Brainstorming: The Design Idea
This week marks the beginning of a new project... something I’ve been mulling over for a while now and finally found the right fabric (and the time!) to bring to life. Unlike the functional oriented work I usually focus on, this project involves a dressier design. I’ve always been a fan of two piece cocktail/evening dresses but never actually made one for myself, partly because I never came across the right fabric with the appropriate structure and color scheme for the very specific design I had in mind. That being said, I may be a little out of practice but let’s see how the process unfolds. Recently, the perfect material fell into my lap as I was browsing the fabric store for something completely unrelated. In a number of tutorials to follow, I’ll be going back to basics and retracing my steps from the beginning of a design idea to the eclectic construction process in between. Hopefully, you can find some inspiration in the process, or maybe just entertain yourself on the journey as I’ll take a fashion design concept from paper to finished product.
First thing’s first, the design process for me usually starts one of two ways. I get an idea (or a partial idea) in my head which is then followed by a search for the right fabrics and trims. Vice versa, I may be inspired by a unique fabric, texture, color combination or simple trim first before jumping into the design process. Regardless of which it is, my mind then goes on an analytical roller coaster of working out all the details, from fit to sewing patterns to how the garment will function and all the little details in between.
In this instance, I fell in love with the fabric first, including both the print and its medium weight, structured quality. I’ve always loved those 50’s inspired silhouettes and thought this particular fabric was perfect for a vintage inspired look with a modern twist. Relying on the fabric’s unique drape, a high waist skirt with deep box pleats would hold its fullness and structure, creating the perfect look for a two piece cocktail dress.
WAAM Industries: An Industrial Brand Making An Impact On The Simple (Yet Important) Aspects Of Our Daily Life.
I am so passionate about brands that aim to make a positive impact on the world, whether through conscious use of materials or multi-functional products that are designed to solve a problem. WAAM Industries (We Are Always On The Move Industries) is a brand that fits this category to a T. This husband and wife team is passionate about each product they design and lovingly bring to life from the ground up. Years ago, Andrew and Hanna Vomhof merged their creativity into the conception of an industrial product brand representative of their lifestyle and belief system.
Hanna and Andrew Vomhof of WAAM Industries
Inspired by everything from vintage finds at flea markets and garage sales, each WAAM Industries product is carefully crafted to stand the test of time. The brand sources each material individually to create high quality, natural products featuring a clean, linear design aesthetic. Everything is designed and manufactured in their Twin Cities, Minnesota work space or at home, where each design receives the attention it deserves. As you browse the brand's featured work below, you'll find that, as stated by the designers themselves, "many of the products at WAAM are based on simple utilitarian objects that play an important role in everyday life but are often over looked." From reusable wooden milk crates and pet bowls to the famous waxed canvas shopping tote and lunch bag, the brand has never deterred from its mission and design aesthetic.
This season I've been on a crusade to create a staple beach accessory that could potentially last a lifetime. As you browse through this website, you'll find that fashion products are a great passion of mine, lovingly inspired by some of my own needs and necessities. I started thinking about the summer season back in February, after all the major holidays are over and you're sort of stuck in limbo, waiting for the weather to warm up. It is during this "vulnerable" time that I often think about that perfect beach vacation.
I am lucky enough to be able to take one week-long beach trip a year. When the time finally comes, I scramble a bit to find a few good bathing suits, and over the years, I've learned that at least one good cover up is a must for every beach trip. They are super easy to pack, convenient and effortless when moving between the beach, the hotel, the pool, the boardwalk and so forth- Lots of places to be when you're at the beach, right?
Last summer however, I found myself wearing a sarong more than a cover up. I'm not sure if I was trying to maximize my tan or I just fell in love with the feminine fit and drape of a sarong without foregoing coverage. A classic sarong silhouette accentuates and flatters the waistline, while also feeling great around the hips and legs as it blows in the beach wind.
As I was testing and designing the microfiber beach towel for this upcoming season, it got me thinking about my own beach habits and what I feel most comfortable wearing and carrying to the beach. I instantly reverted back to this love I've developed for sarongs. Nonetheless, I am not ready to forgo a classic cover up either. So I thought why not have the cake and eat it too by creating an interchangeable, 2-in-1 cover up and sarong that can easily transition from one style to the other at the hand of one simple step. I love to pack light and use products that are durable, functional and serve more than one purpose. Since a beach trip is an occasion where packing smart is a must, the Sarong-to-Cover Up has now become my personal must-have.
I have always wanted to develop a product that had a bit of science to it. Out of my own need (and perhaps love) for easy-care, portable and convenient items, it came to me: A highly absorbent beach towel that is soft, lightweight and conveniently compact. Not that I'm a jet setter that takes multiple beach vacations a year (wouldn't that be nice...) but when I do finally take that week long beach trip, I love to pack light with functional, versatile items that don't weigh me down.
I have to say, a conventional beach towel has never done it for me. I usually dread packing it because it is bulky, heavy and takes up too much unnecessary space. When I take it down to the beach, it doesn't fit in just any beach tote or bag. The beach bag has to be large enough to accommodate the towel's volume and weight- It's either a large beach bag or I'm forced to wobble around with a bulky, wet beach towel in one hand and a bunch of other beach-related things in the other. As conventional terry fabric (used for traditional beach towels) absorbs more water, it becomes heavier and less absorbent, adding to its weight. On a hot summer day, this scenario is less than ideal.
I have to admit, the search for the perfect beach towel material took some trials and tribulations. Weight, softness and absorbency were key, and it took a few failed tries to finally hit the nail on the head and find the perfect balance between these three elements. The testing went on for months until I finally came across a specialized, double sided terry microfiber. One that has been engineered specifically for absorbency both in fiber content and weave construction, with the added bonus of lightness, softness and high draping capabilities. Once the fabric was discovered, the rest of the design elements, such as those special corner tassels I'll tell you more about later, came together effortlessly.
Portable. Compact. Lightweight.
These three elements are key to the ultimate functionality of the microfiber beach towel. After all, the quest started with these desired aspects in mind, and this particular double terry microfiber allows for their perfect merging. It features a specialty weave constructed with filaments that are 3 times finer than silk. And what is silk known for? Softness, drape and a luxurious feel on the skin.
The unique construction of these filaments incorporates their softness and drape into a thin double layer of terry microfiber. Pair this quality with a specialized weaving process, and you've got yourself a light, compact beach towel for everyday use. Perhaps what I love most about this particular textile is that despite its very lightweight characteristic, it feels sturdy and stable on beach sand or a pool chair. Conveniently, the towel folds into thin layers that are light and highly portable, fitting into just about any beach bag.
"Less is more" says Ha Le of Less Is More Jewelry. She has built a successful jewelry brand around the idea that jewelry should complement a women's natural beauty rather than overwhelm it. Ha was introduced to jewelry making and design back in college when she took a jewelry class. Naturally, given her passion for art (especially drawing and painting) she was fascinated by the idea of designing and building something 3-dimensional. Since then, she has developed a jewelry brand that stays true to a gentle and luxurious style perfectly congruent to the brand's name- Less Is More. Ha believes in improving one's self every single day and uses her brand as a platform to positively impact the world.
Behind the beautifully feminine jewelry, there is a heartwarming charitable cause- one that has been with Ha since she was attending middle school in Vietnam. Smile Restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam provides meals to disadvantaged, low-income Vietnamese workers and families that are in need of quality food and meal sustainability. Every Less Is More piece of jewelry sold provides a meal for someone in need regardless of their job, appearance or disability. Less Is More Jewelry also donates a portion of all sales towards the restaurant's survival and operation contributing to cooking ingredients, rent and gas/water bills. The brand's volunteers donate their precious time to the sustainability and daily operation of the restaurant, cooking meals in the tropical Vietnam heat and taking pride in the smiles each meal brings.
Photo courtesy of Less Is More Jewelry
In her quest for development, Ha doesn't stop at jewelry. She incorporates everything she loves into her business and a love for nature is one of her greatest passions. She created Succulents Box which has since become a successful part of her brand, offering a variety of unique succulent species and a blog featuring succulent information and care tips. Ha's love for succulents comes as no surprise. They symbolize harmony and endurance, thriving in poor soil and low-water conditions thus serving as a perfect addition to a brand featuring such a kind, compassionate message.
Perhaps what will be most notable in the interview with Ha Le below is her humble and hardworking spirit. She allows us a look into her design process and provides some words of wisdom and inspiration for all creative souls that dream of one day building a brand out of what they love.
Photo courtesy of Less Is More Jewelry
When did you start designing and making jewelry and how did you discover your love for this craft?
I first learned jewelry making skills back in college in a Jewelry class. I was a painter and drawer, so that jewelry class was my first ever experience creating something three dimensional. It was definitely more challenging as I had to think and execute more carefully so that my creations could be enjoyed from all different angles. Making jewelry has become my passion since then.
The Story Of Kara Whitten, Owner And Creative Director Of Kailo Chic- A Vibrant Lifestyle Brand That Brightens The World With Color.
Color is at the forefront of Kailo Chic, a lifestyle and accessories brand that offers vibrant accessories, home goods, decor and beyond. Kailo Chic products brighten any space they are incorporated into, adding a touch of effortless happiness and whimsy. Founded by Kara Whitten in 2005, Kailo Chic developed form a simple, on-the-whim purchase at the fabric store into a full time, nationwide business. Aside from colorful products ranging from accessories to one-of-a-kind vases and wrapping paper, Kara added A Kailo Chic Life blog to the business, featuring unique DYI ideas and crafts that remain true to the brand.
Kara Whitten of Kailo Chic
Kara finds everything around her inspiring and it certainly shows in her vibrant work. Behind the beautifully colorful design, there is a uniquely inspiring story. In 2005, she found herself freshly out of college with a chemical engineering degree, a new job, and the task of planning a wedding. Within the first week at her new job, she says she simply freaked out and quit. Somehow, her truly creative and vibrant personality (which shows in every single piece she designs/makes) just couldn't be confined by a having a boss or working a 9-to-5 in a lab for the rest of her life.
The brand was born the day she went to the fabric store in search of her wedding dress fabric. While browsing the store, she found a pattern for a unique handbag. She bought some fabric with the little money she had left, went home and made the handbag that same day. This was the very first project that marked the conception of Kailo Chic. Things just naturally snowballed from there- She followed her own process, learned from every experience, and gave the brand the opportunity to grow organically on its own.
Photo courtesy of Kailo Chic
In the interview to follow, Kara shares her unique story, incredible love for color, and creative process. Find out what's in store for Kailo Chic next and how she got a successful business off the ground while working a full time job. Her encouraging words are a must-read for those that dream of breaking out a 9-to-5 lifestyle and channel their individual creativity.
A journey into our design process, sewing tutorials, fashion tips, and all the inspiring people and things we love.
Designer by trade and dressmaker at heart. I spend most of my days obsessing over new fabrics and daydreaming new ideas.
Executive Assistant &
Client Relations Manager