Saturday, November 27, 2010

Loco Lu's CoffeeHouse

This past month has been growing. We did our first coffee shop in one of my new favorite music hangouts called Loco Lu's Coffeehouse. The jewelry is doing well and I'm looking forward to seeing the place continue to expand. They have a great jazz band that plays every couple of weeks on Thurs nights and open mike night are Mondays after 7 pm. It's a great after work spot. We had our very own fashion designer Jolina venture forth from Li Sashay for a romantic surprise engagement. Here's to a little true love and best wishes on the journey ahead. I'm sure you two will do great.
In place Li Sashay added a new member to the team to create jewelry for the collections, local resident blacksmith and machinist at NC State. Nash Page is one very awesome boyfriend. He loves working in metal and semi-precious stones. You can start looking for his creations at our upcoming show at the NoDa All Arts Market in Charlotte December 15th and 16th. He's also done work for NC State Theater Arts doing set and tech work so we are very lucky to have him.
We also upgraded out Artfire account to Pro, there's not much to see, but we plan to put up studio pictures which is exciting for you the customer. That way, you can see where your creations come from. Hope that you are enjoying the holiday season as well.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Southern Comforts Antique & Fall Festival

Saturday, I had fun at the Southern Comforts Antique and Fall Festival in Salisbury. It was a chance to catch up with some of my Charlotte Crown Town Fellow Artisans and see what they are doing. It's been a wonderful, busy month or so and it was nice to take a break and see the creativity. I almost set up some tables, but given boutique and fall set ups these days, we're a little pressed for time. Hopefully, Southern Comforts Antiques will host it again, possibly in the spring when things slow down a little so we can do more than just window shop.
First, the set-up was great with several buildings and a number of tents and everything ranging from antiques to artists. My mom went along and she became fairly obsessed with the goat's milk soap. Me, I have to confess more than a little wow factor with my fellow jewelry artists. It always impresses me what people can make and design out of simple stones, metal, and dreams. Accessories are the wow factor in fashion, and it's always nice to see another's creativity. I spend most of my day's soaked in fabrics, thread, and folds, only occasionally venturing into the .
The whole event was fairly steady, that rare combination of buyers and shoppers where you can actually shop without being swamped or hear the crickets chirping. This is a great show for a person getting their feet wet as an artist or a person looking to support their local creative vibe. The prices were reasonable and very diverse. A wonderful event all around.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

SPARK Fashion Event

Last weekend, I got the chance to visit SPARK Fashion Week in Raleigh. It was a wonderful time and I loved seeing the exhibits. There were a ton of musicians, sidewalk artists, and fashion designers. One group that caught my eye was a group of guys playing a washbin, saw, and a fiddle. Unfortunately, my favorite part, the Fashion Show was held at night so none of my pictures came out. 20 local designers showed 5 piece collections and wow....almost every collection was different, individual, and brimming with creativity. From the music, walks, and pieces. Overall, an awesome exposure. I look forward to next year.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

New Dress A Day

So this past week a friend sent me this wonderful link to a blog called "New Dress A Day." I must say it was so much fun to see. The premise is a California chick, turning 30 has just been laid off from her job and has decided to cope by creating 365 new looks (1 per day) for $365. I must say I totally dug this creative junkie binge of mind candy. Me, while sewing in a factory and industrial settings means that you rarely create 1 of anything. I struggle SOOOOooo much with the tortured creative end. I mean if you create a look, it needs to be in multiple sizes, colors, etc. You often do not 1, but several dozen of a particular look or style. This blog was pure fun.
While I don't know if it would work here in North Carolina and I haven't been to any $1 clothing yard sales around here, I love the idea of creating one of a kind looks from recycled other ideas and past treasures. It also was a great source for things like using Rite Dye to rescue stained fabrics or create different colored pieces.
I hope that you get a chance this week to check it out. This may be one of my favorite design blogs at the moment. I can't wait to see how the year ends.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jewelry Design 2.0- Beta Testing

One of my girl friends, Elizabeth designs high-end jewelry with the label Rapt. She's amazing. You can see her website and some of her wonderful pieces in Bauble Boutique and Scoop down in Ballantyne Charlotte. We actually live in the same neighborhood and met due to our mutual dog love. If you are ever in the neighborhood, I encourage you to go see some of her pieces. They're unique, one of a kind pieces of art well worth the price of precious metals and semi-precious stones.
I love clothes, the touch, the feel of fabric sliding through your fingers. Measuring the weight and quality to me symbolizes all is right with the world. Elizabeth, along with several other of my other friends are AMAZING jewelry artists. Me, I make good $5-20 pieces from favorite antique buttons mostly and a fair amount of industrial glue, normally to match a jacket or purse I fell in love with. Totally different style, that's why we have friends who let us drool at their work. Anyways, most of them have switched away from using glue to metal soldering for added strength and I've decided to try it out myself the next month or so before the show. It will also make it easier to make custom clasps for purses and such.
And I would love to have any former customer and their choice of 1 friend who wants to be a beta tester drop me a note so I can mail you between now and September 25th. There are 4 simple steps:

1) At the end of this post, add a comment with your name and if you want the name of one of your best friends and their e-mail who you want to share your new free treasure with. Drop me an e-mail if your address has changed, otherwise, I already have it on file.
2) Note if you want a necklace or earrings.
3) Wait until the week after September 25th for you free gift to arrive.
4) Wear it for a month and if you like it or have any suggestions for how to make it work better for you, let me know in the follow up blog post on October 25th.

That's all.

Have a great week. I hope to hear from you. It is my goal to continually improve the quality of service I have to offer you the customer.

Monday, August 16, 2010

LA Heats up with Magic

Increasingly the US fashion world is moving from East Coast to West. Well, it's probably been moving that way since the 50s and increasingly since the 70s until China and Asia have become the dominant manufacturers in the world. Just as the sewing machine gutted European fashion market in the 1800s as the US took over, so Orient is expanding it's ancient silk trade with automation and low wages. This means that while my uncles and previous generation in the 80s and early 90s spent their days blowing coke with hot models at New York fashion shows, the real action of large scale manufacturers and chain department stores is skinny dipping in Vegas these days.
Which brings me to Magic. Magic is the big West Coast manufacturing conference held in LA. You may see the models walk the runways in NY, but the deals are cut in LA. This week it's going on and you can see the website at Magic Online. There's a number of sub-shows that are partnered under the Magic umbrella. Solid middle upper line department stores like Bloomingdales and Nordstrom can be found browsing for deals. The seminars with trend color forecasts and style are what I'm most interested in. Anyways, I'd love to go one day. But that's probably a couple years away.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Designing Leather and Fur: Hertzburg Furs

The next couple of weeks, I will be transitioning from doing industrial factory work to beginning an internship at Hertzburg Furs training in using fur/leather as design mediums for my line. My hope is that they'll decide to keep me long term as it's a wonderful, friendly company to work for, and everyone is A talent which is rare to find these days vs. 1 or 2 star players. They're considered some of the best in the world and the owner ran some Nieman Marcus high-end design for about 8 yrs. I'm learning the ins and outs of the business. In case any of you think this is glamorous, let's just say I'm a low level design intern who spends most of my days sewing and slicing up my fingers with a needle. My long-term goal is to continue to improve both my ability and raise the quality of my work to eventually be designing in this medium. Hertzburg is interested in maybe taking some of my purses and recreating them in fur and leather which is exciting to me to be recognized.
All the animals that they buy are raised humanely and certified to have lived a cruelty free life. So far I've learned a lot about the dying and laser process which has grown tremendously in allowing designers today to treat fur as something closer to fabric than it used to be. However, there is A LOT of work and detail so I won't claim that this is something I will be able to offer to clients immediately. However, my goal is to constantly improve my abilities and grow with the industry to give clients the best possible product at the highest standards. And to recognize that quality has to improve with time. I realize there's a lot of faux fur and leather on the market now, but the quality still lags far behind the real stuff so much that I think it's important to learn from the experts. Hertzberg is one of those leaders and I feel lucky they let me in the door.
It has continued to be a struggle to take my ideas from the sales floor and paper to the work room, but I'm enjoying the challenge and the people I get to meet. To all of you, good luck this week following your dreams.

Next week: The Magic Conference in LA

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Taking Pictures: The Art and the Sweat

This week I'm stalking people at the park while walking the dog and my local co-workers. There's a lot of practice that goes into taking better photos. Some of it is books and reading, but some of it is also developing an eye for the subject. Part of it is also a realization that it takes a certain personality to ham it up for the camera. Some people are indifferent, some people avoid it, but a few light up for it. It's finding those that respond positively...that the camera brings something out. Or perhaps it's me to find a way to bring that out in others.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Crown Town's Nikki of Not Made In China

Charlotte is a great city and one of my favorite things about having moved here the past few months is the quality of artists and lack of politics. There's a huge range from casual dabbler/consumer of the craft all the way up to established artists making a cool six figures a year.
One of the gifts this has given me is the ability to view artists who work in different medium besides fabric and jewelry. Once a month, on the last Thursday of the month, we all get together and swap ideas and projects. This is past month it was Japanese book binding by Nikki Mueller and it was a blast.
I've met Nikki a couple of months ago at the NoDa artist market where she had these hilarious cards and printed sayings on various mediums. The kind of quirky smart saying that leave you laughing a little which is always good in a big crowd. I hope to see her back in September at the next show.
Nikki put together wonderful book zines with instructions. Basically, if you can do a running stitch, have thread, hammer, and can make your own one of a kind book. I'll be using this for my own personal childhood cookbooks for Christmas. It's always hard to create one of a kind family gifts that can stretch to 60-70 people (Catholic people, Catholic) without losing weeks of your life and a great deal of your sanity.
Anyways, the instructions are fairly simple and you can check out everything at her facebook page: Not Made in China or blog. Mine is the orange birds in the upper left. Now, if I can just figure out how to take pictures on that level.

All pictures have been reprinted with permission of the artist. If you would like to come to the next monthly artist meeting, please check out the Charlotte Crown Town blog or add yourself to the facebook page.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lookville: West Coast Style

This past month, I was invited to a new fashion website called Lookville. The basic premise is that people post pictures of themselves or celebs and invite other people to comment on the trends. I must say that overall, after using this site for a month I like it. Also, I think it's a great place to post new looks for collections to have people judge if it's hot or not. It's a good mix of hot model chics and real life women. It's fun, easy to use, and fairly good quick feedback. It's almost like being able to go shopping with a room full of girl friends and have them give you feedback for "hot or not." A definite win in my book. And something that's perfect for reviewing your date night outfit with the cute boy you've been obsessing over or screen a collection for wins and misses. I plan to start using it for collection ideas in the fall.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Real Collection: 10 Looks, 30-40 pieces.

So buyers and companies are all about production. Successful etsy sellers talk about posting 5 new items a day, and fashion designers talk about designing 12 collections a year. But a collection, a beginner collection is on average 10 looks. That's 30-40 pieces total. I signed up to host my first fashion show September 25th at Lightbulb Co-working. I'm trapped between the idea of showing a stable collection of 10 purses with wallets and designing an entire line of 10 looks. Realistically, I think that the 10 purse styles is probably the safer bet. I will have to think it over this week. Back to school starts in a few weeks.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Annual Etsy Party and the DIY movement

Last week was Etsy's Annual Party for crafters and artisans. There were tons of local artists and the entire thing was run by Amanda Fisher who was wonderful. There was make your own terrariums and a great DIY movie on the crafters movement in the US. I had a great time meeting new faces and sitting in the comfie couches at the independent studio in NoDa. It was fun to meet a number of fellow crafters and my favorite was getting to watch Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design by Faythe Levine and Cortney Heimerl. AND THE CUPCAKES! Moist bites of delectable strawberry sunlight. I was seduced by cupcakes.
Watching the video really gave me a chance to see artists all over the country making it and not at their craft. For me the interesting thing to see that most artists start out at a similar income level and experience. The marked difference between successful artists started not at the level they began on, but where they grew to. It's a good reminder to all of us that success involves learning from your mistakes as much as anything. And being willing to think that there can be better ways of doing things out there. The most successful artists looked for ways to do things better and the least successful artists talked about how the industry has not changed in 100 yrs or 1,000 yrs. Technology moves forward, the question is if you will embrace the change or not.
The other thing I noticed was automation. At some point any artist has to accept that systems allow a person to get more done. This involves moving from a hobby to a trade. I thought this was a great movie and wonderful insight into living wages as an artist. Because the drive for any artist is to develop unique one of a kind pieces and that has to balance against the cost of doing business.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Vstitcher and CAD Design

So for everyone who has done painstaking handmaking, draping, and all the other slow...tedious...annoying pattern designing for shows, there's now a great Jewish company: Browzwear that's offering awesome 3-D pattern making on avatars. It saves a boatload of time, plus you can completely customize patterns to fit various size and body types. This reduces a huge amount of the time and resources needed to produce design samples. In the next 10 years, I think that everyone will be designing their own custom clothes online as a personalized designer. This is probably the single most powerful design tool on the market today and a great company. If you want to see a demo of it and are in the Charlotte (or North Carolina region), you can contact Kevin Gray Pone 704-658-8050 or Gerber Technology appears to license the technology in this country.

The features that impressed me most where interaction between the 3D avatar and the actual CAD program so that any design patterns you render in 3D go back to the 2D pattern. There's probably a lot more you could say about how practical this is for shaving months and $$$ off the design cycle, but just watch the video on the Browzwear link. I think it's one of those a picture is worth a thousand words.

Next week: Etsy Crafter Party

Monday, June 7, 2010

Automation in the Design Industry

So this past week, I have been hired to work full-time first shift at an industrial design/manufacturing company. They do large scale jobs mostly and working there has really changed my mind about both where the textile industry is headed as a whole and how far apart the home seamstress is from a successful industrial seamstress these days. The biggest differences are not the sewing machine. Many of the professional seamstresses and design students I know in college these days still use dress forms, painstakingly grade patterns, and cut it all out by hand.

Industrial companies.....don't. And they save a lot of time and energy doing so. The two biggest differences are in terms of using CAD software to store and design patterns and auto cutting machines which take the designs directly from the computer and cut them out into pieces on the table. This allows one operator to cut and create 3-4 times faster according to them and the quality is consistent every time. I actually think that the biggest difference is that design to finish product can be done in a 1 day- 2 weeks instead of the typical 18-24 months in the industry today. This is the single biggest gain no one seems to realize in terms of reducing lead product design to product time. Also CAD programs can be scaled and changed quickly with a few clicks of a button. This eliminates the TEDIOUS draping, forming, and marking that makes pattern designing a multi-hour or day long process for me personally.

And by working smarter, not just harder, they've managed to create a good working environment with good wages, benefits, and still turn a decent profit. I think it's a lesson for the rest of us in America. If we want to be making $20-30 hr., we need not to be whining about how people need to pay us more, but actively be figuring out ways to cut costs and increase productivity.

And the bottomline for me watching everything is that being tech savy is the way to go. Because good technology changes the work flow, not just tweaks productivity. I think it's far too easy to keep trying to get better at one's craft and getting slightly better at using one's time. It's far harder and more necessary to learn new ways of doing things that change the ACTUAL order of magnitude for the way things are done. If you haven't see an industrial cutter before, you can watch this youtube video here: It's a generation or two behind what we are actually using at work, but it gives you a good idea of the basics.

Next week, my favorite CAD designs on the market right now for textiles.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Count of Monte Cristo and Anna Sui

So I finally got around to watching the famous remake of the Count of Monte Cristo that came out last year. It features some amazing set/clothing designs by California artist, Anna Sui, one of my favorite US clothing designers. She is always creative and this movie didn't fail to do so. If you haven't seen it yet, it's available for free on Funamation and you can see it by clicking the link provided: One of the harder things for me about designing my own stuff has been about finding the creative juices to keep making stuff and how important it is to stop and take the time to find inspiration. It's easy to be inspired when you only have to make 1 unique item once, it's extremely hard to find it when you are spending a good portion of every day making the same item over and over in different colors, styles, or sizes to fill your shop. For me the creative process dies a little each time in the words "AGAIN."

Unfortunately, doing things repeatedly really improves your skill level and speed so it's a constant battle between the creative side of you that wants to foster new one of a kind items and track down the latest idea vs. the paying the bills side of you that knows you need to crack out 2, 10, or 100 items today to pay the bills.

But you have to find the balance. So giving your soul the creative time: A walk, a visit to the museum, a book. The important thing to remember is to stop and take time for the head-space you need to foster that creative element in yourself without resorting to a form of escapism. I normally take Sundays off just to dream. So yesterday, instead of doing work, I dusted off an old movie that I had been meaning to see the past year.

It's an Asian remake of the Count of Monte Cristo which was recommended to me last year for it's creative use of clothing in the future and although I had mixed feelings as the thing is over 6 hrs. long (think asian space opera and you have it about right), I found myself strangely inspired by the usual color/patterns and actually enjoyed the entire thing. There were some corny moments of course with the required giant robots battle which made me think of Saturday Morning Cartoons (Go-go-Power Rangers), but by in large it was a good complex retelling of the story.

It also made me feel revived and ready to dust off my creative sketchbooks which have taken a hit this week as I've been busy moving to a new space, making stuff, and mailing out packages. So, go remember to take creative time for yourself this week and I'd love to hear what inspires you to create what you do.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday: The Time Equal Money Constant

So I was going to do this big long post about the math behind the shirt size run I did last week, but's Memorial Weekend. So have a great weekend, may it be spent with friends and loved ones everywhere. I had the most fun grilling out with people from our small group at church last night and am reminded that while work is great, it's also important to find a work/life balance. So get out there and do something fun for yourself this weekend, and if you don't have plans, make something up.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Designing Peasant Shirts

This week, Jolina and I pulled out the dress forms to design peasant tops which has gone well. One of the misnomers in fashion for me has been the realization that just because you can sketch a dozen outfits in an hour, does not mean you can make said dozen outfits in an hour. Coming from a sales background where one can sell many dresses, shirts, etc. in a day, it can be humbling to find yourself working on a given concept for hours or days. I always thought that designing my own clothing line would be similar to running a load of wash. Hahahahaha, way too simplistic. My median time seems to be roughly one new solid concept a week with one real item added to the shop on a monthly basis. That's because for every item you add, there's a 100 plus you're throwing away. This week, the one that made the cut was peasant tops. These are really flattering on the figure and look great with jeans and our custom messenger bags. I'll have to tell you next week how they're doing. I'm trying to focus more on clothes and get away from accessories.

Monday, May 10, 2010

May Crafting in Charlotte

Hi and welcome to Li Sashay's blog. This is where I plan to discuss the ups and downs of starting one's own company. I also plan to share tips for making stuff and quality control. It's been a long month for the company, we added jewelry to the company and it's been a slow start. We also added some dresses some a local designer, but so far it's mostly eyeballs, not sales that we've attracted. I've been forced to go get a job as the company has had really inconsistent sales the past month which all start-ups go through and after 6 months still hasn't leveled out.

I'm not giving up, but I am looking to take my living expenses off the cash flow requirements for the company. It constantly continues to surprise me how much a company has to evolve to reach the next stage. After doing a number of shows successfully the past months, the last 4 weeks someone could have sold crickets to the shows I went to. Boutiques have done well, but nothing else really. So this month, shifting focus away from shows (only plan to do one this month)as it's just too expensive to keep dropping $20 a show with no returns. Etsy continues to be a financial drain, but it is getting me advertising. I keep wanting to write it off, but it does help people find my brand and people at shows mention it so I feel as if the advertising might be worth it. I'm going to try daily listing this month again and see if it helps. Also, want to create a shirt this week. I need to keep doing clothes as it does seem to draw people into the shop even if they don't buy it that frequently.