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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Save The Date... You Are Invited!

You Are Invited:

What: Comment sale hosted by: Sherry's Shop

When: Sat. Feb. 2, 2013

Where:  on the Sherry's Shop Facebook Page
NEW Items & some Clearance Items

Just send Sherry a friend request and you'll have a V.I.P. seat for the sale!
She's planning on having a ton of GREAT Items at very low prices. (Sale is While Supplies Last)

What's a comment sale? 
A Facebook Comment sale is:  
A sale where the host puts a photo of 1 item at a time on their facebook wall.
In the description, they tell what the item is, how much it is & how many they have.

If you want the item, you just comment "ME" on the item, and say how many you would like of the item. At the end of the sale, the host will send you an invoice through paypal, or a link
to checkout with a Credit Card or Debit Card. 
Once you pay (within 48 hours after the sale is over)
she will pack your order & ship it out to you.

Any questions, please ask sherry!

Sloth LOVES Chunk... Errr... Chunky Necklaces! Trending

Ok, for you GOONIES fans... you totally got the headline of this blog post... hehe

 For those of you that didn't get that Goonies reference, This blog post is really about a HOT trend~Designing Minds loves Chunk too... but in another sense,  have you seen those big & chunky children's necklaces in the custom boutique realm? They're selling like hot cakes!

Paisley McRae on Facebook will create a custom chunky "diamond" necklace for you in pink or clear, with chunky or regular beads, $14.99 for regular, only $24.99 for chunky.
Click Here To check it out up close, and like her Facebook page while you're at it too (tell her designing minds sent you) 

HipBow'z N TuTu'z  on Facebook is offering this cute chunky necklace with a scrabble style tile featuring Doc McStuffins of Disney Channel notoriety. What a great valentine's day gift this would make, only $18.00 shipped! Even more adorable in person! Click HERE for more details

RaeMarieJewels has these two chunkified baubles in her Etsy shop
She specializes in these beauties and they're all $25.00
To see more varieties, visit her Facebook page by clicking here

Princess KK Necklaces is able to create fab chunky necklaces~this is just a sample of her awesome work for little girls...She has many styles and colors available, this one caught my eye.  

If you thought the chunky necklace styles from custom boutique designers was JUST for little girls though...I'm here to tell you~ you'll be delightfully surprised to see Princess KK also offers women's necklaces  like these! Click to see her work here.

They're very affordable, $22 + shipping I would sooo wear one of these! LOVE them!

You Can Make This offers many patterns/instructions for making all types of necklaces,
Just click this link, and then search "necklaces" and "chunky necklace"

Download Sewing Patterns Today!

(and while you're at YCMT, sign up for their email mailing list, you'll get a free
ebook & video bundle with a $75 value free, using this link) 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

That's a Wrap! Shop for, or make your own Wrap Style Clothing

Trending for Spring '13... Styles with a Wrap!

Whether it is a wrap style dress, skirt, blouse or outerwear. Wraps are where it's at!
the wrap first appeared on the fashion scene 40 years ago, yet, we can not get enough of this classic style!

Diane Von Furstenberg
According to a story in the Huffington Post, the iconic Diane Von Furstenberg's career was launched by the invention of the wrap dress, selling 25,000 dresses a week after her infamous divorce.
In 1972, it was said, rather than requesting alimony from her soon-to-be ex-husband (the famous German Prince Egon of F├╝rstenberg), she instead, took a lump sum and launched her legendary fashion line~ and VOILA! the wrap dress was born ~and thank goodness; because it's a stand-by in many women's wardrobes. During the 40 years that have passed since Furstenberg first launched the wrap, it has become a staple in many fashion forward custom boutique designer's repertoire for children and women alike! The DVF (Diane Von Furstenberg) website has an entire section dedicated to JUST wrap dresses. However, they tend to be on the spendy side, so I've done a little research on how to create some of these same looks for your spring wardrobe by sewing them yourself~ or purchasing similar wrap style dresses created by very talented designers on Etsy.



Like these free patterns? you can find them and other freebies on the Designing Minds page:
Free Tutorials and Pattern Directory

Or if you're the shopping sort, and not the sewing/designing type of person, we've found some beautiful wrap skirts, dresses and blouses for women on Etsy.
 It's time to shop girls!

1. Mock Wrap Dress by Ready Ruthie
2. Wrap Skirt with Ruffle bottom by Lina Line
3.Heartland Wrap Skirt by Simones Rose Boutique
4. Polkadot Wrap Blouse  by Emily Loves Pretties

In the "modern" world of children's custom boutique as we know it~
Farbenmix was one of the pioneers in the market who brought the wrap style to children's sewing
... the Anna Wrap Dress was the end all and be all of the scene back then (circa 2006-2008). The style has matured a bit since Anna first hit the scene but it's still a classic.

 The Anna Pattern by Farbenmix:

Looking for The original "Anna" euro style wrap dress pattern? you can shop The Farbenmix site or, check out Etsy & Ebay

Here is a free toddler wrap dress tutorial from Tiny Happy 's Blog

We spotted other adorable wrap, mock-wrap style custom boutique items for children all over Etsy and we have it on good insider information, the WRAP look is where it's at for spring for both boys AND girls!

Wonderful & Whimsical Lorax Wrap Style Dress
Custom made in your choice of sizes from 2-8 
by Thats So Addie

made in the favorite Amy Butler Cameo print
by Koolmono

The ruffles & fabrics used in this set make me drool

If you're looking for a dress a tad more formal, 
here's a lovely choice! 

and we couldn't possibly forget about the boys!!

Look at this sweet mustard and white comfy cozy
newborn set we spotted by Mish Mash Clothing

I'm just head over heels in love with this adorable boys kimono style wrap top
Zmunki  will make it in newborn-24m size for your little guy~
I can't get enough of this funky fabric! Isn't this great?!

Want to try you hand at making your own children's wrap style clothing?
Shop on Etsy for wrap style patterns of all types by clicking here
Shop on Ebay for wrap style patterns of all types by  clicking here
Shop on You Can Make This for wrap style patterns of all types by clicking here 

Anonymous Comments have been enabled, please comment and let us know how we're doing.  

Saturday, January 26, 2013

How Ya Like Me Now?

Here we are a few weeks into this new blogging adventure and we're wondering what you think of our little blog so far? We want and need honest, constructive feedback on how we are doing so far; so we can make it as awesome as it possibly can be. We're just tickled pink to see soooo many page views in such a short time! We have acquired over 3,700 hits in just over a few weeks of publication! With this many visits, we think we're hitting the target we set out to reach, but we want to make sure...

  • Do you like the mission we outlined?, and do you think we're doing a good job sticking to topics that outline our mission, thus far? (Goosie has a tendency to be ADD ;) hehe,  and we hope we've kept on target with topics we blog about) 
  • Is the site user-friendly and easy to navigate? 
  • Have you viewed any of the additional pages we are creating, and do you find them helpful? 
  • How often do you visit the blog? and how do you hear about new blog posts being added?
  • What DON'T you see, that you would like to see on this blog? 
  • Have you commented on any of our blog posts yet? why or why not?

About the writing style found on the Designing Minds Blog~

I can only speak for myself, and can't speak for guest bloggers or "Designer Z" but I, (Goosie) enjoy writing. Unfortunately, I'm a bit rusty. Once I sit down to write a blog, the ideas flow smoothly and I find blogging one of those "little effort = big fruit" endeavors for me.
(A concept impressed upon me by one of my mentors, George B. Koch, who also happens to be my pastor~spiritual adviser, and is a fricken GENIUS, not to mention talented author, sculptor, awesome parent to 2 autism spectrum children, former V.P. of the Oracle Corporation and an all around cool guy and great friend who has seen me through some really rough times).

 I am passionate about small businesses, WAHMs, and the handmade movement in general. I'm honored to be joined by friends and an advisory panel whom I bounce ideas off of, and get fodder for more blogs.I know my writing style is sometimes off-the-cuff and would most likely be frowned upon by a college business professor, but I'm trying to use my "real voice" and be authentic. I'm not a professionally trained journalist, although I have worked and written for a large Chicagoland suburban newspaper group. I don't hold a college degree, I'm a street-smart, self-taught kind of girl. Sometimes, you may see spelling mistakes, and grammar/usage errors, but hey, I try to do my best~and I hope the effort & passion shows through. Thanks for bearing with me through this beginning, trial-and-error phase! I've discovered the more I write, the more concise and effective I become. 

One of the "someday" goals of this blog: 

At this point, the blog is merely a labor of love, we aren't making any money on it. In the future, we do, indeed, hope it can be a tool to generate income to provide a little extra for our families but for now, this is a work of heart~ and we hope that shows through in the presentation, writing, design, and variety of topics we have covered thus far.

Most of all, we soooo hope we are meeting the mark, but the only way to know for sure is by your honest feedback. Please comment and let us know how we're doing so far. Anonymous commenting is enabled if you wish to keep your identity private. Have ideas or wish to contact Goosie? Please send me an EMAIL

Friday, January 25, 2013

Free Tutorials and Pattern Directory on the Designing Minds Blog

The Designing Minds Blog has started a page with a listing of free tutorials and patterns!
Want to check it out? It is located HERE

We're assembling a comprehensive directory for our readers
 of all types of patterns, instructions, tutorials and crafty classes that are FREE...

Do you have a pattern or tutorial you'd like to tell us about to be included in the directory? 
Please post your link as a comment and we will add it or Email Us

Are you familiar with the site, You Can Make This?

You Can Make This ("YCMT") has a FREE pattern club! 
Not to mention hundreds and hundreds of awesome downloadable patterns and ebooks!

Comment here & give us the link(s) to your free tutorials and we'll get them added!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Deep Thoughts From Goosie: Custom Boutique Growing Pains

When your handmade and/or custom boutique small business begins to grow it can be a wonderful, long-awaited sense of accomplishment. Finally reaching that pinnacle of having buyers know who you are, and that you produce a great product is much deserved after so many hours upon hours of hard work. When you reach the point where you begin to develop a following that ensures a constant flow of sales as well as buyers who seem to hang onto every new item you create and they wait with baited breath to snap it up~ this can be EVERY designer's dream. . . or can it?  What happens when we get too busy? What happens when we have to start saying no? What happens when we have to turn down requests for custom orders because we are just too swamped to take on anymore? 

This is a critical decision which needs to be made by every designer...
 Say No or Hire Help.

Many of us out here in the trenches~ designing & sewing, creating and crafting work so hard. We can be so obsessive and meticulous about even the tiniest details of the quality of our handmade and custom boutique items. For me, Goosie, it became a very unnerving situation to even consider giving up some of that "control" or "creativity" to someone else. It didn't matter if they were skilled, just the thought of not doing it myself, Even if they would be following my instructions to a tee. Using my instructions, patterns, personal one-on-one teaching of my techniques and using my designs down to the letter drove me insane. I felt as if I had to watch over their shoulder every minute, and this was my DAUGHTER and my NIECE I was having help me~ it soon became an insanity inducing experience, even though they were doing a fine job and the quality was practically as if I were doing it myself. . Some designers opt to say No to hiring any form of help in their studio, even cutting pieces of patterns from fabric~ and this in turn can increase the demand for their products~as well as the prices of their items too because buyers are willing to wait and PAY for an original created personally by them, as only they could create. Here are some questions I'd like to ask to see where everyone is at these days on this subject:
  • Do you think it is acceptable to hire someone to help to do the sewing, or crafting? (and would YOU, if faced with greater demand than you were able to keep up with?)
  •  Do you think any quality is lost when we farm out our "piece work" to a helper? 
  • Have you had any experience (good or bad) doing this? 
  • Are you too nervous to even try this because your name rests on the quality?
  • Have you been burned by a less than qualified sewist you hired to help you out? 

Another situation to consider, many times we hear of some designers cranking out enough items for things like Zulily showcases (Such sites often request 1,000 pieces made by 1 designer at a time for a special sale)

 As a participant in many designer discussion groups, I sometimes hear of certain designers sewing an enormous quantity of dresses (or sets, skirts, bows etc) a day. Many times I wonder HOW on earth they do it?! Not only does it take A LOT to run a custom boutique or handmade business alone, but many of us are work-at-home parents who also have the responsibilities of a family ~or we even hold down part-time or full-time jobs outside the home too!
 It baffles me, and I wonder, when do they sleep?!

 Some questions that begin to roll around in my head when I hear about these "over-achievers" are below (I bet many of  you have wondered the same things too!): 

If you're a buyer, and see some designers cranking out soooo many designs on a regular basis; do you question the quality if they are producing the quantity they are cranking out? or do you assume they are just really super efficient and organized at what they are doing?
As a buyer, would it be a deterrent, or a turn-off if you found out a designer you buy from was farming out part of the sewing duties to hired help instead of doing it all themselves?

Here's an "Ethical Question" to consider: Do you think it's borderline dishonest for designers to NOT disclose they are using hired help? We've heard of some designers never admitting they have hired help, and that seems a little sketchy to me (no judgement, just a fleeting impression I have)~ Am I the only one that feels that way? 

Occasionally a designer may break into the "big time", and their lines get picked up by a big retailer or several brick & mortar upscale boutique shops and the demand is much more than 1 or 2 people could ever keep up with, and they turn to a manufacturer who will sew their garments for them. (Sometimes in their home country, or sometimes they send the designs overseas to be cut, sewn, finished &  produced less expensively with the returned product being sold by the designer). Would you still consider them "custom boutique" designers if they turn to a manufacturer or "factory-type" team to pump out the items their customers are clamoring for? I'll be honest, sometimes, I wonder if they're "selling out" BUT if faced with the same situation, I wonnder if I would, in fact, do the same thing?? I mean,  that is a measure of major success, isn't it? Isn't that what everyone who starts sewing for others dreams of?  

Another question, I'm pondering~are handmade & created one-at-a-time designs always better in the end? or is the "designing" the most important part,(meaning the originality of your vision for what you're sewing/making, how you mix design elements, fabrics and embellishments)~ rather than the task of the actual action of the sewing?? This has been something that has been on my mind for a while, and I'd love to hear what readers think on these topics!!!

We have enabled "anonymous" comments so if you aren't comfortable commenting with everyone knowing your identity, you're good to go! :) 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The New Boutique Journal Website and the way it was in the old days of Custom Boutique

Prior to launching the "Part Deux" of the Designing Minds Blog, a dear friend of mine and I had been discussing the need for offering websites and blogs as centralized meeting places for custom bouitque designers, handmade artisans, crafty small businesses and their buyers~~ just like we used to have in the old school days.

 In the days before Facebook, Etsy, Artfire, and Social media in general, us designers would wake up, log onto Ebay, check out our Ebay discussion boards and groups, and check to see if we had any bids on our listings~or had made any sales that day.

THEN, we would go to a few sites to get all of our insider information about our niche market. We would pray to be featured for the exposure it provided us, and let me tell you, if by chance, you WERE featured on Journal Modiste it was a HUGE deal. JM was the brainchild of Amy Shearer and she did a wonderful job pioneering this media outlet for custom boutique in the beginning of the era!

 We would also visit The Designing Minds Blog (Original), Boutique Cafe (a website with a focus on boutique podcasts, community forum and designer marketplace which is still owned by a dear friend of mine, Daria) 

 or The Designer's Notion blog (another awesome blog chock full of features, awesome articles and advertising opportunities for group launches and such)

If you were "picked up" by any of these blogs/sites, it meant you had arrived! It meant you were THRILLED and carried around a GINORMOUS permagrin on your face all day!! It was SUCH an HONOR to be mentioned or featured on those sites back in the old school boutique days!
With the recent resurgence of boutique "groups" within the last couple of years on sites such as Facebook; and with so many new sewing, quilting, modeling, photography, hair bow designers, jewelry designers (etc) bringing their wares to places other than ebay and etsy~ we decided the time was ripe for us to launch and/or re-launch our sites. 

So, I'd like to introduce a "kissin' cousin" site of the Designing Blog. We are a separate entity, but I wanted to be sure to let you all know about it. My friend, Kris Buote owner of Etsy shop: Scraps2Love  and the former Designer's Notion Blog has launched a new website! The Boutiuqe Journal is styled in the vein of the old, and now defunct  Journal Modiste  ( insert sad face here, because I miss it & I miss Amy, the owner too!) BUT...I'm so excited for Kris and the NEW Boutique Journal site! Kris was an Adagio Bleu Studios team member  for many years, and a talented designer in her own rite~ she has recently been smitten with super cute cheer bows and is doing quite well at getting large orders. Needless to say, we are very good friends. I know her site is going to be a much read & much visited site in the future & The Designing Minds Blog wishes her nothing but the very BEST!! We both, with our new blogs/sites want to re-capture this excitement, and this community as it once was.

I find The Bouituqe Journal, not only very attractive, but it offers an option to featured in very visible Etsy treasuries with your designs (Just use the search term TBJ in your Etsy titles)~and It offers a Designer Market Place to advertise your Business. She has also provided helpful content on how to measure for customs, when to sell and so on. 

If  you haven't stopped by yet, please do, and tell her Designing Minds Blog sent you.

Best of luck, Kris
xo, Goosie

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The code of silence in custom boutique

We received an anonymous email from a reader and we thought it would make an interesting blog. We asked a few others secretly if they had ever encountered this situation and many said yes; but what makes this particular situation interesting, is the "code of silence" surrounding it. 

"I had got a set from a very well known designer when she had a Facebook sale in her group. The price was good so I thought with the reputation and number of fans she had, her work would be good. I jumped at the chance to get 2 dresses from her at such a great sale price.She said they was ready to ship and they were both my granddaughter's size too. I got the dress three weeks later.  I don't know what took so long? Also I was really disappointed in the workmanship. There wasn't even top stitching on the dress. There were threads hanging everywhere and the seams weren't even straight. I have been sewing for years for my kids and grands and these things are things I would be ashamed of if I was selling what I was sewing. I don't understand why people continue to buy this designer's items? or how she can even be in business with this quality? I quietly made the decision to not buy from her any more, even if she has good sale prices."
As a matter of discretion, we have chosen to withhold the name of the designer in question. 
But what Designing Minds wants to know is:
  1. Is this common?
  2. Do buyers (especially buyers who are also designers/sewists) not wish to make waves? 
  3. Is it easier to suck it up and move on and know to not buy in the future from the designer again?
  4. What would you do if you were the buyer? Would you email the designer and tell them you are disappointed in the purchase? or just zip your lip and move on?
  5. Does this happen a lot to buyers and the code of silence keeps it swept under the rug?
  6. As a designer how would you handle a situation like this, should a customer contact you and tell you they were disappointed in the items they purchased (and your workmanship?)

 We addressed the Designing Minds advisory panel and no one was willing to comment, or add to this discussion so perhaps this is a one-time, rare event? 
or Do buyers talk amongst themselves behind closed doors of secret groups and discuss the quality of certain designers' workmanship?

 It has been long said since the invention of custom boutique (even back to the old school ebay days) in custom boutique that buyers DO talk about the "bad egg" or "less than great" designers who have big customer followings but yet sell nearly everything they put up for sale. 

Do you think perhaps this particular buyer got a rare less than stellar dress, and this wasn't the norm for this designer? Designers are human, and occasionally pull off a less than perfect seamed garment, don't they? Everyone makes mistakes, right? OR is it the code of silence that keeps a designer who does less than professional work in business? 
We want to hear from you. Comment and tell us your experiences, whether you are a designer or a buyer. Remember you may comment ANONYMOUSLY to protect your identity.

We are opening the floor for discussion
or maybe we are opening a can of worms that is better left alone? 
What do you think? 

~Designer Z (<-- The anonymous blogger for Designing Minds who deals with controversial/stir the pot topics)