Ok, this post has nothing to do with Bowie, but – it does however have to do with changes taking place with the brand.
I used to make everything myself, made to order, meaning – I didn’t make the item until someone bought it. I would not keep any inventory, and all orders had a 2 week wait until they shipped, to give me time to make it. It was good in that I didn’t have to store inventory, I didn’t have to predict what I thought might sell. I would just make one of every style, do product and lifestyle photoshoots, and only make items as people would purchase them. If there was a style that didn’t do as well, who cares, I didn’t spend that much time, money, or energy making inventory. And at the end of the season there wasn’t any left over stock that I had to figure out what to do with.
I did ‘collections’ twice a year – which involved a new color palette, new styles, and new photoshoots. Although I loved curating collections and photoshoots 2x year, this became incredibly overwhelming (control freak over here doing everything myself). So the hunt started for some help. That is a whole long story, that you can read more about here if you are interested. In 2015 I decided that I’d like to be they type of brand that, instead of doing full ‘collections’, I would have a set of simple basic styles that would always be available in the shop, and available in many colors. I was making them to order anyway, so it was really no big deal to offer so many colors.
I started working with production help, which has really been a work in progress, trying to figure out 1. what my job is now, and 2. the most efficient way to offer and produce styles. When I first started with production help, I would give them orders ‘made to order’, just as I had been doing myself, for example- 1 x gold mae, 1 red rebecca, etc. It quickly became clear that this wasn’t super efficient. To anyone who also hand makes things, you know it takes the same amount of time to make 1 thing as it does to make 5. I also felt like it was unfair to give them orders with such a short lead time. Not to mention, when someone would email me asking ‘when their order would be ready’ – which always gave me so much anxiety, sometimes I would just make it myself anyway so I could satisfy the customer, and not bother or rush production.
This went on for a while, until I decided I needed to completely take my hands out of production. the first step was to no longer stock my studio with leathers. This also made the process more efficient, as I had been stocking my own studio and production’s studio with about 20 different hides at all times. It was A LOT ($$).
Going back to the ‘anxiety’ of getting customers their orders asap – (by the way, most customers are super cool and understand that we were making the items they purchased just for them, so it would take some time). But then there’s always people who don’t read the description or don’t understand the concept, and it just really stressed me out when someone would ask when they could expect their order and I would have to say, ‘as it says at check out, it will take 2 weeks to be handmade’. Sounds like no big deal I’m sure, but I just hated making people wait. SO – I decided I would still offer all the colors I had been doing (was like 22 I think), but I would start to build inventory. Only items I had ready to ship immediately would be available for purchase. Because I sell on my own site and on Etsy, I have to keep a separate spreadsheet with inventory laid out so I can manually updated the numbers for both shops. Over time I built inventory by adding onto wholesale orders, or if a customer requested an out of stock color, I would put in an order for a bunch instead of just 1 like in the past. So I did inevitably build inventory, but then it became clear it was just too much to try to keep stock of all my styles in all the available colors. It just doesn’t make sense for a brand like mine. I don’t have the space for all that product, and to give production an order for every combination of style and color would take a year to complete.
So here we are, still (and probably always will be?) in the learning process of this business. I decided I needed to refocus and regain control of the line, by removing excess colors, and rebuilding with a small, manageable palette that I truly love. I rebranded my hangtags and promotional cards, I basically wanted a fresh start. I needed to regain control, and feel excited about the line instead of completely overwhelmed. I can say I am very excited about launching a more focused line and color palette. I feel really good about it and I can’t wait to show you soon!
In the mean time, here are the changes I am making: DISCONTINUED COLORS
Black patent croc.
White *For the time being all colors will still be available in our original hair ties.
DISCONTINUED STYLES / OR CHANGES Maddie- Maddie was always priced too low, and it takes up so much leather. I’d rather use the yardage for something more universal like a tote or shoulder bag.
Sam- Sam belt wallet will also be discontinued, but replaced with a version sans belt loop on the back. I love the Sam wallet, but I never use it on my belt, I had severely underpriced this one also because I was afraid to make something so small so expensive. Going forward the options were either to raise the price, or remove the belt loop. So, it will be returning as the perfect little simple pouch with button closure; it will look so cute in your clutch or tote!
Mila- Mila purse (or small tote) has been redesigned slightly to include and interior pocket with zipper closure, more secure stitching where the strap meets the bag, and a larger, stronger magnet for closure. These changes did raise the price of Mila, but I can only put something out into the wold for you that I am truly proud of and confident about. These changes were necessary for functionality and longevity of the style. You will have it for a long time ;).
For 5 straight years I did everything myself with the business. I hit a wall and was completely burned out (but we’ve already talked about that, so I digress ;). I had to look at the areas that I loved working on, and the areas that were taking the majority of my time and energy. It was clear to me that production (i.e. cutting and sewing every single bag myself) was completely draining me. So started the hunt for manufacturing help. The problem with all the manufacturers that I was visiting was when I saw the products they were making, to me they looked, well- ‘manufactured’. It looked very different from the product I was making and proudly offering in my shop. The hunt went on for a long time, all while I was still sewing every order. Ultimately, I found – an actual god send – a very small local business of leather crafters that wanted to help me with production. (In Brooklyn too! Manufacturing outside the US was non-negotiable for me).
I worked with them very closely to make sure the finished product was exact to what I was already offering. It needed to have the same handmade / loving feel and quality. It took about 2years to fully transfer everything over to them. It’s a process. For every item I wanted to hand over I had to: make a copy of the original pattern, make the actual item – taking pictures along the way, later putting it all together in a .pdf document with written instructions and images. The thing with manufacturing is there are a million ways to make something, and so much room for interpretation. The more detailed your instructions are, the less back and forth there will be in the long run. You can’t just say, ‘please make a leather pouch’. I mean you could, if you didn’t care about the construction, materials used, or the overall look. But I am not one of those people. Yes, I am probably over controlling, but I have only ever wanted to offer a product that I love and am incredibly proud of. I am so glad I waited for the perfect team to partner with, and I now have the mental space and energy to focus on the areas that I love, like designing! xoxo (New things coming soon!)
Opening up publicly is slightly terrifying. But pretending everything is great and fine doesn’t work either, it ends up translating as stiff, and distant. So here’s the truth, this past year has been really, really rough. (Let me first preface with- I’m not ignorant to the fact that there are many people who have, and will always have it much worse than I’ll ever know- I just want to be honest here about my own experiences). This past year it was really critical for me to take a step back from the business (i.e. constant stress) and focus on improving myself, my work/ home life balance, and my health.
Working so intensely for so long really had a negative impact on me in the long run. I don’t just mean ‘Im tired’, I mean actual life altering outcomes that I really needed to focus on healing and reversing. Even though I tried to still give the business attention, I could barely muster the physical or emotional strength to design one new item. (Not to mention all the changes beyond my control to deal with – algorithms, having to move studios 4 times, etc. On top of everything else – its enough to make me want to just freak the f* out daily). Because I’ve been in such a weird place, I know that it translates into my content and you can probably feel something is off (I’ve had so many unfollows on instgram – am I even supposed to admit that?? 😳haha). I probably should have just been open and honest from the beginning, but its a scary thing to be vulnerable. You think – ‘why would people want to engage with me if I can’t even hold it together?’. When in truth, I know when someone opens up and is honest I am even more drawn to them. So, I just wanted to say thank you for still being here through the ups and the downs. And honestly, I am still working on centering and balancing every day, I have made so many changes, and I am so excited to be back to working and designing with a fresh vision.
Back when my studio was basically in my closet haha.
I recently talked about getting diagnosed with hypothyroidism and having to go on synthetic meds. I immediately did a ton of research on the root cause of a thyroid imbalance, and how to heal it naturally. I found the biggest components to healing are diet, lifestyle (reduce stress and negative feelings), and switching to clean beauty products. Unclean beauty products are endocrine disruptors. Researchers belive so many people now have thyroid issues (especially women) because of the chemical laden skin products. It goes into your bloodstream and eventually wreaks havoc to your hormones.
I know it can be overwhelming, where do you even start? It took me years to overhaul everything. Just start by substituting one item at a time, when you run out of your cover girl or mac, replace it with a cleaner brand. Before you know it, your whole routine will be squeaky clean. Below is the mother load list of every product I use. Enjoy!
My favorite brands for moisturizing are Herbivore, 100% Pure, and Agent Nateur.
For moisturizers and cleansers I would probably use 100% pure exclusively (I started using their products 10+ years ago) but, they discontinue and add new products allll the time. To me it is a weird business model for a skincare brand. Every time I want to reorder a product I like, I would either have to try something new, or search high and low trying to find it from one of their retailers. Everything I have ever tried from 100% pure I have liked, and has never made my super sensitive skin break out. But I am now moving onto more ‘consistent-with-their-products’ brands like Herbivore and True Botanicals.
I mix a few drops of oil in with my moisturizer in the morning and at night. The two I use are Holi (oil) by Agent Nateur and Phoenix Facial Oil by Herbivore. Side note- I definitely recommend following Jena (Agent Nateur) on instagram, she is a wealth of knowledge- also suffering with thyroiditis and endometriosis. Even just reading through her about page you will most likely learn something new. I have learned so much through her instagram stories. Back to oils- your skin gets use to products, so I switch the oils every 1 -2 weeks. I definitely notice a difference when I switch back and forth. I also just recently added a drop of frankincense oil to the mix. I got it because it is meant to be good for thyroid health, but it has also made my skin super soft! I have been using it for about a month.
CLEANSE 100% pure (I’ve been using 100% pure since I discovered the brand, 10+ years ago. As with the other products however, the cleanser I loved has been discontinued. Organic high Potency Reversal Cleansing Foam was the one I just ran out of. True Botanicals Hydrating Cleaner is what I am currently using. I love the face mist so much, I decided to try their cleanser. Oh my gosh, I’ve never experienced a cleanser like this. It almost feels like washing with moisturizing lotion. It doesn’t make my skin feel dry AT. ALL. (I hate that tight feeling!). So I’ve only been using it for about 2 weeks, but I really like it and will continue to use it.
So here’s the technique I use:
1. After showering I mist face with one of the toners mentioned above. (I don’t use a cleanser in the a.m.)
2. I put some moisturizer in my hand, add a few drops of one of the oils mentioned above – Herbivore or Agent Nateur, add one drop of frankincense, mix together and smooth over face and neck.
2. Mist face with one of the toners mentioned above
3. I put some moisturizer in my hand, add a few drops of one of the oils mentioned above, add one drop of frankincense, mix together and smooth over face and neck. I also add Agent Nateur’s holi (c) powder a couple times a week.
TREATMENT: Briogeo Scalp Revival – Not 100% clean, but its a pretty clean product – I only use it like once a month. The smell alone is worth it, smells like thin mint cookies.
LEAVE-IN PRODUCTS: Reverie MILK leave in conditioner. I really like this leave-in, I only use it on my ends because my hair tends to get greasy quickly.
DRY SHAMPOO: Acure – There are a lot of natural or organic dry shampoos out there I want to try, but I don’t use it that much so when I buy one it end up lasting me a really long time. Acure is good though, and very clean.
I don’t use a lot of styling products, especially right after I wash my hair. I tend to use them just when I’m trying to refresh my hair between washings, after dry shampoo. (I only wash my hair 2 x week.) Captain Blankenship golden waves shimmer spray. (Honestly, I don’t notice the shimmer when I use it?). It smells really nice though, looks really pretty in the bottle, and is 100% pure. Herbivore Sea Mist – a great salt spray, smells amazing like fresh coconuts. Great for summer. Herbivore hair perfume mist in apricot – This one also smells absolutely amazing – smells like the best coconut suntan oil.. you know what I’m talking about. 😉 I use this when I want to refresh my hair but don’t need the salt texture.
MAKE-UP I’ve been using Bare Minerals for over 10 years (may even be 15?! yikes.. ). It has super clean ingredients, and has never made me break out. I love it! (I hear Physicians Formula Organic from the drug store is very clean too).
HIGHLIGHTER: Bare Minerals Pure Radiance – If it’s an occasion when I am wearing a lot of make up, this all over face shimmer is such a nice finishing touch, also seems to even everything out. Also makes skin look amazing in photos. 100% pure Luminating Creme in starlight – I use this to add highlights to my cheekbones and the bridge of my nose when I want to feel a little more dressed up. The color is really nice, adds a true ‘highlight’. RMS Beauty Master Mixer – Also a really nice highlighter that I wear on most days. Its darker so doesn’t feel as ‘flashy’ just sort of blends in with everyday make up for a more natural look. I wear it on my eye lids too!
LIP STICK: Bare Minerals – I love all of their lipsticks. Most lipsticks make my lips chapped and flakey almost immediately. Bare Minerals is very moisturizing, and I can keep reapplying without getting that gross flaky feeling. Kosas – My other favorite lipstick brand. Really nice and moisturizing. I have ‘rosewater’ and ‘thrillest’.
LIP BALM: Flynn & King Recover Balm – So I’ve been addicted to lip balm since 5th grade. Before 5th grade my lips were always insanely chapped because I would lick them all the time (drove me nuts when they felt dry), to the point that my 2nd AND 4th grade teach both took me aside to tell me I was too young to wear lipstick – I wasn’t! My lips were just that chapped! OOf. So, I am obviously never without lip balm, I have them stashed everywhere – in my bags and all over my home. I was a die hard Burt’s Bees ‘Nourishing with Mango Butter’ user, until one day I looked at the actual ingredients and noticed there is soy and canola oil in it! Yikes, I don’t touch either of those ingredients while eating, but I’ve basically been ‘eating’ it the whole time! My sister had gifted me some Flynn & King lip balm 2 years ago that I use every night before bed. A lot of natural lip balms just don’t have the right texture – (like too dry or sticky?), but this one is really nice, feels very moisturizing. So I recently stocked up on Flynn & King in both flavors to replace all my Burt’s Bees. Flynn & King has super clean ingredients, and made here in Brooklyn also!
To be honest I mainly use lotions for the scent (now that I don’t really wear perfume), and for glowy skin. Apparently a lotion will bring moisture into your skin, and an oil with sort of seal it all in. So if you are going to use both, lotion first, then oil. Herbivore Citrine – I literally want to eat this one, (Herbivore if you are listening, please make a citrine perfume!). I’ve gone through about 6 bottles of this, I love it – obviously haha. Agent Nateur Youth Body Serum – Smells so good. Seems expensive at first glance, but the bottle is much larger than the other oils I’m mentioning. My husband always comments how nice I smell when I wear this one. Rahua Amazon Oil – Smells really nice, a little minty, but also some warming vanilla notes. Flynn & King Replenish Oil – the argan oil makes my skin feel really supple.
LOTION: Eco Tan Coconut Body Milk – Has no scent. Has a nice consistency. I use this in the winter for dry, itchy skin with one of the aforementioned oils over it. This is also the only lotion my husband will use on his face. Apotheke Lotion – very nice lotion. I have the lemon ginger. Im eager to try some of their other scents.
FAUX TAN: Cacao Tanning Mousse – I have tried all their tanning products, but this mousse is by far my favorite. It smells really nice going on, and the color for me is perfect (no orange tint at all!). I put in on a few days in a row after showering, and it really takes the ‘sting’ out of my winter skin. Face Tan Water – love love love this product! you only need a little bit, so this bottle lasts a long time. I’ve been using it for almost 3 years, and I’m only on my second bottle. I don’t use it every day. I’ll use it a few days in a row to get the shade I like, then I’ll let it wear off for a few days. The best thing about this face water is it ends up evening out skin tone so you really feel like you need less coverage when applying make up.
DEODERANT: Real Purity – I love the smell of this one! If you don’t like the wet roller ball type of deodorant (which this is) defnitely try Agent Nateur instead. Agent Nateur (Holi) Man – my husband loves this, he’s been through 3 sticks, and keeps reordering.
One of the biggest culprits of endocrine disruption is synthetic fragrance. I’ve always been a perfume fanatic, even when I worked from home and would see no one I would give my self a spritz, it somehow always improved my mood and made me feel more productive. Until I started researching endocrine disruptors more and more.. yesh.. perfume / or synthetic fragrance is probably the most toxic thing we can use. For a point of reference, my all time favorite perfume was Dior J’adore – I read that on a scale of 1 – 10 (10 being more toxic) this rates a 7. So I don’t touch it now. There are a lot of natural perfume brand outs there, I have tried a lot of them! My two favorites are listed below, but I still don’t wear them everyday – only on special occasions. From what I’ve researched it seems the only truly non-toxic fragrance is essential oils. I know, I know, they sent doesn’t last very long. I have found though, that since eliminating most synthetic fragrance items from my life my sense of smell is stronger. As I mentioned above I also love using the clean body oils as a scent. THE STELL also makes a really nice essential oil based roller ball fragrance. FIELE Fragrances in Viola – This one is a little bit heavier, I love wearing it in the winter, or when I’m getting dressed up. Feels sophisticated. MCMC in Garden – I love this one in the summer, its lighter and flirtier. Feels more fun and carefree. THE STELL Rose Geranium – This is one that I will actually wear daily. Its made of essential oils, light and floral. I do have to reapply throughout the day, but its a small rollerball so reapplication is easy breezy.
Phew.. that’s a whole lot of info! Switching over entirely to clean beauty was a long process, I didn’t do it all at once. I actually started becoming more interested in clean beauty years ago, but since the hypothyroid diagnosis it inspired me to go full non-toxic (or as much as I can!). If you ever have any questions please reach out, I love talking about products! Good luck! xoxo