More Pressing Matters

More Pressing Matters

It has been over a year since I moved out of the living room into the new studio. Although we didn’t get a chance to have a big opening party in the new digs. Honestly too, at first, it was such a mess to move and there was so much to do last Fall that I thought the opening should be at the beginning of the year. 


It’s the best studio for my business and situation, not wanting to overextend myself I have to keep it within reason until we grow beyond the immediate square foot space. Did I mention how close to home it is? Less than one mile alongside streets perfect for riding my bike there (wearing a bicycle vest of course) or I can walk. Someone said to me recently “But you never do?” Wrong. I ride my bike a lot and walk often but as with going anywhere I often have ****loads of stuff to carry, more than I can carry on a bike or in a backpack.


The workspace is on the ground floor with the ability to move rolling racks in and out without any steps which are almost worth its weight in gold alone. There are two rooms, a separate room for photo/video shoots with a big green screen besides all social media planning and posting. I do have the automation setup. First I usually have Fiverr finish the copy on many of the posts, I’ll edit visuals with Canva, and schedule with Tailwind on my Pinterest account. 


This year we staged many zoom calls and conferences there too. We do not keep anything valuable there because we carry our little equipment back and forth. On a side note my son has discovered the joy of the studio making videos there in the evenings. 


But all that was slow going as I had to help my mother while the pandemic was looming. Instead of making masks that everyone was looking at us to make. The tides were turning.


More pressing matters, a pun I love because I always have pressing going on! But in this case, my mother had some urgency to sell her house and put the wheels in motion between x-mas and New Years’! 


I knew she needed my help which would eclipse anything I had going on. My business had been in the slumps before, actually kind of always ebbing and flowing. So I put my excellent daughter’s face on and we got to the business of selling our family home. Not an easy task really, it had been the home of my mother and stepfather for forty plus years and had the memorabilia of ten kids, tons of grandkids, and a few great-grandkids to put in respective boxes. 


My mother is an artist and had a studio in the garage and in a room in the house full of all the shows she had exhibited, priceless artwork, and measurable career documents of noteworthiness that needed cataloging. I was amazed at all the work she has done with documentation just strewn about in two five-foot file drawers and stuffed everywhere else. So with the help of about twenty bankers boxes, I got to work. Putting her artwork photos in one box and friends of the art scene in another, work-related exhibits, commissions, and lectures she has given went in another. 


Fortunately, I live for times like these in the organizational world. With my mom, not my own house I could be slightly more objective and discern the trash from the keep important papers, photos, and writings. I separated other photos with bankers’ boxes at the ready. Our one side of the family broken down into individuals, and the other side of the family broken down into three boxes, one of the framed photos, unframed, and their dad’s memorabilia. 


Of course, I had scores of boxes and sorting stations in the garage where everything would end up and be the last room to clean up. 


In the house, I had a humongous donate pile by the back sliding glass doors for any and all stuff. And I had black trash bags throughout the house for trash. Some black bags in one room for the stuff she absolutely wanted to keep. No one was to move the bags around until they had my directions. Which implies I had help. The kind of help where my mother would want to “clean” up and start moving stuff around or the well-meaning friend who thought they would take the trash out. Even though I had masking tape labels on most bags we did not want to confuse where they were by mixing them up. 


This was about the time Covid hit and the donation centers were not accepting anything. Our pile grew as we gifted neighbors with thoughtful choccies for being there for us, and we called friends to come over to take whatever they wanted, asked the handyman to take any and all, then we finally saw a junk collector drive by and flagged him down to take it all but no we still had a lot to carry to the alley in the hopes somebody would walk by and take boxes of greeting cards, more plastic dishes and plates that never ended. 


The one black bag filled to the brim of plastic stuff spilled over into another black bag. Well, I know my mother and she loves plastic. She once had a “formal” dinner for my in-laws all in the plastic of every kind for all the types of “glasses” needed, serving dishes and plates, napkin ring holders, and homemade plastic flowers made from old Clorox bottles. It was pretty cool and why we didn’t always take pictures of every table she ever set I don’t know. We have a lot of the time, but not that one. My mother cares more about ambiance and decor than how good the food tastes. The plastic was hardly ever the throw-away kind, it was washable. 


That one setting was her response to a dinner she had at my in-laws who have beautiful dishes and glassware. My mother joked she was going to get lead poisoning from the glasses. Who knows what chemical poisoning we get from all the plastics? 


So it was important to sort all the plastic out from a huge pile on the floor. Most of it I just gave away. She may have kept one tray. 


We only had about a month, and I canceled a few of my events before we were going to list the house. While also planning a big event of hers. A ninetieth birthday party and art sale all on one weekend in February. We spent around a thousand dollars to mount all the artwork, buy scones and champagne for two days of an open house, signs, and some platters of sandwiches, and pizzas for the family who were going to be in town. The pizza and champagne were her ideas of the perfect spread. We ended up selling about three thousand worth of work at firesale prices and only had a few leftovers. Plus a nice sampling of friends and family showed up. She gave each kid one of their picks of artwork. Still, she had a lot of work to get rid of because it had nowhere else to go.  


We eventually did get a storage unit for said boxes and artwork. My husband put a lot of his artwork in the unit, and our transient kids put a lot of their stuff in as well. The expense and rationale for a storage unit. Worth the cost? 


We avoided getting a storage unit for so long, most all our lives trying to keep the crap down instead, but getting a unit changed everything for the better and freed up so much space without the regret of losing something important. 


It helped us stage the house easily. We only had some bare essentials and artwork hanging which made the house very chic and huge. We removed everything practically. Only my mother was living there and she knew she was extremely downsizing so we took advantage of the fact and made the house seem functional and modern because nothing was there. 


The garden windows had three vases each instead of seventeen. There were seven paintings on the wall instead of twenty. The pillows were only a few, and you get the idea. No personal photos. Only one set of dishes in the kitchen cabinet. One set of towels. One set of sheets. The closet had only a few clothes instead of bursting at the seams. 


The window treatments were brand new and in neutral gray shades. We kept the dining room table permanently set. All daily clutter we put in one box in a lower kitchen cabinet. That is how my mother had to live through a few weekends in February after her birthday/sale party and few real estate open houses.


It was a success, selling for the asking price on the first day, and not bothering with any other offers. My mother moved to independent living on March 15 with so many restrictions on how we had to move her in. We couldn’t go up to the apartment and help her arrange anything. But they managed to hang all her art and set everything up (without me). Although the pandemic made us nervous the house closed on March 31.


Each Piece Deserves a Story

Each Piece Deserves a Story

I’m constantly thrown into my past, thinking about the foundation of Salad Bowl Dress, and building a business while parenting. I have three kids, now all young adults who still need help and parenting, but when I was starting my business again they were all little and needing so much more attention. I’m very passionate about the importance of early childcare — invite me to a dinner party and hear me talk on and on about the absurdity of maternal leave being called disability, the joke that parents only have 12 weeks to bond and nurture their new children before being forced back into work, and the insanity our society making childcare inaccessible or too expensive for working parents. I mean, it is hard to care for little ones no matter how you cut it, but we’re making it especially difficult!

One documentary called No Small Matter illustrates the harm of not spending enough time with our children. Not only to the child, but the harm it has on the greater good for society.

Being encompassed in this world of work and children was one of the huge driving forces I had designing and building my garments. I try, in so many ways, to give each piece a story. In my mind, I consider them a mom (or dad) garment first, then teacher, gardener, and ultimately creator. Each aspect of every piece carries with it thought, and intention.

Each piece deserves a story, a film, an explanation of why the particular transformation was right. The clothes deserve their own photoshoot, to be worn and seen.

I work on finding the right garment for each person who crosses my path, and have developed somewhat of a knack for finding what someone was looking for. But I’m still growing and so is the world and space around me. Sometimes, it’s true, I didn’t have the right piece for the right person, but this is one way how I think and create the future lines of SBD.

Fitting people with the right garment leads naturally into more photos being taken, and more stories to be told. Online, people browse through clothing with no personality, no content, no story, but people might try on a vest and take photos with different angles, could see how it looks through their own eyes.

People want to see that, they want something that can be an extension of themselves. 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.

I often work with my own experiences, inspiring the bulk of my collection to be sturdy and pocket-filled. But I love listening, learning, and discovery. I love making clothes with a purpose, and I love contributing to people’s lives and individual stories. I’m working to create these pieces for people who are looking to grow and create.

So here we go, please enjoy yourself and ride on this rollercoaster of living through this blog.

Why Write a Blog?

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 ten 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, living with an artist husband and then three kids all making artwork, in a loft in Red Hook Brooklyn. But now I am in the middle of a global pandemic realizing all the skills I’ve learned my whole life and all the interests 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(emphasis on radio, television, and film) graduate years ago, it still loomed in the background, thinking this was also my time to make content videos for YouTube always being interested in 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 these 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 Instructables 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 of having to stage our family home, 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 there was time for helping my parents which were fortunate. Then after the first wave of wondering what to do, knowing making masks were 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 Melissa Griffen 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.