Olives and Grace, located in Boston’s South End, is a shop focused on featuring specialty food items such as chocolates, honey, and salts, handmade jewelry and soaps, unique housewares, and other works of art from emerging craftsman and artisans.
Owner Sofi Madison opens Olives and Grace every day with the determination to represent each maker of the products she sells with personalized, detail-oriented passion. She is as attentive to each of her products as their makers, and introduces items with the same care taken to create them. Sofi engages her customers in conversation about each item and creates custom gift boxes for any occasion. From small batch mustard to goats milk soap, each jar of nut butter, set of handcrafted coasters, or cocktail mix on her shelves has a story and represents the pride of an artisan.
Darling Magazine: What do you enjoy about your day to day?
Sofi: I like leaving the door open everyday. I get to talk to people and let conversations be creative. I have the creative freedom to make decisions, decorate with the seasons, and build relationships with each product’s makers.
DM: How are the things on your shelves unique?
Sofi: These products represent the people that make them. They replace mass produced items with intentional packaging and artistry. The artistic curiosity shakes you out of it, there is a respect for the process each creator took to make their product.
DM: Where do you find the items in your shop?
Sofi: Much of what we carry is local, and everything is made in the United States, things from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York. Though, we’re interested in products across the country that are in tune with the same vision, skill, and artistry.
DM: What are some struggles in owning your own business that you’ve faced, and overcome?
Sofi: A very real struggle that has remained consistent throughout the business owning process is that I am forced to rub up against many of my weaknesses and fears. While the store is a warm place for me to work, I am challenged every day by learning something new and uncomfortable. At the end of the day, I round it off to a “good thing” because I’m growing and discovering, but the seemingly never-ending learning process is a struggle that is with me every day.
DM: What have you learned through the process?
Sofi: It’s a vulnerable thing to do, put yourself out there and give it your all — what if it falls short?…falls flat?, or on a really nervous day, what if it fails? Remaining vulnerable is one of my biggest goals in life, which is why I know I’m in the right place. My job challenges me, scares me, comforts me, and encourages me to self soothe, and turn to my community for support.
DM: What kind of customer shops at Olives and Grace?
Sofi: The kind of customer that lets curiosity lead the way, someone who values the art of handcrafted products. Some people wander in and some are looking for a specific and meaningful gift. We have curiosities and foods with local flavor — each of them tied together by the artistry that went into their design. Most people are looking for some small moment, something meaningful to share.
Images and contributing writing by Briana Moore, a Boston based freelance lifestyle photographer and writer specializing in community-driven storytelling, culinary journeys, and portraiture.