Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Your feedback....

About a week ago I asked for items that our customers would like to see us carry and here is the feedback I got:

1. Gloves
2. Spats & Gaiters
3. Shirts (lacy and non-lacey)
4. Victorian coats
5. Hats customize-able by the wearer
6. Ties, cravats & ascots
7. Collars & cuffs
8. Waistcoats
9. Dusters

Have something on the list you don't see that you would like to add? Let me know! I'm open to suggestions for men, women & childrens' clothing and accessories.

I do have to comment on a couple of the items though. I've tried gloves and they can be a nightmare, I may give them a shot again, but if I carry them, they'll probably be made by someone other than me. As for hats, I can make them, but I find that there are plenty of milliners, haberdashers and other hat makers that are already doing Steampunk hats and I would much rather concentrate on clothing.


HRM Steampunk Symposium - Part IV - Saturday & Sunday


Let me state for the record, I think it's sacrilegious to have a hotel room without a coffee pot, however, the coffee on the Queen Mary was pretty damn good, so I'll let it slide. Next time I bring an electric tea kettle with me.

I didn't really want the coffee pot for anything but to make hot water, because I brought a long my French Press and some Kona Coffee for consumption in the morning. To say I'm picky about my coffee is a bit of an understatement. ;)

After a really good dinner, a tasty pint of Guinness and a damn good shot of Feckin' Irish Whiskey (something I have now acquired at bottle of), Friday night at The Auld Dubliner we sank into a deep sleep for about 10 hours. The 6:30 am text message was not amusing though.

We rolled out of bed and pulled ourselves together as much as we could sans coffee and began working on some of the unfinished vests that I brought with me. Cindy stitched on buttons while I sewed button holes into the vest. Around 9 am we stopped sewing, got dressed, gathered our things and headed to the vendor room. Once we got everything uncovered and set back up, Cindy went in search of coffee goodness. Just when I was ready to send out a search party for her she returned. See, the problem with being dressed up for an event is that people want to take your photo every 5 feet, not that it's a bad thing but it slows you down a bit, at least the coffee was still hot when she got back. ;)

Most of the day was spent taking to customers, making a few sales and working on those unfinished vests. We were visited by my friend Phineas Sinclair from League of Supremely Evil Revolutionaries and a few of their other members.

We also had a visit from Queen Victoria during her rounds of the vendor area.

6:00 pm came pretty quickly and we headed back to the hotel room to grab the camera and take some photos of ourselves on the ship. Those can be found over in Part I.

We then met up with our friend Trishana for dinner and then sat up giggling until 12:45 am when someone banged on the wall. Whoops!


Sunday found us packing up everything in the hotel room, running our suitcases to the truck and then back to the hotel room to grab the items that we wanted after the event closed down,  dropped those off at the booth and *then* went to grab much needed coffee before the vendor area opened.

The day went by at a fairly good pace and before we knew it 4:00 pm had rolled around and it was time to pack up. We each made our own mad dash to change into more comfortable close and then began breaking things down. In most cases I'm pretty certain on how I want to break things down, pack them up and load them up, but for some reason, my brain decided that it was time to go for a saunter somewhere other than the vendor room and well I stood there trying to figure out where to start. Thankfully Cindy & Noell kicked me in the rear and we got packing.

Of course this lead to utter chaos, especially when I bent down to pick up one of the U-shaped hanging racks for the gridwall, turned around and whacked it squarely into Cindy's knee as she stepped into my path. The exchange ended up something like this:

"Oh my god, Oh my god, Oh my god" ~Cindy
"You ok?" ~me
"Yes, but if I stop to think about it, it's going to hurt like a SOB" ~Cindy

From there we all bust out giggling and then into fits of laughter, then we heard..."I recognize that laugh!" coming from the neighboring booth. Cindy and I suddenly looked like a set of deer in headlights.

"You were in room 128 weren't you?"

"Uh huh"

"You two were so funny! You had us laughing so hard. We had no idea what you were laughing about, but every time you started to giggle and laugh, we busted up laughing. You must have been having a great time!"

Of course all I'm think of at this time is "Oh crap! They were the ones banging on the wall last night. Breath, just breath, where's the closest exit"

"We didn't happen to keep you up did we?" I asked

"What? No! We just thought you two were funny."

Big exhale, "Oh thank god. We though you were the ones that banged on the wall at 12:45 am" said Cindy

"Oh no! We were asleep by then"

Talking about dodging a bullet. Though if you were the ones next to us one the Queen Mary and banged on the wall at 12:45 am because our laughter kept you up, we are so sorry! We didn't realize what time it was.

After I got my scattered brains back together from that exchange we had the pleasure of taking everything down stairs. Now if you heard my tales of load in over here you know the fun we had getting everything upstairs to the vendor room, and by fun I mean "OMGWTF!!! we have to carry our grid wall up how many flights of stairs???" Ya well, we got the enjoyment (/sarcasm) of doing the reverse, in addition we had to compete for the elevator with the cleaning crew of the Queen Mary.

Of course hauling everything down left us with an interesting dilemma. Who was going to watch everything while we packed up? Thankfully our friend Noell stayed afterwards and helped us do just that. She watched everything as Cindy brought it down and I packed the remaining items up and helped some of our neighbors remove zip ties from their grid walls in record time. The trick? A set of wire cutters, cuts through those things in no time.

Of course after the second load was down, Cindy comes back upstairs and informs me that it has started to rain. So we did our final load of tubs and she took it down to Noell and then helped her move everything undercover so it wouldn't get wet and then trekked back upstairs to get the gridwall.

We ended up taking a queue from the guys at Last Wear, we staged three grid wall on either side of us and then Cindy grabbed the front and I grabbed the rear and down the stairs we went. Success! It was much lighter than hauling two or three panels each.

From there I went and grabbed the truck, parked and we made a mad dash to load up in the rain which had abated a bit, but was headed south so we were going to end up driving in what had already passed anyhow.

Loading the truck took about 15-20 minutes and we were off to San Diego! We made it home in about 2 1/2 hours, (that included a stop for food at Jack in the Box) unloaded, Cindy headed home and I went in and got mobbed by my kids who hadn't seen me in 3 days.

I have to say it was a great weekend. I had a lot of fun even though there were some minor issues and things that need to be tweaked for next year, but there is nothing in the world like coming home to your kids and them greeting you with hugs and kisses.

Take care and hope to see you all at the next event!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Looking for ideas, suggestions, etc.

Ladies & Gents, I'm looking for some input on things to make for upcoming shows. I'm leaning towards doing more items for me since it seems that area is a bit lacking, especially in the Steampunk genre. So here's your chance, what would you like to see available for mens' wear? I already have vets and ascots in my inventory.

I'm also open to suggestions for women's and children's wear too!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Support small business

Being the owner for a small business, I know how much work goes into keeping it up and running which is why I'm asking for your help in supporting a great small business, Last Wear.

Starting tomorrow, January 23, 2012, they're having a "Staying in business sale". For more information on this sale go here and support a great business that proudly stands behind their "Made in America" tags on their clothing.

Thank you!

Friday, January 20, 2012

HRM Steampunk Symposium - Part III - Setup


That ended up being the random phrase of the weekend, that and a very dramatic "Dun Dun Dunnnnnnnnn!!!" due to the alert that Cindy set on her phone to remind me to check the oil in my truck before we left to head back to San Diego. We never did remember to check the oil, d'oh!

Why "Pants"? Well after our harrowing adventure loading in we took a breather by leaning on a stack of plastic tubs full of merchandise to catch our breath (too much cardio also known as being way out of shape) when I looked up and blurted out "Pants!" Of course this makes Cindy look at me like I grew a second head and maybe tentacles or something. "Pants" I said as I pointed at the floor to the stacks of pants that the crew from Last Wear had laying out and then we both proceeded go into a fit of giggling. I'm sure all our neighbors though us slightly nuts, well at least those who weren't dead from hauling mass amounts of grid wall up 4 flights of stairs.

I usually have a pretty good plan for getting the booth put together and all my merchandise out, but Friday morning, my brain had decided to leak out my ears and curl up in a corner to sleep for a while longer, due to the cardio we forced it into and the lack of coffee. I stood there trying to process what the heck we were going to do and where to start.

We started by getting the grid wall all set up and then went in search of the vendor coordinator to find out where our tables where. Seems the staff for the Queen Mary was a bit behind in delivering the tables that morning, maybe they were suffering from the same brain issues I was. We got permission to pirate a couple of the solo tables and well, we didn't have to be told twice. Two tables later, we had dug out the PVC pipe and fitting that was going to add 2 feet of height to the grid wall. I had decided two days before that I didn't want to bring my 2 - 8 foot panels with me because they're unwieldy and of course after load in, I was *doubly* glad I didn't bring them. So to give me some height to hang the banner from and the torso forms, or Mr & Ms. Nudie Pants and they were so named by Cindy from.

Now the PVC pipe idea was an idea I came up with as I was driving home from work the week of the event. I then sketched out what I wanted for my husband and he went to town cutting the pipe and spray painting it black. Come assembly time, it was an another adventure, actually it was like playing with life size tinker toys. A few tweaks and zip ties later, we had it all set up and functional. The measurements were a bit off, but it wasn't bad for being an untested idea in my head. Though we did learn that Krylon Spray paint for plastic is great if you're using something stationary not something that is going to be tossed in a bag and then hauled up in a truck.

From there we got everything laid out, checked into our hotel room, changed into our outfits and waited for customers.
Our booth set up

Part IV

Photo shoot photos

So back in December I posted this post about a photo shoot at my friend Ginger's 125 year old Victorian home.

The photos were taken by my friend and co-worker Marc Espina of  Marc Espina Photography and the model is my best friend Chris aka Ducky.

 I posted links to the photos over at our Google+  and Facebook pages, but now that I've had some spare time I'm posting them here for your viewing pleasure.

Burgundy Vest - view 2
Burgundy Vest - view 1
Burgundy Vest - view 3

Olive vest - view 1
Olive vest - view 2
Stripe vest - view 1
Stripe vest - view 2
Stripe vest - view 3
The vest has the fashion fabric or outer shell fabric for the front and back and then the vests are fully lined with a lining fabric. Some vests also use the lining for the outer back portion of the vest, but most of the time I prefer to have the entire outside of the garment out of the same fabric. There are 6 buttons up the front of each vest and a two part belt with a buckle at the back.

I sold the burgundy vest at HRM Steampunk Symposium last weekend, but the olive and striped vests are now available over in my Etsy Store.  I have only one olive one left in stock right now, however, I do take custom orders if you are looking for a specific color and I currently have patterns drafted for chest sizes 38 through 52.

I also have some other vests cut out and waiting to be sewn. Once those are all done, we'll be getting together for another photo shoot and then listing them vest up for sale as well.

As a teaser here are the fabrics that we currently have vests cut out in. The photos don't do the colors much justice though:

This piece is a light yellow with black flocking

Black with grey flocking
Electric blue with black flocking

Red with black flocking

Dark rust with black flocking

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

HRM Steampunk Symposium - Part II: Adventures in Vending

Continuation from Part I

The Queen Mary is a beautiful ship and one would think that living in Southern California for over half my life, I would have managed a trip up to roam around the vessel and see if there were any ghosts lurking about at least once.

Incidentally, this event was my first trip to the Queen Mary. I had the opportunity a couple years back, but I was 37+ weeks pregnant and my mid-wife didn't want me out of San Diego just in case my daughter decided to arrive early. She didn't, she was 2 weeks late like her brother, but that's another story. ;)

View from the promenade deck of the Queen Mary
As with any show or event I do, there is always last minute sewing that is being done. Most of the time I'm also sewing on the way to or at an event, which also means that I'm usually running on little to no sleep. So per usual I was up until 2 am finished up a batch of vests before I decided that I needed to try and get some sleep before my alarm went off at 5:30 am, get loaded up and be on the road no later than 6:30 am. I actually rolled out of bed at 6 am, scrambled to get dressed and get my clothes & other things packed before Cindy showed up. I wasn't the only one running slow that morning, she actually text-ed me to let say she got up late.

After all was said and done we hit the road about 7:15 am with some much needed coffee in hand, got gas and made it up to Long Beach by 9 am where the real fun began. First we pulled into the general parking area and found a parking space up front, walked to the find out where check in was and then walked over to where everyone was unloading. We talked to the security guard there and he directed us to where we needed to park to unload, so we wandered back to the truck, hopped in and drove out of the parking lot toward the direction of the exit looking for a place to loop around and looked and drove around and looked some more and when we finally resigned the fact that we were doing to have to exit the lot and then drive back in we noticed the road going back towards the Queen Mary and made it the unload area.

The security guard informed us that we needed to unload our stuff into a pile and then move the truck to a parking spot so other people could pull in and do the same. We nodded our heads, looked at each other, chuckled a bit and went to work. For anyone who knows us, Cindy and I do a lot of volunteering with the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronisms) and we can unload and load things like no ones business. We're also pretty good at playing car-tetris too. ;)  The only thing that slowed us down with our unloading was the fact that we had to walk around someone else's stuff to set ours down. I had to chuckle at the expression of the security guard when he saw how fast we had unloaded and had the truck ready to move, we don't mess around.

I got the truck parked back in our original spot and then began the task of loading up the dolly with our stuff. After doing a few shows with grid wall, I've gotten the packing and loading down to a method where I have to make as few trips as possible, mostly because I do a lot of shows where I'm setting up and vending on my own and the fewer the trips I have to make the better.

The loading goes something like this: lay down the 6ft grid wall pieces, lock in the arm of the handcart/dolly and then load all the tubs of merchandise, etc, on top and go. It makes for less carrying and less trips, though  the trade off is that maneuvering can be a bit difficult, but it's not totally unmanageable.

So we make the trek over to the freight elevator that goes from the dock to the ship and wait for our turn. While I'm waiting there, Cindy took some of the smaller items up the stairs and waited for me. I have to say I'm glad I don't have a phobia of elevators as this one was a bit daunting. I think it was the first time that I was ever in an elevator that you had to close the large doors by hand and then closed the accordion style gate and hold the button all the way up until you reached the top and not to mention rickety. Definitely not for the faint of heart. Off the elevator and across the bridge onto the ship we went with some bumps, dips and sliding to deal. We were doing great and were going to be set up in no time!

Of course that is when Murphy decided to show up. "Just to let you know, your grid wall may not fit on the elevator" said one of the other vendors as they walked by.  Cindy and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows and scoffed bit. "It's only 6ft grid wall, I don't see why it shouldn't fit" I stated with a shrug and continued on down the hall to the onboard freight elevator.

Now when one thinks of freight elevator, you think of an elevator large enough for well freight and large boxes, etc., not something with a door that is maybe 30 inches wide and maybe 7 feet tall (if that) and might be 6 feet deep. So you can imagine the looks on our faces when we saw what we had to contend with and that we would have to unload and reload the cart.

So unloading and reloading we went and then came the first catch phrase of the event: "Cardio!". See, the freight elevator deck was 4 flights of stairs below the vendor room so we had the pleasure of hauling 6 pieces of 6 ft grid wall up 4 flights of stairs. Of course I didn't know this until I grabbed the first set of two and started my incline went through the door and looked around only to be told I had three more flights to go and up I went, found our vendor space and then trekked back down. Lather, rinse, repeat with the second batch. by the time I got back downstairs Cindy had everything loaded up and opted to take batch number 3 to the vendor room and I got to deal with getting the dolly into the elevator. I got the dolly all lined up with the entrance, rolled it towards the open door and got stuck, of course it didn't help that on of the tires was going low because of the weight and that the corner shelves for our set up were too wide. Cue me backing up, letting someone else go on and removing the shelves and re situating the load and taking the next  ride up, disembarking and getting the cart to our vendor space. Our trip back down to the dock and  then back up with the rest of our items much more efficient and done in a lot less time with a lot less swearing too.

More to come in Part III =)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

HRM Steampunk Symposium Part I: The Recap

We're home and mostly unpacked from our weekend at the HRM Steampunk Symposium on the Queen Mary up in Long Beach.

First off, I want to send out a big thank you to all of the customers that stopped by our booth, shopped, took a card, inquired about things, etc., it was wonderful talking to all of you!

Thank you to the organizers of the event for all your hard work too! I know what goes into planning and setting up an event of this magnitude and I really appreciate all the work you put into everything. For a first time event it went well, even with the things that were out of everyone's control like the elevator sizes ( more on that later).

I also want to thank my partner in crime for the weekend, Cindy from Original Cin Art. Without her helping me man the booth and schlep things, I'd be sitting in the corner rocking back and forth by now and I wouldn't have laughed nearly as much as I did this past weekend.

This was were we resided during vendor hours all weekend, with the occasional breaks for the important things like coffee, food, restroom breaks and more coffee.

We also ended up with some great neighbors in the vendor room too!

Across from us we had Last Wear out of Seattle and the entire crew was fun to chat with throughout the entire event. Plus they have some damn cool clothing all made in the USA too!

Next to us we had the two lovely ladies from Ravenworks out of Madison, WI, who also had a great selection of men's clothing and accessories.

I made a couple laps around the vendor room though I spent most of my time in the booth, mostly because I didn't have a lot of extra money to spend on things this round plus I like sitting in the booth chatting to people as they come by.

Chris London from 6 String Samurai
There were a couple highlights for me this event, the first being that Chris London, the drummer from 6 String Samurai bought one of the vests that I made on Friday and stopped back by on Saturday where I was able to snap this photo of him in it. I would have loved to have chatted with him and the rest of the group he was with as they were all fun to talk and interact with.

Back in May I vended at Gaslight Gathering and took a custom order for a vest as I didn't have it in the customer's size at the event. Incidentally he was at this event at stopped by to show off his vest and also allowed me to get a photo of said vest as well. As you can see Burgundy was a very popular color for vests.

Though the hot item this event seemed to be ascots. I sold out of all the black, blue and patterned ones that I had in stock. It's a good thing I have more cut out waiting to be sewn, along with another 27 vests.

The photo above with the custom vest also has one of the ascots I did as well the one in the photo on the right. The color in person is more of an olive green with a swirl pattern in it like the burgundy vests. I have a vest in stock made out of the same material that I'm hoping to get listed up on Etsy in the next week or so along with some other great vests.

We also had some great hand blown Absinthe glasses made by a dear friend of mine for sale and I'll be posting those up for sale over on Etsy as well as some more bottles that I finished up right before the event.

Cindy and I suffer from the "Cobblers children go barefoot syndrom" when it comes to events. We're always working on things for other people or to sell. Some day we'll both actually come up with enough outfits for a Con that we don't have to scramble together from the depths of our closets.

Friday we were both dressed up as "Steampunk Romani" though true to form, I left all my belts and jingly bits for the outfit at home. Packing and loading up on 3 hours sleep will do that do a gal.

Saturday, Cindy wore her Regina Black costume and I dug out my wedding dress from the depths of my closet and wore that. (Yes, it still fits after 5 years of marriage and two kids!)

Of course drop two costumers onto a ship like the Queen Mary along with a camera and we're bound to end up doing something silly, like this:

Regina Black aka Cindy making sure the coast is clear...

Colleen making sure she's not being followed.

And this:

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Yes, but next time I wear the pants
And then final photos of us in our outfits from Sunday:

We had a great time and were sad to see the weekend come to an end (mostly, I wanted to sleep in my own bed again and see my kids.) But we're gearing up for the next event and plotting more wonderful items to add to our inventory and funny photos to take whatever site we're going to be vending at and we're looking to see old friends and make new ones as well.

Stay turned for another post for the *fun* (can you feel the sarcasm in that?) we had loading in and setting up at this event in part 2.

But before I go, one last photo of one of the costumed patrons that I got at the event, who was also a blast to talk to!

ARRRRR......It's drivin' me NUTS!!!!

On to Part II

Thursday, January 5, 2012

HRM Steampunk Symposium

We're happy to announce that we will have a booth at HRM Steampunk Symposium on the historic Queen Mary in Long Beach, California.

The event runs from January 13-16, 2012 and the vendor hall will be open January 13-15, 2012.

We hope to see some of you there!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Welcome 2012

We'd like to wish you all a Happy New Year!

Thank you so much to all our customers that supported us in 2011 and we hope to continue to have your support through out 2012!

We also look forwards to meeting new friends and making new customers.

May 2012 be a prosperous new year for you all!