Groom

Father’s Day. It’s the holiday we were born to curate. Our vast selection of keepsakes and treasures will help you give Dad a truly standout gift. Here are a dozen highlights from the Craft & Caro stockroom that are sure to inspire you. 

Groom

Manicure set, Cologne, and Shaving set

1.) F. Hammann Stainless Steel Manicure Set

F. Hammann Leathergoods has been making world-class items since 1864. Five generations of the Hammann family have maintained a standard of excellence that defines their brand. Production is still carried out entirely on-location in Offenbach, Germany. The company processes its own leather, using only all-natural tanning agents. This handsome manicure set is complete, compact, and built to last a lifetime. The Eschenburg tools inside it are made with precision, for precision performance, year after year. $162

2.) MCMC Dude No. 1 Cologne

MCMC Fragrances makes all-natural perfumes and colognes in Brooklyn, NY. Founder Anne McClain studied aromatherapy and then perfumery in Grasse, France. Anne and her sister Katie oversee the manual production of each heavenly fragrance in their line. Dude No. 1 is a refreshing take on the masculine essence. A deep base of sandalwood, Virginia cedarwood and Haitian vetiver mixes with Moroccan rose, spicy ginger and pink peppercorn. Fresh, exotic, and seductive, for the James Bond in every dad. $75

3.) Mühle Sophist Buffalo Horn Shaving Set

These masters of heirloom-quality shaving accessories broke ground in Saxony, Germany at the conclusion of World War II. Over the decades, their commitment to excellence has endured and grown along with them. This gorgeous set is a gift Dad will cherish for the rest of his life. Beautiful, hand-turned buffalo horn and corrosion resistant chrome are painstakingly finished with a high-gloss polish. Famously soft silvertip badger hair makes the perfect lather every time, for a luxurious start to the day. A classic set of tools for the man who deserves the very best. $505

 

Travel

Frost River Bag

 4.) Frost River Overland Valise Weekender

Frost River makes beautiful, adventure-ready bags in Duluth, Minnesota. Their vintage style and high-quality construction are inspired by the trail blazers, prospectors and craftsmen who first explored the Northern Wilderness. In honor of that bygone era, Frost River’s methods and materials adhere to traditional production values. Each bag is made carefully from Martexin waxed canvas from New Jersey, quality leather from SB Foot Tannery in Minnesota, and finished with solid brass hardware. The Overland Valise Weekender is a ruggedly handsome, hardworking, sophisticated travel companion that you can count on to haul more than its fair share of the load. Sound like someone you know? $300

Leather wallet and Bottle opener key shackle

5.) American Bench Craft Hammer Riveted Wallet

Brothers Jason and Chris founded American Bench Craft in 2014, to honor “the heritage of [their] grandfathers and the products they relied on.” Every American Bench Craft product is made by hand with manually-powered machines and tools in their home workshop. The Hammer Riveted Leather Wallet is the flagship design on which they ran their Kickstarter campaign. Each wallet is made from a single piece of high-quality, naturally dyed leather that is folded and riveted, not stitched together, for unmatched durability and longevity. A sharp-looking, simple wallet that Dad can count on. $74

6.) Metal Shop Key Shackle Bottle Opener

Possibly the ultimate Dad gift. Simple to use, always handy for popping your favorite bottle, and entirely manly. Hand-machined from raw 304 Stainless Steel and then hand-finished, each Key Shackle opener bares unique production marks. Jon Fontane started Metal Shop in 2013 to honor the memory of his grandfather’s New Jersey machine shop. He eschews modern mass-production practices, and designs thoughtful, unique items, meant to honor authentic craftsmanship. He works out of his studio in Connecticut, in partnership with a collective of small, family-run machine shops. $45

 

Work

Fisher Space Pen, Bull & Stash leather notebook and Almanac Industries Blueprint cards

7.) Almanac Industries Blueprint Notecards

Husband and wife team Jacob and Whitney Cecil make their exquisite stationery one sheet at a time on their antique letterpress. They find joy in all things old fashioned, including attentive craftsmanship. These classic cards are no exception to their efforts. Their Blueprint series features nautical images and diagrams, including boats, rope knots and lighthouses. Each set includes fifteen heavyweight cards, hand-stamped with your image of choice. Whether Dad is the sender or the recipient, he is sure to appreciate the extra touch that these elegant cards add to the occasion. $32

8.) Fisher Original AG7 Astronaut Space Pen

Probably the coolest pen in the solar system. This is the original Space Pen, designed for use by astronauts and tested by NASA. It accompanied the crew of Apollo 7 into space in 1968 and has been used on every American space flight since, including the first moon landing. The design has never changed. The AG7 is uncannily satisfying to use. Solid chrome-plated brass and steel components lend a healthy weight to the pen. The action on the click mechanism is fluid and substantial, an homage to classic analog mechanics, akin to the pleasure of using an antique cash register or cable clutch. Fisher’s proprietary pressurized ink cartridge ensures a smooth flow, flouting all atmospheric and gravitational conditions. Proudly made in the USA, for every boy, young and old, who still wants to be an astronaut. $50

9.) Bull & Stash Leather Notebook

Oregon-based Bull & Stash is new to the world, but their rugged notebooks are destined to be classics. A staple of the Craft & Caro selection, each notebook is made from a single piece of naturally dyed leather from free-range American cows, hand-finished at a family-run tannery in Santa Croce, Italy. The thick, oiled leather forms a flexible, spine-free, water-resistant cover. The refillable paper pad is held in place with two aluminum screws, for added durability and easy replacement. Every Bull & Stash will develop a distinguished patina over the years, each as unique and personal as the writing inside. A wonderful example of an everyday item elevated by imaginitive design. $5-$50

Relax

Flask, copper shot glasses and Sportes log stove

10.) Beier-Lederwaren Ostrich Finish Steel Flask

Another standard-bearer of fine German design, Beier-Lederwaren has been manufacturing high-quality accessories since 1922. Their stainless steel flasks are built to last a lifetime. While we carry an extensive selection of Beier-Lederwaren flasks, this particular one is our favorite. Rich cow leather, expertly finished to resemble exotic ostrich hide, lends a classic, debonair look to this little heirloom. Give Dad a touch of European flair. $89

11.) Jacob Bromwell Old West Copper Shot Glasses

Jacob Bromwell has been making iconic American goods since 1819. Their first Cincinnati factory opened to supply westbound settlers with the necessities of life on the frontier. Every heirloom item is made by hand in America, from materials sourced in America. These copper shot glasses are hot-tinned according to Jacob Bromwell’s proprietary method, making them the real thing, not just ornamental replicas. Worthy of the likes of Wayne, Eastwood and Bronson. Sure to add a touch of style to Dad’s bar. Maybe he’ll even break out some of the good stuff for you. $150

12.) Sportes MITI Swedish Log Stove

For the dad who loves the outdoors, even the one who thinks he has all the gadgets he will ever need to answer the call of the wild. MITI means “log” in the tongue of the aboriginal people native to Quebec, where Sportes is located. Their ingenious Log Stove is designed to perfect a concept developed by the Swedish Army in the 1600’s. Simply quarter a medium-sized log, stand the four pieces up, then position the Log Stove on top. Lock it into place with the included spikes. Suddenly a few pieces of timber have become a stable stove, complete with cooktop and steady burn temperature. Adjust the spacing between the logs to raise or lower temperature. Pretty cool, right? Dad will think so too. (Rib eye not included.) $65

Filed Under: Events, Gift Guides, Groom, Relax, Travel, Work
Natural perfumer Jennifer Botto of Thorn & Bloom

Jennifer Botto is a pioneer in the field of all-natural luxury perfume. She creates her intoxicating blends by hand in Somerville Massachusetts. We visited Jenn in her studio to learn about the detailed process of hand-blending a fragrance. Jenn shared her inspirations with us, as well as some insightful reflections of her own. 

1. How did you come to start a natural perfume company?

I grew up on a farm in upstate New York. Working with botanical aromatics is a way for me to connect with nature, something that I’ve been missing since moving to Boston. I also grew up with many allergies and chemical sensitivities. When I made the switch to all-natural products, I was underwhelmed with the selection of natural perfume. I mostly found aromatherapy-style blends that lacked the complexity and sophistication I desired. Thorn & Bloom was meant to bridge the gap between these aromatherapy-style natural perfumes and synthetic luxury perfumes.

2. What passions inform your work?

I’m influenced by nostalgia and memory. Many of my blends have some reference points from my past and conjure strong emotions in me.

Jenn Botto of Thorn & Bloom with Paul Jackmauh of Craft & Caro3. Tell me about your product. What makes it special?

My perfumes are Eau de Perfums in a base of organic grape alcohol. Many natural perfumes come in roller-ball bottles, in an oil base, but I find the combination of an organic alcohol base, bottled in an atomizer spray bottle, is ideal. This combination works best to aerate each blend’s volatile notes, allowing the scent’s full spectrum to shine through. So much time and effort has gone into growing, harvesting, processing and blending them and I want to pay homage to those efforts.

4. Why all-natural?

The skin is the largest organ in the body, and certain substances are even more readily absorbed through the skin than our digestive system! While people are focused intently on eating organic food, they often don’t realize that they are giving themselves a daily dose of synthetic chemicals when they apply cosmetics.

The reason why synthetic perfume lasts longer on the body than natural perfume is because synthetic chemicals have a longer degradation period, both in the body and in the environment. Sometimes people tell me they don’t like natural perfumes because they fade faster than synthetics, but natural essences work more gently on your body and on the environment. The delicate tendencies of natural extracts provides a more intimate user experience. You have to get close to the wearer to fully enjoy it, and it won’t interfere with a delicious meal or cause others in a tight space to inhale an imposing odor.

Thorn & Bloom Perfumes

5. What is the story behind the name Thorn & Bloom? 

The name Thorn & Bloom refers to the notion of holistic living and consumption. Similar to the trend of ‘nose to tail’ eating (making use of the whole animal), Thorn & Bloom strives to include all the elements of a natural aromatic, ‘from thorn to bloom’.

This is in direct contrast to synthetic perfumery, which tends to artificially reconstruct only the most ‘desirable’ molecules of an aromatic, leaving out less ‘perfect’ molecules. They lack a tactile quality.

Take Jasmine, for instance, which has a high degree of naturally occurring Indole, a molecule also found in human feces. Indole is often described as ‘animalistic’ and ‘musky’. Synthetic perfumers can choose to create a Jasmine perfume with as much or as little Indole as they like, simply by adding or subtracting synthetic Indole. Natural perfumers, on the other hand, will use the whole Jasmine essence. That means they will work with the level of Indole that occurs naturally, which can vary due to the growing conditions and species of Jasmine used.

By keeping our ingredients as whole and as pure as possible, we are allowing a given aromatic’s full, natural spectrum to shine through. Sometimes, this spectrum can include unique nuances which, to some, may be an acquired taste. We see these nuances as essential elements, knowing they’ll impart depth and character to an otherwise mundane blend.

“To embrace imperfection is to embrace authenticity, something that is often lost in our modern world. I believe that imperfection can elevate beauty in surprisingly profound and spectacular ways. Thorn & Bloom’s 100% natural blends vibrate with energy and soulfulness, allowing you to fully appreciate nature’s incredibly varied palate.”

Thorn & Bloom Wild Rose scent sample under glass bell6. What are some pros and cons to working with all natural ingredients?

A major con to working in the natural products market is the ‘greenwashing’ of consumers by companies that either don’t know they are using synthetics or don’t care. The term ‘natural’ is yet unregulated by the FDA, so it is really meaningless. As a result many perfume houses will market as ‘all-natural’. It’s very frustrating trying to compete with their lower price-point and entirely different aromatic profiles. A few ways I like to tell consumers how to differentiate natural perfumes from synthetics:

  1. Color: Many natural aromatics will be (and should be) highly pigmented. This pigmentation results from the plants’ polyphenols (a.k.a. antioxidants) coming through in the extraction process. Perfume houses that have clear perfume will most likely be using questionable aromatics. I always say ‘trust your eyes and your nose’.
  2. Price: Natural aromatic extracts are pricey! This will reflect in the final cost of the perfume. For instance, an ounce of Tuberose extract can reach a price of $400. If you come across a bargain ‘natural’ perfume, it may be too good to be true.

I will often explain to my customers that natural perfume is first and foremost an agricultural product. That’s not something many people associate with perfume! For this reason, a formula will vary slightly from batch to batch, year to year. This is because the raw material used in it will be affected by local growing conditions.

Just as a vintage of Merlot grapes will vary from year to year and yield a different flavor profile, a crop of roses will vary as well and will yield a different aromatic profile. I think this is so cool! This variation is a big reason why natural perfume is not often mass-produced. Large companies are wary of these nuanced shifts in aromatic profiles. They assume customers want consistency above all.

You wouldn’t want to go out and buy a synthetic bottle of Merlot just because it tastes the same year after year! So why would you want to with perfume? In this way, botanical perfume can connect us with nature in delightfully intimate ways.

Hand holding perfume sample

7. Can you tell me a little about the basics of perfume production?

Every scent has base, middle and top notes. Each is categorized by its volatility, or how quickly it evaporates. Top notes are the most volatile, like citruses and peppers. They also tend to be the most effervescent and sharp. Middle notes are usually florals. They’re well-rounded and add body and beauty to the blend. Base notes provide staying power. They anchor the blend and include scents like vanilla, woods, musks and roots.

I don’t have a strict formula that I work with, but usually I tend to focus on a gorgeous middle note and start by building accords (made up of three or more complimentary notes) around it, then I add aromatics one by one, drop by drop to experiment. Lots of trial and error. Or I focus on a scent family (for example, green, wood, floral, or amber) and find aromatics within those categories to bring together. My blending is often fast and furious when inspiration hits.

Natural perfume extracts

8. I understand you even make some of your own tinctures to use as ingredients. What are some of those scents?

I have made raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, peach, pineapple, rooibos, basmati rice, black cardamom, rosemary, grains of paradise and coriander. Each raw material is aged in organic alcohol for a minimum of six months. Most of my tinctures are aged over two years. 

9. Who tends to buy your product and where are they?

As a new company, I mostly sell directly at the New England Open Markets and online. My stockists include Craft & Caro, the St. Germain Boutique at the Fairmont Copley Plaza, and Scent Trunk. Many customers are referred to me through popular niche perfume blogs, such as CaFleureBon, which has given Thorn & Bloom many positive reviews.

My perfumes are popular among both women & men (I offer many unisex blends) and the brand is especially well-received among customers in Dubai and Egypt. I feel this is because they are more familiar with the qualities of natural aromatics and appreciate the sophistication of my blends.

Jenn Botto holding a scent sample for Paul Jackmauh

10. What are your plans for 2016? What are your prospects for the brand?

I have three trade shows coming up this season — Elev8 NY, Indie Beauty Expo, and W.E.L.L Summit. I will be working hard to develop more scents in the fragrance line, along with body, face, and bath oils. I’d love to start bespoke services, and make custom blends for people who want their own personalized scent!

11. What has been your greatest success so far?

I’m so excited that Thorn & Bloom has recently been announced as a finalist for the prestigious 2016 Art & Olfaction Awards!  Thorn & Bloom is among nine other finalists — acclaimed artisan perfume houses from all over the world! The winner will be announced on May 7. This is especially exciting for a 100% natural perfume house like Thorn & Bloom, as blending with botanical aromatics often poses unique challenges.

12. How about your greatest challenge?

My greatest challenge is ongoing: managing limited resources. I started the company with limited funds and time and I have had to be patient with growth due to these constraints. However, it is incredibly rewarding being able to keep the company small and under my own control, which means keeping the quality at a high standard.

Jennifer Botto of Thorn & Bloom

13. What is something you’ve learned from starting your own business?

I’ve learned that finding a mentor and building up a supportive community around you is so important. After every setback or failure, it’s really great to have positive voices encouraging you to keep going. When things go well it’s also necessary to be able to share that with others, as a confirmation and celebration of your efforts. Anya McCoy has been especially helpful as a mentor during my studies at the Natural Perfumery Institute. She heads the Institute and is an amazing resource for natural perfumers all over the country.

14. What do you think of the Boston as a community for the craft/maker scene?
Boston’s craft/maker scene is thriving, thanks to institutions like New England Open Markets, which has been supporting local makers for years by offering them thriving venues at which to sell their creations.

The Artisan’s Asylum in Somerville is another wonderful entity that supports makers by offering them affordable studio and fabrication spaces and shared tools and equipment. I recently read that Somerville boasts the largest number of artists per capita outside of New York City, which is amazing! I’m proud to be a part of the movement.

Thorn & Bloom perfumes on a wooden table

15. What is your favorite Thorn & Bloom scent?

My favorite is Stranger in the Cherry Grove. Originally, it was an attempt to recreate the smell of my father’s cherry flavored pipe tobacco, but it took on a life of it’s own and turned into a blazing cherry orchard!

I love that the cherry comes across as charred and resinous, not sweet and pretty. To me, it represents a wonderful duality between innocence (cherry fruit) and danger (smoke and leather). I love that yin and yang atmosphere it conjures. I also worked so hard to create a cherry wood accord, as cherry wood is not available as a single aromatic, and I think it comes very close to the real thing. Saffron lends a wonderfully smooth, new leather note while amber pulls everything together in a sensual warmth.

Assorted bottles of botanicals extract in Thorn & Bloom studio

Filed Under: Boston, Culture, Groom, News
Brothers Artisan Oil Interview by Craft & Caro

Brothers Artisan Oil produces small batch beard grooming and shaving oils by hand. Their product line is 100% natural, made from simple botanical ingredients. All products are made from start to finish by Owen, Baxter, Wiley and Marie Shea in Boston. We caught up them at an exciting moment in their story. Here’s the scoop.


 

Owen and Marie Shea of Brothers Artisan Oil

Owen and Marie Shea of Brothers Artisan Oil are setting up their new studio when we arrive. They are a charismatic pair. Owen is tall, broad-shouldered and bearded, the spitting image of a man’s man. Marie is equally striking, with bright eyes and a welcoming smile. You can sense a warm camaraderie between them. If they have been working long hours lately, it is not conveyed by their easy disposition. The studio has a good vibe.

Owen has spent the last few days laying floorboards and hanging shelves. Brand new file cabinets and storage drawers squat neatly underneath the work table that runs the length of one wall. A few thoughtfully chosen family relics and potted herbs accent the work space. Assorted jars, jugs, bottles and beakers adorn the shelves. Some have simple hand written labels like “Argan Oil” and “Jojoba Oil” but many more are yet to be unpacked. Business is about to commence here, in the first dedicated production facility of Brothers Artisan Oil.

Brothers Artisan Oil Workshop shot for Craft & Caro

Brothers is one of the first tenants of a curious new undertaking — Market at Casablanc, a self-described “micro-retail environment for makers.” A dozen small studios (in various stages of assembly on the day of our visit) surround a large common area that will function as a shared retail, gallery and event space.

Located upstairs is Casablanc, a collective of creative professionals including artists, musicians and designers. The collective hosts gallery events and live performances regularly. They have created Market with a similar vision in mind: provide a much-needed cultural and commercial venue for Boston makers.

Characteristic of the craft-made industry, where things are constantly reclaimed, repurposed and renewed, Market at Casablanc resides in an former industrial building in a fringe neighborhood of Boston. The bare walls and floors have been slathered in whitewash, giving the place a rather apropos blankness. In the coming months, local makers and artisans will make these studios their own.

Brothers Artisan Oil for Craft & Caro

For now the tidy Brothers workshop provides a sense of order to the space. It will be a few more days before production here begins. However this is hardly the beginning. Brothers Artisan Oil has already been in production for a year and a half, based in Owen and Marie’s Brookline home. To date, they have sold tens of thousands of units.

That might seem like putting the cart before the horse, but for the Shea family it’s pretty standard. They don’t tend to waste much time sitting around drafting plans. The Sheas are agents of action.


 

Brothers Owen, Baxter and Wiley Shea, along with Owen’s wife, Marie, founded Brothers Artisan Oil in 2014. They came together at the Shea family home on cape Cod that June, when their mother, Meredith, suffered a severe stroke. Half of her brain was affected, leaving her immobile. She couldn’t walk, speak or even swallow. Chances that she would regain her mobility were bleak. In the following months, her fight to recover inspired the Sheas to found a family business.

The boys stood by as Meredith began a long and uncertain road to recovery. While they tended to her, they grew their beards out in a show of solidarity. They could only wait. Owen recalls a “breakthrough moment” that came after the first week. Marie played “Bridge Over Troubled Water” on the stereo one night. To everyone’s surprise, Meredith began to sing along! She sang every word. They took the early sign of progress as a good omen and looked ahead with hope.

Before long, the brothers found a need to tame their burgeoning whiskers. Nothing they found in stores seemed to do the trick. They started mixing beard oils at home. Shaving was not, after all, an option.

Owen’s experience as a cocktail bartender came in handy for blending botanical extracts and essential oils. He began to share their product with friends and regulars at the bar, refining the recipe from their compliments and critiques. Owen cites this early, sincere feedback as crucial to developing the finished product.

Meredith labored in physical therapy through the summer, while the brothers worked on their blends. By September, Meredith had achieved the astounding. She could walk and speak again. The boys had their mother back.

Owen Shea of Brothers Artisan Oil for Craft & Caro

A lot happened in a dizzyingly small amount of time after that. It was clear that Brothers Artisan Oil was making real traction. Owen was working full time as GM of Vintage Restaurant and Lounge in Boston. He continued to develop the product in his free time, and reflect on the experience that had brought the family together. Marie was due to give birth to their first child in November. A new branch of the family was about to sprout and Owen felt it was time for a life change. The timing was right for it.

Owen approached his friends at Ball & Buck, a Boston retailer of American-made craft goods, in September. They encouraged him to present Brothers Artisan Oil at American Field, a major craft goods trade show, in November. Attending would require an unprecedented amount of production and preparation, and Marie was due two weeks before the event date. It was going to be tight.

As fate would have it the baby was two weeks late. It gave them just enough time to prep for the show. Marie was designing labels on their home computer when she went into labor, three days before American Field. Nova, the newest member of the Shea family, was born.

Had Nova been on time, the Sheas might have missed the trade show and their first sale. Birchbox, an online retailer of boutique cosmetics, placed an order for 5,000 units shortly after the trade show. Brothers Artisan Oil was officially in business.

“That really kicked us into gear,” recalls Marie; all they had to do now was traverse a tangle of legal paperwork to certify their business, finish designing their branding and fill the order by hand, in a few short weeks.

Marie Shea and Matt Noonan of Brothers Artisan Oil

They hit the ground running. Owen left the bar and went full time producing Brothers Artisan Oil at home. Marie left her job as an events coordinator at a non-profit a few months later. A former design student at MassArt, she applied her skills to their fledgling brand.

At first, Owen printed labels on his home printer, hanging them from clotheslines in the yard to spray them with waterproofing. Marie, Owen, Baxter, and Wiley all mixed and bottled batch after batch of beard oil, one gallon at a time. Not much has changed.

“There are no machines. We are the machines,” Marie explains. “Everybody does the thing that they really like to do.” Owen and Marie manage day-to-day operations. Baxter manages Boston retail accounts and Wiley helps out filling larger orders (referred to as “Big Pours”).

Sometimes a roster of trusty friends pitch in to help. On the very day of our visit, long-time pal Matt Noonan, the person who first introduced Marie and Owen, is helping them move into the new studio. They are grateful for their support network.

“Our friend Nick Ciocca has been helping out a ton lately,” says Marie. Pals Bob Brown and Dione Mariani accompanied Owen to American Field so Marie could stay home with the baby. 

Owen and Marie Shea of Brothers Artisan Oil

“It’s important to let people fall into those roles,” explains Owen, who has a seasoned sense for human resources. “We can do a couple hundred bottles in a day without killing ourselves, but 10,000 a month if we have the order.”

The team is still working from handwritten recipes, complete with the requisite coffee stains.

More impressive still is the fact that the Shea family started Brothers Artisan Oil completely out of pocket. No investors, no crowdfunding, no fundraising.

“We’ve made some risky decisions” Marie reflects. “We had to learn to business and adult at the same time. It’s nice to have these [interview] questions, it gives us a chance to reflect on why we’re even doing this because we are doing this.”

When I ask them what their greatest challenge to date has been, Owen echoes Marie — “Starting a business and a family in the same week.” His deadpan response is not hyperbole. It is fact. The Shea family has no need for embellishment.

 


 

Brothers Artisan Oil Three Scents

The notions of risk, enterprise and family are reflected proudly in the Brothers imagery. Owen discovered a set of vintage stamps that suit their story perfectly. A 1920’s series featuring the landing of the Mayflower provided Brothers with three images, one for each scent of beard oil. The stamps depict the Mayflower at sea, the famous landing at Plymouth Rock and the signing of the Mayflower compact.

The ship itself represents the Sheas’ earliest roots, since Meredith traces her family’s heritage back to the Mayflower crossing. The subsequent images — the landing at Plymouth Rock and the forging of New World’s oldest governing document — epitomize the promise of a new beginning, the risk of adventure and the unity of a familial covenant.

Plus, the classic images look sharp perched on a bathroom shelf. “We want it to look like it belongs [in your bathroom], not some flashy gold bottle or something,” says Owen. “We wanted it to be simple and masculine” adds Marie.

Brothers Artisan Oil products displayed for CRaft & caro

The main logo hits even closer to home. You might not catch it at first glance, but that strange shape next to the “BAO” is a bird skull. Half of an Osprey skull, to be specific. Why an Osprey? Because they nest in the trees around the Shea family home on Cape Cod. Why half? To commemorate their mother’s triumph over the force that cast a shadow on half of her brain.


 

Brothers has already expanded their inventory to include a unisex shaving oil, two styling pomades and a grooming kit consisting of a beard oil, a pomade, a wooden beard comb and a carrying pouch. All of their products are made in small batches, from nourishing plant-based oils and extracts, in keeping with Owen’s motto that “a healthy beard comes from healthy skin.” They aren’t stopping there.

“We plan on extending our product line, including more pomades, shaving products and tools, washes, soaps, salves and much more” says Owen. He and Marie both cite the significance of their new space in Market as a catalyst and a source of inspiration.

“There are makers popping up everywhere” says Owen with excitement. “There are Boston brands now.

“You genuinely feel like you’re a part of something, a movement, and you’re making [a living],” says Marie happily. People in the maker world tend to be very supportive of each other. There is a sense of community here that is rare in any retail environment. In some cases brands that might be competitors in the same arena team up instead, to increase their collective reach to consumers.

Brothers Artisan Oil Shaving Kit

The Brothers grooming kit is a clear example of this kind of symbiosis. The Valkyrie Project, based in Boston’s South End, manufactures the canvas curio pouches that Brothers uses for the kit.

The set’s beautiful two-tone wooden combs are purchased from a mysterious woodworker on Cape Cod. He makes each one by hand, one at a time, and claims to be “the only full-time wooden comb maker in America.”

Encounters with such characters is not unusual in this industry, where eccentricity and obsession are driving forces.


 

The Brothers team is excited for 2016. Retail hours for their new Market studio will begin in May. They have plans to appear at several craft trade shows, including Boston Made and American Field.

Their goal for the year is to expand their shelf presence beyond New England. Eventually they want to see Brothers Artisan oil sold in every state. They are already on shelves in ten states, including at half a dozen retailers in Boston alone. Direct retail orders from all over the country come through the website daily.

Just two days before our visit, Brothers received their first order from France. Naturally curious, Owen did a little online sleuthing and discovered, to their great surprise, that Brothers had been featured in an issue of Vogue Paris.

Owen smiles. “Mom was psyched to hear about that.”

“We thought you had to pay for that sort of thing,” says Marie.

The brand’s momentum seems to be taking care of itself.

“We always felt like the Shea Family had a brand already, there were just two things missing, a product and a plan,” explains Owen.

The Shea family finally has their product. Maybe soon they will get a chance to sit down long enough to write out the plan.

Brothers Artisan Oil Banner

Filed Under: Boston, Culture, Groom
11 Fabulous Gift ideas for Mom from Craft & Caro

Craft & Caro strives to be the finest purveyor of gentlemen’s essentials, but many of our fine products are beloved by ladies as well! We put this luxurious Mother’s Day gift guide together for the fashionable mom in your life.

 

The Executive Collection

Executive Collection for Craft & Caro's Mother's Day Gift Guide

For the mom who means business.

The Lajoie Shoulder Tote (1) is simple, sharp and gracefully stylish. Laser cut Dutch leather, hand stitched with urban-farmed beeswax twine, gives this bag an elegant precision. A few modest accents add a touch of flair, elevating it from formal work tote to rock-star-chic fashion accessory. Built in Montreal to last a lifetime. $365

A handwritten note is always more heartfelt than a store-bought card. Think outside of the shoebox with Bohemia Correspondence Cards (2)! These colorful greeting cards from Prague are themselves a worthy gift consideration. The sturdy, bordered cardstock with matching tissue-lined envelopes makes versatile stationery for lighthearted hellos, holiday greetings or formal affairs. $32

Now let’s equip that bag with some accessories of its own. We recommend the Schon DSGN #0001 Metal Pen (3), made here in Boston. Solid, stately and classic. Its heft in the hand commands authority, just like Mom. Fabricated from your choice of silver or black aluminum, limited edition brass, bronze or titanium. Rolls Royce not included. $58

One of our Bull & Stash Refillable Notebooks (4) completes the set. A single piece of deliciously soft nubuck leather, hand finished in Italy, forms the jacket of this tough, travel ready notebook. Spine-free and very flexible, this attractive jotter is the professional way to scratch, scribble and brainstorm in the office, on the commute or in the park. Cut in three sizes, including two pocket-sized. $15-$50

 

The Vacation Collection

Vacation Collection for Craft & Caro's Mother's Day Gift Guide

Because motherhood is a beach.

The iconic Pendleton Glacier Park 5th Avenue Throw (5) makes a lovely keepsake for any room in the house. Its plush Merino wool is irresistibly soft — perfect for curling up on the couch, laying out on the beach or picnicking in the park. A gift to be enjoyed for years and years. Manufactured in Oregon since the 1860’s. $138

Mom can pack her Pendleton into a Revival Series Boston Bag (6) for her afternoon excursion. This historic design is tastefully executed with rugged canvas, hand-stitched leather and solid brass hardware. All the trappings of a good time can fit into this handy tote. A removable leather shoulder strap makes carrying heavy cargo easy. Buttons up or down for adjustable size, in case Mom’s afternoon off turns into a whole weekend! Proudly designed and made in Boston. (Check out designer Marie Thompson’s recent coverage in The Boston Globe!) $198

No sunny afternoon is complete without a nice cold drink! Owl’s Brew Cocktail Mixers (7) provide a fun and easy way for Mom to enjoy some DIY craft bartending. Made in Vermont from freshly brewed tea, fruit and herbs, each Owl’s Brew comes ready to mix with your spirit of choice. Add ice, give it a stir and you’re done!  Feeling more creative? Give classic cocktails a new twist or experiment with custom recipes! It’s even great on its own, as a refreshing artisanal iced tea. $10-$18

 

The Pamper Collection

Pamper Collection for Craft & Caro's Mother's Day Gift Guide

She pampered you. Here’s your chance to pay back the favor with some all-natural items, crafted to delight the senses and soothe the soul.

A standout addition to any culinary library, Infuse: Oil, Spirit, Water (8) is filled with enough inspired infusion recipes to last all summer long! Mom will have a blast making her own garlic confit oil, peach bourbon, homemade limoncello and pineapple-mint-coconut water, to name a few. This beautifully illustrated guide even includes secondary food and cocktail recipes incorporating its luscious infusions! Another thing to look forward to next time you’re invited to dinner at Mom’s. $25

No Mother’s Day gift guide would be complete without a scented candle or two. MIZU (9) nails it with their perfectly balanced hand-poured candles. Made with 100% natural soy wax and essential oil blends. Each scent in the Mizuworld Collection captures fragrances from a particular region of the globe, like Lemongrass & Jasmine for Thailand and Fig & Olive for Greece. Yum! Brighten Mom’s world with something extra special. $22.50

Bring a touch of the exotic to Mom’s morning routine! Wary Meyers Soap (10) is beautiful, festive and fragrant. Made with love by a funky pair of interior designers who left New York City for the rocky shores of Maine. Their dazzling all natural soaps sport bold, playful scents like Beachy Coconut, Grapefruit & Clementine, and Cedarwood & Vanilla. A gentle glycerine-based formula makes these soaps soothing and moisturizing, with a luxurious smoothing finish. $14

Thorn & Bloom Artisanal Botanical Perfume (11) redefines high-end fragrance. This premium line of all-natural eau de parfums is hand crafted by certified natural perfumer Jennifer Botto. Natural botanical ingredients create more nuanced and authentic aromatic profiles than conventional perfumes can achieve. Each intricate scent is inspired by Botto’s childhood memories of her family’s farm in upstate New York. A truly precious treasure to share, made just down the road in Somerville, Massachusetts. $65-$199 (Full interview with Jennifer Botto here.)

There you have it, friends. Eleven inspired gifts to help you show your mother just how special she is. The only thing left to figure out is how to out-do yourself next year.

Mother's Day Gift Guide from Craft & Caro

Filed Under: Boston, Gift Guides, Groom, Relax, Travel, Work
Make your disposable razor last longer with The Strop!

There is always a way to evolve.

The Strop provides us with a simple step forward by renewing a bit of the past.

It’s actually a classic barbershop tool — that leather strip the barber runs his straight razor over (like in Charlie Chaplin films). Shave Face redesigned it with a special grade of denim, for use with disposable razor cartridges and safety razors. Run your blades along The Strop a few times after each shave and voila! Rejoice as those pricey cartridges last two months instead of two weeks.

You just evolved. And you haven’t even had your coffee yet.

We have all tried squeezing a few extra shaves out of a dull cartridge. You know that struggle. You grin and bear it, while you calculate how many days until you can justify popping on a new blade. A tinge of frustration arises as you try to convince yourself that this system is satisfying your needs.

We say nay! That is no way to live. Deliver yourself from the burning itch of compromise. Break the chains of the feudal shaving system. Take control, by learning to care for a possession you’ve been trained to neglect!

This isn’t just evolution, it’s revolution.

Turn the discardable into the sustainable. And why not do it in style? Raw denim, rich oiled leather and solid brass buttons make The Strop a handsome showpiece for your bathroom too.

Rugged materials, solid craftsmanship, smarter shaving. Love it.

It’s one more way Craft & Caro is helping to foster a smarter, richer daily existence.

Filed Under: Groom, Jackmauh Tries It