Established during London's swinging sixties, Janusz Lubkowski and his wife Ewa began with enamel products from their home country, Poland. From there, they became the leaders in handmade, mouth blown glassware and porcelain all made in Poland with the highest quality.
"Porcelain clay was made into plain white and patterned tableware, popular amongst consumers who sought practical and contemporary designs. Wooden accessories from Polish cooperatives specialising in the folk traditions of woodwork completed the early collections.
But it was mouthblown glass that offered the greatest potential for transformation. Whilst an archetypal tumbler and jug reflected Janusz's affinity for the practical, the versatility of the material spurred experimentation with shape, colour and decoration thereby extending the range for the fashion-conscious consumer."
When daughter, Monika, began working for her father's company, she worked closely with him to understand the craft of the production and began to develop her own unique, creative style.
Monika, now the Designer and Creative Director for LSA International, designs and creates over 250 new products each year in the five original materials- glass, porcelain, leather, wood and enamelled steel. All production remains in Poland to this day.
"Whether you have been fortunate enough to see and use our products in The Dorchester Hotel, London, The George V Hotel Paris, The Four Seasons or Mandarin Oriental Hotels internationally, The One & Only Resorts worldwide or have shopped for them closer to home in Selfridges, Heals, John Lewis or a number of leading independent retailers, we hope you have enjoyed and continue to derive pleasure from the LSA International brand of products."
See all of the LSA International products we offer by clicking here.
My mom and I are huge fans of scoping out the local scene while we are traveling. We love finding the chef owned restaurants, the "mom & pop" shops and small boutique hotels. I am currently planning a trip to Charleston, SC and I cannot tell you how excited I am to check out the city and experience the atmosphere there (if you're planning a trip there anytime soon, come chat with me- I'll hook you up). My mom was just in LA, and even though she lived there for 9 years, the LA Guide Book by Cereal helped her find new spots to check out (Otium restaurant was one of her new favs!).
That being said, it can be difficult to find those restaurants and shops just by googling "best shops" or "best restaurants". Often these searches lead you to spots that "pay to play" as we call it. We want you to have the real, authentic experience of Excelsior. So we've decided to give our guide to Excelsior- especially for those of you that will be coming here in February for... dare I say it... Super Bowl LII.
A GUIDE TO EXCELSIOR
Although only 4 blocks long, downtown Excelsior packs a mighty punch. Located on the shores of Lake Minnetonka, Excelsior is a quick 25 minutes from downtown Minneapolis. Our quaint streets are filled with locally owned and operated shops, cafes and restaurants. You will want to spend the day and walk the main street, also known as Water Street, to check everything out, but here are our must go-tos!
Owned by Bill Damberg, Brightwater Clothing & Gear has been around for 25 years, so you know Bill knows what he's doing!
Brightwater searches for brands that standout. Companies that standout for integrity, companies that standout for fit, companies that standout for style. Some are outdoor classics, like Filson, from Seattle, WA. Some are American heritage companies, like Gitman Bros.; a custom ready-made shirt factory that has been making shirts in Ashland, Pennsylvania for over 70 years. Others are made right here in Minnesota, like Red Wing Heritage Boots, and beautiful leather and canvas bags from J.W. Hulme Co., made in St. Paul.
We look to Europe and Britain for companies that fit the bill too. Be it iconic sturdy clothing from Barbour, of England, or high fashion pieces from Dale of Norway or Parajumpers, of Italy, our goal is to provide great products that you reach for first
Jewelry artist by trade, Erin opened up GOLDEN RULE with the idea of cherishing the artist behind the product. You can find original art, small batched apothecary, locally made jewelry (including her own which you can have personalized!) and specialty clothing and shoes.
GOLDEN RULE seeks to support art and good design and to promote kindness and community. GOLDEN RULE has always been more than a shop. At its heart it is a place to come together, connect, create, share ideas and thoughts and hold space for one another.
Owners of Solid Manufacturing Co., Alex and Dan embarked on a new venture this fall by opening up a retail concept to complement their line of leather and wood items. Ace General Store is filled with gifts, clothing and home goods that is specially curated in their tiny space (located between us and GOLDEN RULE). Items are made by artisans and focused towards men.
In need of a kid's gift? Look no further. Owner, Pei-Lin, will help you find the perfect gift for any kid. Her vast inventory means she is sure to have the latest and greatest toys. You won't leave empty handed!
You can't go wrong with one of our personal favorites. Coalition's menu is a modern take on classic American dishes. Their tight relationships with farmers and breweries means you'll be getting the highest quality food and drinks.
The newest edition to chef Eli Wollenzien (owner of Coalition), comes this old school Italian restaurant where you can find big portions and skillet pizzas.
"The goal was really to keep it fun and friendly. We want to make really good Italian food that you can eat any day of the week, in a restaurant that feels like an easy place to hang out."
Our favorite sushi place in the Twin Cities- and not just because it's located here in Excelsior. Their signature rolls are unique with large portions of fresh fish. My personal favorites are the 2-14, Titanic, and Mexican.
You bet their pizzas are made form homemade dough rolled into thin crust and finished off in their wood fired oven. Try one of their 12 signature pizzas or get creative and make your own!
Need to reboot with a latte? Head over to Patisserie and grab some coffee and a pastry- muffins, croissants, cookies and the coveted macaroons. You must try the salted caramel macaroon- the blue one!
Scratch made sauces, burgers, pizza and hot dogs is the name of their game. This sports bar is a good spot to go if you're craving some good ol' midwestern tater tots. Great spot to bring the kids too!
If you like beer, this is a spot to be. Here you can find 4 main brews plus a handful of season brews rotating on the taps. Check their calendar for a list of bands that play (some of the best in town) and for specialty tournaments (Cribbage is always a good one!) Pro Tip: Get Olive's Fresh Pizza Bar delivered to the brewery to enjoy while you sip some beer.
This wine shop carries only sustainable and organic wine. Patti, the owner, can assist you in finding the right bottle for your taste. They also offer tasting events so head over to their website to look out for dates!
We are also excited to announce our Holiday Pop-Up Calendar.
November 25th: Room No. 3
- Come shop loungwear and lingerie typically found at their Edina store.
- A play on our Blooms + Bubbles from this summer, come grab your wreaths that were thoughtfully designed by us!
- Newly launched House of Verna will be bringing some of her found home decor and clothing.
December 9th: Faribault Woolen Mill Co.
- Come shop Minnesota's own Faribault throws. You will be automatically entered to win an Ashby Twill Throw with any purchase.
December 16th: Cait Courneya
- Cait Courneya will be here with original artworks, her famous prints and her latest addition of home goods. You can find wrapping paper (perfect for this time of the year!), tea towels and pillows.
December 23rd: Abbey Holden Studio
- Come meet Abbey Holden and shop her original pieces of art. She will also have some stationary and cards available for purchase.
We've introduced Iris Hantverk to you before on the blog, but early this morning I received an email from them with a video attached. In the video, we get to visit the Iris Hanterk shop in Sweden and learn more about the company and the process behind making brushes. It was a gentle reminder of our philosophies behind GRAY and why my mom and I do what we do.
"In the late 1900s century a small brush manufacturing started out in Stockholm. It was a successful movement so successful that it remains today. Today we are 13 employees at Iris Hantverk. The core of the business is the brush binding manufacturing at Sandsborgsvägen, Enskede – here 5 visually impaired craftsmen from different cultures make brushes according to an old Swedish tradition. We also work with visually impaired craftsmen in Estonia. Like us, they too have a history strongly connected to the visual impairments movement. Our design has evolved through the years but the craftsmen still use the same time honouring techniques used for over a hundred years. Now, as then, every brush is made by hand by visually impaired craftsmen. The brush handles are made from FCS certificated wood and the bristles are mostly from natural materials. It brings new dimensions to the concept of sensitively made by hand."
We are always on the look out for candle companies. If you've been to the shop, you've seen the wall that is completely dedicated to candles- you may say we are candle nuts.
Lightwell Co. and it's minimal, matte white candles made it's way to our shop late this summer and since then we have made multiple re-orders thanks to all of you loving them as much as we do! They also recently added room fragrances to their product collection and they seem to be fitting in just right at the shop. I think it's time to learn more about the brand and the people behind it.
This Texas based brand was established in 2017 by Morgan and her husband, Gary. Morgan says having her husband be so supportive is what pushed her to make her own candles. After years of hoarding candles (she had cabinets stocked with candles), Gary suggested that Morgan try to make her own. "So, that lead me to wondering the aisles at Michael's having no idea what I was doing. I began creating candles as gifts for family and friends because who doesn't love candles?!" But seriously.... who doesn't?
The couple had a love for neutrals and clean lines and knew they wanted this aesthetic to be represented by their brand- something that was simple, yet beautiful. This is literally music to my ears. They believe their products can be used in many styles (modern, rustic or bohemian) because of the minimal aesthetic. It's all about the balance when decorating your home!
GRAY has high standards for candles and fragrances as does Lightwell Co.. Morgan began noticing head aches while burning candles she had purchased (often associated with paraffin wax and artificial fragrances so check your current candles list of ingredients!). She made it her mission to create a candle that was clean burning. This started with a custom blend of soy and coconut wax and essential oils. This ensures the candle is never overpowering while it burns.
"Our goal behind Lightwell Co. is to keep our products as natural as we possibly can while eliminating excess toxins released into the air we breath."
I always say that the shop is a true reflection of us. It's not just because we hand selected our favorite, small batched items and opened the doors. It's because before we began our search for products, we took time to consider our personal beliefs and incorporate them. When people come into our shop, they get a sense of us by seeing our curation, but some of the shop's best qualities may be difficult to see.
My mom and I have a soft spot for animals. I have two pugs (If you've been in the shop, you've met the girls) and my mom has two beagles (you can find them popping up on my mom's instagram feed), but our love doesn't stop for our own. We knew this feeling had to be present at the shop.
We've all heard of animal testing. In short, they test the chemicals that will eventually go on our skin on animals. This is done by force-feeding the chemicals to the animal, rubbing the chemical on the animal's skin and eyes, and finally the "lethal dose" to determine if large amounts of the chemical could cause death. I'm not going to subject you to more horrifying statistics, videos and pictures- you can look them up if you would like to witness the cruelty yourself. Scientists have proven that animals, in fact, don't react the same way as humans do (i.e. chocolate, hello??) and it is NOT mandatory by the United States.
I am always shocked to see the brands that are still using this outdated method of determining if chemicals are safe for humans. Some major companies include: Proctor & Gamble, Estée Lauder, L'Oreal, and Johnson & Jonhson. If you dig deeper into these companies, you'll see that this includes (not limited to) major brands such as, Crest, Tide, Dawn, Clinique, Downy, Avon, Neutrogena, and Garnier. Follow the link to PETA's website and search the beauty and health products currently in your home and find out the truth.
When it came time to decide on our apothecary brands, we knew we had to be selective and find brands that had the same beliefs as us. Grown Alchemist, By Rosie Jane, Woodlot and L:A Bruket are ALL cruelty free. We will continue to follow this standard for new apothecary lines we may carry in the shop and we challenge YOU to follow this standard in your life to help end animal testing.
Woodlot Soap Bar $10
Thursdays at the shop just got better. Stop by every Thursday from 2 until close for a fresh bouquet of flowers just in time for the weekend. We will have limited quantities, and each week we will change up the blooms. Oh, and we'll be pouring bubbles!
(June 6 Blooms: Peonies, Tulips, Kochia, Eucalyptus, and Veronica)
GOLDEN RULE is turning two and we are celebrating May 6th from 11-5!
GRAY will be having local makers, Abbey Holden Studio, Sensorius Co. Candles, and WooDan. ONEHOPE Wine will also be sampling their wine. In addition to the tasting, part of the proceeds from each bottle purchased will benefit our charity of choice, Open Hands Foundation. ONEHOPE Wine also donates a part of the proceeds to a charity of their choice. See their impact here.
We can't wait to see you!
Founded on the coastal town of Byron Bay in 2014, Lara and Matt had a vision to create simple pieces reflecting the lifestyle of Australians. They use only the highest quality leather and fabrics to create their minimalistic designs.
Basic Slide ($149)
Lara and Matt focused in on the philosophy that less is more (If you've spoken with my mom or myself, you've probably heard this saying before!). They wanted pieces that were versatile. Something that a person could use in everyday style as a part of their capsule wardrobe.
Momo Small Clutch ($99)
Like us, they recognize that we are responsible for our environment. They strive to reduce waste as much as possible from shipping in re-usable dust bags to using small, local farms to source their leather.
Jun Sandal ($159)
I've already taken the Jun home for myself. After putting them on, I realized just how comfy they are. The soft suede straps are thick and the addition of the heel strap is perfect for extra support. Plus, I couldn't get over the color- I'm sure you'll see me wearing them close to everyday this summer. And if you are liking their SS17 sandals, just wait until we bring in their fall mules. We are already obsessing over them.