Friday, April 26, 2013

What's to do in NYC?

Every once in a while a girl needs to get away, soak up some new scenery and jump start her creative juices.   Lucky for me that once or twice a year I visit one of my favorite places on earth - New York City – with one of my favorite people on earth– my sister.

I never seem to lose touch with the excitement at not hearing an alarm clock in the morning and drinking coffee and juice while staring out our hotel window….ok and eating Cracker Jack’s for breakfast.  I have to admit the "surprise" inside was a little disappointing.  What ever happened to the plastic ring? 
While shopping, eating and people watching are my personal faves, this trip I really wasn’t focused on textile shopping for Jilly Bean.  I did manage to drop a bundle in M & J Trimming on buttons and ribbon so be on the lookout for some pretty cool trims at Jilly Bean in the coming months.
I don’t know how I’ve missed Eleni’s at Chelsea Market but I can honestly say they’ve got something for everyone.  Every cookie and cake is almost too pretty to eat but I took one or two for the team and I can tell you they are securely on my NYC radar from this trip forward. 
Of course there are plenty of jumpsuits I would never buy and plenty of prints I don’t really consider all that inspirational but I have to admit laughing is therapeutic; it can be infectious and that just could be inspiring.  Note the security tag just in case some animal walks in looking to take their jumpsuit skin back!   

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Olympic Knitting Finish Line!

To be honest – when I started knitting this skirt last August, I was watching the Summer Olympics and admittedly wondered if I would have the stick-to-itiveness to see this project to completion once all was said and done in London.  Drum roll please………Ta Da!  You don’t have to believe me but in fact, I finished this skirt two months ago!
Yowza one tall order!
As a designer, I am drawn to texture, color, and working with a variety of textiles.  Changing things up inspires creativity and teaches me new techniques that translate well into my design and manufacturing work at Jilly Bean.  I am use to shopping fabrics, trims and drafting patterns so it was nice to work with a pattern designed by Kat Coyle and leave the designing to her.   Kats pattern was also easy to custom fit to me and only me but guess what?!  If you have trouble with any knitting or crocheting project from start to finish or just need support, inspiration, a shoulder to cry on, or a great community of yarn lovers to hook up with (ha, ha), look no further than Ravelry.  You can join for free and have a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips as well as a great resource to organize and shop for your next project….and the next one….and the next one after that!

Merry Christmas everyone and thank you for supporting this independent, made in the USA, one-of-a-kind company for one-of-a-kind girls.  May you be inspired to be inspiring in the New Year~


Friday, August 17, 2012

Olympic Knitting

With the advent of the Summer Olympics, there came almost equally, the debate about the relevance of being Made in America.  Ralph Lauren made what many considered a huge mistake, even a slap in the face, in manufacturing the American athletic team uniforms in China.

I love watching the Olympics and surprise myself at what I get sucked into – weight lifting, hammer throwing, synchronized swimming, it’s all on the table and ready for my viewing thanks to DVR because after all – it’s the Olympics!  Admittedly one of the biggest reasons I watched the opening ceremonies came down to seeing these not Made in America uniforms that had created such a brew ha-ha on the backs of American athletes. 

Now I have to back up a little and say that anyone who knows me knows that I am not a huge TV watching gal but….it’s the Olympics!  My friends and family also know that I would need a project to keep my hands busy while I glue myself to the amazing talent, speed and bodily contortions the likes of which I will never possess.  I am talented enough in the rapid eye movement up down over method that enables TV viewing while knitting however, this is not yet an Olympic sport. 

For years (that is not an exaggeration) I have been eyeing a knit skirt pattern by American designer Kat Coyle so I set my sights on finding yarn Made in America to honor my impending Olympic TV viewing.  I’ve been a label looker for years and I continue to develop my brand around the distinction that Jilly Bean is a Made in America Company.  Still I had to admit I have never paid much attention to the label on my yarn other than to size up care instructions.   With a little searching I discovered the Brown Sheep Company in Mitchell, Nebraska.  They have an extensive selection of products and I settled on a beautiful 80/20 Cotton/Wool Fleece available in almost every color imaginable.  I am a new fan of the Brown Sheep Company and I am happy to say I will be perusing their product line often in the future.

The t-shirt pictured is made by All American Clothing Company – coincidentally the same company I have purchased Jilly Bean Tee's from and you can also check out the Made in the USA: The 30 Day Journey film trailer.  This is one film I hope to be seeing on the big screen in the near future. 

Now….let’s see if I complete my skirt project prior to the 2014 Winter Games!  Stay tuned…..  

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Two Legged Turtle, The Potato Giraffe And Other Great Works of Art

My favorite art, and the art my children remember the most, is their kindergarten work.  Jack is my youngest and the last kindergarten storyteller through art that I will likely have.

There has been no greater thrill than hearing the story of the two legged turtle or taking a virtual tour with him to the zoo through his art.  Who would have thought to build a potato giraffe and who would have thought to photograph it except me?  Who would have worn a hat made of pink painted newspaper on “Muffins for Mom’s Day” and who still doesn’t have the heart to retire it to a box or the garbage can?  Who also couldn’t be more thankful that it didn’t rain that day and she wasn’t wearing newspaper ink and pink paint on her face and blouse?

I don’t treasure many “things” quite the way I treasure my children’s art work except maybe photographs of them.  I would like to think that Jack has had some wonderful exposure to art through trips to the zoo we have taken or our nature walks and of course traveling the world together through books.  I’d even like to think that playing underfoot in my Jilly Bean studio ignites his creativity occasionally.  The reality is that I am inspired by his enthusiasm to create and another reality is that coloring is indeed contagious!

So as we settle into summer together it might be wise for me to stock up on a few new art supplies and maybe hide a pair of scissors and a roll of tape for us big people who will never seem be able to find them in the weeks ahead.  Perhaps I will also buy a few new frames, and even a plastic container or two to save more great works once the exhibit moves on from the walls of our Louvre – the refrigerator.                

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Not Just Any Old Tea Party

I recently received an invitation to a tea party.  This wasn’t any old tea party hosted by just any old body.  This was the fourth annual tea party hosted by a little girl, her mother and her grandmother who have become such dear friends of mine.  What also made this tea party special in part was the fact that for three years, Jilly Bean has dressed many of the invitees to this event and I was finally invited to share the day with these girls.

Guests arrived to a beautiful spread of treats; homemade Raspberry and White Chocolate Scones served with Clotted Cream and Lemon Curd, Pink Lemonade Cupcakes and Fruit Skewers to name a few.  The table was set to perfection with fresh flowers, towering balloon bouquets and even a bright wrapping paper table runner.  Each place setting had a hand painted gift from our hostess to take home as a remembrance of the day but most importantly, each guest was treated as if they were the guest of honor.

What struck me as I photographed these girls was the sense of camaraderie and love they share.  They reminded me to appreciate my friendships and to take the time to make every moment together a special one.  You don’t have to throw a fancy tea party to make time together special but I know my friend and her daughter spent a great deal of time designing invitations, planning the menu and making party favors and that has to be time well spent. What better way to celebrate friendship than pipe cleaner and chocolate kiss rings made over a cup of tea? 


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Unstructured Days

Summer is almost here and school will be a not so distant memory for many of us.  As much as I love the thought of less structure in the days ahead, I will grow to miss those structured days by August.

What remains a constant to me regardless of the season is that the Jilly Bean brand is not about structure.  You won’t find a Jilly Bean model wearing a lot of makeup and you won’t likely see perfect hair all that often.  This brand was designed for the outdoor loving adventurous girl who isn’t afraid to have windblown hair, who loves running barefoot even if she will stub her toe what seems a million times this summer.  This brand celebrates her being a one-of-a-kind.

So I will embrace the unstructured days ahead of me at Jilly Bean because I don’t ever want to forget that there is nothing quite like running in the sand while looking (ever so slightly) over my shoulder to make sure my kite is in flight!   

Thursday, March 22, 2012

You Don't Always Know Where You're Going Until You Get There!

It seems without exception, each time the Jilly Bean Showroom doors open, a visitor asks “where do you find such unique fabrics?”  It is not a deliberate goal of mine to avoid chain fabric stores (but I do for bulk buying) in fact, they save my life on a regular basis.  A zipper here, trim there, or just the perfect color thread, all of these elements become part of the plan or part of the emergency room visit as I work through a design process.  To be honest, I don’t always have a clear vision of what a particular fabric will become.  First there needs to be an attraction and that is just something you feel with your eyes and fingers.  That is instant.  You certainly don’t have to be a designer to possess this instinct, but I’ve met more than a few along the way who stock pile beautiful textiles.  A fabric can lay nicely folded on the bolt for months – even a year before it speaks to the Jilly Bean aesthetic and a collection unfolds. 

This is certainly the case with our Calypso Collection of dresses.  When this fabric was purchased (last fall) it was intended to be our Jilly Bean “Gypsy” Collection.  Then a trip to New York last December changed the face of spring for Jilly Bean!  As I dug through bolt after bolt of fabric, there were many I loved but nothing felt cohesive to the plan I had drawn on paper.  Throwing caution to the wind (after all, who doesn’t love Scarlett) I began purchasing fabric that reflected the Jilly Bean brand rather than a particular collection.  You will see that I use the word “vibrant” often when describing Jilly Bean.  Children are drawn to bright colors and a Jilly Bean girl will make no apology for her attraction to wearing more than a little color!  So as I sat on my suitcases and stared at the best traveling companion in the world (who happens to be my sister) I expressed concern that I knew I had something, but just exactly what that was, remained unclear.

Being an independent designer affords a girl some flexibility in the creative process.  Here are a few places I go to shop that aren’t big east or west coast trips.  Try a thrift store or an occasional store and set your radar for anything vintage.  If you can’t see how a vintage fabric might work for you, take at look at our Jilly Bean So Happy Summertime Dress.”  The apron, bottom border and appliqué details were cut from a beautiful vintage table cloth.  I’ve also been known to upcycle cotton shower curtains, dish towels, even a bedspread or twelve.  In short - think outside your box. 

I can best highlight this exact inexact process by revealing our Starfish Beach Cover Up for summer 2012.  The aqua blue cotton and lace fabric in part, contributed to what impeded my suitcase closing as I left New York last December.  Little did I know it also was the perfect Caribbean complement to our Jilly Bean Calypso Dresses and made a smooth transition into the heat of summer.

I’ve learned that the bottom line is that there is no bottom line.  You make your own rules in design and art.  I hope that you will follow the journey of this independent designer and her vibrant made in America brand Jilly Bean.  After all, you don’t always know where you’re going until you get there!