Hyde Park/SoHo Shopping: Albisia's and Urban Body 

Two top spots for jewelry and menswear.

If there were a unicorn on the loose in South Tampa, she’d find a pot of gold (and silver and gems) at Albisia’s Jewelry. She’d feel right at home in the organic, woodsy environment (even with its edgier, industrial side) and relish the blend of what you wish for from the boutique of your fantasies — a cool shop, located in Hyde Park Village, that sells affordable jewelry handmade by a beautiful, friendly local (by way of Albania) designer.

“Honestly we didn’t look around much after seeing Hyde Park Village,” Albisia Pojani says. “We just knew it was the right place for the jewelry store we had in mind.” She and her husband, Ali Ipek, are in this together.

The shop’s been tucked into West Snow Circle for two years now. Even on a still day, there’s a noticeable breeze upon entry. Everything is on display — delicate, “heartmade” jewelry, Albisia’s workbench and all of her tools.

She’s obsessed with gold right now. Hers is 14K yellow gold-filled and, as is the case with everything Albisia touches, there’s interest to it.

“I also like to mix gold with oxidized silver because of the rich contrast it creates.” Then she may or may not add stones or coral or fringe fashioned from chains.

Translucent pastels are her top picks for the season for their light, airy feeling. She loves Herkimer diamonds (quartz), and black diamonds are her favorites. But you never know what treasure you’ll find mixing with the metals. Once she had an Ethiopian opal so fiery that visions of it still blaze in my memory.

There’s a peaceful fluidity to Albisia that takes shape in her jewelry. The thoughtfully designed necklaces, earrings, rings, pendants, bracelets and body chains are modern and timeless and lovely. Many covetable pieces are under $100. Her rings, which conform to your finger as if they were always meant to be there, are closer to $40.

New design ideas come to Albisia “in the moment.” She draws inspiration from a world away at Galata Tower in her husband’s homeland, Turkey. Or from “the crack on the wall that bothers me.” And “the amazingly soothing smell of my niece… a word that I heard on a stupid reality show… a weird fruit that I saw on the way to Machu Picchu.”

#Charming.

P.S. While you’re in the Village, pay a visit to Albisia’s neighbors, including Don Me Now Styling and Clothing Lounge, navy (for shoes), Salt Pines (specializing in “Southern prep” for gentlemen), and The White Magnolia Bridal Collection.

Time flies when you’re having fun, and Urban Body Clothing (711 S. Howard Avenue) has been styling the South Tampa social scene for 14 years. Still, it’s so fresh.

Of-the-moment looks for men take over the space, fulfilling every need from fedoras to footwear. The richly appointed interior matches the warm personality of owner and resident men’s fashion expert Scott Moore.

“Fashion should be a reflection of your inner spirit — the person you feel that you are, or hope to be,” Scott says. “When you accomplish this it helps you exude the confidence of your convictions. It puts to rest the hollowness of conformity.” Insert Jon Stewart saying, “Go onnnnnnnnnn.”

“I would like to see men take more chances with their clothing options, to push their envelopes of complacency. I would like for men to recognize that baggy clothing does not equate to masculinity. I would like for them to understand that they can pull off different looks based on the image that they want to project at any given time. Men so often find something that works for them and never deviate from that look the rest of their lives.” 

Feelin’ this guy’s philosophies. And Scott is feeling the physique-fitting, short-sleeve woven button-downs that are hot right now, plus he’s uber-enthusiastic about the shorts cropping up. “They are coming in every conceivable incarnation this summer. Long shorts, 3/4 shorts, shorter shorts, color shorts, striped shorts, plaid shorts, cargo shorts …”

Is anyone else having a Bubba Gump moment?  

He’s also psyched about carrying 3rd & Army (a full menswear collection), Goorin Brothers Hat Co., Sauvage Swimwear, Projek Raw, and a brand new label, Postmarc. Soon, some edgy polos are coming in from Mr. B’s. Designer Benjamin King is a graduate of Tampa’s International Academy of Design and Technology.

You can tell Scott values the relationships and trust he’s established over the years. Some customers even turn their entire fashion identity over to him. He loves when that happens. Shared experiences, after all, are the heart and soul of shopping local.

P.S. While Urban Body did give women’s clothing a go for a while, it’s soon returning to its roots as a men’s-only retailer.

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