Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ladies Who Lunch: Creators Co-Op in Astoria, Queens

Astoria, Queens.  How unlikely a place to find me. So you would think.  Being a Manhattanite, I have very rarely traveled to the other boroughs.  Back in my youth, I taught ballet classes in a studio in Morris Park in the Bronx and since I was already there, I would visit my Italian relatives that lived in the neighborhood.  Outside of that, there were a few random visits to Brooklyn to go to the homes of friends in Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope.  As for Queens, I had only ventured there once with a group of dancers from the Joffrey Ballet.  We had spent the night partying at Studio 54, afterward piling into cabs and making the trek to one of our groups apartments in Astoria, Queens, where we crashed on sofas, floors, etc.  Why we decided to head off to Queens, to this day I still do not know. The next morning, we jumped on the subway back into Manhattan, without really exploring the neighborhood.
So when I recently received an invitation to the opening of a co-op artist boutique in Astoria, like so many other Manhattanites, I struggled with the concept of journeying there for a boutique opening.  But deciding that it was more than time for me to explore more of my hometown, I enlisted my friend Brenda, a Queens native, as my escort and off we went to Astoria.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Astoria has a vibrant community.  The Greek community has long called Astoria home and it is evident in the markets and restaurants that you find there.  But one can also find interesting cafés and small boutique shops.  It was to one of these boutiques that had brought us here in the first place, Creators’ Co-Op.

Creators’ Co-Op is the brain-child of artist and designer, Kazuki Kozuru-Salifoska.  Kazuki is the creator of the so very New York all black children’s line, babyNOIR and the follow up more colorful line babySOLAIRE.  After years of selling her designs at streetfairs and craft markets, she decided that she would like a permanent location for her creations.  She also wanted to create a space for fellow artists to display and sell their work.  Kazuki has basically corated the artists joining the co-op based on the quality of their work, style and taste level.  And just as importantly, she wanted to give the people of her neighborhood the opportunity to shop for cool items, without leaving the neighborhood.  The result is a store that sells hand-made unique items, which include fashion, jewelry, accessories, art, homegoods and personal care products.

Creators’ Co-Op has been set up beautifully and although packed full of wonderful creations, manages to showcase each designer and their designs to their fullest.  The other thing that is remarkable is that as varied as each artist’s creation are, they flow together in a way that each one compliments the other.  Joining Kazuki, the artists currently with this new store are the following.

Mariana Leung-Weinstein of Wen Meng - Using all of her fashion experience, including her much sought after embroidery designs, Mariana creates timelessly elegant accessories.

Paul Klenk of Oriboxi - Selecting from the world’s most beautiful decorative papers, he cuts, folds, assembles and sculpts them into uniquly beautiful origami boxes that are practical for storing small items, presenting gifts, or simply acting as a decorative object.
Mami Suzuki of MSG - creating women’s fashion that is fashion forward, yet timeless, she mixes colors and textures with simple, flattering shapes that move easily form day to night.
Mieko Anekawa - A painter that produces artwork that conveys a story and every story has its unique tone.  Her current work combines a number of influences including fashion, nature, female expression and New York scenery.
Amy Kaverman - Flower brooches made in part by burning fabric, thereby changing its color and texture to create delicate brooches that look like hand crafted flowers.

Gaetano Canella of Lume and Nera - a Brooklyn based women’s clothing designer.  Finding himself creatively unfulfilled in the corporate fashion world, Gaetano launched this line to be able to use what he is inspired by to create a line that is both feminine and modern.

Hala Gross of Hala Baby - Hand sewn little tutus made of silk charmeuse, illusion tulle and grosgrain ribbon, the perfect gift for the little girl in your life.  And each tutu comes with a matching tiny tutu for the little doll in her life!

Anna Almiroudis of Anthesis Organic Skincare - Handcrafted organic skincare products made with wonderful blends of flowers and herbs leaving you with supple happy skin.
These are but a few of the many talented designers and artists that are part of Creators’ Co-Op.  With the Holidays fast approaching, I suggest a visit to Astoria, where you will find all of those special gifts that say that you care so very much.  You will also end up finding something for yourself as well, because we all deserve to give ourselves a little something special now and again!

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