Tuesday, December 6, 2016

What I Learned...

Hooray, my first retail show is over!  It was six days of standing, smiling and hoping to connect with anyone who walked by.  Before the show I was just nervous that I wouldn't break even but I did much more than that (!!!).  Totally exhausting but many bags found new owners and I learned a TON.  

Here are some things I learned:
1) Tiny tweaks to the display make a BIG difference!  That little sign "Great for commuters, students... etc." totally sparked ideas.
2) People responded enthusiastically to the quality and design details — this was totally gratifying.  
3) There's something in the air.  One day (and only on that day) five people asked if the pen holders were for bullets.  The next day (only on that day) four people asked if it was a makeup bag.  One day I sold a ton of DeLoverly (the red one), the next day I sold everything but DeLoverly.  So strange.

I could go on and on.  I'm still processing it all and sorting out next steps.  NokHoo is headed to a wholesale show in Seattle in January so I'll be applying what I've learned there for sure.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Hello, Christmas Bazaar!

Today I made my first real foray into selling at a craft show.  At the eleventh hour (I think it was last  Thursday) I decided to sign up for America's Largest Christmas Bazaar here in Portland.  I had one week to prep a booth and, oh, also get ready to host Thanksgiving.  Here are the pics from day one:

Here's what went wrong: 
1) wet paint on the display (I painted it two days ago but it's so humid from the rain it didn't dry!!) 
2) the sign was dropped in the rain as we unpacked the car and I had to re-work it as the show opened
3) I misread the paperwork and so we weren't able to set up until two hours before the show started
4) I ache from standing!!

Here's what went right:
1) great conversations with people who appreciated the workmanship and detail in the bags
2) the dude who gave me rum and coke on the sly after I had been standing for six hours (yes!)
3) awesome people watching
4) customers, hooray!!

All-in-all it was a great first day.  Even what went wrong feels good once you're on the other side of it (I think that paint must be dry by now).  I have another five days to go and will need a massage at the end but I'm especially enjoying the conversations with customers — feedback is priceless.  Cheers to another good day and more selling tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Drawing Dr. Seuss in the Desert

I just came back from a trip to Phoenix, AZ and got to spend a little time in the desert.  Coming from the lush NW I thought it looked so barren at first but the more time I spent wandering around the landscape, the more I grew to love it.  I got really excited to draw the plants, which look like they came out of a Dr. Seuss book — so much quirky character.

My 4-year-old daughter was with me and one of the things I love to do is to draw collaboratively with her.  I draw something, she draws on top and so on…  the results get goofy but that's the fun of it.  The drawing above is one of those.  She named the plants (in case you're wondering why I wrote "crazy sparkle shirt" and "lined butterfly tattoo" next to the cacti).

Here's another (non-collaborative) drawing.  I'm loving colored sketchbooks these days.  I think it's 108 degrees in Phoenix now so I'm glad to be back but it was so beautiful I'll definitely return!

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Joy of Color Matching (or not)

I was reminded today of the importance of color-matching and, feeling sure that everyone would find this fascinating, got all excited to write a blog post about it.  I'm sitting at my favorite tea shop writing and re-writing these sentences and realizing that, perhaps, this is a REALLY nerdy topic and can't possibly sound interesting to anyone but me.  But I'm going for it anyway so bear with me!  Here's why I think color-matching is an unappreciated art…

Nearly everything you wear or have around your home has multiple parts that need to match.  I was recently deconstructing old NokHoo sample bags and noticing how many elements had to match:
1) the main fabric
2) thread
3) elastic
4) zippers
5) mesh pockets
6) twill tape
7) straps

If you sew you probably have some idea how difficult it is to get all of these elements to coordinate.  It's nearly impossible to source off-the-shelf bits and pieces that happen to match.  I spent the first part of my career working for big companies that had whole departments in place for this and I spent HOURS staring at colors, commenting on them and sending them back until they were just right.  (As any old coworker reading this can confirm!)  Getting colors to match isn't as simple as mixing the same percentage of red, yellow and blue into a dye.  Many times each element is made in a different factory,   weather and humidity play a part and a huge factor is the type of material being dyed (plastic, elastic, natural and synthetic fabrics, etc.).

When I initially had the NokHoo bags made I was lucky to have a partner in India, where they have the manufacturing infrastructure to match colors.  Now I'm back in the US and starting to source and manufacture here.  I'm excited to work locally but, since US manufacturing has virtually disappeared, these tiny, but important, details are both difficult to find and difficult to afford.  Which means that, when you accidentally find a color that matches, it's really exciting!  Here's my serendipitous find that inspired this blog post…

Hooray! For my upcycling project a perfect match with the blue bag.  I'm making this into a kiss lock purse which I'll post as soon as it's complete.  So, when you look at the stuff you own, take a moment to appreciate all the matching parts, it's truly an art!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Best Little Artist in the World

Happy 4th birthday to my very favorite artist of all!
* this is a picture of a hug

Friday, May 1, 2015

Mistakes Were Made… And That's OK

I've been working on this upcycling project and got all excited about kiss lock purses.  In addition to the groovy name they're fun, girly and have that satisfying SNAP when you close them.  I had great material to work with, between old bag embroidery and my unspeakably large fabric stash, but where to get the hardware?  I STRONGLY DISLIKE cheap hardware.  When I designed my NokHoo bags I went so far as to have all the hardware specially cast from metal because I couldn't source anything but plastic.  (Why, WHY does everyone use plastic??  It breaks!  Pet peeve.)  Moving on… I couldn't find kiss locks at my regular Portland haunts but through frameyourbag on Etsy I ordered a few things to test. Thumbs up on the quality — hooray!

Being too impatient to do a prototype I jumped in with the fun stuff.  I found a shape I liked, made some pattern pieces and worked out the minor complications of engineering the lining, exterior and closure so the seams wouldn't show.  I first glued the bag to the closure, then stitched the frame onto the bag.

Voila!  I like it.  I'm going to sell it on Etsy!  Oh, wait, the details…  Does this happen to you?  You embark on a project, work out the details, spend precious time on it and the results are exciting but, oh, there are those little things that didn't quite work out.  For me it was the fiddly part of the bag that meets with the hardware...

Right there, do you see it?  The fabric pulls and gaps where everything meets, also, that hinge sticks out.  I should've made the top part wider.  This picture doesn't show it but I also should have been more aware of the directionality of this fabric (it's like a grid) because it stretches in a funny way if it's not sewn straight.  Mistakes were made.  I can't sell it but this is my first try.  Lessons were learned.  I shall try again.  The good news…

Check out the gorgeous hardware!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Upcycle Me!

It's time. My original NokHoo development samples have been hiding away in a pile of boxes for a while now.  Whenever I run across them I think, "I should get rid of those".  But they stay in the box, cluttering my home and my mind.  I hate sending them to the landfill because: 1) they represent blood, sweat and tears that went into NokHoo's beginnings 2) they have useful bits and 3) landfills suck.  But today, in a creative/organizational/I've-had-it-with-all-this-junk fury, I whipped out the scissors and began cutting.  Step one in my upcycling experiment. Above is the BEFORE photo. Below are the results (thus far)…

Mid-cutting. It's interesting to see the bones of the bags.

The good stuff.

I'll just pat myself on the back (or the backpack, ha ha) for starting out but… what's next?  I figure I'll sew them into carrying cases of some sort.  Any suggestions?  Special orders?  Help me bring these bags a new life!  I'll blog my progress and hopefully have something to sell on Etsy at the end of the day.  (That was a figure of speech, not the end of THIS day because it's late and I'm tired.  A different day.)