Thursday, August 21, 2014

Erica Jones, CEO (CrafterExtraOrdinaire) of The Crop Shop

Erica Jones is one of my real life heroes. Despite her petite size, she has the vision and heart of a giant. The NJ-based, Rutgers University graduate landed a sweet, high paying job for a Fortune 500 company in NYC after graduation but eventually walked away from it to follow her dreams. It was a simple enough dream of being able to be a mother to her young child while earning a living doing work she loves. So she took her savings and opened a scrapbooking boutique in the hip and happening town Hoboken, NJ. Business took off and she had the luxury of creating a healthy work/life balance. Dream come true, right? Well, not exactly...
When Hurricane Sandy hit, her business was completely and utterly demolished. Totally destroyed. Did she close the door on her dreams and go crawling back to Corporate America, though? Absolutely not! Erica Jones rebuilt The Crop Shop and is now, after 5 years running a successful business, on the verge of expansion. She is terribly modest and her interview below may disguise the fact that she's a super hero but don't let her modesty fool you.
Erica Jones ROCKS.

My name is Erica Jones and I am the Owner of The Crop Shop located in Hoboken, NJ. 
WHAT DO YOU CREATE? I would consider myself a multi-media artist. I love to work on canvases and in journals, but I also find myself creating a lot of functional pieces too, such as tables, chairs, and bookcases. I’m probably more of a crafty carpenter!
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED ON YOUR CREATIVE PATH? I began taking pottery classes at the age of 7 years old. I made vases and plates that my mother still has to this day! I’m pretty sure that was my only structured instruction. I just continued to work on my craft because it was a source of comfort and relaxation to me. Around my college years, I began getting into scrapbooking, which was the inspiration for starting my own scrapbooking business. I opened TCS in December 2009, first starting as a scrapbook studio, and then transforming to an all around Arts & Crafts studio a couple years later. 
WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO CREATE? I am inspired by all things beautiful and different… oh, and the color turquoise! I love experimenting with different mediums and I am usually inspired by the desire to have things on display within my own home or a determination to use a material or medium I have never used before. 
HOW HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO MAKE A LIVING BY BEING YOUR AUTHENTIC, CREATIVE SELF? I make my living by inspiring and teaching others to love the creative process too. I teach classes and run workshops, hoping to inspire the next generation of artists and creators! 

WHAT NEW PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON? I am currently expanding my studio to become an Art Café, a place where people can convene and create in the same space. 
HOW CAN PEOPLE FIND & SUPPORT YOUR WORK? TCS can be found online at, on FB at, on Twitter at or by visiting us at 720 Monroe Street, Hoboken,NJ 07030.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Donate: Get Season 2 of "For Colored Boys" Produced

Season 1 of the award winning web series, For Colored Boys, was a TREMENDOUS SUCCESS! 
Because of its Indiegogo supporters, this series had an exciting year that included screening for major networks and media companies; winning awards; screening at colleges and universities; garnering major media attention and press; casting incredible new talent and, most importantly, creating independent content that sparks dialogue about critical issues faced by underrepresented communities who need this media most.
Season 2 is now underway and director Stacey Muhammad is reaching out to the community to continue showcasing this important body of work. 

  • Best Web Series at the Ocktober Film Festival 
  • Official Selection Pan African Film Festival Official Selection 
  • American Black Film Festival Official Selection 
  • Brooklyn Arts Council Film Festival

Featuring Emmy Award winner actor Charles Dutton.
Not to mention all of the amazing PERKS! Tickets to the screenings. Skype chat with the director about starting your own web-series. Wrap Party invitation, t-shirts, and even dinner with the executive producer and director!
It's am amazing cause. Make a difference today. DONATE.

Fashion ReDesign Birthday Parties and Deck Design Workshops

Are you in NYC or North Jersey and have a 'tween or teenager have a birthday coming up? Show him/her that you're the COOLEST parent ever and book a Fashion ReDesign Birthday Party at The Crop Shop! (Hosted by me) Your child and his/her 9 besties will explore how to transform everyday items into fashionable accessories and garments.

Activities may include:
• Upcycle Market Bag
• Gemmed Wooden Clutch
• Fabric-Covered Bangles
• Leather Earrings
• Studded/Chain Zipper Bracelets
• Recycled Denim Bib Necklaces
• Floral Sandals/Chain-Trimmed Boots
• Upcycled Sweater Totes
Book your emerging fashion designer's party at today!

And for skaters (adults, 'tweens and teens), they will LOVE you for enrolling them in THIS class:

Students will learn techniques to create personalized artwork on skateboards.  They will learn how to mix paints, create stencils using the tape masking method, and learn how to protect their artwork with protective coatings. The completed skateboard is intended to be used as a work of art, however, they will be functional decks and their safety lies at the sole discretion of the handler. All materials and tools are included in class fee. While an artistic inclination is helpful, it is not necessary and no artistic experience is required to succeed in this class. Class in taught by industrial designer Keith Kirkland.

Register now at Spaces are limited.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

= Space : Newark, NJ's Sharespace & Incubator

=SPACE (also known as EQUAL SPACE) is a brand new sharespace & incubator that will be a magnet for creatives, techies & entrepreneurs of NJ, providing access to resources, co-working space & opportunities. 
Located at 89 Market St, downtown Newark, NJ, = SPACE strives to create a unique culture filled with  positive vibes. =SPACE will provide resources for startups, coaching for tech companies and a wealth of intellectuals to bounce ideas off. The next wave in Newark's enterprises will be born within these walls and will have access to the positive culture of its parent company MEDINA = CITI.
If you are an entrepreneur in need of space to work, conduct meetings or an environment for networking and collaboration, this is it! Features include indoor mini golf, wifi & internet, Socialisto coffee, yummy treats, and of course, office space and conference tables. Daily, weekly, and monthly plans are available.

So what are you waiting for? Claim YOUR space today at Connect on Facebook!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Summer Read: Mo' Meta Blues by ?uestlove Book Review

Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove

by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, Ben Greenman
I'm a die hard fan of The Roots. I feel in love with their sound in 1994 when I moved to Philly to enter my freshman year in college at The Arts Institute of Philadelphia. A fellow student introduced me to Do You Want More? and it was like time and space stopped. I listened to the entire album in one sitting. It was like the first time I heard A Tribe Called Quest. I was open on the I Left My Wallet in El Segundo video while my friends were confused as to why. I just know dopeness when I hear/see it and The Roots were the truth. So of course, I couldn't pass up this autobiographical account from the group's co-founder and most famous member.  For years I crushed Tariq. You couldn't tell me he wasn't staring ay me the entire night in 2000 when I saw them perform from the front row at Tabernacle in ATL. In my humble opinion, he is by far the best emcee currently rhyming. But let's focus on the book...
?uestlove wrote from the viewpoint of a music connoisseur and I say that with no exaggeration.  To the extent that I almost felt annoyed with his tireless obsession with it. No one can REALLY know and love music to this extent that I can no longer understand what the heck they're rambling about, can they? I thought I appreciated music and had a broad palate. Nope, he put me to shame by the first chapter. But he grew up in his father's doo-wop band, attended a prestigious school of the arts for high school and, being a true introvert, he'd rather play his classic records than play with children in his neighborhood when he was growing up.
The book is a rich legacy of the neo-soul movement; he talks about the Jill Scotts, Music Soulchilds, and D'angelos of the world. The book is also a testament to determination despite what may appear to be the face of failure.  It's a funny account of fame (or lack thereof) with stories about Prince and Eddie Murphy and his other more famous homies. And it's a story of growth, development, struggle, success, following dreams, and staying true to your vision. If you loved Jay-Z's Decoded, you'll likely love this too.
Two thumbs up.

Monday, July 28, 2014

So You Wanna Date a Model? RECAP

Playing cupid has never been so FUN!
If you remember a couple of weeks ago I posted that I was searching for a nice guy to take my model friend out who was having bad luck in the romance department of her otherwise awesome life (see the post here).
I was soon surprised to discover that although men LOVE to ogle models and claim to want a successful woman, most are intimidated about the idea of approaching one. The post got lots of hits but very few applicants, to my dismay and confusion but my man broke it down for me like this: the AVERAGE guy isn't confident enough in himself to go for a woman of this caliber because he doesn't feel he has much to offer her.
Hence, the problem that many a progressive, fly girl faces.So what's a girl to do? STAY FLY AND KEEP PROGRESSING! The dude who finds your grind sexy because it matches his grind will come along, trust me.

So, getting back to our covergirl; professional model/designer/makeup artist Pietra of Retrochic Beauty. She was very clear about her type of guy: clean cut, young professional with great manners, solid work ethic, confidence, and is a man of his word. If he just so happens to be at least 6 feet tall with John Legends' good looks, that would be icing on the cake.
Well, I'm happy to report that I did deliver this and more!


Enter Lorenzo aka Zo Brown of Motivational Speaker and Development Coach, he is an ambitious, tall, clean-cut, worldly, educated and John-Legend-esque attractive. He graciously took on the quest to have a casual, fun night out with my friend with no hesitations. And not only did he arrive on time but the brother had a luscious bouquet of lilies because he read in the original post that Pietra adores them.  
Nice touch!

I had them meet at The Crop Shop for Date Night, which is an evening of Paint-Your-Own-Pottery (PYOP) among other couples in a mellow setting with wine and candlelight that occurs monthly at this Hoboken arts/crafts boutique.They did a special activity called "bubble plates" that required blowing glaze through a straw to create a "bubble" design effect on the face of the plates that look stunning once fired in the kiln. It was totally hilarious and a lot of fun. Both were great sports about it.

Pietra: As for first impressions, I was surprised by the flowers and immediately thought he was cute. When he smiled, he totally looked like John Legend! And he's tall with facial hair. I LOVE that! I like that I didn't feel nervous with him. It felt like I was talking to an old friend, we even shared a few jokes. We have similar levels of education: he has his Master's and I'm finishing mine now. We have similar interests and work ethics. It was so nice to have a "no-pressure" date. I would like to see him again. Actually, we are texting now about going to the beach together!

Zo: My first impression of Pietra is that she's a true "entrepreneurial go-getter," which I can definitely appreciate. We do plan to get to know each other more, particularly in the business sense. I believe we can make some things happen! 
Making bubble plates
Zo and P chatted all night

A bubble plate before it is glazed and fired

Pietra's finished bubble plate

Zo & Pietra are all smiles. :)

To Zo's surprise, I was sitting only a table away throughout their date on my own date. :) It happened to be my birthday so I invited my man and my closest friends to join my private little PYOP celebration. I got a bird's eye view of Pietra and Zo's interaction and I was impressed to see how naturally they related. They talked and laughed all night. 
My  job is done here friends. Never give up! Good things are always possible when you give them a chance.

Meca xoxo 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"Ready Or Not" Exhibit at the Newark Museum

I recently enjoyed a private press tour of Ready Or Not, a new exhibition at the Newark Museum that features the works of 40 NJ-based artists at different points in their careers, varying in practice and style. The curator and organizer of the show, Schlomit Dror, explained the complexities and inspiration behind some of the individual pieces during the tour, as well as gave us an idea of what is coming ahead. Fantastic performances, such as the one of opening night that took place in the 1784 Old stone School House found in the museum's backyard garden. And the upcoming jazz concert happening on July 10th from 3-4:30pm that fuses digital and instrumental sounds for an unique visual experience.
Every Thursday from now through August 7th has a related performance, which are all FREE with the suggested museum admission.
On the final night of the exhibit, September 6th, The NEWARK issue of HYCIDE will launch there, which is super exciting. I almost never miss the HYCIDE launch parties.

Besides all of the fab events surrounding the exhibit, the exhibit itself is really dope! Everything from sculpture to murals to paintings and performances and on-site installations are all included; making it an audio/visual multilevel experience like none I've ever experienced there. 

Get the full calendar of Ready or Not events at

So You Wanna Date A Model?

Meet P. 
She's a NJ-based professional model, not an Instagram "model" or a "video vixen" but an employed professional who has been on the cover of best-selling books, in ads throughout Essence and Ebony Magazines and most recently, you can find this hard-working young lady in an episode of Orange Is The New Black on Netflix. Due to her busy career, she could use a little help meeting a good guy. 

P:  "I wear many hats. Working on many projects at once keeps me motivated.  For example during the course of the week, I may jump from designing quilts, doing makeup for a photo shoot, writing short stories or publishing beauty articles, auditioning for a commercial, teaching S.A.T. strategies to high school students for a nonprofit organization, appearing on QVC as a model, developing a marketing strategy, writing chapters of my novel, or going to one of my graduate school classes."

Recently I wrote an article for about the rumored dying art of courtship titled "Terina Nicole's Favorite Date Ideas" because dating is alive and well in my life. My friend "P" commented that she has never really had positive dating experiences so I decided to do something about this travesty! 

P isn't looking for perfection. But she would prefer a guy taller than her, with his own mode of transportation, and for him to be well-mannered, polite, and confident in every way. She wants a man who stands by what he believes to be true and maintains his personal values. She says she wants a man that keeps his word, says what he means, and always keeps promises. He’s the kind of guy that brings flowers ("my favorite are orange tiger lilies") and "compliments me on my dress or hair".  This man isn’t overly forward, he takes the time to get to know me, what I like, what makes me smile. He treasures the art of courtship.

If going out for an evening of casual fun on July 24th, 2014 that will cost you nothing (sponsored by The Lifestyles of The Authentic & Creative and The Crop Shop) with a 5'9" 30-something from NJ with no children who is creative, educated and single as a dollar bill sounds good to you, we'd love to hear from you. Email jypsealeathergoods AT gmail dot com with a photo and a description of yourself in 100 words or less for your opportunity to snag your Mrs. Right, or at the minimum just have a fun-filled date with an amazing, young woman.
Due date: July 20th, 2014.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

New Music: Young Paris

I didn't think I like electronic music, especially not with hip-hop but this track is certified DOPE.

Young Paris, aka Milandou Badila, comes into the music industry like a breath of fresh air. The artist chosen by Arcade Fire’s Kanpe team to perform at their annual fundraising event, is getting coverage for his unique blend of electronic rap with African beats. Raised by a Congolese Father and Afro/American Mother, YP mixes his traditional African background with a swing on contemporary music perfected throughout his upbringing in NY. Milandou Badila and his 9 brothers and sisters come from a family of performing and visual artists. From childhood till present, they continue their tradition in drum & dance ballet “Diata Diata” touring schools and cultural festivals. Father, Le Grande Elombe Badila, was co-founder of the First National Ballet of the Congo, which brought peace to many villages and united them in dance. This unity played an important role in Congo’s independence in the 1960’s. Mother, Pamela Badila, Dancer Emeritus with “Les Grands ballets d’ Afrique Noirs”, joined his father’s company in Paris after touring the Ivory coast with world famous ‘Rose Marie Guiraud’.
A mix of EDM production, Congolese rhythms, and modern hip-hop, Young Paris makes music to unite people through dance. 

My 7 Favorite Date Ideas

Feeling totally dismayed by the fact that dating is dying, according to Glamour magazine, and being a bit of a date fanatic myself, I found it necessary to do my part to inspire others to see the value in dating as a foundation for building strong relationships.
Thanks for inviting me to guest blog! See my post here:

What has been YOUR favorite date?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

"Dear White People..." Hits Theaters on October 7th

Dear White People Concept Trailer from Justin Simien on Vimeo.

A satire about being a Black face in a white place.

Remember when Black movies didn't necessarily star a dude in a fat suit and a wig? Or have major plot twists timed to Gospel numbers for no apparent reason? No? Damn...
Well, believe it or not there was a time when movies like Do The Right Thing, Hollywood Shuffle, and Boyz In Da Hood were breaking box office records as well as making us laugh, cry, and think in ways movies hadn't before. The humble producers of DEAR WHITE PEOPLE long to bring those days back.
The Sundance hit  has been called..."exploding with thought-provoking questions that are also funny!"
by Vanity Fair and is opening around the country on October 17th.
More info:


Monday, June 16, 2014

Sick of Men Telling You Smile?

Street harassment lead to artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh to create this video and series of posters called, "Stop Telling Women To Smile." Tatyana is touring the country in 2014, creating new pieces along the way and leading local group discussions about street harassment. Check out the STWTS blog for tour dates.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Jypsea Leathergoods at JC Fridays PLUS Etsy Craft Party 2014!

Join us on JC Fridays, a quarterly city-wide celebration of the arts in Jersey City, as the latest work from designer/artist Terina Nicole, founder of Jypsea Leathergoods is presented at Ed's Salvage Co.
Participate in a fab design DIY project and goodie bag giveaway! (while supplies last) in conjunction with Etsy 2014 Craft Party!
Free and open to the public.

June 6th, 6:30-8:30pm at 672 Bergen St., Jersey City

Terina Nicole is a New Jersey City University graduate student, Fashion Institute of Technology alumni and creator of Jypsea – a home & body luxe line of leather goods. The collection’s focus is jewelry, handbags, small leather objects and furnishings. Materials used includes exotic skins, up-cycled finds, wood and metal; with all, she provides an infusion of soul.

See the full art crawl line-up at

Also, now until midnight on Friday, all of Jypsea Leathergoods earrings are 20% off at the Etsy Shop!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fashion Trucks

Joey Wolffer is photographed in the back of her fashion truck, the Styleliner.
Approximately 2 years ago, when a friend was researching starting a gourmet food truck, I proclaimed rather enthusiastically, "Wouldn't be AMAZING to have a Jypsea BOUTIQUE on a food truck?" I truly thought I was on to something uncharted territory. My own little INVENTION...the mobile boutique! So imagine my shock while hanging with a friend in the Meatpacking district last year when I saw the Styliner gracing the streets of NYC. Come to find out, the mobile boutique concept is a booming trend. Who knew? Clearly, there is nothing new under the sun. It's an amazing way to reach new markets, literally moving to where the customers are while cutting down on the overhead costs of renting a store. Brilliant!
Major new outlets have covered this business trend as well, such as CNN and CNBC.
So enjoy the best days of the year (Spring and Summer) while shopping the fashion trucks in your 'hoods.

Emily Benson’s The Fashion Truck
Here are a few haute picks: The Styliner:
The Fashion Truck:
The YAPA Fashion Truck:
Celebrities Mobile Boutique:
Boston-based Sneakerbox

The YAPA Fashion Truck
Harlem-based designer, Nneka Green-Ingram started a accessory fashion line out of a former snack truck.

Get Inspiration from Artist Shantell Martin

The work of Shantell Martin is a meditation of lines; a language of characters, creatures and messages that invite her viewers to share a role in her creative process. Part autobiographical, and part dreamlike whimsy, Martin has created her own world that bridges fine art, commercial art and the everyday experience — conversations, objects and places.

Using her simple trademark – black ink and white surfaces, Martin’s illustrations transform everything from walls, found objects, ceramics, luxury goods, sneakers, and even faces into a visual narrative. Martin’s diverse portfolio illustrates her gift of navigating many worlds. Her commissions at Asia’s ultra-high end department store Lane Crawford and Y&R’s global headquarters were met with the same amount of fanfare as her live talks and drawing demonstrations.

Martin has been featured on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, and her hand-illustrated bedroom walls graced the cover of the New York Times home section in May 2012. Her work has appeared in Creative Review Magazine, and she is still honored to have been named French Glamour’s New York’s “coolest it girl” in 2011. Her latest fashion collaboration with fashion brand Suno was featured in Vogue in August 2013.
ARE YOU YOU, curated by Isissa Komada-John, is a site-specific installation exploring change, flow and identity. This is Shantell Martin’s first solo museum exhibition. (MoCADA)

Check her FRESH here and meet her in person during her stay at MoCADA. She'll even draw on you, if you're nice. :)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Nyah Beauty

Last Thursday, I had he surprise pleasure of dropping into the work studio of La Shonda Tyree's of Nyah Beauty, located in Paterson, New Jersey. La Shonda and I have been online friends for almost a decade but had never met in person. it was so wonderful to finally do so. She was such a warm, generous presence. Plus, my senses got their fill thanks to the scents and visual power of her natural, skin-loving cleasing bars of goodness! What I already knew about Nyah Beauty is that it is a luxurious, artisan soap brand that's been going strong for almost 15 years following the tradition of soapmaking in La Shonda's family. Nyah Beauty has goodies for men, women, children, and pets. Owner, La Shonda Tyree, also offers soapmaking classes.

What I learned since meeting her, is that she is dedicates 10% of her sales to ending the industry of child brides and has done more than talk the talk, she helped with the purchase of equipment needed for the organization to create their own soaps to sell in area hotels so that it could provide the finances needed to save young girls from a dreadful fate, some as young as 7 years of age.

If you need more reason to fall in love with the Nyah Beauty brand, just try any bar. While at her studio, I was chatting with a fashion photographer who has a studio down the hall fromLaShonda's and that brother made it plain. "It changed my life," Stefan said ( refering to the Wake Up Call bar.

 I grabbed one of those for my own man. Gotta love a serious testimonial! Also, I got the Oatmeal facial bar to switch up my facial cleansing routine. I never, ever, ever use bar soap on my body, let alone my precious ;) face. But,  when I say its super gentle and nourishing, it really is. My face is pleased. Find out for yourself by shopping the Nyah Beauty website or find a retail location near you.
Inside the Nyah Beauty studio

Inside the Nyah Beauty studio
Nyah Beauty signage

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Style Social in Philadephia

Annually in Philadelphia, the Style Social brings international fashion to buyers, press and consumers in a local market to present collections that might not otherwise be seen.   
Each Style Social also draws fashion, art and design talent from the community to offer local artist and designers an opportunity to present their work alongside international fashion designers.  This year's Style Social and Launch Party, happened on Wed, Faeb 12, 2014 and featured Macy's Fashion Incubator as wwell as fashion designers from Italy, Hungary, Colombia and Franc. It occurred to celebrate the success of the Incubator designers as they launch their collections in the international fashion market.
In a unique setting combining art, fashion, design, with an emphasis on sustainability, the event was hosted by The Transfer Station, an ambitious entrepreneurial project imagined to revitalize the Manayunk neighborhood, with local businesses and restaurants supporting the event with their signature offerings.
The Style Social and Launch Party was a collaboration between Macy’s Fashion Incubator, which is a one-year intensive designers-in-residence business training and ongoing mentorship for selected Philadelphian fashion designers to provide all of the resources they need to launch or grow their companies in the city of Philadelphia; and international showrooms Bel Espirit and Showroom International.  These two Philadelphia-based showrooms carry international ethical fashion designers and well as highlight and support each brand’s ethical principles and global ethical initiatives such as Andes Made, a line of premium alpaca scarves, socks and accessories for me and women .
Andes Made

The event was a combination of a runway fashion show with a complementary display of fine art, accessories, home décor and furniture; much of which was available for sale through the Transfer Station. As an innovation resource center for entrepreneurs located on Main Street in Manayunk, the Transfer Station provides a retail market space, co-working spaces, artist studios, creative labs and tailor-fit solutions to work, create, sell and collaborate with like-minded individuals.

Some of the works of the fashion designers were proudly displayed on the handcrafted furniture from one of the area's finest emerging makers: Don Yacovell. 

"...(my) designs are simple. They are meant to highlight the natural look of the wood, not fancy moldings. I mostly work with local domestic hardwoods such as cherry ,black walnut or maple.I look for wood with "character" cracks ,knots ,holes, and color variation. I like to highlight any marks left behind by the original craftsman when I work with salvaged lumber. Seeing the history in an old piece of lumber just enhances this style of furniture."
Don Yacovella has work for sale at The Transfer Station in Manayunk.
Learn more about Don Yacavella here.

Stay in the loop of what's happening on Philly's style scene by following Bel Esprit showroom in Twitter @bel_esprit.