Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bi-annual Update! (from the world's worst blogger)

I think I'm actually just going to give up on promising that I will be a better blogger, and everyone will just have to be satisfied with a new post from me when it happens, be it tomorrow, or next year. As sad as it is to say and as ridiculous as it sounds, I am just too busy to ever find time to sit down for an hour or two and focus on blogging! Today I'm working at Better Than Jam, in Bushwick. After hand-basting 6 huge circles of silk organza for a wedding reception dress for a client of a client, I have an hour or two left to do this!!!

Now, let's get caught up on what I have been doing for the last 11 months. Firstly, I did NOT achieve one of my goals and audition for Project Runway this past season. I have to say that actually turned out to be a great decision. I would not not not have wanted to be on there with that group of people. Most of them were fine, some of them I might have strangled, and the overall scraping-the-barrel lack of talent was really disheartening. I'm not about to start recapping, but suffice it to say that I'm in the group of people with the opinion that this season was extremely disappointing, from start to finish, ESPECIALLY finish.

I DO plan to still audition for Season 10. I have already started working on updating my portfolio with fresh looks and some new photo shoots. I did a shoot last month with the lovely and fabulous DaleAnn Clancy. We shot with two models on and around the High Line park in the Meat Packing District. Here are a couple of the photos:

Model - Tatiana Eurochkina
Silver metal organza Cloud blouse, navy raw silk Tidal Wave skirt.

Model - Nelly Santiago
Black silk chiffon and duchess silk strapless dress with metal sequin detail.
Black wool Ruffian jacket with metallic organza detail & gold hardware.

Tatiana is a model whom I worked with previously and Nelly I met via Model Mayhem right before our shoot. A note to fellow independent designers - signing up for Model Mayhem was an AWESOME thing! I wish I had done it years ago. Due to the word 'model' in the name, I never really looked into it as a resource for myself. DaleAnn suggested that I sign up and do a casting call for models via it. I got tons of replies to my posting, and since setting up my account only a month ago I have already had some of my items pulled for a shoot by a stylist and have been contacted by at least 6 photographers requesting to work together. To me it's always seemed like one of the trickiest elements of getting your line up and running was getting good photos from a variety of talented photographers. Model Mayhem seems to want to do all the work for me, and no, I am not a paid spokesperson. I'm collaborating on another shoot with someone I just met through it around the end of the month and hope to have photos from that before the end of the year to post here!

Another exciting thing that just happened is I was chosen to be in the Better Homes and Gardens Handmade Holiday Gift Guide! You can see my little feature as well as the other handmade items here. This is the picture they took of my tie:

I was hoping for an in-print feature, but I'm pretty sure this was web only. I have not, however, picked up a copy of their December issue and looked yet. I'll get around to it! So far it has not been a huge driver of traffic to my store, by any means. However, I don't think most people are even thinking of perusing gift guides yet. Also, while BHG does feature 3-4 posts on their Twitter and FB daily, I don't think they have started posting this link yet. Crossing my fingers and waiting for the sales to go nuts!

On of my goals this year has almost come to fruition! I have hired a web designer and my site is under production. I couldn't be more excited. I have had my URL and a place holder page for about FOUR years and it's really just time to get the whole mess in up-and-running order. It should be ready by the end of November. A birthday present to myself! I'll be sure to post a note when it's in place for viewing.

Just this past week I went on a little foray outside the world of serious fashion and whipped myself up a Halloween costume. I was inspired by some beautiful photos of Dia de los Muertos costumes and make-up I had seen around the internet and wanted to do my own interpretation. I spend about 6 solid days working on everything, from the fully boned historical corset (not my design, used a pattern) to the bajillions of gorgeous silk flowers I plastered everywhere. Damn, my little $5 hot glue gun did a fantastic job! Here's a picture of me!

My fiancé and I went to the NYC Halloween Parade on the 31st. Even though we both love Halloween, we had not attended before and were excited to join the marchers. Nick was Randy Marsh, from South Park. My assistant Dani made his mask and he looked GREAT! People loved him and we were surprised and thrilled by how many people wanted their photo taken with both of us. When the parade ended and we were diverted down a side street, one of the last people to ask me for my picture was Dr. Takeshi Yamada. He's an INCREDIBLE artist who makes all sort of creepy, awesome and fantastical creatures. You can see lots of his work here. I had not heard of him prior to meeting him on Halloween and I definitely regret that, I would have been doubly excited! As it was, I was in love with the Sea Rabbit and delighted to get a photo with the Dr. and his furry friend! It was the highlight of my night.

Dr. Takeshi Yamada, Seara & I.

Time to wrap it up and got back to work! I just got a bunch of new t-shirts in and I have to sew my labels into ALL of them! It's that time of year where my main focus is prepping inventory for craft shows and online sales and getting all my boutique accounts stocked up for the holidays. That means sewing my own stuff non-stop as well as working on a few freelance projects, like making a wedding reception dress and a plethora of home items for an interior designer I work with. There are simply not enough hours in the day! Keep an eye on my calendar on the right for upcoming events. My first craft show of the season will be in LIC on December 4th. I have also applied for the Bust Holiday Craftacular (Dec 10th & 11th) and the Brooklyn Lyceum Holiday Market (Dec 17th & 18th) but have not confirmed the last two events yet. More information forthcoming. And now, on with the sewing!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This year goes to 11 !!!!

So, I may be right up there in the world's top laziest bloggers ever, but I have big plans for myself this year. That includes being better about posting updates on my projects. LOTS of time has gone by since last I wrote and I'm not really sure what I have been up to during it all. A little bit of all the usual, I suppose, getting caught up with life and other things.

One of the major things I did in 2010 was to audition for Project Runway again. I tried out for Season 8. I did much better this time than last! I actually made it to the semi-final auditions, which were held at the Liz Claiborne offices in NYC. I was SO excited! It wasn't any less intimidating than last time, but at least in this interview I got to talk! I waiting for about 2+ hours past my call time for my interview. Other people waiting whom I noticed and then later saw on tv were Jason Troisi (He was exactly the same in real life, there was no special editing to make him look wacko. He talked loudly about himself the ENTIRE time.) and Casanova. I particularly remember that before my interview but after Casanova's I went into the restroom. Two of his models were in there getting changed. One of them kept saying to the other "Wow, that went REALLY badly." I guess we all know talent isn't the only thing they are looking for in those interviews! My interview was ok. I took about 7 or 8 designs with me to show. Tim was one of the interviewers, obviously, as well as Irina Shabayeva. There were at least a dozen or so other people off in the sidelines, producers and whatnot, but I didn't have time to even look at them. Seth Aaron was there also, I saw him walking around, but he didn't sit in on my interview. They made me try on one of my pieces, asked lots of questions about the others, wanted to see and touch a few of them. Tim kept saying that my designs all looked very organic, when in fact I think they are actually very structured and planned. He also kept calling my very intricate seam detailing 'applique' and I kept saying 'no, it's not' and thinking he of all people should know the difference. In hindsight, it's possible he was just trying to get me riled up. He also told me that he didn't get this look:

Green & Black dupioni dress. Photo by Azzurra Piccardi

I told him I didn't know what there was to not get. He said it didn't go with the rest of the pieces and I said they weren't being presented as a collection, just a sampling of my designs. Again, looking back it's most likely he just wanted to get me to start arguing about it, to see if I could get crazy for tv. I should have been MORE crazy! Oh well. There's always next time. Here are a couple other pictures from the portfolio I submitted with my application.

Silk Organza Cloud blouse and one-of-a-kind 26 gore raw silk skirt.

Pleated dupioni blouse and black metallic wool Lightning skirt

I have NO idea when Lifetime will be casting for Season 9 of PR, though I am almost positive they are signed to do 7 more seasons. Any day now I should start getting my act together and creating some new portfolio pieces so I can apply again! 7 more seasons, how could I NOT get there eventually? The question is do I really want to? Ha!

On another note, I am excited to say that I ended last year with 25 boutiques carrying varied assortments of my ties, t-shirts and bags. I shipped out 928 ties total to all of those stores in 2010! I'm so excited to think that there are literally thousands of my ties being worn all around the world!

Some of the PILES of ties I shipped out last year.

Some of my goals for this year along those lines include sending out MORE ties than that, as well as acquiring at least 10 new consignment or wholesale accounts. A few months ago I set up my wholesale page for my ties on Trunkt, which you can see here. Just today I set up a separate linesheet for my silkscreened t-shirts, which is here. I only have a couple (literally) t-shirt designs right now. Getting these things to happen is harder than it seems, especially when it's just ME trying to make it happen. I plan to have at least two more designs and several more color options by the end of March. Just this week I got my first batch of Bicycle t-shirts. Super excited about those and already sent out about a dozen to some accounts, Sacred Art in Chicago, and The Fool on the Hill in Jerome, AZ.

My men's Bicycle t-shirt in Concrete gray.

Another big thing on my t0-do list for this year is to get my personal website up and running and not looking ridiculously out of date. Fall 2009 collection??? BWAHAHAHA! Well, that certainly didn't happen. That's ok, because we'll discuss Spring 2012 in a second. Geez! Where does the time go? I have simple goals for my website. I want a portfolio, a functioning store with shopping cart, a list of all the places I sell to, including addresses and live website links and a bio. This can't be TOO hard, can it? I'm more worried about it being too expensive. I have a referral for a web designer, but haven't contacted them yet. If anyone knows someone in NYC or Brooklyn who does good work at a reasonable cost, please let me know!

Yes, one of the other plans I have for my website is to FINALLY feature an actual collection, mini though it may be. I really really want to get my act together this year and do a very small collection for Spring 2012. It would be for sale through my site, hopefully somewhere locally and wholesale as well. I'm thinking 2 dresses, 2 skirts, 2 blouses, a jacket and some bags. I CAN do this! I am actually going to use this dress as part of the collection, in this colorway.

Pale green wool sheath dress with silk charmeuse trim and lining

This is actually an older design, but it's never been for sale before. I'm quite fond of it and think it's a perfect color for spring! I love getting colorful with my designs, I don't feel there's often enough color in fashion. Walking down the street in Manhattan in the winter almost EVERY single person is wearing a black coat. I'm usually wearing my camel-colored coat, because it has a hood, and I feel like I stand out. When I wear my bright blue vintage Harris Tweed coat I REALLY look like I am not melancholy enough to live in this city. Fine by me! Anyway, the other colors I am leaning towards for my spring collection will be burgundy and possibly a little golden yellow or metallic gold. I also plan to offer some limited edition purses, most likely of existing style designs but in custom colors and fabrics.

I am also thrilled to say that I am going to attempt to do a couple of local craft fairs this year! I did one very small show over the holiday last year and it went rather well. I plan to apply for the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn this summer! This involves much planning, like table display, packaging, advertising, labeling and of course MASS production of inventory. I have none of these things. Thank goodness one of the awesomest things that happened to me last year was the acquisition of my fabulous and talented new assistant, Dani! I definitely without a doubt could not have made it through the '10 holiday season without her. Looking forward to another great year too!

Dani & I having fun on NYE, after months of hard work.

So, these are my seemingly small, but time and money consuming goals for 2011. I will do my very best to keep an update of my adventures here, with lots of pictures of course! Check back soon for more highlights of the insanity!