It has been only three months since they got the lease, and the owners of Hiho Batik could not be happier with the decision.
“It’s funny how everyone has a batik story,” neighbor Robyn Stylman says as we meet at the new studio-store on 5th Avenue and Sackett that she opened with Julia Gordon in September. Maybe it is the inevitability of each piece being one of a kind, the joy in creating a handmade item that involves both creativity and danger (those wax pens are hot!), that appeals to a very broad audience – from kids as young as 5, to grandparents, and everyone in between.
Robyn Stylman and Julia Gordon
Why Park Slope? “It was a combination of the small town, community feel of the neighborhood along with neighbors that appreciate the creative process of handmade items that convinced us this was the right place and the right time to open Hiho Batik store in Park Slope,” says Robyn. The business itself is not new (and the craft is ancient) – Julia has been creating custom shirts for bands in Florida for two decades, but now it has a retail store in addition to website, wholesale and private label (for all your corporate T-shirt and bag needs!).
What’s the best thing about having the store? “How many different kinds of people stop by,” says Robyn. “That’s what Brooklyn is to me – grandmothers, teenagers, parents with kids, tourists. Tourists! Our first customers were two amazing women from Australia who made pillowcases. It makes me so happy to be able to let people create memories and be part of it.”
Community commitment. “As a small business, Hiho Batik is committed to supporting other small companies and artists, and we source the accessories we carry form Africa to brazil, to Etsy,” says Robyn. “Each year we partner with a non-profit organization to fundraise. Last year it was for Africa, this year looking to partner with local non-profits, as well as offer solutions for school or charity fundraisers. The store also donated a portion of proceeds to help Hurricane Sandy victims. All materials are made in the USA, all employees are local too.”
How it works:
While you can drop in just about any time, it might be best to call (718-622-4446) and give the shop a heads up, and plan on spending about 40 minutes at the studio. You can also book company or kid parties (5 years and up, Mommy Poppins says the kindergarten crowd will need quite a bit of supervision, but that it was a lot of fun). Parties are usually 2 hours long, can accommodate up to 20 people, and you can bring your own food, drinks and decorations. Price is determined by the number of items made, $40 per T-shirt. The finished items are ready for pickup one week after the party, as the final dyeing is done by their staff in the workshop (shown above).
So how does it work? First, you are taken through the store into the studio room. It’s a bright room with three tables. At the first one, you create your drawing, or you can pick from their templates.
Next, stop by the custom built tracing table in the back, and trace your drawing onto a white, super-soft, pure cotton T-shirt with hot wax.
Then over to the coloring table to fill in the drawing.
For step by step, take a look at this episode the Martha Stewart show with Julia from a few years back.
Hiho Batik, 184 5th Avenue, 718-622-4446