Insight and Outsight

Have you received good news and bad news at the same time? Or something amazing happens then the opposite happens at the exact moment? “Wtf” is what comes to most peoples minds, and this is what happened to me a month ago.  I lost Spoonflower’s Small Business Grant competition (12 selected) but was able to attend at talk from world renown fashion icon and designer Detroit, born Anna Sui.

The irony right? A digital fabric printing, one-off company that started off struggling like myself, declined my application, while hours later I attended a full house, face to face talk with one of the “Top 5 Fashion Icons of the Decade”, and Lifetime Achievement Award winner.(Wiki) My emotions went from frustration to an I-can-really-do-this-ish!!

SpoonWith Spoonflower, I was initially upset, but laughed reading their email because the company accidentally emailed (CC) over 150+ people exposing all of our email addresses. (Which is bad, because compromised emails means cpu viruses could spread). However I was grateful they were able to send feedback on why I didn’t win, so partial kiddos to them.

At the Anna Sui talk, I was elated with design joy! I learned how she started her passion at 4 yrs old, reading a fashion magazine, to her first celebrity wearing her dress – Madonna. I was a sponge and took videos, photos, notes and even shook her hand and gave her a business card. A once in a life time feeling and experience.ANNA

From the bad and good news that day, I learned quite a bit and am grateful that I can apply it to my design career in years to come.




Losing the Small Business Spoonflower Grant
1. Learn about grant writing. This honestly was my first grant letter/application, and I’m not the best writer. After winning, I checked out a book on grant writing called Grant Writing For Dummies by Beverly A. Browning. It all made sense after reading that lol. Spoonflower needed a “clear understanding of how winning, they would support my business financially.”

2. Don’t be petty. I said a few naughty words to Spoonflower while reading my letter from them. Partially because they made a huge mistake with the emails exposure, so I was like “Hey! You make mistakes too you (beep)” or in other word the company is no better than me and also mentioned their humble beginnings, (declined loans, needed start-up money, etc). But it didn’t matter, I will need their service later, so lets not “burn the bridge”.

3. Have a solid brand. I have online presence, but I was right in the middle of rebranding and updating my site. In other words they were confused on who my audience was, what my products were and “specifically how Spoonflower was an integral part of my small business.”  And I might add you need starkly different unique products as you can see from the winners here.


Attending the Anna Sui Talk
1. Stay Inspired. Anna talked about the many inspiration boards she has, (some grouped  only by color and story). She also mentions sometimes starting collections with just shoes. She puts up images of paintings, movies, and even drawings.
I just started a mood board for a collection I’ve started  and putting anything on including plants (which is crumbling) is so great to do. (Stay tuned for that post)

2. Find your own way. As I mentioned she was 4, when she decided to be a fashion designer and she did everything she could to make it come true. It was incredible learning about how she did just that and even moved to New York, to go to Parsons School of Design. For me ,it’s designing everyday and never stop learning the craft – especially if your passionate about it.

3. Make money via licensing.  Anna Sui, has multiple streams of income. This is nothing new to artists, but if your wanting to keep a steady flow of income, licensing in different areas in the field is beneficial. Anna had perfume, makeup, kids clothing and more… I have… none. BUT I’m learning how!

I hope you found good ideas from my experience, it definitely was a bitter sweet day.  But it’s wonderful to learn from good experiences and bad ones  – the bad ones are just hidden good lessons.



Creativity + Costume Star Power

With Halloween upon us I’d like to share my recent experience from Star Wars™ and the Power of Costume exhibition at the DIA (5/18-9/18.) Seeing actual props, costumes, and drawings from the movie was beyond amazing!

Entrance to exhibition in Detroit Institute of Arts.

Entrance to exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Already in it’s glory and with an highly anticipated crowd, I looked a little further than making sure I took a selfie with R2-D2, or C-3PO.

The part that struck me beyond seeing Darth Vader’s glowing lightsaber, Padmé’s plethora of dreamy outfits, and Han Solo’s pants, was where it all started – the drawing room.
At this point, I stopped and remembered a few things: First creativity/design ideas comes from the simplest things, like a quick pencil drawing, that ratty drawing on napkin or even walking. I have to remind myself this often, since being a SAHM (stay at home mom) is hard and it sometimes kills the design mojo. But the good news is that exhibitions like this ignites my passion of design. stuido 1

In this drawing room “studio” setting, it seems so simple and very nostalgic. Plus featuring the Apple cpu lol – I remember when that came out. This by far had my interest more than Yoda. Isn’t that crazy?
It’s amazing what can be done with so little. You can always count on a trusty pencil and paper to go wild and free with ideas.


Alex Tavoularis, Opening Frame Storyboard
Around 1975, Graphite pencil on paper



The instal sketch (left) for Star Wars opening almost brought me to tears – I’m being literal. I bet the artist never knew it would be THIS big of an iconic household name.
Look at the basic fundamentals of design come into play here – perspective drawing.The sketches of the clothings and figures, are very enjoyable to view too, especially when you can closely see erased lines. But the level of detail screams dedication or perhaps the art director telling the artist to keep going – both I’ve experience professionally lol. [Side bar: I didn’t know real person was inside R2-D2]




Ralph McQuarrie, R2-D2 Concept Art 1975. Red and Graphite pencil on tracing paper

Which brings me to my second thought – details, details, details.  quote-RecoveredThese costumes were the crème de la crème, with extreme detailed and intricate embellishments sewn from sketches. I have to remember to plant many new design seeds over and over that will product more, unique and detailed work. I loved the quote from Costume Designer, Nilo Rodis-Jamero seeing at the exhibition. “The more sketches seen, the quicker we got to where we all wanted to go”.

So here’s to a wonderful exhibition, with an interactive lightsaber display, excellent Chewie and Han wall background and the meditative boxed Yoda with an outstanding production variety. Please enjoy other photos,  but more importantly… May the creativity be with you!

All images, drawings, and costumes belong to Star Wars™

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Sweaty Palms of This Awkward Mom

It’s been too long. Too long since I’ve woken up and got dressed in a business-friendly attire. Too long since I’ve put decent makeup on and the FIRST time I’ve ever worn fire engine red lipstick… This is how the day started for me who jumped at an opportunity to attend, “Mompreneurs: Growing Business & Raising Families”, an initiative by Detroit Startup Week.


Trying to look professional.

The truth is, my mom (an amazing textile designer) told me about this just the day before. She always seems to know all the insight into the new programs and business opportunities in the “upcoming” Detroit. But I somehow got the kids dressed, made lunches and raced my ass out the door leaving 1 hour early, because you just never know what will happen with a 1 and 4 year old.


Fancy lanyards with badge. I felt important for about 10 seconds.

Upon arriving I found an amazing free park literally right in front of the building, and I was super geeked I was on time! Once I met up with my mom, she took the kids, and I made my way inside, feeling ready and refreshed.


Once I was registered I was handed this lanyard. “OUUUU” I thought, super professional, but soon found myself confused on where the hell to go, so I felt like an idiot 5 seconds later. No signs anywhere just a old elevator with an actual elevator operator (the Masonic temple is a older building.) Once on the 3rd floor I spotted the signs on where to go, but went in mommy mode and went looking for a potty.  As soon as I found it, there was a line of ladies waiting :-/ Of course I went into double mommy mode and asked if there was another one – and indeed it was, just around the corner. What’s important about this part is that the ladies standing in line heard it too but just waited. So I just proceeded and there it was are less than 30 feet away – an empty bathroom. After the pee, I whipped around the


Where the line for the potty was lol…

corner and yelled “hey there’s an empty bathroom and it’s super close”. They just smiled and no one moved. Immediately I thought — ok clearly they have no kids and a life lol.


When the discussion started, it was truly inspiring,  I heard stories about one who had a kid at 14, some who started businesses later as a moms, single moms all successful, amazing mompreneurs. It included Dr. Nicole Farmer, Sylvia Crawford, Rian Barnhill, Cheryl Johnson, Sarah Swanson. It was all sounding good, I was getting excited – until question time. Now I have to admit I get a bit nervous talking in front of people, but this anxiety was different. I started to sweat, my heart was racing, and I kept going over and over what I wanted to ask. My questions were legit, sensible and do I dare say creative, but here was I was, going over and over about how to ask. My thoughts were racing fast and it felt like I was having a panic attack.
Finally at the end when a dad just started blurring out questions, I slowly raised my hand – not really high. OK, OK, I lied. It was actually just an “usher finger” type of raised arm.



While everyone was asking about time management and how to get things done. I had hardline questions like making money online, ROI, ROS, google or balancing of power and money between your mate – deep practical business questions. But by the time I had organized my thoughts to make sure the questions made sense, it was too late. Time’s up. No time for questions, no time for this socially awkward mom with amazing questions.

I have to admit, I  got really emotional – the crying type. My nose turned red and one tiny tear started. At the moment, I almost decided to get up and leave. Only to feel regretful and find that same bathroom, the empty one, no one wanted to go to, crying because of a missed opportunity. It was a very sad, depressing moment.

But something happened. The moderater said she wanted to end early so we had a chance to talk, in-person, to the panel. FINALLY I had a second chance and I took it. Business cards in hand, sweating underarm stained shirt, I conjured up the strength and introduced myself TO EACH SPEAKER. I started by explaining I’m an awkward mom and here some questions I had. Almost of all them told me the questions were amazing and it should have been talked about. They assured me that they’ve been where I was, nervous and all. And I’m proud to say a few inquired about my graphic design services too.


The lesson here is this. Don’t be afraid of what people think. Don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions, seriously. It’s hard I know. I remember how it used to be working corporate and feeling on top of the world; but it’s different now. As moms we’re making and molding the future world. If you feel you missed an opportunity, if it’s really meant to be, it will open itself up again. I promise.

As for me? I’ll still be that socially awkward mom at first. Probably because I’ve been out of the business/corporate loop for a while, but I learned how to network better that day and now feel like if I can yell to a line of ladies there is a bathroom with no waiting, in a crowd – I can do anything lol!

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