I had the good fortune of stumbling across Off the Beaten Track Warehouse while reading about the office makeover of another DC local business (Cherry Blossom Creative), who incorporated a vintage farm table into their otherwise very modern design office. And it was that move that caught my eye. I’m much more of a mid-century modern gal than a lover of rustic vintage, but I like the idea of incorporating vintage decor and furniture in a modern space to help add some balance, depth, and personalization. Then I read more about the concept behind Off the Beaten Track and I knew we had to go visit.
The 36,000 square foot warehouse not only houses a huge showroom full of vintage pieces placed in cleverly helpful vignettes, but also offers a large amount of affordable workspace to DC artists. Supporting the arts and small businesses? Well, that was our whole idea behind starting the Fete Local series in the first place! And Greg Kimball and Wendy Hauenstein, the husband-and-wife owners, clearly spent some time selecting a variety of artisans who could help support them in turn. Off the Beaten Track includes the workspaces of an iron worker, a wooden furniture designer, and a coffee roaster, just to name a few.
Wendy graciously showed us around the entire warehouse a few weeks ago, introducing us to the various artists as we poked around. On top of all the love for local artists, Off the Beaten Track has an amazing selection of reasonably-priced vintage decor and furniture. Every few steps I discovered something that I would love to use in my home or workspace. And I love how they use vintage photos as price tags — it’s always the little details that standout. I highly recommend hightailing it over to the warehouse to check it our yourself. It is open to the public Thursdays and Fridays from 10 am – 4 pm and the first and last Saturday of the month from 12 – 6 pm.
I came to two conclusions after visiting local jewelry designer Beth Silverberg’s 14th St. studio: (1) I want to live/work there; and (2) I would drape myself in her gorgeous geometric brass and quartz designs any day of the week. I might not accomplish the first, but you and I can both make the latter happen seeing as Jewelry by Beth Lauren is available online. One out of two isn’t bad, I suppose.
Beth’s unique jewelry features incredibly interesting tribal and brass geometric elements, and incorporates quartz and crystal in unexpected arrangements. I love that her approach to design is to source materials first, including a heavy dose of vintage, and then use those as inspiration. It’s such fabulous handcrafted design. And while her jewelry is stocked by serious retail stores (such as Barneys Japan and Anthropologie), she continues to maintain a strong local presence by working out of her live-in studio and popping up in boutiques around town.
Her studio, by the way, seems pretty much the perfect place in which to create. From its floor to ceiling windows, to the well-styled living room, to my favorite CB2 candleholders (of which I had an entire dining room table full pre-kiddos), I’m ready to move in. But I digress.
If you’re looking for unique jewelry, from the everyday piece to something really special, we highly recommend checking out her collection. We didn’t even bother trying to cull a top ten — it wasn’t going to happen. We’ll take it all (can’t you just see me in that first pair of earrings below?! … bad pun intended).
Well, it took two fete locals for us to feature a local distillery, which is about two more than I thought it would. Fortunately, we recently found our way to a tasting of the fabulous Green Hat Gin and a tour of the first craft distillery in DC since prohibition: New Columbia. Co-owners Michael Lowe and John Uselton graciously showed us around their distillery, explaining their craft and how they opened up shop. Oh and pouring a few small tastes of their outstanding gins, of course.
New Columbia currently distills a classic gin and two seasonal editions (a Spring/Summer and a Fall/Winter) — we’ve had all of them and they are all truly delicious on their own or in a cocktail. I particularly like the Spring/Summer edition, which features floral cherry blossoms (from a local florist) and rosemary sunbaked in John’s own backyard. How’s that for local? Plus, keep your eyes peeled for a rye whiskey on which they’re currently working.
In addition to crafting fantastic gins, New Columbia boasts spectacular graphic design (from local Design Army) and an awesome backstory to their gin’s name (it’s the moniker of the legendary bootlegger to Congress). AND you too can check out the New Columbia Distillery, which opens its doors for free tasting and tours every Saturday from 1 – 4 pm. Father’s Day is right around the corner and we can pretty much guarantee that dads would appreciate a tour and tasting far more than another bad tie (or good tie, for that matter). We intended to take both Mr. Fetes with us, but they were too busy being awesome dads. Don’t worry, we picked up a little something for them from the Distillery’s retail store. But if you can swing it, a tasting and tour followed by eats and drinks at nearby Union Market would be fabulous. Also, if you really want to get involved, get on the Distillery’s bottling party list — if you’re lucky, you might get picked to help label and bottle a batch.
If you are just looking for the gins, the Distillery retail store is open Monday – Friday, 9 am – 5 pm. They are also in an impressive number of retail stores, restaurants and bars throughout DC, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware (you can check out all the DC spots right here). Pick up a bottle of the Spring/Summer edition and get busy making one of the Distillers’ favorite cocktails: Michael likes a classic gin + tonic and John’s into a Summer Rickey variation (btw, we learned that the Gin Rickey is DC’s official cocktail and you can expect to see something from us on that soon!).