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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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!

FW16_BTS_04
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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Lucky 13?

This morning I had all of these notifications on LinkedIn and wondered what was up. What’s up is that today is the 13 year anniversary of when I legally made Manic Trout a company!! I really wanted to find an old screenshot of the first Manic Trout webpage from 2003 but I apparently do not document my own web sites very well. I found the files for the 2006 version though, which is crazy to find because when you click on index, the entire old site comes up. Woah. That’s all I’ll say about that, ha! I really am sad that I didn’t think to save screen shots before I revamped the site over the years, especially in 2014…which I really thought I had, so maybe one day I’ll find those. But for now, let’s have a giggle at the ghosts of Manic Trout past and see how many of these you remember?

ManicTroutPage2006_01

The furthest back I could find is from 2006, as this is a screen shot, you need to know that the first image is the “landing page” (remember those!?!) and when you scrolled over the logo, you saw the second image. Keep in mind that Etsy was created in December of 2005 so we’re at the very early stages of the maker movement here.

ManicTroutPage2006_02

We can also refer to that time as the early days, before I understood the concept of running a business, was fresh out of art school and just wanted to make all of the things!!!

ManicTroutPage2009

Next we jump forward to early 2009, I know it was early in the year as I just finished an insane holiday season after having 3 pairs of $10 earrings in the Real Simple magazine gift guide. They told me to estimate that I would sell 2k total pairs of the earrings they ran and I sold 10k pairs which included every style of earring I sold. I was not prepared. Back then, I was still coding the shopping cart into my site with Mals and had to manually process every credit card when an order came. Then if it was declined, email the person who placed the order. I had no where near enough stock as I only had what they advised me to do,  and besides ordering materials and more mailing supplies weekly, I had to bring in my staff from my day job to help in the off hours (they, along with my sister Thea, saved my life that season!). As online handmade businesses were still pretty new, getting lines of credit to process cards was tricky if you were not selling much, so I was allowed to process I think $2k a month at the time and by mid November had already sold $25k for that month. This was however a blessing and a curse though as I was able to take the proof of the orders to Chase and get hooked up for much larger limits immediately. Over all, I realized that I was not in a position for scaling and spent most of 2009 rebuilding so I would never go through the problems I encountered again. This included building a robust new site with a shopping cart that had all the bells and whistles. Which brings us to late 2009.

ManicTroutPage2009v2

As you can see, I was really excited about all of the options that I now could use and deployed every single one of them. (I’m dizzy just looking at this!)

So now Manic Trout has made a name for itself, tasted crazy growth and received a snazzy new website…but something was feeling off. I was feeling like I had outgrown the brand. So I enlisted the help of brilliant duo to rebrand and grow up. The result was to finally let go of the paintings (did you notice those were still on the site as late as 2009?) and focusing on jewelry. The rebrand included getting a grown up logo, starting to design seasonal collections, redoing the packaging and of course a cleaned up site.

ManicTroutPage2010

Pardon the tiny photo, but this was the first version of the new site before the logo and final touches were done. How I wish over the last 13 years I had taken a screen shot of every version of the MT page…it would be a big file, but I really would enjoy seeing them progress. Anyway, the graphic designer finished the new logo and the site became this.

ManicTroutPage2010_02

Another tiny photo…I have no idea why only 2010 are this small. Anyway, over the next couple of years, this site evolved and became less and less pink, as web site styles changed, lines were removed and by 2013 the above site had evolved to this one below.

ManicTroutPage2013

The text bubbles were not part of the design, and from a facebook post or something, but it was all I had from this area…again, kicking myself over that. I was going for a cleaner and cleaner look and really liked how this era of the site looked. But once again, I was facing the dilemma of my jewelry being becoming more mature than the branding. I have talked recently enough about the process that happened next so I’ll skim over it. In short, I hired a brand management consultant to work with me over the past year + to take Manic Trout to the next level. And with that level of course came a new version of the site. I had help on this one from a graphic designer and 3 programmers to each contribute in someway to what you see now if you visit ManicTrout.com and since their help in the fall/winter of 2014, I have kept going and tweaking and changing to make it what it is now. We’ll call this the 2015 because as you can imagine, it never ends!

ManicTroutPage2015

Crazy to think that I made the first Manic Trout page so, so many years ago, but really glad that today’s anniversary gave me a chance to gather all of this in one place. Here’s hoping that this year is the lucky 13!

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Gift Guide

GiftGuide_Banner

Are you still looking for the perfect gift for your favorite ladies? I rounded up some great ideas over at Manic Trout in a gift guide organized by price.

If you want a more fun way to think about gift options, check out these ideas below:

Gift Guide for Green Thumbs

We’ve arrived at the time of year when everyone is gathering ideas for gifts. Some people are always easier to think of what to get them, and often it’s due to their having big hobbies. A great example of this is the ladies in our lives with green thumbs, who are happiest with their hands in the dirt. They are so fun to shop for! Here is a round up of some great gift ideas for gardeners.
Gift Guide for Teachers
Grown-ups are not the only fans of Manic Trout. Teachers are constantly telling me how excited their kids get when they wear animal jewelry in class, especially the brightly colored ones. If you have teachers in your life and are wondering what the perfect gift would be, consider one of these fabulous critters!
Gift Guide for Mermaids
I was going through the jewelry this morning and pulling pieces that I felt the beach lovers (myself included) out there would love the most and then I started thinking that it was not as much about the beach as it is the ocean. Which then led me to speculate that many of us really, really wanted to be mermaids when were little. I remember especially thinking how great my hair look under water compared to on land…it was something I thought about a lot. I have to wonder if, when my fin fantasies were at their height, it being pre The Little Mermaid, and more of Darryl Hannah’s Splash era, I was given a bit too much hope with the human on the big screen being a mermaid IRL. No matter how delusional I was back then, from what I have seen in the decades since with pop culture, mermaids are pretty important still to so many of us.

So anyway, this round up of jewelry is for all of my fellow mermaids out there, you can get literal with the Vera Stolen Dance Earrings or wear what the mermaids do with the star fish adorned Come A Little Closer Necklace or the sea horse Heart and Soul Necklace. Perhaps you would rather fantasize about swimming in the deep blue sea with your fish friends? Then the fish of the La Femme Parallel Bracelet can climb on your wrist and adventure along with you. Which ever you choose, never stop being your inner mermaid!
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FW15 Collection from Manic Trout

FW15 Collection from Manic Trout

It’s time again for one of my favorite days of the year, the launch date of one of the quarterly collections from Manic Trout! The FW15 Collection has launched and it’s lovely. Featuring 24 pieces, this collection is one part animal statement jewelry and one part gemstone statement jewelry, both parts including 4 necklaces, 4 bracelets and 4 pairs of earrings. The pieces work together as sets or as separates depending on how you like to wear your jewelry.

FW15 Collection from Manic Trout

As promised, I designed half of this collection for the animal jewelry fans and I hope these pieces will delight you! I decided that the animal bracelets in particular needed some love and I love the results. I also tried something new with this collection and designed corresponding earrings that can pair with the necklaces and/or bracelets. I put more thought into this collection than any other I had designed before and hope that my attention to the little details have brought to life the things that I have found Manic Trout customers to both love and request.

 

FW15 Collection from Manic Trout

The second half of the collection continues in the direction that I have been going in with designs that particularly have work in mind. Women spend so much of their lives in their work attire, and they should have beautiful, well made, unique jewelry that they love to wear be a part of that! I have found that statement jewelry is the perfect solution for providing basic outfits with a boost of high style. Especially ideal for the in-betweens of life such as work, formal luncheons and dinners, weddings, fundraisers and well, you get the idea, it’s what you wear when you’re not lounging at home or attending formal balls. I designed the Different Colors collection to be easy to wear, yet luxurious in it’s color combinations and the gemstones each piece is made from. The free form cut of the larger stones lends a beautiful organic element to the classic style and makes each piece as unique as the women who wear them. The pieces work as well on their own as they do worn as a set and can be mixed and matched if preferred.

FW15 Collection from Manic Trout

Thank you for learning about the FW15 Collection from Manic Trout! To celebrate the launch, please enjoy 20% off the collection September 1st & 2nd with fw15firstdibs at checkout. To stay up to date on what is going in at Manic Trout, be sure to connect on Facebook and Instagram.

 

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Deep Thoughts from The Past Week

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1. It’s weird how much you realize you love some one (pets included) when they are sick. With Mora this week, it was the moment when the emergency hospital vet asked if I wanted to sign a DNR for her. I surprised myself with the level of ferociousness that I responded with when telling them that of course I wanted them to do whatever they could to make sure that she lived.

2. Not all birds will cause dire harm, but SOME birds will absolutely cause bad things to happen to a dog when they eat them.

3. Having goals, a plan to accomplish them and an organized place to track them will make productivity higher.

4. Stacks of random to do lists may do nothing but cause anxiety.

5. Fireworks are more fun for the anticipation factor then the actual event is.

6. A tiny change to a room, like a new duvet cover, can make a huge impact. This can translate to many facets of life. If some part of your life feels in a rut, make a little change and you may be surprised how powerful it can be.

7. Optimism is contagious. “Surround yourself with only people who are going to take you higher.” – Oprah Winfrey.

8. Online sales are slow for everyone in July, stop panicking and work on something that you normally would not have time for, like SEO.

9. You are not alone. No matter what you are feeling, thinking or doing, there is someone else out there going through the same thing.

10. Manic Trout is having a fabulous Summer Sale and you can get really pretty jewelry at really great prices right now. Ok not so deep, but fun!

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Manic Monday

The Manatee, Dinosaur and Pig In Between Days Necklaces back in limited edition!
The Manatee, Dinosaur and Pig In Between Days Necklaces are back in limited edition!

There’s a lot of news from Manic Trout land this week, so I figured I should round it all up and share it with you here so you’re in the know.

1. I recently came across a large box of jewelry that was filled with extinct designs. As this happened right about the time I usually hold the annual summer sale, and they were already all packaged and ready to go, I decided to make a few mega deals along with dropping the sale prices. While quantities last (and I already sold out of many of the tiny charms) the Do You Know Me Necklaces are 2 for $20, the Young and Beautiful Earring are 3 for $20 Sweetest Thing Earrings are 5 for $20. There are many more deals to be had, so scoot on over to see what magic deals exist.

Fab

2. I designed 4 exclusive necklaces at the request of the awesome peeps at Fab! You are now able to purchase these at Fab.com in their year round store along with 2 other Manic Trout regulars. The peacock is my favorite!

3. Tomorrow at 11am eastern, an event I am doing at Joss & Main launches. The Resort 2015 Collection will be featured at special prices for one week.

Have a wonderful week!

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Recently at Manic Trout

Manic Trout Studio
The studio sometimes wins the battle for an organized work space.

Since I’ve moved the Manic Trout Blog away from this one, I’ve missed sharing the photos here. Many of these are also posted on Facebook or Instagram, but its fun to see my favorites all gathered in one place. So here you go…a glimps at the last two weeks!

National Donut Day
Celebrating National Donut Day

I didn’t actually eat a donut on National Donut Day, but I did have cake. And my donut stickers arrived, so yay!

Making Bling Rings for the FW15 photo shoot
Making Bling Rings for the FW15 photo shoot

Rings being made for the FW15 photo shoot which is happening this week. I am so excited to see the photos from it!! I am not excited that I won’t be sharing them until the very end of August.

How to Wear It: Summer Style
How to Wear It: Summer Style

I’ll admit that I have hold back from using yellow accessories in every How To Wear It I make. Can you blame me?

Girl On Fire Necklaces
Girl On Fire Necklaces

The Girl on Fire Necklaces all in a row. I love the agate, so happy it was the focus of the SS15 Collection!

Happy Birthday June babies!
Happy Birthday June babies!

Celebrate your favorite June babies with the old version of the June birthstone, Agate! Turquoise also was the birthstone way back when so I took the creative liberty to go with suggesting that you gift turquoise hued agate jewelry to really pack a 17th century punch.

Necklace Rainbow!
Necklace Rainbow!

I made rainbows out of jewelry, and then craved skittles.

WhiteGlass
Beautiful iridescent white glass

I designed a collection of exclusive designs to be part of the year round store at Fab.com this week. They should be available soon!

Also in the past two weeks was the debut of the Resort Collection, my second event with Joss & Main and I am in the midst of designing the Holiday Collection. There are of course other bits and pieces, but this is what I enjoyed working on the most!

What have you been working on?

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