harvard Business School

We love Block Shop Textiles! Can you tell us how you and your sister, Lily, first discovered your love for the ancient art of Indian block printing?
Lily (my sister and co-founder) moved to northern India in 2010 to apprentice with a Mughal miniature painter before starting her MFA at NYU. Her research on traditional printing led her to the town of Bagru, where a community of hand block printers specialize in natural dyes. Enter Vijey, our head printer. He was organizing a cooperative of printers in Bagru to command fair wage prices and focus on the traditional hand block printing technique, and was looking for a collaborator. The timing was just right. They began experimenting with Lily’s large scale, geometric designs and the results were beautiful. After sending prototypes back and forth between India and my apartment in San Francisco, we hatched our business plan.

I was on a plane/train/rickshaw several months later to cement our partnership with the co-op and we launched Block Shop Textiles in December 2012. Lily and I now collaborate on all designs, run the business out of our Cambridge studio with the help of two incredible Harvard undergrad interns, and travel to Bagru twice yearly.

Your textiles are hand printed in Bagru, India, a community Block Shop is very connected to. Can you tell our readers more about your relationship with the Bagru community and your philanthropic efforts within Bagru? (What drives you to improve the economic and social welfares of the Bagru families?)

We work with a co-op of about 20 printers, whose hand block printing heritage runs five generations deep. After four years of trips to Bagru, our printers have become like family to us. Our social mission is two-fold: provide health care access and protect the environment. And that’s what we are doing.

We donate a portion of our proceeds from each scarf to a community fund focused on healthcare delivery. The rural poor in India often lack the infrastructure (transportation, personal identification numbers, health insurance) to access the public health care available in cities, and expensive private healthcare is out of the question. After a year of research we’re seeking to bridge that gap by bringing high quality doctors from the city to run day-long mobile clinics in our community.

Our second mission is to use and promote the use of natural dyes in Bagru. The vast majority of all textile printing –not just in India but around the world–  is done with chemical dyes, which are brighter and cheaper, but responsible for the irreversible toxic leach into an already dangerously low water table. It’s an uphill battle trying to get printers to return to the old-school method of making dye from plants and minerals (and educate consumers about the environmental repercussion of those neon jeans), but our foreman has been instrumental in bringing that tradition back.

What does a day in the life of an Harvard Business School student and business owner look like?

I love it. Instead of extracurriculars I spend all my spare time working on Block Shop. The second year schedule is extremely flexible so that students can recruit for jobs, which was a blessing for my sister and me as our sales ramped up. We also have access to the amazingly talented pool of undergrads - our two interns are PHENOMENAL, creative businesswomen in the making.

What advice would you give to a gal looking to obtain her MBA?

It’s a fantastic, sometimes overwhelming experience and can be exceptionally rewarding if you come into it with clear goals. Beyond the business acumen and network you’d expect to leave with, I was surprised by (and grateful for) the emphasis Harvard puts on self reflection and authenticity in leadership. Two years of of time and space away from a job are a gift, so use that space to think critically about what drives you.

On your site you have an excellent travel guide to for anyone planning to visit India. If you could provide the same guidance for someone looking to start their own business, especially so connected to a culture different than their native culture, what advice would you give?

Oh thank you - we LOVE Jaipur! I’m not in much of a position to give entrepreneurship advice given our infancy. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned about doing business India, it is the importance of time spent on the ground, forming a real and long-lasting friendship with our team. Our relationship with Bagru is our business.

Working with your sister must be fun! Can you tell us more about how you two share responsibilities? Have you encountered any challenges with working together?

It’s the most fun I’ve ever had working. We are extremely open and commutative which is a relief from the corporate culture I’m used to. Given Lily’s background in the arts, and my background in business, our daily roles follow those lines. However, Lily is an extremely talented marketer and I studied painting through college. So there is very natural overlap in our skill sets, allowing us work both sides of our brains and collaborate on almost everything. We are sisters, so there’s a lot of goofiness, singing, sometimes yelling, and swaddling dogs in scarves.

What’s next for Block Shop?
We are currently working on a new line of products for the home, including pillows, bedspreads, and dhurrie rugs. But “homewares” sounds boring! We are making functional art you live with. Soft organic cottons. Beautiful slubby linens. Bohemian but sophisticated. All in our the Block Shop desert-modern aesthetic.

F U N   Q U E S T I O N S:

Currently Reading: Two that I’m currently buried in are The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, and I Shock Myself, the autobiography by the Beatrice Wood, ceramist and Dadaist muse. She led a truly inspired life.  

Favorite Meal in Boston: Eggs benedict at The South End Buttery, and masala dosa at the Dosa Factory, a hole-in-the-wall Indian fast food joint by our studio in Central Square. They blast Bollywood music videos and the dosas are dynamite.

Favorite outfit to pair a Block Print scarf with: I love what a Block Shop scarf does to jeans, biker boots and a white silk blouse.

Female Role Model: Auntie Mame - our late surrogate grandmother and incarnation of the fictional, larger-than-life eponymous heroine. She was a horticulturist, traveled the world, read prodigiously and had an African grey parrot named Kato. Gold bangles up her arm from so many trips to India. A woman with a real point of view– that’s the Block Shop woman.

And we have to ask, have you tried BollyX?
No, but I did learn a few bhangra moves from our foreman’s 10-year-old son in Bagru, who is the best little dancer I’ve ever seen (you can see his moves if you follow our Instagram, here).

To learn more about Block Shop follow them on instagram, tumblr, and facebook.

- Suzanne

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Walls of Wanderlust

I am always on the hunt for personalized gifts.  Now that wedding season is upon us, I wanted to share one from my list of bookmarked sources.  Today, we spotlight the Etsy storefront, An Inspired Image, out of New Orleans, LA.  The prints offer hundreds of destinations around the globe, both familiar and fantasia. They would be great to highlight one's home town, favorite past travel spot, or a mix of both!  Perfect for a gallery wall, in a collage or standing alone.  Which would you pick?

- Meredith

Monday, April 28, 2014

Week of April 28



We loved the "Shop and Nibble" event in the North End yesterday, and after trying tasty treats at different shops around the neighborhood, we decided that we NEED to get over to Panza next time we are in a pizza mood. Their fig & blue cheese slices offered at Twilight were amazing!

Since this weekend it will finally be May, it will definitely be time to head over to SoWa and check out this season's selection of food trucks. (hint: Mother Juice was our favorite from last summer).


Tonight is the first event in the Nature Conservancy's Future of Nature Lecture Series. Head to the Boston Center for the Arts tonight for a thoughtful and engaging conversation about how a growing global population will affect each of us.

If you're not headed to the Bearstronaut concert on Thursday, consider heading over to the New England Aquarium for a free lecture about Oyster and Salt Marsh Impacts on Cape Cod.


Boston's favorite fitness guru, Jennifer Phelan, is hosting a Bikinis & Bellinis Bootcamp at Sterling on the patio every Saturday in May and June!

Has anyone checked out SoulCycle in Chestnut Hill yet? We haven't been, but would love to hear what you gals think!

If you need new workout gear, be sure to check out Nike Boston which just reopened in Back Bay.


Are you a blogger or thinking of becoming one in the near future? Join the Boston Blogger community for cocktails and conversation at the High Ball Lounge on Tuesday.

The BOS Lady Project is hosting a Closet Cleanout clothing swap on Thursday evening at Wild Rover to benefit the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

We'd also like to say congrats to our gals over at Follain on the opening of their second location. Check them out on Nantucket!

- Cameron

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Local Gem: Nike Boston Reopening

Isn't spring the best time for a makeover?  Well, the former Niketown is now Nike Boston, and it has never looked better!  We were invited to check out the unveiling of the store after being closed for a few productive months (read on for other special guests), which reopened on Friday the 18th leading up to Marathon Monday.  After a year of our city's spirit rebuilding, Nike Boston followed suit.  The 30,000 square foot space is the 12th Nike Brand Experience to open in the US, a movement to present recycled materials, starting with reclaimed floors from a local school gymnasium to recycled tires to highlight their sneaker displays.

Boston-only style of Nike Frees  "Stronger Every Run," indeed!

Nike Boston now offers services such as:

The store is more active than ever, too!  The Nike+ Run Club meets Tuesdays/Thursdays at 6:30pm and Saturdays at 9am at the runner's lounge above before hitting the streets of Boston.

The morning of the opening presented high energy (there was a line around the block of people who camped out waiting to be let in!) and celebrity to kick off amazing fundraising for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.  Rob Gronkowski, Shane Victorino and Sarah Reinertsen were there to collectively kick off the $100/mile donation on the in-store treadmills to get everyone in the right spirits to give back to our city!  It was pretty great seeing these athletes in person, and how amazing that they were part of the day!

Now, go check out the space on 200 Newbury Street!  Be sure to note all of the past Boston championship recognition on the atrium flags, and larger than life wall upstairs, modeled after our very own Green Monster! #strongereveryrun

- Meredith

select photos courtesy of See*Spark*Run, thanks, gals A&B!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Discussion Questions for 'Lean In' By Sheryl Sandberg


About a year ago, Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In was making headlines in every major news outlet. Its funny, because though the book is well written and throught provoking, the topic of women in the workplace is far from a new issue. So why did this book cause such a firestorm? Lets discuss.

1. Give the book a letter grade and explain.

2. After reading Lean In, why do you think women only make $.77 for every dollar made by a man?

3. Have you ever negotiated a pay raise? If not, what's holding you back?

4. How are older and younger generations of women different in your workplace?

5. Did you find any flaws in Sandberg's arguments throughout the book?

6. Do you have someone in your field that you'd consider a mentor? Do you serve as a mentor for a younger woman?

7. Has reading this book had any impact on your office behavior or outlook?

8. Is "ambitious" a positive way to describe someone - or negative?

9. Sandberg focuses on the phrase "done is better than perfect." Is this a motto you see yourself incorporating into your career?

If you liked the book and found Sandberg's advice helpful, I highly suggest checking out the Lean In organization's website - it is updated frequently with career advice and negotiation tutorials!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

ArtWeek Boston

Looking for new or cultural activities to participate in this weekend? Starting tomorrow you can get your art on with ArtWeek Boston, the biannual celebration of the arts, cultural and creative communities of Boston. From April 25th to May 4th you can experience a wide array of uniquely curated experiences including ballet workshops, insider studio tours, outdoor exhibitions, music-inspired dining and more. 

My top picks include:

Anita Kurl Hair Salon will host a couture hairstyling showcase featuring high fashion styles on models, as well as a limited number of exclusive of ArtWeek guests. 

The rug on the floor and the art on the walls are often the most expensive investment in your home. We often know what we like, but do you really understand why these exquisite pieces are priced the way they are and whether you are making a sound investment? Experts Mahmud Jafri and Jacqui Becker will reveal the art of how to purchase fine art and fine rugs; what drives their prices and how to make an educated investment in pieces that will last a lifetime. 

Celebrate the official launch of ArtApp Boston+, a free mobile application that ushers in a new era of art exploration in Boston and beyond. This event is open to the public, but tracking down the location is part of the fun – check for weekly clues on 

Attending one or more event at ArtWeek Boston? Share your posts with us and the event sponsors by using the hashtag #myartweek.

- Suzanne

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Daily Read: Luella and June

Bradley Agather Means is a woman who does. it. all.  The Dallas-based blogger and magazine fashion editor (at only 27!) shares her daily musings via beauty, clothing and lifestyle finds any gal can relate to.  Bradley's blog, Luella & June, presents her curated picks with readers.  I just cannot get enough, which is why she is one of my favorite daily reads!

It is easy to see why others agree, Bradley has been featured on The EverygirlBarney's New York (her 2012 picks are still on trend!) and more.  Her 2013 wedding was incredibly chic, and I could read her articles for hours, especially what she would take from her closet in the event of a fictitious fire... a true fashionista!  Be sure to join us in reading Luella & June daily for some of the best home, lifestyle and fashion forecasting around!

- Meredith

photos from Luella & June blog and Bradley on Instagram

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day


Hope everyone is safely and happily recovering from running or watching yesterday's marathon! Today we have something different to celebrate - 44th Annual Earth Day! There are so many ways to celebrate our environment, especially in such a green city like Boston. This week, Boston Green Blog is giving away two free passes to The Future of Nature Lecture Series hosted by the Nature Conservancy. The three events in the series promise to be both interesting and inspiring - covering the issues of population, finance, and climate change. 

This Thursday is the first ever Fashion Revolution Day, which is another worthy way to celebrate Earth Week. FRD asks people to wear their clothing inside out for one day in order to encourage transparency, equality, and sustainability in the apparel industry.

If these events are too much for you, how about simply reducing your carbon footprint by biking more with Boston's Hubway program? Or, keep informed by occasionally checking out the city's Greenovate Boston initiative. 

- Cameron

Monday, April 21, 2014

Week of April 21st


Happy (Marathon) Monday!  We are so looking forward to cheering on runners on this gorgeous day!  Here is the latest for your week:


Cameron was featured on Annie White's blog today, check it out!

If you're one in the million of spectators today, be sure to be safe. There are so many amazing stories of motivation and support making our city stronger than ever, even with the help of celebrities.

Did you see that Niketown on Newbury Street reopened on Friday?  Post to follow on that later this week!

Wahlberg + hamburger fans alike, it has been confirmed that Wahlburgers is expanding to Fenway by the end of the year.


Snoop through Khloe Kardashian's closet!

Our favorite gal pals, Amy (MA native) and Tina are at it again...

SNL's Cecily Strong shares her apartment makeover courtesy of West Elm.  What great pieces!


Which TV characters could actually afford their apartment present day?

A new iPhone hack that finally gets around Siri's restrictions.

Have a great week!

- Meredith

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

Interior Obsession: Gray Malin's House Makeover

How adorable is Gray Malin's newly renovated 1930's house?! With his own impeccable sense of style and the help of One King's Lane (a favorite online source of mine for decor items), Malin and his husband have put together one of the most stylish and cheery abodes I've seen thus far. 

Check out the story here and shop his style on One Kings Lane here and here.

- Suzanne

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Life as a Mermaid

hat // polish // scent // sail bag // washed-out T // statement skirt // casual dress

I've had many nicknames over the years, one being Mermaid, which has stuck for a while now.  I've embraced it so much that it has seen its way into my wardrobe somewhat.  I already own the hat, so, without going overboard, I'd consider some of the other items above as future purchases. 

What about you, readers, do you have any favorite items related to your namesake?

- Meredith

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Daily Read: The Awear Project

Today's Daily Read isn't a blog per se, rather, its the web-home of an entire social movement. AWEAR 2014, founded by Kestrel Jenkins, aims to shift the consciousness of apparel consumers. For years, fast fashion and trendy designers have dominated the market, but we are quickly finding that this is not socially or environmentally responsible. AWEAR invites fashionistas from around the globe to submit their "AWEAR-ready" looks for a chance to be featured on their site, blog, and social media accounts.

AWEAR ready outfits can be looks by eco designers, something you found at a thrift shop, or even something you've designed yourself. If this sounds intimidating, simply start by scrolling threw their list of Style Icons for some great outfit inspiration!

We also love the AWEAR motto: Inspiring stylish change, one real person at a time.
Can't wait to assemble some of my fair trade accessories, vintage apparel, and cruelty free shoes to create an AWEAR outfit of my own.

While we're on the topic of conscious consumerism, mark your calendars - Fashion Revolution Day is 4/24/2014. FRD encourages people to wear their clothing inside out for one day so that the tags showing where your garments are made are readily visible. As a society, we often buy clothing without thinking about the journey that garment took before getting to us, so Fashion Revolution Day is a great reminder of the hard work that is put into everything we buy. On 24th April last year, 1133 people were killed and over 2500 were injured when the Rana Plaza clothing factory complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. By joining the FRD movement, you can show that slave labor and unsafe working environments are unacceptable.

- Cameron

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April 15th

Today, the one year anniversary of last year's marathon bombing, is a special day in many, if not all Bostonian's hearts. It's hard to believe that a year could have come and gone so fast, and that we are only a week away from yet again another exciting day where racers push themselves to great feats. While moving on is a natural progression in life, it is important to remember that for some, especially the victims and the victim's families, their pain can take a lifetime to heal. Today, as members of a community that we all love so much, let us reflect on our victims' and city's strength. Continue to be kind, be inspired, be thoughtful, and give your best to those around you. We are Boston Strong.

- Suzanne, Cameron & Meredith

Above: One Heart Boston print by Hairpin Communications

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Week of April 14th

Happy Monday, gals! Let's get it started!

F A S H I O N  &  S T Y L E
Alexander Wang for H&M? Boom, my week is made.

8 Spring Wish List Items from Katie Armour - love the Gap shirt!

Bright Bazaar is touring America and promoting his new book (unfortunately no stops in Boston).  Can't wait to pick my copy up!

The Green Line Extension Plan is already driving up real estate sales and Somerville is looking like the next million dollar neighborhood in Boston.

H E A L T H   &   B E A U T Y
Newflash, Facebook makes people sad. Sadface.

Want to practice your yoga on the same turf as Tom Brady? This years Yogathon, which benefits the Boston Children's Hospital and Citizen Schools, is being held at the Dana Farber Field House at Gillette Stadium on April 27th. Sign up here at Yoga Reaches Out.

Celeste Cochran, a victim of the Marathon bombings who lost both her legs, explains how Pilates helped her gain back her strength, physically and emotionally. This inspirational story is a must read.

5 highlights from Elizabeth Smart's talk at Boston College on spreading abuse awareness.

C A R E E R  &  I N S P I R A T I O N
Lovin' this Howard Stern podcast with Boston boy Steve Carrell on his late rise to fame and how he keeps his cool now. Basically he's just the shit.

10 reasons to take a day off. Ok, twist my arm...

A R T S   &   E N T E R T A I N M E N T
Keenan Thompson killed it as Big Papi on SNL Saturday night.

Jay and B crashed the party at Coachella. So chill, so chill.

Have a great week gals!

- Suzanne

Photo from Sincerely Jules. How awesome are her sandals?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Boston-Area Whiskey Tastings

Bully Boy // Boston Wine School // Saloon // BCAE

Beer, wine, vodka, we all pick our poison.  Mine is often whiskey.  When Cameron, Suzanne and I saw an invite to a whiskey tasting hosted by a few of our favorite gals (thanks again, Alison and Kate!), we locked down tickets real fast.  The 101 guide by Davis Square's own speakeasy, Saloon, was a great refresher and education.  As lucky as we were to attend this, there are plenty of opportunities to attend something similar in Boston!  

Now, go have a neat time and report back which whiskey is your favorite!

- Meredith