Who's That Girl? Women You Need to Know: Sofi Madison of Olives & Grace

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Welcome to 'Who's That Girl? Women You Need to Know'. A semi regular series profiling women doing fantastically cool things, sharing cool ideas, inspiration, and looking pretty damn cool, doing it all. 

You know these women. They are not mythical creatures, they are real people, running life like a boss. The pal who has a retail site, a day job, travels to exotic locales, writes a blog, and plans parties on the side. Or the lawyer, who is designing a house, attending fashion shows, and launching a second career as a stylist......with twins riding shotgun. I swear, they exist. Here. In this very city, no less.

Maybe we just glean a few pearls of wisdom on how they manage the juggling, family, and day to day life. Perhaps one of them will be the catalyst, inspiring you to try that {insert your lifelong goal, new passion, or latest obsession here} you've always wanted to do. Or maybe you come away with a new trend to try for spring, simple as that.

Time for fall my friends (yes, I said it!). And a new installment of Who's That Girl, Women You Need to Know, after a bit of a summer hiatus.

This month, we usher in crisp weather and the changing leaves with Sofi Madison, the proprietress behind the hipper than hip South End shop, Olives & Grace. She is a triple threat, well actually more like a quintuple threat- brains, beauty, heart of gold, style off the charts, all with a modesty that is beguiling.  I thank my lucky stars I wandered into her shop before a hair appointment a little over a year ago. Strolled in pre-chop and walked out with a new friend and a bunch of new treats to try. Isn't that just kismet?

Olives & Grace features wares from emerging artists, small batch production food makers, and all of those little things (with a back story made up of people trying to do-good and change the world one tea box at a time) you never knew you needed. Walk into Olives & Grace without a plan and you will walk out again with gifts for friends, mixers for cocktails, and gourmet snacks for the drive home, when you never even realized you were feeling peckish. Sofi's retail space has heart, her products have soul, and she is the glue that brings it all together with charm and an artfully assembled gift box or two

I'm not the only one who has noticed this gem of a destination and Sofi's infectious, positive vibe. Olives & Grace was recently awarded Boston Magazine's best of Boston for small gifts. Ask her about the award and you'll quickly receive a humble answer- that she had no idea she was even being considered and thought someone waaaay cooler would have received it. I'd expect nothing less from this lovely lady.

The first thing I had to ask this curator of cool? What her favorite product is [in the shop], of course. Kind of like asking who a favorite child is........all but impossible. What did come immediately to mind for Sofi are the jars of nut butter from Big Spoon Roasters, think flavors like Chai Spice Almond Butter (which I own and obsess over daily- like what can I slather this on now?), which she eats by the spoonful when she needs a quick lunch break. Another fave, especially as wedding gifts, are the plantable pencils from Cambridge based company, Sprout. When you are done taking notes and making wedding to-do lists, plant the pencil and start an herb garden. How amazing is that? 

Sofi has gone from having to search out these up and coming brands and producers to now having them seek her out, a nice change of pace for the shop keep. Be it good food, tasty cocktail mixers, one of a kind jewelry or a divine confection, Sofi is always on the look out for the latest brands to produce quality product with conscious.

Like another fave of hers, Ajiri tea. Unassuming on the shelf, the tea leaves take on a whole new form once Sofi weaves her tale about the production and founder. Ajiri was launched by Beacon Hill resident Sara Holby, and her mother Ann, as a way to employ tribes in Kenya. The tribes create the packaging (each features different original art), farm the tea, and 100% of the proceeds then return to Kenya to help support schools. Gifting is made all the better when you have something positive to share with the recipient, aside from the present itself. This is the kind of product that Sofi wants to show to others, the type of item that could easily be looked over if you didn't know the back story. She sees her role as a connector between the customer and products like this, products that you want to invest in once you know more about them. Don't you wish all shopping could be so easy?

Ms. Madison currently calls JP home, though she is MA born and bred (via San Francisco, where she was living when she first conceived the idea for Olives and Grace). When asked about favorite spots she is quick to rattle off a laundry list of her latest dining destinations- La Brassa, Sarma, and Alden and Harlow, along with South End neighbors Whisk, Coppa and Pico. You're likely to find her kicking back, enjoying a cocktail and relaxing at Wally's, taking in some jazz post work. And where, oh where, does this shop keep turn when she needs fabulous goods herself? Hudson (dubbed 'so solid'), Follain ('perfect'), and Niche (where she pops in to surround herself with living things and feel 'nourished'). 

What's next for Olives & Grace? Now that the store inhabits a larger space, Sofi plans on hosting more events in the shop. Prepare for her meet the maker series, bringing the producers into the space to connect directly with customers. Or stop in tonight, Wednesday 9/10, for her Vintage Design Party, from 4-8:00, featuring gently used pieces and Olives & Grace bites. She'll also soon feature workshops and classes, allowing her customer base to learn from the best, in a fun environment where they can meet others, mingle, and create at the same time.

At the end of the day and visit, Sofi dwelled on just how lucky she is. It's hard work by her own admission, but fulfilling work. She delights in the little things- being able to control the music, the temp, wear what she wants every day, adjust the lighting when necessary, change displays on a whim....things she wouldn't change for the world. Her passion for the makers and space is contagious, flowing into everything she does. Another reason this space is going to continue to receive accolades for many years to come. 

Want to find out more about Sofi and her space? Check out the Olives & Grace site and her recent foray into e-commerce! Have a maker you think she should carry? A neighbor who is crafting jewelry out of her basement that Sofi needs to know about? Take advantage of her 'share the maker' connection

Five Questions with MPCC. Rapid fire and irreverent.

One of the strangest things in your handbag…

I've become attached to using my passport as my ID.  I guess it's a bit odd, but you never know when you'll want to catch flight.  

The last movie you watched?

These days I can't sit still for a 2 hour movie.. but the last thing I watched was Orange Is The New Black.  "taking steps is eeeasy, standing still is hard" ;)

The song that always gets you pumped?

The best is coming into the shop extra early with some coffee, put on Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, and just get into it. "Better Things" in particular.

Favorite vacation spot?

I think my favorite vacation spot is still ahead of me.. and my guess is it's somewhere in Japan. 

Favorite Christmas present you've ever received?

Last year my boyfriend handed me a folder with two detailed profiles of elephants that he fostered in my name, from the The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.  I just saw there and smile-cried while I read their bio's, and how his donation would be used to help get them safely back into the wild. 

Check out more Who's That Girl? here:

Tina Burgos

Hannah Blount

Brittney Rothweiler

Marla Malcolm Beck

Elisha Daniels


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Jean Cut-offs & Lace

Above: Mother cut-offs (similar), Zara lace top, Chanel boy bag, Stella McCartney leopard sunglasses


Fashion week is in full swing and fresh off my trip to NYC last weekend, I have to admit, I am kind of over the frenzy. Aside from seeing a few favorites, it just seems like too 'MUCH'. Over the top. Carnival like. Instead, I took the time to enjoy my first solo weekend from babe. Went running along the water. Took rooftop yoga at the James. Ate. A lot. Red Farm, Buvette, and Hundred Acres. All so delicious I'll probably drag hubs back when we visit this weekend. Cause why stop with just one weekend?

Did a little fall shopping for Daphne in NYC- checked out Makie (finally), an adorable shop in Tribeca called My Little Sunshine (which carries baby brand discovery Scotch R'belle, which sadly starts at 4T, so none for Miss D yet but check them out! Along with all the other current faves, Mini Rodini, Bobo Choses, etc), and Les Petites Chapelaise in Soho.



Who: As in, who am I listening to. The Civil Wars, Between The Bars. Can you ever get enough Elliott Smith? Maybe even moodier than the original. LCD SoundSystem, Dance Yrself Clean An oldie but way solid goodie. Present company excluded everytime.

What: As in, what went down this week/end. NYC: 99 Problems but a baby wasn't one. Excited to get a sneak peep at the MFA's new Hollywood Glamour exhibit tonight- opents to the public tomorrow!

Where: As in, where it's at. Launches, events, general goings on you need to know about. 

Skinner's fine jewelry auction is tomorrow, 9/9. Mama like that bling.

Uniqlo brought its goodness to the Mall At Chestnut Hill on August 29th. While you're in Chestnut Hill, swing by Clarins at Bloomingdales. Hosting b – your best self, Saturday, September 13th from 11 – 1 PM.  Get your brunch on with wellness gurus and then the hook up with mini spa treatments. R.S.V.P. to

It's fashion week in NY. Did you hear? Meh, don't bother. Save some Acela fare and take in local fashion at Copley Place with Mass Art's Wearable Art Exhibition, running September 14th– October 5th, with a Runway Show - October 8th at 6pm.

Last but certainly not least (and what I'm personally most excited about), stop by FGI Boston Breakfast Series: READY FOR RETAIL (What Fashion Buyers Want), Tuesday, September 16, 2014 from 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM, also at Copley Place. Drink some joe, nibble some brekkie, and take in advice from special guest speakers: Daniel Kramer - Neiman Marcus / Vice President, General Manager, Leslee Shupe - Serenella-Boston / President/Owner, Tara Foley - Follain / Owner, and Carolina Tejedor Meyers - Caramelo / Owner. Tickets and additional info here. FGI is where it's at folks!


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Lani Loves: Free People Slouchy Vegan Tote


What I am loving this week.

Or what I just bought.

More often than not, both.


So I was out and about with little D the other day, when I struck up a convo with the incredibly stylish maman in front of me at Starbucks (where all mothers invariably meet and bond, over caffeine).

Effortless in a chambray top, denim cut offs, and a simple sandal, her daughter rushed over to announce she had a six month old brother. I told her it simply could not be true, because her mother looked much too amazing. But it was true, she was THAT woman. I immediately loved her and hated her at the same time. And simalteanously coveted her bag. For you see, amazing mother also had an amazing purse/turned diaper bag. Yes, even her diaper bag was perfect.

Allow me to introduce the slouchy vegan tote from Free People. Now, I know you're thinking plastic? Cause let's be real 'vegan' is just a fancy name for plastic. Well, plastic it may be, but it had me fooled. Wait, there's more. It's reversible. Comes in a bevy of amazing fall colors and even includes a clutch inside, perfect for hiding away all you baby changing accoutrement, or taking on the go at night for the rare date.

Amazing mother who is doing everything right- I salute you. Thank you for imparting this perfect baby bag upon me. 


More Lani Loves:

Culottes & Cos

Hannah Blount Vanity

Dieppa Restrepo

Delfina Delettrez




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