Monday, July 27, 2009

The Party Theory

I call it the ‘party theory’ . For every party I go to, I get invited to two more, and so on, and so on. Well, ever since the Obama Makes History Bag project has taken off, I don’t get to go to parties much. Instead I find myself doing small art shows and then getting invited to other shows. Thus, I call it the ‘party theory’.

I met this Rhonda Bogan of Mocha Readers in Dayton Ohio. We met through some mutual friends at the Women of Color Foundation seminar here in Ohio where I was a guest speaker. So was Rhonda, she is quite the ‘smart ‘ business woman and knows no strangers. Because of her, I get so many orders from Dayton. Eventually she will ‘rep’ my bags when she gets around to it.

Lately I am meeting a lot of women like that, workin’ workin’ workin’ networkin’ and promotin’ I like this crowd!

Well she flies to Atlanta this weekend with her husband to participate in Hank Stewarts White Linen Affair. She had a blast and met a Chef who has a TV show in Atlanta…his name is? Jeez I can’t remember his name, but he just released a cook book, something about turning up the heat?

He wants me to make him a custom Obama bag for his laptop. Cool. Funny, I can’t cook anything. I mean the weekends when my son is with his father, my stove top gets dusted off, not cleaned from use.

I guess I will always live like a college girl. Open that fridge door and what do I find? LOTS of condiments that I never use, a half a bottle of white, probably a sauvignon blanc, a bag of salad, and a bottled water. So I find it amusing that an accomplished chef wants me to make a bag for him. Maybe he could teach me to cook. Nah….lost cause I am. Anyway check out this fundraiser….I think I will attend next year. By the way that Chef, he ain’t too bad looking.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Obama Bag Mini Series part II

Obama Bag Story Part II

Right place, right time? Networking is the key to success? Hard work pays?

These are all things that we hear all of our lives. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. I am a doubter ( I need to stop that).

I was a presenting artist at the Columbus Winterfair, I got a lot of interest, but not many buyers. The economy has just been really rough. I broke even. Many of the artists there barely broke even. Poor sales = rough economy.

The following weekend I did a very small show at a local Salon, DJ’s Art a Palooza. I almost didn’t do it. I was exhausted from the four day art show. I just didn’t have enough energy.

I made myself go and set up. I met a lot of really nice artists, some of them will be friends for life. Not a lot of people came through that weekend, but one person did that changed things for me. I will call her Miss Rhonda.

Miss Rhonda really liked my Obama Clutch and thought that a friend of hers who happens to work at Ebony Magazine would love it. She suggested that I send a bag to her, and I did.

Sometimes you just have to go on faith, a lot of work goes into making that bag, and it’s hard for me to just give it away as a result. I had to just trust that the bag would get to Ms. Norment, and that she would love it. As most people do!


New Years Eve, and I am on my way to the Russian liquor store (no one there speaks English) to get a bottle of Vodka. Hey it's New Years Eve, I am not drinking soda! As I am leaving my little house in Bexley, I get a call from Ms. Norment at Ebony. I had to sit down.

She tells me that the Obama Makes History Clutch is exquisite (yes, those were her exact words) She wanted more bags for photography.

My feet did not touch the ground on the way to Boxmaster on Broad Street. I chased and tried to pass the Federal Express truck as I knew it was headed to Boxmaster and I wanted to beat it.

Broad Street is too congested for a race, so I resigned myself to following the truck. He was kind enough to wait while we got the bags packaged for their big trip to Chicago.

I was so excited I forgot a return address. OOPS.

Time passes, and the day after my birthday (of which I completely forgot it was my birthday) I get a call from Ms. Norment (who has since retired) and she wants to interview me about the bag, how its made, a little about myself, and she indicates that the article will be in the March issue of the Magazine.

Yaya. I did the ‘happy dance’ in my office all by myself.

Since its release, I have been so hit by orders, all I do is make Obama. I have a friend Larry Conroy who is helping me ink the bags now. Larry is a clothing designer and made it as far as meeting Heidi Klum in New York for Project Runway.

I try to ship them within a week although I ask for 3 weeks delivery just in case.

I am having a lot of fun, and I am talking to women all over the country who call to tell me they love their bag.

I have never worked so hard in my life. I work a full time job in IT and then I come home and work my night job. Design work is my passion. I love it, so I don’t mind working from sun up to sun down!

One of my biggest business goals this year is to pay cash for a Toyota Minivan, and a website. I have a photographer and a model, and I need to find a really good web designer.

Let’s just say, I am halfway to paying cash for the Toyota minivan!

Hard work pays! Right Place, Right Time! and Network, Network, Network. Doubt no more!

Best of all, my son Mando who makes leather wristbands is very proud of me.

There will probably be a part III

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Featured Artist: Anvil Art Shop

Custom design website:
B&M gallery: (coming in June!)

How long have you been in business?
Since 1992.

What inspired you to start your business?
I originally planned to study costume design, but FIT didn't have any courses in that field so I switched majors to eveningwear/apparel. I've been designing gowns and couture suits for diplomats and CEOs ever since, then added custom leather jackets and handbags about three years ago.
How do you get the word out about your shop?
I work best with referrals from existing clients. Having couture clothing designed for you is a very personal -- and often lengthy -- process that doesn't suit everyone's lifestyle. In my online Etsy shop, I do a lot of Alchemy (custom) requests for leather handbags. Since my specialty has always been custom work, this has been a good fit for my work so far. I also started a blog this year, but I see it more as a fun way to share a "behind the scenes" viewpoint with clients and friends, than as advertising.

What’s unique about your items or what do you want people to know about your work?
My gowns have been worn to the White House and Buckingham Palace, but I'm just as happy when a disabled client tells me that my designs make her feel beautiful again. :)

What would you like us to know about your business?
I design with leather, silks and delicate beadwork but I'm usually found working in jeans, handknit sweaters, and boots.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Free time to spend with my husband. He makes me laugh, makes sure I remember to eat, and puts up with my artistic temperament.

What do you most value in your friends?
I value them more than they probably realize, for still being there after all these years. I'm terrible at keeping in touch.

What is your principal defect?
I get too absorbed in my work -- the highs and lows of working out a new design become reflected in my own moods, and that's never good.

In what country would you like to live?
I love being a Canadian, living in Canada. Every time I travel, I like coming home the best.

What is your present state of mind?
Wishing I had more hours in the day!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Featured Artist: Easily Suede

What inspired you to start your business?

I was given a book of different shades of blue suede swatches and, remembering the belt that my next door neighbour - Auntie June - had made me when I was a kid way back in the 70's, I cut out lots of pieces and looped them together and voila I had myself a really cool belt. I wore it to work, people admired it and asked me where I'd bought it - I didn't think they were serious at first, but I went home that day with 3 orders. I bought some leather and just charged the belts at cost - at that point it never occurred to me to make some money out of it. So I carried on making the belts and a few months later decided to try and sell at a great local craft market and to my surprise sold lots of them - at a profit. I then started to make notebooks and manuscript covers and in August 2007 I was very lucky to spend a couple of days with Bill (Satchelman) and he taught me how to make bags - and oh my goodness, I haven't stopped making them since!!

How do you get the word out about your shop?

It's mainly word of mouth - my friends and colleagues are far better at promoting me than I am! I have postcards that I put on the noticeboards at work and have a regular stall at a craft market.

What's unique about your items or what do you want people to know about your work?

All the bags are hand stitched. Every inch! People at the markets usually ask 'do you have an industrial sewing machine to stitch the leather?' and they're always amazed when I tell them it's all done by hand. To be honest I can't work a machine, I bought one a couple of years ago and got so frustrated I nearly threw it into the back yard, so I gave it to my Mum!

What would you like us to know about your business?
That it's really just a hobby that has completely taken over my life! I just wish I could make a living from it and do it full-time.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?

Spending time with my boy. Sunshine and blue skies. Having no regrets.

What do you most value in your friends?
Honesty, loyalty and integrity. And a wicked sense of humour.

What is your principle defect?
I'm a Virgo, therefore a perfectionist. I pick fault in everything I do.

In what country would you like to live?
Somewhere with long hot summers - Siesta Key, Florida or Sydney, Australia.

What is your present state of mind?

My head is so full of stuff at the moment - it's crazily busy at work, I'm in the process of buying a house, I've got orders to fill - but actually, that's how I like to be. So, yes I'm pretty content.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Obama Bag Mini Series

Obama Bag Story - Part 1
lynda zamora of armando javier design

So this is a story about a Mother – Son company called Armando Javier Design. Who like every other small company is ALWAYS looking to find the right item that appeals to the right woman, for the right price.

Sometime over the summer I came up with this idea to transfer newspaper headlines to one of my popular clutches. Well, it sold pretty quickly. I thought to myself, ‘hey make one of those again’ I never got around to it.

Well the election happened. This guy Barack Obama, he made history. A couple of days later, I get the idea again: Hey why not try that newspaper transfer idea with Barack Obama’s news headlines.

I made eight that week. Within one hour, I sold all of them to a boutique in Florida. Yes they have the first set of signed and numbered Obama Bags.

WOA. I thought I am on to something here. So I made some more. I showed them to my friends. Again, I sold them all.

WOA. Pretty soon I became the Obama Bag Girl. I could not keep up with demand.

Amongst many other places, I have sent many to England and Canada, one to Australia and one to Japan! I sent one to Los Angeles, Chicago, Baltimore, Birmingham. Etsy is good for it's world wide appeal.

I sent one to Oprah. I got it back in the mail so fast, (within a week) my head spun. I sold it that night. So wasn’t too bummed out about the rejection!

Later that week, I get an email from the Style Writer at the Washington Post Express. They would like a bag for photography. They are doing a piece on unique Obama items the week of the 11th.

WOW. So I send it. WOW

Last week I get a call from Ebony Magazine. They would like some bags for photography as well. I was so excited, that I sent the bags with no note as to who to return them back too.

OOPSIE. I will write them a note this week, correcting that error.

I think I should send one to Joy Behar on the View. She would like my bag. I know she would.

There is more to write about this story, but I must get back to work. I don’t know whether to make 100 bags or 1000. I think maybe I will shoot for 150. Getting back to work now.

Now I know 7 hides makes about 100 bags. Phew….its was work getting that leather in the house to cut up. Poor Mando, he asks me if there is any leather to make his wristbands.

BOATLOADS Mando, BOATLOADS!!!!! maybe we should make some Obama wristbands...oooo now there is a thought

More later.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Leather Worker's Interview : UNEARTHED

Name: Karen
Blog or website: UNEARTHED
Location: Los Angeles, California

How long have you been in business?
Just under 2 years.

What inspired you to start your business?
I've always loved leather, and helped friends make leather armors for SCA groups, and eventually started making my own. But I always had a secret love affair with exotic leathers. The textures, the patterns, it's all so enticing to me! It really just was always in my head, I can't remember a time when this business was something I didn't think or talk about... I really can't pinpoint one singular source of inspiration, it was just a love of leather!

How do you get the word out about your shop?
I mostly depend on word of mouth. I don't have any fantastic secret promotional tools. Essentially, my buyers are my promoters!

What’s unique about your items or what do you want people to know about your work?
I would like people to know that I genuinely adore what I do! I have such a passion for creating, and I love every single piece I make. I couldn't imagine doing anything else in the world!

What would you like us to know about your business?
I'll give you some little known UNEARTHED trivia here! My business was actually born during a time of great physical anguish! I had been talking about starting this business for months, but it was always on the back burner. Due to the foolish decision to walk on a foot that was very much asleep, I tore ligaments in my ankle and couldn't walk for a few months. While I was basically immobilized, my sister decided I should be productive and remembering my business idea decided to hunt down some simple exotic leathers. She walked in my house one afternoon with a big box and dropped it on my lap and pretty much told me to make myself useful! It was now or never, and I spent 3 months cutting and hammering and stitching on my bed. the rest is history!

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Hmmmmmm. Earthly happiness.......I picture living in a nice sized english style cottage with a large yard and garden where my children can run and play. And eating delicious food together every afternoon! That would be bliss!

What do you most value in your friends?
Loyalty, by far.

What is your principle defect?
I think my principle defect is that I am more or less antisocial by nature. And it's not that I don't like other people,I really do. But given a choice I would always prefer to stay home rather than go out, let a call go to voicemail rather than answer it...If it wasn't for my friends I think I would wind up being that strange woman with wild hair who reads and writes way too much and hardly sees the light of day!

In what country would you like to live?
Finland. Hands down.

What is your present state of mind?
I pretty much always have a fairly calm and serene state of mind. It takes a LOT to upset me.