Artist of the Month: Michelle Sasscer, Babus Toys

IMG_8997The following post is by Michelle Sasscer, owner of Babus Toys, Herban Lifestyle’s April 2014 Artist of the Month.

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Women have traditionally learned their crafts from their mothers and other family elders, and Michelle Sasscer is no exception – her mother taught her how to knit, albeit over the phone, 3,000 miles away, while Michelle was laid up with a broken leg in a 3rd floor flat in San Francisco.  It was very slow going at first, and she timidly moved from basic stitch swatches to washcloths to eventually scarves.  After a multi-year hiatus, she returned to the craft in earnest in 2011, relishing the opportunity to nestle into an easy chair with gorgeous yarns and new patterns.

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But it wasn’t until 2006 that she learned about felting, and when she finally started to experiment with the technique, she was immediately, completely hooked.  Something about the smooth, fuzzy, warm wool texture and apparent magic of all of those stitches melding into one thick solid material, was irresistible.  And not coincidentally, this all came about while she was making toys and decorations for her newborn son, Nicholas (who was nicknamed “The Babus”, in utero, just like his daddy had been).  The moment she saw Nicky’s reaction to his first set of felted wool teething rings, Babus Toys was born, at least in her mind.  Many years later, Michelle has created toys and treasures for babies as well as children of all ages.  Using choice, sustainably produced yarns from Michigan and Peru, as well as an organic line from Australia/US, Michelle makes every piece by her own design and with her own hands, from that original Gnot teething ring to nesting finger puppet sets, to mermaid dolls, even ornaments (once she even made a bride and groom squid couple as a wedding cake topper). Oh, and her mom Ruth is still helping her out, doing yeoman’s work as a supplemental knitter.  Michelle works out of her home in downtown Silver Spring, MD.

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Babus Toys can also be found in Michelle’s Etsy store, on Facebook, and at Eastern Market in Washington DC.logo

Artist of the Month: Soyini George, YiniBini Baby

Booties10BThe following post is by Soyini George, owner of YiniBini Baby, Herban Lifestyle’s March 2014 Artist of the Month.

When Soyini George was a little girl living in Guyana, South America, her mother used to take her to visit her Great Aunt Jean. Aunt Jean was a vibrant conversationalist, often waving her scissors about as she pinned and gathered the fabric to make the most pretty dresses. It was here that Soyini learned about the love of handmade. Aunt Jean’s husband, Uncle Reggie had an award-winning, colorful garden, that all of the bees seemed to fight over. These special memories serve as an inspiration for Soyini’s line, Yinibini Baby, adorable handmade clothing and accessories for little ones.

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The Yinibini Baby collection comprises of dresses, onesies, booties, bibs, burp cloths and more! Pieces are made out of cotton, organic cotton or cotton blended fabrics. Her original illustrations are based off of childhood stories and memories. Soyini went through a rapid growth spurt as a child, and so became much taller than her classmates. This was the inspiration behind the “Too Tall Birdie and Friends” illustration that can be found on onesies and the Organic Reversible Bib.

Too Tall Birdie and Friends

Soyini’s Yinibini Baby collection of organic cotton onesies, organic bibs and booties will be at the Herban Lifestyle store for the month of March. Stop on by to get cuteness for the baby in your life!

yinibini-baby-and-bump-82For more information about Yinibini Baby, visit http://www.yinibinibaby.com.

Artist of the Month: Steven J. Magner, Designer

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Into the Woods Soap label designed by Steven J. Magner

The following post is by Steven James Magner, Herban Lifestyle’s February 2014 Artist of the Month. He designed a label for our limited edition Into the Woods Soap, available exclusively at the Herban Lifestyle store.

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At first I wanted to be a professional Baseball player. That never materialized so I decided the University of San Francisco was the next best choice. Nineteen and fully immersed in the Bay Area as a Marketing Student I started focusing on the creative. One thing led to another — including a move to Los Angeles — and now I am designing to my heart’s content. My inspiration is drawn from Wolfgang Weingart, Josef Muller-Brockmann and many other Swiss Style designers. I have been branding professionally for over four years and continue to love every minute of it! magner_printouts_1 2014_web My belief is that good design creates connections. These connections are developed by communicating your style in a relevant, accessible way. Your logo, business card and website say something about your brand and tell your customers something about you. As an artist, I spend time working closely with clients on their projects, as well as collaborate with other creatives in the field. magner_printouts_1 2014_web3 magner_printouts_1 2014_web2 You can see more examples of Steven’s work in his online portfolio.

Hello Again, DC: Everything Old is New Again

The 1922 Lincoln Model 117 Seven-passenger Sedan

The 1922 Lincoln Model 117 Seven-passenger Sedan

My great-grandfather bought one of the first Ford motor vehicles available for the mass market in the U.S., and my grandfather was brand loyal, owning nothing but Fords throughout his long lifetime.

Named after President Lincoln, the Lincoln automotive company was founded in 1917. Their rival Ford Motor Company purchased Lincoln in 1922. Fast-forward to December 2012, when Ford changed the name of the Lincoln division to the Lincoln Motor Company, granting it its own design, product development and sales teams. And now they are celebrating this new era in their 90-year history of making cars by re-introducing the Lincoln Motor Company, and unveiling their new take on the luxury automobile.

Through the “Hello, Again” tour, Lincoln is introducing a series of projects with artists who share their vision of re-imagining the past to create something new and innovative. Herban Lifestyle has been invited, along with other select local artisans, to be part of the Hello Again, DC event from June 6-16. Tours are available Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00am – 4:00pm and 6:00pm – 10:00pm. You can sign up for this event, including a test drive and interactive tour of DC, by visiting the Hello Again website.

During your tour, you’ll be given behind-the-scenes access to the Pleasant Pops mixing rooms to exercise your imagination and blend unique flavors. You will experience a private art drive as you cruise through an 18th-century alley curated by local artists. You will have a chance to touch and smell various herbs, spices and other ingredients Herban Lifestyle uses in our products. And you will have the opportunity to vote for your favorite flavor combination to be used in our new products to be launched later this year!

An assortment of Pleasant Pops

An assortment of Pleasant Pops | Image ©Pleasant Pops

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Hello Again, DC

Besides our shared respect for history, design, and innovation, I applaud Ford and the Lincoln Motor Company for making great strides in building environmental sustainability into their business models and their vehicles.

The 2013 MKZ Hybrid operates up to 62 miles per hour on electric power alone, using no fuel and has an EPA-estimated 45 city/hwy combined mpg. And here is a website that outlines some of the sustainability efforts that Ford, Lincoln Motor Company’s parent company is undertaking. This website lists Ford’s Top 10 green initiatives of 2008, including their Dearborn Truck Plant, which has the World’s Largest Living Roof (10.4-acres) according to Guinness World Records, and their leadership in being the first U.S. auto company to use 100% recycled fabric seating surfaces. And this website lists their Top 10 for 2011.

Lincoln 2013 MKZ Hybrid

Lincoln 2013 MKZ Hybrid

You can sign up to be a part of the fun and innovative Hello Again, DC event at the Hello Again website.