Thursday, December 30, 2010

Printing Day

Curtis, the boys and I took a road trip this week. We did the drive down Hwy 5 to LA so that I could oversee the printing of a lot of fabric.  I have to admit that I feel very comfortable in factories. I love to see how things are made. This was no exception.

This is the medium that the dye is mixed with so that it smoothly glides across the screens. It's hard to realize scale in this image, but this tub is HUGE. 

This is the dye, mixed and ready to be added to the medium. At first glance I thought it was a juice bar, and then thought, how odd! Really just a second later I figured it out.

Here is my Tumbleweed screen in place and ready to go.

This is the guy who worked on my job all day. He was very nice, but not a word of English.

This is a photo during production. The worker here is checking
 to be sure that everything is lined up properly.

And here it is coming out of the heater right after getting printed

Next the fabric is piled into a bin which is wheeled over to the washing machine (this machine is 30' long!). Then it's rolled and stacked on palettes until the trucking company picks it up, drives it up Hwy 5 right to my office. 10,000 yards, on the way. whew.  It's a lot of work and the sewing hasn't even begun!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Piewacket Magic

These are my dresses!  Lara Rossignal is an amazing fashion photographer and I  love her blog, I sent her a box of dresses and look what she sent back!! She really added some glamour.  It started a big debate at the office. Do you people want to look at images they relate to or that that aspire to? Does this strike the perfect balance?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chicken Little

I left the factory this afternoon and walked around the corner to my car and look who I passed! I just had to take a picture and share. Last week was the hustle and bustle of New York City (Coterie- I know, I still need to post about it), and this week back to my same old same old. I actually really enjoy my daily routine and the unexpected things, such as this chicken, that come my way.


Friday, August 20, 2010

ME at the photo shoot

 Thought I'd share a bit of what I did.... 

1. Standing in for the model.  Quentin needed to check the lighting and the model was still getting ready. It's a tough job. Can you tell how hard I'm working??

2. Looking in the model's magnifying mirror at my wrinkles. 
Thankfully the light is so bright in the photo that they have been blurred away. Note #117 to self: DO NOT look in magnifying mirror with reading glasses. Ignorance is bliss.

3. Fixing the collar on the model's dress.
Note #118 to self:  Never wear anything that resembles the model's dress! I had on the Hope dress in Platinum Tumbleweed (Spring 2011 sample- I was giving it a test run. And by the way, I think I need to add an inch to the length). The model had on Kelsey in Platinum Tumbleweed (Fall 2010). 
Let's just say it wasn't working out in my favor.  

4. Making wind, at least trying to.
This was my pathetic attempt at making wind so that it would appear that Lauri's hair and dress were blowing in a summer breeze. In the end Quentin traded places with me. He set up the camera and told me to push the button while he actually made the summer breeze.  He can do anything.

5. Pinning fabric.
Even the extra small is a bit big on Lauri. Tall and thin just looks good in the photos.  Let's be honest, it just plain looks good. 

6. Tucking in Lauri's turtleneck. Doesn't everyone need a tucker inner? Also carrying spare camera and spare scarves. I'm such a multi-tasker!

7. Reflecting on a perfect day in a beautiful place working with a team of people I adore.
 Thank you Quentin! 
and Donna, Curtis and Lauri! xo

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tights/ No Tights

Riley dress is Black spots. (available online in September)
Photos by Quentin - Napa shoot last Monday.
Purple tights? No tights? What do you think?? 
Which image should we use?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Napa for the day

We spent all day Monday at a ranch in Napa taking photographs and shooting video. Well, actually Quentin took photographs, shot video and did most of the work. Curtis, Donna and I ran around trying to assist him (in vain). Though we were able to offer Lauri (the model who also worked tirelessly) a tissue, powder, or a hand mirror upon request.

We all brought our boys. They happily entertained themselves for hours by catching frogs in the creek. We did manage to persuade them to be in some photographs with Lauri. By the end of the day they had warmed up to her.

Ready to ship

The ladies at the factory are just finishing up several styles that will ship this week- Riley, Grace, Dottie and Kylie. Just thought I'd post a few images of the piles that they are working on. It was a hot day to be working at the steam iron.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Out Fruited

I was at Berkeley Bowl yesterday and decided to pick up some pluots (a fruit that is a cross between a plum and an apricot) for the ladies at the factory. The ladies love fruit. Really love it. Forget sweets, they want fruit. So I thought that they would really appreciate these unusual pluots. Happy to find them, I bagged and delivered them.

The ladies were grateful, of course. But eager to share their fruit of the week with me. I have no idea what it's called, language is a huge barrier. It looks like a huge alien egg. Bumpy and hard on the outside and filled on the inside with odd little pods that are entwined by leggy, fleshy strands. Inside each pod is a pit, somewhat like an avocado pit but more alienish. The fruit weighs about 50 pounds, and costs $1.50 per pound. Have you ever paid $75 for a piece of fruit??? I haven't.

Susan (the factory owner) separated the pods from the leggy fruity arms, pitted them, and put them in a bowl. If you didn't know better, you'd think each piece was just a peeled piece of some odd fruit, but never imagine it came as a pod in the mother load! The texture is firm, a cross between an unripe melon and a mango. And the taste...delicious? Still uncertain and feeling like it came from another planet. It's taking me a bit of time to warm up to it. And I thought my pluot was special.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Shirley May!

Shirley May is the ONE year old daughter of Gitty. Gitty helps me mostly with design and pattern making, but also a bit of everything. There's a lot that I love about Gitty, but today I am going to share Gitty's joy of celebration. She always takes time to appreciate the milestones (big and small) in the lives of those she loves, whether with a big party or just a special gold sticker star over a cup of soup. It is a special quality and I wish I were more like her in this way.

Gitty also loves cakes and has a special set up in her garden for them- note mosquito netting hanging from the fruit trees. In the center is the TRIPLE layer GOLDEN cake for Shirley May. Delightful. The cake table sits next to the band. My photo doesn't really do it justice, the majority of the musicians were playing the yukele under the golden pear tree. Could a celebration for one year of life be any better??

This photo shows Gitty's display- portraits of Shirley on the 9th of every month of her life. What a treasure to document her daugher's life in this way. Keep it up Gitty!
Of course the tea party isn't complete without "costumed" guests eager to participate in the parade. Everyone knows to do it up for Gitty's parties. And if you don't come with your own party accessories, Gitty is happy to supply them. We should all be lucky enough to have Gitty in our lives. Lucky Shirley May!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

who knew?

Both of my boys like my new technique- TO DO lists! Finally I have found an effective way to get them to do what I want without nagging them. I think they feel a sense of accomplishment checking the little boxes. I've always made them for myself. I thought I was sparing them, but I was wrong. They love it! Plus their future wives will thank me for training them well. Here's Chase's list from yesterday.

Today I added empty the dishwasher and sort the laundry- and they did it! The possibilities are endless, at least for a day or two.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

at the factory

I spend a LOT of time at the factory. Fortunately it's only 15 minutes from my house as well as 15 minutes from my office (one big triangle) . I love being there. Everyone is always busy and it feels like so much is getting done. In this photo Daniel is working at the cutting table. Some of my fabric is ready to be cut for Spring 2011 samples.

Every day the ladies cook lunch. I loved this noodle soup so much I had to take a photograph of it. The head seamstress just whipped it up for the everyone. Delicious. I think she could open a noodle soup restaurant.

Here Judy and Whitney (from Ibex) are reviewing specs for one of her orders while I happily eat my noodle soup. It takes a lot of work to get the clothes made. There are so many details to pay attention to.

The factory sews for about 10 different companies. They have a lot to keep up with. Being around a lot helps things move along smoothly and I can constantly check in on how everything is coming together.

I just love seeing things being made. Doesn't everyone? I'll make a video soon to show how some of the machinery works. Lots to share.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Gory Details

My mom and my brother called over the weekend with a "great idea!"

"Why don't you blog about what it's like to start a business?? The gory details!! Everyone will want to read about all the trials and tribulations that you and your team go through. It's so fascinating and funny," they say.

Hmmm, I say, not wanting to shoot their idea down immediately. But I just can't. No one wants to hear about it. Or should I say, for the sake of the brand, I can't. Maybe in hindsight it will be funny, but not as it's happening.

But after today, here's a tidbit- I went to the eye doctor today, because I really can't thread a needle. He dialated my eyes, forewarning that I will get to experience what my eyesight will be when I am 60. Ugh. He came back in the room and it felt like the fog hadn't cleared! I could hardly see a thing.

I managed to drive myself to work (bad idea) and thankfully I got there without hurting anyone. I ran through our office boutique ducking for cover from the shoppers with my protective eyewear on that doctor's assistant gave me. (I laughed at the thought of wearing them until I stepped outside, desperate for anything that would help me)

Then realized that the pattern I wanted to complete was MISSING. No idea where I had left it. I vaguely remember that last week it was in a bag in my car, as I was yelling at the kids not to step on it. The rest was a blank. Totally frustrated (I am on a serious deadline for Spring 2011 samples), I had one of my meltdowns.

They aren't pretty. I feel hopelessly pathetic. Plus for this one I was half blind. Then noticed one of my precious Spring 11 samples was MISSING. ugh. Now I was on the verge of tears. Laura, my business partner- level headed and perfect, tried talking me through all of my activity involving the missing pattern and missing dress. It was hopeless. No memory.

In the nick of time Curtis came to the rescue and found everything in his car. (I completely forgot that we swapped cars for a day last week- a totally different long story) Thankfully he drove them right down, knowing intimately the state I was in. xox curtis.

Now- end of the day- my youngest came running in, thrilled to make a contribution toward the dress business since he earned some money at his lemonade stand. I guess that's 25 cents less that we'll need to borrow! (meeting with my investor in 20 minutes) So my point is, I'll try to spare you the gory details. But my mom and my brother were right that there is plenty of material to write about.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Photo shoot for Spring 2011

What a day. Hardest working were Quentin, the photographer, and Lauri, the model. Not exactly sure why I had to take a nap when I got home, but I was completely wiped out. Mostly I stood on the sidelines and cheered them on (thrilled that I wasn't the photographer at last), offered them food (though I was the only one that ate), and planned what would happen next (rearranged everything in poor Jody's perfect house). Candes, far left in the photo above, is our graphic artist but doubles as stylist. And Donna, the social media marketing pro, held the big white light reflector. Of course, during this photo, I was documenting. And not sure where Jody, our hostess is. You can see more of the photo shoot on her blog, Overall it was a huge success. Lots of great images. I'll post a few once we sort through them. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


As we are having a big sale this week at the office, I decided to do a quick makeover in our shop area. With help from Allison, from Home 101 on Shattuck, we have a whole new look in only 4 days! And it was a crazy 4 days. I love my strawberry wall, though Allison wants to replace the round mirrors with one long rectangular one. She put one of her favorite pieces in the store- this little cabinet filled with treasures.
The sale today was a huge success. Tons of customers that got tons of bargains. I should have taken photos but I didn't have a minute. Will try to take photos tomorrow night.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Riley dress- test run

Thursday and Friday I wore the sample of a new style called the Riley dress. I like to give all new dresses a good test before they go to production to be sure everything is just right. This dress is for Fall 2010, but the weather has been so cool lately (the photo is deceptive) it was perfect. It is cotton canvas and fully lined with and exposed copper zipper down the back. I got tons of compliments, so I think it's a winner. It will be available online mid-January.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kayce Hughes- Pears & Bears

Now here's a dress that I could wear for a week! Not that I am for that challenge again, not yet at least. Frankly, the weather here has been too cool to commit to a lightweight dress for an entire week. I can't wait for warmer days. To take a peek at all of Kayce's designs, go to her website. If I had a little girl I would buy one of everything.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Home 101: full of treasures

I was on my way to my favorite fabric store to pick up a couple things and stumbled on a really cute new shop- Home 101. The owner, Allison is welcoming and full of inspiration. I loved her displays and the way she found the beauty in all the treasures she has out for sale. I almost left with 4 kitchen chairs, even though I already have great kitchen chairs! They were only $50 a piece. It was hard to leave them there. If you are in the area- go see for yourself!
Home 101
2530 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA