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Powerful Portable Chargers From Crank

Two small devices, designed in LA and made to pump up productivity

by Julie Wolfson in Tech on 18 September 2014

Chargers, Phone Chargers, Tech Devices

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While Mophie will always be a solid go-to when it comes to mobile juice packs, the sleek new portable Crank chargers have caught our eye with two compact yet powerful models. A recent weekend beach mission offered the perfect opportunity to test out both the smaller Dart and larger Dash, which are covered in smooth navy blue matte rubber for durability.

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Fully charged, the 6.3 ounce Dash model can charge four to five smartphones (or one iPad) with its Samsung Grade A Li-ion polymer cell. A smart chip inside prevents over-charging, while dual USB ports allow for simultaneous charging of multiple devices, with four LED power indicators to track battery capacity.

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At just 2.3 ounces in weight, the lipstick-sized Dart can charge most smartphones one to two times with its 3,000 mAh battery. The Dart comes with a USB cable for charging, while the Dash takes its power from a wall adaptor. Both offer more than 500 lifetime charge cycles and are appropriately sized to pack away into almost any pocket.

For anyone who has had the problem of seeing their smartphone battery dying at the most inopportune of times, Crank provides a much needed solution. Now to plan that big unplugged adventure without the threat of having to retreat to the car to recharge. The Dart and Dash chargers are available from Crank and Amazon where they sell for $20 and $30, respectively.

Images courtesy of Crank

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The Ripple Series from Haand Ceramics

Brighten up the table with naturally shaped, asymmetrical dishes, handmade in NC

by Nara Shin in Design on 17 September 2014

Ceramics, Made in USA, Craftsmanship, Handmade, North Carolina, Dinnerware, Home Goods, Kitchen, Tableware

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If you're on a search for high-quality wares to set the table with that are minimalist enough to match any mood and decor but are unusual enough to be memorable, look no further than Haand Ceramics. Founded in 2012 by childhood friends (now business partners) Chris Pence and Mark Warren, the modest operation designs, creates and fires their functional porcelain wares—with an aesthetic described as "farmhouse futuristic"—under one roof in Eli Whitney, NC.

New for fall is Haand's Ripple series, consisting of stacked asymmetrical plates that recall the repeating dimples made by tossed pebbles (or summer rain) on the surface of a lake. "If you continue to watch, and the pool is still enough, the waves travel back from where they impacted and move towards the center—changed from their contact and no longer circular. If you can read the language, the waves are telling the story of the space they traveled in," Pence and Warren write in their description. This tableware preserves that fleeting moment, over the course of a meal.

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It's easy to tell that Pence and Warren have a penchant for playing with shapes. The brand offers ergonomically minded coffee mugs and saucers, colorful ice cream bowls designed to aid in the consumption of each and every last drop, and a Square + Triangle set sure to charm guests.

Haand Ceramics dishware and more can be purchased from their website. All products are lead-free, and dishwasher- and microwave-safe.

Images by Shaena Mallett, courtesy of Haand Ceramics

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Direct-to-Conusmer OneGround Shoes

Casual, handmade leather shoes at an accessible price

by Adrienne So in Style on 17 September 2014

Affordable Luxury, Direct to Consumer, Everlane, Kickstarter, Shoes, Warby Parker

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Direct-to-consumer manufacturing companies like Everlane and Warby Parker have attracted a devoted customer following by offering attractive, top-quality products at a fraction of their traditional retail costs. Businessmen, tech geeks and shoe fanatics Nilton Duque, Emre Ulasti and Eamon Walsh are aiming to do the same with OneGround, which aims to manufacture and sell casual designer footwear for a fifth of the price—should their Kickstarter campaign be successful.

The name refers to the fact that, although the trio are separated by geographical distance (Duque in New York City, Ulasti in Istanbul and Walsh in Boston), they all share a common ground. Together, the three friends had a perfect storm of backgrounds for starting a business of this kind. Duque previously worked in e-commerce with companies including YOOX, while Walsh has experience in digital marketing, branding and distribution (specifically with several large European footwear companies). And Ulasti, who Walsh met in college, heads up his family’s 150-year-old shoe manufacturing factory in Turkey.

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The idea for OneGround dawned on the trio gradually, after returning time and again from industry shows with trunks full of beautiful, overpriced footwear. “At the end of the day, I knew the production costs,” says Walsh. “I knew that really nice chukka was being produced for a twelfth of what it was being retailed for. I said, ‘Wait a minute. We can produce the shoes.’”

OneGround addresses several problems in the choked footwear market. The first and most obvious is that they reduce costs by eliminating distributors, retailers, advertising and unsold product. Second, Ulasti’s factory works in such small batches that the response time—from prototype to completed design—is lightning fast. Unlike many traditional fashion companies that maintain a lead time of over a year from design to finished retail product, OneGround can release new collections every 60 days. Rather than attempting to predict the fashions a year in advance, the company can simply react to which shoes are selling each season.

And finally, OneGround eventually hopes to offer the interested customer a transparent view of their manufacturing process, or as Walsh puts it, “the story of the shoe.” From sourcing the leather, to viewing the craftsman stitch and stamp each shoe with its individualized number, the insight even extends through to packaging.

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The initial collection consists of three sneaker styles: The Edgar, a low-top; the Maya, a chukka; and the Walt, a slip-on. Each style comes in three different colorways and are made by hand in Turkey from full-grain calfskin leather, hand-stitched throughout the entire shoe and with gold numbering for each pair sold on the inside. The line will eventually include other flat, casual, unisex styles including oxfords, moccasins and Chelsea boots. “We wanted to make really functional products,” says Duque. “We took inspiration from the utilities, from iconic styles like the Common Projects low-top, the Jack Purcell, the Stan Smith.” The shoes start at $99, and OneGround’s goal is to keep the price of each style from ever exceeding $159.

OneGround’s Kickstarter just launched and profits will go towards starting pop-ups in cities like New York and towards initiatives like putting a production team in Ulasti’s factory to make short films about the making of each shoe.

Images courtesy of OneGround

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