Tag Archives: Maine

Brook There

Brook There Invisible Hand

Finding quality, comfortable, hand-made lingerie is trickier said than done. Luckily for you and me, Brook There is here to fill that hole in your underpinnings/basics drawer. Founder and designer (and dear friend) Brook DeLorme chatted with me recently about what inspired her to start the line, what it’s like to run a business in Maine, and what peaks her interest – outside of fashion and textiles that is.

Q. You launched Brook There in 2007, what was your background in textiles/fashion that led you to start your own lingerie brand?

A. My background was mostly just love and fascination for fashion and fabrics. I started making clothing for myself when I was twelve, and was generally obsessed with sewing as a teenager. But, I never tried to enter the conventional fashion world. I did a couple of semesters at Savannah College of Art and Design (thinking I would enter their fashion program as a major) but transferred back to Maine College of Art where I studied sculpture and photography, and met Daniel, my husband and business partner (We also run Seawall http://www.seawallshop.com together). Having a background in art is liberating, but perhaps not terribly practical.

During the years after college, prior to starting the brand, I worked in a family business in the technology industry – which was a great way to become very familiar with web-stuff and more general aspects of business.

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Q. You use incredibly soft organic cottons, silks, and wools. Where do you find your materials and why is organic important to you?

A. Our fabric suppliers and sources have been compiled over the past seven years in a very piecemeal way, for better or worse. Many of the fabrics we dye in-house, because there aren’t a wide variety of organic colors or patterns. The base of the collection is organic cottons, but we use supplementary non-organic silks, laces, and rayons to provide additional textures.

Similarly to our preferance for organic food, we source organic fabrics because we want to support organic farming practices and we’re conscious about what we put next to our skin. I grew up in the era before organic was popular – before organic certifications – but my parents still looked for organic and natural products, and we always shopped at the local health food store. Later on, family members started and worked on organic vegetable farms. We keep our studio and workshop on a piece of land that we share with an organic greenhouse operation.

There’s always been a hole in the market where organic cotton or wool clothing is concerned, because of the paucity of organic fabrics available to small designers. Designing with the self imposed constraints of using only organic fabrics can get really boring – hence, the supplementation of silks and rayons.

Q. You design, cut, and sew in your studio in the Greater Portland region of Maine. What do you value about being a business in Maine, and making your collections locally?

A. We work in a small town ten miles outside of downtown Portland, and live in the city. I feel a strong connection to the state, as my family has been here for many generations. Daniel, who grew up in Connecticut, was drawn here as a young man and managed to stay, despite the fact that most people in fashion in Maine really are earning their money in NYC. There is very little in the way of an internal economy for clothing design here, but people will figure out how to live here, and import the dollars, because of the quality of life.

Since we are very committed to producing in the USA, it only makes sense to try to make it work first within one’s local economy. We’ve several times done the exercise of “would it be better for us to produce in NYC/ Baltimore/ Fall River/ Los Angeles?” And, to date, it would not. It’s more efficient, easier, and rewarding to produce locally.

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Q. Collection 5′s lookbook is absolutely stunning, who did you work with to make it a reality?

A. We found the amazing Christina Jorro (www.christinajorro.com) over Instagram – and immediately felt sympatico with her work. We started working together before even having met in person. Christina’s photos are often focused on women – I loved that her photos were sensual without being provocative – it’s always a fine line with lingerie.

What has made it even more intriguing is how, in many of the photos, Christina is in the frame, either through a tripod or a second camera. She included her good friend and photographer Dusdin Condren (www.dusdincondren.com) in the process, which has resulted in this many-layered photographer + model + self-portrait + second photographer set of pictures that we are just thrilled with.

Q. Who is the woman you have in mind when you are designing for Brook There?

A. Curious, iconoclastic. Sensual. Non-conformist. Intelligent. Question-asker. Seeker.

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Q. You have an amazing personal blog as well that tackles all issues, and rarely fashion. What interests you most outside of developing Brook There?

A. Thank you, that’s very kind. It’s true, I don’t “think” very much about fashion. Daniel and I talk about the business endlessly, but beyond the practicalities of fabric sourcing and production, we don’t talk about fashion. The inspiration for making is something that is much more intuitive for us and needs no discussion.

For the past couple years I’ve been deeply involved with learning the Arabic language as a way to understand some middle-eastern cultural elements that- well- probably many Americans- find mystifying. Without immersion, learning a language which is as different from English as Arabic is quite time-consuming. Through seeking out native speakers in our area I’ve made some amazing friends, and having started another complicated book & writing project, all related to this realm. ore to come, probably in a year or two.

Otherwise, it seems I write about relationships and thought systems primarily. It’s always about trying to figure things out.

Thank you Brook for sharing! Photos are by Christina Jorro and Dusdin Condren.

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Rebecca Mir Grady + Special Discount

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Chicago-based jeweler Rebecca Mir Grady makes the most elegant jewelry. An avid supporter of environmentally sustainable practices (she’s a member of Ethical Metalsmiths), each piece is made by hand with reclaimed metals and ethically-sources stones. Her designs are not only inspired by the ethical materials she uses, but also by her upbringing. Born in Alaska, Rebecca grew up in coastal Maine where she spent her time either at the beach or on the water in her dad’s boat. You can see the coastal influence in the fine metals of her jewelry. Some are smoothed to soft perfection or are subtly carved – much like the variety of rocks that wash up on the coast of Maine. Rebecca took her first jewelry making class in high school and was hooked. From there she got apprenticeships with several jewelry designers and went on to earn her BFA in sculpture and ceramics from SAIC and an MFA in visual arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago. After working for a handmade jewelry company for six years, Rebecca decided to launch her own jewelry line this past fall.

I have admired her jewelry for some time so I’m thrilled to have been able to connect with her and do a post on her Fall 2014 collection “Drift” which will be available at her online shop on September 20th. Rebecca was also kind enough to offer a special discount to N’East Style readers. From today till September 27th, you can receive a 20% discount off any order with the code NEAST20. Happy shopping!

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A Stay at Nebo Lodge

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We wake up early on Friday morning to the smell of blueberry muffins baking in the oven. After quickly packing our bags we make our way downstairs and are greeted by Teddy’s parents, up with the morning sun. We catch up with them while nibbling on muffins and sipping espresso. The sound of NPR hums in the background (a comforting morning ritual in their home). After a quick bite and a chat, we get in our 2002 Volvo X-Country wagon and make our way to Rockland to catch the ferry to North Haven. The weather dances between showers and sunshine. But whichever it decides to do, we can’t wait to get to the island.

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On island, we un-board the ferry and make our way to Mullins Lane. Just a hop, skip, and a jump from the dock and we are at Nebo Lodge’s front door. As we enter through the door, we are greeted by the smiling face and bouncing curls of Kimberli who welcomes us to the inn and leads us to our room. Each room is named and ours will be Dogfish. I’ve never been more excited about a hotel room. It’s light and peaceful with a skylight, gas fireplace, private bath, and cozy seating. The rug, linens, and throw pillows are by my favorite designer Angela Adams (a North Haven native). On the walls hang landscape paintings by Maine artists. A couple pieces are for sale and I’m tempted to write out a check then and there for one depicting a calm Maine coastline. The bed looks so comfortable it’s hard not to tuck in for the night. But it’s 4pm and we want to explore the island before the rain rolls in.

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Before heading out, we decide to poke around the inn and bump into innkeeper Liz Lovell (Kimberli’s sister) while doing so. She introduces herself and shows us the other rooms that are vacant while chatting about the origins of Nebo. The inn’s owners, Chellie Pingree and daughter Hannah, intended for the inn to feel familiar and comforting while providing a genuine North Haven island experience. Not only does the inn draw visitors for its cozy rooms and delicious restaurant, it provides employment for roughly 70 people. Liz and I discover that we have a mutual friend in Laura Serino, who is also out on the island for the summer. This is island life, everyone knows everyone.

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Before getting back to her many duties, Liz reminds us to partake in the afternoon refreshment in the pantry, perfectly chewy chocolate chip cookies and refreshing iced tea. We hear the kitchen and dining room starting to come alive with preparations for supper as we head out the door, cookies in hand. A kitchen staff member is clipping herbs from one of the many herb pots on the kitchen porch as we walk down the path to town. It’s July 4th so shops and galleries are closed, but we make a note to revisit the Gift Shop, Fox i Printworks, and the Hopkins Wharf Gallery the next day.

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It starts to rain so we head back to Nebo, take showers (oh hallelujah for the water pressure!), and get dressed for our dinner reservation. Downstairs, the bar is hopping and the tables are filled with happy diners. We grab cocktails at the bar (finely crafted by Ian) before being seated in a corner by the fireplace. The tables are dressed with mix-matched vintage linens that delightfully coordinate with the Angela Adams aprons the gracious wait staff are wearing. It begins to pour outside, but the dining room is cozy. The low lights flicker against the bouquets of wild flowers which, we overheard a waitress tell a neighboring table, are from Turner Farm. For good reason, chef Amanda Hallowell also sources a lot of her fresh ingredients from Turner. We order the steamed Pemaquid mussels to start, followed by Fried Fish Reuben Taco for me and Maine Crabmeat Cacio e Pepe for Teddy. The mussels are hands down the best I’ve ever had. We sheepishly ask for more of the fresh bread to soak up the remainder of the broth before they take the plate away. Our main dishes arrive and are equally memorable. The ingredients are distinctly fresh and my fish Reuben taco is a welcome update to the traditional dish. Too stuffed to enjoy desert we make our way back to our room, crawl into bed, and fall asleep to the soothing sound of rain hitting the window panes and the low buzz of laughter in the restaurant below.

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In the morning, the rain is still coming down hard. We make our way downstairs for the continental breakfast and find a spread of freshly baked blueberry muffins, strawberries, yogurt, and Rock City coffee in the same room we ate in the night before. In the morning light we notice more of the intricate details of how well this room is decorated. We take our time, enjoying our coffee and eating one too many muffins. Our waitress checks in with our stay and shares with us her own relationship to the island. A Philadelphia native, she has worked summers at Nebo Lodge in the past but this year marks her first living on the island year round. She juggles work at the preschool, Fox i Printworks, and working at Nebo. We’re excited to hear that she plans on staying on again this year. After breakfast we check out of our room, sad to close the door to Dogfish behind us. We check out with Liz and share our gratitude for the incredible stay and remarkable service. Despite the rain, we decide to throw on our raincoats and explore the island some more before the 3:45pm ferry back to the mainland. Liz informs us we can leave our bags in the pantry and to let her know if we need anything at all.

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Surprisingly, there are quite a few people milling around town. Everyone waves, nods, or offers a hello. We heartily offer greetings in return. The Gift Shop is filled with shoppers and we see owner June Hopkins at the register helping customers, as she has done for the last 60 years. Half of the space is a gallery and is currently exhibiting work by a local artist whose use of color is inspiring. We head next door to check out the Hopkins Wharf Gallery, co-owned by June’s youngest son David (her older son is painter Eric, and a friend of Teddy’s parents). His partner David Wilson is in the gallery with their two small dogs. He shows us around the space while talking about island life. We come to learn that he is the artist who painted the magnificent mural on the walls of the dining room and reception area at Nebo. We’re bummed to find that Fox i Printworks is closed through the weekend. We peek through the windows and get excited about the designs.

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It’s nearing 3:45pm so we grab our bags, say our final farewell to Nebo (for now), and make our way to Waterman’s Community Center to wait for the ferry. There’s coffee and sweets with an honor system for payment. Teddy remembers the first time he visited North Haven when he was younger. It was in the winter and Waterman’s had become the hub of social gathering for the community. People had been playing games, knitting, reading, catching up on the week’s goings-on over coffee. The sense of community was so palpable, he had immediately fallen in love with the island. I am feeling that same emotion now as I watch locals and summer residents pass by each other in the street, exchanging hugs and hellos.

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On the ferry back to Rockland, we watch the island grow smaller behind us. We make a promise to each other that it will be a place we revisit every year. A place that will always remain special in our hearts – in no small way thanks to our stay at Nebo Lodge.

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Nebo Lodge

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This 4th of July my husband and I will be staying at Nebo Lodge on North Haven Island in Maine, and we couldn’t be more excited. The restaurant, fronted by chef Amanda Hallowell, has been praised by magazines like Bon Appetit and Downeast for its delicious seasonal menus using local ingredients. The inn, managed by Hannah Pingree (daughter of owner Chellie) and Pam Mountain, boasts cozy rooms decorated with decor by designer and fellow North Haven native Angela Adams. Not only does Nebo sound incredible, North Haven is an island I’ve been eager to visit. Teddy has visited several times, once while helping his father custom build an impressive kitchen in one of the beautiful homes on the island. We look forward to spending time exploring the island, and enjoying the hospitality and good food at Nebo Lodge. Stay tuned for a post about our visit!

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Get Back Stay Back

Portland, ME based writer Joseph Conway has been touring with his first book, Get Back Stay Back: 2nd Generation of Back-to-Tthe-Landers. The book observes 13 families that have exchanged the rat race of modern urban life for the self sufficiency of a simpler life in the woods and fields of Maine. The stories are poignant and challenging as these families face the challenges, and reap the rewards, of their lifestyle choice. Conway also traces the development of the original Back-to-the-Land movement in the 1960′s in this compelling book. I highly recommend picking it up to read for yourself, then share with friends and family.

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