An Alphabet of Animals Carved from Crayons and Other Miniature Pencil Works by Diem Chau
The days are whooshing by at a rate a bit too fast for my comfort level recently. I am still not sure what happened to Tuesday this week. The really good news is that I have a new studio assistant (yay!) which I had been putting off as I was too busy to train someone. I however reached a point where I was going to loose me mind if I did not have help. At that same moment I was looking over contracts to sign with a showroom in L.A. who will also rep Manic Trout in parts of the country. This is a big step and would not be possible to take on without studio help. Luckily and thanks to Instagram, the incredibly organized Lauren, who kept commenting that she should work for me, now does (yay!).
For the first time in months I have not walked into my studio in the morning dreading how I was going to get everything done. I am able to focus on designing and making jewelry and Lauren keeps tabs on everything from invoicing wholesale accounts, packing website orders, managing inventory, updating spreadsheets (we both really like spreadsheets) labeling and packaging jewelry to whatever else needs to be done. But seriously, she got here just in time, right before I drowned in a sea of un-filed paperwork.
Sometimes an overwhelming amount of work can come out of nowhere and hit you like a tidal wave and you're all like "where did THAT come from???" and then sometimes you're in the studio working like Sisyphus and realize that you brought it all on yourself. Oops. I occasionally get so into planning that I think I can accomplish more in an amount of time than what is realistic (and by this I mean updating the web site...I ALWAYS low ball the time on that one!). On top of that, when I have multiple big deadlines, I tend leave no room for unscheduled additions and it seems these days that there are ALWAYS unscheduled additions. Currently a last minute trunk show on March 11th (at Maga La Boheme on E 6th, March 11th...4-8pm) and a Gilt Group like event on a Japanese web site happening on the same day threw a bit of a wrench in my carefully planned out schedule and BAM, my studio looked like this earlier this week:
You'll be happy to know that the chaos has been corralled and by tonight I should be back on schedule, but it was a bit hectic for a few days. Especially when FedEx decided to hold my wire for an extra day that SIX wholesale orders depended on. I still have a bit of a grudge over that incident...but it arrived and all was ok. Now I am finishing up jewelry for the trunk show and web site and focusing on the Limited Edition Summer Collection because it should have been done last week...which I also just realized. Ok, my computer ban during day light hours is back on...later gators.
Oh yes...if you were not aware, the S/S 2013 Collection from Manic Trout debuted this week, sqeeeeeee!!
The bowls are increasing!! 1 bowl = materials for 1 necklace (but sometimes for up to 20 and that's hectic)
As anyone who owns a shop, is a maker or is involved in retail knows, the holidays are an entirely different time for us in it then for regular folks. For instance, I usually buy gifts for my own loved ones on Christmas eve as I am so busy getting jewelry out into the world up until that point, that I typically forget. I also have never decorated for the holidays as I wouldn't notice if was there or not. However, and I say that with a deep breath...I am hosting Christmas for my family this year and as we are spread all over the US (Austin, San Fran, NYC and Boston), this means that decorations will be expected.
Luckily the fam will all arrive at different times throughout the 24th, so I plan on putting everything off until after my last ship day and show which are both on the 22nd. I can do it all in 2 days, right? Let's stay positive as its getting chaotic all up in here as you can see above (it remains organized no matter what throughout it all thank goodness, but its still chaotic in that there is so much to do!!). The next three weeks is going to be intense! The reality though is that I love it, I love the flurry of orders that comes in every day and the shows and weekly markets at this time of year when everyone if feeling festive. Here's to the kick off of an amazing Holiday Season everyone!!
The rest of the "essence" items in the staging area (the dining room)
Wow, it feels like I have been in a timeless void for the past week...sheesh! Moving officially mopped the floor with me, I'll admin it. I spent almost all of my time over the past two weeks packing and unpacking, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!!! A month ago, I wisely planned hosting a little soiree at my new home for the Austin Craft Riot this Thursday night and I was right that it has been awesome motivation to get everything pulled together. Most of the rooms are unpacked, except for the books and dvds, and the "essence" pieces as I love to call them, which I have just started to sprinkle liberally around the house. You know what I'm talking about...brass critters, lamps, art, photos...the things that make a house a home. They are currently dominating my dining room table and have to be moved by Thursday as many women will have to be seated at the table (see, motivation!).
The studio mid progress...one side of the room had started to have furniture in place
Its been a great deal of hard work but I took a break Friday evening when my sweet husband who chooses not to get involved in the moving process besides hiring movers, realized that I could not move my head from side to side and booked me 4 hours at the spa. I also was set up at the market all day Saturday, followed by date night Saturday night. Without these breaks, I may have had a bit of a breakdown. There however is nothing better then seeing a room empty of boxes to fuel you to keep going, well except for Adam shouting "I love our new house and you're amazing!" every time he's the progress I'm making, its lovely to have a cheering squad, even if it's only one person!
The studio is just about done!
Besides the fun of setting up a new space, I've been having a great time mixing all of the new furniture into the mix, and as my taste is consistent, I have to say that it mixes pretty amazingly. I hung the curtains from my past two living rooms in our bedroom and Adam thought I bought them to match the new bedding. I love re appropriating furniture to new rooms as well and thats been so much of the fun! The last of the new furniture should arrive tomorrow and I'm hoping to have the art up by Thurs night...I'll snap more photo's then. The only items left on our list for now are new dining rooms chairs (I'm over whelmed with all of the choices), book shelves as I had to figure out where I want them and what size we need and a bench/coat rack thing for the entry (I dreamed about them last night). After that we'll move onto the back yard and deck, where so far all we have done is put up a hammock. It's coming along though! If you want to see peeks as they happen, you can follow me on Instagram @manictrout as I post photos regularly there!
Time Warner broke my internet last Friday. If you saw me, spoke to me or were on my facebook page between then and now, you already have heard all about it. I was very traumatized. They broke it and then told me they wouldn't be able to fix it for a week. I swear my heart stopped when they told me that. They fixed it 3 days early BUT STILL! As it turns out, I don't really use the internet on weekends. Friday I was so in shock that I can't remember how I felt. Saturday I was set up at the market, so it didn't matter anyway. Sunday was tough, but I got though it. Monday made me cry without it, although I did discover that Adams iphone with att (step it up, Verizon!) makes it really easy to use as a hotspot and you're not charged for it...so I squeaked by, but it had limited power. I realized Monday how much of my day involves uploading and sending photos all over the place. And so I waited. I swear the very nice repair man had it fixed in under two minutes. Had he not been such a peach, I would have made some snide comment about easy it would have been for them to do that on FRIDAY! But it wasn't is fault, so I just smiled and thanked him for his help. Within minutes I was zipping around at lightning speeds, filling drop box folders and posting prettiness all over the place again, the outage receding deeper into the past with every minute.
Without the internet, I did however have a few chunks of time where I would normally find myself browsing pretty things on pinterest (p.s. does not work with a hotspot very well...too many photos) or reading blogs and it got me thinking about how true the quote up above is. There is so much talk about how due to the internet, there is a greater chance that your ideas will get ripped off and that it will happen faster and blah blah blah. But how many times does someone execute an idea as you have imagined it anyway? Or taking it the next level, I started reading the book Different by Younge Moon whos message is that "Most companies, in most industries, have a kind of tunnel vision. They chase the same opportunities that every other company is chasing, they miss the same opportunities that everyone else is missing. It's the companies and brands that see a different game that win big--but all too often, the big companies in a field see things exactly the same way." Something to think about.
Amazing how few of the hours of your day are spent designing when you're a designer. There are many hours logged online...too many I'm sure that are unnecessary as I get caught up in social media. Then there is the requisite business aspects such as spreadsheets and bookkeeping, researching and sourcing new materials and all that good stuff. Don't forget photographing products, planning and co-ordinating photo shoots, editing and creating look books and line sheets. Oh and then the actual production of the jewelry once it's been designed. It's amazing I ever have time to design new pieces! Even more amazing though is how I not only do I find the time, but I get really excited about it.
I'm currently working on both the Holiday Collection and the Spring 2013 Collection. I design two big seasonal collections each year, in the spring and fall. Usually I will also release a special collection or two in addition to spring and fall. This past year the Bridal Collection actually replaced the Spring Collection and during the summer I released the Sorority Collection. The Holiday Collection is usually an expended version of that years best sellers and includes luxe editions perfect for gift giving. The Spring 2013 Collection however will go in new directions, of course including what I am know for as my signature element, the critters. As I noted yesterday, I begin the design process about six months before its release, so there are always collections at various stages in the studio. For example, I ordered most of my critters for next spring in the early summer months this year. They have been patiently hanging out since then, just waiting for their moment of glory.
I usually hold off on starting to make each sample piece until I know I have a block of days where I don't have have much to do away from the studio. I get so into it that I want to focus all of my energy and time on doing just that and tend ignore all other tasks on my to-do list. I've also learned over the years that once I begin this process, if I invite others to see what I'm working on that they will oh and ahhh and give the requisite enthusiastic approvals, but they don't really get it. They don't see and think what I do for the months before this moment, the constant conversation in my head of if I should use this clasp or that one...if the stones will slope over the clavicle smoothly if I use the super large ones I saw last month and if white marble will be too heavy and put strain on the neck. I've learned that everyone else would really rather see the completed collection all together as if they see it in progress it just looks unfinished. So I keep it to myself. Its a magical time when I am immersed in my own world and I get to make my thoughts into finished pieces and experience the never fading excitement of seeing something I have imagined come to life.
As each piece is added to the collection, I get more and more excited. It's as though a puzzle is coming together piece by piece and ever though I have all the pieces in front of me, I lost the box top and have no idea what the finished result will be. Once it's done I feel accomplished for a few days, but as with puzzles, I want to immediately move on to the next one as soon as I am done. I was never the type to keep a finished puzzle around, I just wanted to get started on the next challenge asap!
Felt fortune cookies we made during the Crafty Pot Luck at my house last week for Austin Craft Riot
I read a lot of blogs every day, a LOT. My favorites are design and lifestyle blogs...the top of my list are obviously lifestyle blogs of designers. Recently, a few have done posts summing up whats going on in their lives that week and I love it and wanted to do something similar...so here goes:
WORKING ON: Editing photos for the new collection which debuts this Friday (eek!!), in the midst of Austin Fashion Week and finishing my tasks as promotions co-chair for the Austin Craft Riot, which is having it's first Summer Show this weekend.
THINKING ABOUT: Missing my sisters as they were all together for a wedding back east this weekend.
ANTICIPATING: The debut of the new collection on Friday!
LISTENING TO: Have started listing to podcasts on my nano while walking Faye at night. I increase the speed to x2 which makes them about the same pace that I talk.
EATING: Obsessed with fresh veggies, quinoa, bulgur wheat, pork tenderloin and grilled chicken recently. Can't seem to eat anything else.
THANKFUL FOR: Waking up every morning knowing I get to work on what I love.
PLANNING FOR: The Holiday Collection, Holiday Shows, a visit to my Dad in NH this fall and our wedding(!).
READING: Finished The Matchmaker of Perigord by Julia Stuart last night.
WATCHING: Have had 24 on in my studio at night...however mid season 2 it seems to be loosing my attention...as there are 6 more seasons, I'm assuming it gets better though.
I paused for a minute to look up and this is what I saw
It makes me sad when I pop in here to say hello and "I'm so busy" and than rush off like the wind. Truthfully much of the time I am in my studio making oodles of necklaces or editing photos, but lately it's been a bit more fun! I figured, hey...I should share this fun stuff, as the blog is about the life of this designer and duh, I should talk about it! Well, if you didn't already see it, this week I had the pleasure of going to the Austin Lifestyle Magazine Preview Party on Tuesday night...and that is just the tip of the iceberg!
Monday the Manic Trout store on Amazon.com went live and even though it opened with only a small amount of the jewelry I create, meaning there is a long way to go, it's awesome to see it all happening after two months of phone calls back and forth with them after they initially contacted me. Also on Monday was the launch of a new project I am involved in with my friend Renee. She began the Craft Academy a few years ago, which is an online business class for makers. This spring she asked that I join forces with her and teach the advanced part of the class, I was of course honored and we got right to work. We are already planning the next level (and some other incredibly exciting projects) and I cannot wait to watch it grow and evolve!
Throughout the week I have been finishing up the now Fall Line as the Summer Line took sooooo long, I had to give up and redirect it to Fall. I had a very exciting deadline though as tonight I am involved in a photo shoot showcasing the new designs! Even more exciting is that I was involved in this shoot 100% by helping to come up with the concept, and being involved in selecting the photographer, models and stylist. I'm so excited and can't wait to share how it goes!
There was also a bit of planning for future events, I had to choose what to drop off as samples for Austin Fashion Week which is making me nervous as they changed the format and this year the panel is selecting only 3 local Jewelry Designers to be in the showcase. I was a featured designer in the showcase last year, and I'm not sure if that will affect my chances...so cross your fingers for me. I also booked the Austin Social Affair June Event...so if you're in Austin, mark your calendars to come on over to the Speakeasy the night of June 21st!
This weekend is chock full as well...on Saturday you will find me at the weekly Market at Snack Bar on South Congress and then Sunday I am having a meeting for the Austin chapter of the Little Black Dress Society, a service organization committed to ending the abuse of women and of which I am chair. Speaking of which, we are a new chapter and if you live in Austin and want to be involved, just get in touch with me!
Throughout all of this, I have been working on a crazy new project that is killing me because I can't talk about it yet...it involves licensing and will be launching by the end of July...that's all I can say about that.
Wow...when you write it down it's amazing how much stuff there is going on! What have you been up to this week?
6 weeks ago I was talking about a handful of upcoming projects in the works and was amazed at how I all of a sudden had all of these big things ahead of me. Well, most of them have come and gone and in their place it seems that new ones have appeared and they are even bigger than the last. Perhaps its that when you are able to handle a great deal of work, you accept more...or meet more people or have great confidence and therefore draw busy to you??? I'm unsure of what it is exactly, but I'm so incredibly happy to have been able to take the leap to working full time on Manic Trout because I never would have been able to take on what is in the works if I still had a day job.
I always have been a fan of taking risks in business and have taken many (some ended well, some not so much) that would scare the pants off of most people. I have told more than one person that I may not have any desire to jump out of airplane or bungee jump or do things that will risk my life or physical well being, but I LOVE taking business risks. The best risks I've taken have been ones that friends and family have tried to talk me out of...which made the fact that they turned out great even better. Even more than enjoying taking risks, I enjoy being right!
The good and bad part about being self employed is that 1. I have time to try new things 2. I am fighting for my survival in a way that I was not in a day job...as in there is a chance that if things go badly I may not be able to pay my bills and eat next month. This means that when I'm in the middle of a big project, I am already planning for the next and so on and so on. It's an exciting time here at Manic Trout, having been fully self employed for 11 months, I am finally seeing the insane hours I work in the studio paying off. I can't wait to share all of the exciting news as it happens over the next few months! Next up is the new line which will be out in a couple of weeks...take a peek at three of the necklaces above.
To borrow from Almost Famous..."It's all happening!!"
The hand written version of designing a jewelry line.
To say I have been in studio hibernation mode is an understatement. I have two pretty huge projects in the works for next month (will let you know more when I have details!) am working on finishing up the Summer Line, have at least one if not two shows per week for the next 6 weeks and am now on two boards...one of which I am running.
I basically have not left my house other than to run to the PO to drop off packages or to walk the dog in 4 days. Most of what I have been doing is prepping for an immense amount of work creating the samples for the Summer Line, the two projects and inventory fr the shows. Truthfully, I have been enjoying not having to leave my studio at all as tomorrow starts up with meetings and shows almost daily.
I have a feeling that the dream I have when working intensely where I am driving a really fast manual car and shifting into higher and higher gears is about to start occurring. Although truth be told, I love that dream...go go go!!
p.s. I post daily photos like the one above on instagram. You can follow along @manictrout