Don’t Break The Chain

I don’t always know what I plan on writing when I sit down to write. This makes me not want to write, but it’s not enough of a reason not to. This is also most likely how I end up letting weeks go by without ever even logging in to this blog. Although to be honest sometimes I don’t have enough time to actually sit down and write and sometimes I’m not physically in the studio to sit down to write. But most of the time it’s simply the lame excuse that I don’t know what to write. I even keep lists of topics and drafts of post ideas that come to me when I don’t have time to write, just time to jot down notes or a sentence in my phone, and still, most of the time I just move onto to something else and decide that I’ll do it later. I got really tired of later never coming though and frustrated with days and weeks going by without writing anything.

So at the end of the year I was looking back on what I did over the past months and of course I started thinking about goals, and what I’m good at and what I like to do. You know what was on all three of those lists? Writing. You know what I did the least of in 2016? Write. So I started working on changing this. Writing more both privately and publicly. I’ll admit that I’ve been doing a lovely job of it and part of that is because unless I’m not actually near my computer at all on a given day, I sit down, set a timer for 60 minutes and start writing. I do this twice in the morning; once with the Manic Trout blog and once here. I aim for 1000 words on each. I enjoy both spaces for what they are as the Manic Trout blog is much more research driven, and jewelry and style related. In this space, I get to write what ever I’m feeling that day, which is actually why I think it’s harder to sometimes thing of things.

These two blocks of time are a priority to my schedule and what I do first thing in the day after my morning routine which includes writing my daily morning pages. Morning pages are a concept that many writers and non writers alike use to sort of journal a few pages of longhand about whatever pops into your head. I aim for two pages of anything that’s on my mind; what I was proud of the day before, what I’m excited about that day, what I want to do better today, what I grateful for, even progress reports to myself. I follow this with one page of my plans for the day and how I see it playing out. It’s a great activity to both jump start my day and get my creativity flowing.

What I find interesting is that because I started writing first thing to make it a priority, I discovered by mistake that I write much better early in the day. I was pretty surprised to realize this as I am actually really strong at doing other creative tasks, like designing and making jewelry in the evening and late at night. For a long time, I had in my head that I needed to write blog posts at night for the next day, assuming that I would be able to write better at that time. I always though that I was never writing these because of time, or other things that got in the way, but really it’s just not the time of day when my brain writes well. So this whole exercise and schedule has been working really well so far. I however still often have no idea what to write about.

This is why I usually blog for Manic Trout first. That space has more of a scheduled theme and as I typically research a topic and write about it, it feels easier than pulling things out of my brain. This also means that I have a sort of double warm up before I get here. If I have no idea what to write, even after thinking about it while going though the morning, I’ll write the title, look over my prompts, maybe google a question I have in my head. This will usually strike a chord, even it has nothing to do with what I started writing, what I searched or what the title was. But no matter what, even if I still feel like I have nothing to say, I set my timer, open a blank post and write. Typically, as I’m already warmed up, if I just start typing, the words begin flowing on their own at that point and then after a bit I slow down, review what I wrote, remove the weird tangents and edit. I realize in amazement that there was a blog post in me, even if I didn’t know it yet when I began.

The biggest lesson that I learned in art school was to approach being creative like any other job. You sit down and do it, day after day. No matter what mood you’re in, if you feel uninspired, happy, angry, depressed, whatever, you sit down and write. One of my favorite quotes about this is from Jerry Seinfeld, who has always said that to be a productive writer, you have to wrote every day. His recommends marking an x on the calendar for every day that you write and what ever you do, “Don’t Break The Chain”. The chain concept has become a thing in productivity but it’s incredibly motivating in itself if you are a visual learner. It’s also an incredibly logical lesson, as to be good at something creative, you need a bit of natural ability sure, but for the most part you just have to practice. To do it over and over, day in and day out. Without the daily practice, you will never improve and become great. So do the work, every day. Don’t break the chain.

I have been using the chain with the morning pages for a few weeks so far. My chain has not broken. It usually warms me up and makes me jump right into the blogs, which is great as the blogs are hopefully something that can both get done 5 days a week. As I said, writing is the one thing in my life that is large part in more than one of my long term goals, that I’m good and that I enjoy. I am only hurting myself if I break the chain.

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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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Do you make resolutions?

I’m not much of a resolution maker these days, but I do I do enjoy using the new year to analyze and regroup a bit. Part of it is that as a business owner, I do this with finances and the various things I track. I have become in the habit of spending the week between Christmas and New Years Day finishing up that year and setting up all of my systems for the year ahead. There are the obvious: closing/starting out planners, calendars, spreadsheets and files and the not so obvious: reviewing my vision, and where I am with short and long term goals. Usually there is an area where I immediately notice, if I had not realized it already, that needs improving. If I have already been aware of the problem area, I try to start in mid December so that I’m feeling the pressure of the resolution setting chaos.

This past year, I gave up all sugar and sweet things on December 19th. This was following a doctors appointment where the cause of some heath issues were not obvious. I overheard the doctor and nurse reviewing my chart and wondering if weight or diet could be a contributor. Although in the end, the problems were completely unrelated to anything I was doing, that one over heard conversation gave me the motivation I needed to get my out of control sugar addiction in check. If there were going to be issues with my health, I refused to let them ever be caused by own self negligence. I got to work immediately and by the time the new year began, I was free from sugar and had dropped the extra weight it had caused. In December, I also started “reclaiming wasted time“, so I could do my favorite thing: read more. Soon, I was reading an extra 4 to 6 books a month. Yesterday I wrote about the business goals I was working on this past year, which were about defining my skills and building my personal brand.  But I also met my goal to not stop working out when I was the busiest so I was not removing my best stress reliever when I needed it the most. I set out to schedule time 5 days a week that I would not cancel on and commit to giving to myself this time to work out. I hit that one out of the park and think the habit has set in pretty well on it now and the results have been amazing. I was so calm during the holiday season that Adam was actually worried about me. These were all areas that I wanted to improve on over the past year and are now just a part of my life. I thankfully don’t have to work on these things anymore, just be mindful that I am continuing them.

So what do I feel are the areas that need to be worked on this year? The first area that needs to be worked on is that I stumbled a bit mentally with my vision and long term goals this past year. As I have been aware of this, I have been spending the last month working on not only defining these, but on shifting my mind set to work towards them. Interestingly, as I spent the past year defining what my skills are, I now see that there are a few things that overlap what I am good at and what I love to do and yet I have not been doing them. How sad is that??? Hint, hint, that is literally being worked on by my typing this! Another area that needs some help is that I am too often just going through the motions of my day. I’m getting things done, but not feeling excited to seize the day or proud of what I have done that day. Not that I am not proud, but I’m not all “best day ever, go me!!” as often as I would like to be. I think part of it is the lack of vision and with that, the lack of long terms plan, so although I’m getting through the to-do list, I’m not really sure that I’m accomplishing things for the big picture. I have already been working on this though, enough that I am now able to analyze it and put into words what I have been feeling and put into action some of what needs to be done to fix it.

So while I am not setting goals, I am already working on areas that need some help. I am making changes, I am researching (it soothes me to have information…knowledge is power and all) and learning from others who have succeeded at overcoming these things. I am slowly making changes, a little at a time until the change sticks and then I change a little more.

On the subject of of resolutions, goals and intentions…I was flipping through my old sketchbook/notebooks that I used to use jot down notes, lists, schedules and inspirations in (mostly pages of crazy long lists) and saw the 2 pages of resolutions I was making every year. I was overwhelmed just looking at it. I also never accomplished much of what was on those 2 pages. I then thought about on the flip side, I have veered to the polar opposite and had no resolutions or intentions some years, just took each day as it came along and acted accordingly. In thinking about both of these mindsets, the only thing I know is that neither of these work for me. I need a nice happy medium of having defined goals along with their manageable breakdowns but still allowing myself to have flexibility in my daily routine and life goals. If there is too much structure and too rigid of a plan, I freak out when something unexpected pops up and also say no to too much. If for example, I was not in the mind space I was in this last year (sort of floundering, not sure where I wanted to be doing), I never would have said yes to the interview with the tv channel. I would have said that it didn’t fit into my schedule and that I no interest in a future as a DIY host. Because I was trying to figure out some things, I thought it sounded like a fun project and why not at least look into it. I was incredibly surprised to realize quickly that it was something that I was naturally really good and at and I love it! They are great about working with my schedule (we basically took December off) and it has energized me in other areas. So finding the sweet spot where I am feeling proud of my work and what I am building, accomplishing growth personally and in business and having the time and energy to take on interesting projects seems to be what I’m aiming for.

What are your resolutions and intentions?

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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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Spring Cleaning: blog edition

New branding at Manic Trout.
The spring cleaning continues!

You know how you sometimes put things off until the breaking point, and then you have a big mess to deal with? Yeah, that happened this weekend with the blog. It started innocently enough, I swear. As Adam and I such slackers with She Says, He Says, I decided it was time to make it a column of Her Daily Muse and get rid of the stand alone blog. In doing so, I made a phone call to tech support to make sure I redirected the domain correctly and inquired why this blog had been so slow. Well, as it turns out, it was due to my being on a really old hosting plan. This is the problem with having a tech based company. If you just move along without keeping up the latest and greatest, you end up being a clunky dinosaur…which the blog had become. So I began migrating to a new hosting method…and then all hell broke loose. Ugh, it was a major pain in the ass, but after 3 intense days, I only lost a few photos and posts, mostly from 2007-2011 so not so bad. Its worth the faster speed and the safe feeling that I don’t have to worry about being out of date for at least a year.  It also motivated me to get back to blogging…partly due to a new spiffed up theme and partly because why go through all of this work to not blog?

With all of the changes going on with Manic Trout, I kind of picked up and abandoned this space. Manic Trout has it’s own blog now and I haven’t been quickly getting the hang of what to do here. Going though the posts from the past 9 years was actually a great way to get me back on track and thinking about what I want to write about. And that’s the main reason that I want to keep Her Daily Muse going, I enjoy writing. So we’ll see how it goes. In the mean time, it’s so fresh and new here! Ahhh, new branding, new collection, new blog…it feels good!

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I blame it all on Cedar Fever

Rihanna, Grammys 2015, Giambattista Valli
My fav look from the Grammys last night…mainly for the amount of drama in the movement and because: tulle.

Everyone told me that it would take 3 years of living in Austin before the symptoms of Cedar Fever (our worst allergy season) fully kicked in and kicked my butt. I laughed with everyone when they said this but secretly feared when that day would come. Well that day came. Or it could just be a particularly brutal year of it. Either way, I have been blaming everything from eating too much candy (it’s gotten out of control again) to why I have not blogged in so long on Cedar Fever. It just feels appropriate.

I plan on powering through the allergy fog though and while I try and keep my eyes open and avoid the temptation of a mid day nap let me give you a quick update on things besides my seasonal allergies. I am still in the midst of an insane rebranding. At one point it felt like I was personally being rebranded to the point where I had no idea what was going on (this was the real reason for my absence here…how can one blog when one does not know who they are??). January was pretty much a nightmare as often happens when the nitty gritty aspects of a project, you know, the stuff you keep avoiding, got hashed out. The dust seems to be finally settling though and both the SS15 and FW15 Collections have been designed in the direction of the new brand, so we’re officially through the worst of it I hope. I’m both excited and terrified about most of all this still, but that is for another post. I  have a lot of thoughts (oh so many thoughts!!) on how to share the what and whys of all of this, but I’m not ready to tackle that story yet.

In the meantime, I wanted to try and get back to it over here at Her Daily Muse. Honestly, I have been having issues on what this place should be. It began as the blog for Manic Trout and slowly evolved into its own entity, but somehow giving Manic Trout it’s own blog late last year made me unable to post anything here anymore. But I have things to say and share and everyday I miss writing here…so here I am. Trying.

Besides what’s been going on with Manic Trout, I want to catch you up on what I’ve been reading, how its been going eating Paleo for a year and what I’ve been up to with Adam being gone for most of the past 5 months for work. Oh and we’re getting another dog this week! So let promise to meet here again tomorrow, shall we? In the mean time, what’s new with you?

 

photo via @giambattistavallipr

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Happy New Calendar Day!!

Rifle Paper 2015 Calendar in the Manic Trout Studio
Hanging over the shipping station

I despise New Years Day. There I said it. The whole, “now is your chance to finally be a great person” aspect of the new year is beyond annoying. As are the goals made that no one accomplishes. Ever. Personally, I prefer to take this one day to reflect on how much I did not accomplish in the last 365 days and wallow in it. As most of the world is hungover, and no one does anything of importance on this day, its a nice time for this type of behavior. By tomorrow, I’ll be back to my effervescent self and ready to take on the world, but today: I grumble.

The 5 of the 6 calendars around my desk necessary for managing Manic Trout
The 5 of the 6 calendars around my desk necessary for managing Manic Trout

The only good part of January 1st is that its the day to break out new calendars. As I admitted last year, I really enjoy calendars. Thank you to Thea gifting me the beautiful Rifle Paper 2015 calendar, I have topped 2014 and now have 7 calendars in the studio. Now that is a reason to get excited today!

The 7 Calendars of 2015
6 of the calendars for 2015

In case you are wondering why on earth I need 7 calendars:

1. Austin Events Calendar: For the obvious reasons, also to see holidays and I mark when I go running or work out with red dots to give me a bit of visual encourangement to fill it up with red dots. It hangs on the wall behind my computer so I look up and see it.

2. Rifle Paper Calendar: An unexpected gift from my sister as she knows how much I love both calendars and pretty things. Its hanging above the shipping station which is useful for obvious reasons.

3. Desk Pad Calendar: A recent obsession after I discovered these last year. Great for jotting down notes for the entire week. Sits on my desk to my right.

4: Single page printouts of 2015 and each quarter: Noted are the dates for design and production according to the PR and wholesale schedules. These hang to my right.

5. Social Media Calendar: I actually made this one out of a covered corkboard, paper and post its. I have blog posts, facebook posts, newsletters, twitter and instagram posts all planned out a month in advnace on this. It hangs to my left above the production calendars.

6: Spiral Desk Calendar from Sugar Paper: Where I pencil in appointments, meetings, workouts, lunches, trips etc.  I have given up on the electronic version, I prefer paper. I also keep a paper version of Manic Trout sales in it, I find it easier to flip though to see how the month is going than opening a spreadsheet. Sits on the top left corner of my desk, open to the current month.

7: Pocket Calendar: I am going back to a paper version of what I carry with me too. I can look through and schedule so much faster in paper than I can in my phone. Hangs out in the studio when I’m at home, goes in my bag when I’m not.

*8: Doesn’t really count as its not in the studio, but we keep a big magnet dry erase calendar on the fridge too with all meetings, travel and important dates. Adam still forgets everything anyway, but at least I can say that it was up there.

Hope you are enjoying New Years Day the way you want to and Happy New Calendar Day!!

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When its time for your brand to grow up

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I should have seen it coming. This past year has been a fantastic one for Manic Trout, the growth so far having exceeded all expectations and I am both in awe and proud of it. So it really comes as no surprise that in order to keep growing and to reach the next “level” (because what entrepreneur is ever happy with where they are?) would not be all easy breezy. Truthfully, it kind of feels like a senior feeling all mighty and then starting all over at the bottom of the totem pole as a freshmen in college. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s start at the beginning…

Throughout all of this growing there has been an underlying disconnect going on that has been holding the brand back from taking the next steps. Something was not quite sitting right but I couldn’t put my finger on it. As successful as I have been since the rebranding in 2010 at moving from the random releasing of jewelry to four well thought out collections a year (designed and ready 3 months before release for press) there was something still amiss. Deep down, I knew that well designed jewelry alone does not make a successful brand and would only get me so far, and I feared that I was reaching the top of “so far”. This was all made crystal clear a month or so ago, when I was contacted by a trend analysis who wanted to introduce me to one of her clients, a large and very well know name in fashionable stores. I was reviewed by the board and given notes about how they saw Manic Trout as a brand. The missing component was exactly what I been feeling as well, that my brand identity was not visible if even there at all. They recommend that I find myself an imaging consultant asap.

It was a pretty amazing moment when the exact problem I was having suddenly had both a definition AND a solution. There was just one problem…these people are not found via google. I suspect that they are to brands what the secret people are to celebs that make them go from mid western nobodies to the likes of Reese Witherspoon in a few short months. Just like in that world, I quickly discovered that you need to know someone to get an introduction with a secret person who is worth anything and then pray to everything that they can fit you in because these people have wait lists of months and years. Thankfully, after a week or so of emails and phone calls, I was introduced to the exact secret person I needed and she not only felt I was worthy of working with her but had a last minute opening if I jumped right in. Also thankfully, my checking account was currently in good standing because I was about to empty it. And then as soon as it started to fill up again, empty it. And then repeat that a few more times. As you can imagine, secret people are very, very expensive to work with. They are however, worth every penny.

The past month has been a whirlwind, and a very stressful one. There was such a high volume of work being accomplished each day that I would fall into bed exhausted from thinking so much. It was a crash course in a new genre (to me) of branding, business and marketing and one that required a lot of answers from my end on how I saw Manic Trout, where I want to go with the brand, who I design for and many, many other facets of the business, much of it that were completely foreign concepts to me. There were times that I had no idea if what I said was right or wrong or what the hell was going on, but that’s where my secret person was the most amazing, as she would guide me back on track and turn all of my ramblings about my designs into something resembling an actual brand. After all of the hours of questions and writing novel long emails back and forth we moved on to the next stage. This included model cards and deciding between stunning women who had modeled for brand such as Versace, Vera Wang, Zac Posen, Cartier, Marc Jacobs, Valentino, Carolina Herrera and other designers who made my head spin. Then a few speed sessions deciding on concepts and clothes and details that had me questioning myself at every turn. The entire time I was constantly feeling both overwhelmed and in over my head but thrilled all at the same time. In hind site, I’m actually surprised I didn’t have a few melt downs throughout the whole process. I came close when Adam’s dad died and I was up to my eyeballs in all of this, but it all worked out, as life always does.

I am still, two weeks after this intense period is behind me, a bit dazed by it all. I am absolutely still processing everything and wrapping my head around the grown up version of Manic Trout. Because that’s what this was all really about. Taking the baby that I have been nurturing and raising for the past almost 12 years, patting it on the head and telling it that it’s time to be a lady now.

If you have not been over to manictrout.com for awhile, take a peek if you’re so inclined. See the grown up lady version. This is a huge work in progress with a veritable team to make it happen, so there a few details still in the works, but to quote one of my favorite movies…”its all happening!”

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Taking your closet to the next level

Apparel tags

Being a wearer of dresses and skirts, I find that keeping track of the dry cleaning/laundry cycle is a bit of a dilemma. Especially as I work from home and therefore will often wear a dress for only a two hour period and then back on the hanger it goes. This is due to my having a bunch of skirts that are my “studio skirts” that I wear with plain white t’s when in the studio as when I make rings, the wire has been known to attack my arms and clothes as it flies around in the wrapping process. Anyway, I have a system with the skirts that whatever I have worn gets moved all the way to the left and back to the right when clean but the dresses are more organized (by color and level of formality) so I don’t have a useful system in place, only a pretty one. Being the neurotic organized person that I am, I have had “create a method to track what dresses have worn” on my to do list for a few years. I have thought of using a few methods such as the turning the hanger around trick. But I know that would drive me crazy as I have an all matching hangers, equally spaced apart situation and could not handle a backwards hanger. Well that and does it really work with shaped wood hangers? I also though of attaching colored yarn to the hanger but that would also only indicate it was worn once and the thought of multiple colors made my eyes twitch for the same reason the turned hanger concept did.

Apparel tags

A few weeks ago I was over at Knock Knock, picking up a new grocery list pad (if you are a list maker, this company will be your new BFF. I found them waaaay back when they were a baby company in the early 2000’s and instantly was smitten, they have remained awesome as they have grown and I own ALOT of their stuff) and I could’t believe but they had my solution. Apparel tags made to loop on the hanger with places to note things such as when it was last worn, if it needs to be washed and other important fyi’s. Lets also not overlook a key factor here, that they are designed beautifully. I almost fell over they were so perfect. I’ll admit that I have yet to implement my new system though as part of me is struggling with everything not being laundered first so everything starts from the same base. Btw, it’s very difficult dealing with needs like this, as I feel crazy even thinking them but I know I’m not alone in thinking these thoughts so thats helpful. I also know that I’m overdue for a good clean out of what I haven’t worn this year, and have been waiting for temps to drop from the 90’s first. So you know, it might not happen for another month, but then…oh then, my world will be a happier place!

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