Select Page

Each Piece Deserves a Story

With a husband working long hours, parenting, and the absurdity of it in our society is another huge topic, I mean it is hard to care for little ones no matter how you cut it. 
Early childhood development is my issue if I am at a dinner party and have to have just one. It is my favorite passionate social topic. I can’t wait for a good dinner party again.
The fact that maternity leave is called Disability in our workplace, and there is not universal childcare and only three months to have a baby and nurture it? 
All other developed countries have around a year to stay home with a baby, nurture, and bond with it. 
There is a wonderful documentary called NO SMALL MATTER. This illustrates the harm to the child and the greater good of our society if we do not get to spend time with our children. 
How could I share all that concern through my clothes? 
Though I try. In so many ways. I consider each piece as a mom garment first, then teacher, gardener, and ultimately creator. 
Each piece deserves a story, a film, an explanation of why the particular transformation was right. The clothes deserve multiple angles of photos they can sometimes get before they’re sold.
The knack for finding the right garment for each person who crossed my path at an event was uncanny. Sometimes, it’s true I could not, and that is how I merchandised the future line of what I had to make for the line to be complete. 
Fitting people with the right garment leads many to try one on and taking photos with different angles or sides so people wearing the same garment could see how it looked, instead of just looking in a mirror. 
People want to see that, like seeing the short video online on your favorite clothing website showing the garment on a model moving in real-time.  
It is part of the process of buying one of our pieces, and it is always the process that one usually finds enjoyable and unique. 
So here we go, please enjoy yourself and my ride on this rollercoaster of living through this blog.
Why would anyone who has been told their entire life they cannot write, try to write a blog? 
When we analyze who and why labels get ingrained in our heads we see it just is not true even if there is a grain of truth. No blanket statements, please.
Why write a blog? I like writing. It is the gateway to making money online. 
My favorite blog is ManRepeller. The first blog I became interested in, about fashion, no less. 
The clothing she, Leandra Medine shared was man repellant. Ha, it cracked me up, the kind of men we do not ever satisfy anyway, probably hooked on some stereotype of a woman on a pedestal, which is quite the opposite of respecting women. 
It just means no one can ever achieve the inhuman fantasy.  
Repeller, the recently updated name of her blog showed women wearing black loafers, turtle necks, and overalls looks were ok and cute! Deflecting the male gaze, back in the day as some of those said men were repelled by the outfits because they were not girly-girl looks.
Of course, I love me some wing-tipped shoes of any stripe, and stripes, vertical, horizontal, plaids, checks, oversized clothes, and socks, always! In no uncertain terms, I could relate.
Anyway, the blog was very good, helpful, funny, and relatable like any good story should be. 
From the get-go, it made tons of money. I am sure, as she took us along the way, as she grew and hosted guest bloggers sharing timely stories, it was always professional and personal. There was a  hired team from the beginning.
Sadly I have to report Repeller closed down last month. Read all about it here in The Cut.
My sister uses to tell me about the *design sponge Blog by Grace Bonney all the time, that was her favorite.
I read it a lot but, did I fully grasp how helpful it would have been for me while working and raising kids. I could have followed all the great business and creative information offered?
Possibly I like to watch TV too much? Read, socialize, parent my kids, cook, clean, organize, and decorate, on a budget of course? 
Whatever the reason I am following a lot of what the two of them encouraged, now. Telling my story and being business-minded. 
I did not do all that I could have years ago. When at the same time, my sister saw one of my SaladBowlDress vests in an ad on the *Design Sponge site, she about jumped out of her skin! 
Somehow my Google analytics or AdSense was working and there were ads for my goods. I had to say it was a fluke but it scored major points with my super-smart, Ad Exec sister. 
But Grace Bonney moved on and closed down the blog. Her brand is still a huge presence on Instagram though and in the link above you can access her fifteen years of the blog through the Library of Congress.
I spent many years inconsistently commenting and following many bloggers, IG’s, and YouTube favorites hoping someone would discover my work? I just didn’t know what I know now. 
It really does not work that way. All the things you are supposed to do I did on a small scale and have had some recognition. 

But it is simple, write excellent content.
Write excellent content consistently.
Write about your interests that align with your brand. 
For me, that would be a sustainable fashion and lifestyle. 

At one time I thought of myself as the Martha Stewart of Red Hook, Brooklyn. 
Then, the neighborhood had a little intervention telling me I needed my own studio. 
Getting my own studio making stuff as I do now lasted six months prior to moving to the suburbs of So Cal when my husband got his dream job teaching Art in college. 
There was no stopping us. I would continue doing what I do while my husband was a college professor. 
Things didn’t turn out as we planned. 
I set up shop in the garage but the three kids had more demands on me than ever. Joyfully thinking we both could do it all.
Everything was different. 
Childcare was usually at a church if you were not already on the waiting lists for the college, and another popular preschool had a waiting list too. 
PreK was half a day instead of a full day like in NYC.  
Baby sitters were not as readily available and after school home care was pretty full, and the Jewish after school program was not as open to non-Jewish little kids. 
Of course, I was not alone, childcare is a huge stressor on families. Moms and Dads need to go to places where little kids are not always welcome, like work. 
We were fortunate for having parents on the west coast alive and well but very busy themselves with their own jobs and not about to babysit. 
The cost of living seems higher than in new york? We were now living on my husband’s salary rather than my fashion industry salary which had been about a third more. 
It was time to get a job and throw my dreams out the window. 
I did do that and we still had childcare problems and ‘no mom’ problems for just a little more money when we weighed the differences. 
If only I knew how blogging worked then?

Read More

Why Write a Blog?

Why Write a Blog?
Of course, I had to make money the artist/mom way, all these years, not the business way. 
I made one-off goods to sell. Many customers became my friends and owned multiple garments, then COVID hit. 
This year may have been my biggest year yet. I finally had my own studio again after fifteen years of intermittently working from home. 
I have the product, a few employees, person to person sales, wonderful Farmer’s Market venues and Artisan venues, fashion show recognition, although not any editorials simply for the lack of trying. 
I was going to make some press kits this year. Some line plans, and showroom sales. 
All of that was on a need-to basis, and quite frankly a waste of time, when I was designing, cutting, patterning, and sewing all my work. Everything was going along smoothly until I had the time to grow. 
In addition, I had some decor making ideas, besides a small sideline of organizing one’s house/closet which came naturally since I was collecting unwanted clothing. 
Having lived in NYC for twenty years I became good at home spatial planning and studied the art of organizing while trying to figure out what to do with all the stuff in cramped spaces. 
For fifteen of those years, I lived with an artist husband and then three kids all making artwork.  In a loft in Red Hook Brooklyn. But now I am here in the middle of a global pandemic realizing all the skills I’ve learned my whole life and all the interest I have had are all coming together in this moment of blogging and sharing on social media. 
Thinking this was also my time to make content videos on YouTube since I was a Communications graduate years ago, it still loomed in the background, thinking this was also my time to make content videos on YouTube always being interested in filmmaking and documentary film.  
Then covid hit, and in a way, I thought I could do all the things I wanted since I already had the design studio, and the money I was planning to use to grow the fashion business was just going to have to help me pivot in an all-encompassing way to being a content creator. One that makes stuff for all media. 
Stuff being loosely defined, in my case as already having real stuff which is called Evergreen content ready for explanation or storytelling. How did I create this stuff / original designs and why, what inspired the one-offs I have been making for years. 
Then why did I make all the fun funky things for my house I saw in a now-defunct magazine called Ready Made and from a website called Ikea Hacks not to mention the Indestructables site. This was all stuff I had made and would now be considered Evergreen content. 
Although at the beginning of this pandemic I was completely occupied by a serious turn of events that I had to stage a house, sell said home, and place my mother in a new home and rid her of all her belongings just as things were closing down. Something of a similar phenomenon was going on with my inlaws. At just this time their age had been catching up with them and it was time they all had to move to an independent living environment. 
Things really worked out with them as they all moved out of their respective homes and into full-time care facilities. The home I staged had closed by March 31 thankfully as people were in full lockdown. As a fashion business not only was I not allowed in my studio building but I also was busy helping my parents which were fortunate. Then after the first wave of wondering what to do, knowing making masks was what was expected I finally got started on making them deemed an essential worker but I had to sew everything myself because my one employee was needed at her home. 
It was after sewing hundreds of masks, and selling and donating about half, I took a class that kind of changed my life. 
An online course of all things. You have heard it all before and in my case, it was the right thing at the right time. It validated that essentially I was a content creator but did not know how to go about making money doing everything that I loved. The class was from a person who I had met at a conference in Las Vegas. So she kind of knew me. 
The validation propelled me to where I am today six months later with a new blog and validation that all the work I have done all these years trying to get the big sales or wondering why I kept going other than that I loved making it all, became a vast bank of useable Evergreen content, for my posts, pins, and videos. 
Yeah, I am a content creator who has consistently posted a blog weekly for almost three months now. Not counting the years of Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, and Pinterest posts sharing my work over the years. 
Furthermore, having the most followers on my Linkedin account for really not doing anything but someone everyone always wants to have in their arsenal of skilled workers, a patternmaker/technical designer.
This new job is in high demand and helps work out any problems with where I am going in my career as someone in high demand. 
But why didn’t I do this sooner? I started and stopped blogging many times. Consistency is key with blogging and as a side hustle, there is only so much time one has as a mother and a Worker is what I called my title sometimes.

Read More

Sustainable Fashion/What Am I Doing?
We are writing new blogs weekly to share information about and its role in the changing fashion landscape.
Sustainable fashion is at the forefront of enlisting customers towards a more ethical shopping style. shopping in their closet or finding brands with a commitment to do better in saving the planet. 
What should you be looking for in a sustainable wardrobe going forward?
Brands that are transparent in how they do business.
We would like to guide you in some of your choices as we become aware of companies that are doing the right thing, for all of us, going forward.
There is a myriad of issues to address. Consumption in our industry is the biggest cause of global warming.
There are many different approaches to enlisting good trade practices. Some of the simpler questions are these:

Is the labor being paid a living wage?
Working in safe conditions?
Where and how are their fabrics sourced?
Are the garments made with healthy fabrics such as ironically including deadstock or stock that is leftover from a larger brand’s needs, rather than being thrown away!

Fabric will go the way of “out of many” we might end up with one, E Pluribus Unum a concept conceived by our founding fathers to unite the thirteen colonies thus initiating the melting pot concept. 
But these days we want unique cultures to stay intact and carry on with the foods, traditions, languages, and clothing that may define the culture while still assimilating into the varied conglomerate community. 
Salad Bowl Dress’s name is about retaining one’s individuality in your unique self and style. Derived from the term-A salad bowl or tossed salad is a metaphor for the way a multicultural society can integrate different cultures while maintaining their separate identities, contrasting with a melting pot, which emphasizes the combination of the parts into a single whole. … New York City can be considered as being a “salad bowl“.-Wikipedia
Or this explanation from Blog.Baruch.cuny  -The salad bowl theory is when newly arrived immigrants do not lose the unique aspects of their cultures like in the melting pot model, instead they retain them. … This idea proposes a society of many individuals, “pure” cultures in addition to the mixed culture that is modern American culture.
Since so many traditional fabrics are not sustainable on our depleted planet. Our future in textiles is going to be different with fewer choices for fabrication or fibers than today. But more ethically sourced and ingeniously woven or knitted. 
Especially the way fabrics have been made with petroleum products and with leather from cows being herded in the rain forests using tanneries so full of deadly chemicals the average lifespan of workers is only fifty years. I digress.
There is hope, so many innovative fabrics have been developed from mushrooms, bamboo, hemp, and synthetics that are not relying wholly on petroleum for manufacturing. There are lists of companies at The Good Trade. I have been purchasing from PACT for my undergarment needs, and they are a perfect example of a company that only uses organic cotton, innovative blends, and has transparent manufacturing listed on their website.
The least good alternative for scaling up into the billions, 2.5 billion is recycling presently, but for individuals, it is a very low cost and efficient use of resources to head towards zero waste in our households and communities. 
The second hand or upcycling alternative is very creative and custom in its nature. SaladBowlDress has a very utilitarian component, as well as a casual shirt or dress, all with pockets for a person on the go. 
The quality is better simply by being made one at a time, therefore easily customizable. The design is contemporary, classic, and using clothing deconstructed into new fashionable pieces. 
It is our goal to support all sustainable clothing brands in the quest to do something about the number one polluter on Earth, fashion, the major cause of global warming. But it doesn’t mean we can not have fun with fashion while we are doing it.
Get Your Dressing On!

Read More

The State of Fashion /Coronavirus Update

State of Market
Informa Markets Fashion
Coronavirus update with Nick Blunden, president, BofF
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
The State of Fashion with Nick Blunden summary: 
I tuned in to the Business of Fashion’s Nick Blunden talk about what a huge impact Covid is having on the fashion industry. He shared a lot of statistics affecting the fashion industry. Starting with the fact that it is hit harder than most with a 2.5 trillion contribution to the economy worldwide.
Fashion is a discretionary purchase. 
Never before has the demand side and supply side been depleted to this level. The crisis is unprecedented in lost sales and store closures.  
Consumer sentiment stopped, there were pretty much no sales. People were feeling unsure about the need for clothing since for the most part, it is a discretionary expenditure.
Fashion is a 5% of GDP dropped worldwide and upwards of 10% drop in Italy. 
Physical sales were prevalent in the past, contrary to what is assumed that most sales have shifted toward online. Especially in the luxury space where most sales were made in a brick and mortar store. 
Pre corona department store shopping dropped 27-30% from what it was when it was already on the decline. The second wave of lockdown caused 80% to go into chapter 11. In the future, Physical retail will look different with social distancing. 
The Luxury segment is a 500 billion industry and had a 120 billion dollar drop. It was hit harder because it is even more discretionary spending than overall, therefore more heavily hit. 
Its market is more reliant on travel. Typically it has lower levels of online shopping and is
more dependent on department stores. In the recession of 2008 a 5% decline in the overall market, but luxury was an 8% decline.
Although there is an additional channel shift to e-commerce, only some have benefitted, impacted the demand side and supply side, and created an inventory misalignment. 
Some stores could not get their hands on some goods, while others had a supply-side creating a global phenomenon, causing an incredible impact on workers particularly low-cost sources and fashion hubs resulting in hunger and disease.
What will the industry look like after the virus? The whole industry is due for a reset. 
Five themes spread across three categories. 

Global economy

First, important survival instincts will not bounce back the same, it will be a long hard road, the global economy will take years. It has to think very strategically, and not to return anytime soon. It will take years. 

Geographic Footprint

They need to start thinking about a recovery plan. First, a geographic footprint will change to more localized retail. Supply chains will change, interesting changes predict shortening supply chains closer to key markets, move from pull than a push model. ( instead of having an inventory of goods, more made to order)

Growth Opportunities

Growth opportunities for the one in three who are prepared. What recovery looks like is following the impact of consumer shifts which are myriad.

The old fashion industry contracting, looking for a deal, match with massive industry inventory shift to a discounting culture is going to be difficult.
In context, the discount strategy has to be careful to get rid of stock.
Think carefully about specific channels.

Consumer Shifts

Discounts and value for the consumer are now starting to think about sustainability and diversity, purpose vision, spend with those companies for value-driven will see gains and sell at full price.

Digital Escalation

Much bigger drivers going forward. Digital escalation is so profound, deconstructed in a way. Accelerated consumer trends moving forward towards a digital future, grown dramatically, those we believe will continue past the pandemic. 
Fashion investing in digital talent where they can. Digital-first mindset, buy online, pick up in-store. Can be less profitable, but the consumer is saying it is important a primary priority. 
What impacts us as a whole is recognizing considerable shake out of consolidation. Struggling to cover the cost of capital, 2018 super winners Nike, Burberry 177% responsible for the most profit. Many businesses are born in a crisis. Travel /luxury will rebound more quickly -exposed to the wealth of China. 
Innovation will ultimately be virtual, how are you going to thrive in the new normal? 
How will you deal with excess stock? 
How will you accelerate offline sales? 
How can you benefit? 
How can you think about innovation? 
All can build a better industry.
 As emerging designers of a brand, there are opportunities in how you engage. 
Platforms like farfetched, give opportunities to invest and engage. 
Very important to think about community, building a loyal community. 
Does it fit that authentic, sustainable, purpose, value-driven? 
One company in particular Nike has all of these elements including customization and they own the customer relationship.
At the very heart of the strategy, higher-end Gucci has done some incredible changes. Being agile, moved towards a season-less collection with two shows a year rather than six or seven. is a wonderful site to peruse.
The Resale market is extremely popular with companies like Real Real.
The resale and second-hand market is being tried all over, for instance with Levi’s to Nordstroms selling their used garments in stores. 
Where do the influencers and social media fit in? See the link for Good On You sustainable influencers going forward. They are more important than ever. The inspiration plays a massively important role going forward.
Concluding with the disruption of physical fashion shows becoming almost obsolete. Showing virtually will be more popular, and shows are fewer and farther between.
For more on the Business of Fashion, and more about the future of fashion see this pdf report by the  here.

Read More

The Fast Fashion Money Crunchers

The Fast Fashion Money Crunchers
For years I worked in the fashion industry as a professional patternmaker and tailor in NYC and Los Angeles. I have worked for some iconic brands like Betsy Johnson, Ellen Tracy, and here in the O.C. at St. John Knits were making the clothing was an art form, fun, creative, and inspiring. 
But other companies where I worked, the fast-fashion money crunchers were not so inspiring, seeing in-house samples and store-bought samples shipped overseas to be copied by factories all over the world, haggling over a few cents in cost, demanding lower prices sacrificing better quality on a daily basis, took its toll. 
At the same time, I was experiencing that we all had so many clothes and nothing to wear. All the clothing in our individual lives is overtaking all of us. Going out to buy something new every week, and never really being satisfied.
Furthermore, I saw the quality of the workmanship or fabrics get destroyed to make a profit. I felt as a consumer and an American I could afford better quality, better design, and overall better fit. 
That’s when I started my own line of custom clothing. When you try on my Salad Bowl Dress pieces they feel good, hang well, and follow the form of the person wearing them. That is what you get with tailoring, hand sewing, and independently picked fabrications. Clothing that is durable for an active life, flattering to the soul, full of compartments to place the devices we all depend on, binoculars, scissors, found objects, shoes, food, and glasses. 
All the clothing is hand-made by me, Mary Colmar, in my studio, on my industrial single needle sewing machine and industrial Juki serge machine. (All larger quantity orders are made locally by individuals that sew as well and local contractors).
Subsequently, people ask me all the time where do I get all the clothes I cut up? To this day I have not had to buy anything at the Good Will except once when there was a run on trench coats I was making and I arrived to find all the name brand chino pants I was using were half price. 
Sometimes I want to make up a story that at the stroke of midnight I walk out into the forest and pick clothes falling off trees. Because clothing is everywhere being thrown out or begged to be removed from overstuffed closets. 
Actually, when I moved to the suburbs and sat in the parking lot looking at all the people walking out of the mall I thought, these are the fashionistas, they are going to look great. 
Almost the opposite, a lot of people were buying more of the same ill-fitting, cheap fabrications of a designers original concept, completely dummied down by the greedy fast fashion money crunchers that could care less about giving people what they really want but instead focused on what they would spend because we all know the less expensive the better for us, ha, ha.
The incredible waste I saw also irked me to no end. We literally had ninety percent of our work go in the trash to exploit that one company or garment that met our needs in cost. 
I began to wonder about the lives of these garment workers and I could not justify the fact that they might starve if not for the garment worker job which really was not the case. There are rich cultures of traditional craft and occupations before the factories moved in.

Read More

Hand Sewing is Slow Fashion

Hand Sewing is Slow Fashion
Hand sewing is easy! Surprisingly how little of it anyone does anymore. It is a basic skill we could use all the time… for hemming?
You would not believe how we all make excuses for not hemming something. It seems so hard. Well, I am here to tell you yes it takes a little time but it is also very gratifying.
How easy would it be to make a small seam if we only thought of it as something we do as a basic skill like any of the others?  If there is a rip and what do we do, tape it, staple it, glue it, instead of grabbing *a sewing kit?
At one time, they used to be in hotel drawers and included in any handy emergency kit. I haven’t seen one included in a long time.
…But I do get people asking me if I can fix a button or sew a little seam that ripped. But most of all to hem the simplest of straight edges.
Sometimes I think a little dingle ball or fringe would look good on my jean pockets or the neckline of a t-shirt… And I do grab a needle and thread and sew it on.
Have you ever wanted to tack a rolled-up sleeve that was all floppy, you grabbed a needle and thread to attach it better? You look and feel so much more comfortable. Even if it the sewing shows or it ripped out from a too big basting stitch, nothing else is going to rip and it is charming. Add a quick sewn on decoration too!
*While writing this blog I put together some sewing kits as giveaways with my upcycle clothing orders.
It is so very doable to make a gathered shirt hem or sew pants that are too full to be flattering. Just thread the needle and make some big stitches for a gather there. Rei Kawakubo of Commes De Garcon did that in her line from the eighties. She made a rushing where you stitch two rows ¼” apart and pull them together placed randomly but yours can work quite traditionally, just use big stitches and double thread to keep from breaking. Use big stitches pull and knot and there you go.
To emphasize:
Sewing is pretty easy and although it looks great it does not have to look perfect.
Hand-sewing is so foreign these days that we now have a name for clothing that is hand made at home, slow fashion. When I hand sewed my first big sewing project as a kid, orange zinnia corduroy overalls, people were surprised it was possible.
It wasn’t so weird to me after years of hand sewing clothes for my dolls, yes I was that girl. It did not seem possible to hand sew a whole outfit but I did. It was actually pretty easy and maybe more convenient than setting up the sewing machine and hoping the tension was working.
Playing with dolls can be the game to keep girls from growing up too fast. I saw this interesting article about girls, especially young black girls get treated as if they were adults, and a wonderful woman who noticed, brought dolls for all the girls she encountered in her work to just play like the kids they actually were.
How I decided to sew my own clothes by hand was when my mother encouraged me to find some fabric to get started. I went to the store with my best friend to buy fabric and a pattern to make whatever we wanted to wear and I didn’t have a sewing machine. In those days we had to buy a pattern from the store but these days you can get patterns for free.
My mother was not the most domestic, though she famously made a zebra print long skirt, I have to find that picture! She made it, and the orange sheath dress that I have only seen in black and white photos, but I see the color from an early childhood memory. She used a sewing machine that had been long gone.
My mother did not want to inflict homemade clothes on us, eating liver, or living with antique furniture. Funny then I grew up to make a lot of my own clothes, love liver on occasion, and I can appreciate antique furniture to the extent that it is ok to paint it.
*side note: When things get back to a new normal, we are giving away little pre-threaded sewing kits to use for those quick fixes.

Read More

In the Future Call It Fashion or Clothing?



Intersectional Connection​ is what sustainable fashion is really all about. We consume with our money and we do not always check for the transparency of manufacturing and energy use in the corporations we are patronizing.

For every purchase, we make it is important to check the sustainability quotient of the company behind the garment. Good Trade has a nice list of reputable sustainable companies.

Is the fabric dead stock or innovative hemp or mushroom leather? Did you know leather is just plain bad? ​The rainforest is being mowed down not by soybeans but by leather. ​Forget about the dead cows it is bad for the people working in the tanneries that have a life expectancy of fifty years old. IE: Chemicals, river​ The faux leathers all have their own controversies but non as bad as real leather.

It is important that we demand transparency. What we are looking for?Is the manufacturing local or overseas?Are the wages a living wage?

Is the fabric organic cotton, recycled polyester, hemp, farmed silk, viscose, ag fibers trying to scale up.

Spending time a few weekends ago at the Impact Fashion Summit my initial takeaways are that maybe we shouldn’t call it fashion at all. Call it clothing. Slow fashion, sustainable fashion, be the change, start in your own small community.

The intricacies of fair-trade are beyond me.Our trade agreements, like walls, keep foreign factories from having a better standard of living. Interesting and complex, we are always close to getting something humanitarian ratified.

The miracle fabrics of the future are truly plant-based grown in regions that can handle certain plants. 2.5 billion people now will remember when we had choices in our fabric but the next 2.5 billion will have to rely on scaled-up versions made from plants.

Child labor is alive and well. San Salvador company closing after employees worked there for 10 to 35 years. Offered some old machines but no severance pay.

Fast fashion came about by the fashion industry feeding us clothing as fast as humanly possible to the point we kept consuming it since it was so affordable that now the fashion industry knows it has created a monster.

We need to get back to four or five seasons a year. Enjoy a regionally made garment of quality. Not exactly Slow Fashion in the strictest terms but back to enjoying the work, the product, and the necessity again for something we wear for a while because we love it.

How do we want to scale up? Most likely with a plant-based fiber that grows in a permaculture environment. The Tropical Regeneration ag movement is doing amazing work.

Is clothing disposable? Not from anyone’s standpoint is it disposable but it has become just that creating the leading cause of Climate Change on the planet.

We live in a time where clothing is so available we tend to buy it and dispose of it.

How we dispose of it is pretty key. Sell, and remake seems to be our only choices. Donations to people make sense or manufacturers but places like Goodwill usually end up taking it too the landfill eventually.

My personal favorite sustainable clothing is made from other clothes or upcycling. But I get sick of hearing that term. At its simplest, It is mending what you have, patching a hole, washing a stain out, sewing on a button, hemming, adding elastic, or taking inside seams for a better fit.

Sometimes it is deconstructed. Opening up all the seams to reveal pieces that can be put back together in a new and interesting way. Usually, it is a drastic artful altercation. But it also creates fabric to make whatever you want, and details to add wherever you want.

It is the ultimate utilitarian military-style or highly functional original dresses, shirts, and suits, clothing that fits and works with style.

Read More

Queen of the Bargain Hunters

The picture shows a lot.The used Kitchen Aid Blender in the background sits atop the étagères French shelves, the oval-shaped french provincial table sits on risers to make a handy kitchen island. The chalkboard wall is in the background, and last but not least in this shot are the funky metal chairs.
A world of abundance is what I see.
In my own home, as I sit here thinking about not having the corporate job or simply not making more money and still buying things, I am in awe of how little I spend on buying things and how much I am handed by people who do not want stuff.
My dining room chairs that I have only three of are some kind of Italian design my friend C was throwing away. They are hot and high-quality contemporary Italian furniture. She knew I would appreciate them. The following paragraphs have some links to stores where I may make money if they are clicked on without any cost to you.
The lamps curving over the table was one of three I purchased from the Restore, a knock-off of the super expensive ones, and these were under ten dollars for all three.
The sturdy simple butcher block “dining” table that extends to seat eight was found in the As-Is section of Ikea around twenty years ago. It did not have a price on it yet and I asked the sales guy if I could only pay 100 dollars. And the guy said yes. It was priced around 250 originally when not a showroom cast off. Goes to show you never be afraid to ask.
The round maple coffee table in our living room that our middle son loves so much came from my Mother In-Law’s guest house. I have to ask her more about that table and a few other pieces.
The cool Xmas lights with silver beads attached match the popcorn ceiling that we are leaving up year-round, another cast-off from Grandma A. A theme throughout my house until I get the popcorn ceiling removed I keep trying to mimic it in other designs.
The other retro bulbs hanging across my living room studio were purchased brand new from Target, one of the few stores where I shop due to the fact that they pretty much give away stuff if you look for the sales. At Target, it is not a waste of time searching through so much when the prices are similar to the other discount stores and even the 99cent store.
I just bought a hundred dollar rug at 40% off but it was also another 20% off and came with a BOGO pillow deal that was a replica pattern of the rug, a white outline of abstract fruit on a terra cotta orange background, with contrasting olive green and multicolor large dingle balls on each corner of the 24” pillow that perfectly went with my easy-up pop-up store aesthetic, bam, score. (Made almost twice as much money on that Sunday with my new floor covering.)
I am sitting here in the light of a friend’s lamp she gave me when she moved to Italy. The lamp is a perfect silver sphere the size of a bowling ball with a classic white lampshade. We scored a lot from her moving sale, a kitchen aid mixer for seventy bucks (she actually bought it second hand), an appliance no one should live without, a real game-changer in the kitchen while baking, and always on sale at Target.
A hand-painted chair we still have, and a kidney table we had for years – a very high techy Italian modern kidney shape cut out of plywood painted black with a burnt orange on the underside and ¾ inch edge border attached to three long gold-tapered store-bought legs.
This handmade kidney table was left behind by our friends moving to Italy.
Our kitchen table is French Provincial an oval shape and also expands to seat about ten. I love this table! The one we turned into an island in our kitchen and moved the square-edged butcher block table to our formal dining table. It was Inherited from my sister In Law J who covered all the chairs in vinyl to use in the backyard. They finally wanted a beautiful teak set, so we took the creme colored set. Some of the chairs are gone now but at least two I covered in a Scotchgard fabric of beautiful flowers and fruit still-life pattern on a terra cotta background.
These are the vinyl-covered outdoor chairs we love but are too big for indoors.
We are about to paint the table after we strip it of its worn enamel. We also put risers under the legs to make it an island for the kitchen with two metal chairs I bought at the Tuesday Morning bargain housewares store (which is extremely dangerously close to my house). I purchased the weird metal chairs with a chartreuse green splash of paint color on the seat for under sixty dollars for the pair. Sure, the half-circle metal rod footrest on one broke already and we have not seen a need to repair it.
The featured photo shows all of these finds.
How much do I love the étagères French metal shelves in our kitchen inherited from A. They used to sit blocking the fireplace in A’s bedroom. They are heavy, black, with gold ball accents and big, holding kitchen appliances now.
The buffet from my father in law, it was his mothers’ given to us because we pretty much take anything. It got crammed full of trinkets besides the new york de Havilland china for twelve we also inherited from her.
The buffet was a family heirloom passed down from my husbands’ grandmother.  It is a short glass case atop a counter of a glass case. I love it and it holds our best dishes, some of which came from J’s grandmother, Haviland New York China .
These are the sweet eyelet curtains with a garland of little vases filled with flowers a gift from my sister in law. Also including some of the backsplash, we all made together one holiday. 
The eyelet curtain in the window was a new purchase of amazing quality of 100% cotton from the Aki store replacing many interesting kitchen treatments over the years, linen dish towels, and a drape of white canvas hooked on with grommets.
When we needed a backsplash I had a ceramic-making backsplash party in our home where we invited friends and family to create a masterpiece with broken dishes. We were all novices, but no slouches to creativity. Everyone went to work like it was a race and everyone finished theirs and helped the others until they were all done. It took a few months, but we finally got the tile done and installed in the kitchen!
See the blog story here.
Even our TV was purchased new on sale over five years ago but when we wanted to buy the wall mount for it last year I found one on sale for 11 bucks. Compared to 70 to 120. I know you usually get what you pay for but this has even survived a bigger TV upgrade. I found it online in the Black Friday sales at BestBuy. By the way, the best way to purchase big-ticket items if you really need them like a new computer is with their two years no interest plan policy.
Before I buy any of the questionable stuff that may not be what it appears to be I must know *the return policy and it must be easy.
I did buy knobs for my kitchen stove online from China knowing I could not return them and, yes, they were under ten dollars compared to 60. And though I did thorough research to make sure they would fit. The material and design were perfect, but they ended up not fitting.
Anyone want them to try for replacements?!
To be continued….
* Return policies should always be apparent and surprising you can find out the usual 30-90 days does not apply to electronics or sometimes there are no returns at all, final sale. Then stores like Nordstrom and Costco will pretty much return anything anytime which almost makes shopping at these stores worth it, juggling the guilt and temptation.

Read More

Deconstructed Clothing or Upcycle

I was pulled in lots of directions.

My name is Mary Colmar, and I make deconstructed clothing. It is something I have always done. Making exactly what I want with what is lying around: tons of unwearable clothing. Sometimes when people do this it can look kind of ridiculous, but it also shows so much creativity.

It is streetwear to the essence although it does not consist of traditional skatewear. My peeps wear it for working at play. It is always durable, functional with hidden pockets, and the like. Always cut to flatter all sexes. My fashions can be custom made pretty well.

The story behind all this began as I worked in the fashion industry in NYC first as a designer, then a patternmaker/technical designer all while raising three kids. I bagged a job where I only worked four days a week about 36 hours which enabled me to create on my own and be around for my community and family.

You could imagine the kind of clothing we all needed and were not found. Something we could wear from the playground to the city, with pockets for drinks, keys, and phone. Something like what all streetwear needs.

But I had tons of clothes kids were outgrowing that I became sentimental about and wanted to wear too. So, I made stuff, my neighborhood intervened and told me to get a studio of my own in Brooklyn. Then I moved to the suburbs of So Cal. It was different but still found a need to make clothes, hats, and the ultimate vest to wear all the time, on a bike, to the beach, as the casual item to go around anywhere. #nopursenecessary

As a mom, I was pulled in lots of directions most of all to care for the family. The family grows and succeeds gratefully and now the studio is in my living room, ramped up from the garage but time to move into the massive warehouse where I will collect and sort clothing, follow tech packs for how to cut pieces and manufacture in Santa Ana, CA, L.A, and possibly Ethiopia, so far.

The community I have created with my work revolves around art and social work. Music is fast becoming part of it as my families are an influence and part of the empire. As artists, filmmakers, and scientists I see my brand as a solution to keeping clothing out of the landfill with endless possibilities for products. #noclothesinthelandfill

Right now, we make t-shirt bags, hats, dresses, blouses, jackets, shirts, pants, skirts, and lots of vests of every stripe. Our mode of distribution is through the artisanal farmers market, Melrose, Claremont, Newport Beach, and at museum gift shops: The Da, L.A. Museum of Craft, Museum of Art and History.

Our customers try to be the first ones to buy when we open and often we cannot keep up with demand. We see our product/service growing beyond the one-off and have plans in motion to scale up, accomplish the imminent mass production.

Often, people need help with small things to make their clothing wearable and we would like to be a part of that education process.  We would like to focus on the family of whatever form that takes, and design. Our wish is that we make people comfortable in their own skin, helping pursue their activities.

Get Your Dressing On!

Read More

Recent Posts


Follow Us

ConvertKit Form