Monday, August 31, 2009

Good-Bye Summer. Hello Stress!

Okay, so August is officially over. And despite a fast approaching, fashion filled fall season, the all important sound bite is eluding me. All the cajoling in the world will not release the witty and snappy words from my consciousness and onto the computer screen. My mind is twisting and turning with worst case scenarios as we approach the witching hour. In exactly 3 weeks, our sales professional, Marla, will begin a grueling week where she will meet with store buyers in hopes of having them place orders. What if no one shows up? What if they don't place any orders? What if no one likes any of the dresses? It's like we are caught in a nail-biting episode of Deal or No Deal wondering if we've selected the case with the million dollars in it. Only it's my cocktail dresses that will determine whether or not we can make a deal. I spoke with Marla today to get a handle on how she feels everything is going. And as I suspected, it is difficult to determine right now because many people are still vacationing before the season really starts. So I am just going to have to calm myself by burning incense, meditating, praying, or whatever so that I do not become completely unhinged wreaking havoc on my business partners and on Marla. As I have heard over and over from my angels, "I can only do my best." After that, the universe must handle the rest. So now I am going to do my best to enjoy the last holiday of the summer - Labor Day. Anyone barbecuing?
Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Secret to Happiness

Today I was at the plantation talking to one of my fellow indentured servants about the quest to identify one's purpose. Yes, at times, I can be very deep and profound. Meghan, whom I fondly refer to as Meghanomics (Don't try to make sense of it; I just have a penchant for nicknames), has made an important decision to return to school. This fall she will begin classes to become a court reporter. It is a sensible profession. And on these courtroom dramas in the movies and on television, a court reporter is always a fixture in the climactic scene. But I have disagreed with Meghan's decision so strongly about her career choice, that I've even been so bold as to speak to her mother about it. But what do I know? Meghan is quietly charismatic and funny and charming and I believe her gifts will be squandered behind her stenotype machine. But it is Meghan's decision that has caused me to look back on my own past as I tried to lay the course to my purpose.
I entered Hillcrest High School as a student in its renowned pre-med program. I tried my hand at theatre careers and settled on accounting by the time I graduated. In college, I studied business at Baruch College here in the city before dropping out after 4 long years. While working at the plantation, I discovered fashion design and felt like a fish to water. But I was not successful taking classes at night at the Fashion Institute of Technology because I lacked the necessary remedial sewing skills. I went on to cosmetology school where I completed my coursework and passed my state licensing exam. I can style, cut, and color hair, but it's not something I am particularly passionate about. So here I am, embracing my fashion design instincts and talents. And I just hire other people to sew up my illustrations. And I am happy.

I told Meghanomics that she should find out what makes her happy and make a career out of it. After so many detours, I did. In the meantime, she'll be transcribing her heart out starting next month. I wish her luck.

Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back To The Future with The Mad Fashionista

Monday afternoon on the upper west side Elisa DeCarlo and I shared intimate secrets over a bite to eat. Unfortunately, The Mad Fashionista, Elisa's larger-than-life alter ego, was reluctant to make an appearance. Apparently having barely survived a busy weekend which included selling vintage clothing items and a very long Jewish wedding and reception (Is there any other kind?) out on Long Island followed by a dip in a pool at Jones Beach in full wedding guest regalia, The Mad Fashionista needed to take a little time off. No worries. At least I could chat with Elisa in peace without the over-the-top antics of the Fashionista. Elisa really is quite lovely. And she gets weak in the knees for 40's and 50's fashion. Watching old black and white films from the time she was a pre-teen helped shape her fashion sensibilities. I, too, share an appreciation for that time in fashion when ladies were always well turned out. Remember those smart dresses that Doris Day used to wear? But I try to put a modern spin on ladylike looks from that period with a nod and a wink to the past. I like to think of my aesthetic as more Back To The Future as opposed to just Back.

Elisa will officially be covering New York Fashion Week next month in full Mad Fashionista mode. I, unfortunately, cannot provide one of my modern pieces this season. Because someone of The Mad Fashionista's comportment will surely be photographed by all the media outlets documenting her comings and goings, it is a real disappointment. But we have vowed to work together on a look for the next NY Fashion Week in February as we both will have more to gain by such a collaboration at that time. Until then, stay tuned for more drama and mayhem as my team and I prepare for Market Week beginning on September 20.

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A New Diva on the Horizon

Two days ago I spoke with Elisa DeCarlo, a fellow blogger whose over-the-top alter ego goes by the name of The Mad Fashionista. Elisa is a writer, actress, and storyteller who created The Mad Fashionista as a way to match wits with the elitist androids who are at the top of the fashion food chain. Her curvy, full figure and outsize personality are the antithesis of many editors-in-chief of high fashion glossies. Anna Wintour @ Vogue eat your heart out!

I met Elisa, or was it The Mad Fashionista, at a charity event last February when she expressed her delight with the denim gown my sister, a curvy girl herself, was wearing. When she discovered that I was the creative mastermind behind the elegant frock, she wanted to know more. Unfortunately, Ashanti & I were swept up in the pop of flashbulbs and the fizz of fabulousness during the entire evening so we really did not get a chance to chat further. But after I started journaling about my odyssey, The Mad Fashionista reached out to me and offered words of encouragement and pointers about maintaining a blog. I thought, "How wonderful for this diva to be so considerate and giving." I knew then that The Mad Fashionista and I would forge a wonderful friendship. And then I discovered that although she adheres to the fringes of fashion, she's also been featured in The New York Times Styles Section. This campy character that Elisa DeCarlo has created has a lot to say. Quirky, yet fabulous and elegantly trashy, I will again come face-to-face with Elisa and her alter ego when we meet on Monday. So while I wait for Oprah and Michelle O. to get back to me, I am going to have my hands full working with Elisa by adding a little more sophistication to The Mad Fashionista's wardrobe. And who knows what opportunities lie ahead.
Peace & Fashion!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Over The Rainbow

Ugghh! It is hot and it's making me feel very lazy! But as I assess everything that I have done this summer, individually and collectively with my partners in fashion crime, I realize that there is just no rest for the weary. And like the energizer bunny, I just keep goin' and goin'. Deep down, it is my fear of not reaching my goals that propels me forward. I have learned that I gotta make my fear work for me. And as an entrepreneur, I've learned to be especially proactive. I've already sketched my collection for fall 2010. I know you're probably saying to yourself that I must be crazy. After all, we just hired Marla, our sales professional, to get the inaugural spring collection into stores. But when you are working on the tightest budget this side of Fashion Avenue, you've got to plan your spending well in advance. And it is essential that we not run out of money. Fall 2010 sketches have elements of the subtly masculine and the overtly feminine because that dichotomy is just so provocative. And it can be kinda sexy, too. Whoever said sex sells knew what they were talking about. In addition, Ashanti and I have just re-designed our business cards. Ashanti is the wizard of illustrator and photoshop. Well, if I'd only had the skills. Maybe the wizard can give me some? Enough of channeling Dorothy for now! Serosh and Ashanti and I have just completed the updated version of our executive summary to reflect our new business direction. Having a document as a point of reference helps us to remain focused with our eyes on the prize. Plus, we are going to submit it to someone who will hopefully point us in the direction of raising a little working capital. That's the kind of wizard I'd like to meet. Now if I could just get my size 12 feet into these damn ruby slippers. . .
Peace & Fashion!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Just Fine

Last week we signed on our new sales professional. Marla Freeman, a lovely, mild mannered mother of two, will be taking the reins and dazzling store buyers with her quiet charisma. They won't know what hit them! And the dresses will be hanging on the racks of some of the poshest stores here in the U.S. At least that is what we are planning for. But you know adding a new addition to your family is a little daunting. I can honestly say that Serosh, Ashanti, and I are truly a family. We respect each other and have developed our own language over the last few years. But we welcome Marla with open arms and we are looking forward to merging her talents with the language of Sorta Kinda Enterprises.
I just saw the movie "Julie & Julia" starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. Amy Adams plays Julie Powell, a woman who writes a blog about cooking the recipes from Julia Child's (played by Meryl Streep) cookbook Mastering The Art of French Cooking over a 1 year period. As a result of her project, she finds purpose, lands a book deal, and gains confidence. The story really resonated for me. Before I started pursuing fashion, I often wondered if I would die before knowing my place in the universe. Some days I still ask myself if I am living my life to its fullest potential. And writing about my fashion odyssey certainly gives me a reference point. I sure would love it if hundreds of people read my blog and were touched by some of my stories. And I sure wouldn't mind if a book deal came my way. That would be cool. But right now, this blog does what it is supposed to. It gives me an outlet to express myself and learn from my triumphs as well as my disappointments. And that's just fine.
Peace & Fashion!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fashion Stardust

You know, it's those little things that can make me feel like I really matter and that I am not completely overlooked. A few months ago, my partners in crimes of fashion, Ashanti & Serosh, convinced me to write a blog. Originally, Ashanti was the author of her own online diary. I was convinced that people would really respond to her, particularly women. You know, Girl Power! and all that. But A & S persuaded me that more people wanted to hear from the man behind the seams, so to speak. And now here I am probably sharing more than I normally would or should. I guess since President Obama has taken a vow of transparency, I sort of adopted the vow, too. And it is quite cathartic. But sometimes I feel like I am starring in some really bad reality show that is about to get cancelled because nobody's watching. Only it is my life.
While many times I feel like the kid in the lunch room who is not worthy enough to sit with the cool kids, every so often I get invited to the table. This week I made a concerted effort to reach out to designer extraordinaire Eric Gaskins. I wrote about him last week ( and thought we shared some loose similarities. The idea of finding a potential friend in a seventh avenue alum excited me. Maybe he's not a hang out buddy, per se, but I welcomed forming an alliance with him as my new online confidant. After posting a response to his blog and not receiving an acknowledgement, I decided to search him on FaceBook. I found him! I quickly invited him to be my facebook friend and wrote effusively about how much I loved the blog. Within minutes, I received a response from him. It read: "I'm glad you like the blog. Thanks for letting me know. E" Wow! I am cool by association. I can now apply for membership as a fashion insider. It doesn't matter that he didn't accept my friend invitation. And it certainly doesn't matter that he did not respond when I followed up with a link to the blog post I wrote about him. I am not really sure what I expected. Perhaps he thought I was a bit stalker-ish? But it's all good! Whatever that means. I have been sprinkled with the fashion stardust. And I know it's only a matter of time before Ralph Lauren and I are discussing his vintage car collection over an exceptional bottle of bordeaux.

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Take Two and Call Me In The Morning

I am weary. I have not had time to notice that summer's end is fast approaching because my spirit and my mind and most of my energy is so focused on the development and evolution of Wilbur, my new line of cocktail dresses. How are we going to find the perfect sales professional before it's too late? It has to be someone who can fully grasp our aesthetic and commit wholly to our vision of bringing a fresh approach to cocktail dressing? Patience is a virtue, but it is truly overrated.
Earlier this week my friend Donelle referred a mutual acquaintance to me for the position. "Why not ask her? Although her background is merchandise buying for young contemporary and plus sizes, she's been out of work for nearly a year. It's worth a try." It seemed an intelligent and knowing recommendation. So I went for the gusto. But in the back of my mind, I didn't think it would work out. Lisa F. has never been supportive when I've reached out to her in the past. And in fact, she's ignored my requests when I would ask for potential introductions to people that she knew. Not returning phone calls in a timely manner is her standard approach to me. So when she did it this time, it really came as no surprise. Yet, I still find it tired and rude. Oh well! On to the next.
Today I received an email from the manager of the furniture store that had met with me last week. He was interested in organizing a cross-promotional event at the space that would feature emerging fashion designers and visual artists. But the company heads decided to take a different approach. Because they want to maximize press coverage, they have decided to stage a runway presentation featuring already established high-end designers. Although I completely understand their decision, it still stinks. Established designers already have plenty of clout in the marketplace. It's us little guys that could really benefit from this kind of exposure. Could someone throw me a bone please?! Apparently the event planner that the manager was originally working with was scrapped and replaced with a fashion public relations firm who is connected to A-list apparel companies. These A-list apparel companies are even getting paid to participate. From the first meeting, it was made clear to me and the other potential participants that we would have to pay for our own models, make-up artists, and hairstylists out of pocket. Although the A-list designers have the financing to pay for their own, us emerging designers who barely have two pennies to rub together have to scrape together our coins to make it happen. How ironic.
Today I took a break from the grind and took Vaughn, the young man I mentor, to see the Model As Muse exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Isabel Toledo exhibit at the Museum at F.I.T. Seeing these 2 exhibits was the revitalizing elixir we needed to keep us marching forward toward our goals. We became excited, gleeful even, as we examined the awe-inducing work of Isabel Toledo. Her creativity knows no bounds. Her skills with fabric manipulation and draping and technique are just jaw-dropping. Our eyes danced with delight as we entered the exhibition space. Isabel Toledo's husband, Ruben, created whimsical watercolor illustrations that hung above our heads and we were transported to a fashion candyland. This feast was nourishment for the soul and exactly what the doctor ordered.
Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tell the Fat Lady to Keep Her Mouth Shut!

On Monday, in the early afternoon, James C. emailed us with a short list of amendments to the contract we had forwarded to him. If you are still keeping up with my odyssey, James is the British gentleman my partners and I met with last week about our sales position ( Contract negotiations can be tiresome, but they can also be entertaining. And you can really learn a lot about someone during this period. James's counteroffer wasn't obnoxious or absurd. In fact, I am positive we could have worked it out. That is except for one major point. James C. revealed that he would be back in England for three weeks during the month of September. September is a critical month for sales. It is when many stores from across the country, maybe even around the world, are in New York to see what's new in the market and to start planning their buys for the upcoming season. Since Wilbur is the little line that could, it is imperative that the person hired be present, focused, and prepared. So it was with sincere regret that I emailed James back and informed him that his absence during September was indeed a deal breaker. Immediately I scrambled to find another outlet in which my team and I could find the right sales person for our fledgling business. Although I had not thought of it earlier, LinkedIn seems to be the perfect site to connect with someone who will be able to work with us and our special needs. I am looking forward to hearing from all the candidates and learning about what makes them perfect for us. 'Cause it ain't over until the fat lady sings.

Peace & Fashion!