26 May, 2009

intentional and reckless abuse of denim

We were at the MOA on Friday, when we were unexpectedly confronted with a fashion choice neither of us had seen before. While the saggy baggy pants look is all too familiar on youth in the mall (it's that generation's equivalent of a single-strap overalls ensemble which, yes, still can be seen around these parts in the summer time), as is the skinny jeans craze, this was the first time that the hybrid of the two had been feasted upon our eyes.

Let me tell you what it looked like; one day, a seventeen year old guy puts on his twelve year old brother's jeans by mistake. He can get into them, but not over his hips. But changing takes effort when there's a social calendar to fulfill. So there he goes to the mall, waddling from store to store while in pre-teen trousers. Eh, kids.

Apparently we're getting this late. Portland was dealing with this issue long before us.

A Fashion PSA

On a related note, here is an actual news story. Skinny Jeans are EVIL!!! Okay, not really. But still, this is interesting.

Feel the Pinch

In case you are wondering I'm just bitter because I can't fit into that style, well, no. I mean, I probably can't, but I like breathing too much to try. :)

13 May, 2009

friends pimping, part 4: queue up some indie film goodness

The upside to a small independent film is it's made without dealing with studio red tape, there's more room for creativity, and there can be a community feeling surrounding the shoot. The downside to a small independent film is it can be hard to get others to see it without a lot of hard work, perseverance and word-of-mouth. Here’s an example of one of those films getting a fighting chance.

In the summer of 2008, Illegal Use of Joe Zopp premiered in Chippewa Falls, WI, where most of it had been filmed. The town went all out with a red carpet party and a full run at a local theater. Made by Wut Wut Alma Productions, Zopp is a comedic mystery (mysterious comedy?) about a young man who returns to his hometown after many years once learning everyone thinks he's dead. He is not. But that's only the start of things. Both past and new acquaintances play roles in solving this puzzle.

Zopp has been screened at several film festivals over the last nine months to much positive response (including a beyond sold-out screening April 3 at the Wisconsin Film Festival), and Wisconsin Public Television will be airing it June 6 as part of their "Director’s Cut" series. But if you can't pick up a Madison station on your rabbit ears, have no fear! Netflix is now offering Illegal Use of Joe Zopp for online rental!

Why am I plugging this film? Because it's a fun time, and I really do believe it deserves a shot with a wider audience. Also, everyone I’ve met from Wut Wut Alma is seriously as nice as they come. Good guys deserve to finish first once in a while, right? Right.

09 May, 2009

handmade goods and homegrown foods, together at last!

One of the best parts of the warm weather is the return of farmer's markets. Living in the Twin Cities we have an embarrassment of riches on this front. From May to October, it's easy to support local farmers and artists, often without having too far to travel.

Starting this weekend, the HandmadeMN team begins its season-long Saturday presence at the downtown Minneapolis Farmer's Market! Our team is represented by three different vendors each week, giving you a small opportunity to see what this talented group has to offer! The market runs from 6:30am-1:30pm near the Basilica. More information on the Market can be found HERE. Please come by our tent and say hello!

05 May, 2009

a tutorial of awesome

Sunday, May 3, there was a Virtual Lab on Etsy about Craft Shows, held from the Summit of Awesome in DC. I learned about it via a Twitter post from Etsy admin DanielleXO just as it was beginning, so there was no time to pass it on! I took diligent notes for 45 minutes until an accidental sweep of my computer’s touchpad cleared my typing and then saved the blank page. Heartbroken! But I will try to do my best to pass on what I learned.

The bulk of the meeting was about display. I’m just going to bullet point for simplicity’s sake.

1. Create a theme, whether it’s within your work or in your display. Work with colors, textures, patterns, etc. They do this within their product, but that doesn’t work for everyone. They gave Orla Kiely’s work as a strong example of this.

2. Make your display unique, but don’t let it distract customers or overpower your product. Give yourself a look that sets you apart, something that gives you enough of a signature that people may recognize your shop even before the product is on the table. Don’t be afraid of vertical display. Most craft show tables are below eye level. By building upward, you can draw one’s eye up to a more comfortable level. When it comes to displaying your product, the conventional wisdom is to display evenly. But if you have some products more densely concentrated in one section of your table, it could be a way to showcase the products you are most excited about. They also mentioned breaking their rule of height, noting that bins placed on the ground can indicate “SALE” to customers. They’ll likely consider what items in the bins to be bargains, no matter what the prices are.

3. Establish brand identity. This can be large or small, and is usually terribly overlooked. From signage to pricetags to business cards (or as they called them, “calling cards”), you want people to know your name and how to reach you after a show is complete. It doesn’t hurt to waterproof your signage, if possible.

4. When building the actual display, it’s a good rule of thumb to make sure it fits in your vehicle. One tip was to bring your items in containers that can be used as show display. Just bring fabric to cover. Use Craigslist, Home Depot, Target, etc as easy sources for display. If you are travelling to a show out of town, consider items you can easily pick up and discard in the town. It doesn’t always have to be a table; find alternate ways to set up your shop. Be flexible. You may not get the space you are promised; a 10’ x 10’ space isn’t necessarily so. Make your display sturdy. Keep in mind the elements. One other tip is bring height to your table itself. Their suggestion was pvc-pipe leg extensions. Something effective but safe from collapse.

5. Find influences all over. Look at the way stores display their wares. Big boxes to boutiques. Bakeries and small markets. Produce vendors. How do they display their items? What makes what they do unique from another business? What draws your eye? Don’t just limit your ideas to retail outlets. Think science, art, museums, design. Draw elements from anywhere, things that can make the most of the shopping experience. They gave a great tip- give your craft show space a point of view. One example they gave was a farmers market booth where the fruit was laid out in wicker baskets, giving a nice design element to an otherwise typical business.

6. Set up your show at home. See what works and what doesn’t. Take pictures, and bring those images with you to a show. It will also help you manage the set-up time a bit better if you’ve practiced. Also take pictures at the start of the show. If it’s a two day show, take a look at the images and see what you’d do differently next time. It’s okay to change your display around from Day 1 to Day 2. Keep images of your booth on file.

7. Put a kit together of necessities, one that is full of supplies only for shows and not used elsewhere. Tape, scissors, safety pins, clothespins, pens, extra paper, sharpies, first aid, etc etc. Make a list, check it off, and pack it.

Here are a couple sites they gave as examples. The first two are the people who were presenting at this lab (thanks to DanielleXO at Etsy for the shop links).

Something's Hiding In Here

Rebound Designs

Something's Hiding In Here flickr images


Rare Device

Orla Kiely

It really was a very informative session. I know I don’t have all their points, as the lab ran about 90 minutes, but I know I got their strongest ones. I hope this can help people as we head into a busy summer!

04 May, 2009

comment dit-on "eye candy" en fran├žais?

As visually stimulating (and all around awesome) films go, Amelie can't be topped. I've been in love with Amelie since Day 1. It's rich and vivid and I can't get enough of it. People always note Audrey Tautou in the film, but there's another soul who deserves kudos (and while Mathieu Kassovitz is dreamy as all getout, that's not who I mean). The magic of Amelie is the collaboration between Tautou and the director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet. His eye is not one to be trifled with. While I've never seen City of Lost Children (I should make sure that's in the queue), I have seen A Very Long Engagement, which was shot not long after Amelie. I don't bandy this word about lightly, but the best way I can describe Engagement is as exquisite. It's beautiful and tragic and makes sepia tones lovely. As it's weightier and less whimsical than Amelie, it isn't the type of film one might want to watch over and over. I'd love a second viewing, though, and if you've never seen it, I'd recommend it highly.

Their next joint effort is not on the big screen, but the very small and portable one. It's a commercial of sorts. Audrey Tautou is the new face of Chanel No 5, and Jeunet has made a short film for the perfume. His paintbrush is in top form for the ad, with rich colors, sets and props, all surrounding his muse. She is playing Coco Chanel in an upcoming film, which I am quite excited to see. As girl-crushes go, Audrey Tautou is a pretty darn good one, but when painted by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, she is especially lovely, as is the world surrounding her. Here is the link to the film, with special thanks to @elle_com for posting about it on Twitter. Enjoy!

Chanel a la Jeunet

*Edit 5-5-09. I wrote this yesterday, not realizing Chanel was going to saturate the interwebs with the campaign. So maybe it's not so undiscovered after all. Whatever; it's still really neat.