Discovered: Clementine Art

While visiting one of my favorite local spots Marlow and Sons, this beautiful packaging caught my eye.  Created by Diana Mercer, (who runs an art studio in Boulder, Colorado) Clementine Art is a line of art supplies that contains only natural ingredients and are all certified non-toxic.  I love the fact that her modeling dough is colored by turmeric, spinach and carmine and her crayons are made up of a combination of beeswax and kosher soy wax.  To top it off, the packaging is composed of 80% post consumer recycled and reusable materials.

Spreading the Love: Stumptown Coffee

Today I received a package that took me by surprise and made my morning, day, week. stumptown

The lovely folks from Stumptown Coffee Roasters sent me this amazing care package.  I don't even know where to begin...seriously.  Perhaps with the chocolate bars studded with coffee beans.  I mean, what better way to start my day then with Mast Brothers Chocolate made from  72% cacao beans that features Stumptown's direct trade espresso beans from Haile Gebre's Mordecofe farm?  Well it's only 10am, so maybe it's best to start with a french press of some of their fantastic coffee?   Just can't decide between the Anniversary Blend, Kenya Gaturiri Reserve or the QUEEN of all coffee, the Panama Esmeralda Especial.  I've never actually had the opportunity to try this coveted coffee because it is so incredibly rare, so much so that only 47 roasters were able to get their hands on it in the 2009 auction. If you don't know about this magical coffee, read about it here and buy it directly from Stumptown here.

Thank you Wendy and Duane for this incredible package....

Discovered: Mast Brothers Chocolate

1 Some of you may remember this post I did a while back with the amazing photos that The Selby took as part of the advertising campaign for Cole, Rodd and Haan. Well folks, he has gone and done it again.  This time, The Selby takes us on a beautiful tour of one of my all time favorite chocolate houses, Mast Brothers Chocolate.  Rick and Michael Mast are the handsome duo behind these delicious chocolates that are handmade in Brooklyn .   These boys are true artisans and are one of the few "bean-to-bar" chocolatiers, which means they own the entire process of making their chocolate from sourcing the cocoa beans from Venezuela, Ecuador and Madagascar to roasting, grinding, molding and eventually packaging it all up.  The Selby does a wonderful job of illustrating the whole process from start to finish, so please check out the whole series here.

7

Not only is this some seriously delicious chocolate (my favorite is the Dark Chocolate with Almonds and Sea Salt), but every bar comes beautifully packaged in Italian wrapping paper; it's like unwrapping a gift each time.

5

You can find their chocolate at any of these amazing little shops:

A Little of What You Fancy 19 Newtown Lane, East Hampton, NY 11937 Bedford Cheese Shop 229 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211 Bierkraft 191 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217 Branford Green Grocer 1036 Main Street, Branford, CT 06405 Brooklyn Larder 228 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217 Dean & Deluca 560 Broadway, Manhattan, NY 10012 France 44 4351 France Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55410 Grab 438 7th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215 Marlow & Sons 81 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211 Miette Confiserie 449 Octavia Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94102 Murray's Cheese 254 Bleecker Street, Manhattan, NY 10014 Park Slope Food Coop 782 Union Street, Brooklyn, NY 11215 Provisions 150 Beekman Street, Manhattan, NY 10038 Rubiner's Cheesemongers    264 Main Road, Great Barrington, MA 01230 Spuyten Duyvil Grocery 218 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211 Stinky Bklyn 261 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231 Stone Barns 630 Bedford Road, Pocantico Hills, NY 10591 Urban Rustic 236 North 12th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Living proof.™

I didn't plan to go to Sephora yesterday.  I certainly didn't plan to spend $50 on shampoo and conditioner.  But after learning about Living proof, I was so inspired that it happened in a spontaneous, must have sort of way.*

You see, yesterday the good folks over at Wolff Olins hosted a breakfast.  The theme?

How do you build a brand from the ground up in a down economy? How do you launch a product that solves a real problem in consumers’ lives? How do you create big impact in a high-investment category with a small marketing budget? How do you stay relentlessly focused on your vision no matter what?

livingproofThey invited their client, Rob Robillard, CEO at Living proof, a company whose mission is to solve the toughest beauty challenges through the use of cutting edge science AND then provide extraordinary customer experiences.  So despite the products high price point in this economy, they are thriving.  Thriving as in they sold 40,000 units in less than 30 minutes.  It is an amazing feat on many levels.  The reason as I see it?  Yes, they have a great product; a product that is revolutionary.  (They use PolyfluoroEster, the first new anti-frizz technology in over 30 years.  Other brands use silicone, which weighs down hair.) But what makes their brand really champion others is they have focused on their consumer.

They have a corporate policy to answer every phone call and email.  They send out free samples.  They listen.  They have invested in the research, the design, the packaging and the product and therefore, they got results.  They value their customers on every level, which is ground breaking for a CPG company.  It is definitely a new and refreshing way to enter the beauty segment and I hope others in the industry follow Living proof's lead and success.

*Perhaps I was a bit too enthusiastic. I failed to look inside the goodie bag they gave on our way out, which had a travel size shampoo and conditioner and a full size styling cream. Hey, it will actually be perfect for my trip to LA next week. Right?

Thirsty?

drysoda I've always loved and been inspired by well designed packaging.  One of my greatest sources of inspiration in this area is the blog, Lovely Package.

I was particularly taken with a recent post on the new bottle designs for DRY Soda by Turnstyle Studios.  The creative brief from DRY was that they wanted the bottles to look at home in an upscale restaurant or at a five star hotel. Turnstyle intentionally kept the bottle minimal yet sophisticated - modern with a twist. I think they were spot on with the design, it conveys the message of the brand and makes me want to drink up.

Discovered:Askinosie Chocolate

coco *photos taken from www.askinosie.com

I have to admit; I'm a bit spoiled.  I have amazing and dear friends who have great taste and appreciate food, design, experiences and branding .  This year, one of the gifts I received was a bar of Askinosie Chocolate.  Not only is it beautifully packaged; it is some of the best chocolate I've ever had.  In honor of the fact that we finished the last few squares last night after dinner, I thought I would share a bit about this chocolate so you can go out and enjoy it for yourself.

Askinosie Chocolate is a small company based out of Springfield, Missouri.  One of the things that makes them unique is that they are the first small batch chocolate maker in the U.S. to press their own cocoa butter and are the only makers of natural cocoa powder.  Perhaps also why I found their chocolate so divine...

The particular bar I was given was made of  75% Cocoa Beans from Soconusco, Mexico (this includes 1% Askinosie cocoa butter that they make with the same beans). Each of their batches of chocolate varies slightly because they experiment with texture.   However, on each bars there is a Choc-o-lot # and if you enter it here you'll find out a number of goodies about your bar.  My Choc-o-lot # was 102208.

I found out that my bar lived this life:

7/21/2008    the beans were shipped to our factory. 9/15/2008    beans were roasted to perfection bringing out all the flavors. 9/22/2008    cocoa liquor, sugar, and cocoa butter were mixed to make chocolate 9/22/2008    roasted nibs were mixed into a paste called liquor in our universal 10/22/2008  your product was packaged by hand. 3/27/2009     given as a birthday present to Dan and I 4/9/20009     no more chocolate.  Sad

You can order directly from their website and even visit their factory.

Askinosie Chocolate 514 E. Commercial Springfield, MO 65803