Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Please stand by for technical assistance....

Our Internet connection is on the fritz, so I've limited access to the blog right now. I'll probably be MIA for a little while, but I promise I'm not going away for good.

Also, thank you to those who entered my giveaway. Congrats to Victoria, our winner! Someone from will be contacting you shortly.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mind = Blown

When my mother got back from a recent vacation to Quebec, she had the usual random presents- a jar of homemade jam, a random postcard of a donkey, and truffle oil which I was told oh so politely I could not have, but I was welcome to come to a dinner in which it is used. What I was not expecting was this:

So my mom pulls out this....fabric. I can't even tell what it is. There are two layers of different fabric, these ridiculously long straps, and random button holes (yet no buttons!). What is this thing and why is my mom giving it to me? Well, it's a.....Actually, I still don't know what the name is. But it's designed by Kariza and it's just about the coolest invention ever. There are seemingly endless ways to wrap, tie, and tuck the fabric and straps to produce unique look after unique look. 

I've been playing around with the idea of doing a week full of only outfits based off of this garment. Kind of like a less philanthropic version of The Black Dress Project or a lazy version of Kendi Everyday's 30 for 30. I may first want to invest in a less hippy-ish fabric choice (I swear, I don't smell like patchouli oil), and probably order the "short" version while I'm at it. And should I attempt to wear this thing for 7 days straight, I should probably pick up some Fabreeze while I'm at it.

Dress-Wrap: Kariza Designs
Shoes: vintage (Buffalo Exchange- Philadelphia, PA)
Don't forget to enter my giveaway to win a leather beaded bracelet by Lauren! Entries will be accepted until Saturday night at midnight EST.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My god, it's happening!

(click to enlarge)

With roughly two and a half months till the fashion show, it's finally starting to seem real. We've confirmed roughly 25 fantastic designers, secured a great venue, and even got local beer, wine, and liquor companies to provide drinks for the pre-show happy hour! I cannot begin to stress how exciting this show is going to be and I urge all my readers in the Philadelphia area to check it out.

More details soon!

Designer Giveaway:

Ok, readers. Time to fess up and come clean. I know I've been a bad blog girlfriend. I've been negligent, I've been unpredictable, and at times I've been downright boring and uninspired. I'm sorry, love(s). If you buy flowers to say "I'm sorry" in a relationship, there must be a blog equivalent. Hmm......

Oh yeah. How about a designer giveaway?

I've teamed up with the awesome ladies of to offer this great beaded leather bracelet by Lauren

Design Apparel is a great search engine website that scours hundreds of websites to find the best deals on top end designers like Miu Miu, Prada, and Christopher Blue. To enter, leave a comment with your name and email address (one entry per person). This entry is only open to US and Canadian readers. Entries will be accepted until Saturday night at midnight EST.

Good luck!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Career Opportunities

Cripes, what a busy week it's been! I started my new job at Bike & Build and was immediately thrown into the chaos tornado that is working at small non-profit. Everybody in the office (all 3 of them) are great and the environment is super laid back. Despite only working part-time, it feels as though my entire week left little time for anything other than working and commuting. I haven't even started my college courses yet! I now have the utmost respect for those bloggers who maintain full work and/or school schedules.

Luckily, my office is the type of place where they don't care what I wear or if my tattoos show. As I mentioned, there's only 3 other people there, and most of them are traveling during the summer. On top of that, we have no actual visitors coming into the office, so I can dress as casual as I'd like. Oddly enough, I actually feel a bit weird getting "dressed up" to go into such a casual environment where everyone else is wearing t-shirts and jeans. So far I've mustered up the courage to wear heels and a skirt, but not both at once. Maybe next week, as everyone is traveling the entire week, so I'll be the only one there.

This fantastic skirt was a spontaneous purchase while Ray was shopping for some nice clothes to wear to the Rapha framebuilder's party we went to last week at their popup store in NYC. We went into H&M looking for nice dress shirts, he left empty handed, and somehow I come out with bags of clothes. I think it's a repressed shopping. I held it in for months, due to a lack of funds, and now it's manifesting itself in unhealthy ways. But seriously, this skirt is incredible. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have it. Ray was hesitant, probably because on the rack it looked as if there was serious potential to look like an oversize Easter egg. But I knew the was potential. And look, I was right!

Top: H&M
Skirt: H&M
Shoes: thrifted (Philly AIDS Thrift- Philadelphia, PA)
Sunglasses: flea market (the Market at the Piazza- Philadelphia, PA)

Friday, August 13, 2010

At the Piazza, Vol 2: Diva Chic Jewelry

Hey guys, sorry for the lapse in posts this past week (more on that in my next post), but I'm very excited to bring you volume 2 of my feature for the Market at the Piazza. This past week, I met with Joi from Diva Chic Jewelry, one of the most popular vendors at the Market. I actually gave you a sneak peak of Diva Chic in my last post, because I was so excited over my new finds that I couldn't wait! Check out my interview with Joi below:

What is Diva Chic Jewelry?
Diva Chic Jewelry is a family owned business, started by myself when I was 26. I opened up a small boutique selling clothing, handbags, shoes, jewelry in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Since then, my mother and I have collaborated and formed a great business relationship.

Where does your jewelry come from? Is it handmade or secondhand?
I used to sell hand made beaded jewelry that I made myself when I had the boutique, but now we simply resale great finds from our vendors and from various sources around the world. We find the jewelry that we buy from a variety of wholesalers that we have found to be quite reliable in offering quality merchandis over the years. Also,in our travels we will pick up different pieces that we find to be interesting. 


Describe your personal style and how it translates to Diva Chic.
Our style is very glitzy, we like the so called "bling". We try to follow the trends and offer some very bold pieces that you may not otherwise find  anywhere else at our pricepoint. A few jewelry trends that I have noticed are that anything with flowers, or animals are really in right now. Chunky and bold jewelry is also really big right now. We sell items anywhere from $3 - $40. with I'd say about $15 being the average for most pieces.

What attracted you to selling at the Piazza?  How do you make yourself stand out amidst dozens of jewelry vendors?
We were initially attracted to the Piazza because we were trying to stay away from your typical flea market scene. We wanted a more permanent place to sell our merchandise so that we could build a customer base. We love the atmosphere  and diversity here at the Piazza. People from all over come here and it gives us the oppurtunity to promote our business and our website.
I think that we stand out because we do have a pretty distinct style, but at the same time people with all different types of taste can find something that they enjoy. We are consistent with our merchandise, we constantly bring in new items, and our prices our very affordable. We believe that we are successful at the Piazza because we always keep our customers and their needs in mind. We are not here to just make a quick buck, but to build on longevity and to keep our customers coming back.

What are your short and long term plans for Diva Chic? 
Our short term goals  are to stay here at the Piazza and build up our inventory. People say that we have a lot of stuff, but I think that with the right planning, we can double the amount of merchandise that we put out. Long term goals, I would say is to really build and promote our website. We would love for it to become our main source of revenue at some point. Not to say that we wouldn't continue doing the Marketplace, but we would like to see the website reach it's full potential.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?
People often ask us, "How do you guys do this every weekend?" I'd just like to add that we really enjoy what we do! It's not work to us, although we are very tired come Monday morning. We wouldn't trade what we have going on right now for the world.

For more information on Diva Chic Jewelry, check out their website. Those living outside of Philadelphia can still purchase Joi's great jewelry at the online shop.
The Market at the Piazza runs 12:00-7:00pm, every Saturday and Sunday, year round. For more information on the Market or to inquire about vendor opportunities, check out the Piazza at Schmidts website.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Wake Up Exhausted

Oh hey blog. Long time, no see. God, it seems like the last week just flew by with barely a second to rest or collect myself. My schedule looked something like this: Interview, other interview, Rapha Continental party in NYC, event at the Trexlertown Velodrome, promo work for the fashion show, and conducting my own interview with a local jewelry maker for the At the Piazza feature I'm doing for the blog.

Oh, and somewhere in there I got one of the jobs I interviewed for. Ok, actually I got offered both jobs and had to make the hardest decision ever. The job I turned down for was at Urban Outfitters headquarters, working in the sourcing department for Anthropologie knits and intimates. Total dream job, but the hours were temporary and only going to last two months at the most. Instead, I took a part time job working for  Bike & Build, a local non-profit that raises funds for affordable housing projects through cycling. Not only does this allow me to continue my career in an industry I love, while also getting that "warm and fuzzy" feeling from contributing to a good cause, but it also allows me more time for school, my overall #1 priority. I'll always wonder what I gave up by turning down the Urban Outfitters/Anthropologie job, though. Who knows? Maybe after my 2 month temp was over, there would have been a full time position available in another part of the company. It would be great to work there, but I think I made the right decision.

On a completely unrelated note, can we take a moment to notice how juiced up my legs are looking? I don't know if it's the yoga I've been doing or just riding my bike, but leg muscles keep appearing where I didn't even know muscles existed. I won't lie- I'd love to have stick skinny legs, but I also know that will never be a possibility, so they may as well be as ripped as possible. A+, bulbous calves and monster quads.

Romper: Pins and Needles via Urban Outfitters
Belt: Divided via H&M
Boots: Ariat
Sunglasses: Buffalo Exchange (Philadelphia, PA)
Ring, Earrings: Diva Chic Jewelry (Philadelphia, PA)

Monday, August 2, 2010

At the Piazza, Vol 1: Rainbow Alternative

I'm very pleased to announce a special feature that will be running throughout August. I was contacted by the folks at the Piazza at Schmidts to promote their weekly Vendor Market, Philadelphia's largest outdoor market place. I've written about the Piazza many times on this site already because it's one of my favorite locations in Philly to shop, eat, drink, or just hang out and watch whatever's playing on their jumbotron. With over 200 vendors partaking in the Market, there's no way to cover everything, so I'll be bringing you a weekly feature on one of the many great designers you can find at the Piazza.

First up is Nicole from Rainbow Alternative, who creates [mainly but not limited to) LGBT-inspired spray painted designs on just about anything you can image. I had the pleasure of visiting her at her Gayborhood workspace to see her in action.

Tell me about the idea behind Rainbow Alternative.
The idea behind it when I first started in 2008…I had never made shirts before, I just made them for myself and my friends, and so I decided to basically give it a go and try to sell them. The whole idea was to do pride events, like Equality Forum and Philly Pride, but I wanted to do something that was completely different than run of the mill. LGBT pride events are saturated with the same shit, y’know, with a rainbow slapped on it. People buy it, don’t get me wrong, but there’s not a lot of variety. And that’s everywhere- here, Atlanta, New York….any pride event that I’ve been to has had the same wholesale, bulk order crap. So I wanted to make something a little different.

Who would you say your target customer is?
It doesn’t just have to be someone who’s gay or lesbian. That’s the niche that I think is undersaturated that I want to target, but there’s also stuff like my “Don’t Block the Box” or “No Labels” or Hall & Oates or onesies designs that are not necessarily geared towards a specific group of people. I make things that I like and that I would want to wear. I bounce ideas off my girlfriend and my friends and see what they think. When I was selling at the Piazza last year, I had a middle-aged "soccer mom" buy one of my shirts with two girls kissing and she said “Oh, my girlfriend’s going to love this!” I was pleasantly surprised. And that’s happened quite a few times. It’s not always just a younger crowd or an older crowd. It’s pretty mixed.

Where do you get your design inspiration from?
The design with the two girls kissing is one I’ve had from the beginning, and I’ve tweaked it since, changing the hair. That and the “No Labels” design are inspired by the LGBT community. Everything else comes from ideas or images that I like. 

Do you do the artwork yourself, or do you manipulate existing images?
Both. Obviously I didn't create the "Don't Block the Box" sign, but in that case I manipulated a photo in photoshop & hand-cut the stencil. For my other designs I either used that same process or hand-drew the design, then stenciled.

What is the actual process like, going from an idea in your head to having a finalized shirt?
As an example, I’ll use the Hall & Oates shirt because it was a pain in the ass and I’m not thrilled with the way that it came out. It was an idea for me. I’m going to make a Hall & Oates shirt because I want a Hall & Oates shirt. So I found an image online that would work and then I manipulated it in photoshop. Then I hand cut the stencil, which took forever. That one in particular was a huge pain in the ass, I guess because it’s larger and there are two faces. Faces are usually tricky because if you screw it up, it doesn’t look like the person you’re trying to make them look like at all. The way you make a stencil, you’re cutting out the negative space, which is the color that you see on the shirt. You have to tweak whatever you draw to make sure that it will hold up and that the design won’t fall through. As far as spray painting goes, when I started, it was totally trial and error. I used to use hardware store spray paint and I learned a little trick that helped with the under spray. When I first started, I didn’t know how much pressure to use and the spray would leak through, so there weren’t crisp lines. The shirts now look much better than the shirts when I first started. I’m always learning something and trying to make it better.

How did you get involved with the Piazza, how long have you been selling there, and what attracted you there?
Last year was my first year and I vended there a lot last summer. I had heard a lot about the Piazza but never got up there, so I finally went. I liked the fact that it’s enclosed, yet open. I liked the crowd that was there; everyone seemed very receptive. It was easy for vendors because you would go, you’d pay $30, and you’d vend the whole day. There wasn’t any registration and rules and regulations. It was very easy and if I didn’t have any events lined up, I could do it spur of the moment. I could wake up, say “let’s do this today”, put my stuff in the car, and go. I like the crowd and the environment itself.

Do you do this full time, or is this a side project?
This is a side project. I would love more than anything for this to be full time. I have a regular 9-5 day job, which pays the bills but it’s nothing that I love to do. Over this past year, I’ve tried to step up Rainbow Alternative. I have an Etsy store. My girlfriend Nicole designs jewelry and housewares, so we vend together and we’ve been trying to do as many events as we can fit in this year. I’m trying to get my name out there. It keeps me motivated to make new designs and keep going. I would love for this to take over.

What are your short-term and long-term plans for Rainbow Alternative?
I can’t sew. I would love to be able to make my own clothes, but I can’t, so that’s not going to happen. I want to branch out. When I first started, it was an experiment. I didn’t know if people were going to like it, I didn’t know if people were going to buy anything. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that it was well received. The first year was geared towards the LGBT community as a target audience, but now I want to branch out and do more things that are fun. I just got a stock of onesies that people had been asking for, so I’m going to have them now. I’m trying out new things right now. I got a dufflebag and I got a pillow from Ikea, and I got towels. Basically, different things. It’s cliché to say the economy sucks, but it does and people don’t want to commit $22 for a shirt, but they’ll buy something smaller and more manageable.  I started making things that are less expensive for me to buy and you to purchase.

What’s the typical price range for your products?
T-shirt are $15-24. I have a sale bin at most of my events with t-shirts that I’ve had for a while or that are irregular, that ranges from $5-10. Neckties are $10. Canvas bags are $8.

What’s the most rewarding part of Rainbow Alternative?
I used to be really into art when  I was younger and then I didn’t do anything for a long time. This project is something that excites and motivates me. Because of the process of how I make the shirts, I have a very wide window as to what designs I can do and what I can put them on. I’ve made definite progress, but I still want to get better and expand.

For more information on Rainbow Alternative and to check out Nicole's upcoming schedule at the Piazza, you can visit her Etsy, Twitter, or Facebook

The Market at the Piazza runs 12:00-7:00pm, every Saturday and Sunday, year round. For more information on the Market or to inquire about vendor opportunities, check out the Piazza at Schmidts website.