So I didn’t get around to making the two summer dresses I wanted to while I was on my PNW vacation. Who am I kidding? I should know it’s not really a “vacation” when I go there. It’s more like a workcation, where I’m working on my client work and hanging out with friends and family in my off hours.
But I couldn’t let this awesome fabric just sit there! It was screaming to be made into a dress.
When I got back to Brooklyn I decided to stop lying to myself about making the dress. I didn’t have the time or the space. But the dress had to be made!
I remembered a cute boutique in South Slope that offered private lessons in their sewing studio in the back of the shop. At first I thought about going that route, but when I found out that they also do custom work I decided to let the experts handle it. I handed off the fabric and pattern to Patti at Flirt Brooklyn and she whipped up exactly what I wanted. I almost squealed when I saw the dress hanging up in the dressing room for the first fitting. It’s so awesome working with someone who can execute your vision perfectly.
Having the dress made by a pro not only saved me time, I’m sure it saved me a lot of frustration. It also satisfied that constant craving I have to collaborate with others on creative projects that live outside the computer. Plus, I love supporting local small businesses and creatives who are doing fantastic work.
It’s kind of awesome to think that this dress, from concept to completion, was created entirely in the USA:
You had all those “things” you were going to do differently.
You were ready to TAKE ON THE WORLD with your newly discovered I-can-do-it-all magical New Year’s fairy dust.
I kinda remember. Luckily, I wrote most of it down and kept it simple.
I chose one word as my mantra for the year: PLAY
This key word is what I use to reflect on and evaluate the past six months of life and business. I think I’m doing pretty good so far.
One of the ways I chose to bring more PLAY into 2016 was to host an online art show in June.I also miss working on collaborative art projects with people and thought this would also be a great way to connect/reconnect with people in a more meaningful way.
I put a call out on social media for participants and 23 said they were interested.
My theory was: by setting a concrete goal (the art show on June 15) you will be more motivated to practice or experiment with art or complete a project than you would be by simply thinking to yourself, “I want to paint more” or “I want to do more creative things this year”.
The only parameters for the project was that it needed to fall under the theme “Teenage Feeling”.
You never know when inspiration will hit. And when, or if, you actually act on that inspiration is a whole other story.
Quite a while ago I was walking through Atlantic terminal, on my way to a freelance gig in Manhattan. I let my mind wander as I shuffled along with the herd. I was thinking about my jewelry designs, how I wanted to get them more out into the world, how I needed to buckle down and do some marketing, how I needed to be more consistent with social media, how I needed to have a better online presence… and my mind flooded with all the to-dos I needed to accomplish to make that happen. Which then turned into me thinking of how I really didn’t want to spend MORE time at the computer and wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to have a more direct, authentic, in-person communication thing happen – like how it is when I do a craft show, but damn those are expensive in NY… then BAM! I see this girl. She’s a walking, living, breathing reflection of what my brand would look like if it was a real person. She is the type of person I create for. One of my pieces would look amazing on her.
“She is perfect,” I thought.
“If only I could have her model for me.”
and then I thought, “maybe I CAN have her model for me.”
And that is how my Beautiful in Brooklyn idea started.
Now, for the past month or so, I take some time to walk around different neighborhoods and ask strangers to do mini pop-up photo shoots with me.
At first it was hard and I was super freaked out about approaching people even though I had practiced with my sister. Yes, I practiced. I consider myself an introvert so this is definitely pushing me out of my comfort zone. It’s kind of hard, and it can be frustrating when I’m walking around and don’t see anyone. Like when you know exactly what you’re shopping for but can’t find it. But it’s fun and I’m learning so much – including that I’m way more of an extrovert than I thought. I love meeting people and taking their photos. They make the jewelry pieces come alive.
Want to join in?
I post the pics on Instagram and the model with the most likes on her pic by end of day on June 13, 2015 wins a $50 gift card. I have 4 models so far. Hoping to get at least 3 more this week. Vote now or later or follow me onInstagram (it really is my favorite social media platform – if I had to choose only one to use this would be it.)
Side note: When I was in middle and high school I was very into photography. I remember thinking that I could make anyone look and feel beautiful with my photography and would day dream about what a fun project it would be. It’s kind of amazing that I get to do two daydreams at once – especially since one of them is from soooooooo long ago.
I make fun of my mom and brother a lot. They are completely opposite of me when it comes to stuff. They love stuff. They seek out stuff. I think it’s their hunter instinct. The idea of finding treasure has them rock hunting, gold digging, thrift storing, and garage selling. This has all led up to… storage unit buying. Seriously. My step-dad would call it garbage collecting. I’m mostly on his side (for once). Having a bunch of extra things around drives me a little mad. But recently my mom gave me a book she found in one of the storage units cause she thought I would like it. She was RIGHT. I ABSOLUTELY L-O-V-E IT (she just admitted to me that she thought I would throw it out, haha). Now I take back all of my teasing because this 1950s clipart book is freakin’ GORGEOUS. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it, but the images and type are inspiring and drool-worthy.
I have a really bad habit of trying to do everything myself. So asking for help testing my Plush Krampus Pattern and Tutorial was kind of a big deal for me. I was scared it would be a waste of time, that no one would want to do it, that it would be all wrong, that I wouldn’t have time to wait for feedback, etc. I have no idea why I would think these things. I’m pretty sure it was just my brain trying to find an excuse to procrastinate. It’s good at that.
But you know what? I received excellent feedback and it made the pattern at least 10X’s better.
And as an unexpected bonus I met some new amazing business owners. BIG THANKS AND HUGS TO:
• Sewing extraordinaire Addie of AddieK • Alma (brave new sewing adventurer)
• Talented graphic designer Kristin of Blue Beagle Design
• Leigh of The Kitchen Table Revolution (warning – if you visit her site be prepared to drool)
• Miranda (elementary school knowledge dropper and crafty gal)
The story of Alpine Europe’s Krampus tradition was told to me many years ago, by my friend Gretchen, over one of our bacchanalian Thanksgiving dinners (which I pine for every year). Gretchen is a true story teller, you can’t help but be captivated by her travel tales. Her description of Krampus fascinated me. I kept thinking, “Why don’t we have this here?” It kind of worked out perfectly because at that point I had no idea what to do for my yearly Christmas card and Krampus was the perfect idea. I immediately went home, drew him up and printed the 3-color illustration on my Gocco printer.
I made the cards again the next year. People seemed to love him and the idea of Krampus has seemed to spread into pop culture over past few years. I still loved the cards but what I really wanted was to make him 3D, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head.
Finally, I got my stuffed Krampus idea out of my head and into real life. I loved him. Everyone loved him. Isold him for a below minimum wage price to my newsletter subscribers and friends. And I gave one away in a contest.
But last year I didn’t make plush Krampus even though he was one of my favorite things I’ve made. Why? Well, realistically, I can’t afford to spend time making him. And even if I paid a friend to do the sewing he’s just a little too expensive for my average customer. Some people might argue that I just need to sell him to the right people or market him to the right people. But I have so many other things to work on too. Plus, even though I enjoy the zen like feeling that comes along with hand sewing I don’t want to be making 100s of these every holiday season.
Then I was left with the idea that my stuffed Krampus will never be around again, and that kind of bummed me out. Maybe this sounds a little weird but I really like the idea of stuffed Krampus(es?) out in the world forpeople to enjoy. He’s such a cute addition to mix up with the traditional Christmas decor. (At one point I had 7 of them made in my apartment. They were SO CUTE sitting all together. I really wish I had a photo.)
So what should I do?
Quit making him or charge the price he’s worth? Maybe make him just as a promo item? I tried making a pre-printed fabric version of him, which is pretty cute. But not quite the same.
And then…. Eureka!
One day a friend said he would come over and help me make them if I would show him how. He thought it would be cool to learn how to make a stuffed animal. And then it hit me: I NEED TO MAKE A DIY KRAMPUS. Then people can still enjoy him (maybe even more since they are making it themselves, there’s something magical about watching something transform into 3D) at a price they can afford. And it’s perfect timing because everyone needs some kind of indoor activity to do during November and December.
In the works
So, I started. First, beginning with the template I used for myself and then writing out step by step instructions (which is always harder than I think). Thankfully, I’m already an Illustrator pro, so I don’t have to teach myself a new skill in that area.
But now what?
Should I give it people to test for free at first? Maybe ask newsletter subscribers? Friends?
Where do I sell it? I know Etsy now has a digital download option. But what if I want to sell it from my own site? Is there an automatic download option that’s easy or do I have to manually send it to them?
Who proofs it and how many rounds? Do you hire a professional copy editor? If so, where is the best place to find one?
Are there any copyright things I should put on the pattern? Like, it’s okay to make, but not to sell?
And how the heck do you price something like this?
Do you feel that?The darkness starting to sink into your soul? Okay, maybe it’s not that dramatic. But it is mid-October and by now I think we are all starting to feel a little bit of that darkness creeping in on us. The other day I woke up at 7:30am, I swore it was 5:30am because there was no light. And we’re not even to the worst part of it yet – the evil known as Daylight Savings Time doesn’t end until November 2! Ugh.
So, if you are a bit of a sun worshipper like me, what are we supposed to do during these dark months? How are we supposed to pull ourselves out of bed in the morning? Well, I’ve learned a few tricks from growing upwest of the Cascades in the Pacific NW (where there is every shade of a gray day ever imagined). I’ve pretty much been combatting SAD my entire life. Here are my top tricks:
TRICK #1: GO OUTSIDE EVERY DAY No excuses. A five-minute walk outside will do wonders. Even better if you can do more. But AT LEAST do 5 minutes. Even if it’s the WORST DAY EVER.
TRICK #2: MAKE COFFEE A SUPPLEMENT TO YOUR DIET
Before you head out on that walk brew yourself some coffee so it’s nice and hot when you get back. Or walk to the coffee shop (this works for me when I don’t want to exercise, I tell myself that I can have a treat if I walk/run to the cafe that’s a mile away).
TRICK #3: MIGRATE OR TRAVEL
When I first arrived in Brooklyn all of my friends said I wouldn’t be able to handle the winter, they know I can barely handle a Seattle winter. But do you know which key ingredient NY winters have that Seattle winters are missing? SUN. Even when it’s 15F, there’s still bright sun-filled days. I actually need sunglasses during the Winter. It’s never cloudy for more than a few days in a row. In Seattle it seems like it can be months without sun. Did you know Seattle only averages 58 sunny days a year? Even though I’m often homesick in Spring and Summer I do not miss November-March in Seattle. (That’s one reason I’m working on being bi-coastal.)
But seriously, I know not everyone can just pick up and move. Before I decided to split my time between coasts I would plan a vacation for Mid-end of January. This is usually my tipping point, when I start to feel like I can’t get out of bed. The magic of Fall’s transformation is gone. All the sparkle of the holidays are gone. It can be so… blah. A warm and sunny destination can do wonders. Or even if you can’t go far, a change in scenery can work too.
TRICK #4: PICK A PROJECT or LEARN SOMETHING NEW This is the big one. I come up with a project list. Nothing serious or super stressful. And nothing with a tight deadline. Only fun and creative things. Maybe some things that I’m scared to do, just to push me out of my comfort zone.
Some samples from the past include: learning to play and sing a Mexican Ranchera song on the guitar (no I don’t play regularly, so this was extra hard), Turkish language classes, develop new choreographies, take a yoga class challenge, experiment with new recipes, make a new costume. You get the idea. I’ve learned that I tend to stick with the projects that require the least amount of decision making – like going to a class, or learning to play a song, or reading a book.
I call this my Persephone phase. I feel like I’m underground, developing myself as I work on projects. And when the light finally comes back I’m ready to bust out of the cocoon.
It’s been 5 weeks since I returned from my 4-week long West Coast tour. INSPIRATION OVERLOAD. I had so much clarification while I was on my trip. The world seemed new, fresh and optimism poured over me. I felt like I was in college again.
I had the idea that I would write and draw sooooooooooo much while there, but like usual, I didn’t make the time. There was too much going on. And living in the moment felt really refreshing. HOWEVER, I did jot down lots and lots of notes, and they are really helping me stay focused now that I’m back in the daily routine.Rereading them helps me access those feelings of hope and clarity that come so easily when you’re gazing at stars in Northern California, but not so easily when you’re trying to cram in 1001 to-do’s while your baby takes a nap.
I look at my post-it note (titled NEW MISSIONS) every day when I wake up and every day before I go to bed, just to check in and remind myself where I’m going. And little by little I am working on each one of them.
NEW MISSIONS: 1) Start before I’m ready (That’s what I’m doing right now! I keep saying I want to wait till everything is perfect before I start working on my blog and website, but I just keep procrastinating. So here it is in all it’s imperfect glory.)
2) Surround myself with energy-boosting people, find “my” people. And the opposite – stop wasting time with energy-draining people. This applies to online and in real life.
3) If something isn’t working try doing the opposite or stop doing it. (I read the idea of doing the opposite onGretchen Rubin’s site. It’s AMAZING how much sense this makes. I can’t believe I never thought of problem solving this way before.)
4) Do more energy-boosting activities.
5) Get a house cleaner at least 1-2 times a month (This will open up more time for other activities and also give me peace of mind. I realize that having a messy house affects my mood. I really hate having a messy house. Maybe because I work from home? I’ve tried not worrying about it but that strategy hasn’t worked for me.)
6) Invest in my skills and my business
7) Bicoastal +1 (Being bicoastal is not really a new mission for me. But I have realized I would also like to add one more place a year to spend time exploring.)
(A few of these ideas first came to me from http://www.blacksburgbelle.com – I love her thoughts on time management and building a passionate-filled business.)