Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas

"So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over, and a new one just begun."

as these words by John Lennon come from my ipod dock in my parents dining room this past week, I began thinking... what have I done this year? Looking back... I've been a busy girl!

At this time last year, I was sketching out and planning the start of my business. Now I'm sewing up my 4th collection and looking for subcontractors. I've sewn well over 50 dirndls this year and had over 65 customers! I'm so excited to see where this new year will take Rare.

This time of year is also a time to be with family and friends and so I am going to take this opportunity to thank the people that have made this year a success.

Vanessa Buholzer, Maggie Zawislak, Katherine Rally, Nikki Bappert, Aimee Duddles and Balance Healing Center, Shanti Yoga, Grandma Rosina and Grandma Kathi, Jamie Mazur, Monika Neumayer, Christian Ehrat, all my customers and most importantly: my parents.

My dad has never doubted me... when I have good news, he is the first to pop open a bottle of champagne to toast to my success. He would wear his Rare t-shirt everywhere if he could. So Dad... I would not be where I am today without you. I know sometimes I may not be the best at showing it, but I love you with all my heart and really appreciate everything you have done for me

My mom is my rock. She is the one that cheers me up when I don't think I can continue. She has been with me through this ride of ups and downs and has helped me make some big decisions. Mom... I love you and I'll continue to make you dirndls as long as you'll wear them and talk me up like you always do.

"so this is Christmas, I hope you had fun. The near and the dear ones, the old and the young. A very Merry Christmas and a happy new year. Lets hope its a good one, without any fear"

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Strength in Pink

Soon after I became a part of the AAS Jugendgruppe in 2001 I began making new friends from other Donauschawben clubs from around the country, and one of them was Katie Buchert. She was always happy, energetic, and could not keep from dancing when the music was playing. The AAS Jugend made multiple trips to milwaukee and them to Chicago and since then everyone in the AAS Jugend became friends with Katie and the other members of the Danube Cultural Society of Southeastern Wisconsin. Her smile and enthusiasm was contagious! After her breast cancer diagnosis in 2006 we all kept her in our thoughts and prayers. After a long fight, multiple surgeries and many ups and downs, Katie lost her battle in October.

I was greatly inspired by her spirit and decided to design a small collection in her honor. A line based on the color pink, her incredible strength, and her motto... Live by the 4L's

After completing the pieces, Vanessa Buholzer, Maggie Zawislak, Katherine Rally, and Nikki Bappert all volunteered to help out with the photoshoot for free. We all met at the Balance Healing Center/Shanti Yoga Studio for the shoot and it was a great success.

All the proceeds from the collection will go to the Young Survival Coalition. Young Survival Coalition (YSC) is the premier global organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. YSC offers resources, connections and outreach so women feel supported, empowered and hopeful. We need to dispel the myth that breast cancer only occurs to women over the age of 40. KT’s first entry in her journal after learning she had breast cancer tells her story:

At US Cellular [her employer], they live by the 4 L’s: Love, Live, Learn & Leave a Legacy. When a traumatic event occurs, you really think about what type of legacy you could want to leave behind – especially if you get another opportunity. I’m using this opportunity to carry my voice - particularly to those who were diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age. Our stories are a little bit different. We just began our career – fresh right out of college, still looking to find Prince Charming, and as my friend Lauren described it, “22 is the time to spend partying – the time to be at the bars – not to be living with cancer.” ... But instead, I was fighting to have a mammogram...

When I graduated from college I was having a hard time trying to find a way to use my talents and passion to make the world a better place. Katie's spirit and story have helped me realize how I can do that. I hope that people enjoy this collection and help support the cause.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pink Photo Shoot

A few weeks ago, I sent a message to my favorite photographer, model, hair stylist, and makeup artist, and asked them if they would be willing to do an impromptu photo shoot. I had designed a 4 piece mini collection in honor of my good friend from Milwaukee who recently lost her battle with breast cancer, Katie Buchert, and wanted to photograph them so I could put them on the website before the new year. This collection inspired by the color pink and Katie's unbelievable strength, was one that was near to my heart, yet not in the budget... but I knew I would make it work! (thanks Tim Gunn!!)

I had two pieces finished and was hoping we could do the shoot the first week in December... however finding a date that worked for everyone was proving to be quite difficult. After going back and forth for a week, it was decided that the only good date for everyone was Saturday, the 13th. I immediately went to work finishing the other pieces and working with Jana Seibt, from Jana Inspired Jewelry, on earrings, charms, and other jewelry for the shoot.

Before I knew it, the week was over and we were ready to shoot. My cousin, Aimee Duddles and her friend Anna Potts graciously allowed me to use the Shanti Yoga Studio and the Balance Healing Center for the shoot.

After meeting at my house for hair and makeup we all headed over to the site to start shooting. It worked out great! We met Vanessa there who was taking some photos of the Balance Healing Center's beautiful treatment rooms, and we began shooting asap... since we only had an hour and a half before the candlelight yoga began.

All those involved in the shoot were very inspired by Katie and her strength and were generous enough to do all the work free of charge. This would not have been possible without everyone who helped out and I am truly grateful. Thank you!

Photographer: Vanessa Buholzer of ControlV Photography
Jewelry: Jana Inspired Jewelry
Site: Balance Healing Center and Shanti Yoga Studio
Hair: Nikki Bappert
Makeup: Katherine Rally
Model: Maggie Zawislak

Sunday, September 26, 2010

2nd Trunk Show

My second trunk show was a great success in terms of advertising and promotion! It was held at the DANK Haus on western and lawrence during their DANKtoberfest. I was able to reach an audience that is different from the usual Donauschwaben crowd. With the help of my sister, Monika, we set up a great display and were ready for the crowds at 7:00.

I displayed my couture piece as well as the Rainforest Collection and Summer Garden Collection.

In addition, I wore a piece from the 2011 Intergalactic Expedition Collection and displayed another piece.

I made sure not to leave out the very popular sports themed dirndln. I had Monika's Toews Blackhawks dirndl on display with a binder full of other team sketches that i have been working on.

Although I didn't have any dirndl orders from the show, I sold 3 headbands and 1 hair clip!

All in all, I'm happy with outcome of the show and am looking forward to the future.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Staying... organized?

I hope one day I can pay my parents back... because i'm more of a human tornado than a daughter lately. This week has been a rough one, full of stress, sketches, shopping, spending, and sewing. To be completely honest I think the clutter in my work space is also contributing to my insanity. I try to put things back in their place when i'm finished, but what happens when stuff doesn't have a place?

I think my mother has given up that I'll ever be a perfect housewife and be able to keep a nice clean house, but then again who wants to be a perfect housewife... not me. I really really wish I had a ton of money to have my own studio space, then my bolts of fabric would have a place, I might not need to use my ironing board as a desk and my parents would get their love seat back.

This week I want to clean up, for really, honest and truly... but at the same time, I do have orders to fill, which is more important to me because I don't get paid to clean... and this is why my work space looks like it does. AHHHH!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Blackhawks back in Philly!

Immediately after the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup back in June, I got the idea to make a Blackhawks themed dirndl to celebrate the win! Coincidentally, the greatest weekend of the year, the Tag der Donauschwaben USA und Kanada was going to be held in Philadelphia. I made one for myself and my favorite sales women, and sister, Monika. And I thought there might be a few other people who would want one as well.

However, I didn't expect to bring the entire team! I was so excited when nearly every girl in the American Aid Society Jugendgruppe wanted one! It was a huge hit in Philly and even the Flyers fans like them! We danced in them and if the Blackhawks players were there, they would have been proud of our preformance. It was a great showing and we all can't wait to wear them again for the Oktoberfest season!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Meeting with GGP!

Back in July I was able to finally meet the founders of the Global Goods Partners. The GGP is the charity that i donate 10% of my sales to on a bi monthly basis. I could never image not being able to do what I love and giving to the GGP allow women around the world to create goods and make a living doing what they love!

During the Beckman’s Handcrafted Show at the Merchandise Mart here in Chicago, I was able to go and meet the founders, Joan Shifrin and Catherine Shimony. They were so nice and happy to see me! Once i started talking to them i realized how much my donations really help the organization and the people.

I was so happy to see their new products, especially this Alpaca Floral Hat, which i have to have for winter, its soooo cute!!!

I was so happy to finally meet Joan and Catherine and we began talking about perhaps working together for some Rare, Fair Trade products! I'm so excited about this new adventure and that it is something i believe so strongly in.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mix and Match

You can wear the summer pieces with multiple aprons and multiple blouses... a great buy! Its like a 2 in one. E-mail to ask about multiple apron pricing and one-of-a-kind aprons.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Because these issues need to be addressed.

Lots of things happened today! I was working on dirndls today... like most days, but i got a very disturbing phone call from my friend, the great matthias wissmann, who told me the terrible news, dustin Byfuglien was traded by the blackhawks to the atlanta thrashers. What do they have in Hotlanta that we aint got here?!?! apparently, money, but i don't think he understands that i don't live in atlanta... whatever his loss, but he is probably more mad at the blackhawks for giving him up before we could be together. ah well, i'll still wear #33 loud and proud!

Next order of business, i learned this evening while out to dinner with my sister, Monika, that she likes it when i mention her in my blog, so this one is for you Monika. The best lil sis in the whole wide world! Ah! Mi Nave Espacial!

Monika and I at our cousin, Aimee's wedding.

Speaking of wedding! Lets take a look at the headpieces i made for the event! Aimee's Headband is a satin covered 1" headband with feather detail on the side along with a handmade flower from the extra fabric for her lacing and beads from the removable straps. French netting extends from the front of the headband showing off her beautiful happy bride face!

Also for the event, I made my Aunt Heidi's jacket (pictured with Aimee)

And last but certainly not least... MINE! Nothing like something subtle to match my little dress! I made this feather and french netting headpiece with blue silk center and a little seahorse to bring it all together.

So, while i'm just blabbing on... (this has nothing to do with dirndls by the way) i feel it necessary to talk a little about the great movie that i just saw... Toy Story 3. #1- it was so funny, and i might go as far as to say it was better than the 1st two #2- It reminded me of when i was little. #3- it bring me back to my thought... "what if my toys came to life?"
They might be a tad jealous of my giant shoe rack, my Barbie (circa 1989) is probably salty because she is currently topless, i don't know how my collectable dolls get in and out of the glass case, and bunny would probably be their leader. Bunny is a special toy. He has been with me since my Grandma Rosina gave her to me on easter when i was 6. He has traveled everywhere with me! Johnny Becker so kindly pointed out to me that he thinks that bunny is creepy and he doesn't like her, but I'm not ashamed to say that i sleep with him every night. Your probably wondering why she/he keeps switching genders, well its always been like that, sometimes he is a he and sometime she's a she... i don't know, so i'm wondering what her voice would be like? Ellen Degeneres maybe... Neil Patrick Harris? Who knows. Thats all thats on my mind... thought i'd share my insanity with you all!

Me and my Bunny!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Here Come the Hawks... The Mighty BLACKHAWKS dirndl!

About 5 years ago my sister, Monika, and I went to a Chicago Blackhawks game for $8 (student ticket) with a bunch of our friends and we instantly fell in love with the team. As little girls we used to skate around at the summer haus on the frozen lake while my dad slapped around a puck, but we never new the logistics of the game beyond get the puck in the net. Over the past few years we've learned the players and the way of the game... but in the past 2 years we weren't able to go to as many games as we would have liked because tickets became expensive and more difficult to acquire. But its all good... we just watched the games on tv.

But nothing is like being there! This year for Christmas, my cousin Steve and his wife Teresa got Hawks tickets for Christian and I and we were stoked! It was the only game I was able to go to this year. We had a great time and loved being in the Madhouse on Madison watching our favorite Chicago team.

But wednesday, June 6th was unlike any game we had ever watched. In game six of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Philadelphia Flyers, Patrick Kane scored in overtime to win the mother f*ckin STANLY CUP! After I got a mini champagne shower my friends and I celebrated until 1am (it was a wednesday... most of us had to work). But we all planed to try and get friday off for the parade and rally!

Getting up at 6am for the Rally, Christian, myself and seven of my friends went down to Michigan and Wacker for the parade. We stood at the rally site from 8-11 waiting for our team to arrive. We got to see the cup, our favorite players and celebrate with the other 2 million people who joined us downtown.

I was so excited to see my favorite player and "boyfriend" as Christian calls him, Dustin Byfuglien! Thats when I got a great idea. The Blackhawks Dirndl! Turn my Byfuglien T-Shirt into an awesome tribute to an awesome team!

This kickass red mini dirndl with deep scoop neckline, white and black lace up center front, and white accents at the hem is the perfect way to support the greatest team ever. This dirndl has Byfuglien's name and number on the back and the black apron has the logo on the side and black and white ties.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Website Nightmares

During the summer of 2008 I attended the Business of Fashion Seminar Series held by the Chicago Apparel Industry Board. I learned a ton about how to start and run a fashion line. However, the best advise came from Marsha Brenner who said, "If you don't know what your doing, hire someone!" Thats exactly what I did for my website. I had never done any type of website work besides updating my facebook and make a "ok" looking site using iWeb. I knew that the core of my business was going to be this site, so I needed it to look super professional and very representative of my aesthetic. I hired Greg Bandy whom I knew threw Anna Johnson a classmate and great friend from Dominican University. He maintains and designs for the Dominican website and does great freelance work for a variety of clients.

The landing page of my website

He send me ideas regarding the design from what i told him my style was, art nouveau meets graffiti... messy elegance. I love love love my site... but now I do not love love love figuring out how the hell to maintain it on my own. I had a sit down session with Greg where he gave me all of the files and gave me a websites for dummies lesson. I took copious notes, but those notes are no help when your up to your red lips in code and there is one thing that is sending the whole thing into a tizzy.

My Website... as I see it and edit it.

I was more than intimidated as I drove home from the "maintain your website" session, but I was relatively confident in my ability to figure stuff out and my patients for things that don't talk back to me... like my computer screen.

so why can't I get the photos to line up nice? Why is there a gap?

After a few hours yesterday I was happily adding new photos and information to my site. I was stoked! I was updating store options, making new pages, designing new images... but when it came down to something simple, like adding more photos to the store grid of photos, I went wrong. I have no clue where, but I did. ARG. I'm currently communicating with Greg to resolve my problem, but until then I still staring off into the wilderness of html and hoping for the best.

me... right now

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Summer Collection 2010

Coming in late June 2010 will be the Summer collection. This collection is big and bright and full of life, just like my grandmothers. This collection is inspired by my Grandma Kathi (my mom's mom) and Grandma Rosina (my dad's mom). Both of them have inspired me so much throughout the years, its hard to explain.

(Grandma Kathi, my sister, Monika, Grandma Rosina, and myself at the 2008 Trachtenfest Competition in Cleveland)

Ever since I can remember, Grandma Kathi, has been working along side Grandpa Jacob in their garden. Their garden has won them multiple awards and has supplied me with more than enough eggplant! (my personal fav). There are colors everywhere and it just bring me so much joy to walk around their garden and remember playing in it when I was little. Recently, since both my grandparents have gotten much older, they need a little help.

(Image from their garden)

My boyfriend, Christian, and I both go over there about once a week to help in the garden. Grandma mostly uses Christian for his strength to move cactuses and potted plants, but that gives me time to talk to Grandpa about the greenhouse, what to plant and when etc. The bright colors of their garden and their desire to keep it going is what inspired the color story for this collection.

(Grandma Kathi and I after she taught me how to starch underskirts in the garden.)

Grandma Rosina is a woman unlike any other. She is a travel junky and a fashion addict. I get all my fashion magazines from her and she reminds me everyday why i do what i do. But her travels around the world with her husband, Grandpa Joe, are what inspired the other part of the collection... batik. When I was young she talked about batik and I never really understood what it meant, but if she liked it then I liked it. During my time at Dominican University, I studied abroad in 2007 to Ghana, Africa. That was a trip of a lifetime and that is were my love for batik really exploded. I brought a beautiful batik fabric there and I have yet to use it because I'm scared to cut into it.

(Monika, Grandma Rosina, Grandpa Joe and I)

So what is batik? Batik is a resist dying technique used throughout the world using wax as the resist. The fabric is stamped or painted with wax and then dyed. Wherever the wax is, the dye will not penetrate, however the wax cracks and lets some of the dye into the areas which gives wonderful character. Also at Dominican, I took a class where I was given the opportunity to make my own Batik fabric. It was wonderful and my love for the dying technique was official. Once the fabric is dyed, you must boil the fabric and the wax melts off and coagulates on the top of the pot. It is time consuming, but the results are worth it.

(The batik fabric I made, I used for the top of this outfit)

How does this tie into the collection? With the bright color story from Grandma Kathi and the batik and world inspiration from Grandma Rosina, the collection is full of life. I'm using beautiful batik fabrics as lining in the dirndl. I'm also going to batik my own fabric with big bold edelweisses stamped on it to create the pattern. I'm so excited about batiking again, I can't wait to share it with everyone!