Style Stud: Tenaya Darlington

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 2.07.50 PMYou may know Tenaya Darlington as the brilliant author behind the book that will make you drool, DiBruno Bros. House of Cheese, or as Madame Fromage, a lady you just can’t help but want to have a dinner party with in the blogosphere.

But I know her as one of my most beloved professors in college at Saint Joseph’s University. She taught my first ever creative writing class, that I clawed my way into, and has remained a huge influence on my writing and someone I look up to.

So without futher adieu I give you the classy, eclectic, and potentially one of the biggest cheesemongers in Philly, Tenaya Darlington – my Style Stud of the week.

How did Madame Fromage come to life? And what do you think is the key to its success? 

I started blogging about cheese 8 years ago now! Hard to believe. At the time, I was new to Philadelphia and homesick for Wisconsin – so I channeled my dairy state and started eating my way through the cheeses at Di Bruno Bros. one hunk at a time. Luckily, artisan cheese in America was undergoing a renaissance – much like craft beer – and I found an interested (and hungry!) readership that has been with me ever since.

Where is your most favorite place to write and why? 

Third floor of my house, surrounded by cheese and drink books, with a sheepskin over my lap (it’s cold up there in winter).

What are 3 traits of a successful writer? 

Curiosity + Tenacity + Vocabulary.

The Earth is going to explode tomorrow, what cheese and wine pairing do you have?

Well, I’d want more than just wine! I’d fix a French 75 (gin, lemon, Champagne) and bite into a gooey French Coulommiers.

What is your favorite item in your closet right now?

A loud Italian print dress from my late Aunt Lynette’s closet in Italy.

I can only imagine your kitchen is glorious so same question … what is your most beloved item in your kitchen?

My Peg+Awl cheese board. It is made from a reclaimed school desk. It’s my Cadillac of cheese boards.

Define your style in 4 words. 

Long hair. Big earrings.

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Do you have a signature look that defines your style (ex. red nail polish, wing-tipped every liner, etc.)

I don’t feel dressed for the day unless I’m wearing big earrings, and I have a big blue ring made of jasper that I picked up at a second-hand store on Girard Ave. with my initials already engraved inside it, so I wear that pretty much every day.

Do you have a secret spot in the city to buy delectable cheeses that you can share? 

Now that Kensington Quarters carries cheese, that’s my quick relief. There’s usually a reliable stinker in the cooler, and I can grab a great cocktail for happy hour at the bar.

For a fromage neophyte, where do you start and what supplies should you have?

Start with your favorite sipper (wine, beer, spirits, tea, etc.) and ask a good cheesemonger to set you up with a pairing or two to go with it. The cheesemongers at Di Bruno Bros. and at Reading Terminal Market offer great pairing advice. Then, get a decent cheese board – wood or slate – and you’re golden. It’s nice to have a set of cheese knives, but they can come later – in a stocking, say.

Where can we find you on a Friday night?

I’m having a spontaneous dinner party (low lights, low maintenance) or I’m out for a cocktail, sometimes with my brother, André, who is my co-author on the next two books.

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Your cocktail of choice right now is … 

An Aviation – inspired by Amelia Earhart. It’s pale purple, like winter sky.

Can you tell us a little bit about your new book, The New Cocktail Hour? 

We want people to be able to make great craft cocktails in their kitchens – so my brother and I wrote The New Cocktail Hour to take the guesswork out of home entertaining. We offer tasting notes for each recipe, plus food pairing suggestions (we love cocktails with cheese boards, grilled foods, and Chinese takeout), and brand recommendations for every drink. As huge cocktail nerds, we wrote the book we could not find, essentially. It brings craft cocktails into everyday life. The book drops in April, but it’s available for pre-sales online.

As a successful author, teacher, blogger, writer, etc, what advice can you give to someone up and coming?

Pursue your passion with a vengeance. Seek out community and collaborators, in-person and online. Extend kindness and curiosity to each person you meet.

What is next for you? 

We’re writing a cookbook in partnership with Turner Classic Movies — we’re taking 30 classic movies and pairing them a cocktail and a meal inspired by or drawn from the film. It’s called Movie Night Menus, and it comes out in Fall 2016. It’s been so much fun! I just finished writing about Rita Hayworth in The Lady from Shanghai – some people think the Margarita was named after her. It’s a myth, but it’s still an interesting bit of cocktail trivia to explore. I love early Hollywood – the hats, the hair, the drinks!

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Style Stud: Elena Brennan, Owner of BUS STOP

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.33.35 PMI have a few secret hiding spots in the city where I go for peace and serenity, or when I’m sad and need to buy myself a lil something somethin. And since I share pretty much everything with you people, I will let you in on one of my favorite places … BUS STOP Boutique in Queen Village.

You know me … I love out of the box fashion, and BUS STOP’s shoes are just that. There’s just something special about them.

And Philly wouldn’t have access to such glorious shoes if it wasn’t for BUS STOP owner, Elena Brennan. Why yes, getting to oogle the shoes ain’t too shabby, but getting to chat with Elena is a even better. She is so cultured, stylish, and personable that I just HAD to make her my Style Stud this week.

So go … take over one of my happy places in the city, and in the meantime, get to know Elena…

What would you say are your favorite shoes of all-time? My absolute favourite shoes of all-time are from two designers: Coclico, and Marcello Toshi

What did the beginning of your career look like? My background is advertising and marketing, a career I had for 27+ years, which started in London and spilled into Philly. I was ready for a career change after I moved to Philly, so I decided to open my very own shoe boutique (partly to satisfy my own craving) and to fill a need, as women in Philly have very few options for “good” shoe shopping.

In your opinion, where do you think is Philly’s most interesting/stylish neighborhood? I would say Queen Village is one of the most interesting and stylish neighborhoods, as I’ve seen so many brilliant changes since I first opened. My boutique is on historic Fabric Row in Queen Village. The street was famous for fabric shopping, but the street has evolved, mixing the old with the new. I like the eclectic mix. I love to shop local and I can buy anything from jewelry, to vintage finds, gifts, clothes, and books right on my doorstep. I do love Fishtown, too. It has a different feel (more gritty), but that’s what I love about Philly, every neighborhood has its own essence.

What is a signature part of your every day style? Building my wardrobe from my feet up and lots of accessories. I love jewelry, especially rings, and let’s not forget a statement handbag.

BUS STOP is such a stylish and interesting place to walk through. What inspired the design? I would say I was inspired by the art galleries in Manhattan. The shoes are treated like works of art, but with a reasonable price tag, and are showcased to spotlight the unique features of each shoe so they pop on the shoe gallery shelves.

Of course, I’ve also added my own personal touches with a few of my favourite bits and pieces from London, such as my random array of English tea cups and my book collection, which I could have sold over and over again to my customers who think they’re for sale.

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I adored the collection you did with Bela Shehu. Is there another collab in the works? The collaboration with Bela Shehu of NINObrand is launching early spring. Last year, I reached out to Bela to see if she was interested in designing one of the oxfords from the new collection launching this spring, and voila that’s how it happened. BUS STOP designed twelve and NINObrand one. I think you will love all 13 variations of the exclusive BusStopX oxford. I always to love to collaborate… you never know what’s next.

How do you feel about Ugg boots … be honestTo be brutally honest, I do not like Ugg boots at all!

What shoe should every girl in Philly be wearing in the spring? Why, a pair of BusStopX oxfords, of course! The collection is launching March 2016 and is a follow-up to my Classic capsule collection, which I launched last spring.

Favorite place to shop in Philly (besides BUS STOP)? Oh that’s a hard question as there are many places I love to shop, but here are a few of my faves – Sugarcube, Moon + Arrow, and NINObrand.

As a small successful business owner, what are 3 pieces of advice you can give? Have strong branding, stay true to your mission, be dedicated and focused. When facing any issues, “sleep on it.” That’s my mantra so you don’t rush into making the wrong decisions. As important as it is to sell a good product, excellent customer service goes a long.

What’s next for BUS STOPLast spring, I launched my signature classic shoe collection of 12 oxfords in collaboration with All Black Footwear. The BUS STOP x All Black collection was my first ever shoe design. The shoes were named after Hollywood icon starlets and the campaign was, “Which Girl Are You?” This spring, I’m launching my second shoe collection, which is very exciting, so stay tuned for the launch in March.

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Style Stud: Emma From Philly Love Notes

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 9.51.59 AMEmma from Philly Love Notes has a huge crush on Philly … and I, in turn have an even bigger crush on her art work and Instagram account. 

Seriously, every single one of her posts makes my Instagram look like amateur hour and gives me this strong urge to up my Insta game HARD (yeah I just said that).

While you’re snowed in this weekend (or not … based on the track record of Philly meteorologists … I’m still skeptical), I demand you check her out. 

From her intricately designed and meticulously crafted maps (which my walls are crying out for right now), to her inspiring Instagram that makes Philly look more desirable and beautiful then ever … you too will fall in love with her work, if you haven’t already.

So behold, my Style Stud of the Week, Emma from Philly Love Notes. 

1. What inspired your intricate and beautiful maps? Like with all of my projects, it started on a whim. I had been practicing paper cutting, and decided that I should try and cut the entire city of Philly. I finished about 3 months after I started. A friend forced me to scan it to preserve it (thank God he did), and now I use that image to make my maps. 

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2. Describe your style in 4 words. clean, urban, comfortable, detail-oriented

3. What one thing excites you most in your closet? My new Madewell sweatpants for home and a beautiful Anthropologie dress that works for summer and winter

4. I see that you live in South Philly (not stalking you I swear). Where are some of your favorite places to shop there? Haha. I used to live in S. Philly, I’m in Callowhill now, so these are all over the map. Favorite spots: Fantes Kitchen Supply, Verde, Occasionette, and Vagabond (near work, so hopefully that counts)

5. Best place in Philly to take a pic for Instagram … GO! Race Street Pier and PSFS Building. No contest

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6. You have such a large presence on social media. What is a big social “no no” that would make you stop following someone? Posting too much. Also, if you’re a big account posting to the public and not just your friends, when it gets too personal, I unfollow. 

7. You’re hands down one of my favorite Philadelphians to follow on Instagram. Who is yours? @cbeatz852 (all things Philly) @meadowsweetmercantile (styling game on point) @nealsantos and @jasonvarney (for food porn)

8. A perfect day in Philly consists of … a chocolate croissant somewhere — currently trying to find the best, some time on the waterfront, hummus from Dizengeoff somewhere in there, and a walk around some part of the city I haven’t been to in awhile.

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9. Favorite restaurant/meal you are craving currently within city limits? Bud and Marilyn’s and Little Nonnas. Those ladies behind the 13th St corridor kick ass

10. What can we look forward to seeing next from you? I’m going to be changing jobs (still in the works) and having a little adventure. Also more maps. Always more maps.

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To purchase Emma’s custom woodcut and papercuts of Philly, click here