Back to School Shopping Local 101

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The Best Made-In-Baltimore Stuff You Need this Season By Rachel Bone

Ah, back to school. A time of sharp new haircuts, pumpkin spice smells, and tall tale bragging about summer camp friends of exaggerated coolness. For college students, a heaving sigh of relief to be back out of earshot of anyone confused by the term “performance art.” For teachers, a begrudging button-up of actual human pants for the first time in months and a weary return to sobriety (oops, typo! I mean society). To make your transition back to school in Baltimore, I present a list of brag-worthy back-to-school items made entirely in our own fair city. It’s shop-local time!


“Customizable Knapsack by SewLab.” $47

Let’s start with a backpack. No need to keep using the one with the safety pins holding the straps to the pack. You’re impressing no one. Look no further than Hampden’s own SewLab, for a customizable, leather-tabbed pack you can monogram, or brand with your favorite word. Warning: brave the company-chosen monograms, and risk flaunting “DTF” on your back. The witty stitching company (also hirable for your own wide-ranging custom sewing needs) also produces fanny packs, totes, hats, and a separate line of bike accessories under the brand “HoldFast.”


“Notepad by Write Notepads.” $15.99

What’s in your pack? If you favor taking notes on paper instead of lugging a computer around, you’ll need a notepad. If you want to stand apart from the moleskin crowd, try Write Notepads. Not only are they delightfully made in South Baltimore: For every pad you buy, Write Notepads donates another to a Baltimore City School. Plus, they make a lefty option, for left-handed scribblers.


 “Zipper Pouch by Radica Textiles.” $20 (available at IAC Popup or DoubleDutch Boutique in Hampden)

You’ll need a case to hold some writing implements, since pencils no longer stay behind your ears with that new autumn haircut. We present these double sided, hand screen printed, zipper pouches from Radica Textiles. The designer of which (Sarah Templin) is largely responsible for the co-running of the Industrial Arts collective pop-up shop, which features all of the items on this list & is open every weekend through the end of September. Radica also sells pillows, napkins, and fabric by the yard – all made in USA, and designed in Baltimore!


“Reusable Sandwich Bag” by Vivien Wise. $10”

Lunch being my favorite part of any day, I would be remiss not to mention you’re going to need a sandwich. So throw together the contents of your fridge between two slices, and grab yourself a re-useable sandwich bag, like these from Vivien Wise. The inside of each is lined in plastic, for easy rise-out and repeat for a week of lunches, and you look superior by not throwing away trash in the cafeteria.PHOTO5_CreativeKing “Hats by Creative King.” $40

Turns out you forgot the new haircut? Wake up too late to shower? No problem. Put a lid on it. You’re sure to get some good conversations going wearing the wide array of hats by Creative King, especially those featuring unique interpretations of Orioles fandom, or whatever is happening here with the natty boh guy. Tons of hats to choose from, most are limited edition.


 “The Panhandle Bicycle by Brothers Rich.” $1800.

“How am I getting to class, though?” you ask. “My school charges the entire salary of a full-time adjunct professor for the privilege of parking my car two miles away and taking a shuttle bus to class.”

Easy! Ditch your car, and invest in a bicycle instead. What you spend upfront, you’ll likely save on gas, car repairs & parking fees. Feeling classy? Try a customized bicycle from Brothers Rich, currently hanging in the Industrial Arts collective pop-up shop to zip you to class. Parking couldn’t get more VIP than right outside the building! Are those copper pedals? A personal bike-pump-holder? That’s ridiculous. On second thought, don’t lock this particular bike outside. It will be stolen. Strap it to your back and wear it to class.

PHOTO7_CrumpKwash “Yves Pencil Holder by Crump&Kwash.” $55

You made it through the day and it’s time for homework? Let’s talk dorm room desk! See how I decided you’re not a teacher after all, but a college freshman (with expendable income)? You do have somewhere to do your homework, right? No matter how little you write by hand anymore, and how much you rely on computers, a desk isn’t a desk without a nice pencil holder.

Analog writing implements look prestigious next to your computer and you might need them to rewind cassette tapes, if those come back in style. Plus, please tell me diaries are still handwritten. Of course they are. So grab one of these handsome wooden pencil holders from Crump & Kwash and fill it with your journaling tools of choice. If you don’t have a desk, they make those too.

PHOTO8_BaltimorePrintStudios “Flip Calendar by Baltimore Print Studios.” $40

A calendar seems important, since you’ll be pulling all-nighters (students), or just slowly losing track of time/your mind (teachers). If in a feat of inevitable college-shopping ESP, you managed to bring the same Klimt poster to school as your roomie, then there’s extra space on the wall for a large calendar instead. How about this enormous flippable one from Baltimore Print Studios? You get to write with chalk on it, and reuse it year after year!


“Live Edge Clock by Kate Christian.” $15-60, prices vary.

And while we’re on the subject of all-nighters, let’s throw a clock up on that wall too so you know what time of day it is. Kate Christian (a volunteer-turned-maker at the Station North Tool Library) made this beautiful Spalted Maple Live Edge clock. The minute hand moves fluidly, rather than jerking second to second, which is oddly meditative to watch while procrastinating.


“Wooden Desk lamp by Zimmerman Woodworks. Prices Vary”

Last but not least, you’ll need a lamp. Don’t even bother turning on the dorm lights. If your roommate hasn’t already changed them to creepy black lights, the fluorescents are bound to cause you migraines or seizures anyway. Try a Maple desk lamp from Zimmerman Woodworks for better mood lighting, and if you like its vibes, then grab one of their coveted wooden incense burners to match. Like everything on this list, it’s all made in Baltimore, so show it off proudly! 

All items featured in this article can be purchased at the “Made-in-Baltimore Pop-Up Shop, run by the Industrial Arts Collective, located at 16 W. North Avenue in Baltimore, open Friday-Sunday, August 8 – September 26. More info at

Author Rachel Bone is an artist and business owner based in Baltimore. Her gouache paintings have been exhibited and collected internationally and prints are available locally at Trohv in Hampden. Her hand printed apparel company, Red Prairie Press, designs and sells its hand-printed, earth-conscious clothing at craft fairs across the country and wholesale to 45 stores worldwide.  You can find Red Prairie Press clothing at Double Dutch Boutique

Photo Credits:
PHOTO1 – credit SewLab
PHOTO2 – credit Write Notepads
PHOTO3 – credit Radica Textiles
PHOTO4 – credit Rachel Bone
PHOTO5 – credit Creative King
PHOTO6 – credit Rachel Bone
PHOTO7 – credit Crump & Kwash
PHOTO8 – credit Baltimore Print Studios
PHOTO9 – credit Rachel Bone
PHOTO10 – credit Zimmerman Woodworks

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