2015 Renegade Craft Fair-Los Angeles Must See List

The Renegade Craft Fair has been the go-to marketplace for indie-handcrafted goods since its first show in 2003. It showcases hundreds of vendors in several large, weekend-long Fairs across the U.S. (there’s even a Fair across the pond!). In the last few months, I have felt a sort of conviction about where my clothes and accessories come from. They’re easily accessible and they don’t often cost very much and more often than not, they are made by people in other countries working under unthinkable conditions; not even earning enough to support themselves, much less their families.

Fairs such as RCF are amazing because they place you right in front of the makers of some pretty remarkable items. You have a multitude of options and the ability to talk to the vendors and learn not only about them but also about how their products are made. I’m ridiculously excited to be attending the RCF this weekend (July 11-12) at Grand Park in Los Angeles.

I have gone through the long list of makers who will be at the RCF this year and let me tell you…you’re in for a treat! Here are the vendors I’m looking forward to seeing the most:

 

Accessories

Photo From Bici Couture Website
Photo From Bici Couture Website

Name: Bici Couture

What: Hand Crafted Leather Goods

Why: Designed and handcrafted in Los Angeles. I already have a couple of their gorgeous pieces. They will be premiering a couple of new, must-have items at the Fair and I CANNOT wait to get my hands on them!

 

Photo From Bodhi Swag Website
Photo From Bodhi Swag Website

Name: Bodhi Swag

What: Turbans and Cocoons

Why: Their items are designed and tailored in L.A while using locally sourced material! I’m obsessed with turbans and cocoons right now and the gals over at Bodhi Swag have the most amazing selection of both. They don’t shy away from bold patterns. They are another set of makers that I’m excited to see in person.

 

Photo From Atelier OM Facebook
Photo From Atelier OM Facebook

Name: AtelierOM + OMkhadi

What: Scarves

Why: The husband and wife pair that founded this company have a mantra, it’s “REduce, REuse, and REcycle”. They are conscious of everything they make and pride themselves on being “Slow Fashion” which results in their customers having the best, eco ethical product and while taking care of this environment we call “home”.Whoever said being conscious of your purchase meant sacrificing visual appeal was WRONG because AltelierOM + OMKhadi’s textiles are gorgeous. I’m most looking forward to checking out their scarves.

 

Photo From L.A. Hat Collective Website
Photo From L.A. Hat Collective Website

Name: L.A. Hat Collective

What: Hats…Duh!

Why: This group of hat-making friends handcraft their products in good ol’ Los Angeles. The designs on their site are fun, bold, and classic. In a time where society has forgotten hats (or traded them in for baseball caps), the L.A. Hat Collective is bringing sexy hats back!

 

Photo From Painted Bird Website
Photo From Painted Bird Website

Name: Painted Bird

What: Shoes

Why: These bright, detailed, hand crocheted shoes are gorgeous! Who knows I may be walking out of the Fair with a new treat on my feet!

 

Clothes

Photo From Apricity Website
Photo From Apricity Website

Name: Apricity

What: Dresses

Why: These articles of vintage inspired clothing are made and designed in Los Angeles. Where the L.A. Hat Collective offers a modern throwback to hats, Apricity does they same for dresses. They’re a nod to the days when women took pride in their appearance. The dresses are amazingly beautiful and come in a wide range of sizes (woo hoo!). Too enchanting to pass up, I don’t know how I’m going to tear myself away from their booth.

 

Photo From Neoclassics Website
Photo From Neoclassics Website

Name: Neoclassics

What: Shirts

Why: This L.A. based brand promotes  “conscious lifestyles” and individuality through their new spin on classic designs. I have my eye on their tank tops!

 

Jewelry

Photo From Honey My Heart Website
Photo From Honey My Heart Website

Name: Honey My Heart

Why: Inspired, designed, and handmade in Los Angeles, Honey My Heart offers some of the most gorgeous yet simple pieces that will be at the Fair. They’re focus on simple lines is surprisingly bold. They use locally sourced material to create these pieces that can literally go with anything and everything. Would it be odd to get a ring for each finger?? I didn’t think so!

 

Photo From L. Makai Website
Photo From L. Makai Website

Name: L. Makai

Why: This artist, Lauren Makai, was inspired by commuter culture which ultimately led to the commuter collection. She says it best on her site, “The freeway numbers are familiar to us all, but our connections to the numbers are unique. ” I may hate driving on the 405 but I love it enough to get a 405 necklace!

 

Photo From Seoul Little Website
Photo From Seoul Little Website

Name: Seoul Little

Why: The whimsical pieces over at Seoul Little are too cute to pass up! They offer  a wide variety of rings (I’m looking at you State of California Ring!), bracelets, and necklaces. With all the great jewelry makers at the Fair this year, it looks like I may be walking out of there looking like Mr. T!

 

I’ve only showcased a small fraction of the makers who will be at Grand Park so I suggest you make your way to Los Angeles this weekend and see for yourself just how wonderful handcrafted goods are.

I can’t wait to see you there!

 

Who are you excited to see at the Renegade Craft Fair?

Read, White, and Blue!

Like many others this 4th of July, I celebrated America’s birthday with friends, food, and fun. But before we kicked off the festivities, a small group of the partygoers made their way to Simi Valley to visit the $5 or Less Bookstore. I am a self-proclaimed “compulsive book buyer” so naturally I wanted to take advantage of the shop’s 50% off sale.

(I love this place! The staff is incredibly friendly, the store is neat, and the inventory is well organized. Sure, I love buying books but I love buying used books the most. Consider buying used (from the $5 or Less Bookstore) next time you’re hunting for your next read!)

The timing of the sale was great and I was excited to share this gem of a store with my friends but more than that, I feel it’s important to celebrate America’s birthday by doing things you love: in my case indulging in my book-buying problem.

In this country, we are free. You see messages proclaiming this every 4th of July, every Memorial Day. While it is just a phrase to many, I take it to heart. It isn’t lost on me that there are countless women around the world that do not have the opportunities that I have been fortunate enough to have whether it be the right to endless education, the right to choose, the right to buy whatever books I’d like…the fact that I’m able to read and write what I please…to read and write at all…is worth celebrating.

So on Saturday, I perused the bookstore happily overwhelmed by the worn spines that looked back at me, begging to be chosen. I left the store with 14 books. Some I chose based on authors I am familiar with, some were chosen based on recommendations, and others…well, they were chosen at random.

 

Here’s what I walked away with:

 

Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris

Brando: the Biography by Peter Manso

Lives Other Than My Own by Emmanuel Carrwew

Slave by Mende Mazer

Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

Say You’re One of Them by Uwen Akpan

Interpreter of Madness by Jhumpa Lahiri

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Shopgirl by Steve Martin

The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin

The Story Teller by Jodi Picoult

Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea

The Meryl Streep Movie Club by Mia March

 

Quite the wide array of literature if I do say so myself. I’m thankful for my country and the ability to indulge in any and all books that I please. Happy Birthday, America! I love the gift YOU’ve given ME.

(Looking for your next read? Check out the Book Review Section for some guidance!)

How did you spend the 4th of July?

Short, Sweet, Sula: Review

I’ve loved Toni Morrison ever since I read The Bluest Eye in my early teen years. My love for her ability to link words together and make something heartbreakingly beautiful only deepened when I read more of her work in some lit classes in college. Naturally, the last time I was at my local used bookstore, I had to check out their Morrison selection. When I saw that they had several of her novels I went wide-eyed. I was torn between wanting to leave a few copies for someone else and wanting to take everything they had even though I wouldn’t be able to read them right away. I responded like a hoarder and cleared their shelves. Amongst the books I ran off with was a heavily used copy of Sula.

I’m trying to read about three books a month in an effort to make a dent in my overflowing bookshelves. Last month, I took much too long reading my first book. When it came time to choose my second, I combed my bookshelves for a short novel. My eyes landed on a worn, thin spine that read: Sula. At 174 pages, Sula is one of Morrison’s shorter novels; but it holds a punch in true Morrison fashion.

Sula is a girl who lives in a small, impoverished, black town. She is the last in a long line of independent women that keeps the town constantly talking. Her attitude isn’t friendly, her ways are questionable, but her confidence is bold and cautiously refreshing. The book follows her, and various characters she interacts with, over the course of about fifty years, each new chapter depicting one particular year.

Morrison uses Sula to challenge the reader’s idea of leaving your humble beginnings, go out into the world, and to come back with the wealth of knowledge and experience you have accumulated. Naturally, it is not an easy departure or return for Sula but from her choices emerge conflict. From her choices her family’s secrets come to light. The short length makes Sula a quick read, but the drama that unfolds makes it a page-turner.

Perhaps one of my favorite sentences from the novel is: “It was as though he no longer needed to drink to forget whatever it was he could not remember.” This seemingly complex, yet beautiful, sentence refers to an alcoholic character that survived, and is haunted, by the First World War. It’s a short sentence yet it is immensely beautiful and touching. The structure and tone of the sentence manages to perfectly capture the feel of the rest of the characters and the novel as a whole. Morrison is a pro at this.

Sula is short, sweet, and easy to read. Get to your local used bookstore and do yourself a favor and pick up a copy!

 

What is your favorite Toni Morrison book?

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Genre: Eleanor & Park Review

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell was the first book I completed after graduating from UCLA. It was exactly the kind of book I needed to read post-degree. It was fun, tragic, hopeful, and real.

It’s considered a Young-Adult novel and, I’m not going to lie, I was a bit apprehensive about reading it. I feel like there are many people who look down on YA novels. At one point, I was one of them. However, after binging on Eleanor & Park I was struck by guilt. How dare I judge a book based on where it is located within a bookstore. Have I, like many others, not fallen head over heals for Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree? Pssst…it’s considered a Children’s Book. Have I not obsessed over the Harry Potter series? I remember seeing copies of the novels in the Scholastic book catalog I used to receive in grade school. Because I earned a degree in English, all of a sudden I was too good to read a novel with a bright, fun book jacket? I’m happy that I looked past my narrow-mindedness and cracked this story open.

Simply put, Eleanor & Park is about a boy and girl who meet in high school. The girl is severely bullied; the boy is severely independent (although he admittedly cares a little about what people think of him). They first meet each other on the school bus. He doesn’t want anything to do with her but in an attempt to keep her head down and avoid further rejection she takes a seat beside him. Neither of them are happy about the arrangement but it is on this shared bus seat that their tale begins.

I’m not going into more detail about plot only because I hope you will go out and experience this book for yourself. Yes, not just read it but experience it.

The characters are so well written and well rounded. They could easily be friends of yours. If you don’t see yourself in these characters then you’ll see someone you know within them. Personally, an aspect of myself is in every page of this book, which is probably why I love it so dearly. The situations the characters find themselves in are incredibly true to life. The plot isn’t the only wow-factor that emerges from the pages; Rowell’s writing style is genius too. She goes back and forth between Eleanor’s point of view and then Park’s. It’s this type of seesaw that builds excitement, anticipation, and even a bit of anxiety within the reader. “If only he/she knew…” often popped into my head. The chapters are short: some are mere sentences while others are a few pages long. It’s the perfect book for the reader who hates cutting their reading off mid-chapter or the reader who finds themselves flipping through the pages thinking, “When is this chapter over?” Even though I love reading, I love short chapters more. I don’t have a complaint or criticism of the book…except maybe one…but we can talk about it after you’ve read the book for yourself.

So, please, if you’re a lover of the written word, if you ache for stories that are real, go out now and buy the book. Fall in love with Eleanor & Park.

 

What’s your favorite YA book?