Three Business Lessons I Learned This Week

Friday, March 28, 2014

Since becoming my own boss and starting Expect a year and a half ago, I have been on a steep learning curve when it comes to the business side of things. I still have a lot to catch up on, but some major stuff finally clicked for me this week and I thought I'd share.

1. Just start selling. I've heard this so many times on Shark Tank -- a show that equally inspires me and makes me feel like I'm going to have a heart attack -- but I never really understood it. I was like, "My designs are online... So they should be selling, right?" Wrong. What they mean by that is to really put yourself out there, present your product to your customer and SELL IT. That finally clicked this week when I realized that meeting my customer in person at the shows, and by placing my pieces in a store was making all the difference.

2. Don't let labels hold you back. Since I started my business, I've been calling myself a fashion designer. That wasn't untrue, but I felt sometimes that I had to adhere to that title a little too closely and now allow myself to make things that weren't wearable. This week, I decided I wanted to start hand sewing, and making home decor items... And it made me so happy! I felt awesome to reconnect to my craft in a way I hadn't done in years. I've been calling myself a "maker" in my head for the past few days and it feels so nice to take the pressure away from having to be a designer, and just feel open to making stuff!

3. Talk to other creatives. This might seem super obvious, but it took me a while to figure this one out. Being your own boss can be very isolating. On a typical day, I go to my studio and I work in there until the day is over and I speak to no one but my husband for the day. Since starting selling at the markets and connecting with other creative people, I feel that I have a whole new outlet. I'm able to get advice, inspiration, commiserate, and express myself more freely. Having new relationships with people who understand my business had enriched my existing relationships.

Expect Clothing x VC Makers CoOp

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I am so thrilled and honored to say that next Tuesday, April 1st (no, this is not a fools joke!) you can find me in Ventura at the VC Makers CoOp. I will, of course, have tons of maternity wear, childrens clothing, accessories, as well as never before seen nursery decor! I absolutely can not wait!

If you're in or around the Ventura, CA area, please stop by and say hi! I'll be there from 5 to 9!

New Suede Shoes

When: Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Where: Home Studio, Dog Walk, Work at Trinkets

I had a whole different outfit planned, but when these shoes from ModCloth arrived in the mail, I had to switch it up! I have been wanting a pair of pink heels for a very, very long time, and finally, I found these sexycute mary janes and jumped at owning them. I love the color, style, height, and comfort factor (thank you platforms)!

I have had a lot on my plate lately, and I'm super grateful even though sometimes it means waking up in the middle of the night and feeling slight heart palpitations because I have a deadline I'm not really ready for... at all. I've decided to try out a few shows this spring (more on that in another post), and that has meant really upping my production rate. Since introducing children's wear and accessories into my business, things have started to pick up quite a bit, but it means that I've had a little less time for my first passion -- maternity wear. I love love love making kids stuff and I could easily just drop the adult clothing and carry on my way, but I just can't seem to let it go! 

In any case, I know this sounds trite, but doing a little online retail therapy last week in between projects, really helped alleviate some pressure. It was nice to do something for myself, just for fun, even if it was only for a few minutes. Don't get me wrong -- I LOVE my job. I'm so so so lucky that I get to do what I love to do for a living, but let's be honest: it's stressful! I do have to worry a good deal about when I'll make money and how much I'll be able to make. I have to take care of sourcing all my materials, and actually get myself to sit down and do the work when I'd rather be running around in the sunshine. I have to find shows to attend, and put myself out there, which is super difficult for me! I love being my own boss, but sometimes, my boss sucks.

Reel Talk

Monday, March 24, 2014

When: Sunday, March 23rd, 2013

Where: Vasquez Rocks, Dinner with Jess.

After a super productive end to my week -- I made 12 pairs of baby pants on Friday night, and then I set up, worked, and packed up my flea market booth all by myself on Saturday -- Alex and I decided to take what would appear to be some semblance of a day off on Sunday. It was a great day. We went out for breakfast, took a snuggle nap, I got a manicure, and we drove out to Vasquez Rocks Park. Technically, the last thing could be considered work because Alex needed to grab some (as they say in the industry) B roll of some desert-y scenes. Never one to miss out on a good photo-op, I threw on the best outfit I could think of with literally 12 minutes notice and we were off!

Alex has used Vasquez Rocks as a location a number of times (check this out!), but I had never been before. I think I was expecting to see something along the lines of Moab, so I wore rust again. The rocks weren't as red as I thought they'd be, but the place was super awesome, and I'd love to visit again when I'm wearing a more hiking appropriate outfit!

I do realize that this maxi skirt is slightly too mini to be worn with heels, but I couldn't wait to wear these new babies. While Alex was away on business, I got down to a little shopping business and bought these Dolce Vita gold heeled turquoisey wonders for a suuuuper good deal at Nordstrom Rack. Love that.

Life isn't always perfect, but having my husband back in town, a beautiful new pair of shoes, a dear friend to sip margaritas with, and a weekly sale at the Melrose Trading Post to look forward to, has really helped.

The last 18 months have been so wonderfully crazy! Getting engaged, planning a wedding, actually having the wedding. settling into our new apartment, running this blog, operating my business, helping Alex with his business, adopting a dog, becoming an aunt, having multiple part time jobs, and staying sane felt like a near impossibility. Everything in the above list was a positive thing that happened to me (or I made happen!) that I sometimes construed to be stressful or burdensome. I can forget how lucky I am. I'm hoping to be able to spend some time like I did today connecting with nature and my family and friends. It felt so good to poke my toes into the sand as I walked back to the car after taking these photos... It's the little things.

Blouse: Forever 21, similar.
Skirt: Anthropologie, similar.
Necklace: Etsy, similar.
Heels: DV by Dolce Vita, sold out. Pink ones here.
Bag: Kate Spade Saturday, similar.

P.S. This week, I'm linking up with Walking in Memphis in High Heels, The Fashion Canvas, and Sunshine State of Style for the Handbag Trend Spin Link Up. Head on over to see how the other girls rocked this theme!

Honeymoon Dreaming: Hawaiian Breeze

Friday, March 21, 2014
Even though Alex and I have been married for almost three months, we still haven't even planned our official honeymoon. Our minimoon was wonderful, but we always had the idea that we'd take a true honeymoon later on. We both can't decide where to go, and keep coming up with all these different destinations. One of the most fun parts of traveling for me is outfit planning, which means, of course, shopping! I'd like introduce to a first in a series... Honeymoon Dreaming.

Now picture this on a white sand beach!

I don't know why, but Hawaii evokes for me flashes of neon paired with cheery florals. I'd love to board the flight in a fun, bright yellow outfit, perfect travel bag in tow, sip a mai tai at thirty thousand feet in a mixed print tank. I'd jump into my bathing suit first thing upon arrival to soak up the sun, but be sure to protect my eyes in the most stylish way possible. After hours of playing in the surf with my new husband, it might be nice to get dressed up and feel the breeze in this pink dress, all while still getting to feel the sand between my toes with a comfortable pair of sandals under my feet. Sigh... Wouldn't that be perfect?
Naven Dress

Where did you go on your honeymoon? Do you have a dream destination?

Expect Clothing x MTP Taft

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I apologize for the total radio silence over the past (whoa!) two weeks. I have been so consumed with the most exciting thing that has happened to me career-wise in a long time -- I got my own booth at the Melrose Trading Post at Taft! I have been lucky enough in the past to share a booth the the beautiful and talented girls of Vintage Redeux at the original, Fairfax location... But this time, I had my very own space. I felt so proud.

When I found out that I had a whole 10 by 10 foot booth to fill up about three weeks out, I set to sewing like a mad woman. Of course, just my luck, my brother serger that I've had since college (that I haven't maintained or had professionally cleaned once), decided it was time to permanently clock out and I was without a sewing machine for over a week. Disaster. Or sew (see what I did there?!) I thought.

In lack of a machine, I decided to put my hand sewing skills to use to create these ahhhhhhhhdorable -- if I do say so myself -- baby shoes, which I have aptly dubbed Cutesy Boots. I love making these! I get to got to my zen place as I lovingly craft each tiny pair and adorn them with handmade bows and vintage buttons. I made about forty pairs, and I could not be prouder or think of a better way to spend a week!

Once I got a new serger, about 5 days before showtime, I got down to business. Amazingly, I was able to hunker down in my studio and pump out massive amounts of baby dresses, repurposed scarf tee shirts, and maternity dresses. I one point, when I came up for air, I realized that I had made about 20 dresses in a 36 hour period. It was nutz.

Before I go any further, I need to make the hugest shoutout to my lovely assistant, beautiful bestie, and faithful friend, Jessica. I literally would not have gotten through opening day without her. From waking up before the sun, helping me haul my gear in and out of the market, encouraging me, consulting on dress design as well as booth layout, and overall being a super positive and wonderful person to be around, she really made the day fly by!

I am so incredibly grateful to be a part of this wonderful new outdoor market, and to have the opportunity to grow with it. It feels wonderful to have a space on this planet, even for one day a week, that's all my own. I need to extend a huge thank you to my brilliant husband for putting up with me when I was super stressed out and/or totally manic while I was preparing for the big day. I also want to thank not only my family, but also my parents, for telling me time after time that I could be whatever I wanted to be -- even if it were a flea market baby clothing designer!

 Another day, another dollar! Here's to many more!

Jacket: Max and Cleo, old. Similar.
Sunglasses: Kate Spade Saturday, Similar

Thanks to Hughie Stone Fish for taking these amazing shots!

Comfort Foods: Chili, Cornbread, Mac n Cheese, Cookie

Thursday, March 6, 2014

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 package pork Italian sausage

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped onion

Small can tomato sauce
1 jalapeƱo
1 cup water
1/2 cup beer
3 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon instant beef bouillon (or 3 cubes)
1 Tablespoon cumin, ground
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
2-3 teaspoons Cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
Hot sauce to taste

1 teaspoon cornmeal
1 teaspoon flour
1 teaspoon warm water

1. In a large saucepan brown the beef and the pork. Drain the fat reserving about 1 tablespoon in the pan.
2. Cook the onions and garlic in the fat until tender.
3. Add the cooked meat back to the pan. Stir to combine.
4. Add the tomato sauce, water, beer, chili powder, bouillon, cumin, paprika, sugar, cocoa, cayenne pepper, and hot sauce. Mix well.
5. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for an hour.
6. In a small bowl, make a roux by combining the cornmeal and flour, and adding the warm water. Stir into chili and cook, covered, for an additional 20 minutes.
7. Spoon into bowls and top with shredded cheese and avocado.

2 cups medium shell pasta
2 1/4 milk
1 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
butter to grease pan

1. Put pasta and milk in a medium sized sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir often for about 20 minutes until milk is absorbed and pasta is soft.
2. Add cheese to pan and stir to combine.
3. Transfer to a well-buttered mini cast iron skillet and top with Italian bread crumbs. Bake for 15 minutes.

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup honey

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease your cornbread mold and place inside oven to preheat.
2. In large mixing bowl, beat together whole milk, eggs, butter and honey, until light and creamy.
3. Add cornmeal, flour, salt,sugar, and baking powder. Mix until smooth.
5. Scoop mixture into mold and fill about 3/4 full.
6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

1/2 cup butter
1/2  cups granulated sugar
1/2  cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat.
2. Stir in sugars and vanilla and remove from heat.
3. Once pan is no longer very hot, add the egg to the butter and sugar mixture. Whisk it into the mixture. 
4. Add flour, baking soda, and salt, to the mixture. Stir until well-mixed. Finally, add chocolate chunks. 
5.Place in the oven for 15-25 minutes, or until starting to turn golden on the top and around the edges, but still soft in the center.

A Cut Above

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

When: Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Where: Home Studio, hair salon

There's nothing like a fresh haircut! It's been over a year since I've had a proper trim, and I was ready to bid adeiu to my tresses, but luckily, Amanda at Dej Salon told me I was in good enough shape to keep the length. Thank GOD!

There's also nothing like a new to you dress that you find in the back of your sister's closet while visiting home.

Things have been super busy for me lately. I'm not complaining, because busy is usually good, but I haven't had much time to blog over the past few days. I'm preparing for opening day at the new location of the Melrose Trading Post. They're opening a Valley location close to where I live and I could not be more excited to be selected to sell my line there! 

I am hoping to debut a bunch of new styles at the market at Taft Charter High School in about a week, but in true Annika style, my sewing machine broke down and put me a few days behind schedule. Cross you fingers (or just send me loads of coffee) that I finish before March 15th! If you're in the LA area, please do come visit me. I'll have maternity wear, women's fashions, children's clothing, baby stuff, and my new favorite handmade product: Cutsey Boots!

Dress: J Crew
Sweater: Alice and Olivia 
Shoes: Deena and Ozzy via Urban Outfitters
Necklace: Gift from my boss, Trinkets and Treasures

Check out the other bloggers for this week's Trend Spin Link Up here!
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