Valentine's Day shopping for men can be a bit more difficult than it is for the ladies. There is no quintessential gift equivalent to jewelry for the boys. At the same time, this leaves a great deal of choices at your disposal.
How you choose is certainly up to you, but one way to show your passion for him is to give a gift that reflects his. If your guy is socially conscious and digs the environment, stopping by Bare Tree Apparel could be the solution to your gift-giving quandaries.
Bare Tree Apparel sells a wide variety of items, including hand-screened t-shirts, hoodies, belts, bags, wrist cuffs and hats. Each is made with special attention to the environment and socially just practices. The t-shirts are from Mandel's commitment to giving back to the community and being kind to the environment extends as well to vegan-friendly items. If your boy is vegan, you know that finding non-leather belts can be hard, but not at Bare Tree Apparel. Mandel has an array of vegan-friendly belts that are hip and just as cool as any leather one you could find. The natural web belts are each custom made with varying images sealed in a gloss finish. I particularly love the Bare Tree Apparel logo belts. But look for yourself and find the one that your sweetheart will love. A bonus is that he can think of you while wearing it.
Mandel's commitment to giving back to the community and being kind to the environment extends as well to vegan-friendly items. If your boy is vegan, you know that finding non-leather belts can be hard, but not at Bare Tree Apparel. Mandel has an array of vegan-friendly belts that are hip and just as cool as any leather one you could find. The natural web belts are each custom made with varying images sealed in a gloss finish. I particularly love the Bare Tree Apparel logo belts. But look for yourself and find the one that your sweetheart will love. A bonus is that he can think of you while wearing it., and on become a fan of Bare Tree Apparel and look for your chance to win some free swag.
Mandel answered a few questions over email about his work and art.
How do you motivate your creativity? (e.g. do you listen to music while you create and if so what?)
Mandel: Many things motivate my creativity. The best motivator is to love what you do! I absolutely love designing imagery for clothing. When you love what you do, and do what you love, the ideas tend to pour out of you. Of course there are days where you just cant think of anything, and those are the days I turn to my piles of sketch books. Once I have a specific idea I want to refine, I crank the music and get to work; lately I have been listening to The Decemberists!
Describe your workspace. Are you at the kitchen table or in a dedicated work area?
I have two work spaces. One workspace is at a computer surrounded by post-its, hard drives, pens/pencils, sketch books, X-Acto blades, a cutting mat, a light box, shelves full of printed t-shirts/hoodies/belts/hats, and speakers pumping music. The other work space is where I print shirts, which is pretty similar but instead of a computer there is a big table with equipment for printing shirts and a rack full of screen printing inks and squeegees, there is also of course a boom box, because who doesn't like to rock out while they work!?
What is your favorite piece and why?
It's always hard to pick one favorite. Right now my favorite would have to be the new thermal hoodies I just started printing with the new Bare Tree design. They are so warm and comfy, I pretty much wear mine all of the time!
What advice do you have for people interested in starting an online store? How do you make the separation between your store and your day job/personal life?
The first thing you should do is become an expert of whatever you want to sell, read every book and article you can get your hands on, and research everyone else that is currently selling similar items. Then spend countless hours working on and refining your product. The best purchase a new online business can make is a small postal scale.
Working for yourself isn't for everyone, but if you are passionate about starting an online store, and passionate about what you want to sell, then go for it! If your goal is to do it full time, it will become your entire life and there really won't be a separation, but since it is something you absolutely love, it won't matter! As my high-school art teacher Don Hunt would say, "keep it simple."
What is your favorite local shop in Madison?
That's easy! Maurie's Fine Chocolates on Monroe Street! Yummm!!!
Etsy is an online marketplace whose mission is to "reconnect makers with buyers." These explorations will connect you with the makers in your neighborhood.