Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Spring colour hunt

Even though the Holidays are not quite over, all those of us, making things, already are planning for Spring!  What I find quite amusing and frighting at the same time, is how short the Fall/ Winter season is in Fashion. As soon as the Boxing weeks sales, blow-outs and bonanzas are finished, the Spring and Summer stuff will flood the shelves of Retailers, trying to manipulate us into thinking, the cold season is now officially over...

During the very busy Fall and so far - Winter too, I have used up most of my leather supply, and this is the time to re-stock! Liquidation leather is tricky, as each time I make an attempt to source, what I think will work for the bags, it never means I will be able to find what I need.  For this Spring, my most wanted colour for leather is... Lilac..

Lilac, source Hortserv.

Either muted or radiant, matte or metallic - Lilac is still an unlikely colour to be spotted amongst the accessories worn on the street today. But some 4 years ago I had the same obsession about Royal Blue, which was nowhere to be seen at the time, but now is returning for 3rd straight Spring/ Summer season in form of tops, belts and even shoes.
My Kerry bag in Royal Blue was welcomed very warmly by my customers!

I believe I am just as right about Lilac - but let's find a orphaned, overstock hide first....

The closest I came to Lilac, was with my Dusky Rose coloured leather; a muted, calm rosy pink, I used past Spring.
Limited Edition Sarah, Dusky Rose

Sarah, Renata and other purses were constructed out of this beautiful understated light upholstery stock. Even though it took a while for the customers to warm up to the idea of wearing a version of "Pink", the bags left  the shelves quickly. I was also amazed of how well my OOAK shoppers were warming up to Fuchsia.

Lilac really has potential!

Sarah, Olive Green
This past Fall, my luckiest find was the single Olive Green hide, which was sourced for quite a few beautiful purses, Virga being one of them. I would like to continue on the Greenish front into Spring, and will update you as soon as something is found.

Hides! - taken on-site by Ayala Moriel
My other found shades for the Sunny season are different tones of Mustards, Yellows, rich Cognac beiges, Caramels, Chestnuts, warm Wines and Grays!

Even though on my first Spring leather hunt I did not find everything I wanted, I returned with some great season transition pieces, and one unexpected psychedelic Argentinian find.

Forecast - for all added Spring styles we will keep using fluid forms, keep the metal to the minimum, continue on the true Old World country look with multiple straps looping over one another, lots of threading and pleating....

There will also be new pieces for the Beach, made of recycled materials and more. You'll see...

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Tree, source:
  Starting tomorrow I finally can take some time off - from Day job that is. The offices will be shut down for the week between Christmas and New Years, meaning more freedom for me - to sleep in, to not run around, to focus on what I love doing the most, which is working from home, on my bags.

Much of that time will be dedicated to sourcing new materials for the Spring add-ons to my Coming Of Age collection. Also, a few new ideas for Spring and Beach, I cannot wait to start bringing to life. And when I am not sourcing, planning, patterning, applying for the Spring shows, designing new business cards, sewing  or updating my on-line stock, I will be... resting.

Dundarave Olive Co - amongst my gifts!

Luckily, most of my own Christmas shopping is done - unfortunately, not the overseas mailing, which will have to wait till next week.... This year, I can proudly announce, that all my gifts are made in here, in BC!

I love the Winter Holiday season for its serenity. After sunset, there are not many things I would rather do, than light a lovely candle, turn the Christmas tree lights on,  and cozy up on the couch with a book and a glass of wine. Cliche, I know, but, this year I am looking forward to that more than ever...

Katie, The Bag Royal Blue
What a year has it been! Jola V. Designs has grown way beyond my wildest expectations, I am immensely thankful to all those who have been so supportive and generous this year. Next Spring we will mark our 2nd anniversary, and we would not have been able to get there without you!

The year of 2011 already looks promising, with possibly going part time at my day-job, so more time to work on the bags, and actually have the ability to get more in touch -  and keep up -  with my customers.

I am planning a few great Spring shows in the Vancouver area and some traveling and tanning for the Summer!

But, for now - a very well deserved Holiday season vacation!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Me and Marie

I met Marie at the One Of A Kind Show this past weekend. She came wondering by my modest booth, and stayed to shop. Another customer of mine was trying a few bags on, and the colour of the bags caught Marie's eye. Jewel Purple... A wonderful colour, so rare for the "orphaned" leather I source for the bags.

We started to talk, and immediately I felt how positive and genuinely interested she was in what is it we all do at the show. How we make things, decide which materials we want to use for our wares and how we are bringing production of every day items back into our home countries. Marie told me that shopping for locally made items was a new thing for her, as most of the time she would make her purchases while visiting her remaining family in the Old World. Or go to the high end shops and look for the Old World brands she loved since she was a young girl back in Britain.

But those brands were no longer the way Marie remembered them. What was supposed to be luxury bags, watches, eye-glasses, china, - anything she once thought she wanted to have, -  had lost the story behind it all, lost the individuality and in a lot of cases, quality too. The Brand Name remains, so does the logo, but the spirit of the maker has long disappeared behind the conveyor of mass production, cheap parts, labour, and meaningless celebrity appearance gimmicks.

Nonetheless, Marie's aspiration for fashion and quality remained. She just knew she had to look outside of what is perceived as fashion in the mass produced world. Marie tried a lot of my purses on and asked questions about each of them. She was excited to meet the person, who actually made the "beautiful purses" and to learn that small businesses, such as mine, are in fact helping to preserve the environment, while using recycled or overstock materials, making and selling it all on the spot. Many of them are giving work opportunities for local artists too. She really enjoyed the personal attention she got from me and all the assistance she was given whilst picking a bag.

I also told Marie, that anything new in fashion always starts in the Indie community, and it takes months for the corporate producers to catch up.

She walked away with my Light Grey Sarah Limited Finish bag, which she loved. She came back the next day and told me that her husband loved it too.  She said, that up to now, her favourite bag in her closet was a Marc Jacobs bag she bought a few months ago. But now, my Sarah was the new favourite, not just for the looks and quality, but also for the entire shopping experience.

Marie was an example of a small victory for Indies. If we can convert one person into a local, environmentally conscious shopper, many will follow.
This meeting was one of the highlights of the show.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Last couple of weeks seem to resemble a long mountainous road to some destination, yet unknown to me. So many things happened in such a short time, all appear to be connected in a cycle of Up- Down - Down - Up. Here is a load-down of the past three weeks...

Thursday, The Break-down
It began with my sewing machine going out of commission for 10 days. With the One Of A Kind show approaching fast, that was not a good time for a machine to break down. All my stock building was suspended for over 10 full days, as the thing sat in the mechanics workshop, waiting to be treated and released.

Friday, The Website
I certainly was not happy about having to go without a machine for this long, but the concerns were shortly overridden by more exciting news of my Web-site finally coming to a completion and going live. I am hugely thankful for all your sharing, re-tweeting and support. It took us many months of late nights and hard work, but now it is done...

Tuesday, The Spotting
I have written about it in this post, with all emotions poured out! To make a long story short - for the very first time I spotted a complete stranger wearing a bag I designed and made on a city train I ride to my day-job.
Grand and rewarding...

Thursday again, The snowy ride
We do not get a lot of snow in Vancouver, but when we do, our daily lives change. The snow came the night before I was going to go get my sewing machine back from the mechanics. It fell beautifully for many hours during the night, and into the morning, and then into the afternoon. Traffic was scarce on the roads, some streets were just purely white, with no trace of footsteps or tires.The Nordic in me prevailed, and in the early afternoon I rode out to get my main "sewing buddy" back home. It was perhaps the most scenic ride I had in a long time, while living in BC. Will never forget the snowed-in cemetery I saw on the way to the shop - the grave monuments were peeking out from underneath the snow. Very serene, and a kind of almost holy.
Most importantly, the machine was back home, safe and working.

Saturday, The Market
One of my two winter markets happened a weekend ago. I have forgotten how rusty I can get while setting up my booth, stuffing bags with shape supporting plastic, arranging storage and for the first time using my credit card processing device! It must have been the "rustiness" that cased my back to go out of commission for many days afterwards. I wish I was a bit more careful with all the lifting, dragging, stacking, bending and stretching. That was just the start of my health issues....

Monday, More health hazards
On the night of that Monday I suddenly felt sick. I always had little issues here and there, and aging definitely has proven to me that our bodies are not limitless in their stamina. Working two jobs - day and night - certainly took a toll on my energy levels and eliminated time to exercise.... For me though, that night was such a sudden deterioration, I, in fact, got quite worried that I might actually have something more serious. I had stomach cramping, chills, fatigue and dizziness, followed by other tell-tale signs of an internal infection. With some attention from a great doctor I met the next morning and some tough doses of antibiotics he prescribed, I was able to stay on my feet for the rest of the week. But, surely - no work got done...

Tuesday, The Job-Share
On Tuesday I was absent from my office day-job, as I was trying to battle my newly set-in infection. As I returned on the next day, I found a response from a colleague of mine, I was waiting for all week. She agreed to a proposal to share my current full time day-job at 50/50. More time to spend on my business and less at the office - on days like this you forget you've even been sick! Or sad! We are going to propose our plan to the employer shortly, and who knows, maybe this will be my lucky attempt.

Thursday, The Complaint
Back to the dumps! A knock on my door surprised me, as I just have finished hammering the rivets, connecting the strap on one of my Sarah bags. One in the Jewel Purple colour, that I love. I opened my door to a young red haired man standing in front of me. Apparently, he came to complain about the hammering and stone carving noises I was allegedly making. He also told me that he was a member of the Strata Council in my building, and that there are quite a few complaints racking up against stone carving (again!) related noises. Thursday would not be the day I am usually home, so I was not familiar with any such noises, so none of what he was saying made sense to me. I do not carve stone, nor make continuous hammering noises, so at first I thought this man was joking. But then.... as soon as he left the noises began! Right in the upstairs from me - hammering, grinding, vacuuming, followed by more hammering. I have never heard these noises before, as I would be off to the day-job on weekdays. I got really enraged about now being accused of causing this noise chaos, so I contacted the Strata, just to find out that my friend from this morning had already written me up! Now I am NOT used to be treated like this by a man... I wrote my lengthy explanation to the Strata, hoping the finger - pointing will cease. I now think, my "friend" really owes me an apology.

Thursday, The Wonderful Hanukkah dinner
Same Thursday - different world. The strange encounter with my accuser was scratched of the surface of Earth by a fantastic Hanukkah dinner thrown by my good friend, Ayala. Thank you again, dear. It takes a person like you to help a crummy day regain its balance.

Friday, My Back Strikes Again!
Compiling stock for the upcoming biggest show in my designer career takes many hours of steady work. I have been consistently taking time off from the day-job to build somewhat decent inventory to show off at my booth. I was faithfully kneeling on the floor in front of a leather hide, one hand on the floor, scissors in the other, when a sharp pain across my back startled me. For a second I tried to ignore it, carry on with the cut, but it was not possible. Next two minutes found me sobbing flat on the bed, as my body could not be placed in any other position, without going into complete agony. And, just like that lost another half day of production. I swore to myself that as soon as all the vending is done, I WILL restart that bloody yoga course I have conveniently abandoned...

Saturday, The Retail
Life goes on. Even if you are sick, tired, upset or merry. 2 new retailers approached me, who are willing to carry my line. Very excited and pleased about it, yet anxious, as this will require more production during an already bad week for this poor ol' body of mine...
It is great to be loved!

The Preparations Of Forever...
Finally, one night to go, till it is time to set up my booth for the biggest show I have done so far. Very excited and curious, but I also aware of the long hours of pure energy, that this work requires. Currently my inventory counts at 47 bags and 17 belts, a dozen of small SWAG! goodies; 4 liters of sparkling water, a pack of Antacids, cash box, gift bags, mini bottle of wine, tube of hand-cream and a lunch planner. I love what I do and my work is rewarding and draining me every day. The past three weeks have been extraordinary, and strange, and I hope the show will bring the finale I am needing right now.

I should be in bed. As a small business owner, you are the only driving force for your venture. Save it and nurture it. Goodnight and good luck.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

We have the Wrap Belt give-away draw winner!!!

We have our winner!

Below is an excerpt from a names randomizer form, hosted by .

After entering all those interested in participating, we "randomized" the  list, and according to heir instructions, the person appearing the FIRST in the new random order, is the winner!

List Randomizer

There were 9 items in your list. Here they are in random order:
  1. ahsu78
  2. liddler
  3. Annie
  4. marlo
  5. ayala
  6. elvyrad
  7. nina j.
  8. meghan
  9. ceyou
Timestamp: 2010-12-02 23:44:25 UTC

Congrats, ahsu78 - you are the winner of our first ever give-away.
You will receive a Jola V. Designs Wrap Belt in the colour of your choice. We will contact you for details shortly!