A Blogazine, based out of Park Slope, Brooklyn, that features fun and interesting articles. Topics include: parenting, society, real estate, career, style, spirituality and more. Written contributions are always welcome!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Flirt Boutique Keeps the Romance Going with Classes and New Home Store

By Jen Lee

Recently, I thought I died and went to heaven when I took one of Flirt Boutique's Home Ec classes—the Build-a-Bag class for beginners. Flirt has been my favorite boutique since I discovered it, a few short blocks from my home. It is a happy resident of that glorious span of 5th Avenue that brings us Gorilla Coffee, The Chocolate Room, Blue Sky Bakery and Alchemy Bar and Restaurant. After eying the Home Ec, learn to do-it-yourself classes for nearly a year, I took the plunge with one of my favorite friends recently, and I was completely blissed-out by the experience.

The Home Ec classes are taught in the workshop space on 3rd Avenue, between Carroll St. and 1st Street. It sounds far away, but is only a ten- or fifteen-minute walk from our places in North Slope. We find out when we arrive that the front room is being renovated to house a Flirt Home Boutique, which is coming November first. The 5th Avenue store has always felt like a space in which I'd love to live, so you can imagine my excitement at having Flirt provide everything I need to bring their fresh-meets-vintage vibe into all the rooms of my home.

In the back, we are welcomed into the Home Ec workshop and meet Patti Gilstrap, our teacher for the evening and one of the amazing partners behind the Flirt stores and design label. As she walks us through a lesson packed with information and inspiration, she happily answers all of my curious questions. She's been sewing since she was ten. We talk about living in Brooklyn, how she met Seryn Potter, and how they—along with Heather Falcone--launched Flirt, which is refreshing in its refusal to strike a commercial chord. “I think our store inspires a lot of people who come in,” Patti says. “People who are makers, like us.” The beginner to advanced sewing classes they now offer takes their relationship with those maker-type customers to the next level.

Patti tells us of their plan to offer sewing classes for kids after school. She'd like to offer them for free, using all the materials from their scrap bin, after the new year. I start counting how long it will be until my daughter is old enough to attend.

When class ends and our amazing bags are complete, Patti offers us a glass of wine in celebration, and Seryn comes over to join us. They give us a behind-the-scenes glimpse of their design and manufacturing process, and tell us about their participation in an exhibit to raise awareness of the threat zoning changes (lobbied for by housing developers) are to all the local artists and businesses that need manufacturing districts like 3rd Avenue to be able to survive.

Whole Foods is moving in to the end of the avenue eventually, and Flirt's home store will continue the trend to bring some retail love to that fascinating district. The grand opening is coming soon, and I can hardly wait. I may have to go back and build myself another bag.

Jen Lee is the author of Don't Write: A Reluctant Journal, and she blogs at jenlee.net about writing, motherhood, and life in New York. Jen lives in Park Slope with her husband and two daughters, ages 4 ½ and 1 ½. Jen is a regular contributor to Hip Slope Mama.