Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sarah McMullen

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Sarah McMullen, a beautiful and talented singer who has graciously worn my designs for various photo shoots and events. Sarah has just won Pop Artist of the Year at the 2010 L.A. Music Awards. If you listen to Sarah's music, you will understand why!

I have really enjoyed working with Sarah and her mother Bonnie, on coordinating jewelry shots. They are some of the most down-to-earth people you could hope to meet. Sarah was featured as a Young Achiever on Kansas City's Fox4 News: (to hear this segment, pause the music player at the bottom right of this page)

Sarah also has incredible management:

Jonathan George runs JJPZ Talent Development and Jonathan George Entertainment. Jonathan was Grand Champion on Ed McMahon's Next Big Star in the early 2000s and has made big waves in the entertainment industry.

Sarah's album will be coming out soon, and I am so excited to hear it! She is wearing some of my pieces in the cd photos, which is also exciting for me! Thanks Sarah!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hello ArtFire

I recently opened up a shop on ArtFire, which is most likely going to become the permanent home of my shop, which for the past three years has been on etsy.

It was the amazing deal they recently offered that prompted me to look into ArtFire further. Just under $6 per month, list all you want, no fees on the selling end. I can easily spend that on etsy in a week, just listing items or relisting in an attempt to get a few seconds on the front page.

Up until a year ago, etsy was good for me. I averaged a sale per week...not horrible, not amazing, but it was consistent, as were views. As etsy has gotten super saturated with sellers, the views and the sales have continued to slow, no matter how many items I list or how much I promote my shop. I notice that often when I list an item, it never shows up on the front page, thanks to the batch uploading etsy implemented.

Needless to say I have been frustrated, and, although I love etsy, there are a few features about ArtFire that I love even more, as will my customers.

You do not have to open an account with ArtFire to buy! I think this is awesome! I really think I have lost some buyers because they don't want another account with another username and another password. They just want to buy something and get on with their life!

Also, sellers can run coupons and sales very easily! In fact, I am running a 20% off coupon the entire month of October for everything in my ArtFire shop! If I wanted to do this on etsy, I would have to "refund" buyers the difference in Paypal, or go through and mark down each item manually.

Finally, the search engine on ArtFire is so much better. Example: I did a search for "resin bangle". On etsy, there were over 47,000 results, many of them having nothing to do with "resin bangle". On ArtFire, the same search yielded a mere 7,000 results, most of them relevant. Granted, I know the traffic is higher on etsy, but still, their search engine leaves much to be desired.

SO, long story short, I have set up shop on ArtFire. And, like I said, I am running a sale for the month of October. 20% off any purchase! Just type in "october20" at checkout!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ice Inspired

I have always wanted to create clear pieces of jewelry, but have not been able to produce a top-quality product until now! I recently upgraded to a jewelry-quality resin (created by Resin Obsession). Although it is more than twice the cost of the resin I used previously, it is undeniably worth the extra expense! It's ultra clear, non-yellowing and cures much harder, which opens the door for me to make many of my new design ideas a reality!

I love to look to the top designers for inspiration, and I recently watched (over and over again, might I add), the Chanel 2010 Fall/Winter Ready To Wear runway show. After drooling over the elegant, ice-like jewelry that came down the runway, I have been experimenting with my own ice-inspired pieces. As much as I hate (hate doesn't even seem strong enough of a word) winter, it is inevitably approaching my part of the country and the artist in me is attempting to embrace it. Here are some upcoming pieces, fresh from my studio:My ice rings are completely made by hand, beginning with a prototype, which is then molded out of silicone, and finally cast in resin. After curing, the final details are hand carved by me, meaning no two rings are ever alike. The tops are accented with sparkling Swarovski crystals!

This icicle inspired pendant is cast in a commercial mold, then manipulated before it finishes curing, creating the icy effect. After curing the final details are hand carved. It is simply stunning!

White Oak branches are used to create this pendant and earrings set. I make a custom mold of each individual branch, then cast in resin. The finished pieces are as beautiful as real branches after a Kansas ice storm, but won't ever melt!

I am completely in love with each and every one of my new creations! They will be available soon in my shop! I cannot wait to do the photo shoot for this collection! It's going to be amazing!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

On The Fringe Of Fall

This is the time of year I begin longing for the first days of fall. Days with crisp, cool breezes that allow for layers. I love the season. It's the best weather season in Kansas City!

My favorite part of fall is pulling out clothes I haven't worn in months. I love how things seem almost new when you haven't worn them for a while. And I love dreaming up new jewelry to reflect the cooler season! A couple of years ago I made a fringe-styled necklace that was a perfect accessory to wear on chilly evenings out. This year, I have redesigned it, and am going to just love wearing it!

The beads are all handcrafted from black polymer clay and styled to look like lava beads, finished with a metallic sheen. The largest beads are a little over one inch in diameter. The fringe is created by hand-knotting individual sections of yarn between each bead. It is so cozy! On a cool fall evening it not only adds a touch of warmth, but also tons of style!

I might be offering a couple of these for sale later in the season, so keep your eyes out as the weather cools down!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hot Nights and L.A.!

I participated in First Fridays last week and it was HOT! I didn't realize that many of the galleries that open up for the evening do not have air conditioning! The temperature was in the mid-nineties, which made for a long evening and lots of bottled water! Despite the heat, the turnout was incredible. Here is a somewhat posed shot of me at my table with local photographer Gene Starr.

While I was in downtown Kansas City, some of my inventory was in Los Angeles, enjoying some West Coast publicity! I recently had the pleasure of meeting local singer Sarah McMullen, who has graciously allowed me to accessorize her for a few events in Los Angeles. I will be designing accessories for Sarah to wear to the L.A. Music Awards in November, which is going to be so exciting! Sarah has been nominated for best pop artist of the year!

Here is Sarah wearing a few pieces from various collections at the NextAid Red Carpet Event held in Los Angeles last weekend. Isn't she cute? Check out Sarah's music here!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hot Hardware!

I am so in love with my new Aisle 15 Collection, I almost forgot how horrible the heat and humidity are in Kansas City right now!

I chose basic black today (as I often do) and accented the outfit with two items from my Aisle 15 Collection; the Washer Cross Necklace and matching cuff bracelet.
I discovered a new layered look, pairing a frilly fitted black top with a basic dark grey tank as an overlay. I simply pulled the collar over the top of the tank and voila! A new look! Exciting indeed! : )
Don't forget to check out the Aisle 15 Collection! If you live in the Kansas City area, check out select pieces exclusively at NGBoutique in Westport, 4149 Pennsylvania, Kansas City.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Customers Are Rock Stars!

I just looooove it when customers tell me how much they love a piece they purchased! I love it even more to get a photo! Here is Sara, who recently rocked her Rock Star Necklace at a concert in Chicago. This is a great photo, not only of Sara, but it shows off the sparkly awesomeness of this necklace so well!

Sara is a fellow blogger. Check out her blog here!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Who Doesn't LOVE A Huge Sale?

I just heard about an A-MA-ZING sale happening this Thursday only in Kansas City's Westport!

Nikki Grant Boutique, as well as some other Westport boutiques, including Seduzion Leggs, Screen Tee Gallery and Imagery are having a massive sale this Thursday evening from 5pm - 8pm!

Stop in Nikki Grant for cupcakes and a glass of wine and enjoy 50% off everything except jewelry! You will find some really cute and unique clothing at amazing prices!

Also enjoy a first look at pieces from my new collection, Aisle 15, which doesn't officially debut until August 1st. Hit up NGB and see it first!

Visit the NGB facebook page to preview her gorgeous inventory!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Aisle 15

Before I officially started my jewelry business, I had been involved in graphic design, as well as rehabbing homes for resale. Odd combination, I know. For the five years I spent painting, tiling, tearing things out and putting better things back in, I practically lived at places like Lowe's, Home Depot and Ace Hardware. Everything I saw at these stores my mind contorted into a piece of art. Aisle 15 at Home Depot was my favorite aisle. Washers, retaining rings, nuts, bolts...wow. It was like a gold mine for my artist mind!

When I first started designing and selling jewelry in 2007, I constantly thought about creating a line that revolved around that simple hardware I had passed by almost every day when rehabbing homes. So, when exploring concepts for my fall collection, I re-visited this idea and started experimenting. I created a necklace for myself using a steel retaining ring and a jet black Swarovski pendant and knew I was on to something by the sheer number of compliments I received.Local singer/songwriter Jillian Riscoe models what was the original necklace design that inspired this line.

Utilizing the elements of that necklace design, I created a collection that is edgy and elegant at the same time.Stunning local model Courtney Lace, wearing numerous pieces from the collection. All pieces feature brass or steel hardware paired with genuine Swarovski crystals.
Jolie Carrillo-Allen, make-up artist, styles Courtney for the shoot.

In addition to Jillian, Courtney and Jolie, Jen Thomas, owner of The Last Tangle Salon was on hand for hair, and all photography was taken by the incredible Vicki Smith. It was such a pleasure to collaborate with this group of talented and professional women!

Aisle 15 will be available in my etsy shop on August 1, 2010. Select pieces will also be available at Nikki Grant Boutique in Westport.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Things Are Happening!

Things are super busy here at the "studio"!
I just finished shooting the new collection, I completed my first tutorial project, and I am super excited about a recent collaboration with local singer-songwriter Jillian Riscoe!

Recently, I met Jillian down at Kansas City's Plaza. I just love going down there and hanging out, and it gives me motivation to dress up my look a little. For this outing I wore this super-cute Forever21 dress paired with long denim shorts and my favorite black wedges. Speaking of Forever21, I cannot WAIT until their new Plaza location opens next month.

For jewelry, I wore my own crystal studded resin bangles and a multiple-cross necklace as a bracelet. With all the ruffles on the dress, a necklace was just a little too much.

It was a gorgeous day to be at the Plaza, with a nice break from the typical midwest summer heat and humidity. Jillian and I discussed our most recent collaboration for her merchandise, featuring a play on her heart and bullseye logo.

Here she is, modeling her uber-cute collection! She will be debuting it and performing live tomorrow night at Haute Market, Kansas City's premiere shopping party!
(photo by Vicki Smith, make-up by Jolie Carrillo-Allen)

I am also researching a First Friday opportunity, so stay tuned for more news on that as well!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Stars and Stripes

Today I am wearing one of my all-time favorite shirts. I bought it in the juniors department at The Jones Store (now Macy's) about ten years ago. I think I dried it once and it shrunk a couple of inches. I almost got rid of it, until I decided it looked all right with a tank underneath. Now I wear it every Fourth of July!

I paired the top with simple white cropped denim and blue strappy wedges. To accessorize, I wore my extra sparkly Swarovski star ring (my own, but contact me if you want one custom-made. It really has an amazing sparkle!).

I also wore some drop star earrings, accented on both sides with Swarovski crystals. These were worn just for this photo shoot, and the wires are changed out for new whenever they sell. The earrings are available online here. Like the ring, they have an amazing sparkle, which the photos can't completely show.Finally, I have to include a photo of myself and my daughter, who begrudgingly let me take this photo. She hates getting her picture taken, so I was very fortunate to get this shot. :)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Beautiful Eighty

As a woman who has officially entered "middle age" (I turned 40 a few months ago), I spend a little more time thinking about the future of my appearance. I have been blessed with good genes, which do help out, but eventually even those genes will give way to old age. In a world that is so obsessed with maintaining a youthful appearance, it is nice to see someone of older age out there in full force...modeling, no less. And modeling for top designers. And walking the runways.Meet Daphne Self, who, now in her eighties, didn't land in the pages of Vogue until age 70!
You can read more about this amazing woman's life here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

She Was A Skater Girl

About 23 years ago, I could be found most days on some local parking lot or in some drainage ditch "shredding" it with my Lance Mountain skateboard. I was really pretty good, skated for about eight years, and somehow managed to escape serious injury. When I turned 25, I got a really awesome Tony Hawk board, from my now ex-husband no less (I was hoping for roses. He bought me a skateboard. The next day I filed divorce papers. Just kidding. There was much more to it than that.) I still ride this gorgeous Tony Hawk board on occasion. Sometimes my daughter, husband, or I even use it to roll across our ranch home from the bedrooms to the kitchen - yeah, we're cool like that - or extremely strange, take your pick :).

Anyhow, this casual style of dress with a little of what I like to call "skater chic", is hands down my favorite. Although I appreciate a nice dress and heels, I've never really been a girly-girl. Truth be told, on most days I have to struggle with myself to either not wear black or grey, or at least add some sort of color! Also, if it's not cotton or if it's not as comfy as cotton, forget it. I cannot stand anything that is itchy, scratchy, or constantly reminds me of its presence.
The outfit I am wearing here is a perfect example of what I naturally grab out of my closet. Comfortable, usually dark grey or black, which are great neutrals for accenting with jewelry. To accent this ensemble and dress it up just a bit, I added a suede dogtag necklace accented with Swarovski crystals (this one isn't for sale, but I can make a duplicate, a fancy schmancy chandelier drop necklace from my Cocktail Hour Collection, and a wide plexiglass cuff, studded with black diamond Swarovski crystals. The cuff is a prototype. I hope to produce some of these for sale by fall.

Now I'm going to grab my Tony Hawk and roll into the kitchen for another latte. Skate or die! : )

Jeans: To The Max via WalMart / $7 on Clearance
Top: 2Kuhl via TJMaxx / $8
Shoes: Converse One Star / Ebay / $12 including shipping (I was especially excited about the shoes because a new pair like this goes for about $70)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sail Away

Sail away is exactly what I wish I could do to escape the oppressive heat of this summer day in Kansas! I took these shots outside and had to hurry before I was overtaken by the humidity! However, if I were taking a trip to the west coast, I would definitely include this ensemble in my luggage, as the pieces are all easy to care for and a perfect neutral backdrop to my jewelry accents. I also chose neutral heels to keep the focus on the jewelry.
Here I am showcasing a long necklace and a cocktail ring from my Ocean View Collection. I love the way the pieces look paired with this neutral cowl neck top and white cropped denim pants! I also had to also add a dash of seaworthy color to my nails :)The cocktail rings are available online and also at Nikki Grant Boutique in Westport! But there are very few left, so go get yours before they are gone!

Outfit: Cowl neck shirt / Forever21 $15 - white denim pants / Moschino via Target $20 - platform heels / Bongo via TJMaxx $20

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Butterfly Rising

It's hot here in Kansas City. Really hot. And humid. Really humid. And that calls for a gauzy, light maxi dress. Covered in butterflies :) and accented with pieces from my Rising Collection.
I wore this dress to a somewhat informal wedding about 12 years ago. I love it! The colors are amazing, and it is very comfortable. Trying to find pieces from my collections to accent this dress was rather difficult. I didn't want to select any piece that would compete with the fabric design.

Therefore, I chose a simple necklace and earrings. Cast in clear resin, they feature glass seed beads, meticulously hand-placed in a cascading arrangement. The pieces shown here are my own that I sanded to a matte finish. You can see the actual collection for sale here.

Happy Summer!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Third Fridays!

I had my first taste of "Third Fridays" in downtown Overland Park last night! Jeanne McKay, co-owner of The Tasteful Olive, invited me to set up a table and sell my jewelry. Even with the temperatures in the mid-nineties, there was quite a crowd! I was really impressed by the store (owned by Jeanne and her husband), which sells quite a selection of olive oils and balsamic vinegars. I never knew there was so much to know about olive oil and vinegar, but they seem to know it all! Customers can taste as many varieties as they want, even mixing different oils and vinegars for unique blends! My favorites were the Tuscan Herb Olive Oil and the Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar. In addition to olive oils and balsamic vinegars, they also carry a wide variety of pastas, sauces, and other cooking items. It's definitely a must-visit if you are ever in downtown O.P.!

Many other downtown O.P. stores were open for Third Fridays, including The Culinary Center of Kansas City, Olive Branch Art, Images Art Gallery, Green Light and Sugar Pop Kids. Over at Pinkie Couture, they had music and a vintage fashion show!

Even more exciting is that Overland Park is celebrating it's 50th year! See news coverage of downtown O.P.'s Third Fridays celebration here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Vine Time

I recently had dinner with a group of women who blog about fashion. Since discovering fashion blogs, I have had SO much fun perusing through hundreds of them! It is so interesting to see how different people put fashion together in different ways throughout the world!

I never considered myself a fashion blogger because this blog is mainly for my jewelry designs. However, the more I think about it, the more I realize that jewelry is such an integral part of fashion, that I should infuse more fashion with my jewelry to better show it. So, I have decided to try my hand at photographing myself wearing my jewelry - thank goodness for my tripod!

The other day I finally got to my hairstylist for a long overdue cut and style. This was my ensemble for the day, accented with my one-of-a-kind Waffle Necklace, and a stack of three of my resin bangle designs: Floating Gold, Muted Gold, and Black Crystal , which was recently sold to a buyer in London (yay!). I should note that the jewelry shown was only worn for the photo.

The rest of my outfit consists of: vine-printed shirt, Frazier Lawrence via TJMaxx (I bought this shirt years ago and it has been fabulous! It's just stretchy enought that I was even able to wear it through half of my pregnancy six years ago), skirt (I love a skirt with pockets!), Forever21, $10.50, shoes, Mila Paoli, $20 via TJ Maxx.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

In A Boutique, Baby!

I am so excited to announce that a selection of my jewelry will be available at Nikki Grant Boutique!

Nikki Grant just moved to Kansas City from New York, where she lived and worked during the last ten years. Her Kansas City store is total awesomeness!

If you live in Kansas City, you should visit her boutique in Westport. She does all her own buying, and is very, very good at selecting edgy styles that are not too over-the-top. See incoming styles on the NGB facebook page here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Farasha Style

A few months ago I was contacted by a firm in New York that seeking designers for a client who was opening a new boutique. I was asked to send my press kit to them, which they forwarded to the owner of a new boutique in Park City, Utah, called Farasha. I was SO excited to be chosen as one of the designers to be featured in this new shop!

Recently, Farasha hosted a runway show featuring its designers. Here is a stack of my hand-carved resin bangles on one of the models as she walks the runway.

You can check out the rest of the photos (by David Galbraith) here. Phenomenal! You can find my bangles and other designs featured in the runway show at farasha-style.com.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Line Sheets

In my previous post, I mentioned "line sheets". Until a few months ago, I had no idea what a line sheet was or it's function. Basically, it's a sheet that has your products listed and pictured, along with the wholesale price, suggested retail price, and wholesale terms (minimum quantity, etc.). At least that's my take on it. After doing some research and looking at other line sheet examples, I came up with this for my new summer line, Ocean View.
It features the following: Clear photos of the merchandise, short and concise descriptions, basic measurements of each piece, the wholesale price and suggested retail price, and the minimum purchase requirements.

I might need to make changes down the line, but you have to start somewhere! Plus, it sure is nice to have something that can easily be emailed to retailers!

Speaking of retailers, I have an appointment next week at a fabulous boutique in town! All because of the promo card I sent out! If anything develops, I'll be sure to post the news on this blog!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Courting Retail

After spending the last few months preparing collections and getting my website together, I decided it was time to seek out some potential partnerships with retail shops. I have done consignment, and still do, but it is quite a financial strain to have to create all product up front, then wait (sometimes for a loooong time) for it to sell.

Now that I have a more concrete focus and definition to my collections, I feel confident in offering a select few as wholesale options. But how to go about it? I have no real experience or training in selling or marketing, plus I'm not a natural born salesperson...it is a challenge for me to get out there and see people face to face, touting my product. I tend to market the way I like to be marketed to...no pressure, show me what you have to offer, let me decide. SO, what I started off with is a "targeted" mailing, focusing on a select group of shops and boutiques where I think my product would be a good fit.

First, I did A LOT of research on local and regional boutiques, creating a list, then narrowing it down to those I considered the most relevant to my product offerings. Once I had my mailing list finalized, I needed to decide what to send. It would need to engage the store owners within the first, oh, three seconds of looking at it. I know how fast promotional mail gets tossed. It would also have to be limited in cost. Like many small business, my marketing budget is teeny.

Lucky for me, I am a graphic designer by trade, so I know how to create a marketing piece on the cheap that has impact. Instead of paying to have a postcard-type piece printed, I wanted a piece that looked custom, so this is what I did:

I took 4x6 prints from the photo shoot of my newest collection and adhered them to 5x7 pieces of high-quality ivory cardstock. Then I printed my logo and copy onto 5x7 sheets of ivory vellum, which I used to overlay the photos. I chose dark brown metallic envelopes and addressed them with gold ink, giving them a rich and a bit more high-end look, which is very important if you want the recipient to actually open your mailing, instead of throwing it out with the rest of the unsolicited promo material they recieve.
I kept copy to a bare minimum because my goal is to drive the shop owner to my website for more information, where they will look through my products, and at some point (hopefully) request line sheets. Speaking of linesheets, I will post another entry about them soon, so stay tuned.

The cost of this marketing piece? Well, the paper was on sale, making each 5x7 sheet approximately 15 cents (2 pieces cut from an 8.5 x 11 sheet), the photo print was 20 cents, the envelope was 50 cents, and the stamp of course was 44 cents. That brings the total cost per piece to $1.29, including postage. Not bad at all for a custom-designed piece!

In case some of the shop owners don't make it to my web site, I will send a follow-up email after the initial mailing. Even if I don't receive an immediate response, this piece still gets me in front of potential buyers. They might not buy now, or next week, or next month, but maybe, just maybe, they'll be thinking about me when they have coffee with their friends, or they'll happen to mention my company or my designs in random conversation. I have learned that every little bit of exposure helps, and that you never know where your next raving fan will come from...sometimes they show up seemingly out of nowhere...then you find out they are a friend of a friend's sister, whose mother's cousin owns a boutique and received your promotional material...you just never know.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ocean View

I have a secret desire to one day live in Southern California, specifically the Laguna Beach area - and NO, it has nothing to do with "that show," which I have never seen.

It all started a few years ago, when my husband, daughter and I went out to visit a good friend of mine and his wife, who live in Los Angeles. I told him we wanted to stay near the ocean, and he suggested Laguna Beach. Needless to say I loved this artist community! And the climate of course is to die for. My favorite view is above, from the gazebo at the top of Heisler Park.

After visiting the town a few times, seeing the multitude of art galleries, and meeting people from all over the world, I began dreaming of living there, creating my pieces somewhere near the ocean...well, probably inland a little, since anything close to the ocean is beyond prohibitively expensive.

Who knows, we may end up there one day...anything is possible, right? Until that day arrives, however, I have created the Ocean View line to represent my dream.

I designed the pendant and ring for this line so that it seems like a small piece of the ocean, captured and held still in time.I also created a long beaded necklace that can also be doubled-up for a shorter look. Incorporated into the necklace and also the bracelet design are handmade resin beads, embedded with glass seed beads and shells.The resin beads are quite time consuming, but their beauty is definitely worth the time spent creating them!All in all, I'm very pleased with the look and feel of this collection! The pricing ranges from $15 to $35, allowing you to have your own ocean view without the pricetag!

All pieces are now available online here.