Jamming with Hilken Mancini & Girls Rock Campaign Boston

Our community never ceases to amaze us. For instance, did you know that the owner of Jamaica Plain’s 40 South St, Hilken Mancini is also the rock-star founder of Girls Rock Campaign Boston? Well. She is. And we’re so pleased to announce that this year the GRCB is our charity of choice during the holiday season. We’ll be supporting their fundraising efforts through our annual holiday giving events, including our annual gift wrap drive in Jamaica Plain, as well as special shopping events on First Thursday (December 3) and JP Shop with a Cause (December 5) where we donate a percentage of all sales made during the event.

We’re always on the look-out for charities that serve the JP community and we couldn’t help but fall in love with GRCB‘s mission to empower girls to believe in themselves by providing a supportive community that fosters self-expression, confidence, and collaboration through musical education and performance.

We’re also excited to get the inside scoop on their origin story from Hilken herself!

FO:How did you find yourself in Boston?
HM: I moved here to go to the Boston Conservatory 1988 and quit in 1990 to be in a rock band. My band, Fuzzy, that I sang, played guitar and wrote songs for was signed to Atlantic records from 1993-1997. We toured extensively throughout the states and some of the UK/EU with bands Dinosaur Jr, The Lemonheads, Redd Cross, Buffalo Tom, Belly and were managed by Fort Apache Records (the same people that managed the Pixies and Tanya Donelly’s Throwing Muses and Belly and Juliana Hatfield) We put out 2 records on Atlantic. After we were dropped from Atlantic I founded Punk Rock Aerobics – the anti exercise fitness revolution – and co-wrote the book Punk Rock Aerobics released on DaCapo press in 2004. We held the classes only in rock clubs until I started doing it at Girls Rock Camps.

FO:What brought you to Girls Rock?
HM:I was asked to lead a Punk Rock Aerobics class at the original Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls in Portland Oregon back in 2007. I went there to volunteer and was leading the girls through Punk Rock Aerobics in their morning assemblies. When I got there the organization and what they were doing totally blew my mind. I felt like PRA was a good mission match for the RnRcamp4 girls, serving the “misfits” and challenging stereotypical feminine expectations and images of beauty. What they were doing was incredible. All these girls and women supporting eachother, teaching eachother to play music and building eachothers’ self-esteem up!

I wanted Boston to have something just like it. I knew so many amazing women in rock in Boston. So it changed my life. That’s also where I met Nora Allen-Wiles who is the co-founder of GRCB and our Executive Director. Coincidentally, she was born and raised in Somerville MA – so we planned to get together and see if we could pull something like this off in Boston. We did! And Here we are 5 years later!

FO: How has music empowered you personally?
HM: Being a musician, as a woman, you had to be really strong about what you wanted. I constantly felt challenged and defensive because I was wearing a miniskirt and mascara.I was in mytwenties when we were on tour and most sound engineers at rock clubs were men. They would tell us to ” turn down your Marshall so we can hear your pretty voice” and talking down to us as if we didn’t know what we were doing or wanted to do. People assumed I was the “girlfriend” and not the lead guitar player.

Also touring helped me grow a really thick skin. Opening up for bands like Dinosaur Jr. it happened a lot that the crowd hated us because they were just there to see the band they paid for – and definitely not us. I remember being on the road with them and saying in the mic “ok this is our last song” and people cheering and saying, “YEAH! Get off the stage,” It would happen a lot and it made me able to brush of that kind of hatred and be like “No. You are gonna listen to me and my song and what I have to say…” it empowered me to stand up for myself in a sold out house.

FO:How many instruments do you play?
HM: I play guitar really, that’s my jam. I can sing pretty ok. I am a bad drummer – but I like to think I can play drums. And I can play bass sometimes. But not really.

FO:How does your work with Girls Rock impact you as a working musician?
HM:Even though I just went on tour to Europe, I’m not actually a working musician. It’s one of those, “You do it cause you love it,” things. I own a vintage clothing store – 40 South St. JP and I work part time as the Program Director of GRCB and that’s how I buy my groceries and pay my rent. As far as playing music in Boston – I think we have a ton of support from everyone who is involved and helps out with GRCB, and we go to each other shows which is a totally awesome and very supportive environment. Two bands I am active in are Shepherdess and The Monsieur’s.

FO:GRCB is going into it’s 6th year, what’s the impact you’ve seen in the work so far?
HM: We’ve grown a ton! During our very first year in 2010 we held one summer session with 45 girls and 1 ladies rock camp with about 45 women. That’s it.

This year we held two sessions of our FOR GIRLS program over the summer which means a total of 127 girls were served. We had 26 bands perform at 2 showcases; 100 volunteers worked over our two sessions; and we ran 5,842 total program hours and 6,350 total volunteer hours over both sessions. In our FOR LADIES sessions we were also able to hold two sessions which means 80 women were served by 70 Volunteers over 3,280 total program hours 3,220 total volunteer hours. And over the last 5 years we’ve added an after-school program CLUB GRCB where we serve 10 girls with 7 volunteers over a 10 Week Session.We also have 13 active, year-round volunteer teams with 45 members.

FO:What are your “big dreams” for GRCB?
HM:Well I just got out of an all day strategic meeting with our Board and operating team so I can talk to you about our Strategic plans for 2016 til’ I am blue in the face. However – a big dream is to find a location – a space where we can hold programming year round and have our office space and our gear all in the same place. This would help our programs and after school club grow so we can support more girls and give more lessons and hold more workshops and drop in spaces for other organizations within our community.

Join us as we celebrate and support this awesome, creative, feminist organization by stopping in on Thursday December 3 from 6pm – 8pm and Saturday December 5 from 10am – 2pm when 10% of every purchase will be donated to GRCB!

Fresh. Fall. Fashion.

We are so excited for fall fashion this year! Along with favorites like Porto, Aimee G, and Sun Kim we also have new lines from a few new(er)-to-us artists. Each of these designers definitely has their own signature style, while still offering collections solidly on-trend for Fall 2015 with structured but feminine pieces and nuanced, muted palettes. Get to know the the fall lines below, which offer must-see pieces highlighting versatility, comfort, timelessness, and personalization.


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Spirithouse, based in LA and helmed by designer Katrin Noon is known for creating collections that explore propotion and play with blurring the line between edginess and romance. Katrin’s dedication to form, fit, and fabric keep customers (and us here at Fire Opal) coming back each season. This fall we’re in love with their understated tunics and one-of-a kind outwear. SHOP NOW!

New Form Perspective

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New Form Perspective takes geometric shapes and styles and transforms them into clothes that become contemporary staples. The pieces in this collection connect, fold, link, layer, snap, and shift to create a uniquely customizable wardrobe. The clothes transition, transform, and evolve, allowing the wearer to truly personalize and express their own style. This line is a true merger of beautiful fashion and imaginative art. SHOP NOW!

Bryn Walker

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For the woman who wants her clothes to be comfortable, high quality, easy yet sophisticated, the Berkeley, CA based Bryn Walker is a must see.  These designs utilize luxurious wools, silks, and cottons to create beautifully crafted garments. Walker’s pieces are as practical as they are elegant and as modern as they are classic. The fall collection has looks in a variety of fits and shapes, emphasizing a loose yet body flattering design. SHOP NOW!

Filthy Rich Chocolates at Home in Jamaica Plain

We love collaborating with local artists. Especially when their products are high-quality, original, and utterly irresistible. So it’s with great excitement and a little bit of mouthwatering that we welcome JP’s own Kymberlee Keckler into the Jamaica Plain gallery this June. To celebrate First Thursday on June 4, we’ll be hosting Kymberlee and her exquisite handmade artisan chocolates for a grand tasting and chocolate making demonstration. In anticipation of this event, we were able to do a great mini-interview with Kymberlee about her life as a chocolatier, maker, and artist in Jamaica Plain. Give it a quick read and join us in store for a delicious evening!


Fire Opal: How long have you been making chocolate?

Kymberlee Keckler: I’ve been making chocolates since 2011, but I didn’t always know what I was doing in the early days. I enrolled in training as a professional chocolatier through Ecole Chocolat in Vancouver, BC and graduated in November 2012. In April 2014, I attended Valrhona’s Ecole du Grand Chocolat in Tain L’Hermitage, France. And just this past April, I attended more master classes at ICAM in Lecco, Italy. I plan to return to France in October 2016.

FO: We know you also make beautiful soap – how do you balance the two?

KK: One good thing about soap is that the older it is, the better it is – so I am able to make soap during times of slower chocolate sales. Chocolate sales peak around certain holidays and is generally slower in the summer. I like making soap in the summer because my ‘soap factory’ is in the basement where it is cooler. I’ve discontinued some scents to free up some time for chocolate making. A person can spend $30 on soap and have enough for a year or so….but if they spend that on chocolates, they can eat them and come back the next day.

FO: What do you love about being an artist in Jamaica Plain?

KK: I love JP’s commitment to the arts, the diversity in our neighborhood, and the sense of community.

FO: What’s your favorite kind of chocolate?

KK: Tough question – and one that I get a lot. The base chocolate that I use is Valrhona’s Manjari. There aren’t any that I don’t like and wouldn’t sell them unless they met my standards. My favorite flavors include passion fruit, hazelnut, and earl grey tea. I also love my raspberry hazelnut crisp, hazelnut coconut, and espresso. I’m always experimenting…and will be headed to the kitchen very soon!


Holiday Shopping is Here! 5 of Our Most Giveable Artists

With Thanksgiving almost behind us, holiday giving season is in full swing! Whether you like to shop early on Black Friday, shop local on Small Business Saturday, or shop online on Cyber Monday, our unique collection of American Handmade Craft makes for truly inspired gifting. Here’s a quick and easy guide to some of our most giveable artists this year! AND be sure you’re signed up for our mailing list to get a special discount offer good through 12/1. Click here to subscribe. 

Katie Mawson Graphic DConstruct Graphic Sarah Swell GraphicLiz Kinder Graphic

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Aimee G Designs Trunk Show – October 24 – 26

The Event:
Aimee G. Fall/Winter Trunk Show
October 24 – 26, 2014
320 Harvard Ave. Brookline, MA

Indulge in unique pieces from NYC based designer Aimee G! Fire Opal Brookline is excited to announce an exclusive fall trunk show featuring work from her fall/winter 2014 line and one-of- a -kind pieces from her collection.

Aimee G. took inspiration for her 2014 fall line from the great surrealist painters Duchamp, Matta, Miro, Magritte, and Masson. Surprising, textural, and expressive, the collection is full of strong lines, bold patterns and colors, and beautifully crafted shapes. Drawing from the concepts of cubism, juxtaposition, and wit, this fall line offers beautiful statement pieces as well as gorgeous clothes for everyday wear.

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Wear it Everyday – Jewelry by Elise Moran and Porto

Our featured artist this month is none other than Elise Moran of EAM Jewelry. She’ll be in the Jamaica Plain gallery on Thursday June 5 from 4pm – 8pm with the newest pieces from her gorgeous collection of botanically inspired jewels. We love her feminine and delicate jewelry is for bridal accouterments, gifts for a wedding party, graduation gifts, or for any occasion that calls for something to be treasured.

But her collection’s classic flair and true elegance makes it wearable every day, not just on special days! Take a look at some of her beautiful necklaces paired with fan favorite clothing line Porto for examples on how to wear simple, glittery jewelry with clean and simple wardrobe staples.

To celebrate the beautiful marriage of EAM and Porto we’re offering 10% Porto clothing all day on June 5! Bring this blog post with you to the store or use the discount code 10PORTO online to receive 10% Off Porto clothing ONE DAY ONLY!


Porto Amazon Vest in Silver paired with Elise Moran necklace


Porto Amazon Vest in Sand with EAM Necklace


Porto Muse Dress in Orchid with EAM Necklace

For more information on Elise and her work click here!

Heather Guidero – Textural Modern Jewelry

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We’re excited to announce that Providence based jewelry designer, Heather Guidero, will be our first featured artist for our First Thursday Jamaica Plain events this year! We love the detailed simplicity of Heather’s pieces. Her use of texture in all of her jewelry makes each piece unique and always gives you something new to discover about her pieces. We’re glad she was able to take some time to answer some questions about her process and her inspirations.

Meet her and see her stunning jewelry at Fire Opal Jamaica Plain on Thursday April 3!

How has your jewelry changed since you graduated from RISD in 2002?

I view the pieces that I produced at RISD as a starting point. There are ideas that I’m still visiting years later, but with a more nuanced eye and hand.   During my time there I received excellent training in jewelry making, metalsmithing, and design, but it took several years to translate those concepts into wearable pieces that felt truly “me”.  Working as a goldsmith for several years after my time at RISD helped me to significantly hone my techniques and become comfortable working with clients.

What has been your biggest inspiration as a jewelry maker?

I find a lot of inspiration in modernist design, and also in my clients!  I enjoy working with patterns influenced by ceramic and textile designs of the 1940s through the 1960’s. I enjoy the challenge of translating my drawings into pieces that move while on the body and are also comfortable.  My clients are a diverse group of women and men who tend to wear their pieces frequently, and give wonderful feedback on what they like or are looking for when commissioning specific pieces.

What does an average day in the studio look like for you?

First things first: coffee!  I try to get most of the emails answered and pieces that are shipping that day packaged up right away.  When my assistant arrives, we review the pieces that need to be made that week as well as any materials that need to be ordered, then sit down at our benches.  I usually have a few custom wedding/engagement ring projects to work on in addition to making work for stores and galleries.  There’s frequently a quick afternoon trip to my caster to review new a new sample or two followed by more coffee at the bench or teaching preparation before either heading out to yoga or to one of the jewelry classes I teach.

What are three words you would use to describe your aesthetic?

Geometric, textural, dimensional.

Is there a piece of jewelry you wear everyday?

I wear an 18k white gold filigree ring from the early 1900s every day.  It was a special gift from my partner Ryan, and I never take it off.

How does the arts community in Providence influence your work?

I’ve been fortunate to meet some really wonderful artists and designers that have chosen to make Providence (and the surrounding area) their home.  It’s a tight knit and supportive community always ready to help out, whether you need technical advice on a project, assistance getting your booth display to a show, or connecting someone with a gallery opportunity.

I’m always learning from my students as well, through teaching at local colleges and art centers.  They inspire me to keep working away even if I’m at a creative crossroads with an idea.