Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Rooftop Farms – Gardening From Above in Brooklyn

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

In New York City, where almost every inch of real estate is staked out, a huge swath of landscape remains unutilized and undeveloped – the iconic rooftops in Brooklyn. Enter Eagle Street Rooftop Farm, located on the far northwest corner of Greenpoint. Three stories on the top of Broadway Stages is a 6,000 square feet community garden overlooking the Greenpoint industrial and maritime trade below, and framed by an amazing 180 view of the Manhattan skyline.

Since 2009, Rooftop Farms has sold everything from cucumbers, tomatoes, swiss chard, and arugula, to a variety of herbs, and much more to a number of local restaurants including Marlow & Sons, Eastern District, Anella, Spritzenhaus, and Champion Coffee. Not a restaurant? Your’re in luck – on Sundays, the farm opens its doors to the public from 1-4pm. Lately, the farm has been growing hot peppers to start its own Brooklyn salsa line, and a couple of hives churn out local honey – the best kind of honey you can get!  Adorable rabbits and roosters round out the ecosystem, producing fertilizer for the lush garden.


Besides producing delicious, organic veggies for the community, the rooftop garden also helps catch rainwater, reducing storm runoff that directly affects our drinking water. The garden also helps cool the building in the summertime, and warm it up during cold New York winters. Rooftop Farm also offers a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, workshops for kids and adults, and provides composting opportunities for the neighborhood.

For more information, check out Eagle Street’s website and factsheet.

A Seed Dress Grows in Brooklyn

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Earlier this year, our design team hatched up the idea for a dress made entirely from organic material and seeds that would eventually sprout beautiful flora, a design that would embody the Live, Work, Create motto of BKI. After displaying the dress in store windows in April, we took it down and gathered in a patch of greenery and soil to give the dress a good ol’ fashion May burial.

Helena grabbed a shovel and dug a shallow hole, and Aaron sacrificed a bit of his cocktail, pouring some out in honor of all the trees that had fallen before us.  We even tried to sing a song, but couldn’t agree on a tune.

After putting the topsoil on, we celebrated with a great summer cocktail recipe that Nikki, our Assistant Men’s Designer and former mixologist had brought over from her days as a barmaid in Australia. Hopefully by next year, we’ll be able to post the progress of the new plant.

The Seed Dress Cocktail: Breukelen Gin, mint, cucumber, simple syrup, and fresh squeezed lime.

The Seed Dress – Made in Brooklyn, Made to Bury

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still. – Henry David Thoreau

While we love designing garments and bags and making them available for people to purchase, sometimes it’s fun to do things just for the sake of doing it. A few months ago, a bunch of us were sitting around the studio when Aaron, our Women’s Designer told us about this great company called Greenaid in California that his friends run that makes Seedbombs, and how we should write about them on our blog. Our CEO, Lexy suggested that instead of just promoting them, we should use them to make something. It was then that the idea for the Seed Dress was sown.

Three dresses were then designed and handmade by Aaron and our design team to be put on display in our Union Square, Smith Street, and Park Slope store to celebrate Earth Day, after which a ceremonial burial will take place at a nearby park. All the components of the dresses are earth friendly, from the locally sourced organic cotton voile, to the seeds embedded in fabric cut into flower shapes. The beads themselves act as the enclosures eliminating any zippers or plastic buttons. Aaron’s inspirations for the design drew from spring, femininity, and environmentalism, and the look is slightly vintage, girlish, and light, with a modern fit and styling – a design that would look great both on a woman and underground.

For Seedsbombs you can purchase, check out our Seedbomb bracelets and vending machines available in stores at Union Square, Smith Street, and Park Slope.

Terrarium Building Event at BKI WIlliamsburg

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Let’s face it, miniature gardens are cool. Who didn’t fall in love with Mr. Miyagi’s mini horticultural wonderland in The Karate Kid?  Well, now’s your chance to build your own at our Terrarium Building Event at our store in Williamsburg. Floral design studio, Red Rose & Lavender will be on hand to guide you through the terrarium building process, and even supply soil, moss, and other accessories necessary to start a garden – you just bring your favorite glass bowl, jar, or vase. Complimentary drinks proved by Sixpoint and Runa Tea. Limited seating is available. Please rsvp to

Earth Week Garden Building in Brownsville, Brooklyn

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Betsy and Emi cleaning a garden bed

Yesterday, we rounded up the BKI team and headed out to Isabahlia Garden in Brownsville, Brooklyn for a day of sun and volunteering. After being abandoned for two years, the garden had become overgrown and unused. We had a fun, fulfilling time yanking weeds, hacksawing old branches, and watching big tree trunks crush under the might of heavy machinery. With power in numbers, we were able to clear out the space of old debris in just three and a half hours. Check out the before and after pictures below!



For Brenda Duchene of Isabahlia Garden, spreading gardens is vital to a greater proliferation of fresh fruits and vegetables, providing community access to local healthy sources, and educating families about nutrition, composting, recycling, and entrepreneurialism. With the space cleared, not only is a new garden planned, but an entrepreneurial program for kids to work the land and sell the produce is in the works. In addition, Duchene plans to open a farmers market in Brownsville, a neighborhood that currently does not have any. With just a few hours of manpower, we hopefully brought her that much closer to her goal.

Erin, Brenda, and Lexy. (And Melissa trimming brush in the background)

Aaron looking fashionable as usual

The BKI team post cleanup

Fashion Meets Guerilla Gardening with our new Seedbomb Bracelets

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

The Seedbomb Bracelet

Have you ever walked down the street, seen an unsightly empty or discarded lot, and felt helpless to do anything about it? Enter Seedbombs, gumball sized nuggets from Greenaid, that when incorporated into a bracelet, make portable weapons of mass beauty.

All month long, we’re celebrating Earth Day at BKI, and the Seedbomb Bracelet is our opening salvo. We reached out to our friends at Greenaid, who hand rolled the seedbombs in Culver City, CA, using local materials and sustainable packaging. Greenaid also works with Chrysalis, a local non-profit that provides employment opportunities for formerly homeless or economically disadvantaged men and women.

The Seedbomb bracelets were crafted in our DUMBO, Brooklyn design studio with 100% cotton cording. Currently, you can pick one up at our Union Square, Park Slope, and Smith Street stores, and vending machines are also set up there for individual Seedbombs for 50 cents a piece. The seedbombs are composed of a mixure of clay compost and seeds, and can be thrown anywhere in the city, yard, or neighborhood, transforming  barren spaces into beautiful miniature gardens with a little sun and water.

Seedbombers in action

Saraghina Shares a Passion for Repurposed Furniture – and Delicous Pizza!

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Saraghina 435 Halsey St.

While most diners flock to Saraghina for its outstanding pizza, this quaint restaurant in Bed Stuy also provides a unique setting that our waiter gushed as both “charming and sexy”. Taking cues from the neighborhood it resides in, Saraghina’s décor is constructed from found and repurposed tables, cupboards, and chairs (on both the floors and the ceiling) that are often found lying around the streets of Bed Stuy. Designed by the previous owner Massimiliano Nanni and his wife, Paola Citterio, the restaurant and its furnishings are painted in a classic black and white palette to tie the aesthetic together. Throw in a wood-fed brick oven alongside the salvaged furniture, and not only will you get a stomach full of some of the most delicious pizza in New York, but a head full of DIY design ideas.

With an opportunity to design the spaces in our stores, we also get excited about the possibilities of incorporating upcycling, like in our Philly store where we constructed fixtures from shipping palettes and tables from thrift store finds. Find out more about some of our upcycling designs here.

BKI Philly 1525 Walnut Street

Wear Your Water Bottle

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

We  didn’t believe it either when we first heard that plastic bottles could be recycled into fabric. Enter RETH¿NK, a Seattle company that creates clothes and accessories made exclusively from post-consumer plastic waste. For each T-shirt, 14 plastic bottles are first cleaned, then chopped and reformulated (melted), and finally spun into fiber. The polyester fabric used in the tees not only requires 90% less water usage than virgin polyester, but also leaves a 50% lower carbon footprint than organic cotton.

The hand drawn graphic showcases the environmentally-friendly aspect of the tee, while a series of icons demonstrates the ways in which people can live sustainably, The double infinity around the icons represents both the recyclable nature of the plastic bottles and the T-shirts.

The Brooklyn Navy Yard – A City Resurrects Itself

Friday, October 7th, 2011

In the middle of the Brooklyn Navy Yard sits a massive building shrouded in rusted steel and broken windows. Cordoned off by chained-linked fences, the empty, cavernous space inside feels like a mausoleum for an era of factories and industry, when blue collar workers built massive warships in the heart of America’s most populous borough. Fortunately for the economy of Brooklyn, this empty relic seemed out of place amidst the buzz of semi-trucks and forklifts roaring by, as a new type of industry has taken hold of the once desolate Navy Yard – green industry.

As we walked through the expansive property, we were overwhelmed by the beauty of the aged-textures and furiously snapped photos of our models against not just rust and concrete, but also against LEED certified glass windows, and energy efficient siding. The first building you come across at the entrance is the Paymasters building, where back in the day, all 40,000 workers collected their paychecks (long before the days of direct deposit). Directly across from it is the brand new Perry Building, complete with wind turbines, and solar panels. Other businesses thriving in the sprawling space include Steiner Studios – the largest movie studio on the east coast and B&H Photography. Sets from Saturday Night Live are built there. The Kevlar vests that protect our soldiers are made there. Those little, pink Sweet and Low packets in your morning coffee.. made in the same buildings that perhaps cannons were once fabricated in.

The Paymasters Building

Dry docks

While the Navy Yard may not conjure up certain characteristics when one envisions Brooklyn – think brownstones, or artisinal delis, The Navy Yard and its workforce are quintessential borough denizens. Studio artists re-appropriate scrap materials from larger businesses for adaptive reuse, designers and architects employ innovative green designs because they are passionate about a better workplace, and workers from vastly different work cultures intermingle in a maze of wabi sabi buildings. The photoshoot turned out great, because as a Brooklyn company with similar ethics, the shots we took were essentially capturing who we are.

Rhapsody Cord Dress

Brooklyn Line Applique Hoodie

LETTERS FROM LEXY: Wind vs. Hydro Power. Do they really compete?

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Today, we were mentioned in the New York Times for our use of hydro and wind power to power our stores. One interesting issue emerged in my mind while being interviewed by the reporter: What is the environmental difference between hydro and wind? Is one better than the other? There seems to be a cultural drive to place a hierarchy on various sources of sustainable energy, with 100% wind trumping water and solar. As our first six-month contract with Con Edison Solutions comes up for renewal, we are weighing our options. 100% wind is more expensive, but does it have more value?

Our fans and customers are wondering about sustainable energy as well. Just last week, on one of our customer comment cards, a customer asked about where our sustainable power came from: “How are your stores powered by wind and hydro?” It would be wonderful to imagine a pipeline directly from a wind field to our stores, bypassing the power grid. But this is not how it works. The sustainable power we use in our stores comes from the amount Con Edison purchases from wind fields and hydroelectric power plants. The energy is mixed together through the grid and delivered to different homes and businesses. As far as I know there is no way to parcel out the different kilowatts – they all mix together. Great question though, and hard to visualize.