Archive for the ‘Featured Blogger’ Category

spotlight on // roving ovine

September 17th, 2014

*Please note that none of these posts are sponsored, and all products were purchased by myself*

It’s been such a long time since i did a post highlighting great works in the handmade/indie sphere, but i’ve found so many great things recently that i think i’m going to revive it!

Bunny and Buddy are best friends, and a lot of their games are spent play acting themselves. It cracks me up. They will take whatever doll or animal they can find and turn it into a version of themselves. So i decided i wanted to make them some ragdolls that looked like them. HA. After a long time looking at patterns, and trying to find inspiration all over the web, i kept coming back to Roving Ovine. I couldn’t stop thinking about them, and knew that they were much better than i could ever accomplish on my own. Sometimes its best to accept your strengths and weaknesses, and i am not a doll/stuffed toy maker.

Laura makes the most gorgeous rag dolls, her prices are amazing, as is her customer service, and you can even customize the dolls to look exactly like you want. Happy dance.

So i showed her a few dolls of hers that i liked, described my kids, their likes and dislikes, and these are the Bunny and Buddy dolls she created for me. Aren’t they kick ass amazing?! I love them so much!!!

Needless to say, Bunny and Buddy adore their dolls, they drag those dolls all over the house playing games. it’s awesome. I also really love the fact that Buddy’s doll isn’t too much of a doll. You know? I wanted to be a careful getting a doll that for boy that was definitely for a boy, and not a “baby doll”. Does that make sense? kinda?

Anyway, I really want to get one for baby birdie too, but i really want to wait until she is at least a toddler so we know what to make hers look like. I think she’ll enjoy that more.

So if you are looking for a truly amazing handmade doll for your kids, or a gift for someone elses other little love, I highly highly recommend Roving Ovine!

a day in the life

July 20th, 2012

Ever wondered what a typical day is like for me?

Well the very lovely Tilly behind the fantastic bog, Tilly and the Buttons asked me to chat about my day for her Day in the Life series. It was really fun being involved in this series – thanks for including me Tilly!! (And it’s reminded me that i need to start getting more sleep, and drink less coffee heheehe)

Head on over to the Tilly and the Buttons to read the piece! (and while you’re at it, there are loads of other great pieces by other ladies who have made sewing a career here - they are SO fun to read). XOXO

lets talk about mim

May 25th, 2012

There were a lot of really fantastic creations made during the button up refashion swap - but i must tell you all – I absolutely got the best one. Sorry everyone else, but Mim seriously outdid herself with this one. I’m pretty sure my SIL would have stolen it from me given half the chance (right Annelise??). Honest, I am just blown away by the beautiful job that Mim did. She is incredibly talented. Not only is the design itself really amazing – but the fit is as well. And let me tell you (apparently i’m telling you a lot of things today hehe) after doing a lot of custom design work, getting a good fit for someone who is miles away and you can’t physically fit in person, is something of a challenge. Actually it’s damned hard – and Mim’s top is perfect. Don’t even get me started on the perfect sewing. I am admittedly ridiculously picky when it comes to how neat sewing should be – and i am so so so impressed with Mim’s quality of work. I highly recommend reading her blog.

Do you think you can handle a few more photos?!? Oh good, because i am so darned in love with this top I feel its imperative to show detail shots hehehee

You know, even though there are darts in the front, i think i may even be able to get away with wearing it backwards too – what do you think? yes? Such a versatile little top. I’ve already worn it with skinny jeans and it was equally amazing styled that way.

Don’t forget – if you want to make one yourself check out the tutorial she posted last week.

Actually, if you guys have a free second today i would love it if you’d take a moment to pop over to Mim’s blog and tell her what a fabulous job she did- that would be so awesome! Clearly I am in love with her work… see how i happy i am? hehe

Top: Created for me by the amazing Mim of Madmim, from a men’s button shirt
Skirt: Megan Nielsen, Winter 2011 collection
Boots: Dolce Vita
Necklace: Merl Kinzie // Clydes Rebirth 

becoming a designer: Erika // Asuyeta

March 30th, 2012

Friends, I am so happy to introduce you to this months Featured Independent Designer! I have been following Erika and her work for quite a while now, and I really love her pretty carefree designs. She is such a sweetheart, and somehow manages to balance running her clothing line and having a family too.

I’m so happy to have Erika contributing the story of how she started her brand to our Becoming a Designer series. I love how open and honest she is, and I think her story is so inspiring! Once you’re done reading please visit her gorgeous store (she’s offering a discount at the bottom of her post!), and her blog – and while you’re at it, she’s one of my favourite people to follow on twitter

Hi everyone! I am super excited to be featured as an indie designer on Megan’s Blog! I am gonna tell you a bit about my label asuyeta and how it all started.

It all started when I was doing a 2 1/2 year apprenticeship when I was 18 as a visual merchandiser and got pregnant half way through it. It was a shock but I decided to make the best out of it and finish my apprenticeship.

While I was on maternity leave for 3 month (this was in Germany, where you get a 3 month paid maternity leave no matter where you work!) I felt the urge to start something new, something creative.

So I picked up a sewing machine and some fabric and just started sewing. I sewed every day, picked up a bunch of BURDA magazines and books and taught everything to myself. I decided to make one-of-a-kind shirts because at that time all I was wearing were jeans and I could never find any cute tops.

In May 2003 my son was born and in July 2005 I registered my business as Erika Hendrix and began to sell my one-of-a-kind shirts on consignment to stores all over Germany.

Soon, I started making skirts and shorts and in Fall/Winter of 2008, while living in Oklahoma, I made my first collection.

After moving back to Germany, I was looking for a studio space and found a little store instead. It was super cute and I really loved having a store. I hired someone to help me sew and also had two interns, it was a great time and so much more fun than sewing alone.

While at a trade show in Vienna, I realized that something had to change, my concept and my name weren’t right anymore. So, when I got back home I searched for a new, more authentic name for my label. I researched my Cherokee roots and soon came across the word asuyeta which means chosen. It’s perfect because my items are not mass-produced, throw-away items but chosen for the gal who buys them!

I was still making about 15 pieces for each style but soon realized that it’s a waste of my energy and the fabric because if one doesn’t sell very well, I have all these made items laying around and eventually have to put them on sale which I don’t want to do because I price my item as low as I can in the first place.

So since my last collection (AW2011) I decided to make all pieces when ordered, which gives me more freedom to make something else out of the fabric if it doesn’t sell well, and let me tell you, its unpredictable!

Like I said above, I taught everything I know myself and I am still learning every day. And by that I am not only talking about sewing, I am talking about everything you need to know about running a business, like webdesign, book keeping, PR, marketing workshops and all that. I even did an 8 week intensive marketing school online called Rich, Happy and Hot B-School which I can only recommend!

We just moved back to the states and this is not just a new beginning for me personally but for asuyeta as well. So I had a new logo made and I redesigned my website completely. I also post blog posts almost every day to keep my readers inspired and happy ;) right now, I am still a one-woman business and I do everything myself but I am hoping to hire a seamstress very soon!

I hope you enjoy checking out my pieces and blog as much as I do creating it all!

I would also love to offer a discount code for Megan’s readers. Just enter MEGANLOVE at checkout and receive 15% off (valid all through April 2012)

Becoming a Designer series by Megan Nielsen

featured indie designer: Rank & Title

October 25th, 2011

I’m so thrilled to introduce you to our latest featured indie designer here on Design Diary! Caitlin is super talented and absolutely sweet. Her clothing is so classic, incredibly well made and full of beautiful details –  I know you will love her and her designs!!

Hi there! I’m so honored to be Megan’s featured designer for October. I’m here to tell you a bit about my designs and my new label, Rank & Title. This year I launched my label and first collection with two dresses: Merit and Forbeau.

When I design clothes for Rank & Title, I make sure they’re pieces that not only would I wear, but are practical for layering, accessorizing and are uniquely timeless. It’s so important that the clothes I design have a little something special. For the spring collection, the Forbeau dress was my favorite, with that scoop back and navy band across the shoulders.

My second collection is for this fall/winter and is about to come out, so I’m giving y’all a sneak peak! The jersey Toujours dress has grosgrain ribbon straps with adjustable D-rings so the look of the hem is up to you. Stripes are such a classic look, I wanted to let them do their business with just a little design interference.

When I design, I tend to think for a long time before ever drawing sketches. Clothing ideas roam around in my head while I go about everyday activities and then something will come together, needing to be put down on paper immediately. The striped Trovare skirt took me a little while to figure out because I wanted a simple design but something fun with those stripes. In case you were wondering, trovare means “to find” in Italian. Fitting, eh?

Sometimes certain designs become little darlings I don’t dare get rid of, for example the neckline and shoulder details in my first collection’s dresses were restyled a teeny bit for the silk shirt in my new collection. I like the idea of reusing styles in different fabrics and tweeking them a bit to create new styles. I’m already planning to bring back the Forbeau dress in a future collection, and why not? I’m making my own designs and putting all that energy into creating something I’m proud of. For me, that’s what design is all about, staying true to what I love and making the rest up as I go.

photos & styling: Julia Platt-Hepworth and Caitlin Clark
hair & makeup: Caitlin Clark

Thanks so much to Caitlin for being Octobers featured indie designer!

Don’t forget to check out her store, Rank & Title, and sign up for her newsletter so you’ll be the first to hear when her fall line comes out!! Caitlin is offering Design Diary readers a 10% discount for the first few weeks after the release of her fall line – just use the code MEGAN10

Becoming a Designer: Kristin Hassan

September 26th, 2011

I’m over the moon to be introducing you to my friend Kristin Hassan, as the next designer in our Becoming  a Designer series! Kristin is incredibly talented, so hard working, and has achieved an amazing amount at such a young age. I think she’s truly inspirational, and she has been an incredible support, encouragement and sounding board for me as I was launching my line and starting out. I think her story is amazing, and her advice is some of the best you will get – so I recommend taking everything she says to heart! Once you’re done, don’t forget to visit her website, store, blog and catch a sneakpeek of her Fall 2011 lookbook! So with out further ado, here’s Kristin…

After a few hours of soul searching and an entire bag of Ruffles Sour Cream and Cheddar potato chips, I proudly present to you:

Kristin Hassan’s 7 Easy (yeah, right!) Steps to Becoming a Fashion Designer

I didn’t always want to be a fashion designer. As I kid I modeled after my businessman father making fake bank forms and taking pretend phone conferences. My mother and grandmother though, constantly surrounded me with crafts. They made everything from our curtains to my prom dress. Back then, I was more interested in playing street hockey with my brothers, but somehow found the time to have lemonade stands, sell jewelry, make potholders… so I guess you could say I’ve always been inclined to be an entrepreneur of sorts.

But then the bug bit. I had just gotten my wisdom teeth pulled, the day before senior year started, (DUMB.) I was laying on the couch enjoying the warm fuzzy feelings of pain relievers when a commercial for one of those art schools came on. My boyfriend, now husband, said ‘Hey, I bet you’d be really good at that.’

Step 1: Go to school.
With those simple words my mother and I launched a full on attack against every art school in the city of Chicago. I went on every interview and tour and I decided to take the Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago up on it’s offer because the vibe of part business / part art mix appealed to me. It was clean, and it’s location was amazing – in the heart of Chicago, right next to the Merchandise Mart. My college years weren’t your typical college years. I went to school year round in quarters, graduating in 3 years instead of 4. I wasn’t in a sorority and I didn’t date frat boys. I slaved over school projects and deadlines. I went to art galleries and lounged in the library. And I had the starving artist’s wardrobe/style down to a t. I participated in and worked at fashion shows. I graduated with honors and one of the highest gpa’s in my class so I guess you could say it paid off. I can brag about it now because to me, I completed my mission: suck everything you can out of these people… instructors, professors, classmates. Work ridiculously hard at mastering my skills, expose myself to new experiences. I put so much effort into my education, I’ve been rewarded with feelings confidence in my craft. But I could only learn so much in the classroom. I wanted real world experience, too.

Step 2: Work in the industry.
My first job was as a clerk at our local fabric store, Hancock Fabrics. But by the time I was 16, I had managerial responsibilities. I guess my boss, Ms. Ange, saw some sort of potential. Though I didn’t know it at the time, the vast amount of knowledge I soaked up about fabrics and from Ms. Ange would only add to my arsenal of strengths in the future. As my college years played out, I was ever thankful for that experience and for that boss. (Ange and I remain great friends to this day who have watched each other get married and become mothers.)

I quit the fabric store and took a job as a showroom intern (PAID!), just upstairs from my school. The building I went to class in was called the Apparel Center, and upstairs was where the magic happened. Buyers from all over the Midwest would come to view collections and place their orders for the up coming seasons at fabulous trade shows 4 times a year called StyleMax markets, and the girls that worked as road reps (traveling salesmen) were as chic as the window displays and endless racks of clothing. It was a colorful dreamy kind of place to work. Except I was an intern. My office was in the closet. I was responsible for order entry and invoicing, answering phones, and cutting my boss’ sandwich in half at lunch (no joke). I worked as an ‘intern’ in the showroom for 3 years – before class, after class, even while skipping class – but by the time I left, I had more knowledge about how the business was run than some of the full timers. Oh, and I took on a second job – I also worked at an unpaid internship for local sustainable designer Lara Miller. It was an amazing eye-opener at what life would be like as a small designer in Chicago. I worked directly with her and her contractors. I saw the design process and the work ethic. Best part, she didn’t make me cut her sandwich in half.

But the sweet comfort of college only lasts so long. The Fall after I graduated college I found myself married and ready to launch my career… but where to start?

Step 3: Manage your relationships.
I started freelancing for some random clothing companies, thanks to a few great college instructors I stayed in touch with. (Network! Network!) I consulted for a maternity line, designed some skateboard decks, and helped develop a plus sized children’s wear line. These adventures took me all over the place, most notably New York and then Guatemala, where I oversaw said childrenswear line. I had been building a pretty decent portfolio and had some steady paychecks. So of course I spent it all on sketch pads and fabrics to start my own designs. And then there was the fork in the road: to start a label or not. I had the education, I had some experience, I considered myself talented and creative, and I had support. There was one last ingredient.

Step 4: You need to have money to make money.
It’s sad but it’s true. If you can’t buy a sewing machine and some fabric to sew, how will you ever sell anything? I would have to work years still as a freelancer to save enough to start my own business. So I looked into the most common way to get funded – a bank loan. It’s hard for me to think of a designer I know who doesn’t have a loan attached to them. I was lucky though. My business partner, aka Mr. Wonderful, some potential in me and filled up a bank account. To this day, the money I make goes right back into my line to fund the next collection. I can’t pay the mortgage with my work yet, but one day :)

Step 5: Be part of the community.
Immediately after I decided to take the plunge, an amazing opportunity was presented. Mayor Daly had launch the first ever Chicago Fashion Incubator at Macy’s on State Street. It was a city funded program that chose 6 designers to help launch their careers via mentorships, showroom space, office space, and a team full of advisors. After an intense application and interview process, I was chosen for the inaugural class. It was an amazing experience in which I learned invaluable things and was introduced to resources beyond my reach. More importantly, it introduced me to the fashion community in Chicago – a truly supportive and diverse group. Because of CFI I’ve shown my collection for the last 3 years (this October will be 4) at Chicago fashion week!

So the Incubator was a very, very good decision. But one thing I’ve learned is that as an entrepreneur, you will make bad decisions.

Step 6: Don’t go on a reality show.
It was a very random day that the opportunity to compete in a Project Runway knock-off (The Fashion Show) show was dropped in my lap. I barely had an interview for the show; when I was unavailable to attend the casting because of previous travel arrangements, the producers whisked me away to a hotel room for an immediate ‘on camera’ test and cast me almost immediately. After the Incubator experience had wrapped up, my mindset was to gain further exposure for my brand. The two seemed to go hand in hand so I packed my bags for NYC. And then I quickly repacked them and came home, learning that I am not a reality tv star. Sure, I could not take the stress, the pressure, the absolutely-no-contact-with-your-family part, but more importantly, I wasn’t a fame-seeker, money desperate, I’ll do anything kind of designer. I was kid from the suburbs of Chicago with good intentions to get additional exposure for my brand. For me, being on tv simply didn’t work, and that’s ok because…

Step 7: Business plans are written in pencil.
My father always, always reminds me of this. He says that part of being a great entrepreneur is knowing when you have to go with the flow, when you have to change, and when you have to hold strong to your vision. You see, a lot of my path wasn’t planned. It was just the weird natural way fate swings. While I still consider myself a small fish in a small pond, I am proud of my achievements and work ethic thus far.

My biggest plan change was when I became a mom. I realized that the amount of time and energy, love and strength it takes to raise a child, was far more rewarding and enjoyable than the time and energy, love and strength it takes to run my own apparel business. As a result, I’ve majorly shifted my life. I’m a mom first, and a designer second. I make baby food and play ring around the rosy during the day, and I sketch and sew at night. My business is growing sloooooow. But that’s because I want it to. And my amazingly supportive husband, parents, family, and friends allow me to continue to pursue this life long creative path.

The most important thing is to learn who you are and who you want to be, make a plan, work ridiculously hard, and go after it. You will change, and so will the plan. That’s part of the journey. And the journey my friends, is what it’s all about.

A few looks from Kristin Hassan‘s line, view the whole collection here, as well as get a sneak peek  at her Fall 2011 lookbook video!!

Becoming a Designer series by Megan Nielsen