Barbie and me

One of the my Barbie weddings, August 1984 (note that Barbie herself is the maid of honor, not the bride)

When I was a kid, I don’t remember playing with dolls other than barbies. But oh man, I LOVED Barbies. Mind you, I was the oldest child, a product of divorce at a really young age with both parents remarrying pretty quickly and the first grandkid on my dads side. There was a lot of love from all of my aunts who had their first niece and the guilt of divorce/new parents PLUS I had 4 sets of grandparents from the age of 2 on, 3 sets for which I was the only grandkid for many years. Combine all of that with being born in the mid-late 1970’s and I’m pretty sure that all of the many gifts I received for at least 5 years were barbie related. I remember having a traveling case of Barbies with me at all times as a little kid. Although I think I enjoyed the accessories more than the dolls. Don’t get me wrong, I had piles and piles of the clothes, from my own time and an extensive vintage collection from all of my Aunts and was into them, but I liked having the Barbies do things, and I REALLY liked the props. I had the 1960’s Austin-Healy convertible that had belonged to my Aunts that I (oops) opted to cut the faux trunk open with an exacto knife and immediately depreciated it’s value. But hey, Barbie had a lot to do and a working trunk was necessary. As I also had the Corvette from my own era and I enjoyed how much more awesome Barbie looked tooling around in her vintage pink car, but the Corvette made me realize that I also really preferred the amenities of more modern times.

One of my favorites was the Barbie dream store, which I never knew any one else to have, but I had so much fun setting up a store and making the other Barbies work there. Side bar: One day I wrote numbers on each of my Barbies, high on the outer leg, with a permanent marker. This was how I organized them. I would tell Barbies 11, 18 and 22 that they would be models in the store today. And Barbie 8 would man the cash register and on and on. I somehow felt this process was much better than names. Where on earth did I get that idea???

I was lucky to also have many Barbie home items, including a few of the dream homes, the jacuzzi set, the bubbling spa, and many furniture items. I  remember the dream bed the most vividly as it was a canopy and the stars on the bedding glowed in the dark. But I never knew what to do with all the home stuff. Barbie is standing in the kitchen, Barbie is lying on the bed. Ugh, lame, Barbie wants to be out wearing her fabulous clothes and doing cool things. I did have Jem, her stage and all of her band mates, but I was really never into the rock star fantasy, so I didn’t play with that much, if ever. I of course had the horses, Dallas and Prancer, because of my mom, which I was also not into. I had a few Skippers and and Kens and Tracy and Todd, along with all the other side characters that all came to be in the 80’s but Barbie was always my main lady. And as she really had her mind set on work, aside from the occasional wedding or night out, all the others worked for her. It’s also hilarious to point out that thanks to a few photos that my grandmother had taken of one of the weddings in her garden, that Barbie was never the one getting married. She was always in the wedding, and often helped to plan them, but it was always Tracy and Todd getting married. I do remember being excited about all of the crazy, frothy outfits, like peaches and cream, the dream gown and a few others. But I never was into the “normal” clothes. From an early age, I declared that if you were going to take the time to dress up, you might as well go all the way, it was so not worth it to stick her in something less than extraordinary.

My very favorite Barbie thing ever was this fold up home & office that came about with the day to night Barbie in 1984. Day to Night Barbie was my most loved Barbie ever, btw. That whole executive by day and cozy apartment dweller by night was my idea of perfection! That fold up office and murphy bed things was so magical to me. I’m pretty sure I received my own Commodore 64 around this time, so Barbie and I would both spend hours typing away on our computers, tap tap tapping. I found the photo above to make sure you were aware of  the amazingnes in case you never saw one in person. On the other side of the wall was a murphy, a vanity and a bookshelf and was blue on pink I believe. The day to night Barbie was just as fabulous as her home and office. The idea was that she would wear her snazzy suit and then in the evening, turn her suit skirt inside out to reveal a tulle concoction, and you would remove the jacket and bam! all along there had been a sequined top under her scarf, Barbie was ready to party!

What I’m curious about was did I request all of these work related Barbie props, or was that just was out there in the 80’s? Did they play a part in influencing how and what I thought about as I grew up? Were the working Barbies and accessories store play sets the catalyst for future non kid having, work obsessed as an accessories designer Sierra? I truly believe that of all of the toys from my childhood, day to night Barbie had the biggest impact on me. It is absolutely what I remeber the most fondly. I thank whomever thought that I needed to have the department store and the home and office accessories way back in 1984. Maybe that really was what planted the seed? All I know was that 3 years later Baby Boom came out, I was 10 and remember thinking something like: “Forget babies, I want to be an executive with my own business, you can keep the crying kids. I’ll be over here with the cool job, my own computer and nice shoes. Suckas.” And I never looked back.

 

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3 Podcasts About Productivity

I’ve been spending a great deal of time the last few weeks thinking about productivity. Specifically on using my time the best way that I can to accomplish my goals, both business and personal without burn out. I’m not sure if it is because I am so immersed in this topic that it feels like I see, hear and read about this topic everywhere or that so many others are just as obsessed with productivity so that it IS everywhere. I suspect it’s a combination of the two and am glad that the information keeps popping up and that I’m paying attention. The most interesting part of this is that most of the information is really similar and this is a great thing. It basically means that not everyone is giving conflicting information on productivity and goal setting, they are all saying the same things…so I should probably listen.

I wrote this week about the idea of using the new year as a chance to evaluate and regroup and the areas in which I am doing this. I then wrote the next day about my decision to put pen back to paper and to go back to using a paper planner. For me, there were just so many digital options that I was becoming counter productive and felt a desire to simplify. It was a great personal choice and that step alone has been a huge help on getting a grip on my productivity and to regroup in the areas I outlined the day before. The other huge step has been to keep listening and reading about productivity. I’m almost doing so passively, just to keep it all fresh in my head. I listen to podcasts in the car and when I’m doing things like having breakfast or putting on make up, time when I’m paying attention, but not giving my full attention to it.

Three podcasts have stood out to me this week. They all deliver similar basic messages, yet each from their own unique point of view. The first from an economists standpoint, the second from a master planner view and the third from a more trying to find life balance view.

  1. The economist: Freakonomics Radio – How To Be More Productive. The unique POV is explaining the difference between being busy and being productive.
  2. The master planner: GTD (Getting Things Done) – Making Changes Stick. The importance of not only being productive, but staying productive and getting back on track if you slip up.
  3. The life balance: The Goal Digger Podcast – Goal Setting For People Who Hate Goal Setting. This one gets a little too faith based for my personal preference, but it’s good enough that I kept listening regardless of that.

Have you listened to any great productivity podcasts recently? Share them in the comments below, I’d love to know what they are!

 

 

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Planner People

With many things in life, there are two types of people. In this case I’m talking about planner people vs non planner people. In what I’m about to write about, you can even break it down further to paper planner people vs digital planner people. I am a paper planner person, I am also, as of a few years ago, a printable paper planner person. This means that I felt that there was no planner out there that had the exact components I wanted in a planner, so I now print bits and pieces from a few different designs and make my own awesome planner.

If you meet a fellow paper planner person, you quickly become aware of your shared loved. You begin talking obsessively about the big names in planner land, and Erin Condrens name is tossed around like she’s your best friend. You compare likes, dislikes, what the current designs for this year look like, how you use yours and what planners you’ve used in the past. I eve have friends who are super planner people and they collect all varieties of planners, cases, inserts from all different designers and are active in both facebook groups as well as IRL meet-ups with other super planner people.

As much as I love planners, I am pretty utilitarian about it. I don’t carry one around with me, I don’t really care what it looks like, I’m annoyed where there are added frills like quote and inspirational images. I want a super functional system that aids my productivity. Because of these preferences, I tried really hard to go digital, as it just makes sense. I bought all different types of software and apps that each gave me hope and promise that I finally had found the digital system that worked, but I always ended up back on paper. Part of it was that duplication and deletion issues were causing too much frustration with synching between my phone and computer. Part of it was that I could never see a quick and broad enough view on my phone. And then another part of it is that I like to take pen to paper and I find that list making is a big part of how I use a planner and it was too much text for digital. In general, I really prefer writing anyway, its quicker for me, and I remember things better when I write them down. The only issue I was having was finding a planner that had all of the things that I like, but not having the things that I don’t like. Which is of course why I ended up being so into the printables. I found Scattered Squirrel a few years ago and for two main reasons, fell in love. One, is that there are so many different styles and options that I can cobble my dream planner together exactly how I envision it. Two, that I can try something new and print out a few weeks of pages (which is only a couple of sheets of paper) and if it doesn’t work for me, I can print something else out swap it out in the binder without having to switch planners, transfer content or waste paper. So good.

I will however be the first to admit that this is a bad idea for those who are not hyper organized. I imagine you would be overwhelmed with the options. Remembering to print out ahead of each month or whenever, could be overwhelming and figuring out the order to print the pages can get tricky. I love it though and find that it works really with the GTD system. That is another awesomely obsessive topic…who else swears by David Allen and GTD?? I tend to fall off course with it from time to time, but I still find that even when I am not my most productive and focused, just the basic knowledge of the system means that I get everything done that has to be done. The brain dump concept is one of the best things to happen to my mental state and something we should all do to clear the mental clutter often. If you are unfamiliar, the idea is to spend a little time, ideally once or twice a day or when feeling overwhelmed and just start writing/typing everything out that’s on your mind. I think it’s mean to be done in list form but I have started to write a few pages free form in the morning before I start my day to just get all the chatter out, then I brain dump a list of to-do’s. During the day, I am more of a random, jot down when I think of it person so I typically do one brain dump a day, but at night I sometimes will use my phone when I’m lying in bed to type up a brain dump and send it to myself. This is really helpful if you are the type of person to lay awake at night over-thinking. The brain dump concept is brilliant in that it really allows you to “let go” of all the stuff you are focusing on that is unnecessary. For example, that I need to buy a lightbulb for over the kitchen sink, order the new book for book club and lower the feet on the dryer are things that are bouncing around in my head right now as I have not written them down. As soon as I note them on paper, these things quiet and I can focus on say, the ideas I have to write here. The most important thing to remember with this though is that you have to make sure you do gather up and create action with all of these brain dumps, not just stuff them in a drawer and forget about them. Which is why of course we GTD people are also planner people.

The only downside of my current planner usage is that I like a large planner and I like to keep it in a 3 ring binder. This almost always lays flat and open, on my desk. I do not take it with me ever. This meant that keeping track of meetings and appointments when I made them out of the house was getting tricky. I dislike ical enough that I was not using it so I was taking photos of a couple of months of my planner and trying to reference them when I was making an appointment but that sounds useless even when I am writing it. It was obviously not something that worked. When I started doing the tv project, I needed some way to have at least meetings and events entered in my phone that I could see a month at a time without clicking on the day for details. I eventual discovered the app Fantastical as it has a feature that I especially enjoy. When you rotate your phone horizontally, the calendar turns into a block view, similar to what a printed calendar looks like, and gives a quick and effective overview. So now I just have to make sure I have things entered in both the paper version and the phone. It’s not a perfect system, but it works.

Sooooo, are you a planner person? If you’re a paper planner person, what system do you use? The beauty of this world is that there is something for everyone, share your system in the comments!

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A year in review: 2016 Highlights

Like most business owners, one of my traditions at the end of every year is to evaluate the past 12 months.  I look back on business sales, goals set/met and what I accomplished for the year. Looking back and pointing out all of the things that I did that made me happy and proud, as well as sharing it with you is something I like to do as a way to positively recap and celebrate the accomplishments instead of just being critical. I encourage you all to do the same, to make sure you take the time to recognize and celebrate the good. It’s important to not just dwell on what needs to be improved because there is always something good to be grateful for. No living in the gap!! So here is 2016 and all the wonderful things it brought!

January 2016

My friend Jennifer began the book club: Women, Words & Wine. We all had one thing in common, that we’re all friends with Jennifer. I had not met anyone else who joined before and seriously, meeting this group of women was a game changer for me. I adore every single one of them and am so happy to have met them all. Some of these ladies are what can only be explained as members of my tribe and have become incredibly important to me this year. It was an amazing way to begin the year!

February 2016

Penelope Garcia on Criminal Minds began wearing my jewelry. This was pretty epic as I started working on making this happen almost a year before. I still get excited thinking about it, she is possibly the most perfect fictional character ever to wear my jewelry.

May 2016

I had been really enjoying running and listening to podcasts while doing so for some time and loving it, when my hip started to hurt too much to do it anymore. One day I brought this up with my friend Cynde and mentioned that besides running, what I truthfully missed most of all, was kickboxing in college. After hearing this, she immediately insisted that I try out her gym and I was sold the minute I walked in the door. I look more forward to the hour a day I spend there, 5 days a week than anything else in life. It’s brought amazing focus to my work as well and as an added bonus, I look and feel great!

5 Rules To Organize Anything

July 2016

I moved my studio (again), this time hopefully for a good long while. It has everything I was looking for: lots of natural light, room to grow, built in storage, a big closet to store things out of sight, a lockable door to prevent distractions, it’s own bathroom and next to the front door of the house so people could easily come by. The only think it was lacking was lighting. Oh man, the first week I was working in it, I couldn’t see. I filled the room with task lights but they just seemed to get lost as it’s a pretty big space.  I decided that as I work so much at night that I needed a solution and a good one, fast. So I had 6 can lights installed in the ceiling, even though the electrician kept saying that 4 would be fine (we compromised and he installed a dimmer switch…that I have never used, 6 lights is perfect for me). This studio is now officially my favorite place that I’ve ever worked and I look forward to going in there every morning.

August 2016

This year began with my freaking out about spending so many years growing a small business and worrying that if I decided to do something else, that all of those years of work wouldn’t qualify me to do anything besides being a designer or maybe something in social media. This freak out made me realize that I needed to focus on more than just running a jewelry brand, that I needed to work on my personal brand as well. This summer I created social media accounts for myself (which are all linked from this blog) and started putting myself out there as a jewelry and style expert, ceo, entrepreneur, writer and not just a jewelry designer. In August, I pitched and was hired for my first freelance magazine piece and realized that I did after all have some marketable skills. I hope to do more freelance writing this year, I really enjoy it and it’s pretty cool to see my name in a magazine for something other than as a jewelry designer!

August 2016

I have been actively avoiding shows and pop ups for awhile, but I forced myself out of my comfort zone and did a pop up at West Elm to debut the FW16 Collection at the end of August. I invited my friend Kelly along to debut her new bag line, Festival Co. as well. I’m glad I did it, but I will probably continue to not not do many of these this year.

October 2016

An unexpected honor came this fall in an invitation to be the keynote speaker at an event for the National MS Society. It’s an organization incredibly dear to my heart and I enjoyed having the chance to speak at their event. It was my first keynote and true to all of my public speaking, I prepared nothing. I just got up there and talked and talked. That is actually the second skill I realized I had this year. So much personal growth happening!

November 2016

This fall, a very large and very cool opportunity presented itself. LC TV, a jewelry shopping channel that is based here in Austin, started looking for a jewelry DIY Expert for their new LC DIY program. I was recommended for the job and after about 2 minutes of being interviewed, was offered the position. I spent the fall working with a team at LC TV creating the program and designing the jewelry kits. We started filming the video tutorials and launched both the website and the live show of which I am the guest host, in November. I’m still shocked by what a natural I am at being on live tv and shooting instructional video. I however am not good at doing anything remotely scripted. Stick a camera in my face and I’m great, ask me to read something or say something that are not my words and I pretty much am a deer caught in headlights. It’s a good thing that I’ll never be expected to follow a script! This will most likely be a pretty constant part of my life this next year and is a side gig I never thought of doing, but once I did it, I really enjoy it.

Other notable things this year that I was pretty of were beginning a partnership with the company Gwynnie Bee, having the best Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend ever and working with some amazing bloggers whom I loved seeing style my jewelry.

Now onto 2017…I wonder what this year will bring?

 

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When Founders Walk Away

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I have been closely watching Sophia Amaruso and how she scaled Nasty Gal after growing such a strong brand and company on her own. As happens so much of the time, when she sought out her largest round of funding, she stepped down as CEO into a lesser position. This is something that happens constantly with the founders of fashion brands btw. This week NastyGal announced it was filing for bankruptcy (though not closing) and Amaruso will most likely step away completely. This is an issue which fascinates me. I am all for selling a company that you build and moving on to the next, but what is interesting are when the founders stay on, how long they last and what it must be like to be an employee at somehting you founded? Especially when you watch that company take a dive. When do you finally decide to let go? I respect her working so hard to create a separate career (her books and the #girlboss community) so at least she has something in place already to move onto but still, it must feel so crazy to her. Well, that and incredibly freeing.

I also want to bring up again the path which Kate Spade took. She and her husband (marketing genius, Andy Spade) sold the majority of her company to Neiman Marcus in 1999 and then sold outright to Liz Clairborne in 2007. She stayed on as a consultant for a year or so, and then walked away. She of course had signed a non compete so when she decided to begin another brand this past year, she legally changed her name to Kate Valentine and began Francis Valentine. Realistically though, how many people still think that she is part of Kate Spade (the brand)? It must be near impossible to separate yourself in the public eye even 20 years later.

Just some food for thought on this subject. As you can imagine, much of what I’m talking about are the reasons behind my decision to start to think of myself earlier this year as a jewelry expert and not just a jewelry designer with my own brand. It’s been a learning lesson in both realizing that I’m qualified to more things that I realized, what opportunities seem to appear when you put words to some of what you want, and maybe even what life would look like without Manic Trout. For now though,  rest assured that I am happily trying to juggle it all and can’t wait to see where this next year takes me!

 

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What’s New with Manic Trout

Between Waves Necklace from Manic Trout's FW16 Collection
Between Waves Necklace from the FW16 Collection

So many things are going on behind the scenes for future projects that I tend to forget to celebrate and announce what is actually going on with Manic Trout here. The past couple of weeks have brought lot’s of fun things for fall. I figured it easiest to round them all up in one place for you.

 

Stars In Motion Necklaces from Manic Trout's FW16 Collection
Stars In Motion Necklaces from the FW16 Collection

There is a new store carrying Manic Trout that I am really excited about, the gift shop at The Blanton Museum of Art on the UT campus here in Austin. It’s such a fun shop and great for gifts. It was one of those situations where I really thought I had pitched them in the past without a response, but then I looked through my records and nope! Never assume people, never assume.

 

Pink Frost Necklace from Manic Trout's FW16 Collection
Pink Frost Necklace from the FW16 Collection

The last chance sale was restocked with a huge amount of discontinued jewelry. This occurs every year before the FW collection debuts as I tend to really clean house to get ready for the holidays. This is always a bitter sweet time as I say goodbye to some often much loved jewelry that has reached it’s end. Sometimes it’s due to no longer being able to get my hands on the gemstones and sometimes it’s just time to move on. A few pieces are already sold out, but you should take a peek to make sure you don’t miss out on a beloved design before it’s gone forever.

 

River Water Necklace from Manic Trout's FW16 Collection
River Water Necklace from the FW16 Collection

The most exciting news is the launch of the FW16 Collection! The FW and SS collections are the two largest of the year and split into two parts, basically non critter and critter. The non critter designs for FW16 are the Stars In Motion pieces and are focused around four beautiful gemstones and include long necklaces, multi strand bracelets and long earrings. The critters designs include eight statement necklaces and four statement bracelets all with bold gemstones. There are great critters in this collection, some that I cannot believe it took me this long to use…like a TROUT! Can you believe it took me 13 years to release a trout necklace for a label named Manic Trout??? It’s sad, but it was worth the wait because the chocolate agate in this necklace is so fiiiiiine!

 

Sample Sale at Manic Trout

The most recent news is that today is the official start of the semi annual Sample Sale!! Twice a year, I gather all of the samples in the studio and put them on the site for 50% off for two weeks only. What is a sample you ask? Samples have been worn on photo shoots, sent to magazines, displayed in showrooms and are the exhibited pieces at trade shows. All sample pieces have been inspected and cleaned, but have been handled and therefore are sold at a greatly reduced price. There is typically only one of each sample listed, so I suggest you move fast if you see something that makes your heart flutter.

Now you’re all caught up with what’s new in the land of Manic Trout!

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Behind the scenes: the process of releasing a new collection

This is the workbench in the middle of sample making. I am not a messy person, but at this stage, chaos is part of the process!
This is the workbench in the middle of sample making. I am not a messy person, but at this stage, chaos is part of the process!

Ever wondered what goes into a new collection after it’s designed but before it’s released?

The FW16 Collection will be arriving in just a couple of short weeks. The arrival marks when you are able to purchase the jewelry from ManicTrout.com. The reality is that the jewelry in this collection was designed months ago, the samples have been made and there has already been a preview party at West Elm here in Austin!

Today I wanted to share with you some of the in progress shots of what happens before a collection makes its official online debut.

An in progress shot of one of the new designs. I spy Tigers Eye! 
An in progress shot of one of the new designs. I spy Tigers Eye!

I typically begin designing a collection about a year to nine months before the official release date (when it’s available to the public online). I start with drawings, doodles, notes and lots of research on what colors, animals, gemstones and price points I’ll be working with. Once I have the designs down, I make samples (enough to have in the studio and send off to press), photograph each piece multiple ways and create line sheets. The line sheets are submitted to the press and to stores months ahead of time so I try to be quick to get those done after the samples and photos are finished. I also schedule to have a lifestyle photo shoot done if I want that style campaign for that season.

Stunning sodalite.
Stunning sodalite.

Sometimes things don’t always go as planned and there are always delays for random reasons. Or for designer gush moments like when the gemstones I’m considering for a new collection start to arrive, it sometimes changes the direction I was headed when I see them in person. An excellent example of this happened with these Sodalite stones. They are so incredible in person and more beautiful than I thought they would be that I decided they needed a different animal than I had planned. This threw everything off and I found myself redesigning part of the collection late in the game. It made everything a bit hectic but it was a great decision and the necklace with these stones is so lovely!

Outfit post teasers with pieces from the new collection!
Outfit post teasers with pieces from the new collection!

During this time, after the samples are made and before the collection debuts I take photos, I most importantly…wear the jewelry. This is a key step as I need to make sure each piece is comfortable, looks good and wears well. It also gives me a chance to get feedback from people. There are some pieces in this collection that I’m already obsessed with after wearing them!

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Our table for the Preview Party at West Elm in Austin.

For this collection I tried something new that went so well, I hope to continue the tradition. I had a Preview Party here in Austin! Saturday afternoon, I set up at the West Elm on 5th St and brought the FW16 Collection to preview along with a few favorite pieces for those instant gratification shoppers. I asked my friend Kelly to join me as she is launching a handbag company this fall, Festival Bag Co. and our products go great together. It was a fun way to meet new people and get feedback on what pieces caught the eyes of shoppers.

With Kelly Weeks, designer and owner of Festival Bag Co.
With Kelly Weeks, designer and owner of Festival Bag Co.

The last part of the process will be to create the copy for the website and do all of the coding. I release a collection first on ManicTrout.com and then on sites that I also sell on, Modalyst, Etsy Wholesale, Etsy, Amazon Handmade, Aftcra and a few others. I will also be sharing images on social media throughout this time. After the release, I will continue to pitch to the press, stores and influencers for a few weeks before my focus moves onto the next collection. I release quarterly collections, so I am always working on three to four collections at a time at different stages.

I am so pleased that I put myself out there and tried something new with this release! The Preview Party was so much fun and the FW16 Collection was so well received that it made me super excited to share the new collection with you in its full glory in a few weeks. I can’t wait!!

Thank you for learning about the process of releasing a collection with me!

{As I’m making you wait, it’s only fair that I spoil you a bit: so please enjoy 25% off site wide through August 26th with code backtoschool at checkout.}

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Embracing the slow

time

I’m trying something new this year. The three weeks that are my slowest of the year are here, and I’ve just been going with it. This is not easy. Every inch of me wants to freak out that it’s slow. However, two years ago, Adam had enough of my annual spaz out over the slow time and reminded me that it happens every year, so I needed to learn to deal with it. I’m trying, I swear I am. I’ll admit that this year was a little different as I went on vacation for a week, came home, packed, moved, unpacked and then went away again for almost a week. So I was exhausted going into it and may not have cared as much. But now that I’ve rested a bit, I’m officially to the point where I need to be going with it. Yesterday I realized that being a bit more productive during the slow time would be beneficial, but I apparently have two speeds…balls to the wall and stop. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in my studio every day working, but I’m by no means going above and beyond what needs to get done. There were no huge projects accomplished last week. But I’m ok with that. I can’t really expect to both not freak out AND use this time well…that’s just crazy talk!

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The power of girl talk

Alcomar Patio in Austin, TX
A great side effect of girl time is that I am always trying new fantastic lunch spots! Today was at Alcomar on South 1st.

I was planning on writing a Deep Thoughts post today, as it’s been awhile, but then my first thought became so long, that I decided it was worth some more brain space. You see today had not one, but two situations where I was with awesome ladies whom I see at least once a month for some girl time. The first was Cynthia who came to the studio this morning so we could work together and plan out her accessories for an upcoming conference. We’ve been talking about doing this for some time and decided it would be best to bring the dresses. It was a great plan and worked really well, so yay for that! The second was lunch with Kelly with whom I have lunch every month where we gab about mostly my jewelry business and her in the works handbag business. We share what’s been going on in both and end up usually each bringing up a dilemma that we end up brainstorming over.

What is amazing is that both of these events were relaxed, chatty and super fun. I however was at one point taking notes at lunch because we stumbled upon a solution for a few problems I was having and I was afraid I would somehow forget them. Really there is no fear of doing so as I am so excited about what we talked about. This morning while I was pulling jewelry from the closet and draping it all over Cynthia, it was very clear what I needed to focus on for the next few seasons and I was so inspired to design them. On my way home from lunch, all I could think about was how much I love that women have such a natural rhythm of talking about things. The conversation always circles around and flits from one subject to the next and comes back around to touch back on things. It jumps and gains momentum as we get excited and so much is always covered! It’s pretty amazing how I felt so refreshed, inspired and excited…simply by hanging out with friends for a couple of hours each!

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Annual Blog Makeover

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Ah yes, another year gone by, another blog template that no longer looks up to par.  I sat down last night on a mission. Well on a multi faceted mission. I set out to not only update the blog to make it look current, but to attempt (again) to make it a place that I actually want to write things. That last part has been a slow process. First I moved it away from Manic Trout. Then I sat and looked at it awhile, a long while. Then I wrote sporadically about things I wanted to write about, none of which I meant to write about. Then I would spend the next few weeks processing that I was writing what I wanted to be writing and yet it wasn’t what I “should” be writing as per what I said this blog was about. It’s been a hot mess.

In this most recent revamp I tried to steer it a bit more towards where I think I want to head. You can see the sections up above there in a menu. That’s basically my goal of topics to write about, the things that I enjoy writing about. Owning a business of course, but not only about that. I also really enjoy talking about books, food production, nutrition, food, exercise and everyday life, and have already been chatting about all of these things but am making it unofficially official. As I am also rather fashion obsessed, I want to bring that more into play too. We’ll see. My track record sucks right now, but I’m inspired! Keep in mind that the further back in time you look though the archives (which ps, are not all updated yet, there are soooooo many posts), the further out of the topics what I was writing goes as it’s been changing over time.

In related news, I also started a twitter account that is not tied to Manic Trout, so that’s pretty awesome. I am still on the fence about if I can handle another instagram account. Besides Manic Trout, I have a pet somewhat secret (until now) project IG that is super specific and focused solely on the random things I find in books when I buy them used. It’s called Left In Books and I only post when I come across something. But still, having two accounts overwhelms me as it is, so we’ll see if I ever decided to add a third.

Anyway, I’m not really making a big deal out of any of this. You know, in case I don’t follow through. So shhhhhhh…lets keep this quiet for now.

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