Thursday, October 17, 2013

Football Made Adorable

I don't exactly know how this happened, but I am quickly finding that is exactly how everything happens in the business of creativity! I believe a dear customer, and now friend, asked me if I could make a Houston Texans shirt for her son. I mentioned this to my husband that evening and his ears perked up--- a reaction I don't often receive from him regarding fabrics and patterns. He said, "Watch out Sweets, this could be huge." I laughed it off and humbly responded with, "Isn't everything I make 'HUGE'?" wink-humble-wink. Two weeks later I was eating my words, and little else since I had walked headfirst into the world of American football and was therefor living (I am not exaggerating), LIVING at my sewing machine. I may know very little about football (both professional or collegiate) but I have to admit I know a lot more than I did just two months ago. Here is what I DO know: colors, patterns, coordinating fashion and creating standout-different looks. There were several evenings of me questioning (ok... it was whining) at my husband "but the yellow chevron is so much cuter for this team... the Steelers, right? why does the helmet have to be black instead of yellow???"but in the end he was always right. This is one of the only times we have been able to work together on a project for my shop and he walked away feeling useful, (I call it him having the upper-hand- if he had a power point on chevron vs. gingham to give at his job I would be of use to him as well).
So here is the first set I made, the Houston Texans. While I know the helmet is Navy in uniform, the navy t-shirt is quite appealing to my amazing Texan fans/Token Customers. Before I knew it I was being asked to make headbands, rag skirts, baby barefoot sandals... what the WHAT??? and WHO KNEW there was the world of resin out there? There are small businesses on Etsy (and other locations I'm sure) who sell handcrafted flat-back resin created molds of teams, logos, shapes, etc. While some teams are more difficult to locate than others, I have turned into the Sherlock Holmes of resin-flatbacks. I will search the internet high and low to find the perfect logo, helmet, etc for my headbands. They make it a little more special I think.



It took one glance of these on my shop's FaceBook page and the requests came pouring in. And so the domino effect happened----

Texas A&M
 
San Francisco 49ers:

 

BAMA Crimson Tide:


Dallas Cowboys:
 
University of Georgia Bulldogs: 
  
 

And just to be clear... this is only a FRACTION of the teams and/or colleges I have created items inspired by in the past three months. NFL licensed fabric is somewhat easy to get ahold of, and collegiate licensed fabric is sold in abundance as well. I did a little research (yes this blonde can think!:) to discover team and school colors, than the most frequent combinations of colors worn to games, and put my eye for color to good use. And WALAH!!! Sometimes simply truly DOES speak volumes! I love how they turned out, my own son has worn three teams already: Seattle Seahawks (Mommy and Daddy's hometown), Chicago Bears (his hometown and birth-home) and now our hometown team the San Diego Chargers.

Here are a list of the fabrics I have currently (subject to change based on availability- message me ;)

Collegiate Fabrics:
-Univeristy of Georgia (Bulldogs) UGA
-University of Nebraska (Huskers)
-Texas A&M
-USC Trojans
-UCLA Bruins
-Ohio State
-Texas Tech. University
-Arkansas Razorbacks
-University of Washington Huskies
-University of Oklahoma OU Sooners
-Washington State University Cougars
-Univ. of Texas Longhorns
-University of Michigan
-Oregon Ducks
-Alabama Crimson Tide
-University of Miami
-Florida Gators

NFL Team Fabrics:
-Houston Texans
-NY Giants
-Chicago Bears
-Dallas Cowboys
-San Francisco 49ers
-Pittsburg Steelers
-Green Bay Packers
-Oakland Raiders
-Denver Broncos
-New Orleans Saints
-San Diego Chargers
-Seattle Seahawks
-Minnesota Vikings
-Atlanta Falcons
-New England Patriots
-Buffalo Bills
-Kansas City Chiefs
-Carolina Panthers
-Philadelphia Eagles

For the most part, I am ordering fabrics based on customers requesting them. If you don't see a team or school you are wanting, just ask. I recently deisgned a team set for Lamar University  as well as Florida Atlantic University . I think they are two of my favorites ;)
 


Don't forget, you can always find me at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TokenBlonde

Friday, August 30, 2013

It Doesn't Matter What You Wear!!....... But Maybe a Little

This morning my boy insisted on wearing his "R Raccoon Pirate" shirt for the last day of Rr this week in kindergarten. The "mommy-intution" in me started chirping and I reminded him that anytime someone looks/wears or does something different, other kids tend to make fun of them. Jackson couldn't imagine that his friends would make fun of him (I love his precious outlook, although naive) and so the whole walk to school we practiced saying "My Bapa wears pink and he's the mannest man I know!"
You see, his "R-Raccoon" shirt, while albeit precious and a great color on him, is pink. I don't mean pink-that-can-pass-as-coral-or-salmon-pink, I mean HOT PINK that we wore as lipstick in 1984.
PROS:

  • it's a boy's shirt
  • it has an adorable raccoon wearing a pirate hat with pirate hook on it and a crow on top of his hat
  • it's super easy to spot my son in a crowd
  • it makes us laugh
  • my boy feels awesome when he wears it and there is nothing better than seeing your son smile.
CONS:

  • It is pink, noticeably pink and while we have decided against gender-izing colors in our home, I am very aware that the rest of the world isn't quite as liberal in their fashion thinking. 
But what was I supposed to do, fight him on the shirt he wanted to wear for R day at school??? So I let him wear the shirt and thought he was just perfect and adorable and happy as I walked him to school.

What do you think? ADORABLE. That's what I thought too :)

Well he wasn't even in the door of his classroom before kids were making fun of him, calling him a girl (WHY is that an insult??!?!!!) and being cruel (and HELLO?!?! Parents standing there..... ????? No comment..... that would be a whole different blog post...)  I went home in tears and really struggled with whether or not to swoop in and save the day  or let him struggle through a painful lesson at 5 years old (he'll have to figure it out eventually.... right??)
So I texted one of my dearest friends and told her what was going on. I told her I was trying not to "hover" and be the mom who never lets my kid fall and yet I could only see my boy's face, near tears as he walked into his class, crushed that what he believed to be a safe place was no longer that.  He no longer had that smile on you see above and his confidence had been deflated. I don't want him to think that how you look is important, because that goes against everything we've taught him up until this point in life: what matters most is in your heart.
My friend wisely reminded me of a story in Jen Hatmaker's book Misunderstood when she had worn glasses to school for much of her young life and was being picked on, bullied and tormented by the other girls. One day her mom took her out of school to get fitted for a pair of contact glasses. Her mom never said "I just don't want anyone to make fun of you! Let's make you beautiful!" she simply protected her daughter, as our Heavenly Father does for us. Jen wrote on to say that moment in her life was one of the clearest examples of God's love through her mother.  So you better believe I hopped in the car with a black and blue shirt and raced back to school.
When he walked into the school office and saw me sitting there nervously with a new shirt he was confused. Like I said, I think it's good for him to fall and learn to get back up and so I am not the mom who saves my kid from everything. I'm sure he was convinced he'd just have to get through the worst day in the history of kindergarten and that was that. He said, "Mom? Why did you bring me a new shirt?" I looked at him and had a thousand responses going through my head (i.e. "No son of mine will be made fun of." "I hate it when I see you get hurt." "I forgot there is a stain on that shirt.") and this is what I ended up saying, "Buddy, you are awesome. Awesome. And I noticed some of your friends were giving you a hard time this morning. I was worried they wouldn't be able to see just how awesome you are if they were only seeing your shirt. I hope this way you can have a great day of learning and you can help your friends learn what is really important: what's in here." and I pointed to his chest. He gave me the biggest hug and then said "Well.... this shirt is a little hot...." :) Well played sir.
We can't save our kids from everything, nor would we want to because then they'll never know how to get back up and also they will lack compassion for others in similar situations, but we can protect them and guide them appropriately. Give them the tools to fight back in love, help them learn grace (undeserved love), forgiveness and humility as well as compassion.

So good luck Momma's!! We have our work cut out for us!

Blessings,
Nicole

Picture Day!

My boy started Kindergarten last month and today was picture day. I made him a tie-appliqued t-shirt using my favorite line of fabrics, Happy Go Lucky by Bonnie and Camille using the Happy Hop in navy for the tie and red pink dots for the apple. I then appliqu├ęd a small green leaf and an aqua letter J for his initial. One way I love to encourage my customers to "dress" up a t-shirt is to put a coordinating yet different, colored polo shirt with a color underneath and then roll the sleeves and pop the collar up. My son is still comfortable this way (no tie strangling him) and I'm happy with his adorable little hipster look. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Crafty Progression


It's hard to imagine that a little over a year ago this used to be our guest room. Last February I got wind of this new phenomenon called "Pinterest" and started crafting and creating all over the place. At the time, our family was in a temporarily difficult financial spot and I was always pining (not pinning... that came later) for new furnishings and embellishments for our rental home. I was fascinated with all that people were able to make using nothing but a glue gun and some paper towel rolls and thus my thrifty desire for amazingness came to life. 

Stage 1: Trapped In the Closet
 At first I had to BEG my husband just to use the closet space in our guest room to hold my quickly accumulating "craftiness", and so I took the sliding doors off the closet and jammed a huge desk into the tiny space (a desk that I might add I got for nearly nothing, off of Craigslist). Of course I got the idea for a "closet office" off of Pinterest from pins like this one here, but I quickly realized that there is no way I could ever keep a space that small contained- my craftiness was literally exploding out of there! I often had projects laid out on the queen-sized guest bed or floor and then would be tip-toeing around doing my best not to step on anything while trying to retrieve something from the other side of the room. Not to mention, God forbid, we might actually have guests. I remember when my B.F.F. came to visit for the weekend with her three young children (you read that right) and her youngest (and also most "free-spirited) needed to take a nap. The thought of having him nap in a room all alone with a closet open and full of nails, glue-gun and staple-gun, glass items, needles, pins, paint- you can imagine the horror. 
Eventually though, I had spent so much money (by saving money, mind you) that my husband asked if I might consider selling some of my "creations" on a site called Etsy where other crafty and artistic people were selling. I still didn't know what exactly I was going to sell, but I knew that I loved seeing things take shape and come to life, and that perhaps our three-bedroom condo could no longer hold it all- it was time to spread the wealth. 
I know it probably feels like I'm skipping a huge span here, but I never thought "this whole thing" would ever take hold and become anything, so I didn't take any pictures of when everything was still an old R. Kelly song (get it- "Trapped In the Closet".... hahah...ha..ha......ha?) What I DO have are some pictures of after the closet and before now, and quite honestly I considered not even posting them because I am sooooo embarrassed, but then I wouldn't be the honest and compelling person that I am (and I think you'll be much more impressed with how far I...errr I mean the room, has come if you see where it started from).

And so I give you, Stage 2: Don't You Wish I Was Back In the Closet? 

This might have been more difficult than Stage 1, because at this point people were ordering items from me (granted only a few) and while I loved creating and did a great job at it (pat, pat) I HAD NO FREAKING CLUE how to run a small business. I was learning all of it, every single bit, by myself and on the fly. It wasn't until a customer emailed that her package never arrived that I realized I needed the extra tracking to see where things were and if they were still coming. I hadn't really considered adding care-tags to the items until every email for two weeks was people asking if they could use the washing machine for their items. I had wanted to plan, and be a careful planner, but I was so caught off guard that I didn't know where to start planning and what to plan for! And so I hauled out that huge CL find of a desk from the closet and this time I shoved it between two wardrobe units from my son's room when it was a nursery. We had recently re-done his room into a fierce Super Hero themed room (another post I think... :) ) and so these were available and free, (FREE being the key word here).  
 I had every free and abandoned item from my house to the border and was using them all, or at least had great intentions to use them, as organizing solutions. Business was picking up and I wasn't slowing down enough to make sense of the chaos and so I just kept plowing through- literally: PLOWING.THROUGH. Every time I walked in I was reminded of an episode of Hoarders on TLC and would spend so much time looking for a pair of scissors or sewing needle that I eventually would melt down in tears or give up and walk away (maybe I should've resorted to tearing fabric with my teeth).  It wasn't a "dirty" space by any means, since no food was allowed and no one other than myself really wanted to be in there, it was just cluttered beyond reason and there was no even flow to it.
And then my husband (otherwise known as: amazing-blessing-of-a-man-and-huge-hunk-of-love) pointed out that this ever-growing crafty thing was actually making money now. I had been working so hard on scrapping by that I hadn't even looked at the bank account!!! 

Stage 3: A Look That Matches My Flow

While I'm sure it was incredibly romantic to see me at my wits end and panicking over missing fabric shears and lost buttons, Matt suggested that our marriage might possibly be even better if we put some perspective to the whole thing and truly got organized.  I had every intention of being organized, just needed the time to do it. We decided January was our time to get it done, and gave ourselves two weeks to complete everything, including putting the shop online on "Vacation Mode". We measured the room, measured the pieces we had, looked online and compared prices and durability and then we sold almost all of the old furniture in the room (thank you again CL) and used the cash, as well as some of the shop's earnings to purchase new pieces to complete the room. We eventually decide IKEA was the best bet for the money, and mapped out what we wanted. It only took us two trips and was relatively inexpensive for what we got. Of course I got the flu right after we bought everything and with 103 fever was trying to put stuff away into my newly created and amazing space so it got pushed off a little bit and while I've been working in it for almost almost three-months, I'm just now finding time to take pictures of it and write it all down. There are so many details to every picture and I don't want to bore you with the details, but the main difference is this: everything has a purposeful place now. 
Paper and shipping labels are near the printer, which is near the computer, which is near the power cord, which is near the outlet (hey- you gotta think of everything!)


My sewing machine is where a set of drawers has been strategically placed to hold thread, bobbins, needles, etc. as well as a small lamp for better lighting at night.


There are bins for each stage of the process that are labeled accordingly and with specific directions.



The closet has been transformed from a catch-all to an organized storage space for inventory.



My buttons and beads are no longer stashed in shoe boxes, while I kept them in the same cheap IKEA spice jars, we added the bars and baskets for easy reach as well as using the wall space to free up counter space (I am still needing one more bar and then it will be complete).

And with all this purposeful organization comes lots and LOTS of newfound space for creating!!!!

Thanks for reading it through (I will not judge if you skimmed- what a wordy gal I've become!)