MAISILK In the space formerly home to Thousand Oaks Art Gallery on Solano Avenue, MaiSilk opened six months ago as a boutique featuring fine silk-wares. Owner Mai Nguyen said: “We are one of the only boutiques specializing in hand-crafted fine silk and embroidered fashion, providing fabrics, custom-made silk clothing, accessories and home linens. Our team is made up of highly skilled designers and embroidery artists creating unique and authentic items.” Nguyen grew up in Hanoi, Vietnam, which has been the center of silk weaving and sericulture (silk worm production) in Southeast Asia for over a thousand years. She developed a strong passion for silk weaving, tailoring and hand embroidering at a very young age from her grandmother. Using the same tools for the past 20 years, Mai designs clothing for women that are, in her view, bold, yet feminine, carefree and romantic, modern, yet classic. “Our silk fabrics range from exquisite Shantung taffeta to elegant jacquard, which are supplied by small weaving and farming households in Vietnam where silk production has been a tradition for generations,” she said. “Our suppliers use traditional methods of thread spinning, weaving and dyeing by hand in small batches with weaving patterns containing centuries-old symbols and characters.”. MaiSilk, 886 Colusa Ave., Berkeley 94707. Tel: 510-529-4336. Open Mon. – Sun., 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
AZALEA The Elmwood neighborhood boutique formerly known as Welcome Stranger reopened three weeks ago under the parent company name of Azalea after expanding to include women’s wear. Located at Ashby Avenue (at Benvenue), the shop, which originally opened in Berkeley in 2014, specializes in goods by up-and-coming and local designers. Azalea opened its first store in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley in 2002, followed by a second store in the Mission. The company continues to operate its first Welcome Stranger men’s clothing store, also in Hayes Valley. Azalea, 2633 Ashby Ave., Berkeley, 94705. Tel: 510-646-8128. Open daily 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Shop Talk is Berkeleyside’s regular Berkeley local business column. If you’re a Berkeley business with news, or a Berkeleyside reader who has spotted a change in your neighborhood or on your travels, shoot us an email with the details at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read previous Shop Talk columns. And catch up with all food business news with our Nosh coverage.