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 Trunk Show season looked like

As part of Fashion Alley at the UT Fashion Show and the kick off to Austin Fashion Week.
As part of Fashion Alley at the UT Fashion Show and the kick off to Austin Fashion Week.

Spring is trunk show season. I do very few shows, but I’ll admit I really enjoy doing tiny trunk shows either in local stores or with other designers in a pop up shop. As Renee pointed out, they are more like in person look books than a show and I love that about them. The shows last a few hours, only take an hour to set up and are more about chatting with people then selling and I love that as well. As my business model is based online, it’s tough to be out of the studio too often so I limit the shows I do each season to less then a handful, but once they are underway I always wish I did more as it’s so great to meet customers face to face.

Set up for my Fashion Week Showcase with  *annemarie* and Ilonka Designs at Link and Pin Gallery.
Set up for my Austin Fashion Week Showcase with *annemarie* and Ilonka Designs at Link and Pin Gallery.

Then I get home and realize how exhausted I am from those few hours and am thankful that I decided to stick to the few I do. This year was the second year that Austin Fashion Week was in the Spring, so 2 of the 3 events were during Fashion Week which was a bit hectic, but I was able to fully receiver by the time the show at Langford Market rolled around.

With Annemarie and Ilonka during our showcase.
With Annemarie and Ilonka during our showcase.

It’s also pretty amazing when you set up with a group to be able to spend time and chat with one other. You never know who you’ll be set up with if it’s a group show, being set up at the UT Fashion Show was how I ended up doing the Langford Market show, as they too had a booth there!

Set up at Langford market on Guadalupe this past weekend.
Set up at Langford market on Guadalupe this past weekend.

When you set up in a store it’s very different then setting up in a blank space like a big show, there is already a great deal of personality there that you need to make sure works with your display. I actually LOVED the fixtures at Langford Market (check out that light over head made from books!!) and had so much fun setting up there. I was having flash backs from architecture school using the drafting table and immediately utilized the drawers with all of my check out necessities like gift bags, pens and paper.

Detail at Langford market on Guadalupe this past weekend.
Detail at Langford market on Guadalupe this past weekend.

Each year I try to mix up my display a bit, but still keep it all within my branding. The week before the first show this year, I panicked that it would look too stale and impulse purchased a bunch of busts and 2 bracelet displays. Best decision ever. The above photo is proof of that.

A peek behind the scenes at a mock up booth I planned out at home.
A peek behind the scenes at a mock up booth I planned out at home.

My favorite part of trunk shows is that each display is different and no matter how much you plan it out, will have to adapt to the space you are given to set up. As you can see, I always create a mock up but sometimes tables are different sizes then expected or facing a different direction. This usually results in great displays I would never have done otherwise and like the busts on the scale a few photos above. Sometimes the unexpected can be amazing!

p.s. do you have a store in Austin that you think Manic Trout would have a great trunk show in? Drop a me line and lets talk!

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A double event booked week

Tuberous Begonia, Irving Penn
Tuberous Begonia, Irving Penn

I normally love Mondays, but this one is a tough one. Out of nowhere the next week has become crazy booked and the length of my to do list has hit me like truck. I also was out of the studio yesterday for Easter lunch with family and gone most of this morning helping a friend who is in mourning and picking up Adam’s 7 week early birthday present. I seriously though the man was going to have a heart attack from the anticipation and excitement of getting his new wedge and putter as soon as possible so he could use them all spring. Anyway…I am already feeling behind in a week with very little time to spare. Are you curious about what I’ll be up to that is causing such chaos?

Well! The first is exciting because when I was contacted to be a part of this event, I did not realize that it was as big of a deal as it is, and as it turns out I am exhibiting not only at UT Fashion Show, Spectrum, but it is also the kick off event of Austin Fashion Week on Thursday night. Manic Trout will be in Fashion Alley–a display and exhibition of some of Austin’s most innovative and exciting fashion- and beauty-oriented businesses. The event is at the Frank Irwin Center, it’s free, doors open at 5:30pm and the fashion show begins at 7:15. If you have any interest in fashion and live in the Austin area, I insist that you come on out for it!

The second event is a bit last minute, but has turned into a really fun evening and something that will fill your Sunday afternoon perfectly. It is a showcase event for fashion week, on Sunday from 4pm – 8pm on the East side.  Link & Pin Art Space is hosting hosting an one-of-a-kind Fashion Week Event! Austin brands Manic Trout, Ilonka Designs [ee-laun-kah] and *annemarie* Style for the Individual have joined forces with Eastside Gallery Link & Pin to bring you an evening of fashion, art and design. There will be refreshments, a great DJ, a Photo Booth and amazing art, fashion and accessories to surround yourself with. A much more intimate occasion and a chance to chat away with myself and my fellow designers (while getting slight,y tipsy and having your photo taken…yay!).

If you are in Austin, I look forward to seeing you, hope you can make it. If not, I promise to recap next week right here on the blog!


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Deep thoughts after doing a fashion trade show

Sierra in the Manic Trout Pooltradeshow booth at Magic, February 2013 in Las Vegas
The Manic Trout Pooltradeshow booth at Magic, February 2013 in Las Vegas

An unexpected side from doing Magic this past week was the inspiration for doing Deep Thoughts posts! I love writing them but when all I do is work in my studio all week, the content can get a little stale.  I shared my Deep Thoughts on preparing for a trade show last week, so I feel its only fitting to give you my Deep Thoughts on actually being there this week. So here goes…

1. The boy scouts are onto something…Be Prepared.  Plan your booth out on graph paper, have items pre tagged and be organized when you pack. It will make life easier on the set up day to not have to be stressed out about something you could have done leisurely at home…such as tagging all of your jewelry.  Knowing how you want to set up and having all the pieces ready will make your life easy and awesome and lets you relax before the real work begins.

2. Wear flats.

3. You will (need to) consume crazy amounts of water and energy drinks while exhibiting.  Partly due to flying, partly due to the dryness of Vegas in the winter and partly due to talking all day long, my throat (and skin) were super dry.  I was thirsty for an entire week, no joke.  I had the foresight to go to Whole Foods after set up and bought water, snacks and energy drinks and they were all life savers.  Especially the energy drinks as I didn’t want to drink coffee all day as 1. it was $6 for a tiny cup and 2. it gives you coffee breath.

4. Wear layers and make sure to have extras to add.  The set up day it was crazy hot in there and I was glad I was in a t shirt.  The last two days were so chilly that I added a sweater AND a huge scarf just to stay warm…it happened to be Manic Trout pink (totally planned…I am a branding machine) and my wearing fuchsia ended up encouraging people to look into the booth…bonus!

5. Ship your goods ON TIME.  If your materials weigh under 150lbs, you can ship them to a Fed Ex location off site where they will hold them free of charge until you pick them up (rent a car, take a cab…whatever). It will make life easier…and save you money even with a cab.  Well, unless you miss your ship deadline by one day and then you will have to pay $700 instead of $125 to ensure it arrives in time…oops.

6. Smile until your face hurts. No joke, at the end of each of the three day the show was going on, my back teeth and face actually HURT from smiling all day.

7. At a trade show as opposed to a show with shoppers, everyone is there to buy.  Maybe not today, but it could be next week, next month or even next year.  Your job is to make sure that anyone who is interested in your brand has all of the information needed to buy later if they do not today. In a perfect world they would orders right then and there.  In an almost perfect world, they would hand over their cards and you would be able to follow up with them. In what sometimes is the case, they stop in their tracks to look at something you offer but are being dragged along by the person they are with and in a rush.  At the very least get your line sheets in their hands so later on they can get a chance to see the item again!

8. Sleep is your friend. I am in my mid 30’s so still on the younger side of things, BUT I know my limits…if I am tired or hungover I am useless, grumpy and not the best version of me. Therefore I made sure to be neither of those things.

9. People watching can be pretty amazing…some of the outfits are exactly that and provide amusement during the lulls.  You are at a Fashion trade show after all, and that alone brings out the crazy in some people!

10. Its not about “today” at a trade show.  It’s about what being seen “today” can do for you in the future. (I thought I’d end on the deepest thought possible)

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Deep thoughts on preparing for a trade show

trade show dress rehearsal
Jewelry during the “dress rehearsal”, before I wrap the boards and label everything

I figured that as I have become consumed with Magic and Pooltradeshow and it occurring next week, I might as well indulge myself and compose an entire Deep Thoughts post solely about the preparation. As I knew would happen, yesterday marked the one week mark until I headed to Vegas and the stress hit the ceiling.  In order for everything besides my jewelry (which is compact and the one thing I can’t show without, I plan on carrying it on the plane with me) to arrive in time for the set up on Monday, I need to ship it all out by tomorrow at the absolute latest.  In addition to the show prep this week, I also have a bustling normal studio routine going on, complete with wholesale and website orders, emails and ahem, blogging which all still need to happen.  I also have to prepare for the time I will be out of the studio while going to the show…so you can imagine I am a bit amped up right now.  Adam actually left the house this morning just so he could hide from me and my twitchy snapping.

1. Signing up for a show that costs a huge amount of money and will bring on a ton of stress is best of done super fast before one can really think about it…that way by the time you freak out with the “what have I done?” moment, you have already committed to it and now just have to deal.

2. Even if you have planned and measured and methodically laid out how you want your booth, you will immediately doubt every decision once you reach the date when change can no longer be made.

3. Ditto for all printed material.

4. Ditto for your products.

5. People telling you that it will go great and not to stress out should keep those opinions to themselves as when one is irrationally stressed out, rational thoughts are useless.

6. For every person you will be relying on to make something happen related to the show, you’re stress level will increase exponentially.

7. Two weeks before a trade show is not the time to give up candy, cookies, cupcakes and all things that bring instant happiness.

8. Lists will be crucial, plentiful and across multiple mediums…on phones, computers and paper…yet they will save your sanity.

9. It is incredibly helpful when dealing with a new adventure, to have friends who have been involved with it before to help with advice and tips.  Even more helpful if you know both buyers and vendors to advise you. Write down their advice and keep it on your person, it will sooth you to be literally armed with knowledge.

10. Exercise and eating well to make it through this are are no brainers but you need to remind yourself of this daily…hourly even.

Ok, the countdown continues…wish me luck!

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Sum it up (aka…the week I declared I would rock this year like a hurricane)

A peek at the Spring Line debuting at Manic Trout in March!
A peek at the Spring Line debuting at Manic Trout in March!

This week contained both the last of 2012 and the first of 2013.  It also was a week that I looked over 10 years of business and declared that after 1.5 years of being full time at Manic Trout that I was ready to ROAR my way into 2013 and that I wanted to push any last wisps of fear aside and jump to new heights this year.  Well, on January 2nd, the news that I had three (THREE!) necklaces in a magazine I have been trying to get into to for 6 years was all the push that I needed.  I immediately applied (and was accepted yesterday, yay!) at what I know as biggest ready to wear fashion and accessories trade show in the US.  Kind of want to throw up as it’s in 6 weeks and I have only done teeny tiny regional trade shows before…nothing like this and nothing where I have to ship my booth out ahead of me.  I am however, more excited than nervous and may have already stopped sleeping in anticipation.  I’ll keep you posted…but until I know more…here’s this weeks Sum It Up…

WORKING ON: Finishing up the Spring 2013 Line! Finally it’s come together in a crashing wave of inspiration.

THINKING ABOUT: Obviously the trade show, which I realized was consuming me when I started a random conversation about the pros and cons of driving to Vegas with my bank teller this morning. (there was only one pro…I could take as much as I wanted for my booth)

ANTICIPATING:  Finishing up the Spring line and seeing it al together!

LISTENING TO:  I tried a few new stations on Pandora this week, but this morning ended up right back at the Bird and The Bee.

EATING: I just devoured an amazing Thundercloud Sub (Veggie Delite), they are everywhere here in Austin.

THANKFUL FOR:  The support of my loving husband who has to deal with my freaking out about upcoming things that scare me (and is willing to help fund really big new ventures for Manic Trout).


READING: Upside Down Inside Out by Monica McInerney…at first I was having book deja vu, I kept thinking I’ve read it before, but it changed direction and now I’m just enjoying a nice fluffy book.

WATCHING: Last night I watched the entire 5th season of Californication while in my studio last night.  I love that show so much, why are the seasons so short? It pains me when it ends.

Have a great weekend, and if you’re in Austin, stop by the Manic Trout tent on S Congress tomorrow!

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Sum it up

This is my Manic Trout booth…aka my home for most of this week.

WORKING ON: Inventory for my holiday sale on sneakpeeq which starts tomorrow and lasts one week. (and yes purchases will arrive in time for Christmas), the plethora of shows this week and getting orders out!

THINKING ABOUT: January…ahhhhh, January.

ANTICIPATING: The Cherrywood Art Fair which I am doing this weekend, and the great press coming in Jan/Feb.  I want to share more about the press, but I don’t want to jinx it!

LISTENING TO: Still hooked on the Bird and The Bee station on Pandora.

EATING: A lot of mini cupcakes from Hey Cupcake (Adam has been bringing them to me instead of flowers) and waaaaaaaaay too much candy.

THANKFUL FOR: My family coming to me for Christmas this year so I don’t have to travel at the end of this crazy month.

PLANNING FOR: Our cookie/ugly sweater party next weekend and my family coming the week after.

READING: Lucky Everyday by Bapsy Jaine…completely absorbing and perfect for my current state of mind.

WATCHING: In Plain Sight on Netflix.  Sadly only 3 seasons and I’m almost done.  It’s gotten me through a whole lot of production  this week.

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Sum it up

Manic Trout booth on South Congress
The Manic Trout booth on South Congress

WORKING ON: Both the Spring 2013 and Holiday Collections…it’s BUSY here in the studio! Also getting ready to launch a new secret project that I’m doing  with Renee.

THINKING ABOUT:  How I will juggle a crazy amount of work, Adam coming back home, moving and a wedding over the next three months.

ANTICIPATING:  The craziness of the upcoming holiday season and the results of having signed a new publicist, Carly Co PR after a year of not having one since I left NY.

LISTENING TO:  At this very moment…How Do You Like Me Know by The Heavy.

EATING: My consumption of apples has gotten out of control…as in at least two a day.  Only Fuji’s…they’re my all time fav.

THANKFUL FOR:  Being able to work full time on Manic Trout.

PLANNING FOR: You would be overwhelmed if I shared the list.

READING: Candy Freak by Steve Almond, which if you know me you’d understand that it is both perfect and dangerous for me to read such a book as the author has managed to eat candy every single of his life.  Jealous.

WATCHING: Grey’s Anatomy season 8 on Netflix and getting ready to watch season 9 on TV at the end of the month because Manic Trout jewelry will be on it….woo hoo!! ps…how is possible that each season makes me cry harder than the last???

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What is all this busy talk?

I paused for a minute to look up and this is what I saw

It makes me sad when I pop in here to say hello and “I’m so busy” and than rush off like the wind.  Truthfully much of the time I am in my studio making oodles of necklaces or editing photos, but lately it’s been a bit more fun!  I figured, hey…I should share this fun stuff, as the blog is about the life of this designer and duh, I should talk about it!  Well, if you didn’t already see it, this week I had the pleasure of going to the Austin Lifestyle Magazine Preview Party on Tuesday night…and that is just the tip of the iceberg!

Monday the Manic Trout store on Amazon.com went live and even though it opened with only a small amount of the jewelry I create, meaning there is a long way to go, it’s awesome to see it all happening after two months of phone calls back and forth with them after they initially contacted me.    Also on Monday was the launch of a new project I am involved in with my friend Renee.  She began the Craft Academy a few years ago, which is an online business class for makers.  This spring she asked that I join forces with her and teach the advanced part of the class, I was of course honored and we got right to work.  We are already planning the next level (and some other incredibly exciting projects) and I cannot wait to watch it grow and evolve!

Throughout the week I have been finishing up the now Fall Line as the Summer Line took sooooo long, I had to give up and redirect it to Fall.  I had a very exciting deadline though as tonight I am involved in a photo shoot showcasing the new designs!  Even more exciting is that I was involved in this shoot 100% by helping to come up with the concept, and being involved in selecting the photographer, models and stylist.  I’m so excited and can’t wait to share how it goes!

There was also a bit of planning for future events, I had to choose what to drop off as samples for Austin Fashion Week which is making me nervous as they changed the format and this year the panel is selecting only 3 local Jewelry Designers to be in the showcase.  I was a featured designer in the showcase last year, and I’m not sure if that will affect my chances…so cross your fingers for me.  I also booked the Austin Social Affair June Event…so if you’re in Austin, mark your calendars to come on over to the Speakeasy the night of June 21st!

This weekend is chock full as well…on Saturday you will find me at the weekly Market at Snack Bar on South Congress and then Sunday I am having a meeting for the Austin chapter of the Little Black Dress Society, a service organization committed to ending the abuse of women and of which I am chair.  Speaking of which, we are a new chapter and if you live in Austin and want to be involved, just get in touch with me!

Throughout all of this, I have been working on a crazy new project that is killing me because I can’t talk about it yet…it involves licensing and will be launching by the end of July…that’s all I can say about that.

Wow…when you write it down it’s amazing how much stuff there is going on!  What have you been up to this week?

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The staging area…

Balloons for Mothers Day
Those of us who do outdoor markets chat about a certain topic often…that people try to shop/touch stuff/ask questions while we are in the middle of a very fast set up time.  It’s a downside of having a show outdoors where people feel there are no boundaries and a dilemma of how to handle the interruption.  I more often then not gladly stop what I’m doing to pull out necklaces or help them find something so they can see what I design and make before I even have it out on the tables, as I know its hard to see part of something without wondering what it’s all about.  But sometimes, you know they are being nosy and are really just in your way…those are the days that you wish you had a door, with a lock.  For example…last Saturday two young girls (around 12 I’d guess) cam running into my tent and grabbed at not the jewelry but a framed photo of press placements and were all excited over it.  I had to explain that they were holding booth decor, not an actual product to purchase, that they were images of the press I’ve had, that’s all.  It was kind of an awkward moment for all of us, hahaha.

So when I walked into the HEB on Tuesday afternoon and saw this…

Balloons Mothers Day
…which was just the biggest collection of balloons that I have ever seen in one place!! I looked around and saw that two women were filling them up and this was their make shift staging area.  I couldn’t help myself though!!  I walked right over and stood in the midst of all of the ribbons…and even though I was perhaps in the way, they didn’t seem to mind as it was the middle of the produce section.  It made me smile thinking to myself as I gazed up at the awesome display before me that sometimes, you just can’t help yourself, you just have to jump right into the staging area.


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