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mercredi 27 juin 2012

Yoga Concept: Bringing Ethical & Stylish Sportswear to Paris

I'm a sucker for stories about people who leave their day jobs to take on an entirely new challenge, especially when their project coincides with their passions and adheres to ethical standards of business. This is why ex-lawyer turned shop owner Pamela Levy's story puts a big smile on my face.

Levy opened her store, Yoga Concept, online at first and has now set up shop in the charming 3rd arrondissement of Paris.

The store is stocked with the highest quality of yoga wear and accessories, with all but a few brands being made in the USA or Canada with recycled or organic cotton and bamboo.

Pamela is dedicated to bringing quality, durable, and stylish sportswear to a city where sneakers and sweats are very much not à la mode. Offering an alternative to your boyfriend's old t-shirts and poor-quality sportswear from chain stores, Yoga Concept showcases clothing that is made to withstand yoga stretches and can also be worn on the street.

While an unwritten social code in Paris seems to prohibit sauntering around town in Spandex, the articles that Levy has hand-picked for her store provide the perfect loophole for anyone wanting to live on the edge and actually walk to the gym- or yoga studio- in their gym clothes.

The recycled cotton t-shirts & tanks are super soft and lush to the touch, and the leggings and pants & top combos are examples of some super serious engineering, cut to fit just right and sewn to last through a million down facing dogs.

If you're looking for a gift for the yogi in your life, Yoga Concept also stocks items that make thoughtful presents for the under-pressure urbanite. Lavender eye pillows, scented candles, and Ayurvedic oils are perfect enablers for a moment of respite in the middle of a busy day.

At Yoga Concept you can also find everything you need for a yoga class, including mats (made from recycled rubber & cotton), bolsters, blocks, and bags-but the biggest treasure you'll find at Yoga Concept is Pamela Levy, a rich resource of all things yoga. With her store she has created a hub & headquarters for yoga-files to learn more about the local yoga scene.

Both an engaged participant in the Parisian yoga culture as well as an impartial observer, Levy can advise both novices and veterans as to where they can find the best studios and teachers for their yoga needs. She is also tapped into the "underground yoga scene" which is probably as cool as it sounds- but you'll have to head to Yoga Concept to find out!

Yoga Concept
123 rue de Turenne
75003 Paris
m° Filles du Calvaire (line 8)

Tues-Sat, 10h30-19h

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jeudi 21 juin 2012

Artisanal America: Bags That Were Born in the USA

As a thunderstorm rumbles outside, announcing the arrival of another poor excuse for a Parisian Summer, I am compelled to pack a suitcase and take off for my homeland- where seasons seemed to synch up with my expectations in such a satisfactory way.

You can't change the weather, but you can always attempt to escape it- and my rose-colored vision of Summers in the US makes the motherland seem like a perfect asylum from this crumby continental weather. Which is why I'm counting down the days until I get back on my native land this August.

I know I won't be able to bring back any sunshine in my bags once the holiday is over, but I will be making some space for happy souvenirs and maybe even some extra carry-ons to contain them.

The Made-in-America bag scene seems to be booming Stateside at the moment, with those privy to the new fad sporting handmade sacs from every corner of the country.

I first noticed the trend while reporting on the Keep Portland Weird festival when Portland bands and fans convened at the Gaîté Lyrique in April.

At the concerts and various events, I noticed proud Portlanders rocking Chester Wallace bags, which are made in Portland by Portlanders. The waterproof bags are made out of waxed cotton and a sturdy adjustable strap.

Chester Wallace bags are touted as being the perfect parcel for carrying six packs across town while biking to a house party, making the City of Roses' obsession with the brand pretty logical.

Chester Wallace bags come in various colors and start at about 150 USD. You can buy them online or at selected stores in New York and Portland.

If you're looking for something a little classier than a canvas beer-toting bag, check out Brooklyn-based leather workers Rabbitneck + Dotty. Graphic design and fashion fuse to create their line of original handbags whose designs include repurposed drawer pulls, lighting fixtures, and other unexpected bits of hardware.

Keeping it classy, the Rabbitneck & Dotty design team coat all hardware in 16k gold which accents the European-bought leather used to make their line of bags, belts, and wallets. Prices vary and orders can be placed online via their website or at their store in Brooklyn.

For the international traveler whose trek requires a bag of both stellar form and function, Langly Camera Bags are the perfect fit. Evan Lane, the bag's creator, sites a desire to make something that is "functional but also fashionable" as the inspiration behind this craftily conceived bag.

Having a camera doesn't have to make you look/feel like a tourist and this pitfall of documenting your travel will be entirely avoided if you've got a Langly bag on your back. The California-made backpack has got you covered- with ample space for your camera, lenses, and even a special slot for your laptop.

Head to the brand's Kickstarter page and pledge to support the project. A pledge of 160 USD will get you you're very own Langly bag and pledges of various amounts will get you all kinds of other Langly-related goodies.

So whether you are in the US, or just wish you were, there are tons of ways to support the local, burgeoning bag-makers movement and score an awesome accessory to go with your Summer memories!

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mercredi 13 juin 2012

Absolution: Organic cosmetics made in France

My article on Paris Spas in the Huffington Post introduced me to a ton of great spots to relax and recharge in the city. One of my favorite discoveries was l'Echappée Spa, where weary urbanites can tuck away and enjoy a heated swimming pool and a full-service hammam along with the gamut of traditional spa services.

L'Echappée Spa provided a window into the world of respite that is available to over-worked Parisians, as well as a doorway to a new discovery: the French-made cosmetic brand Absolution

Absolution is a range of unisex cosmetics that can be customized based on your mood or, more importantly, the whims of your skin. Absolution products are used in all of L'Echappée Spa's facial treatments, which is fitting as one of the brand's goals is to strike "the right balance between an eco-conscious and urban lifestyle" and I can't think of a better place to strike that balance than at L'Echappée.

The concept behind the products is simple: you invest in a base cream- either for the day or night version- and then you choose from a variety of solutions ("Controle", "Eclat", "Energie") that you then mix in to a dab of the base cream, adapting that day's care to your particular caprice. 

The containers are constructed so that one can easily dispense a dollop a day and whip up a creative cocktail for your skin care regime.

The coolest bit about Absolution is that the entire line of products is both made in France and made with organic ingredients (59% from organic farming and 99% from natural origin). 

While the products come with a price tag typically associated with high-end skin care (prices range from 30-69 euro), they also bare a seal of approval from Ecocert,  a trustworthy organic certification authority.  So if you're able to spend a little more on beauty supplies, why not support locally made and authentically organic products?

Absolution cosmetics can be bought in Paris at the main office in the 3rd arrondissement (19 rue Béranger) and at  L'Echappée Spa (64 rue de la Folie Méricourt, 75011) as well as  in a handful of stores scattered around Europe. Products can also be bought online and the company has just launched a new American Online Boutique !    

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lundi 4 juin 2012

Marché du Mois: Marché Cours de Vincennes

While researching an article for ecosalon, my quest to find local producers brought me to the Marché Cours de Vincennes. This market is a favorite among my local foodie friends as it attracts more regional maraîchers than you will find in most Paris markets these days.

The market takes up a good bit of the Cours de Vincennes in the 12th arrondissement and local vendors are offset by a variety of Rungis-stocked food stands and vendors hawking cheap knives and other kitchen/household utensils.

However, the keen-eyed market goer will pick out a few local representatives, selling their seasonal, farm-grown produce in stands scattered about the market.

If you're looking to support Ile-de-France producers, Marché Cours de Vincennes provides the choice of a handfull of farmers that grow their produce within about a small radius of Paris.

The first local producer I visited was Earl Martinet, who was selling lush spinach and lettuce, all grown at his farm only 30 km away from Paris. Also on sale were seasonal root vegetables including radishes, green onions, and turnips.

Another local vendor was Bernard Groult, who was selling some early-season apples, along with rhubarb and pears. Groult's farm is also just under 40 km from Paris and is easy to find if you look out for the sign their stand proudly displays, attesting to the fact that their goods are Productions de l'Ile de France. Not far from Groult's stand you'll find Gaec de Villedeau, whose stand also sells produce grown in the vicinity of Paris.

In addition to local vendors, Marché Cours de Vincennes has a few organic stands which include artisinal honey and other preserves. There is also an artisinal goat cheese maker, whose selection is small but includes a delicious crottin de chêvre.

With so many local and artisinal alternatives, this marché makes it easy to avoid industrial food and pre-packaged produce.

I would highly recommend the Marché Cours de Vincennes as a destination for a locavore's treasure hunt- you'll be sure to not end up empty handed.

Marché Cours de Vincennes
Cours de Vincennes 75012
M° Picpus (line 6)
Wednesday: 7h-14h30
Saturday- 7h-15h

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