If you own a store or boutique, the right setting and decoration is essential for establishing your brand. Setting up your store to be easy to browse is just as important as creating a unique visual experience for your customers. The decorating items and furniture you bring in plays an important factor in making your store memorable to the consumer and attracting them back into the store. Often times, if you have a really tasteful, unique setup, your customers will feel tempted to bring friends and family with them on their next visit which means building more clientele for you!
If you have a great eye for curating products but are struggling a bit in the interior design department, we've put together a comprehensive list of basic ideas that will get you on your way to creating the perfect (and most individual) setting for your store or boutique.
1. Use Unique Lighting Fixtures and Installations:
This is a huge part of what will give your store it's ambiance. You will first want to decide the lighting mood that fits best with your store: does it feature dimmer lighting or is it a bright open space? It all has to do with the kind of products you're selling and what fits best with your brand. Once that's decided, it's time to shop around for unique lighting fixtures or installation. Many stores make this the focal point of their space, which means it really has to stand out. Find the perfect spot in your store where it will stand out as the customer enters the store. Choose somewhere central if its a single large chandelier, and above the register or display racks if you're opting out for multiple fixtures. At the end of the day, you decide what works best for your space- it should make a statement without becoming overwhelming.
2. Find a Unique Way To Display Your Products.
At the end of the day, the focal point of your store is the products you carry and you should pay special attention to how they fit into your space. Think of your products as the most important objects in your store- they need to be enhanced by your decor but not overwhelmed by it. Your furniture and decorations should be in the foreground and there just to set the right mood- the eye should go straight to the merchandise. That being said, they should be displayed in a clever way. You could go in two directions here: Stay clean and minimalist or do something completely unexpected and imaginative. There's some really interesting racks and shelving you could find on the market, but also don't shy away from building something yourself.
3. Use The Walls As Your Canvas
Don't neglect the walls in your store. They make a great canvas for adding something unique especially when you are limited on space and can't use any large installations or furniture. If your store is a little tight, you can use the walls to create an illusion of space while simultaneously adding character to your decor. Even if you own a larger space, having empty walls can sometimes create a cold and void atmosphere. Interestingly, painting the walls or adding unique patterns softens up the setting making it feel more comfortable and homey. The trick however is not to go overboard. You should be doing this as a last step after you've already added your furniture and light fixtures- look around the store and see what area feel a little empty. You can then use the wall in the immediate area to add something that will go well with the rest of your decor. If you have a small separating wall in your store you should make it pop with some interesting prints or paint it a completely different color.
4. Make it feel like home:
Your store or boutique should be inviting and make your customers want to stay longer. When the ambiance in your store feels relaxing and refreshing, people will want to come back just to experience that feeling again. Of course, this atmosphere is created by a combination of factors like music, smell, colors etc but you can always step it up a notch by bringing in some furniture and elements that will remind your customers of home. For example, if you own a clothing or accessories store, a beautiful wall installation that resembles a dresser with multiple mirrors can remind your customers of their own bedroom where they feel comfortable to try things on and play with different styles. It is also highly recommended that you bring in a unique seating arrangement- maybe there is a beautiful love seat or a printed chair that fits in perfectly with the theme of your store, or perhaps you saw some beautiful large ottomans that will make a corner of your store feel like home. Whichever one it is, a small (not too big) seating area that is incorporated beautifully with the rest of the decor will feel inviting and remind everyone of home (including the employees).
5. Use The Merchandise As Part Of The Decoration.
Give customers the allusion of what the product will look like once they take it home. Incorporating your products with the furniture and set up of your store creates a deeper connection between consumer and product. It allows your customers to visually imagine that product in their own home and how they could potentially use it. This of course is most commonly used in furniture and home decor stores but there's no reason why you shouldn't be using the same idea whether you have a clothing boutique or a gift shop. Display your accessories and jewelry on a dresser-like structure with a mirror, or fold t-shirts and sweaters on a shelf as someone would at home. Variety in how you display your products and the interaction between them will create a beautiful space that your customer can relate to. If you have a gift shop create a few small displays using some of your products: Perhaps you sell books and some kitchen wear- throw a few books on a small writing table with a beautiful tea cup next to them. This will create a story which will connect your customers to the products in a more personal way.
6. Don't Neglect The Register Area
So after a good amount of browsing through your beautifully decorated store, it is time to check out at the register- This is your opportunity to leave a lasting impression. As well as a friendly staff, you should invest in a custom register counter that fits in with your store's theme. You don't need to go overboard, but you definitely want it to incorporate nicely. The register should be extremely easy to find and have enough space around it to give your customers the ability to build a comfortable (and not confusing) line should they need to. The way to make the register space more inviting is either by having a beautiful light fixture hovering over or displaying an interesting statement piece on the wall right behind. Whichever option you pick remember to always keep the area inviting, open and visually pleasing.
Looking for more unique finds? Check out the 11:11 Convertible Jacket- a jacket that transforms into a bag.
Wouldn't it be awesome if you didn't have to worry about bringing a jacket or a cardigan when you go out somewhere because your purse can warm you up? It sounds like a crazy idea but we are entering an era when products are no longer serving just one purpose. People want to get the most use out of what they buy and kudos to them- You should always invest in something timeless that serves more than just one purpose. In the fashion industry specifically, innovations are now introduced every season that merge our lives with technology, offer us new fabrics that are easy to pack and carry, garments that are completely waterproof, and gadgets that are easily integrated with our daily wear. Convertible clothing is still a new idea, but as we explore our busy lifestyles there is a real need for it. We've considered the 11:11 Convertible Jacket and an exploration into it's multi-purpose use as a convertible garment. Is a convertible garment something we need or simply something we want? Currently, convertible clothing is something we want as a fun, additional item in our closet. In the future however, it will be something we need in order to keep up with advancements in other industries like technology and science. There will be a true merge of industries where you, the consumer, will be the focal point.
So without further ado, we give you 5 situations when your 11:11 convertible jacket will make your life a little easier (and perhaps more fun!)
1. Wear it when you're out shopping:
It is no secret that women love shopping. Yes, even those that are not the biggest shoppers sometimes get an urge to replenish their wardrobe or home. Picture this: You planned a full day of shopping. You leave your house pretty early in the morning since you have to make some pit stops along the way. It is a little chilly in the morning so you grab a jacket. Your first hour or two goes great until the sun decides to make an appearance and kicks up the temperature about 15 degrees. You have your shopping bags, your purse and now you have to carry your jacket also (while sweating up a storm). You parked your car pretty far, or if you live in a big city, you took some form of public transportation there. So what do you do? Well, it's really not a big deal right? You just carry everything and get used to it- I mean women have been doing it for years. Because we are so accustomed to it, it seems like just a minor inconvenience. Here is a perfect moment when a convertible garment could step in and make our lives just a little bit more comfortable. The 11:11 convertible jacket can be transformed into a fully functional, durable and roomy bag so it gives you the convenience of carrying your shopping bags, purse and jacket on your shoulder. Problem (or should we say inconvenience?) solved.
2. Wear it when you go out to dinner, a movie or a party.
Ok, so you know when you're looking really cute: You have your favorite little dress on, cute shoes and you're not willing to ruin the look with a cardigan. You risk it and you go out on the town only to come out of dinner or the party feeling like summer turned into winter within a few hours and that cardigan you ignored earlier seems like a missed opportunity now. Here's another inconvenience right? We deal with it all the time, so we already know we should just run to the car as fast as we can and it will all be over soon. So we suffer and endure the circumstances because again, we're used to it. It is just another situation in our hectic lives where a little bit of comfort could go a long way. The 11:11 jacket would be a life-saver not only in those grueling moments of cold but also when you get to the car and have to wait even longer until the heat sets in. A convertible shoulder bag that looks and feels like a regular purse is easy to wear with something that is dressed up and you wont have the inconvenience of carrying a jacket on your arm as you're mingling and having a few drinks.
3. Bring it with your when you're traveling.
If you're traveling to a new place, the weather always catches you off guard even if you've looked it up multiple times before arrival. We never really adjust to a new place until we've spent a little time there, and when it comes to a different weather cycle, there is an especially long adjustment period. You're feeling warm one moment and cold the next but you have all these things planned: from sightseeing to shopping to taking in a show. Perhaps you're there for work, in which case, you'll have to run to that meeting or conference soon and you're already carrying too many things to bother with bringing layering pieces to take on and off through altering temperatures during the day. Well here it is- another inconvenience, and again, we're too used to it to bother us. Needless to say however- it is not what we would define as comfortable. With a convertible jacket to bag (like the 11:11 Jacket) you can make the switch really easy whether you're feeling hot or cold, being also able to carry some of your extra shopping that wont otherwise fit in your purse.
4. Wear it to work.
We always bring extra things with us when we go to work in the morning. We have our files and tablet in one hand and coffee in another while we're juggling our purse on one shoulder and maybe simultaneously picking up lunch, in which case, you'll need a third hand. On top of all the things we already do every morning, we deal with unpredictable weather forcing us to always bring a back-up jacket or cardigan with us (because we didn't already have enough to worry about...). Having something like a convertible jacket-to-bag would allow us to compress some of the things we already carry in the morning like files, tablet, notebooks, phone etc. into one by putting everything in this extra shoulder bag (when not used in jacket form). Again, efficiency is key. A convertible garment like the 11:11 Jacket can give you the extra hand you need every day in your busy morning routine.
5. Use it as an easier way to carry a jacket when not in use.
We've left the obvious for last. You might say, well how lazy have we become that we can't just throw our jacket over one arm when we're not using it? The truth is, the devil is in the details and in this case, the small inconvenience details. The problem is that we usually don't just carry only our jacket on our arm- many times we have other things we're dragging around with us (especially of you have children) and having an extra thing that drapes on your arm and constantly needs to be adjusted causes little annoyances (admit it, you've been there...). It's not just about the amount of "stuff" we have with us all the time, our daily activities are just as important. It's kind of difficult to use both your hands and arms if one of them is occupied by this voluminous fabric draping over it. Efficiency and comfort is key, and something like a convertible jacket to shoulder bag gives you that extra help during the small, but essential, moments in life when a little comfort could make a huge difference.
They say opposites attract and when it comes to opposite fabric combinations you might stop to think if it applies there too. We all love creatively styling our tops and bottoms and layering with tailored blazers and sweater cardigans, but what about a clothing item that is constructed of a fabric combination that does not mix - in theory. We personally don't believe in that rule... but there's probably no rules to follow in fashion anyways. We've seen interesting combinations of texture, drape and shine beautifully intermingling in one garment- the trick is to create a balancing act among all elements so that it stays interesting but does not compromise comfort or functionality.
In this instance, we are going to share with you why we think chiffon and sweater knit mix so well together. One of our best sellers for fall has been a simple yoke blouse that features this combination.
Perhaps it goes against natural instinct but when you combine a bulkier, textured sweater knit with something so delicate as a chiffon there is an interesting balancing act that takes place. Using our blouse as an example, the yoke portion at the top is the part that gives the garment the structure and wear it needs while the chiffon print at the bottom creates a softer edge and adds great flow to the blouse. The addition of sweater to chiffon creates versatility and allows for a more casual look. Vise versa, the chiffon dresses up the sweater giving it a little bit of sophistication. The combination of these two opposites creates a multifaceted look that allows you to wear it in a business as well as casual setting.
There is also a tactile and visual quality about these two textures intermingling- it invites you to get a closer feel while creating a look that is pleasing to the eye. There is something about the mix of complete visual opposites that allows our brain to create a strong symmetrical allusion.
If you own a clothing store or boutique, apparel and accessory trade shows are a must when it comes to finding the newest, most unique products. We suggest that you visit one (or a few) in your area and always travel to one (or a few) in another city if you can. This will give your store a more competitive assortment and help you generate more sales over time- customers love a store that offers something new consistently! If you won a small store, you are always competing to offer something that is unusual and innovative and the more trade shows and showrooms you visit the broader your choices become. We've done some research on your behalf and compiled a comprehensive list of womens apparel trade shows that you should be visiting on your next search for the perfect products and brands. Pick a few that are closest to you or that you can travel to. Try to visit both larger trade shows and smaller fashion fairs.
Side note: Always look to bring in a new designer or brands every season, it will add freshness and more excitement to your store:
Coterie: (New York, NY) Taking place at the massive Javits Center in NYC twice a year in September and February, Coterie is the place to go if you are looking for the newest and most contemporary in apparel. It is a great platform for both young brands as well as already established ones. It includes a combination of some of the most popular names in both women's apparel and accessories. Even though it is the largest apparel show in NYC it allows you an opportunity to network with all the designers and brands directly in a buyer-oriented atmosphere. It is a massive show so don't forget to bring your walking shoes!
TMRW: (New York, NY) This is a show that is held twice a year in NYC along with Coterie. It is a more private, intimate gathering of the newer contemporary brands. The event showcases designers of the future displaying the most innovative and high-quality styles. It is a more intimate setting, allowing the buyer to really network and connect with each designer individually.
Fame NY: (New York, NY) It takes place three times a year also at the Javits Center in NYC and it is geared towards junior-contemporary wear at great margins. This is a perfect show if you are seeking young apparel at higher re-stock rates. It is more of a fast fashion market where brands like Steve Maden, Glam and Lumiere flourish. Footwear is also a big component of the show. The set-up including booth decorations and music creates a fun, high energy atmosphere perfectly emulating the junior marketplace.
EDIT: It takes place at the Javits Center in NYC and as the name hints, it is a carefully edited and curated group of emerging and already established brands. It caters to more luxury and advanced contemporary brands and it offers higher level amenities and a sophisticated atmosphere. Quality and uniqueness should be top-notch so if your customer seeks quality at a higher price-point this is the show to attend. However, keep in mind that attendance has to be approved and often times they are by invitation only. Department stores and vetted specialty stores are specifically targeted to attend and presented with high quality look books and materials as well as personal phone calls from the Edit development team.
Intermezzo: (New York, NY) Held three times a year in May, January and August at the Javits center concurrently with the Accessories Circuit show. It is a great combination of contemporary, bridge, casual, denim and active wear women's markets along with easy access to a variety of accessory brands. It is a great show to attend if you have a more eclectic boutique where you offer a wide range of apparel products along with accessories- definitely a time saver.
Designers and Agents: (NY, LA) This independent trade fair is over 15 years old and it is held both in New York as well as Los Angeles at the New Mart Building in the Fashion District. It is focused on bridging the gap between retailers and designers and bringing them closer together. It has a more intimate setting where the buyer can better connect with the brand. This show gives a sense of discovery by bringing in emerging brands and newer, more innovative apparel products. It features designers from both the US and internationally, such as Europe and Japan. If you're looking to really sit down and have a conversation with the brands you're bringing in, this is a great show to attend.
Capsule: (New York, NY) This show takes place twice a year and is a great place to meet independent designers with a more progressive style. It focuses on a more high-end customer base and offers a great selection of unique apparel. It is a well edited combination of international as well as US based designers at a higher price-point for the most part. You can find some forward-thinking treasures at this show, and explore independent designers with great innovative ideas. It has a relaxed atmosphere that is very buyer-friendly and business forward. It also features some unique accessories and footwear.
Moda Manhattan: (New York, NY) A trade show that takes place three times a year and features contemporary apparel at a medium price-range. It features brands that cater to the woman anywhere from early 30's to more mature. It offers lots of great resort brands which makes it a must to visit if your store carries a selection of resort wear. It also incorporates a great selection of casual and cocktail dresses at reasonable price points from brands like Sangria and Dona Morgan. Although the show features some new designers, it is more suitable for restocking your updated classics and finding some great pieces from more established designers at a good price point.
Apparel Sourcing USA: Taking place twice a year in NYC at the Javits Center this trade show gives you the opportunity to buy directly from manufactures and suppliers around the globe. This is a show that brings both designers and retailers together in their own search for products and materials. It is also a great informative event where you can attend seminars and meet various organizations in the industry on an international scale. In addition to finished apparel (which you'll be in the search for) this trade event also offers resources for contract manufacturing and independent label development for designers, so you'll see brands also attending along side retailers. If you are looking for higher bulk orders and a great price point this is a good show to attend.
CURVEEXPO: A show that takes place in New York and Las Vegas as well as internationally in Paris, Moscow, Cannes and Shanghai that houses great lingerie and swim brands. It also features a great selection of accessories. The show is your destination for great luxury and casual intimate apparel as well as some of the best swimwear brands. It features both established designers like Donna Karen Sleepwear and Betsy Johnson Intimate and new comers both local and international. This is a perfect show to attend if you are looking to stock on sleepwear and swimwear and are traveling to New York for market week.
Axis Women's Lifestyle: It takes place in New York and Los Angeles alongside the Capsule show and it is an innovative, forward-thinking combination of brands offering contemporary active wear, swimwear, intimates, wearable electronics, and athletic lounge products. It also includes a combination of accessories and some beauty products. This is a good show to attend if you own a fashion lifestyle boutique or a gift shop focused on women's apparel and products. It allows you to get a large amount of your shopping done in one place and/or find some unique extras for your store.
Agenda: A large show that takes place in three different cities (Long Beach, Miami and Las Vegas) and it features street wear, active wear, action sports products and a variety of sporty unisex accessories and lifestyle products. If your shop caters to both women and men and it has a more sporty, hip hop edge this is definitely a show you should visit. The trade show also offers events and resources including a brand building conference, and a chance to meet manufacturers and individuals in the logistics, innovation and technology fields. This is also a show where footwear and skate brands flourish.
MAGIC: This is probably the biggest trade event taking place in Las Vegas twice a year in February and August. Although this event is divided in over 15 different portions including kid's wear, junior's, men's, footwear and accessories, the women's apparel event is the one we'll discuss a little further. This show offers great price points and includes lots of women's products and apparel from many established brands. It features contemporary and junior wear in a variety of styles and vibrant colors. This is a great show to visit if you are located on the west coast, or have multiple locations as you'll be able to order larger quantities from well-known brands. That being said, you might also come across younger brands that will surely fit nicely with your selection.
Dallas Apparel and Accessories Market: Taking place at the Dallas Markets Center, this trade show features women's contemporary and bridge apparel and accessories. If you are located in the area, you should attend this show for better quality, more luxury-oriented women's products. This is a show where you'll be able to collaborate with newer brands that offers a selection of unique styles and accessories. That being said, a large number of established brands and showrooms are also present at the show.
JF & A Chicago: Organized by TransWorld, this trade show features price-conscious jewelry, accessories and fashion all in one event. If you're in the Midwest area you should check it out! It offers great deals and the shows are organized very often, so it gives you an opportunity to restock on little items in your store. They have a great selection of affordable jewelry, scarves and other fun accessories.
Stylemax: It takes place four times a year at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago and offers a selection of both apparel and accessories. The show was recently updated with a new floor plan and includes more lifestyle brands and gifts. If Chicago is an easy place for you to visit, we recommend this show for finding the newest products from great brands in the bridge, contemporary and better markets. If you're looking for freshness and quality in the area, Stylemax is a great show to attend. They also offer great amenities for the visiting buyers including complimentary coffee and lunch as well as hotel discounts for those who are traveling.
Looking for more unique products? Check out the 11:11 Jacket-a jacket that transforms into a bag!
Good Morning and Happy Monday!
If you got off on the wrong foot this Monday or maybe you're just having a rough day, here are 6 of our most favorite motivational quotes from some of the world's greatest to get your week started right!
"Don't look at your feet to see if you're doing it right. Just dance." ―Anne Lamott
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"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom" ―Anais Nin
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“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.”― Amelia Earhart
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"Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning" ―Gloria Steinem
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“Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.” ―J.K. Rowling
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“As the sun knows; even the sky is not the limit...”― Rasheed Ogunlaru
Looking for more unique stuff? Check out our 11:11 Jacket, the magical jacket that transforms into a bag!
So you own a charming small store in a charming location. You have a website, a Facebook, Twitter page and an Instagram, you have your regular customers that bring in a steady flow of sales each month, you attend local events and do trunk shows, and still you can't get a reasonable amount of new customers through that door. If only they did, they would never want to leave...
It sounds like you're doing everything right by basic marketing standards: You have a social media presence, you get involved in the community, and you already have a following. Unfortunately, that is not enough. In this day and age people get bombarded with new ideas and products, new eCommerce websites (that are directly competing with your store) and a variety of attention-grabbing ad campaigns on social media and television. You have to stand out. The trick however is not to stand out the way every other business is doing it. If you use a little bit of psychology, some innovation and lots of patience you can consistently bring in new customers and see steady increases in your sales and overall business- You'll just have to get a little creative. It's time to focus specifically on your local customer base and what exactly their needs are, how can you pique their interest and get them to check out your beautiful store or boutique, and how do you get them to come back?
Here are 5 unusual ideas that might be of help:
1. First and foremost if you don't already have a customer database, start one. It will pay off over time. The best thing to do is ask customers who are checking out at the register if they would like to be on your customer list and make sure you get their correct email address. Don't be too pushy of course but you can mention that you often offer coupons by email- your regulars will love getting deals from your store and will want to come back and use their discounts. However, don't stop there, the idea is to get a little creative right? When you offer discounts by email, send one coupon for your costumer and offer a second one if they bring friend/family member in. Of course you can set the guidelines and time frame for using the discounts but keep them easy to use and not confusing.
2. Find an innovative, attention-grabbing, perhaps "crazy" product and use it to pique customer interest and get them through the door. I've seen this strategy work over and over again. People's nature is to explore and discover new things- we get bored easily and like to be intrigued. This is where you come in. Do some research on unique product listing websites and find something a little wacky that could fit with your store's mood- Think attention grabbing. Once you get your new inventory in, post it on all your social media, send an email to your customers (remember that customer list we were talking about?) and when your regular customers come in show it to them and be excited about it! They will likely remember it and tell their friends and family about the cool stuff you carry prompting them to want to check it out for themselves.
Check out this unique jacket that transforms into a bag, called the 11:11 Jacket
3 Do some research and find a product that is trending right now but that no one carries in your area (even if it doesn't completely fit with your product theme). It will get people calling and inquiring. This idea is basically the opposite of the one mentioned above-It is one that helps you relate to those potential consumers that love trendy products. Perhaps it is a new kid's toy all the parents are trying to get their hands on, or maybe a new accessory that everyone wants- whichever one it is, get it in your store and attract some fresh faces. Keep in mind that this will be a temporary influx of new people until the next cool thing comes along, but the good news is that a percentage of customers that will discover your store during that period will probably stick around and become regulars.
4 Build a project with another business in your area. This idea will be a lot more time and energy consuming but it's worth it. Perhaps there is a cause you care about or you want to organize an event, the idea is to get in touch with another business in your area and come up with something that will have a positive outcome for both. You want to make yourself visible to their customer base and your customers will familiarize themselves with another local business (mutually beneficial!). However, don't do this with your competitor. Remember, you don't want to loose some of your customers, you want to attract new ones. This step will require some persistence and energy on your part. First you'll have to do some research and start making some phone calls. To make your new collaboration more meaningful, see if you can work with a local organization that stands for something you're passionate about. A great example is your local ASPCA- you can organize a project that helps them put more pets up for adoption and promotes a great image for your store. It will give you meaning, and who wouldn't want to work with pups and kittens??
This shelter took dogs out for Pupuccinos to help them find new homes! (helps both shelter AND Starbucks)
5. See if you can organize pop-up shops at big events in your area (especially if you live close to a big city). This is another idea that will require a little bit of extra time and investment on your part. If there are any big events coming up, perhaps a play, opera or a festival near you, call the organizers and see if they will allow you to host a pop up shop during the event. Not all events will allow you to do this, but many will be glad to work with you. Keep in mind, this is an opportunity to display your store in front of new customers, so make sure you preserve your image and present yourself well. The idea is to bring a variety of products but don't over-clutter. Keep your price-points low-medium: customers that meeting you for the first time will not always buy the most expensive, you'll have to give them a taste of your products at a reasonable cost first. Always have brochures and business cards ready to hand out.
Be patient! Attracting new business is a long term, consistent effort- commit to it but don't forget to have fun and be creative!
A journey into our design process, sewing tutorials, fashion tips, and all the inspiring people and things we love.
Today, allow yourself a few moments to explore and feel inspired because everyday is an opportunity to learn something new. Never stop searching for what makes you truly happy.