When they were just little girls, Marian and Laura Jones cooked up the dream of working together once they were old enough. Years later, after both had undergone classical training in metallurgy and jewelry making, the dream became a reality. Today, the duo draws inspiration from organic textures such as the surface of seeds and the shape of raw stones as they sculpt wax, batter metal, and cast objects in bronze to create custom necklaces and earrings. In just four years, their designs have made a splash, leading to collaborations at Chicago Fashion Week and a LA Oscar gift-bag giveaway.
Their collections center on specific themes, such as with earrings and bangles that echo the texture of banana leaves. They also shape pendants whose sterling-silver and semiprecious-stone arrangements evoke antique architecture or New York windows that haven’t yet been cracked by Santa.
Marian and Laura also share their passion for and understanding of the process of jewelry making through classes. During in-studio workshops, they delve into the skills needed for beading, basic metalsmithing, and casting. Their pupils form shapes imitating organic materials such as leaf pendants or strawberry-smoothie bracelets.
Boutique Couture sheaths brides and beauties of all types in designer gowns and special-occasion couture. Its designer gallery outfits elegant ladies, fashion-forward teens, and fashion-forward pod-person imposters in prom dresses ($240–$500), cocktail dresses ($230–$500), and evening gowns ($300–$550). Party-goers can complement dresses, jean skirts, or tuxedo capris with accessories ($30–$200) including décolletage-decorating necklaces, elegant earrings, and headpieces. For option-two opters, to-be brides and incredibly overdressed blind daters can peruse bridal gowns ($800–$2,000) from Allure, Jasmin Couture, and Nicole Miller, while their bridesmaids and maternal figures try on bridesmaid dresses ($135–$280) and mother-of-the-bride frocks ($190–$600).
The Songer family started n2shoes with the guiding philosophy that shoes should be affordable, fashionable, and comfortable. Their vision resulted in store shelves bursting with stylish but wearable designs from brands including Naturalizer, Minnetonka, and Teva. These shoes slip onto the feet of everyone from children taking their first unsteady steps to adults sure-footing their way over hot coals. In addition to prioritizing comfort, the Songers gravitate toward brands with a philanthropic business model—such as TOMS—to help improve people's lives abroad as they better customers' shoe racks at home.
D. Geller and Son Jewelers' team has dressed bare necks, earlobes, and fingers with dazzling accessories for more than 70 years. Made from precious metals and rare jewels, sparkling pendants embellish clavicles for evenings on the town or everyday elegance. Rings forged from silver can be set with any number of carefully cut diamonds to become an engagement ring or something crunchy to place at the bottom of a box of stale caramel corn.
Totally Running empowers pavement-pounders to stretch distances and shatter old PRs. A staff of runners connects your feet with their goals by finding the footwear that'll help accomplish them. Ensconce hooves in Asics like the cushiony Nimbus ($100) or stabilizing Kayano ($100), or take to the streets in Brooks Adrenalines ($100). Kids can learn healthy habits and advanced can-kicking techniques in Asics 2150s ($50) or New Balance 760s ($55). Complementary gait analysis pinpoints potential running pitfalls in advance, netting the proper galoshes for your particular gallivanting style.
Going from managing ostriches to running a baseball business may seem like a strange jump, but it's just another day in the office for Better Baseball founder Glen Robinson III. In the 1980s, he began raising and selling ostriches and emus as food and as companions for people allergic to pet rocks. A warm spring morning brought an impromptu visit for a customer who was less interested in the massive birds, and more focused on the netting that separated the animals' pens. Soon, Glen was spending more time crafting batting cages than selling his livestock, inspiring him to open what would eventually become Better Baseball.
Today, this bird-free business furnishes players of America's favorite pastime with the gear they need to play Little League, softball, or even college-level games. After taking practice swings inside one of Glen's onsite cages, players can pick up the gloves, glove pads, and eye protection needed to help them catch any pop flies or poorly aimed Cracker Jack from the stands.