Shay and I took a short trip to Miami. It was our very first vacation together! Yes, we've traveled together --to shows for my business. This time, it was different. It was an actual vacation, not a "vacation where Jenny freaks out and stresses out the whole time because she has so much pressure to sell bags at the end of the trip". It was nice. And necessary.
While we were there, I used my Archive in Morning Mist Leather (pictured above). It worked well, but I realized I needed something a little more breathable and water resistant to enjoy at the beach.
There it was. Inspiration. Something I lost because I was overworked. I was inspired by the colors prevalent in the bright city of Miami Beach. Inspired by the need for something light, airy, yet still durable for everyday wear. Inspired to finally address the many many requests from my customers for a non-leather vegan-friendly bag. It was just what I needed.
I came back from Miami refreshed and ready to work on a summer collection for my shop.
I began the search for materials that would give me the same "weighty" feeling I get from leather. It needed to be durable, weather resistant, and can be sewn with my super-industrial sewing machine, which uses thick bonded thread.
I also wanted to re-introduce prints into my shop. But not just any prints. I wanted prints reminiscent of our experience in Miami. Bright, bold, and neon. (And with a small touch of French, since we frequented this little French restaurant while we were there.)
I finished the entire collection this week, and I'm very happy with the result. I hope you are, too! :)
The print fabric is made of outdoor upholstery canvas and the accent fabric is made of vegan upholstery vinyl, often used for RV and boat seating upholstery. Both of these materials are durable, weather resistant, and meant for every day use.
These bags are available in limited-quantity exclusively in the Archive and Clutch styles. They are made and ready to ship for your upcoming beach vacation, outing, or every day wear.
Shop the Beach Collection!
When Shay and I started dating, we had our tight-knit group of friends --we were all out of college and enjoying life in Austin's downtown scene on the weekends. We had mostly single friends, and we just started dating, so we were on the departure from the downtown inebriated scene and enjoying our time together with more sobering experiences like shopping at IKEA, working out, enjoying long walks at the park with Hubert, and the occasional fine dining experience free of binge drinking. You know. "Healthy" things.
An opportunity for us to move to Pittsburgh came up and we were confident we could start a life in a new city and meet friends who were exactly like us. In the same life state. You know... serious relationship, without kids, with dog, enjoy trying new restaurants, strong interest in exercise and fitness, male enjoys watching sports and playing basketball, female enjoys spoiling her dog and shopping unnecessarily. It was going to be easy.
We were wrong.
So, we got married, and focused on building our careers. We don't share many hobbies together aside from liking food/drink and fitness, so we started to run out of things to do on the weekends together. So we started to spend our weekends doing our own things. While Shay played basketball for a few hours, I would shop. But shopping alone isn't fun, so I used our weekends to work (because that is my hobby, after all). I worked and worked and worked. Until I got tired of working (see previous post).
We considered possible solutions to change our routine. Should we get another dog? Should we make a baby? Should we buy a fixer-upper house? Should I hire a friend? I mean employee? (These were all MY possible solutions to change our routine, but you know how you start saying "we" for everything when you get married? Yeah. That.)
No, on all fronts. For various reasons; mostly time/energy-commitment reasons. Though, I'm still begging Shay for a second dog. He said, "You can get a second dog, but you won't have a first husband". That is tabled for the time being.
Then, the heavens opened up and a couple came into our life who are pretty much our replica. A married couple, without kids, with dog, enjoy trying new restaurants, strong interest in exercise and fitness, male enjoys watching sports and playing basketball, female enjoys spoiling her dog and shopping unnecessarily.
Actually, they have two dogs (which gives me a little more leverage when I bring up the topic of a second dog to Shay later).
I initially thought that all I needed in life was my family and a dog. Then amended it to "my family, a dog, and a husband".
I have found that life is much more wonderful when you have some friends to share it with, too. :)
p.s. an article about why it's hard to meet friends as an adult.
It happened sometime between my last post and this one that I lost something and started looking for it, not really knowing what "it" was.
In my process of discovery, I found this article where Thomas Keller describes his thoughts about Drive vs. Passion:
"It’s not about passion. Passion is something that we tend to overemphasize, that we certainly place too much importance on. Passion ebbs and flows. To me, it’s about desire. If you have constant, unwavering desire to be a cook, then you’ll be a great cook. If it’s only about passion, sometimes you’ll be good and sometimes you won’t. You’ve got to come in every day with a strong desire. With passion, if you see the first asparagus of the springtime and you become passionate about it, so much the better, but three weeks later, when you’ve seen that asparagus every day now, passions have subsided. What’s going to make you treat the asparagus the same? It’s the desire."
At some point, I wasn't making what I wanted to make; I became an over-worked manufacturer and the daily grind slowly leached away my identity of a blossoming artist and designer. I lost the whimsy that was once prevalent in my business.
I lost my ability to dream. I lost my drive to create.
Recently, Shay and I had a conversation about the things we appreciate about one another. I love his logical, business mind; he makes tough decisions based on analysis of data and facts. He told me that he loves my creative spirit and my heart-on-my-sleeve approach to my business. He said he would never want me to become him.
However, I became the person obsessing about increasing profit margins, maximizing inventory turnover, minimizing overstocking and all the things I never worried about in the past. I was focused on running a highly-efficient business -- my leather hides and sewing machine no longer looked like tools and materials to play and experiment with, but employees on the clock to make product and move inventory. I started to lose motivation to even enter the studio to deal with my "employees".
Then, everything came to a screeching halt.
Finally, Shay sat me down and told me to let go of all the business think and snap back to the original Jenny who started this business. That was the Jenny who would wake up in the middle of the night to sketch a design she dreamed about, then wake up her husband to tell him about it. That was the Jenny who confidently flirted with colors and shapes to make a beautiful product that she loved, knowing that someone else would love it, too. That was the Jenny who was passionate about just doing, making and creating. That Jenny, whom Shay was referring to, was not this Jenny.
So I dug deep to find her again, and I finally did. I rediscovered my drive to dream, flirt, create and make.
Finding a balance between running a successful business while being the creative force behind that business is very difficult. It's no wonder they are usually not the same person.
I am finding that balance and working to keep it.
The result of my rediscovery is coming along now in my shop. I will have something that represents 100% of me in the coming weeks. I hope you'll stay tuned to see what I have coming --I'm really proud of what is starting to unfold.
If you've been following me on Facebook, you'll know I've been working on a new little bag for my shop (and how much work is involved in designing a new bag).
Well, the new Clutch is finally here! :)
I've made quite a few versions of the Clutch over the years, and this design is by far my favorite. She embodies all of the qualities I've always wanted in a bag that I can wear for any occasion, and she's inherited all the best attributes from all of my bag styles.
She's the perfect size for essentials. This bag seamlessly goes from casual to dressy. Adjustable and removable straps allow you to wear her short, long, crossbody or remove the straps for a date night. A zippered pocket on the back allows for secure yet easy access to items like a phone, keys, or cash.
Inside you'll find two pockets, one zippered pocket and one open pocket.
The Clutch has a reinforced bottom with metal feet to protect the bag bottom. A secure metal bolt snap closure ensures your items inside are safe.
She comes in four brand new colors: Boysenberry Magenta, Ultramarine Green, Apricot Orange, and Moroccan Teal. Also available in most of the leather colors you see in my shop, just message me for a custom order!
The last How You Found Me post highlighted how men typically find my shop (their significant others tell them about it, and hint not-so-subtly at that).
Every once in a while (read: once ever), I get a response that floors me.
Check out how Steve found the Baby Ruche in Dark Plum:
"I work for an architecture firm and do a lot of snooping around on Etsy. My wife needs a new bag so I was just browsing (Don't tell my employer :) I liked your stuff, you had great reviews, and the ladies in my office confirmed that this would be the perfect gift. " - Steve, WA
Note: Men like this do exist.
(See more How You Found Me posts!)
I cannot even describe my excitement for spring. It has been gloomy and snowing for what feels like an eternity in Pittsburgh, and I'm ready for the snow to melt, the flowers to bloom, and to go out on long walks with Hubert again. We've been in serious hibernation mode in the meantime.
To get through these winter blues, I've created a limited edition Spring Pop collection with the Archive bags. They are perfect for spring, but can be worn all year long.
Ready to ship for your spring break vacation to a sunny somewhere!
Check out the collection here.
New Archive Mini Colors (LAST and ONLY ones):
Green Apple, Dark Plum
I giggle every time I ask a male customer how he found my shop (especially if he bought a bag obviously made for women), because 1.) I always receive a prompt response, 2.) it is usually not helpful for me as a business person trying to improve her reach to customers, and 3.) it's usually funny.
Responses from men buying gifts for their significant others are among my favorite to receive when I ask my customers how they found my shop. These responses come in a plenty during the holidays, so I thought I would share a few with you today. Enjoy! :)
"To be honest, I only found your shop because my wife sent me a link to the bag so I could get it for her for Christmas. :)" - Mike, TX
"My girlfriend had the bag posted on her Pinterest page." - Mark, PA
"This was on my wife's Christmas list and I'm not sure how she found it. Pinterest maybe?" - Tim, CA
"My wife is the one who found your shop [...] She had seen this bag in her searches and loved it and not so subtly hinted that she'd love it as a gift sometime." - Chris, TX
Thank you wives for strongly hinting to your husbands what you wanted for Christmas. And thank you girlfriends for being less direct about it. :)
p.s. more How You Found Me posts.