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Observation

Our insights from this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show in NYC | Trend 1: Gourmet On the Go

About a month ago we headed up to the Specialty Food Association’s Summer Fancy Food Show to walk the many aisles and see the best & brightest amongst specialty food and beverage. The Following posts run through our insights we’re excited to share.

 

Trend 1. Gourmet on the Go

Gourmet goodies are not relegated to fancy restaurants any more, which isn’t necessarily a new trend, but we loved how these brands elevated conventional food with tasty results. With more and more folks strapped for time but wanting better, quicker food this trend isn’t going away anytime soon so we’re anxious to see how other brands innovate within trend.

Mac & Son:

Remember Sunday dinners over at Grandma’s house? Home cooking at it’s finest with an array of yummy sides more than likely including Mac & Cheese?  Well Mac & Son makes bagged mac & cheese taste like homemade, with quality, thoughtful ingredients. When we sampled our little cup full it took us right back to those Sunday dinners. We learned that the Mac & Son folks have worked hard to recreate that homemade flavor spending a lot of time developing their recipe and identifying key ingredients that are simple, flavorful but also deliver a hefty, homemade side in a convenient pouch.

Boonbox:

Imagine never having to worry about a filling, healthy, well rounded meal on the go? Forget fast food – Boonbox makes it easy. We loved the fact that Boonbox was so simple, just a container with everything you need – and better yet you don’t have to cook it – just dig right in. Think of it like super powered trail mix. Plus the container is small enough to fit in any type of bag.

Zupa:

Zupa Superfood soup makes sure you get all your veggies in an easy to carry bottle. We need our veggies but don’t always have the time to hang out at the juicer and crank out a cup or two. Plus what’s the right recipe that tastes good but is also healthy? We loved how Zupa delivers everything in a bottle – no excuses for not eating those veggies – even if you can’t sit down for a meal. And forget conventional flavors – they’ve got sophisticated combos like: Beet Orange Basil, Cucumber Avocado, and Tomatillo Kale Jalapeno just to name a few.

And of course we can’t forget dessert –

The Konery:

We think gourmet on the go should apply to all courses. The Konery has dessert covered by making amazingly tasty gourmet waffle cones. With bold and innovative flavors, The Konery’s cones pair nicely with different ice cream flavors and play a bigger part than a standard sugar or waffle cone. They’ve got wild flavors with even wilder cone colors – for instance a deep red “Red Velvet”, a blue “Salted Blue Corn” and our fave: a confettied “Birthday Cake.”

Read our Trend #2 Post.

Unpacking after 99U: Part 2

In our Part 1 post distilling our experience during the 99U Conference, we shared what we encountered around the city and some of the interesting things we saw. Part 2 is all about our conference takeaways.

Day 1

Studio Tour: Verdes

We started the first full day of the conference at a great little coffee shop called The Jolly Goat on our way to a studio tour with Verdes, a small offshoot of the larger studio Mother NY. The folks from Verdes shared with us how to create a common language around expressing our ideas to clients and helpful tools for facilitating the discussion. A super useful topic and content and a great start to the conference.

Conference Sessions:

We made our way back from Verdes down in Hell’s Kitchen to Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center to start the general sessions.

Session 1: Ryan Carson, Treehouse

Ryan Carson shared with us a bit about his unique management and company policies (he doesn’t have any managers and they encourage lots of balance) – all of which came from his realization that we really don’t have very long on this earth so we need to spend it doing important things with the most important people in our lives. Ryan had us imagine who we want at our funeral and what we’d want them to say about us. From there we create a “Personal Mission Statement” outlining our different roles (father, business owner, son, husband, etc.) and check in on our mission statement every week and make sure our lives are still on track.

Session 2: Kristy Tilman, Society of Grownups

Kristy Tilman, in addition to having beautiful and inspiring design work, talked about not waiting to be invited to the table – to just invite yourself. She shared her own experiences where she created her own opportunity based on what she felt was needed in the world and built success around it. This is such an important idea to keep in mind: Don’t wait to be invited! Other folks out there aren’t going to wait for you and the most successful people create their own opportunity.

Session 3: Jason Fried, Basecamp

I was very excited to hear from Jason Fried who created Basecamp. Jason talked about “creative destruction” and really stepping out of your comfort zone, habits, and processes to discover new solutions. He’s challenged his teams with weeklong projects, which keeps everyone sharp but also gets the client to pay faster for example. Creating seasonal change is also important – for instance work 4 days a week in the summer and go back to 5 days in the fall. When the changes come you are refreshed and can look at everything in a different way.

Session 4: Tristan Walker, Bevel

Tristin Walker created a men’s grooming product that rethinks everything we’ve grown used to. His products are simple and refined, both visually and functionally. I mainly was inspired by his company, Bevel’s, packaging design.

Master Class: Scott Belsky, founder of Behance

Scott Belsky spoke about the journey in-between and how to keep projects alive and thriving through every cycle. Scott talked about being mission centric and medium agnostic and really focusing on the core of the project, not letting the medium drive the solution. The playbook changes over the lifespan of the project so what worked at the beginning wont work in the middle or the end so we should be aware and course correct when we need to. He discussed why projects lag in the middle – hint – it’s in our human nature! We learned to make sure we focus on new users as well as existing ones and to step out of our assumptions and step into the shoes of someone who has never interacted with our product or project.

Day 2

Day 2 started with a rainy walk to a cool little event space called Lightbox to hear Brennan Dunn discuss how to optimize our businesses. I popped in a great little coffee shop called Rex Coffee and had some yummy Counter Culture coffee and a tasty Egg & Cheese on Brioche.

Offsite: Brennan Dunn, Double Your Freelancing

This was probably the most helpful and actionable sessions of the whole conference. Brennan walked us through what makes freelancers successful, things such as mindset and knowing that you are equal to you client counterparts, not just a “vendor.” He discussed really easy ways to qualify new clients and how to provide a ton more value to existing clients. We learned about tips and techniques to help uncover the true business problem behind design projects and to become an investment for our clients, and not just an expense.

Conference Sessions:

Session 1: Dan Mall, Superfriendly

Dan Mall walked us through why and how he uses an apprenticeship model at his design studio. This was such an interesting and inspiring talk and I will be exploring ways to create something similar at Buttermilk. The most fascinating thing about Dan’s apprentice program – he only spend 30 total non-billable hours working with the apprentice over the span of the 9 month program. The rest of the hours were spent with self directed instruction by the apprentice or actual billable time on real life design projects. So something that seemed way out of reach sounds very doable for any business owner.

Session 2: Cap Watkins, BuzzFeed

My main takeaway from Cap Watkins was how he started to develop “Designer Principals” at BuzzFeed and those turned into “Leadership principals” because he discovered that really it all boils down to the same thing, no matter what your job or discipline is. He also talked about designing everything, not just design projects and to treat organizations and clients as user experience problems – a very interesting point of view.

Session 3: Yuko Shimizu

Yuko is an incredible illustrator that decided to go into the field later in life. She discussed setting goals really high and to take one small risk everyday. She also shared a lot of work and some of the stories behind it. Very inspirational.

Keynote: Tobias Frere-Jones

Tobias Frere-Jones closed the conference with a discussion about how he arrived at type design and walked us through the details and nuances of redesigning a font to be used in the stock pages of the Wall Street Journal. What I learned is that projects can always use a bit more adjusting and work before they are completely finished, but to also step away from projects for a little while too so you can return to them with fresh eyes.

Closing Party

What’s a great conference without a killer party and 99U was no exception. The venue was incredible – the vestibule of the MOMA and the music was provided by DJ Windows 98 (aka Win Butler from Arcade Fire). I had to keep pinching myself – here I was in this iconic space listening to an iconic artist with all these inspirational folks I’ve spent the last couple of days with. It was such an incredible time.

Parting Thoughts

99U was an awesome experience I will definitely consider attending again next year. I was amazed at how few traditional “designers” i encountered and the wide array of disciplines and people I learned about and met. The speakers and sessions were so varied and everything I learned makes me look at projects and my own work in a completely different way – something I think is invaluable. What makes me even more excited is all the new value and knowledge I get to share with my clients helping them solve their business problems and making them even more successful!

 

Unpacking after 99U – Part 1

It’s been a little over a week since I left for New York City to attend the 99U Conference but it feels like a lifetime. I had such a great time exploring not only the city but also the far flung reaches of the other folks who identify themselves as being part of the design/creative industry. I’ve tried to organize my thoughts into two parts  – the City and the Conference. This is only a peek into everything I took away from both but I hope it sheds some light on an amazing few days.

Part 1 | The City

I made sure to arrive a couple of days before the conference to give me a little time to get out and explore as best as I can. Some of my goals included meeting up for dinner and drinks with a great client, Ty, from Dr. Harvey’s, sitting down with Steven from Brooklyn Roasting, and wandering through Brooklyn in search of amazing shops and packaging design – all of which I accomplished.

Dinner & Drinks

Getting to know clients on a human level is so important so when you have an opportunity to unplug and just discuss life over food and drinks you jump on it. We started at Westville East – a great little restaurant in the East Village. From there we ended up at the Summit Bar, another East Village establishment. I was amazed at the creativity exhibited in the cocktails. Ingredients from all over the board. We ended the evening at The Wayland, a great little juke joint that made this southern boy feel right at home. We discussed current projects, got some work done, but also got to learn a lot about each other which I believe is helpful when I need to do my job solving problems for his company.

Brooklyn Roasting

My first stop in Brooklyn was with Steven Jewett, bookkeeper(among many other things) for Brooklyn Roasting. Steven showed me around the roastery and gave me a unique peek into the business, all while I sipped on a cortado – my new favorite coffee drink. I was able to hang around and watch the roaster run and chat with some other patrons about their love for Brooklyn Roasting. —insert pics—-These folks are beyond successful and do a great job bringing the gospel of great coffee to the masses. I was able to glean a lot of learnings to bring to my client, Virgin Islands Coffee Roasters.

Brooklyn & Beyond

After getting properly caffeinated and devising my final game plan I hit the streets in search of cool markets and packaging. My first stop was just checking out the views:

After wandering around like a legit tourist I made my way to Foragers – a really cool market with a ton of interesting products from Brooklyn and all over. I went way over my R&D budget buying up innovative coffee, granola, and chocolate packaging just to name a few. The interior of Foragers is really inspiring too with a great aesthetic and vibe letting everything speak for itself.

 

I wandered farther down into Brooklyn and found The Greene Grape – another great market. The store design was really nice and each department had its own vibe. I picked up some pretty and tasty goods and sat out on a bench in front and chatted with Brooklynites having their lunch and hearing their perspective on their neighborhood and the kinds of products they find themselves buying these days. Ginger shots kept popping up so who knows- that might be the next big thing.

 

The rest of the time in the city was spent attending the conference (see Part 2) and taking short little trips on foot – here’s a few of my favorites:

Great Coffee Shops:

Lucky Goat

Annex | The Greene Grape

Rex Coffee

Favorite Lunch Place:

The Meatball Shop

Favorite Area to Wander:

Central Park

Favorite Bar:

The Wayland

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I discuss the conference and some of the takeaways I learned.

Heading to 99U Conference

In about a week I’ll be heading up to NYC to meet some folks and attend the 99U Conference. If you don’t know about 99U or their annual conference it’s basically a place to learn the business side of things that we didn’t learn in design school. Learn more: http://conference.99u.com While there’s a ton of stuff to be excited about, below is a roundup of some of my top things I’m looking forward to.

What I’m excited about:

Going to NYC!

New York City is the hub for everything and you get a sense that things you see on the street and in the shops is on the cutting edge and totally fresh and new. There’s such a creative force that can be felt just wandering around that is infectious. I’ll be finding amazing and inspiring places to look at, eat, shop, and just take in.

Meeting new folks!

I’ve set up some intro meetings with some great folks. But I’m also looking forward to the chance meetings with people I didn’t even know about. This can happen on the street or in a more controlled setting like a networking party for 99U. Either way – nothing beats making a new connection and chatting it up with someone interesting and hearing their story.

99U Conference!

It would take way too long to talk about everything I’re excited about with the conference – so I’ll just hit on a couple of the special sessions I’ll be participating in:

Supercharging your Freelance Business by Brennan Dunn

Whose business doesn’t need a good shot in the arm every once in awhile? I’m excited to hear Brennan’s insights and strategies.

Learning the Right Language to Convey your Ideas to Non-Creatives by Verdes

This was a no-brainer for me. I love working with our clients and while I wouldn’t call them “Non-Creative” there still sometimes seems to be a language barrier/gap. So I’ll be looking forward to some tips and tricks to guide us through those tough conversations. Plus this session is offsite at Verdes, a beautiful NYC agency.

An Ode to the Journey In-Between: Insights from Start to Finish by Scott Belsky

Another no-brainer for me. Scott Belsky is the reason there is a 99U in the first place and is an all around amazing speaker. I love the start of the project, and I love sending them off, but the in-between is tough. I’m excited for Scott to shed some light and help us keep the flame throughout the project.

I’ll be traveling with two awesome guys: Elliot Strunk from Fifth Letter and David Horne from Honestly. I’m excited to download and share info with these guys every evening and learn from them during the trip as well.

Part 1: A little context & background: Why?

This is a series of posts about our recent website redesign. Click the links below to learn all about it. 

Every project starts with the simple words: “I’ve been thinking- we should…” or something along those lines and then grows exponentially from there. In our case it was “We should redesign our site.” To which we thought no problem! We’re designers – we can do this in our sleep. Plus it’s our own site! How hard can it be? Well it turns out quite hard.

Redesigning a site is not just a logistical decision that’s made, its also a deep down almost spiritual, inward looking path that is taken that requires some soul searching. We asked ourselves questions like: Who are we? Why do we exist? How do we present ourselves to the outside world? How do we present our work? These and many other questions are important to think about when you have this opportunity to refresh your look online.

When we started investigating who Buttermilk is we started to finesse certain aspects of our studio’s personality. We’ve always thought of ourselves as a “packaging design studio” – but what does that really mean? Well to us it makes perfect sense, but to many of the folks we met out networking it wasn’t clear what “packaging” actually is. Is it the substrate products go into? Are we product designers? Are we printers? So we tried to really dig down to the heart of what we do and that is:

“Helping brands speak to customers from the shelf.”

We really feel like this statement sums up the work we create at Buttermilk. And speaking to customers isn’t just limited to a product on a grocery shelf. All brands have “customers” and a “shelf” they sit upon and whether we’re collaborating with you to create a logo, a website, or our favorite; packaging design, we will help you speak clearly.

We also looked at how our work is presented and wanted a more uniform and elegant display of our portfolio. We pour a lot of heart and soul into our work and want to make sure we’re putting the best face out there for each piece.

So as you can see the decision to redesign your site is not one to take lightly or without preparation but if you use it as an opportunity to refine your presentation and your message it’ll be a success!

Stay tuned for next week when we discuss putting together a great team to help with the epic undertaking of a redesign!

Welcome to our new site!

Its been a long hard road but we finally have arrived at our destination and have a redesigned site! It took a lot of time, energy, and effort from not only us but helpful friends in the community. Over the next few posts we’ll share insights into the redesign process, what’s new on the site, spotlights on our collaborators, and other bits of knowledge we’ve gained on this journey. We want to share all of this because we feel like it will be helpful for folks thinking about heading down the redesign road.

Below are the sections we’ll be covering over the next few weeks:

Part 1: A little context & background: Why?

Part 2: The process behind the redesign

Part 3: The importance of assembling a good team

Part 4: Spotlight: Our developer and domain host

Part 5: Spotlight: The importance of amazing photography

Part 6: Learnings

As you can see we’ve got a lot of ground to cover but we’re excited to share this experience with you. Our blog is a weekly post so look out for new posts every Monday morning.

Enjoy!

Post Revisit: A Snapshot of Specialty Coffee Packaging

Its always good practice (and fun!) to take a look back and reread what we’ve written about during the life of our little blog. We recently revisited a post from August 2013 titled “A Snapshot of Specialty Coffee Packaging” (click here to read.)

The post focused on coffee packaging — where we’ve been, where we are presently, and where we predicted we were going. While it was good to revisit the whole post, we’d like to focus on that last bit — the part where we predicted where we felt the specialty coffee packaging was moving towards. Below is the actual snippet from our post:

“We believe the future of specialty coffee packaging will move away from the simple, clean, industrial look for a more expressive style that really shows the personality of the brand. We think customers don’t need to see another kraft bag to denote quality and an expressive bag will also do a better job telling the story, something that is resonating more and more with shoppers nowadays .”

The reason we revisited this post is because we’re seeing a lot of examples of the very thing we were predicting (which is very exciting) which means we might know a little bit about what we do!

Two great examples of what we predicted coming to life are Starbucks special Tribute Blend packaging and Brewklyn Grind Coffee Roasters rebrand and packaging. Both hit home the thought we put forth about “moving away from clean, simple industrial look” and move towards “a more expressive style.” We even had conversations about how cool coffee packaging would be with fine art prints on the label- something Brewklyn pulled of nicely. 

Image via The Dieline

Image via The Dieline

Starbucks Tribute Blend

As you can see in the Starbucks packaging they are getting really conceptual with this design. Take a look at that bag. It’s just designs and elements with this beautiful painterly circle as the focal point. The asymmetrical design is very eye catching and grabs your attention on shelf. There’s no denying the contents are something special and unique. 

Starbucks is no stranger to expressive packaging and is one of the few specialty coffee companies whose packaging moved away from the kraft coffee bag look long ago — but the Tribute Blend feels new and fresh. We feel like it really embodies the vision we laid out back in August.

Image via The Dieline

Image via The Dieline

Brewklyn Grind Coffee Roasters

Brewklyn Grind has really embraced expressive fine art for their new packaging and redesign. What’s really neat about Brewklyn Grind is they are collaborating with local Brooklyn artists to help create the art for their packaging. It’s not just some random digital design they’re using. We find this to truly embody “artisan” and take it to a whole new level. Why not make each bag a little work of art? Those who appreciate fine coffee are usually the same people who appreciate fine art. 


So there you have it. We’re very interested to see how this trend will play out in the coffee packaging landscape over the next year or so. Who knows- we might have to revisit this post!

#buttermilkinboston – Day 3

#buttermilkinboston is a daily recap of our experiences at the HOW Live Design Conference in Boston. Follow the hashtag on our Twitter and Instagram accounts to keep up with all the excitement. Click here to read our Day 1 Recap and here for Day 2.

The conference is flying by. We are a little sad as we come to realize we will only be here for one more day. Today was another great day full of inspiration, meeting awesome new people and seeing a few of our trusty favorites. We started the morning off with an absolutely incredible session by Trina Bentley from Make and Matter. We’ve been adoring fans of Trina’s work for the past year or so when we first discovered her blog. This session was at the top of our “not to miss” list! We were front row as she shared her experiences in designing her own personal design aesthetic. She walked us through her processes and showed us some techniques. I can probably speak for the whole audience when I say that her candidness and willingness to share was appreciated and helpful.  Her talent is such an inspiration, it’s hard to believe she’s a one-woman operation.

Trina had some great quotes she shared but our favorite was:

“Dreams don’t work unless you do”

package design by Trina Bentley

package design by Trina Bentley

Right after Trina’s session was Dan Pink’s general session. This was another major heavy hitter that we were really looking forward to. Pink discussed the fact that, whether we like it or not, we are all in “sales.” Just accept that. And he discussed ways to navigate this new found role we’re in. He redefined the age old adage “A = Always, B = Be, C = Closing” to “A = Attunement, B = Buoyancy, C = Clarity.” We learned that “ambiverts” are the best sellers out there and the good news is most of us are exactly that. He also brought up a very interesting study that said to add a tiny, insignificant negative with all the positives and folks gravitate to that more than just a list of positives, Very interesting stuff. Oh and Alex won Dan Pinks book so when we get back in town its going straight onto the bookshelf.

Our dinner spot tonight was a cozy little bohemian jazz club called The Beehive. It was perfect. Our drinks were well crafted, the food was phenomenal and the atmosphere was lively. There was a live jazz band playing on a stage in the midst of dining tables, eclectic chandeliers and rustic tapestries. Everywhere you turned, there was art to be enjoyed. Our dining companion tonight was Tim Cox, Director of Creative Strategy at Publix. It’s become an annual tradition of ours to catch up with him during the HOW conference and the conversation was a pleasure as always!

The check holder at The Beehive. Amazing!

The check holder at The Beehive. Amazing!

We have one more day at the conference and it looks to be another packed day of great sessions. 

We’ll be posting one more day of recaps- keep an eye out for our Day 4 post tomorrow.

#buttermilkinboston – Day 2

#buttermilkinboston is a daily recap of our experiences at the HOW Live Design Conference in Boston. Follow the hashtag on our Twitter and Instagram accounts to keep up with all the excitement. Click here to read our Day 1 Recap.

We’re putting day 2 behind us and it was a blast and a blur! What an amazing day. We presented our session at The Dieline Conference, got interviewed by Package Design Magazine, and attended some great sessions at HOW Design Live.

We started the day off at an amazing little coffee shop called The Thinking Cup. We just found it wandering down Newbury St. on the way to the Hynes. We were able to grab a great breakfast that filled us up and sustained us for our presentation at 10:15. Highly recommended if you find yourself needing a good cup of coffee and a tasty breakfast pastry while in Boston. 

Our breakfast from The Thinking Cup

Our breakfast from The Thinking Cup

Then it was off to present our session “Oops I became a Package Designer” at The Dieline Conference. We were the opening session so our stomachs were in knots until we took the stage. Based on the packed house til the end of our talk and the lively Q and A we really felt like we resonated with the audience. It was great to hear from everyone and check out the lively discussion afterwards on Twitter and Instagram. But we sure are glad we’ve got that behind us so we can focus on the rest of the conference.

The crowd! Such a great group of folks!

The crowd! Such a great group of folks!

One of the most well received slides we presented was our “Discovery Brief”. Basically this is a form we created to use at the beginning of a project. We customized it for our projects to help keep us on track with asking the right questions and to really experience the product before we start designing (we insist on tasting everything before we design for it). We shared the file with The Dieline, so feel free to download a copy of it here and customize it for your own use!

Our Discovery Brief

Our Discovery Brief

After our interview with Package Design Magazine we headed back to the conference to attend Peleg Top‘s session about Marketing Strategies for Attracting Your Ideal Clients. This great session got us thinking about how best to market ourselves to the right audience. Peleg Top shared his calendar which his firm sent out every month for 14 years as a promo piece as an example of creating something that keeps you in the forefront of your current and potential clients minds. Definitely got us thinking about our upcoming promo piece and how to make it into a series we send out every couple months instead of a one off piece. 

The next and last session of the day we attended was from John Nunziato of Little Big Brands about 35 points to think about when starting a design firm. Some points resonated with us more than others but it was still neat to get some insight into the history of LBB and know that he was at one point working out of a tiny room in his house- something we know all about! Some of the other standouts from his presentation were:

  • Institute a “No Asshole” rule. There’s too many beautiful people and things in the world to worry about these types of people.
  • Respect yourself! Don’t do spec work!
  • If its not a show, its not a go! 

Listening to John’s talk got us daydreaming about what and where Buttermilk will go in the near future. Very exciting stuff.

John Nunziato presenting.

John Nunziato presenting.

We wrapped up day 2 with an AMAZING meal at Island Creek Oyster Bar (first destination we can check off from this wish list) We had the pleasure of dining with our friends from Theory House and My Private Brand — it’s always such a great time geeking out with other fellow creatives!

Insane raw platter from Island Creek Oyster Bar!

Insane raw platter from Island Creek Oyster Bar!

So that closes our Day 2 recap. We’ve got a couple more days of insight and inspiration and can’t wait to see what else we learn.

Keep an eye out for our Day 3 recap tomorrow!

Buttermilk Goes to Boston: Part 4

“Buttermilk Goes to Boston” is a four part blog post about our journey to speaking at this year’s The Dieline Conference. We’ll post an update every month leading up to May when we finally head north to present “Oops, I Became a Packaging Designer” at the conference.

Click here to read Buttermilk Goes to Boston – Part 3, Part 2 and Part 1

Well May is practically here and we are thoroughly freaking out prepping for our presentation. So in-between feverishly finishing our slides and rehearsing we spent a little time virtually exploring Boston and picking out all the fun stuff we’d like to do after we *hopefully* knock our presentation out of the ballpark (Fenway maybe?). Follow along below and if you’d like a handy guide you can visit and download our Jauntful map.

Alex’s Picks

Where I want to eat:

Island Creek Oyster Bar | islandcreekoysterbar.com

Even though I know Andy doesn’t necessarily “fancy” oysters the way I do. I know he will be down for going here with me anyway based solely on the fact that the brand identity and website design are freaking amazing. And, there’s buttermilk biscuits on the menu. Done.

The Beehive | www.beehiveboston.com

Another great design. What can I say? I’m aesthetically driven. This place is known for great live music and even better grub. There’s a reggae/jazz/soul band playing there our first night in the city. So, if our presentation is all zipped up and ready to go, we might reward ourselves with some live music and cocktails! 

B & G Oyster Bar | bandgoysters.com

Yeah, I know this one isn’t going to happen. I’d be pushing my luck to get Andy to agree to another oyster bar. But this one looks really nice too and I love the food photography on their website. Who knows, maybe he will fall in love with oysters?!

Hei La Moon

This restaurant is on the outskirts of Chinatown and I keep reading reviews of this place having great dim sum. Not sure if we will make it over to that area, but I’d love to try it.

Lollicup Coffee and Tea

Everywhere I go, I look for bubble tea. 

Where I want to shop:

Camper | www.camper.com

I’m always on the lookout for cool shoes. Not just for myself but for my husband and toddler as well. This place might be a great spot to pick up a couple of “travel gifts” for the family.

Olives & Grace | www.olivesandgrace.com/

A seemingly adorable gift shop which features small producers, artisan makers and emerging artists locally and from across the country. I love these types of shops!

Marimekko | us.marimekko.com

I’m a total sucker for the Marimekko style. So, needless to say, since I’ll be in Boston, I’m definitely going to try to pop into the Marimekko store. If for nothing else, at least a coffee mug or this oven mitt.

Other areas of interest:

Beacon Hill, Acorn Street

The cool thing about attending the HOW conference with Andy, is I never know where our travels may take us. We both always seem up for anything and open minded. If we have the time and the gusto, I’d like to check out Acorn Street in Beacon Hill, which is a historic neighborhood with picturesque architecture and cobblestone streets. Sounds like a lovely area to stroll and decompress.


Andy’s Picks

Where I want to eat (let me just say Alex picked out some amazing picks above, so i’m merely adding a little bit to her extensive list):

Falafel King

Alex and I have a pretty good track record of finding some great falafel shops in the cities we visit so Boston should be no different! While we take our stroll through Beacon Hill we’ll have to make our way to Falafel King. From the looks on Yelp its the perfect mix of no fuss eatery and some tasty falafel platters. Plus one reviewer said they are in fact the “king of all Middle Eastern foods in the City of Boston.” How can you go wrong with that?

Samuel Adams Brewery | www.samueladams.com

So it’s not exactly a restaurant but I would love to make our way over to tour the Sam Adams brewery. Say what you will about Sam Adams I think its pretty good stuff and while there are tons of other smaller craft brewers i support there’s just something about taking a tour and then tasting a beer so closely associated with the City of Boston. 

Where I want to shop/visit:

Black Ink Boston | blackinkboston.squarespace.com

I’m a sucker for great art supply stores, which Black Ink is, but they also have so much more. I’m not really in the market for anything, but thats the great thing about this store- it has just about every quirky thing you’ll ever need. I’m thinking we can just head over there and I’ll see what speaks to me.

Oat Creative | www.oatcreative.com

So you know that amazing Island Creek Oyster Bar Alex mentioned above. Well this is the studio behind the design. And ICOB isn’t the only piece in their portfolio- these folks ooze amazing talent. It’d be great to check out their studio and chat with Jen and Rory about their work and their journey. 

Harvard Square

So Alex and I are avid Car Talk listeners so if we have a little bit of time I’d love to head over and see the characters in Harvard Square Tom & Ray are always talking about on the show. Plus who knows- we might even catch a glimpse of those guys!