Anybody out there?

September 12, 2013

Since it seems hard for people to find this blog I figured I’d start blogging on Tumblr.  It’s also a social networking site, and I figure folks are more likely to find me there.  I will post most entries here, as well.  http://lushlifeoriginals.tumblr.com/

Fabric buying

September 11, 2013

Meet Daniel at Spiritex, he’s the one who makes the organic cotton knit I use for the panel and flounce skirts and the cap-sleeve tops.  It’s fun to see the machine he uses to roll the fabric. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSdeVecTUkQ&feature=share

Crowd-Sourced Funding Helps Lush Life Grow!

September 9, 2013
 

Grid walls and waterfall racks with half-mannequin

A More Professional Look

The question of capital is always an issue with a small-business.  It’s hard to grow with no credit and it’s hard to get credit if you aren’t growing.  Crowd-funding to the rescue!  The Indiegogo campaign allows me to raise funds to improve my display while showing that I have a solid base of support from my community and customers.

The campaign ends September 19th, so please, take a moment to go to the site and pledge, share, or comment.    As of this writing there are just 32 funders who have raised over $1,200; quite an amazing showing for such a small group!  I will pay 9% to Indiegogo if I don’t reach the $2,000 goal and 4% if I do.  Funds raised over the goal will go toward fabric for the fall line.
The main goal of the campaign is to improve the Lush Life booth and display. As I’ve gotten more experience in doing festivals this past year, it’s become clear that my current display is NOT working.  Those customers who aren’t overwhelmed by the crowded display LOVE the clothes, so I still believe the products are good, it’s just a matter of making it easier for people to shop.
The first phase of the goal has been reached!! We have raised enough for me to purchase the grid walls, waterfall racks and half-mannequins to create a more professional display as shown in the picture.  If the rest of the $2,000 is raised I will be able to purchase a professional grade tent that will withstand wind and rain better than the EZ-Up I am currently using.  You may remember that the EZ-Up did not make it through the wind tunnel at LEAF and I lost sales on Sunday, with my tent behaving like a box kite.       
To be eligible to win $100 in free clothes share the link from the site and you are automatically entered in the referral contest.  Click here to go to the Indiegogo site.  Even if you don’t become a funder, or only contribute a few dollars, your presence makes a difference.  Visit, share, leave a comment; any activity shows interest in the campaign and increases traffic to the site. Support from many funders, even if the amounts are small, looks better than just a few large donations.   This makes me a better candidate when I apply for a business loan in the future, as lenders want to see a business has support in the community.

It’s been a  heart-opening  experience to feel the love and support of my fans, friends and family in such a tangible way. Thank you to everyone who has funded, I look forward to getting your perks to you soon!

Artist or Entrepreneur?

August 27, 2013

Facing competition from mass-produced goods at so-called, “handcrafted,” venues has been frustrating.  My business as an artist depends on the integrity of the handcrafted shows to enforce their rules, which stipulate how many assistants an artist can have, (usually you are allowed 2-4 assistants with the artist being required to have a pivotal hand in production). One response to my complaint about an aritst who was violating festival guidelines, was that she is, “more of an entrepreneur.”  My mind has been spinning, thinking of all the ways my fellow artists and I struggle as entrepreneurs, and why.

Being an artist and a business-woman is, in many ways, a contradiction.  The artist has a desire to constantly create something new, to explore, play and innovate.  The entrepreneur finds a product and focuses on selling that item, finding the most inexpensive and efficient way to mass-produce and promote it.  Repetition and uniformity ease the work of the entrepreneur and frustrate the artist.

An aritst has a personal relationship with her customers; creating something unique especially for them.  The entrepreneur sells the same item over and over again, her product a carbon copy of thousands of others.

The artist has to find the buyer who is looking for quality and originality, a niche market has to be found & nurtured. The customer is as unique as the product. They seek out handcrafted venues specifically because they want to support artists.

The entrepreneur can market their goods widely. With a repeatable product it is easy to work wholesale shows, a website and multiple retail outlets.  Because her time is not spent in production she can focus on marketing.

There’s a difference in production times, materials cost and quality, as well.  I make a reversible cap, for example, each one-of-a-kind cap is of irreplaceable unused vintage fabric left over after cutting out my panel skirts. Scraps vary in size, so multiple hats can’t be cut at once.  Hundreds of mass-produced dresses can be cut out of ordinary polyester fabric in the time it takes me to cut 20 unique hats.

The mass-produced dress takes no thought to create once the pattern is made, while composing each hat is time-consuming. Fabric for the pocket, top and brim must create a harmonious whole; the two reverse caps must flow together beautifully   This is the dream-time of creating. A right-brain world where the clock must be ignored.

And then the many steps of the sewing begins.  Sewing the bill together and topstitching it; sewing a patchwork of fabrics together for the sides; attaching a pocket; inserting a label; sewing the top to the side; attaching the bill to the body; sewing in a bit of elastic for a secure fit; attching the two hats together; & topstitching closed the hole through which the two sides are turned right-side out.  Working at top speed it still takes at least 20 minutes to complete one hat.  I can never compete with an assembly-line seamstress who sews one part of a garment over and over again. A team of sewers can complete several dresses in the same time it takes me to make a single cap.  I retail these one-of-a-kind creations at just $48. The mass-produced dress retails for $125.

Is all that effort worth it?  As an artist, yes. I’m immensely happy with this spunky product that carries a bit of my love wherever it goes.

Still, I have to make a living.  It takes to work to find the market where my work shines and doesn’t have to compete with mass-produced or imported goods.  It is a blow, not just to my bottom line, but to the fragile artist’s heart when shows don’t enforce their own rules.

When I can hire sewers I will have more options for sales outlets, and more time for marketing.  The web will be more viable, I will be able to print line-sheets to create wholesale accounts, sell at wholesale shows, and shows that have areas dedicated to non-handcrafted items.  Of course, I want to grow, but I will keep my integrity as an entrepreneur as well as an artist when I do.

Indie Go Go Campaign goes live!!

August 5, 2013

Lush Life tries crowd-funding!  I finally put all the finishing touches on my Indiegogo campaign to raise money to expand Lush Life into the festival market.  Your support in any amount shows community support, which is helpful when applying for business loans.  I created some great perks, so check it out!  Thank you!!  http://igg.me/at/LushLife/x/361324

Verve Magazine

August 5, 2013

It’s out!  I you aren’t in the WNC region, here’s a cyber-copy of the new Verve article featuring my efforts in costume design for La Reina.  Thanks to everyone who made this possible!  http://www.vervemag.com/august-2013/2013/7/31/fit-for-a-queen.html

Disclaimer

August 1, 2013

Despite the fact that one item may appear for $0, it is $56 like all the other skirts. There is a glitch in the website keeping me from unpublishing or editing this! Thanks for understanding a luddite.

Verve Magazine is out!

August 1, 2013

Already hearing from old friends who’ve spotted me on the cover of Verve magazine, a regionally distributed women’s magazine.  It was really fun to have the writer, photographer, stylist, editor AND publisher all be so enthusiastic about my work.  Recognition is certainly gratifying.  I hope it piques interest in, “La Reina,” and brings a crowd out to the show.  It is really quite an amazing piece.  If you are interested in an updated take on what characters from antiquity have to say about power, transformation, & the roles of women through time you will love this show.  Puppetry, shadow-play, acrobatics and more will help present this spectacle of women through time.  www.Lareinatheatre.com

Newsletter Subscribers Get Special Deals!

July 30, 2013

Almost every newsletter has a special coupon for subscribers.  Go to the contact link to subscribe. Or click here to sign up.  If you love a bargain you will appreciate these deals.

Cover Girl!

July 25, 2013

I can’t quite believe it ’til I see it, but the word from Verve is that we made the cover!! What fun to have the costumes for La Reina professionally photographed.  Hmmmm, I guess I haven’t posted about that little detail yet.  Okay, back track a bit: my roommates are creating an original production arranging the voices of women from antiquity into the modern era-La Reina.  The first part will be staged at Diana Wortham auditorium on August 23 & 24th.  For more details about this fascinating project check out the website.       www.lareinatheatre.com

I was asked to do the costumes for this ground-breaking production that uses dance, puppetry, movement, original music, voice and COSTUME to bring alive these ancient voices.  Exploring women’s roles, identity, power, and our female icons, this piece raises more questions than it answers-requiring the viewer to take part in finding meaning in the piece.

Aaron & Mira & the Queen of the Underworld

Having free rein to turn on my creative juices without concerns for marketing has been a mind-blowing experience.  It’s been inspiring to open up to the creative flow and go with it.    In fact, the costume for Erec-Ka-Gala, Queen of the Underworld,  popped into my mind all -of-a-piece.  Here’s a photo of my roommates, Aaron and Mira, helping construct the skirt for this costume.  Still to come, the bone corset and headdress!

Aaron and Mira, sent a press release to Verve, something I probably never would have had the nerve to do-and they came by to do a photo shoot last week!  After the photographer and designer left I got the call that they wanted to use the piece for the cover and that another photo would be needed.  So I got all gussied up and hit the rainy streets with the publisher and editor to take a shot more suited to the cover.  It was like playing super-model!  Fortunately, I long ago learned the trick to taking a good photo is acting like you don’t hate having your picture taken.  So, I hammed it up, and they got some cute shots.

The professional look of the photos is so satisfying it’s wonderful to have the pieces truly appreciated and highlighted.  Keep an eye out for Verve in August.  And please, buy a ticket to La Reina so we can pay the rent on the theater!!  If you know you are coming, buying your ticket early helps us make the initial payment for the space. A link to Diana Wortham’s ticket buying site is right here!