Oakland has welcomed its first black-owned crystal botanica shop, Queen Hippie Gypsy. Owner Lilly Renee Ayers' business idea started with having an online store, but shares that "being a black woman and feeling my unique experience underrepresented in metaphysical shops, I realized that women of color need a safe and supportive space to practice ancestral spirituality, learn holistic healing, and develop our own innate spiritual gifts." The downtown Oakland location has welcomed guests with uplifting scents, curated music, and a safe and friendly vibe since opening in July.
At Queen Hippie Gypsy, you'll find crystals, art, spiritual supplies, jewelry, natural body products and bath salts, incense, handmade crystal jewelry, artisan crafts, T-shirts, and more. If you're searching for holiday presents, Ayers said, "Come in, and we'll be more than happy to help you find a meaningful gift for the important person in your life." The overall theme of the boutique is self-growth and awareness of universal oneness.
Ayers was born and raised in East Oakland and has long been involved in giving back to the community with efforts such as clothing, backpack, and school supply drives for needy students. She's excited that her brick-and-mortar store will allow her support of the community to expand even more. When it comes to building spiritual community, Ayers provides oracle readings in the shop and hosts jewelry-making workshops, crystal healing, astrology classes, and more. Events are announced on Instagram. She's also excited to host The Black Bazaar each month during First Friday. The shop provides space for vendors of color to present artisan products to the community. Support local artisans and handle your holiday shopping this Fri., Dec. 7, 6-10 p.m. Vendors can apply by emailing QueenHippieGypsy@gmail.com. Guests can attend for $5, which includes entrance, music, and wine. 337 14th St., Oakland, 510-593-1664, www.QueenHippieGypsy.com, Instagram @queenhippiegypsy.
Piedmont Avenue opened doors to a new dance wear store, MoveMe Boutique. "Dance has always been a part of my life," shared owner Kristine Krishnan, who grew up dancing, then danced professionally as an adult, and now has a daughter in dance.
"There wasn't a retail store for dance-wear-only in Berkeley or Oakland," said Krishnan. "So when the opportunity came up, all the pieces fit together quickly." Doors officially opened in July, and now dancers, yogis, and athletes can find a range of stylish and well-fitting motion-friendly clothing.
The boutique focuses on unique and smaller dance-wear brands. "We carry designers that people fall in love with," Krishnan said. Think quality designs that are well made and cut to perfection.
The boutique carries a range of ballet skirts in a rainbow of colors. One notable brand is Bullet Pointe, which has a ballet skirt in a unique, flowy fabric that lays well. The company also makes exceptional leotards for kids and adults. "We also carry Lulli, a company that is unparalleled in their execution of the black leotard. We have darling parachute warm up shorts, sweater wraps, and fantastic leggings and sports bras. We also account for men's tops and boy's uniform needs," Krishnan said. In addition to clothing are dance shoes and all the necessary accoutrements, so if you need a holiday gift for the dance-lover in you life, look no further than MoveMe.
Dance community is another offering at MoveMe Boutique. Twice a month, it hosts 30-minute Boutique Talks. These educational events are open to all and provide a space for Q&As with artistic directors of dance companies, performing artists, and other dance professionals. Boutique Talks will also highlight tips and dancer hacks like: how to sew a ribbon on shoes, how to do a quick bun that stays, how to fix tights, etc. Visit the shop for the December Boutique Talks on Sun., Dec. 2, and Sun., Dec. 16. Talk times are announced on Instagram (@movemeboutique), or you can watch the talks broadcast live on IGTV (Instagram TV) and Facebook TV (@MoveMeBoutique).
Media is a big part of the MoveMe Boutique community, so in addition to engaging the dance community with social media, the shop website offers MoveMe TV, an amazing showcase of local dance talent performing in the store. Watch past performances at MoveMeBoutique.com/moveme-tv. If dancers want to be featured in an in-store performance, reach out to MoveMe via social media. Krishnan is also a photographer and videographer specializing in dancer headshots, portraits, auditions, and capturing dance performances. Each month she displays a new dancer on the walls of her boutique.
"We wanted to create a community, and it's become that," Krishnan said. "People come in and hang out. They share their triumphs and challenges. We chat about everything from buying that first leotard to someone about to graduate and navigating what they're going to do with dance next. Having this brick-and-mortar brings a really special interaction for everyone who comes in." 3966 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 415-377-1080, www.MoveMeBoutique.com.
Congratulations to local lingerie retailer Revelation in Fit for its recognition in the 2018 Best of Intima Awards. Oakland's Revelation in Fit was nominated to the Best of Intima category, which, if the industry awards ceremony were the Oscars, would equate to Best Picture. The recognition was well-deserved. The welcoming boutique is a haven for lovely undergarments with a special emphasis on fit. "We carry A-K cups and have band sizes ranging from 28-46. There are over 160 sizes in our store," said owner Robynne Winchester. "Most mainstream stores carry about 20 sizes. Instead of someone hearing, 'We don't carry your size,' we want them to come in and hear, 'We have your size in a range of beautiful options.'"
Revelation in Fit is size-inclusive, trans-inclusive, and body-positive. "We celebrate the body you're in; we don't try to change you to fit the bra," Winchester said. "Our goal is to help you feel comfortable and supported and beautiful. Lingerie shopping can be an affirming experience."
If you're holiday shopping for a sweetheart, the welcoming staff can guide you to find that perfect something. In celebration of the season, you'll find intimate wear in jewel tones, metallic embroidery, and a continuation of the sexy, strappy trend. The Clara bra from Panache is a hit and for the holidays features a special plum color with silver accents. Other fabulous gift ideas include matching panties, garter belts, and vintage black-seam hose, and hand-tailored corsets from local SF company Dark Garden. The boutique shows a variety of lingerie styles on a variety of bodies via Instagram, @revelationinfit_oak.
"We try to be an oasis," Winchester said. "I don't want to overstate what we do, but we are a place you can go and be listened to. In an era where so many voices are being shouted down, here is a place to be listened to."
Appointments are suggested so a staff member can guide you with fit and style, but walk-ins are welcome. 4158 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-858-5450, www.RevelationInFit.com.
Dance wear company MoveMe Boutique is a beehive of activity on Piedmont Avenue. Photo courtesy MoveMe Boutique.