I’m super excited to be kicking off my 2nd annual Shop Local holiday series on the blog today!  First up, we’re talking with Tara Foley, owner of Follain in the South End of Boston. Check out the rest of the series here. SouthEndShop_12Welcome Tara! Tell me a little bit about yourself and your shop and how you got started.  Tara: When I graduated from college, I moved to NYC and was trying to get healthy — practicing yoga, racing triathlons, eating locally and clean; so when I found out about the toxic chemicals in my beloved beauty products, I became really upset, and realized there was no beauty store in NYC or anywhere else where I could buy safe and effective products, only.  So, in 2009 I started a blog — The Naturalchemyst — about healthy beauty products, and then I quit my job soon after to learn more about these products, working on a lavender farm in France, and for a skincare company in Maine.  Then I moved to Boston to get my MBA at Babson.  Immediately after winning a business plan competition for the concept, and graduating from my MBA (May 2013) I opened the South End shop in July 2013.  Now, our mission is to change the way women and men approach the products they apply to skin.  
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Are there any go-to items that you offer that you always recommend for holiday gift giving?
Tara: Our deodorants!  Conventional deodorant is filled with aluminum, which is extremely toxic.  Our little product is an expression of how much you care about your loved ones’ health and future…  We also love the fluffy marshmallow-y texture of our RICA body butter, which everyone loves for thirsty winter skin.  Healthy (lead and pthalate-free) candles are always a good option, and — last but not least — a refillable bottle of Follain liquid hand and body soap is the gift that keeps giving!  
SouthEndShop_14This is the time of year that we always need hostess gifts, what are you recommendations for the best thing to bring when attending a holiday party or visiting someone for the weekend?
Tara: People always turn to entertaining and house items for hostess gifts, but we encourage you to treat the hostess herself with something indulgent that she’ll love!  Our RICA bath tea is a great hostess gift, because it does both — it looks gorgeous in the bathroom and provides a decadent aromatherapeutic treat to help the hostess unwind!
SouthEndShop_17One of my favorite products at Follain was the lipstick I recently bought — any recommendations for which products can help create a great holiday-season make-up look?
Tara: We love golds and greens for holiday parties, like the RMS Solar cream eye shadow, Ilia Linger lipstick, and Vapour Viper eyeliner. 
SouthEndShop_13One of my favorite things about shopping local is the way that the community supports each other — what are your favorite places to shop in Boston?
Tara: We’re obviously partial to our great friends in the South End, like Olives & Grace, Farm & Fable, Flock, Twelve Chairs, Urban Grape…the list goes on!  For anything we can’t find in the South End, there are other awesome Boston neighborhood shops like Forty Winks in Harvard Square, Dress and Good in Beacon Hill.  
SouthEndShop_18What would you tell someone that’s thinking about shopping local this year?
Tara: There are SO MANY great reasons to shop locally — but to help put things in perspective, think about what your Boston neighborhood would look and feel like without all the cute, love-filled independent shops.  Would you want to live in a place with impersonal big box stores, only?  If not, then support your shopkeeper friends who have a story — and who know your story!
All photos credited to local Boston photographer: Bring to Light Photography.

Last night we had an awesome time with the Boston Bloggers group at the cutest South End shop — Farm & Fable. Abby, the owner of the shop, hosted a handful of us for some prosecco sipping, snacking, and late night shopping of her vintage cookbooks and artisan kitchenwares.  After we mix and mingled for a bit, we headed down to the awesome test kitchen space below the store to learn all about mulling wines, and then we all dug in to bowls of coriander, anise, and cinnamon to mix up our own little mulling spice kits to take home! I love a warm mulled cider during the winter, but Abby opened my eyes to something I’ve never tried before: mulled white wine. She mixed hers with a pear brandy and there were a few sweet pear pieces filled with the spiced mixture at the bottom of my cup — I’m ready to try that recipe at home!

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A few weeks ago I was having brunch in the South End with a friend, and we made it a point to stop into the a new shop that I had been hearing about called Farm & Fable. It’s kind of like dying and going to vintage kitchen heaven. The store specializes in vintage cookbooks and serveware, and has an awesome collection of new heirloom kitchenwares — and it is some kind of miracle that I didn’t buy every single item in the shop on our visit. Oh also, they are starting a Cookbook Book Club where all of the attendees make a recipe from one cookbook and bring it for a potluck to chat about the recipes, how cute is that? I’m sad I can’t make the first meeting, but am definitely signing up in the future — that’s a book club I can get behind. If you’re in the neighborhood you must check it out!

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This weekend, Boston realtor Ricardo Rodriguez presented the Urban Showhouse — an open house fundraiser benefiting the Pine Street Inn, with rooms decorated by various interior designers including Jonathan Adler, Andrew Terrat & Dee Elms, Dennis Duffy, and Lisa Kreiling. I had the pleasure of sneaking a peak with my friend Taz after a lovely Sunday morning afternoon brunch and a few champagne cocktails.

Per usual, everything in Jonathan Adler’s family room was quirky, fun, and effortlessly stylish. I was lusting after these matching chairs:

Lisa Krieling designed the swanky office space, and officially convinced me that a West Elm parsons desk is in my future.

And my favorite space was the second bedroom, also designed by Lisa Krieling. I stood in the center of the room and spun around pointing at things, saying “Want. Want. Want.” The end tables looks like a smaller version of Jenna Lyons’ desk.
And I’m obsessed with the green bench and the rug — the colors are gorgeous! I would have bought it right off the floor if I had the option (especially with those few glasses of champagne in my system).

Did I mention the house is for sale? A mere 2 mill and this pad could be yours! Check out more pictures at the listing here.