Tuesday, January 18, 2011

so long sodafine

I should have a rule: must do a blog post before browsing other peoples' blogs.

erin weckerle was one of the first people I met upon moving to nyc almost 7! years ago. my bff willie told me to look up her friend meeo when I arrived here. upon learning that I was a jewelry designer meeo offered to introduce me to erin, who co-owned sodafine boutique, which was then in fort greene. the three of us met for *rock n' rollerskate* at office ops in bushwick, and erin and I discussed selling my work at sodafine over drinks afterwards.

around the same time I also met jenny kwok, then owner of cut+paste, a pioneering online shop for handmade and indie goods. I also started selling my jewelry with jenny- but the details are fuzzy. was it upon erin's suggestion? don't know. but erin, who knits and crochets, was also selling her work on cut+paste. time moved on and jenny left nyc for istanbul. I saw her moving sale posted online and went to fort greene to have a look. it was there that I met another amazing talent while she was helping jenny with her sale, roxy marj. I found a bunch of great things, one of which I'm wearing now!

I always loved my trips to fort greene to check in with erin and inventory my work. In my second year in nyc I moved from Astoria, Queens to Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. traveling the couple miles to the adjacent neighborhood was confusing and mysterious, being a fairly recent transplant. Brooklyn is sort of grid-like as Manhattan is, but large diagonals cut through the massive borough, dividing it into many different neighborhoods. Sometimes the division between two will be dictated by the direction in which the blocks face. so I was always a little lost when I arrived in fort greene via the g train, but it was part of my nyc education, learning the city neighborhood by neighborhood. de kalb avenue was just starting to come alive in the mid-2000's, so I loved to spend some extra time exploring the area. I always made a point to visit Tillie's coffee shop, which was right next door to sodafine.

Sodafine was unique in that it was one of the first shops to stock designs by makers involved in the burgeoning craft movement. as erin has stated, she sells work by people who consider themselves artists first. indeed many of the people who sold with sodafine early on had backgrounds in fine art, rather than coming from the design world. (myself included!) Erin helped introduce me to the diy world, which I was becoming aware of before I left L.A. for nyc. she designed her own website without having a technical background and encouraged me to do the same. in those early days I was fascinated by how artists were using the internet to expand their careers in ways that were previously impossible. or rather create careers for themselves that didn't even exist before. we spent hours discussing all of this and more, every time I visited. I also loved looking around Sodafine to see erin's amazing collection. I should mention that I met rena tom at sodafine's x-mas party, who was also selling her jewelry at the shop. when rena opened the first rare device in park slope, (which has since moved to san francisco) she also asked me to sell my work in her shop.

after a bit erin's partner at sodafine called it quits, so she moved the store to a smaller location in williamsburg. she did the store up right, using eco-friendly materials and custom- designed fixtures. again my visits to see erin were fun, because now I got to explore an even more happening neighborhood. as the years went by jenny kwok moved back to the states, then returned to nyc last summer, working occasionally at sodafine. I opened my store this past fall, and now sodafine is closing its doors at the end of the month. I needed to settle up with erin, and had an inkling she might have some inventory and store supplies and fixtures to sell. so b and I sloshed in the freezing cold rain today up to w-burg to meet with erin and her partner-in-crime jenny.

what an awesome afternoon it was. I fished through piles of treasures, amassing a nice little collection for ebmerc. I found tons of vintage dresses and other assorted clothing, vintage shoes, silk scarves, a giant collection of framed embroideries, various display items, a couple of pieces of furniture, wooden hangers, packaging and a whole box of x-mas decorations! before leaving I spotted a pile of knit hats sitting on the counter- most of them erin's creations, and three 70's ski hats. so as things have come full circle, I will be selling erin's purldrop designs in the store!

so much as I will miss sodafine, I am happy that erin has found the opportunity to move on and explore other adventures. the girl has a master's in sculpture from yale! and was doing incredible things with yarn when I first met her. I am glad for knowing her and the other amazing ladies I have met through that first initial suggestion from willie. cheers erin!

p.s. jenny closed the cut+paste shop recently too, relaunching the site as a personal photo essay blog.


dash said...

p.s.s. just found out that rena tom is selling rare device.


hey the, what the?

erin said...

hey mollie! i don't know if i ever thanked you for this thoughtful blog post. i was just re-reading it after going through a google search of sodafine...
thank you so much, it's so amazing to feel that sodafine made an impact on other makers in brooklyn while it was around!

dash said...

hey erin!

for sure! I think in so many ways you were ahead of the curve. I am now seeing people wear the moccasin booties you sold years ago. I see that you are back online with renewed energy. I aim to do the same. so many of the things we discussed early on- marketing and all that- it's still stuff I think about. only now the tools are improved and more established. come to realize you can use all the tricky web stuff and have the best looking website, but the element that makes it all work is the intangible. it's how you view yourself and then how you present yourself to the world. I think we struggle with the same thing.

sodafine has had a big impact on me for sure! thanks for being an inspiration.