Meet Your Makers at Olives & Grace in the South End
Shop owner Sofi Madison stocks gifts from small-batch producers both near and far.
Sofi Madison with a selection of her artisanal wares. (Photos by Simon Simard)
There’s a reworked Muriel Rukeyser quote on the wall of the new South End boutique Olives & Grace: “The universe is not made of atoms. It’s made of tiny stories.”
Owner Sofi Madison, a Weston native, takes this saying to heart. Inspired by the eclectic stores and farmers’ markets she enjoyed browsing while living in Boulder, Colorado, and San Francisco, Madison considers both the quality and provenance of the foodstuffs, kitchen accessories, and grooming goods she selects for Olives & Grace. “The purpose of the store is to highlight emerging artisans…to give them a voice,” she says.
Before she buys, Madison also looks at a company’s social and environmental commitment: Los Angeles-based haber-dasher Figs, for example, donates a school uniform to a child in need for every necktie sold. Packages of Ajiri tea (ajiri is the Swahili word for “to employ”), meanwhile, feature labels crafted by women in Kenya’s Kisii district. All of these goods can be packed up into one of Madison’s customized gift sets, which include five or six customer-chosen items as well as a card explaining the contents.
In the future, Madison plans to expand her offerings and reorganize her space around each product’s origin—West Coast upstairs, East Coast downstairs. She’ll also continue holding classes, taught by local experts, in subjects like terrarium-building and present-wrapping. “There’s educated consumerism” in New England, Madison says. “People are curious here, and like to have conversations.”
81 Pembroke St., Boston, 617-236-4536, olivesandgrace.com
What’s In Store
B. Impressed letterpress cards, $7 each.
Round House Jewelry leather and silver wrap bracelet, $89.
Atlantic Coaster Company flannel coasters, $22 for four.
Dram cocktail bitters, $18 each.
Figs ties, $65 each.
Fig + Yarrow scrub, $44.