It was 6 years ago that Min Aoki opened up Sol-La, the place to find a gift for that someone who has everything, on Garth Road.
How’d Aoki choose that name, you may ask? “Do-re mi-fa...Sol-La," Aoki responded, singing the musical scales. "I have been playing music sine age 7, and so-la, [which sounds like 'sola'], also means 'sky' in Japanese. It's also my daughter's name. [She was] born in sunny (Sol) Los Angeles (L.A.)."
Sol-La sells an array of items that are handmade from all around the world, including a sizable number of fair-trade products that support various causes. The funky, earthy, and original boutique also heavily supports artisans from the United States and smaller United States companies.
The store provides Judaica items ranging from Star of David jewelry to whimsical moose menorahs, as well as some products made by local artists in town. Min’s longtime favorite items are the simple and elegant handmade jewelry by Kristen from Seattle. Another store favorite is “Zulugrass," which is fair-trade, colorful grass bead jewelry made by the Massai women.Their products also support nearly 1,000 families, so not only are you doing yourself a favor by indulging in local shopping, you’re helping people at the same time.
The slower economy over the last few years has affected Min's business, as well as also his product inventory. “Gift sales have been slow overall. Customers are not spending as much money in the past, so we have diligently searched and found products at lower price points,” Min said.
Before opening the store, Min was the CFO of various corporate institutions, but the change in scenery and lifestyle afte opening Sol-La has been a positive one, he said. Min, who loves interacting with customers and getting to buy beautiful products for his shop, spends time at gift shows finding unique pieces. “I go to various handmade gift and craft shows up and down the East Coast. And artists call us. We only sell products that we love," Min said.
Min, who supports local and cross-country American artists, feels strongly about fair-trade products. "Fair trade means good working conditions, good pay, respect and dignity; socially responsible, environmentally conscious. No sweatshops," Min said.
Supporting the local economy is extremely important for our community, and if you’re looking for something unique, Sol-La is a must. “People through out Westchester have been very supportive of my small store,” Min said. His clientele is mostly women, ranging in age from teenagers to grandparents, but men, don’t feel left out. “We also have a loyal following of men who buy gifts for their loved ones, who have specifically asked them to shop at Sol-La," Min said.
Min loves working in Scarsdale and all it has to offer. “Easy commute to the city, good schools, safe environment…and Lulu’s Bakery, which is two doors down the street,” he said.
Make sure to check out Sol-La the next time you crave one of Lulu’s cupcakes or some fro-yo from . Sweet treats and shopping. What's not to love?
Sol-La Handmade Gifts is located on 44 Garth Road and can be reached at 914-723-2123. Sola's website is http://www.sol-la.com. For more information, Min can be contacted at email@example.com.