Sunday, August 29, 2010

Katrin's wedding

Katrin's wedding was a few weeks ago. They had the wedding outdoors on the water, down the road from her home in Northern Westchester. Katrin's mom Karen spent weeks cleaning up the field by the lake to get it ready for the wedding.

I had agreed to come a little early (I was invited as a guest) to put the tulle in her hair as we had done for the shoot instead of a traditional veil. However, when I arrived about an hour before the wedding was to start, Katrin's mom was somewhat frantic. She and the rest of the family had been madly cooking for the past several days for the wedding, and there was still food prep to be done. She charged me and one of her old friends with creating the floral garlands that would serve as headpieces for the flower girls, as well as the bouquets that Katrin and her maid of honor, her sister Yona, would carry.

I had never made either garland or bouquet before, but I was not one to shrink away from a creating challenge. My co-conspirator, Karen's friend (whose name escapes me at the moment), did not feel so confident, so I took charge and directed her and the two flower girls in assisting me.



That's what we came up with, which I think looks pretty good given the time constraint and our lack of experience.

Then it was onto Katrin's headwear. Unlike for the photo shoot, I decided to give her a long veil that would have a train, using the peach and gold tulle. Katrin is carrying one of the bouquets I created, which we wrapped in tulle as well.


Here is Yona, carrying the other. I guess if all else fails I can go into the floral arrangement business.


A view of the water.

Katrin walking over with her dad. There were a couple of times where her veil got stuck on rocks but ultimately she was able to walk down the aisle in one piece.


With Jon.


It was my first time at a Greek wedding, but apparently it's tradition to put connected crowns on the bride's and groom's heads.


Closeup of the bouquet.

Katrin's violin teacher (talking to her dad) served as the officiant. I think she said her top was Comme des Garcons and I forget what the rest of it was, but she looked quite fabulous.

Maid of honor, groom, bride. After pictures I cut her veil so that it was more manageable.

Karen got her neighbors to help out in transforming the park area. They put up a tent and decorated everything themselves. It was really quite amazing and beautiful.



The newlyweds' table.

They strung cloth napkins on a clothesline with each of our initial on the tags, as party favors.


Another view of the napkin line.

Guests walking toward the tent from the ceremony area.


With Karen and her mother.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What to pack for lunch

I really want to write some substantive posts but I've been crazy swamped with prepping for my 9/9 show. The RSVPs are coming in and the samples are being made. My friend Alan Wilkis (whose sister Alexandra started Gilt Groupe!) just finished the soundtrack for the show and I'm super psyched about it. I met with Brian, Daisy and Paul of Paul Labrecque salon earlier in the week for hair and makeup, and met with my tech guy at Manhattan Movement to go over setup for the show. Hipnotiq will be serving cocktails -- overall should be a good time.

I wanted to post about my friend Diana's new blog, which has cool ideas for what to pack for lunch (if you want to eat healthy and save money instead of ordering out). Plus, she takes pretty pictures to boot:
Here's the URL:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Talent and Making It

I'm a Malcolm Gladwell fan -- I've read Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers. I just finished reading What the Dog Saw, which is a collection of some of his articles from the New Yorker. One of my favorite articles was called Late Bloomers, with the subtitle, Why do we equate genius with precocity? Among other examples, he provides a comparison between Picasso and Cezanne. According to the article, Picasso's most expensive paintings were made when he was in his 20s, while Cezanne's priciest paintings were produced when he was in his 60s. The article goes on to compare prodigies vs. late bloomers.

The interesting part for me was when he talked about how an artist like Cezanne could never have made it without the support of his circle of friends who supported and championed his work (people including writer Emile Zola and painter Camille Pissarro), and his wealthy father, who supported him financially all through his life. I've mentioned before that I groomed my brother with the notion that he would be the Theo to my Vincent Van Gogh, so it was comforting to know that I'm not the only one out there who needed a little $$ help (although truthfully, I'm not a huge Cezanne fan).

The reason I'm bringing this up and tagging it under the "becoming a designer" category is because I think that if someone wants to become a fashion designer, or more specifically, an independent designer (or artist or entrepreneur), he or she should be aware of the difficult parts as well as the exciting parts. I write my blog mostly for this purpose, but I feel a separate post to specifically discuss some of the difficult aspects is worthwhile.

If you want to set up your own label, you need cash for a myriad of things. You need money to
- develop samples
- pay for sales/press help
- marketing expenses (including advertising, participating in tradeshows and other events, maintaining a website, etc)

Even if you do get orders from stores, there's generally a lag time between when you have to front money for production (to pay for fabric, trim, labor) and when the store actually pays you (a lot of stores ask for net 30, and even after 30 days, don't pay until you badger them). The bigger the order, the more you need up front.

Then you have to deal with returns (if something isn't selling, buyers sometimes try to find excuses to return items) or chargebacks (big department stores often charge you back for violating one of the items on their routing guides).

Meanwhile, you're usually also trying to develop new samples and promote your line, so you're spending even more money. Cash flow is a big problem for small independent labels. Without an investor, people rely on credit card financing or getting bank loans.

It can take years before your line is profitable, so sometimes in the meantime you aren't able to pay yourself a salary. One of my main difficulties has been supporting myself while trying to run my business almost full-time. Many people run their business on the side while working for someone else full time. Not having financial stability can be very emotionally stressful, and is something to keep in mind if you're interested in starting your own line. You should consider holding onto your full-time job as long as you can while you start up.

It's also worth keeping in mind that in fashion as in many things, it's not just about talent. It's also about having enough money to not just stay afloat, but to flourish.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My family loves me!

I've been living in my apartment in the East Village for a little over a year now, and one of my problems with the apartment is that my furniture is too big for it. I was sharing a three-bedroom apartment previously, and while that apartment wasn't huge, it was still considerably larger than my current apartment. One problem is the dining table I brought, which you can see pictured below. It's about half the width of the "kitchen" area of my apartment, which means that I have problems opening the fridge door (which is to your left) and getting to the stove (which is to your right).

My parents were over the other day and I complained about this to them, and within days, my dad had built me a new table top. Now although there is less room on the table itself, there is more room in the "kitchen." Yay!

My brother just returned from his mission trip to Japan, and brought me back some presents. One is this cute little dog pencil case, which I'm using to hold some of my sewing supplies. Sure, it only cost $1, but you have to understand -- this is my brother. The one who doesn't give me birthday presents unless I explicitly ask for them (and tell him exactly what I want).

He also got me these socks, which are fun.

And lest you think my mom is left out of this Janet lovefest, well, don't worry. She is constantly telling me to go shopping and buy nice things for myself (because she thinks my lack of nice things is the reason I don't have a husband). I constantly have to tell her I don't have time to go shopping!

She also makes me tons of food and sends it back to the city with me whenever I visit Westchester, to the point where I often have to refuse it because I can only eat so much food in a certain amount of time before it goes bad.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ugh, so stressed...

I'm doing a fashion show in September as a part of SS11 NYFW, so I've been super busy. I feel super stressed because there is just so much to do. Anyone want to help me (aka be my intern)?

Learning to surf at Long Beach (Long Island)

I've recently become obsessed with Mad Men. I tend to get into things a couple of years after everyone else. Fortunately, my brother has purchased the Blu-Ray discs for the first three seasons of the show, so I'm about halfway through the 2nd season right now. Anyway, I'm telling you this because normally I'd be laying in bed, watching an episode of Mad Men, but instead I've decided to do this post because I promised my friend Michelle who runs a series of cool blogs that feature lesser known things about different cities, including New York.

Anyway, back to surfing.

My friend Marc told me that the surfing Meetup group that our friend Stefan runs was getting Skudin Surf to give a free surf lesson to newbie surfers at Long Beach, Long Island. I was a little nervous about going by myself but I finally RSVP'ed. Luckily (or maybe because Stefan hooked it up) I was one of the 20 (out of 72) that made the cut for the lesson, so last Saturday, I headed to Long Beach.

I convinced my friend Kellan to go, and we took the 9:45 train from Penn Station. If you go to the ticket window, you can buy a joint beach/rail pass for $19. (I'm not sure how much it costs if you buy them separately, but I'm guessing it's several dollars more. The surf lesson wasn't until the afternoon but I figured I'd enjoy the beach since I was heading out there.

The trip is about an hour long, and once we got off, we bought some stuff at the Rite Aid on the way to the beach. When you get to the beach, they take the paper beach pass you get at Penn Station and trade it for a plastic one and punch a hole in it for the appropriate day.

Kellan and I hung out on the beach, going into the water once. I would have gone in more but it was "only" in the low 80s that day (it's been quite hot in New York over the past month or so), so the water felt a little cool. While we were at the beach, Kellan spotted dolphins near the horizon. She got really excited, but I was more concerned with what bit my foot when I was in the water. It turned out to be a crab. I must have gotten bitten by crabs about 5 times while I was at Long Beach -- no one ever told me about this hazard. It was actually pretty painful and I ended up having to go to the lifeguard to get a bandaid for one of the cuts under my big toe.

Kellan playing with her portable speakers.
Me enjoying the beach (not posed at all).

Kellan was being a bit of a jerk and made fun of me for eating my mac & cheese on the beach, insisting on taking a photo, but you know what? When I am hungry, snack foods just don't cut it for me.

At around 2PM, Kellan headed back to the city to get ready for a bachelorette party and I headed down the beach towards Lincoln Blvd for the surf lesson after changing from my bikini into a one-piece. I wasn't about to lose my top or bottom during surfing. I found this black tent which is the HQ for Skudin Surf, which is run by the Skudin brothers.

In addition to giving lessons, they also do board rentals. And stand-up paddling.

As I waited for my lesson, I snapped a shot of another group lesson already in progress:

Some of their surfboards (the old looking photos were taken with the ToyCamera app on my iPhone).

At the tent, we were met by Chris, one of the Meetup organizers, and we started filling out waivers and getting to know each other. Stefan showed up soon after (he had been preparing for the fun house party that would follow the lesson). They distributed rash guards to those of us who didn't have one (I had forgotten to buy one before the lesson).

Finally, the lesson started. Will, one of the Skudin brothers, made us stand in front of the boards on the sand, and we practiced laying on the boards and then popping up. Will and the other instructors critiqued us, instructing us to stay in line with the spine of the board.

Once the land lesson was done, Will divided us by gender, and the girls got to go into the water first. Stefan managed to take a decent amount of photos, including the ones of me on my board:

I got a very long foam board, which was great for getting up on. We got into the water and wait our turn until one of the instructors would grab the board and watch for the waves. My instructor was Ryan. When the wave was coming, he would instruct me when to start paddling, and give me a push. Once the board started gathering momentum, he would shout to stand up. The first couple of times I kept falling over, mainly because I wasn't balanced along the center. However, eventually I was able to get up a few times. It was so much fun, and the water temperature was perfect for surfing.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and it was time to hand over the board to one of the guys. Through the lesson, I made some new buddies, and Stefan snapped a picture:

Okay, here's a better one:

Here I am with Stefan.

After the guys were done with their lesson, we took this group picture:

I also managed to get a photo with Ryan, my instructor. Surfer dudes have nice bodies.

Stefan and Chris, the Meetup group organizers.

We all had a great time and were grateful to Stefan for setting it up and to Skudin Surf for giving us the lesson. I'm hoping to find time to go back and practice although I'm going to be busy before my fashion show in September.

Just in case you didn't catch it earlier, here is the link for the Meetup group:

Everyone I met from the Meetup group was nice and it was fun to hang out and surf together. If you're part of the Meetup group, you get some deals with Skudin Surf, and they have events during the week at bars in the city to socialize outside of surfing. We all went to the house party down the beach afterward which was a good time.

Here is the link for Skudin Surf:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

playing Arlene's Grocery this Saturday!

For those of you in New York, I am playing a show at
Arlene's Grocery (95 Stanton St)
this SATURDAY, 8/7 at 7PM.
$10 cover

I'll be joined by a few friends - Liron Brish (guitar, vocals), Allison Moll (amazing vocals!), and Darin Gherke (drums). We'll be playing mostly my originals, with a couple of Liron's songs and a couple of covers. It'll be a good time, so check us out!