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I’m SO happy and excited to announce the official launch of Schoon Soap! For the past few months, I’ve been working on designing the branding and packaging for an amazing new line of vegan soaps. (It’s been hard to keep my mouth shut about this project, believe me!)

Stephanie Klose has been making soap since 2005, but it wasn’t until this year that she decided to fully immerse herself (literally and figuratively) in the business of creating the perfect lather. After a lot of experimentation, she’s come up with a initial line of 12 varieties of soaps, including fragrance-free and fragrance-ful options. Schoon means “clean” in Dutch, and the name pays homage to the Dutch heritage of the New York regions both Stephanie and I have called home: Brooklyn and the Hudson Valley, the latter of which was also my inspiration for the mountain-y logo.

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One of the best things about working on the packaging for these soaps is that in order to fully appreciate their characteristics, I (naturally) had to use them. I’m usually a no-frills, unscented, liquid castile soap kind of gal when it comes to shower time, so making the switch to these truly luxurious bars was a pretty big upgrade for me. The first soap I tried was Bay Rum & Vetiver, which passed my smell test immediately: warm, earthy, spicy. The coconut oil and shea butter base felt so great on my usually dry skin, and I had no irritation at all from the essential oils used to give it its wonderful fragrance.

Most recently, I’ve been using the Pure/Unscented bar, which still feels fancy and luxurious even though it’s fragrance-free! Great news for anyone who can’t tolerate any kind of perfume. ALL of the varieties are free from any synthetic fragrances, parabens, or preservatives, and the entire line is totally vegan. (And they’re all made by hand right here in Brooklyn!)

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I realize I’m totally biased in saying this, but they also look great in my bathroom—wrapped and unwrapped. Each soap wrapper has its own unique pattern and color, so they feel really special and personal. That was the most important thing to me in designing the packaging—I didn’t want the individual varieties to blend into one another visually (though they do also look nice together in a group!). The coolest part of the project? Seeing the logo I designed for Stephanie embossed into a finished bar. So satisfying.

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To celebrate the launch of Schoon Soap, Stephanie and her husband, Rob (who handles the customer service side of things), are offering a 20% discount on all of their soaps until October 6th! Just use the code SCHOONTIME during checkout at Etsy.

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And just for extra fun, let’s do a Schoon Soap giveaway! There will be THREE winners drawn at random, and each winner will receive any three bars of their choosing from Schoon Soap. Yay! International entries are welcome. Deadline for entries is 11PM EST on October 12th.

Here’s how to enter:
✚ Visit the Schoon Soap website.
✚ Check out the soaps!
✚ Leave a comment below letting us know which three varieties sound the most wonderful to you.
✚ That’s it! Thanks for entering. ♥

Congratulations on the launch of Schoon Soap, Stephanie and Rob! It was an honor to work with you.

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1. K IS FOR BLACK / Just My Type tote
2. Leah Goren / Black Cat tote
3. Baggu / Duck Bag
4. Whitney Museum / New Identity tote
5. Andrew Neyer / Tote Bag™

Last night I went to dinner with Evan and our very cool friend Rena, and we were discussing (in the context of Evan’s guitars) at what point a “collection” becomes a “situation.” I believe the number Rena proposed was 12, which means that I have indeed surpassed the point of having a tote bag collection and amassed (several times over) what really can only be described as a tote bag situation. I’m not sure how this happened, exactly. It definitely wasn’t intentional. As someone who pretty much always prefers the un-fancy things in life when it comes to wearables, tote bags just always seem to be the right answer. It’s easy to double (or triple) up if you need to, they’re perfect for carrying manuscripts on the subway, they don’t add extra weight to your load, and you can toss them in the wash when they get grimy. They also satisfy that ancient desire to silently express oneself to strangers through printed slogans, something I otherwise miss out on as a non-wearer of tee shirts.

A question for the ages for those of you with tote bag situations: How do you store them? I presently have five or six tote bags hanging from coat hooks and door knobs at any given time, and the rest are folded in half and stashed in a bin in the closet. This isn’t ideal, though, since I can’t easily access the ones on the bottom and many go forgotten and unused as a result. My tote bag-loving friend Lisa keeps hers on a long, horizontal hook, which seems pretty smart to me (I’d need several several hooks, though…)! I wonder if there’s not an even more practical solution I’m not thinking of, though. Any ideas?

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1. Hansel From Basel / Zig Zag shopper bag
2. Atheist Shoes / Ich Bin Atheist tote
3. Lee Coren / Black screen-printed tote
4. Fieldguided for Summerland / Wild Heart tote
5. Lazy Oaf / Garfield tote

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For much of my adolescence, I lived in a house without a shower. The house was built in 1820, and when indoor plumbing was added, a bathroom was built on the second floor. It had a toilet, a chrome-legged sink, and a cast iron pedestal tub. My mother, two of of my sisters and I took turns taking baths every morning. The tub didn’t have a spray handle, so we kept a big plastic cup next to the tub for rinsing shampoo out of our hair with clean water. I’m not going to romanticize things: It sucked. It made getting ready in the mornings a huge hassle, and it sucked. I loved staying over at friends’ houses so I could take a real SHOWER. (And also so I could eat microwave popcorn and watch cable TV.)

When I was 16 or so, we got one of those shower enclosure conversion things, and life immediately got better. Showers! Every! Day! So! Clean! And do you think I ever took a bath in that house again? HELL NO.

Anyway, that was in 1991. Fast forward 17 years to 2008, when we were renovating the downstairs bathroom. Taking that shower out of commission meant that we were limited to taking baths in the upstairs bathroom for however many months (six…) it took us to finish the renovation. Fortunately we do have a hand-held sprayer so no plastic rinsing cups were necessary, but let me tell you…taking daily baths as part of regular grooming and personal upkeep is one thing, but bathing after a long day of demolition and sweaty, dirty renovation work is quite another. One bath to get the grime off, another bath to get the dirty water off, and then a cleaning session to get the haze of grime off of the tub. There was no lazing about in mounds of bubbles while listening to Mets games on the radio with the window open. No, none of that. All business, no pleasure.

So, naturally, once the downstairs bathroom renovation was complete and the shower was back in order, I quit baths like a bad habit. Until last month, I think I’d taken a grand total of maybe five baths in the past five years. How pathetic is that? We put all of this hard work into renovating the bathroom and spent a bunch of money having the clawfoot tub refinished, and I’m not even taking baths in it?!?!

Well, that’s all changing now, and you know what the incentive was? No, not a desire for relaxation, but packaging. Beautiful, minimal packaging from Herbivore Botanicals, who I first discovered via their Etsy shop. Seattle-based Julia and Alex started Herbivore Botanicals three years ago, and everything in the line is totally vegan and completely natural. Now, I don’t want to stereotype too much here, but as someone who is increasingly doing a lot of shopping in health food stores’ cosmetics aisles, I can tell you that “vegan” and “natural” are not usually words that I associate with incredible packaging design. And that stuff matters—it matters to me as someone who cares about design, and it matters when it comes to the perception of animal-friendly and natural products as being part of the world of luxury skin care.

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Let’s talk about that Coconut Milk Bath Soak. It’s amazing. It doesn’t make bubbles or anything like that, it really is a soak. It has the most gentle, calming coconut/vanilla scent imaginable—not like one of those gross, chemical-y “birthday cake”-scented bubble baths. It doesn’t make the tub (or you) weird colors. After getting out of the tub, my skin feels so super-soft…not coated or oily, just soft and fresh. There is a subtle fragrance that lingers, but it’s nothing that would interfere with another perfume (if you’re into stuff like that). The Coconut Milk Bath Soak has turned me into a bath devotee. I am committed to taking baths in the evenings on weekends now!

I bought a couple of other products at the same time as the bath soak—Vetiver Cardamom Luminous Body Oil for me, and Men’s Face Elixir for Evan. We love them both! I use the body oil almost every day now, right after I get out of the shower (or bath). It’s much more viscous than body oils I’ve used in the past, so I do need to apply it while my skin is still warm. It’s done an incredible job of keeping my legs from turning into crocodile skin this winter. The cardamom vetiver scent does linger for a while, but it’s exactly the kind of warm fragrance I love when it’s cold out. When the weather gets warmer, I’ll probably switch to the Neroli Blossom version. Evan really likes the Face Elixir! He uses it every night, and was able to give up the very unnatural nighttime moisturizer he’d been using previously.

I have to admit that after having struggled for so many years to find a facial skin care routine that really works for me I am hesitant to change anything about it. I don’t think I can walk away from my prescription medications without my skin freaking out (the emotional distress of adult acne is something I’ve discussed before, I won’t get into it again now…), but I am going to try to phase out the other products—and phase in more natural, animal-friendly ones. I’m going to start by ordering the Pink Clay Soap and see how it goes. My skin is far too dry and delicate for anything like the Bamboo Charcoal.

How about you? Are there any natural, vegan, non-irritating face washes you’d like to recommend I try? Preferably ones that work well with a Clarisonic (not all cleansers do)—and bonus points if the packaging is nice. Of course.

I’m not sure I ever really noticed it until I started designing stuff for my own shop (which is turning out to be surprisingly pink-heavy), but I really do have a thing for pink. Not only screaming-hot neon pink, but a much softer, paler, gentler pink — shell pink, pale corals…blush, if you will. I think my obsession probably started when I was working on the design for sfgirlbybay, when I realized how great pale pinks look alongside black, white, marble and wood — my favorite tones and textures.

To be honest, this wishlist I’ve put together here probably could have been 15x longer. Once I started going through my Etsy Page and my Dropmarks and all of the miscellaneous junk all over my desktop, I found a whole lot of pink. I managed to narrow it down, though, and these are my favorites! I might still need to do a part two…

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1. Two Circles print, K IS FOR BLACK
2. Ornament Pastel Wooden Blocks, Sketch.inc
3. Short Stacked Candlestick, Kate Spade Saturday
4. Origami Paper Lamp Shade, Re-Born
5. Alfabet Poster, Leise Dich Abrahamsen
6. Pink Clay Facial Mask, Herbivore Botanicals
7. I AM HUMAN AND I NEED MONEY JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE DOES print, Wasted Rita

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1. Mayor Sofa, &tradition
2. Nerd Chair, Muuto
3. Ink’d Pink, Sketch.inc
4. TS Berfa ampersand poster, Robert Wilson/Typespec
5. Wide-Rim Bowls, Kate Spade Saturday
6. Teepee Quilted Pillow, Ferm Living
7. Block Table, Normann Copenhagen
8. Wire Basket, Ferm Living

I was recently invited to become a member of Etsy Pages, which is sort of like Etsy favorites but specifically for bloggers and brands (or, to use a word which sounds to me like a type of breath mints, “tastemakers”). This past week I finally started getting the Door Sixteen Etsy Page in order, and man…it’s FUN.

There are lots of social shopping sites all over the place now, and I don’t use any of them (or Pinterest, for that matter), but for me this is a natural. I already post my Etsy wishlists here on the blog, so it makes sense. Anything I add to my Etsy Page links directly to that item in the seller’s shop, and no third party is taking away any of the profits. I like that.

You can follow Door Sixteen on Etsy here:

Door Sixteen on Etsy

When you follow Etsy Pages, the stuff I add to my lists will show up in your activity. I never used to follow people on Etsy because I didn’t really understand the point, but now I get it. MORE STUFF TO BUY!

I have a bunch of lists set up already, but my favorite one to look at is my black + white collection. I want all of these things…

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curated by Door Sixteen on Etsy

Door Sixteen on Etsy Pages

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I’m still on a mission to get the apartment bathroom looking as not-awful as possible, and my latest effort is the RÅSKOG wall cabinet from IKEA. It’s made of solid steel with a charcoal gray finish and glass doors. At $69 the RÅSKOG is a little spendier than most things this size from IKEA, but I think the honest materials and good construction make it worth the money. Installation was really easy. Just two holes, two anchors and two screws.

Plus, it fits perfectly into the nook above the toilet and it looks super cute! Of course I would have loved to find a vintage apothecary cabinet with just the right proportions for $5, but that’s not going to happen — especially not one that’s wall-mounted.

If you have the space, I think two or three of these cabinets would look really nice hanging next to each other in a long hallway or along a kitchen wall. You could even mount them lower and have them function as a shallow fauxdenza! It’s a pretty versatile piece that could really work in any room.

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The print above the cabinet is from the fine folks at Pop Chart Lab (looks like they don’t sell it anymore, but they have so much other great stuff), the perfumes are from Cold Spring Apothecary and OLO Fragrance (my standby is Dark Wave), and the movie is from Woody Allen.

But can we talk about that tooth?

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As I’ve mentioned before, I have a major thing for anthropomorphic teeth and tooth-related things in general. They make my skin crawl, but I can’t get enough! Evan bought me this sweet little corked ceramic tooth vessel for my birthday. It’s made by Brooklynite Alyssa Zygmunt of Brooklyn Rehab. Alyssa’s Etsy shop is sold out of the teeth at the moment, but Evan picked mine up at By Brooklyn on Smith Street in Carroll Gardens. TOOF.

If you want to see more of the apartment bathroom and its Band-Aid-colored tiles, here are a couple more posts:
The new apartment bathroom.
Dealing with nasty grout & caulk in the apartment bathroom.

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If you’re going to be in New York City this weekend and you are a man, someone who knows a man, or a lady who (like me) wears men’s clothing, might I suggest you attend this year’s Pop Up Flea? Every December I somehow manage to miss it — either I’m upstate or I’m being lazy or I forget. Not this time! I am there.

Now in its 7th year, the Pop Up Flea is weekend-long indoor sale focused on new and vintage menswear. Some of my favorite handmakers and vendors from all over the country are going to be there this year, including my friend Matt from Wood & Faulk, Three Potato Four, Field Notes, Steven Alan, The Hill-Side and Ursa Major. It’s being held in SoHo at 82 Mercer, which is a pretty mind-bogglingly gorgeous space. I freely admit that half the reason I like going to events in NYC is getting to see the inside of fancy buildings.

Evan is a pretty snappy dresser (I’ve actually been encouraging him to start a men’s fashion blog — he should definitely do it, right??), and I’m sure he’s going to go nuts looking at all of the nicely-made button down shirts and heavyweight jeans. I don’t really like shopping for women’s clothing (that’s a major understatement…), but I love looking at men’s stuff and I love watching Evan shop. This is going to be a fun weekend!

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Photos via Pop Up Flea’s Instagram / Pigeon banner by Three Potato Four

For the 7th year running, I have made a personal commitment to buy gifts for my friends and family from local and independent artists, designers and crafters this holiday season. As I have done in previous years, I’d like to invite independent hand-makers to post links to their shops in the comments. Please refer to the guidelines below before sharing your link. Thank you!

Door Sixteen Support Independent

Share your shop link:
Please keep all links limited to the spirit of handmade goods from independently-run businesses.
To make things a little more streamlined this year, please follow this format:
✚ NAME: Your shop’s name
✚ URL: Your shop’s address
✚ DESCRIPTION: Briefly tell us what kind of goods you sell
✚ DISCOUNT CODE (if applicable): If you are running any kind of promotion (discount, free shipping, etc.) for the holidays, please include the details and discount code. Codes specific to Door Sixteen readers are welcome.

(If I don’t approve your comment right away, that probably means I’m away from the computer. Don’t fret!)

Share this page with others:
You are welcome to share the above graphic on your blog, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or elsewhere, but please do not alter it in any way. Links should point to doorsixteen.com/handmade, which will automatically redirect to this page. Using a redirect URL will prevent any links from becoming outdated in future years.

If you would prefer to have a smaller button to display in your sidebar, here you go!
Independent Holiday button

Small Print: Door Sixteen/Anna Dorfman does not personally endorse any of the shops linked to the comments section of this post. Links have been tested for functionality and to ensure that the goods for sale are in keeping with the spirit of handmade goods from independently-run businesses, but beyond that no verification or endorsement is implied. All comments are moderated. Comments containing faulty URLs or which are not in compliance with stated guidelines will not be published.

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I’ve been a fan of South Africa-based textile designer Heather Moore’s work as Skinny laMinx for YEARS. Her storefront in Cape Town and her online Etsy shop are home to an amazing collection of her bold, graphic illustrations printed on everything from cushions to children’s clothes to prints and cards to fabric by the yard. She even sells textile scraps for all sorts of uses!

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Heather’s latest Skinny laMinx lookbook for 2013/2014 is sooooooo up my alley, and my favorite pieces are from the Afro-Scandi line: Oranges and ochres and browns and grays, an organic meeting of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. To celebrate the new collection, Heather has generously offered a $100 gift card to spend in the Skinny laMinx Etsy shop!

Here’s how to enter:
Visit the Skinny laMinx Etsy shop and the 2013/2014 Lookbook.
Pick out a few of your favorite things.
Leave a comment here letting us know what they are!

The deadline for entries is Friday, November 29th at 11:00 PM, EST. THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. I’ll announce the winner here and on Twitter tomorrow. The winner will also be notified by email. Thanks to everyone who entered!

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I love pillows, and my favorite pillows of all are Elisabeth Dunker’s Gran (Swedish for “pine tree”) design for Fine Little Day. I’ve had a pair of them in black on white on my living room chairs for several years now, and they’re so cheerful and graphic while having a soft and organic look to them. They also manage to mix nicely with just about any other color/pattern combination.

I was so happy to open my email this morning and discover that Elisabeth is now offering her Gran pillow cases in a beautiful indigo linen with black printing in two sizes — 49x49cm (roughly the same size as the ones in my living room) and 39x 59cm. So pretty, and they look great combined with the original black/white cotton versions.

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Elisabeth has also introduced a Gran-patterned dish towel printed on white linen, which I will of course need to order for my own kitchen immediately! (I’d also like that loaf of bread, please, and maybe some marmalade and a cup of hot tea…)

Of course, you can still buy the original Gran pillow cases (available in several other colors, too), Gran baby blankets and even Gran wallpaper, which I would love to someday hang in my downstairs hallway.

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Here is the original Gran pillow cover in my house. See how nicely it plays with stripes and teardrops and super-fuzzy dogs? It’s the best pillow!