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Shoptalk

Interviews with shopkeepers, brand designers, and retail entrepreneurs. We ask the creators of our favorite shops, brands, and products how they get it done.

At audio46, the Audiophile Employees Know Best

The first thing you need to know about Gabby Block, one of Manhattan headphone megastore audio46’s resident audio experts, is that she identifies as a musician, not as a salesperson.

Meet the Blender Whisperers

Yes, that’s a thing. And the women of Park Slope’s Tarzian West cookware store are just that.

Pleasure, Empowerment, and Style from Rianne S

Rianne Swierstra, born into a family of entrepreneurs, dreamed of starting a condom company at age 14. The prophylactics business never materialized, but her dream of innovating in the sex space did. Rianne S, Swierstra’s eponymous brand, is on a mission to “make women and their partners happy” with thoughtfully designed, female-focused pleasure products. Swierstra talked to Quiddity about her local Amsterdam’s culture of openness, the message she hopes to spread with her brand, and how to introduce toys into the bedroom.

With Jabra, It’s All About Fit And Comfort

The whole idea for car engines could apply to Jabra headphones. The concept calls for a device that’s small but powerful, slim yet sturdy. While much of Denmark-based Jabra’s line includes office headsets, the brand’s headphones for sports and professional training are keeping up with trends. Quiddity spoke with Jabra’s Iain Pottie, global director of product design, about tracking sports apparel trends, the competitive consumer space, and 8- to 10-hour performance.

The Latest

Being Smart Before the Fire With Quilt Insurance

The round-the-clock responsiveness of Quilt renters insurance is in part possible because of a bot: Patches. Artificial intelligence is one feature that the rapidly growing startup company, which launched in 2015, has developed and tested in-house to stand out from more legacy brands. From Quilt’s robust online customer portal to expansion in Florida and Texas, the company is promoting its transparency to attract young adult renters in cities including New York. Quiddity spoke with Nichole Mace, Quilt’s senior vice president of product & customer experience, about transparency, convenience, and being smart ahead of time.

Global Cutlery: A Nexus of “German Durability, Italian Design and Japanese Precision”

When it comes to premium knives, the Japanese and the Germans are the ones to trust. Japanese cutlery brand Global offers the best of both worlds, honing razor-sharp knives in homage to the centuries-old tradition of Samurai knifemaking while integrating European principles. Its best selling chef’s knife is sharpened on both sides of the blade in the classic German tradition, yet unlike most Western-style knives, its edges are straight, not bevelled. We talked to Marketing Manager Erica Tominaga about the boyhood of the brand’s founder, “Mr. Global,” innovating a proprietary steel blend, and how Global knives went “truly global.”

Meet the Japanese Knife Doctor

Vincent Lau, a master knife sharpener, is always on edge. Literally.

No Knockoffs: Jaybird’s Headphones Are For Premium, Active Lifestyles

Jaybird wants to be seen more as a sports brand than an electronics brand, designing stylish headphones for people likely to hike, ride a mountain bike or even complete triathlons. While their designers scan Amazon reviews just like any average consumer, they also run extensive tests on any new product. Located in Park City, Jaybird designers hang out at local gyms, working one-on-one with athletes. Jaybird’s featured headphones include the Run and the X3, whose battery lives are four and eight hours, respectively. The headphones also come with a charging case, fit for the active wearer who might need a power boost on the go. Quiddity talked with Jaybird designer Hagen Diesterbeck about “truly wireless” models, battery dictating size and custom sound equalizers.

Shopkeepers

Rising Rents and Crippling Property Taxes: A NYC Small Business Owner Weighs In (and Moves Out)

Why Whisk, a beloved kitchenware boutique founded in Brooklyn, closed two storefronts in two months.

Shopkeepers

Babeland: A Shop for Books, Candles, and Butt Plugs

Babeland, a sex toy brand with shops in NYC and Seattle, offers something for everyone—whether you’re on your first or fiftieth visit.

Shopkeepers

Village Grannies: A Smoke Shop, Art Gallery, and Living Room All in One

Village Grannies in downtown Manhattan looks and feels unlike any other smoke shop you’ve been inside.

Shopkeepers

Sprout Home is on a Mission to Spread ‘Plant Love’

At Sprout Home, an indie garden center with locations in Williamsburg and Chicago, a green thumb is welcome—but not required.

The Goods

How Dipstick Vapes Dove into the Hardware World

The mission-driven vaporizer brand that isn’t afraid to align with cannabis culture.

The Goods

With Linx Vapor, There’s No Smoke and Mirrors

The Orange County company is making health nut-approved vaporizers.

The Goods

Tenga Seeks to 'Change the Conversation Around Masturbation'

The Japanese adult toy brand creates products that aren’t embarrassing to buy.

The Goods

At Peru Pima, It’s All in the Family

This family-owned textile brand from Peru is making it in America—all by word of mouth.

The Goods

Flying With “Phone-Free Music” From Fitbit

The company known for smartwatches wants to soar above the neck.

Shopkeepers

Get Educated on Getting Off at Babeland

The 25-year-old sex toy brand puts education first.

The Goods

A Seattle Authority on Specialty Coffee Tools Talks Coffee Culture

Espresso Supply, Inc. has grown along with American tastes.

The Goods

Garden of Life Listens to Your Gut

The supplement brand believes digestive health is at the root of overall health.

The Goods

ASPCA Pet Health Insurance Protects Pets ‘Against the Unexpected’

The pet insurance company offers flexible plans for whatever life may have in store.

Tomorrow Sleep Mattresses Perform, So You Can, Too

Innovation is ingrained in the startup’s DNA.

The Goods

‘The Actual Industry Has a Problem’: Lemonade Isn’t Marketing Insurance Fluff

The speedy startup is guaranteeing money back with few (or no) questions. Just ask the bot.

The Goods

At Merrick, Pets are Family

The Texas-based pet food brand believes man’s best friend should dine on the best.

The Goods

Lelo Sex Toys: the Ultimate Birthday Presents

Maybe not for your mom, but definitely for your girlfriend.

Making Renters Insurance Easier with Nationwide Insurance

For less than $20 a month, the average renter can protect nearly $30K in personal property.

Looking for A Good Night’s Sleep? Go to Craig’s Beds

Craig Fruchtman just wants you to be comfortable.

The Goods

Mr. Black is Mixing up the Coffee Cocktail

Forget the White Russian—there’s a lot more you can do with coffee liqueur.

The Goods

Dame Sex Toys: For Women, By Women

The women-led sex toy brand aims to fill the “pleasure gap” in heterosexual intimacy.

Eight Sleep Believes that If You Build Your Own Mattress, Sleep Will Come

The company created a customizable mattress and introduced an AI coach—all in pursuit of optimization.

From Coast to Coast With Farmers Insurance

Potential lawsuits are everybody’s problem, and you probably own more than you think.

The Goods

Cyndi Ramirez and Adam Fulton, by their own admission, met in “a hopeless place.”

The New York City nightlife duo discuss candles, leather jackets, and the branding for their own wedding.

Embrace: a Pet Insurance Policy that Makes Sense

The Cleveland, OH-based company aims to be ‘more than just a safety net for your budget.’

Luggage, Minus the Baggage: Andiamo’s Effortless Style

The legacy luggage brand is catering to a new kind of traveler.

Travel Free With Away

The New York luggage brand rethinking not just how to pack, but how to travel.

The Goods

Get Up Close and Personal(ized) with PAX Vaporizers

The Silicon Valley company hopes to revolutionize how we smoke.

The Goods

Chef’d Wants to Be the Amazon of Meal Kits

The delivery service offers customers options aplenty.

Shopkeepers

Meet the Man Who Sells More Headphones than Just about Anyone

Mark Steinberg is the guy to listen to at Manhattan superstore B&H.

Healthy Paws: Pet Insurance by Pet Lovers

The company makes filing claims quick and easy, so you can focus on caring for your pet.

On Planes, Offices and the Outdoors With Plantronics Headphones

In situations where you want to mostly cancel noise—potentially threatening noises aside—Plantronics wants to be your eyes and ears. The company has nearly seven decades of history in developing consumer electronics and adapting to the latest technology and trends, whether it's active noise cancellation or athleisure. By capitalizing on the desires of people who travel often or exercise outdoors, Plantronics has gained an edge by evolving its headphone line, including the Backbeat Pro 2 and Backbeat Fit. Quiddity talked with Plantronics’ Greg Miller, director of portfolio business management, about the Wall of Ears, the “brand that starts with a B,” and carving out a niche.

How America’s Oldest Insurance Company Is Catering to the Youngs

Travelers’ Insurance mixes experience with innovation. While it’s America’s oldest insurance company, but features an inventive new product, Traverse, to cater to an increasingly millennial clientele. The leadership team at Travelers recognizes how the growth of e-commerce is affecting the way consumers shop for insurance, and they are working to adapt digitally. For less than $200 a month, Travelers consumers can acquire coverage for losses, additional living expenses, and more. Quiddity talked with Angi Orbann, Travelers’ vice president of personal insurance product, about the 24/7 claims experience, Amazon’s effect on the insurance industry, and assessing responsibility between tenant and landlord.

The Fresh, No-Buzzword Promise of Jetty Renters Insurance

New-York based insurance company Jetty asks customers a single question to get them a quote: “What’s your address?” The company, founded in 2016, has a tech focus and offers property protection for issues like bed bugs and liability coverage for Airbnb hosting. The company’s Passport Lease also helps prospective renters who can’t meet a property’s salary requirements and don’t have a co-signer or guarantor. Quiddity talked with Luke Cohler, Jetty’s co-founder and president, about power-ups, the freedoms of young companies, and getting reliable financial institutions on your side.

Need Insurance In New York City? Ask A New Yorker.

Gotham Brokerage’s Jeff Schneider knows Gotham better than Batman.

Cuisinart: The Legacy Brand That Keeps On Innovating

Americans have come a long way since Swanson TV Dinners, Pillsbury Space Food Sticks, and Jell-O salads. Cuisinart founder Carl Sontheimer played a role in that transition. In 1973, he introduced the country to the food processor, and it drew praise from experts like Julia Child and James Beard. Within a decade, the gadget was a kitchen staple. Cuisinart continued innovating, expanding to offer a vast product catalog with such novelties as indoor grillers, a food dehydrator, and a snow cone maker. Forty-plus years—and one acquisition by Conair—later, Cuisinart is still committed to its original goal: arming at-home chefs with tools that make gourmet cooking accessible, fun, and rewarding. Quiddity spoke to Mary Rodgers, Director of Marketing and Communications at Cuisinart, about the brand’s approach to fulfilling unmet needs, marrying functionality and aesthetics, and the evolution of American cooking at home.

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