We grapple with consumerism everyday – we are a store that sells stuff that hates waste and too much stuff. So you can imagine the collective cognitive dissonance brewing around the KB office. Our mission, for ourselves and for our store, is to dial back the urge to consume mindlessly and voraciously for no other purpose than to own lots of stuff. The opposite of a throw-away culture – a society that feels connected enough to what they own to keep it, keep it nice, and pass it on. More simply put, people save things when they feel connected to them. For our new series, Show and Tell, we’re taking a different approach to the classic Q&A and asking friends, family, and followers to introduce us to some of their things, and through those things learning a lot about the person behind the piece.
JEN & ALICE
In honor of our recently celebrated fourth anniversary, we wanted to kick off the series by introducing you to us, the founders of Kindred Black. Lifetime collectors and enthusiastic pack-rats, we came together to create this personalized space for beautiful, special, rare finds and still find joy in these hand chosen objects everyday. What better way for you to begin to get to know us then, but through some of the tangible pieces of our lives that we consider important enough to hold onto.
AN UGLY CARD AND A FETISH
One of these I’m a little embarrassed about. I keep these two little totems, one for each of my children. Many moons ago, on a trip to Hong Kong, I saw the tiny card on the left. It was right around the time that I was starting to think about growing up and having babies and at the time, I took for granted that I would be able to do that as soon as I chose to settle down. In a moment of uncharacteristic extreme cheese I bought the card to frame for my future nursery wall (I’m really not that woman that has been fantasizing about my dream wedding and three perfect children since girlhood, I was just in a mood). Fast forward a bit and a husband, and I had some pretty extreme fertility issues and a lot of trouble having my first child. I was told at some point by my doctors to give up, that it would be impossible, and that for my health and sanity I should begin to move on. Unfortunately, this is not a never-give-up hope story. I abandoned hope, hated everyone around me that got pregnant by a strong wind, and felt sorry for myself. But for some reason I never threw out the ugly card from Hong Kong. This is getting way too long winded and is not an autobiography (and is probably TMI for my FIRST item!) so I’ll just say that on the most odds-defying Hail Mary pass I did indeed eventually get pregnant with a girl, born in 2016 and then inexplicably and ridiculously easily with a boy, born on Halloween in 2017.
THE MONSTER OF THE NIGHT
When I was five months pregnant with that Hail Mary baby, my husband and I decided to take one last vacation alone and traveled through parts of Italy, Spain, and France. I found this little guy in an old antique shop in a weirdly deserted town in Italy. There were all of these amazing things that I wanted to buy but they only took cash and if a town is deserted it’s also low on ATMs apparently. I settled on a brass owl, mainly because it was all I could afford, but I also love the spooky idea of owls as the “monsters of the night”.
A brightly colored porcelain vase that belonged to my great-grandmother.
WISH I KNEW WHAT THIS IS ABOUT
This one kind of embarrasses me too but in a different way. The other day I had my bedroom painted and cleaned off the bookshelves. I have five copies of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. And those are just the ones I didn’t leave behind with my parents. I’ve bought copies and I’ve been given copies and I’ve always had the vague sense that there’s something in the book that would be meaningful to me…if only I would read it. The part that embarrasses me to admit is that I’ve never actually made it through a copy. At this point I think it would either be disappointingly anticlimactic or a curse to read the book and I’ve resolved to collect and enjoy the beautiful illustrations.
PEARLS ARE BACK
When my Scottish grandmother died when I was twelve my dad gave me her pearls. I recently had them restrung and have been layering them with my usual gold chains, even when I’m wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Because she was so far away I only really ever saw her about once a year and she died before I really had a chance to get to know her myself but my parents both tell stories about what a very genuine and lovely person she was and I like picturing her getting dressed up and wearing this same string.
DON'T LICK YOUR LIPS TOO MUCH
I have an obsession with having something on my lips at all times, because otherwise they feel dry and I lick them and that looks creepy and also makes them more dry. I used to be obsessed with Chapstick and Burt’s Bees before environment anxiety took over. I feel proud of this one because Silver Lining balm used to come in a plastic tube until we approached the amazing maker about paper tubes and she agreed to repackage for us. Now all of her lip balms come in paper.
DROPPIN THE CARD
It’s hard to say when I met my husband because right out of college I worked in the music industry and we briefly worked in the same office, though on different sides. Back then we never exchanged more than a friendly hello so I don’t really count that as us “meeting”. The night I use as our anniversary I was sitting in my neighborhood bar watching a basketball game and he came in with some mutual friends. Both newly single, we talked for a while and when I got up to leave, he handed me his business card and told me to get in touch if I wanted him to “send over some music." I didn’t even really know what that meant (at the time ipods and downloads already existed) and I laugh at him now because it was an awkward pick-up line. But I did email him, he sent me a physical box of CDs (I fell for the old-world charm), and the rest is history. I still carry that old business card, with his cell number hand-written on the back, in my wallet.
A BEAUTIFUL BOX
When Alice and I were first starting the business we met a 90 year old man that had spent his career playing with the Philadelphia Orchestra and refurbished antique boxes in his retirement. We bought a bunch of his beautiful wood boxes for the business but after he passed, we each kept our favorite. Mine is a walnut gentleman’s box from the 1930s with the original brass hardware.
STRAWBERRY LIP GLOSS C. 1989
I recently found this 30-year-old strawberry lip gloss while cleaning out my medicine cabinet (embarrassed, not embarrassed to admit I have a touch of hoarder in me). My parents used to take me on long walks in our neighborhood in Memphis where I grew up and if I was on my best behavior, I could pick out one small treat along the way. This was the first non-toy, non-edible item that I remember choosing and I felt very grown-up and worldly. From Memphis, to Colorado, to Tucson, to Chicago, to multiple New York apartments, I have packed it and taken it with me on each and every move. Something about the heavy glass and the incredible pop pink color makes it feel very special and precious and I get nostalgic for roaming the streets of the south with my parents. I haven’t used it since I was five or six, it’s now just a charm (and could also be good inspiration for future KB Slow Skincare packaging since it's in glass).
THE LUCKY CUFFLINKS
My grandfather was an interior designer and a pretty fancy guy. He had a pair of cufflinks that he always told me were his lucky pair – round gold Tiffany cufflinks with large bright red rubies and tiny diamonds. Not your average grandpa accessory. At one point he somehow lost them and was so distraught that he had a jeweler recreate them from his memory and a rough sketch. They took forever and then were finally done – just in time for the old pair to resurface. Certain that this meant they were just twice as lucky, he gifted them to his only two grandchildren, my brother and me, on our 16th birthdays. Being a bit of an old fashioned, he told me they were for my future betrothed, but years later I instead had them turned into a matching ring and pendant and almost never take them off.
A prized possession, my signed copy of Kate Bush’s The Dreaming. She is the ultimate, my all-time favorite, and the style icon of my dreams. I secretly have a Kate Bush fansite that I update every July 30th for the occasion of her birthday, Katemas. It’s super nerdy and has about 45 people that check for the updates but I spend hours every July dutifully glued to my Kate Bush pinterest boards pulling updates, making new mixes, and sometimes I even throw her a party.
My family now lives in Tucson on a historic horse property that they are slowly restoring and turning into a museum. A lot of the work has been done by my parents and younger brother themselves over the years. One morning, my brother was digging a new septic tank for the property and unearthed this mummified Sonoran Desert Toad specimen. During the monsoon season each year, thousands of amphibians come up from the dry soil beds of the desert. This one apparently didn’t wake up from its long hibernation (they can stay down there for up to 10 months!) and was wrapped under the tree for me on Christmas that year. I have some strange collections so I chalked up a dead frog from a septic tank to his weird sense of humor but gradually over the years I’ve come to think of it as a symbol of how truly inside and out my brother knows and gets me. It’s now in a special box on top of my dresser.
HENRY EASTERWOOD TAPESTRY
Henry Easterwood was a Memphis-based textile artist and a professor at the Memphis School of Art. My father studied with him briefly and convinced my grandmother to buy one of his pieces during the 1970s. She had it hanging in her bedroom for as long as I can remember, now it hangs in mine.
THE ULTIMATE DOWNER HEIRLOOM
This vibrant green, 19th Century, French opaline glass perfume was in my grandmother’s house when I was growing up and I would pretend that it was a vial of poison when I was playing Peter Pan. It’s one of the things that she left me when she died and this might sound a bit macabre, but I filled it with exactly eight ounces of her ashes – the amount that I would need to one day turn her into a diamond (this is a real thing, look it up).
UNDER THE SEA
When it comes to collecting I’m a novice compared to my mother. Since I can remember, she collects, squirrels away, and essentially hoards almost any group of objects that she finds interesting and can get her hands on. Her house is interesting and amazing and some would say cluttered. She keeps her cherished items on display in curios and cabinets, perfectly lit, and will instantly notice if anything has been moved or removed. In college she studied marine biology and focused on the tide pools of the Sea of Cortez. Some of her more amazing collections are the seaweed, sea fans, and invertebrates of the gulf. These collections have been in storage as long as my lip gloss but recently I managed to sneak a few specimens out. They’re beautiful and feel like pieces of art. One of my projects for 2020 is to really dig in and start to document them all.
THE PHALLUS PALACE
Knowing me the way she does, Jen brought me back this irresistibly iridescent crystal from Vermont. I’m known, for better or for worse, for my extensive collection of suggestively shaped rocks, shells, coral, sticks, objets, and other ephemera. We started calling those shelves in my apartment Alice’s Phallus Palace. What started as a joke now feels like something very Kindred Black. Stay tuned…
'YOUR SHOES ARE LIKE GOLD TO YOU'
My personal style has been a real journey – most days you’ll find me in denim and a black Jungmaven tee. The one thing that has been pretty consistent over the years is my love for cowboy boots. Long before they were all over my Instagram feed, you would find my entire family clad in Texas Toes and Cuban Heels by day, night, and everything in between. For me, the perfect shoe is called the Bootine and is made by hand in Tucson, Arizona at the Stewart Boot factory. Because they don’t use a traditional last, they are best ordered in person in the shop, which takes hours because the shop owner, Victor, is such a character and will talk to you all about your meniscus and the fit of a boot for as long as you can take it. Nine hours to order and nine months to arrive – the experience was one of my inspirations when we were starting the business. I go back once a year when I’m home to have them soled and refreshed and every time Victor says “well isn’t that a cute little boot."
A PERFECT GIFT
My boyfriend is an incredibly thoughtful gifter. Like insanely thoughtful, I don’t know how he does it. On gift giving holidays there will be multiple nights of gifts and each perfectly wrapped package is more suited to me than the next. I on the other hand, have many prolific ideas for great gifts but sadly am also a procrastinator when it comes to my personal life – twenty minutes before we sit down for our first eggnog I’m running around to the neighborhood bodegas wondering if they sell gift certificates. This camera was my birthday present this year and while one of his more obvious ones (I’m a photographer, it’s a camera…) I really wanted it and I now cherish it and use it as one of my go-to’s for every KB shoot. It also reminds me that I want to carve out more time to put thought into giving to the people that matter to me.
This is the first edition of Show and Tell, stay tuned for more features with artists, makers, and people that inspire us. Want to Show and Tell some of your treasures? We’d love to see – email firstname.lastname@example.org.