Spruce Lane Shops: The Indie Shelf

Neighborhood: Graduate Hospital, Philadelphia
Vibe: Feminine, Clean, Fresh, Curated, Niche
Good For: Beauty buffs, wellness and apothecary goods for him & her

Calling all beauty enthusiasts - a brand new cosmetics shop has landed in Philadelphia’s Graduate Hospital neighborhood and it’s called The Indie Shelf. Founded by Sabeen Zia about a month ago, The Indie Shelf offers unique, innovative, and effective beauty brands from around the world. Its name “Indie” pays homage to the numerous small-batch brands featured in the shop - peep the impressive roster here.

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Aside from it’s incredibly beautiful and feminine aesthetic, The Indie Shelf is special because it truly owns the beauty and wellness retail “space” in Philadelphia. In other words, I haven’t really seen a shop like this throughout my time blogging about local boutiques in the area. Sure, there are many lovely apothecary sections in other shops but never a store that is purely dedicated to the cause. I love the concept and highly respect Sabeen for translating her past experience and vast knowledge of the industry into her own business; a tall task that she has successfully executed.

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I am no beauty whiz by any means. In fact if we are going to get really transparent I haven’t really shopped for cosmetics beyond the cold aisles of my local drug store, but the Indie Shelf makes me want to learn more about this fascinating (and fast-growing) industry. Therefore, I reached out to Sabeen to pick her brain about becoming an independent business owner and to also get some true insider knowledge on beauty in general. Read on to learn more about Sabeen’s inspiring story and what you can expect to find at The Indie Shelf!

Q: What inspired you to open your own store? 
A:
I launched my own cosmetic brand online last year. I know the journey of building a small brand the obstacles of getting into retail stores. I wanted to create a space for unique brands creating effective products and support them. I also wanted to bring these great brands to the Philadelphia community - who are so loyal to neighborhood businesses and support small businesses. I would travel to different states (and countries!) and find these unique shops with products you could never touch, smell, or play with because they're not easily available or online only. I wanted our neighbors to come in and see these brands themselves! 

Q: How did you execute your creative vision? The decor is amazing.
A:
Pinterest and Instagram is a deep hole that inspires you and makes you believe you can do anything, haha! I love my color palette - I always loved it on clothes, furniture, and even dinnerware! I knew I wanted to learn towards that palette when I started to work on it. Many similar stores in other states are beautiful! Most of them have a clean white look, which you can't go wrong on. But I wanted to add some color and make indie beauty look fun too! The color block was a great touch. Melissa Alam, who did my branding for The Indie Shelf (she's aaaamazing!), helped with creating the color block in addition to the setup. It was fun - we were just randomly taping different angles and hoped that it'd work out! The wallpaper was something I found online, crossed my fingers that it'd look great and just went with it! I'm so glad people love it. 

Q: Tell us a bit about your career path. What attracted you to the cosmetics industry?
A: I've been so lucky to have the opportunities that I've had in the past. I had recently graduated with a B.S in Toxicology and moved to Houston with my family. I found a job at a peptide lab. The schedule was 6 am to 3 pm and since I didn't know many people, I took a part time job at Sephora. I knew I wanted to go to graduate school but just didn't know what I wanted to do my masters in. I LOVED working at Sephora. I was laid off at the peptide lab (blessing in disguise!) and moved to full time at Sephora. I didn't want to waste my bachelor's degree so I started to search for majors that would link beauty to science. And there it was - Cosmetic Science at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ. I applied and was accepted, so I left Sephora and worked for L'Oreal as a haircare chemist full time while going to graduate school full time. L’Oreal was a great place to start because you learn about the formulation process of products. Then, I moved back to Houston and found a job in the manufacturing department with a mineral makeup company called Colorescience. After that, I went to another small brand haircare lab and worked in manufacturing and the lab for a bit. They acquired a NY brand called Blowpro and that's when they gave me the opportunity to be in product development and marketing. I was lucky to have all these opportunities because it gave me the chance to learn about the process - from product development to formulations to market. Some employers would put that against me saying I'm not experienced in one area, rather just all over the place. I take it as a blessing because it allowed me to not only launch a brand but now also a shop. I'm still learning though, and have a lot to learn! 

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Q: What is one of the biggest beauty myths you can bust?
A: Not all synthetic ingredients are harmful. And not all natural ingredient are good for you. 

Q: What is a beauty trend that is really worth following?
A: Clean your brushes! OR Masking 

Q: Tell us more about what we can get at The Indie Shelf - what's one of your favorite products at the moment?
A: Everything! and if I missed something, let me know and I'll find it. The Indie Shelf carries skincare, haircare, fragrance, cosmetics, tools and accessories, candles, dental care, baby care, men's care, pet care! My favorite? Oh, this is a hard question. I brought in everything I loved to the shop so.. all of it?  

Q: Anything exciting in the pipeline at the shop? I.e. events, makeup tutorials, etc that we can look out for?
A:
Yes!! I've got events planned but just need to catch up on a few things and then I'll confirm them soon. There will be small RSVP ticketed events/classes that will teach about caring for your skin, how to do a cat eye, what brush to use, etc. Got some cool stuff on the agenda - just bear with me! 

On behalf of all Philadelphians I want to thank Sabeen immensely for taking the leap and opening up this amazing shop that we desperately needed. Like I said, it’s really pretty to look at, has an amazing assortment of products and also has something special that you won’t find in many other small boutiques: a bonafide beauty expert that truly wants to help you with whatever you need. New York City might have Glossier HQ but we have The Indie Shelf now, so watch out world! :)

Till next time,
Laura

Spruce Lane Shops: Millay

Millay
Neighborhood: Manayunk, PA
Vibe: Feminine, natural, serene, posh
Good for: Vintage finds, jewelry, accessories, gifts, apothecary, home

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Take a step inside Millay, the beautifully curated vintage shop in located in Philadelphia’s Manayunk neighborhood. This shop has been on my list of places to visit quite some time now due to its impressive vintage assortment and amazing Instagram content. With its light and airy motifs, complete with the perfect touches of natural greenery, the interiors alone set this boutique apart from many others. The creative and artistic vision of owner, Mary Spears, is very apparent throughout the space.

Featuring a 1960's Floral Mod Maxi Shirtdress With Pockets & Belt; $75

Featuring a 1960's Floral Mod Maxi Shirtdress With Pockets & Belt; $75

Millay specializes in mixing vintage and modern clothing, and contextualizing them both to have a timeless appeal. Vintage ranging from the early 1900's-1990's comprises about 60% of the shop's inventory while modern ethical* designers make up the other 40%. On each vintage item, the hang tag details what era the piece is from and helps translate sizing to today’s standards, which was an interesting tidbit to learn. I didn’t even consider that the sizing scales have shifted over the years. Overall, regardless of the era or being modern vs. vintage, everything here feels wearable which is great.

*Ethical meaning the designers do not use polyester or other synthetics when producing their garments. 

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Aside from the beautiful clothing, you can also shop gifts, home goods, apothecary, jewelry and accessories here. All items are made by emerging female artisans from the US and abroad, which I love. Girl power! I noticed a few of my own favorite local brands gracing Millay’s shelves, including candles and apothecary from Zoet Bathlatier and jewelry from Whim.

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As I’m sure you know by now, I love to learn how the shops that I visit develop into what they are today. They all tend to include similar components of very hard work, some raw talent, and sometimes, a pinch of luck. The scenario is no different here. The name Millay takes inspiration from Mary’s favorite poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, the first female Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry in the 1910s. She told me that Millay really started as a hobby of collecting vintage goods from local flea markets, antique shows, or auctions for her home that previously was in Boston. When her stock started to pile up, she decided to sell some goods on Etsy to make some extra money while in graduate school. After using Etsy for some time, Mary grew tired of selling through a 3rd party and wanted to evolve Millay into something of its own. This is when she learned how to code and launched her online business - talk about some serious motivation and brainpower! The site quickly garnered some press attention, as Millay was one of the first shops to successfully curate vintage in a modernized way, launching Mary and her brand into the spotlight.

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Three years ago, Mary and her husband relocated from Boston to Philadelphia. While her husband attended medical school here, Mary continued to grow Millay and opened the Manayunk storefront, which was previously owned by another fantastic vintage shop called Meadowsweet Mercantile (another one on my "to feature list”!). Meadowsweet is now in Old City, but I love the synergy between these small business owners and how everything feels connected and supportive. 

Featuring a 1940's Vibrant Embroidered Peasant Blouse With Pockets; $105 (I'm obsessed with this!)

Featuring a 1940's Vibrant Embroidered Peasant Blouse With Pockets; $105 (I'm obsessed with this!)

Fast forward to today, and here we are! Millay is about to undergo another big transformation. On May 13th, the doors will bittersweetly (I'm not entirely sure if that’s a real word but it feels like the best one to use) close in Manayunk, but for good reason. Mary and her husband are going back to their roots in Boston, and she is taking Millay with her! Luckily for us Philadelphians, the online shop still exists so we still have access to many of these incredible items. But, with that being said, since time is limited I highly encourage all of you to get over to Manayunk to check out Millay and shop many of its one-of-a-kind items. Personally, I haven’t spent much time in Manayunk up until this point, but Millay's street is super charming and has tons of action around it. You could totally make a day out of your visit, grabbing lunch or dinner nearby.

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All in all, Millay totally lived up to my dreamy Instagram expectations. The store itself is beyond beautiful and there were numerous vintage pieces I would love to buy and wear this summer. I’ve never really shopped vintage clothing before, so Millay has done a great job of opening my eyes and mind to this sector. Lastly, Mary is super talented, knowledgeable, and a great person to chat with if you’re simply interested in fashion, entrepreneurship, art history, and things of that nature. Stop by Millay during its final weeks in Manayunk to celebrate and experience this awesome boutique! Wishing Mary, Millay, and her hilarious dog “General Gazpacho” (who makes guest appearances on Millay’s Instagram account) the best of luck in their new and exciting chapter!

Shop on,
Spruce Lane

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Spruce Lane Shops: Moon + Arrow

Moon + Arrow
Neighborhood: Queen Village, Philadelphia
Vibe: Bohemian chic, vintage, natural, whimsical
Good for: Handmade jewelry, apothecary goods, homeware, gifting, women's apparel

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Welcome to Moon + Arrow, arguably one of the best vintage shops in Philadelphia! I first encountered Moon + Arrow through my full time job, as they generously donated a gift card to the nonprofit I am working for. It was a Saturday morning and I had just finished a cappuccino at the nearby Hungry Pigeon, when I strolled into the bustling boutique to pick up the donation. The store was filled with shoppers and I felt a wave of excitement come over me, as I knew I had just discovered something special that I was eager to learn more about. 

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Moon + Arrow is located in Queen Village and is known for their unique assortment of vintage and handmade goods. The store has a very bohemian feel to it, due to the many baubles, trinkets, and greenery interspersed throughout the space. To delve a little deeper, you can shop for unique finds in the apparel section, browse an impressive jewelry assortment, pick out a gorgeous candle for your home, hit the apothecary stand for all of your cosmetic needs, and SO much more. There is a wide range of product with varying price levels here, which is great because you can leave with something small or purchase an investment piece that you know you won't find anywhere else. I especially appreciate this wide appeal, being a young working professional that is usually on a budget but sometimes can't help a worthy splurge! :) 

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I particularly gravitated towards the apothecary selection as well as the home items as they both felt very natural, understated, and chic in their presentations. My sister had a "spa-themed" Christmas list this year, so I picked up some Himalayan bath salts, a pink clay mask, and natural vapor rub for the cold season ahead. It was the perfect trio of small gifts and I loved giving her specialty items that couldn't be found at larger chain stores. 

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A few weeks later, I returned to Moon + Arrow to attend one their special events and shoot some photos of the gorgeous interiors. They were hosting their Winter Solstice Celebration that featured pop-up vendors Ferox Studio and Idol Light jewelry, as well as Tarot Card readings and hot toddies courtesy of Terra Luna herbals. It was a very pleasant evening of shopping and was a great kick off to the upcoming Christmas weekend! 

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I was so appreciative to have had the opportunity attend the event and to get some shots to feature on the blog. A big thank you to Moon + Arrow for firstly being such an awesome store, and secondly for warmly welcoming me (a beginner blogger) to their space! It's safe to say that I'll be back again, and you most certainly should come visit too! The store is located at 754 S. 4th Street in Philadelphia, PA 19147. 

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Follow Moon + Arrow on Instagram at @shopmoonandarrow for all store updates, including their next upcoming workshop on natural skincare with Terra Luna and Moko Organic Beauty! The event takes place on January 11, from 7:15-8:30pm at the shop, for more details click here

Shop on, 

Spruce Lane