Wednesday, December 19, 2007

And then there was Maude

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, forget the calling birds, why not call Maude instead? Actually, you can try getting a hold of Maude, but you'd have better luck reaching Maude's alter-ego and proprietress Ms. Jess Brown. Jess opened Maude with friends and business partner, Stacy.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Jess not long ago at her store, Maude on Kentucky Street in downtown Petaluma. She and I are clearly kindred spirits. She has an eye for unique, beautiful things, and I can tell she is a sensitive soul and a creative crafty gal as well. I fell in love with her tiny shop and with Jess herself.

Not having children, (yet), I really haven't much need to climb the sweet and gently curved wooden stair case that leads into the the quaint children's shop that is Maude. Though everyone from dear friends to business colleagues in town have been urging me to go visit Jess's store. Sure, occasionally I go shopping for baby shower gifts or tots, but no need to go looking for anything for my own wee ones as Himself and I currently have one extra-large dog. I'm afraid nothing at Maude's would fit Sweet Georgia.

Let me tell you, Maude's may be customized for tots, with it's vintage inspired clothing, hand made sweaters, caps, sweaters and softie toys, but adults can find a few things at Jess's french-asian inspired shop to get hung over the moon on as well. (At least I did)!

When I say french asian, it's that her shop has a simple and complex feel all at once. Vintage-modern. The items are spare, hand picked with care. The merchandising and display is simple, yet sophisticated and elegant with an organic feel. Many of the fabrics are vintage or vintage inspired, with an air of Japonism about them in pattern and color. A distinct feeling of mid-west sensibility, with a slight decadant French undercurrent running through out. The cherry on top is a slight thread of eclectism of the pattern which feels very Japanese to me.

The children's clothing lines are mostly handmade from Jess's favorite designers, and practical enough for everyday wear. Maude also carries a few local artisans such as Phoebe Washer's pieces, and some other local bay area artisans prints she personally likes.

So, on the fourth day of Christmas, turn your thoughts to the wee children in your life. Maude carries several items sure to bring a smile to the wee one's as well as their parents.

One item I fell in love with, is a Kokeshi doll (I love Kokeshi dolls and have made a few over the years). This Kokeshi doll was a nesting Kokeshi, with two tinier, painted versions of himself nested inside. Much like the Russian Matroshka dolls. The Kokeshi was housed inside of an amber glittered pine cone ornament which opens up to reveal the Kokeshi, one fine french chocolate from L. Voison, and a Mighty Midget Series story book. Each amber glittered pine cone contains a different Kokeshi doll, chocolate and storybook. Which one you get is a surprise!

Guess which one I got? I received the chocolate orange flavor chocolate (my company colors and a favorite flavor L. Voison chocolate) AND my surprise story was Rumpelstiltskin. Remember my blog about pickles and Rumplestiltskin almost two years ago? So, this was kind of a nice and karmic surprise.

Enough about the Kokeshi dolls and miniature books. I loved these as well as the jars of gorgeous Japanese candy I spied on the tall white corner shelf. Though, I behaved and left it alone.
The shining star at Maude's is clearly her impeccable taste and the choices Jess makes of what to bring into her shop. This must be very hard as there are a whole sea of talented designers out there. Of course, Maude also makes their own clothing as well, Stacy, the co-owner of Maude makes the Maude line of clothing for children. Can't wait to see what she'll come up with next year.

Speaking of talent, I did mention earlier that Jess is a crafty gal didn't I? Jess makes the most adorable softie dolls you ever did see. I want one! She may have inspired me to make a few softie dolls. My mother made dolls like this, but each doll maker clearly has her own look. Jess Brown's dolls are made with love, and gorgeous scraps of vintage fabric. Jess is having a difficult time keeping up with the demand for the orders. Not a bad problem to have, but frustrating when you can't find the time to keep up with the orders. Check out the photos. They speak for themselves.

Maude plans to carry a women's line of clothing next year... stay tuned for that!

P.S. - I know, I'm only on the fourth day for scouting out handmade and interesting local finds for my fellow Petalumans, but remember, the first day of Christmas actually starts on, the first day of Christmas, which as we all know is December 25th I'm still way ahead of myself!

If you'd like to visit Maude, you can find this adorable shop here:

133 Kentucky Street
Petaluma, CA 94952

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