Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of the Day

Posted on August 24th, 2015 by Libby Cortez

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing
you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.

– A.A. Milne

We’ve all heard the adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A healthy, well-balanced breakfast supports energy, concentration, and healthy weight maintenance.

But we think it’s important for another reason, too: It’s a new beginning. A fresh start. The kickoff to a bright day of yet-unknown surprises and delights. At breakfast, anything is possible.

So let’s dress up this all-important meal with the most dashing of accoutrements:

Graphite Goodness

Anchor the family’s wake-up meal with a strong foundation of black-on-white gingham. In placemat form, this pattern happily travels from countertop to tabletop to breakfast-in-bed tray. And its monochromatic mood welcomes bright pops of color with ease. It’s a versatile and striking addition to your table linen library.

Graphite Gingham Placemat

List This

You can chalk it up to our drive for achievement, but we love a good list (and a good-looking one to boot). Enter our chalk-dipped acacia boards, beloved for bringing usefulness and gorgeousness into lockstep. Pile one side high with breakfast goodies like Rare Bird Preserves and Scone City treats, and use the other end to map out your day’s to-do list or your morning menu. Talk about a great start.

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Practically Pretty

Here’s a great way to reflect the clear slate of a new morning: pour your juice into a clean-lined Gigogne tumbler. Particularly if you’re a bit butter-fingered before your first cup of coffee, you’ll be ever-so grateful for the virtual indescructiblity of tempered glass. Isn’t it just like the French to bring pretty and practical together with such elegant nonchalance?

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KISS the Day Hello

As lovers of all things modern, we can’t help but embrace the KISS principle. No, it’s not about a morning smooch (although we’re big fans of that, too). It’s about how smart it is to keep things simple. And it’s this kind of thinking that keeps us coming back to our favorite Teema White Dinnerware meal after meal. Let it fly solo or pair it with other colors and patterns. It can hold its own any morning of the week.

Teema White Dinnerware

 

Styling Adventures with Kyla Herbes of House of Hipsters: Part II

Posted on August 21st, 2015 by Alicia

Last week we gave you the heads up about our styling adventures with blogger Kyla Herbes from House of Hipsters. We are excited to show you what came of it!

Remember, Kyla wanted help working pillows into her room, so we sent our Visual Merchandising Manager Lisa Boudreau out to her home to explore the possibilities. Kyla’s living space — which she shares with her husband and two small children — is a sea of neutral colors, interesting textures and original furnishings. Lisa saw the potential, and worked with Kyla to pick out pillows from Unison’s fall collection and group them in just the right places.

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From left to right: Sailor Charcoal Throw PIllow, $40-65; Dots Black Throw Pillow, $40-65; Harvest Black Throw Pillow, $45-65

For Kyla, working with Unison was a natural fit. “I focus on mid-century modern. However, I don’t like my house to look like it walked off the set of The Brady Bunch,” she says. “This can be a fine line to walk. The home decor found at Unison is easily integrated into my style. It brings my 1960s-’70s vibe into the present. The black, white, ultra-modern with a bold hue here and there … it comes alive.”

Lisa agrees, saying, “Kyla has a great understanding of design and how to interpret current trends in a way that is unique to her and the architecture of her home.”

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Read on for a Q&A with Kyla (and get tips from Lisa, along the way) to find out more about their styling adventure.

Unison: Let’s talk pillows. Why do you think they’re important home accessories?

Kyla: Pillows can transform a room. They’re a great way to interject you favorite color, pattern and, here we go again with that infamous word, personality. Look at your sofa and imagine it without pillows. Now imagine it with bright hot pink and turquoise floral pillows. Now picture them navy blue with white anchors. Now change that to stripes or polka dots or your most favorite color or better yet, your least favorite pattern. Pillows just give your room that extra pop of pizzazz. They can make your room look effortlessly chic. It’s like your space is the hot guy in high school, and he comes and picks you up in a red Camero. Now, if he showed up in a beat up, rusted out Pinto, you’d still think he was hot, but the Camero adds a bit of extra excitement.

Lisa: “I really do believe in the power of pillows. They quickly and easily transform a space and convey a mood. Adding warm or cool tones will instantly effect a space overall. They can also serve as a unifying element in the over arching design of the space. In Kyla’s room I styled a sofa with three different groupings of pillows. Each group worked great within the design framework already established by Kyla and complemented the space. However, the final group selected visibly lifted the space making it lighter, brighter and reinforced Kyla’s vision.

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Unison: What have you learned are key pillow styling tips?

Kyla: Edit your color palette and patterns. Too many and it just gets too crazy. You don’t need them growing jazz hands, screaming, “Look at me! Look at me!” Don’t be afraid to take a couple back home and return what doesn’t work for you. I suffer from this disease, which is how I wound up with pillow problems.  Pillows can look completely different when you get them into the space. Oh, and don’t forget to throw in a solid or two to break things up.

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Kyla’s pillow collection!

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Kyla’s new, pared down pillow arrangement. Clockwise: Dots White Linen Throw Pillow, $62-88; Color Block Graphite Throw Pillow, $60-70; Harvest Black Throw Pillow, $45-65

Lisa: Take cues from your art and other accessories in the room. Pillows on your couch don’t have to necessarily be in the exact style or period as your art, but can help establish your color theme and ground the room. Pulling out the cool tones from Kyla’s artwork and accent pieces helped to unify the space. With the new pillows you could really feel the beech vibe from her mantle artwork fill the whole space.

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Also, don’t be afraid to be bold and combine different prints and patterns, but keep the number of patterns lower to round 3 or 4. Consider color and scale. Take the time to consider complementary colors in your space. Consider the size of the pillows in each group but also the scale of the print.

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Unison: We loved this project with you! What did you think of it all?

Kyla: Styling with pillows is truly an art form that is not easy to grasp. Not only do you have the colors and patterns but there is also oversized pillows, square, lumbar. So it’s great when you have experts like Unison to lend a helping hand. {The new fall pillows} worked with what I had and together we really made my room come together … a room where I’ve had a revolving door of pillows for years.

Unison: Do you have any “rules” you follow for designing and decorating your own pad?

Kyla: When something catches my eye, that thing that makes my heart sing, I snap it up! Rule número uno: Never leave it behind. Ever. This rule especially is true when shopping vintage. You grab that sucka and hold on to it for dear life.

Rule #2: Create Pinterest mood boards. This helps me to visually see if everything in the space is jiving before committing. If you can handle the criticism, share it with friends whose style you admire. Take only the suggestions you want. It wasn’t until I started to publicly share my home with complete strangers that I became incredibly motivated and inspired.

Rule #3: Buy items unique to you. Make your home a memorable place to visit. Make it special. Make it unique. It doesn’t have to be trending to be beautiful.

Rule #4: Don’t rush it. Let the pieces find you. Take your time and channel your inner patience. This is the hardest piece of advice to follow myself, but I’ve found that when I don’t settle and look for that one amazing piece to come to me, the space looks incredible. You will eventually find it.

Unison: What are your three favorite things in your home and why?

Kyla: First and foremost, I own a vintage 1960s Model 20 dip-n-dunk photo booth. It’s the best party favor ever and a great memory maker. I purchased it to document my family when my daughter was born.

Second is my collection of vintage mug shots. Yes, they are totally creepy, but incredibly unique. Guests usually gaze at them for quite some time, examining everything from the outfits, to hair, whether they are good looking or not. The first question is usually, “Are these REAL mug shots?” When I first bought them, I started to Google their names. I found a few along with their stories, and they suddenly became incredibly creepy. So that ended abruptly.

Ok, third favorite thing. It’s a toss up. Don’t tell my son, but he just bought this boss 1983 GMC jacked-up pickup truck, and I secretly adore it. Every time I drive it, I giggle like a little kid. I can also easily haul more furniture and decor to my home. The other really isn’t a thing, it’s a space in the house … so this is technically cheating. But I love, love, love my patio. We reno’d it a couple years back, and it finally all came together this summer. Even though we live in a cold weather climate, we’ve been able to use it as an extension of our living area nightly. Being able to enjoy the outdoors, away from technology and TV, well, it’s just an awesome place to hangout and reconnect.

Unison: Mixing things up with budget and style is always fun. What’s one “high” piece of home style you love or might have in your home, and one “low” piece?

Kyla: I’m an advocate of buying a higher end piece of art as an investment piece that grows with you. There’s nothing wrong with buying artwork that is trending, but I think there’s something to say for buying a unique piece that no one else has or a piece that few people have. And I’m not talking a Picasso original. But finding an original piece of work or a limited run is a great way to showcase your personality. My three “mug shot” photos by Lani Lee would be my “high end” piece. Three oversized, black and white portraits shot mug shot style of famous graffiti artists.

My “low end” piece is anything and everything I’ve thrifted or flea’d. I look around my home and everything is special. I think about their stories …where they came from. Right now I’m staring at a mug with the broken handle. It’s filled with used paintbrushes that belonged to an artist. I bought the mug and brushes at her estate sale for $2. They now sit on display in my living room. I’ll bet she would have never imagined that to happen. I also have a piece of hand formed, handmade pottery I snagged at a thrift store for $2.99. A vintage rattan chair I found online for $15. It doesn’t have to be super-expensive to be beautiful and perfect. These pieces may not be for everybody, but they spoke to me.

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Thanks so much for sharing your home and incredible style with us, Kyla!

And, for all of you out there with style questions, please feel free to stop by our store with questions! We’d be happy to assist you.

Watch Our Fall Video (& Think Cozy Thoughts!)

Posted on August 17th, 2015 by Alicia

We know you’re not quite ready for sweater weather. But our fall video, just shot by John Sturdy in rural Indiana, may just change your mind.

In it, we set the scene (and table) for a very warm and festive season. It’s a hint at what’s to come from our fall collection, which will soon be up on our site and in our new catalog.

Our video softly salutes the time of year made for savoring the crisp outdoors and coming home to inspirational and oh-so livable modern design. Of course you’ll get a look at some of our latest products — from tall, sculptural candles to shimmering brushed-gold flatware.

So put on your wool slippers, reach for a cozy blanket and watch this short but memorable slice of modern life.

Want to receive future Unison catalog? Sign up here!

Styling Adventures with House of Hipsters

Posted on August 13th, 2015 by Alicia

We always love seeing who visits our store in Chicago and buys from our online shop. We welcome everyone, from starter-home nesters that are developing their decorating style, to renowned artists and designers that we’re lucky enough to collaborate with.

And then there are the fun folks that run amazing design blogs — people like Kyla Herbes from House of Hipsters. The blog is like one sweeping Pinterest mood board of all the home decor-related awesomeness that catches Kyla’s eye. A creative director by day and blogger by night, her design sensibility is vintage with ultra modern and just a touch of bohemian. In other words, we adore it.

So when we saw some of our pillows featured on Kyla’s blog a few months back we thought, Ooh how cool. And then we thought, Wouldn’t it be fun to put Kyla in touch with our styling team and really make some magic?

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Happily, Kyla was game. She and Lisa Boudreau, Unison’s Visual Merchandising Manager, hit it off when Kyla visited our store this summer. Their mission was simple: to help Kyla see the fun and possibility in using pillows to perk up a space. Kyla was struggling as to how to create a unique, effortless look with her pillow collection. Lisa helped Kyla using one of her guiding principles: “Always follow your instincts … what inspires you.”

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As it happens, Lisa and our store associates are always there to give you a boost of inspiration and advice. Personal styling is a service we offer all of our shoppers and store guests, and it was especially fun to take the journey with Kyla.

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So, what came of our collaboration with the House of Hipsters guru? Check in with our blog next week to see what Kyla picked out and get her tips on how to punch up your room — with pillows … and a whole lot more.

See you next week!

Photography credit: John Sturdy

Never Too Much of a Good Thing

Posted on August 4th, 2015 by Libby Cortez

Jamie Wolfond, the founder and creative spark behind Good Thing, is the type of person who seems to find the world so relentlessly inspiring that one can’t help but want to tap into the flow of creative juices.

Jamie

Take the story behind his backwards design philosophy. It’s one marked by clear design thinking and a striking ability to trust in the excitement and uncertainty of the creative process. Check it out:

Unison: Your process is fascinating. Can you describe it for us?

Jamie: The premise of this way of working is to design backwards. So, rather than starting with an idea of what a product is going to be, making a sketch, making a model, and then finding a person who’s going to manufacture that thing, I start with the person who’s going to manufacture the thing and work in reverse.

I look at what manufacturers are already doing and think about what else could be created using processes they have in place. Whether creating something large or small in scale, I begin with the same premise—the same questions: What does the process look like? What are the strengths and limitations of this person? This process? This machine? How can those strengths be useful?

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From there, we get to what the product is going to be. With this approach, we not only end up with something that’s inherently more efficient to produce, but also something that’s inherently of higher quality.

At the same time, it’s a process that’s inherently risky, because you’re approaching people who don’t know how to do a particular thing, and you’re going down a new road with them. In many ways, you’re both equally inexperienced, working together to make a product that’s never been made before. It’s an uncertain process, and failure is actually a really important part of it.

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Unison: But Good Thing isn’t just you and some manufacturers. Tell us a bit about how the business has evolved and grown.

Jamie: Once I began taking these products to market, I started to recognize a great opportunity. I had developed relationships with brands like Unison, who appreciated this thoughtful design perspective and wanted to sell these products. And I was located in a country where self-production has become a truly great opportunity. Since manufacturing goes so deep into my process, it just made sense to shift and become the manufacturer.

From there, it wasn’t long before I found other designers who I wanted to have in on this effort. Today, we don’t solicit designers who adopt my design process. Rather, we work with designers who share our love of materials and process.

In essence, the backwards design approach led to Good Thing, and Good Thing led to relationships with other designers, and that’s leading us onward.

We also still work with outside manufacturers. And it’s become more interesting as we’ve gotten big enough to make an impact on some of those partners. We love finding a designer with a great idea, but we also love finding a manufacturer whose business we can breathe new life into by updating their product.

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At the same time, working with other designers has also led to working with other producers. All this has made the company into a more sort of social entity. We’re pairing designers and producers, facilitating and creating opportunities.

Unison: With all these designers and producers, how do you create a cohesive design perspective?

Jamie: We still have this love and appreciation for process. That defines our taste and how I decide what products to license.

But of course, there’s not a rule to what the concept or meaning is behind a piece that anyone designs for us. It’s a quality, a certain something that aligns with who Good Thing is. It’s hard to describe what that certain something is, but the one thing all our products have in common is an almost uncanny level of simplicity.

The process of designing an object into a product is a process of taking something that would otherwise seem a little undercooked, and turning it into an item that’s perfectly cooked to rare. Never overdone.

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Look at the Easy Mirror for example – still one of my favorite products. It’s almost not even a product. It’s so simple and stripped down that it’s almost just a piece of shiny metal.

In general, I’m interested in figuring out how little you can do to make something. I don’t like to make things that are complex, and that’s certainly reflected in the company’s products as a whole.

Unison: Speaking of mirrors, can you reflect (wink wink) on what motivated the design of the Utility Mirror?

Jamie: The Utility Mirror was designed by Joey Guerra of Visbility. I’ve admired that product since Joey designed it in school close to 6 years ago, and it’s a pretty impeccable example of somebody thinking like Good Thing.

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There’s an industrial rubber tool grip produced in a factory that makes tire, rubber, and car parts. So we say, okay, this tool grip is made for one thing. But we actually think it’s extra beautiful. How can we take advantage of this to make something entirely different?

So we took this grip – something that’s relatively inexpensive in reality and connotation – and figured out how to combine it with something as precious as stainless steel. We married industrial rubber and polished metal to create a thing that never existed before.

Unison: And what about the General Bucket? It seems to embody everything Good Thing is: simple, interesting, and open to interpretation. What motivated that?

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That one was very much a collaborative effort between myself and [co-founder] Samantha Anderson. I had been visiting a metal spinning facility in Greenpoint, to watch their process and better understand what metal spinning really is. (It’s basically a process of rotating a piece of sheet metal on a lave, and it’s all about being concentric.) They have this ability to find the center point of an object, no matter how it’s made.

To come up with the idea of the General Tray, we fused this inspiration with some bowls that Sam had been working on. It’s a handled vessel that has a basic, intuitive instruction to it. But what you get, when you experience the product, is only basic suggestions for how it might be useful, and nothing more. So those inherent suggestions end up acting like a framework around which users invent the meaning of the product. How it’s used is determined entirely by how a user receives the intuitive symbols and how it dovetails into his or her routine.

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Unison: So clearly, you’re a treasure trove of inspiration. Any final words of wisdom?

Jamie: The parting word: do it backwards. That’s my suggestion. It’s a process that I’m interested in understanding more about, but not one that I own. I think it’s how a lot of designers understand manufacturing and communication, so it’s something that I like to see other people doing. And something that I find eye-opening and intrinsically important to explore.

Dining Al Fresco

Posted on August 3rd, 2015 by Libby Cortez

In these dog days of summer, a bit of refreshment is more imperative—and more appealing—than ever. But if the heat’s sapping your creative juices, don’t sweat it. We’ve got some cool ideas for chilling out with friends, family, or yours truly. Think bright tablescapes, summery recipes, and warm temperatures.

Looks like there is a cure for the summertime blues after all.

Cure #1: Bright Lights, Big Tiles

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Go bold, cheerful, and bright for your table. One of our favorite choices? The Big Tiles Tablecloth in lime. It’ll get your mouth watering for dinner – and keep the mood cheerful no matter how the weather decides to blow in. Added bonus: it’s currently on sale!

Cure #2: Fruity Minty Deliciousness

If you feel like spreading your culinary wings a bit, try the Watermelon with Menthol Candies from The Family Meal cookbook. Made with a simple combination of lemon juice, sugar, watermelon, and hard menthol candies, it’s a bright and fresh treat for your tabletop. And with detailed ingredient quantities mapped out for parties of 2, 6, 20, or 75, this recipe can help you cool as many mouths as you feel like inviting to the conversation.

Cure #3: The Clean Plate Club

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Clean-lined dinnerware keeps the table looking sharp, inviting food and fun to take center stage. Check out the Biobu collection for an array of shapes and colors that are as fun to mix-and-match as they are to collect over time.

Cure #4: Ceviche Surprise

Remember the delicious (and easy!) ceviche recipe we tested out for this year’s Cinco de Mayo celebration? Nothing could be more in keeping with this fresh and bright dinner scene. Pick up a copy of Mexico: The Cookbook and try it for yourself.

Cure #5: Serve Up Style

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One secret for adding elegance to your outdoor tabletop: serve choice treats from striking trays. But don’t think you have to get fancy. Try thick slices of colorful watermelon or some fizzy cocktails perched beside a mound of juicy lemons and limes. Our Grid, Plateau, or Tracy trays set the perfect stage.

Cure #6: Bake a Bass

While you have The Family Meal cookbook open from your candy-making craze, look up the Baked Sea Bass. The dish features fresh thyme and rosemary, along with one of August’s main attractions: juicy, ripe tomatoes. It’s the perfect way to end your summer entertaining season with a bang.

The Ultimate Dinner Party

Posted on July 27th, 2015 by Alicia

Last month we were fortunate enough to work with Filigree Suppers founders Brita Olsen and Elise Metzger on a fruit themed dinner party. Read more about their dinner parties and the purpose behind these ultra-mod get-togethers on Gapers Block.

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Photo credit: Brad Snyder and Eva Deitch (via Gapers Block)

Featured above: Floral Burst Napkin, $8

 

Want to See Your Home in our Holiday Catalog?

Posted on July 22nd, 2015 by Alicia

While visions of sugarplums probably aren’t dancing in your head yet, we’re already thinking about the holidays! In fact, we have some stunning tableware and decor that we’re rolling out just in time for the happiest season of all. And we need somewhere to photograph it all!

Do you have a modern home that’s picture perfect? We’re looking for a place to shoot our holiday catalog. If you live within hours of Chicago and think your home would be an excellent place for us to style a festive photo shoot, let us know!

If you’re interested, send an email (and include some home photos) to caitlin@unisonhome.com. Please include the best contact info for you and your address.

Hope to hear from you — cheers to the season ahead!

Current Crush: Binchotan

Posted on July 21st, 2015 by Alicia

Ever thought you’d use charcoal to wash your face? We didn’t, either. But then we discovered Binchotan. It’s a traditional Japanese charcoal that, when ground into a super-fine powder, can be used in a soap to exfoliate skin and absorb impurities. We tried it. We loved it. And now we can’t get enough of it.

We think you’ll soon feel the same way. It’s easy enough to get introduced to Binchotan and its benefits. It appears in a bunch of personal care products, from toothbrushes to washcloths, which we sell online and in our Chicago boutique. Here are some you can snap up now.

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Binchotan Charcoal Toothbrushes, $7; Binchotan Charcoal Washcloth, $18; Lunar Gray Bath Set, $12.50-$24.00

For your body:

Binchotan Charcoal Facial Soap is the little beauty secret that could. It combines Binchotan charcoal powder and natural extracts in a glycerin soap. Not only does it restore the skin by exfoliating, moisturizing and absorbing impurities, but it smells great and lasts a long time. Our co-founder Alicia swears by it!

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Binchotan Charcoal Facial Soap, $28

For your teeth:

Binchotan Charcoal Toothbrushes are TLC for your pearly whites. Binchotan charcoal is blended into each bristle to stop harmful bacteria from growing. It also prevents bad breath, deodorizes and removes plaque. We don’t recommend it for sensitive gums, but think it’s great for travel.

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Binchotan Charcoal Toothbrushes, $7

For your face:

Binchotan Charcoal Washcloths could be called the triathlete of towels. They have ultra-find Binchotan charcoal powder woven into its fibers for high performance. You’ll love its exfoliating power and anti-bacterial qualities that keep it mildew free. While it’s big enough for the whole body, we like to fold it to use on our face.

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Binchotan Charcoal Washcloth, $18

For your hands and feet:

Binchotan Charcoal Pumice Stones gently exfoliate and smooth rough skin on feet, hands, elbows and knees. Use them on wet or damp skin and after each use, rinse them in warm water and air-dry in the shade. Your dermis will thank you!

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Binchotan Pumice Stone, $16

We hope you can discover the benefits of this very cool but little known ingredient soon! If you’ve tried Binchotan charcoal on your skin, let us know how you liked it in the Comments below!

 

Store Sample Sale

Posted on July 20th, 2015 by Alicia

What ranks right up there with sun, fun and unlimited popsicles? A sample sale — and we’ve got one right here for you. Stop by our store between Friday, July 24th – Sunday, July 26th!

Store location: 

1911 W. Division Street
Chicago, IL 60622
T. 773.227.3180

Open:
Monday – Saturday 11-7pm
Sunday 12-6pm

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