Bedford Avenue is the longest street in Brooklyn, New York City, stretching 10.2 miles and 132 blocks from Greenpoint south to Sheepshead Bay. In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, immediately off the L subway line, the Bedford Avenue stop features a bevy of walkable, quaint, quirky, and small boutiques that will sell you (almost) anything. Since it ’tis the season to be shopping, here’s a peek into two of my favorite Williamsburg based jewelers and knickknack shops.
Catbird, located online and at 219 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211, is a mecca for all things sparkly and exciting. Our favorite things include non-traditional wedding rings, stacking rings, knuckle rings and a wide range of gifts such as terrariums, perfume, glassware, candlesticks, cards, water bottles, tooth fairy boxes, candles. Anything that someone in the board game CLUE employs, one will most likely find here. When I say “find”, I mean it. The store is setup like a pirate’s booty and treasure chest filled with trinkets interwoven with strange artifacts, forcing you to play detective. The layout is haphazard yet delicate and organic. The small space specializes in local designers (although they also carry items from designers all over the globe). The tiny space is a bit of quirky and feminine dreamscape.
Step into the space that is equal parts Downton Abbey meets farmhouse shabby chic meets 1950’s diner. Peruse the sliding drawers, the glass displays, and the shelves – everywhere you turn in this postage-stamp-sized storefront is brimming with a hidden find.
Tocca Perfume reigns supreme as an easy way to evoke any distinct character trait. Discover your favorite scents by trying the samples in the store such as Cleopatra, Stella, Florence, Brigitte, Graciella and Violette. My personal favorite is Brigitte, which is inspired by the playful and sensual beauty of French film siren Brigitte Bardot, Tocca’s fragrance evokes the intoxicating scent of a stroll through the spice markets of Provence. Tres chic! The little brass birds, wrapped in ribbon, would also make a perfection addition to a mantle-place or bookshelf.
Rodin by Recine creates tonics, lip balms, hair oils, face oils and candles with the seriousness of an ancient apothecary. The products are whipped up and infused with essential oils from apricot kernels, calendula, sunflower seed, sweet almond, neroli, jojoba, rosemary and juniper. It doesn’t get more natural and aromatic than that.
If only my wallet allowed, I would buy all the knuckle ringed, chain linked, hammered metals, animal skull inspired, black diamond flecked pieces that my little heart desired – but, alas! The paycheck of a not-for-profit employee is a wee bit limiting. There are many steals using brass, crystal and silver for under $100 but the best bargain and bang for your buck, in my humble opinion, is the Lanolin-Agg-Tval Swedish Eggwhite Soap. This $5 bar of soap has been a part of healthy skincare in Sweden for generations. Originally prepared at home by Swedish women, an egg white facial was a weekly tradition to maintain pure, radiant skin. Go get this bar and make your skin glow!
Flotsam and Jetsam is created by Rebekah Harris in New York City. Harris apprenticed under a silversmith and creates rock and roll silver jewelry. Many of her designs stem from a love of the ocean (hence the name) and a curiosity for the mysteries of the watery unknown. Flotsam and Jetsam speaks of the spoils cast over board and washed ashore, sculptural narratives whose stories invoke the desperate journeys of abandoned souls that dared to step aboard and sail into the realms of monsters, sudden squalls and shallow shoals. Whatever the company’s folklore may be, the pieces always pay homage to the artisan craftsmanship of the past with a modern edge.
Another jewelry favorite, that has much more of a DIY vibe, is Brooklyn Charm. Located at 145 Bedford Ave (between 10th St & 9th St) Brooklyn, NY 11211, the funky shop is filled to the brim with gold chains, strange overstock, wholesale beads, and pre-made creations. After building up a small-but-loyal fanbase through her flea market sales and Etsy store, jewelry designer Tracie Howarth opened this storefront on Bedford Avenue in March 2010.
The space also hosts metalworking, wire wrapping and other beading and jewelry making courses. No previous experience necessary! There is a large selection of letter charms, state charms, skulls, and all the supplies to create a one-of-a kind pieces. If you are not feeling so crafty and creatively inclined, bring your favorite parts to the cash register and the staff will assemble jewelry for you on the spot at the counter!
Arrows, spoons, globes, acorns, beetles, knives, alligators, and wood – oh my! You would be hard pressed to find something missing the eclectic array of charms that the shop offers.
Now, combining finds from the two lovely, aforementioned places, I bring you the Brooklyn holiday gift guide, where all items are $50 and under! Buy something for your teacher, lover, milkman, boss, distant cousin and fellow commuter. At prices like these, buy yourself a gift too!
- Mast Brothers Chocolates – $40.00 – I could not but help to include these beautifully detailed and packaged sweets from Brooklyn based handcrafted chocolate brand, Mast Brothers Chocolate. Also located off Bedford Avenue at 111 N 3rd St, Brooklyn, NY, 11249, the bundle above contains five separate candy bars, ranging in flavors from Dark Chocolate Cocao Nibs to Pistachio to Dried Cranberries or Almond with Seasalt. Mouthwatering.
- Adjustable Arrow Ring, brass – $32.00 – Super cute, affordable and fun. Squeeze them tight for a pinky or a first knuckle, wear them loose as a regular ring. For that stylish, fashion blog following friend who never has enough jewelry.
- Naught or Nice Matches – $3.50 – One side says “Naughty” and the other says “Nice”. Santa does not have to check his list twice, or give a lump of coal, with this cute gift that will ‘spark’ anyone’s interest. The tiny pleasure can be a cute little add-on for a pre-existing gift or can be kept in any purse to impress someone who asks for a light. Hint: reuse the box to hold paperclips, thimbles, bobby pins or any number of small items.
- Egg White Facial Soap – $5.00 – The hidden secret of glowing Swedish skin, can be used as a face mask or cleanser. It has an extremely satisfying lather and a finish that will leave anyone wondering, “What’s her secret?”.
- Pyrite, a Fools Gold – Circle – Earrings – $15.00 – Crushed up pyrite, fools gold chips are glued securely inside this vintage gold plated circle bezel earring findings.
- Jute Spool and Scissors – $15.00 – A red, wooden spool wrapped with always-useful twine. Brass scissors conveniently tuck in the spool – so you won’t constantly lose them. Even if you can’t find a reason for this quick fix kit, it’s rustic appeal works as a home decor item.
- Modern Alchemy, Pocket Watch Fragrance in Lily of the Valley – $35.00 – Solid perfume in a pocket watch case. An old world touch of aristocracy, with an alluring air of androgynous mystery. “Oooooh. Aaaaah. What’s she up to?”, they’ll say. Tied with an elegant black satin ribbon. Apply to wrists, neck, a love letter…or a hate letter.
- Roberts Florentine Rose Water – $10.00 – This soothing tonic is suitable for even the most delicate skin. Created by the Roberts’ herbalist in 1867 and has been reintroduced adding a light absorbing moisturizer and a delicate facial cleanser. Will leave you feeling refreshed leaving behind a subtle scent of roses. Made in Italy by Manetti & Roberts since 1867. Old World charm indeed!
- Black Harmonica Necklace – $24.00 – This amazing harmonica pendants sits on top of a 24 inch vintage brass chain with a spring clasp. The harmonica is working, with 8 music notes to it. So you can actually play a song! Do re me! Who knows, maybe this will come in handy as a classier rape whistle? I kid, I kid…terrible joke…
- Rifle, You’re a Fox Stationery – $5.00 – For the Fox in Your Life. Side note, Catbird’s in-house graphic designer gave this card to her grandma! I do not suggest that for the amateur.
- Travel Candle – 4 for $48.00 – For the gypsy troubadour who is always traveling, bring familiar scents to all of your favorite locales. A generously portioned sample of the following aromas comes in pure soy wax in a gold tin. Tarot Deck: incense perfume with notes of Turkish rose & pencil shavings. Campfire: notes of woodsmoke, saddle leather & honey. Fig Leaf: white fig, dandelion & cedar. Seven Seas: watery and minty with notes of sea spray & heliotrope . Pomelo Blossom: citrusy Asian lime, ginger & eucalyptus . Fleurs de Nuit: deep floral scent with notes of night blooming jasmine, honeysuckle & cactus blossom.
What will you be buying your friends, acquaintances and family this upcoming holiday? With gifts this fun, giving truly is more exciting than receiving!