Thursday, September 26, 2013

What Recession?

I'm only kidding about the recession thing, obviously, but I seem to have this issue where I cannot stop getting getting myself hired. And not only to make wedding dresses, either. I just took on a job as costume shop supervisor of a local university where I oversee student employees and collaborate with faculty designers. This is great for several reasons: it pays the bills while I'm growing Something New, I get to work with awesome students, I work with talented theatre and music professionals, and there's always potential networking possibilities across creative fields! It's also a bit of a struggle for other reasons, first and foremost: time!!

I've had to take a hard look at the work I do for my business. I've had to eliminate the non-essentials, and, blog, I'm sorry, but it's just not working out. It's not you, it's me! I just, need more time to focus on my career goals! But we can still be friends, right? 

The point of this is to alert any travelers to happen to find themselves on this website that Something New is indeed alive and well. Send me an e-mail. Let me know what you think of my designs, tell me what you had for breakfast! Anything! I'll get back to you promptly, I promise. 

It's just that all of those essays on the ethics of they way we consume clothing...well, they're going to have to wait (even though, honestly, we can impose all the rules and regulations on factories to make ourselves feel better, but working conditions in overseas factories cannot change until we address how we buy our clothing!). Whew, okay, enough for now.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

What is This Thing? Answering the Question: What is Sustainability Work?

I want to know what it is exactly that I’m doing. And I’d like to be able to explain it to you, my clients, and my contractors in a concise and educated way. And so I've been asking myself, “What does sustainability mean, anyway?” More specifically, how does the principal of sustainability affect my business practices and company’s core values?* In researching questions like this, I found that is a good place to start looking for answers. And they actually include textile and apparel industry news in their reporting! Outstanding**

I was in luck! Green Biz recently published an article entitled, What is Sustainability, Anyway? They quote The Financial Times as defining sustainability this way:

Business sustainability is often defined as managing the triple bottom line — a process by which companies manage their financial, social and environmental risks, obligations and opportunities. These three impacts are sometimes referred to as profits, people and planet.

In my opinion, that is a very good start! And I already have some experience with the triple bottom line from my time as produce manager at a local and organic food cooperative. Part of me believes that one of the strengths of the term sustainability is that it is vague and open to interpretation. Some guys had the same idea in mind when they wrote the U.S. Constitution.

Okay, so what does that mean for me and Something New, LLC? What am I going to do about it? How am I going to use that concept to shape my policies? Well, conveniently enough, it has already been broken down into three handy-dandy areas:

First: Financial!

I started with the easy one. I’d really like to make enough money so that I can live on it and keep doing what I love. I’ll price my gowns fairly so that I am paid for the work I put in but they are still affordable to a relatively wide range of brides.***

Second: Social!

For a while, I thought I was going to go to grad school. I had this brilliant idea for a proposal: open cooperatively owned apparel manufacturing in Wisconsin and Minnesota. It would be fantastic and it could work! For a number of reasons including this bridal business, that idea and grad school are both on hold at the moment. However, I haven’t lost sight of strengthening my community.

I am committed to the larger community by sourcing domestic manufacturing. It’s true that since the 1990’s, about 80% of the manufacturing jobs have left the United States (no, I’m sorry, I don’t have a source for that off the top of my head. But I've read it enough times to be pretty darn sure that it’s true). But with initiatives like Manufacture New York, companies are expressing a renewed sense of commitment to domestic production.

I’ll also be constantly working towards a transparent supply chain. That means I’ll be making available on my website as many steps as possible that it takes to get my designs from fiber to amazingly gorgeous wedding dress. Honest By was one of the pioneers of this concept and they're definitely the best at it; I’ll be following their model to the best of my ability (there is only one of me, after all). This is pretty darn important, actually. Remember all the flub-bub in the 1990’s about Nike using child labor to make its products? That didn't happen because someone at Nike said, “You know what? I think 8 year old's should be sewing our stuff! It’ll be brilliant!” It’s because their contractors (that’s an industry term for manufacturer) had sub-contractors and it all got very complicated. And, sadly, it’s not over yet. This is another reason why I’m committed to domestic manufacturing. Everything is easier if there is less information to get lost in translation.  

This next thing seems kind of small in comparison to issues like Foxconn, but I think it’s important to the people in my little town in Western Wisconsin. With the sale of each dress, I’ll be donating proceeds to local non-profit organizations like the Stepping Stones food pantry and shelter that help individuals and families in need (percentage yet to be determined, but don’t worry. That’ll be on the website, too.). Because, hey, we all need to eat, right?

Third: The Environment!!

Who doesn't love nature? Okay, maybe I don’t always, especially when it deals with ticks and mosquitoes, but who doesn't love that picturesque image of nature we can all conjure up in our mind’s eye?

Did you know that over 80% of all the clothing in the world is either cotton or polyester? Both of which come with their share of problems (this is getting a little long, so I’ll go into those another time). This is why I’ll continue to use materials like hemp / silk, peace silk (where they don’t boil the little silk worms alive), and other fabrics make by artisans in small villages. Hemp is awesome because it’s super robust, drought tolerant, and naturally resistant to most insects. It also takes a lot less water to grow than cotton. Many of these materials will most likely be coming from overseas. So I’ll have my work cut out for me making sure that my suppliers are doing their due diligence.

So, yeah. Easy to define, right? But that’s what running a sustainable business means to me so far. This is a living concept with will be evolving over time as my business grows and changes. And I always love to hear thoughts and ideas from my customers, other bides, and anyone out there who is passionate about changing the world for the better. Stay tuned for more!


*Stop yawning! Honestly, this is the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night!

**Why it is that an industry that generates revenue in excess of $2,000 trillion annually (This is the best number I could find. Suffice to say that it’s a huge industry) and has a presence is almost every nation world-wide is not an option in any occupational drop down menu on an internet form is completely beyond me. But that’s another blog post.

***I understand that this is completely subjective and is determined by a wide variety of factors. One of the things I will be working on is making sure that all of those factors like materials, production costs, and target margin are in balance. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Things are happening here at Something New. Big things. That may seem a bit confusing to you, the reader, as it has appeared as though nothing has been happing for quite some time. Hmmm. Touché.

It’s true. Recently, things took an unexpected detour as a teaching opportunity fell into my lap. It was in the fashion program at my alma mater, so how could I refuse? So that’s where I’ve been for the past year and a half. Trying to figure how I found myself talking about fiber processing, yarn spinning, weaving, aesthetic finishes, and composite materials in a room full of bleary eyed twenty year olds.

But I never expected my path to be a clear one. In fact, I always sort of counted on doing things the hard way or taking the long way around; I’m sure some of you out there can relate to this.

But maybe that’s the way we’re supposed to be doing things. Or the way things will just get done anyway, whether we try to avert it or not.

Do you, reader, listen to Krista Tippett’s show, On Being? I really hope you answered yes because if not, you NEED to stop what you’re doing right now (okay, you can still do something while you listen to a podcast) and devote the next 51 minutes to the betterment of yourself and those around you. I swear this woman has found the keys to world peace. I have no idea why she’s not writing policy.

The most recent show I listened to was about Resilience (not to be confused with resiliency, which refers to how much a textile wrinkles when crushed). 

I am not talking about your wrinkled shirt. 

The guest, Andrew Zolli, spoke of the need to build resilience into complex systems like environmental policy (or career building) for example, because all things fail at some point. As Zolli put it, “we can’t steer around these storms. We had better build a better boat.” We must be prepared for the unexpected because there are, in a sense, expected. We need the ability to move quickly and adapt to our present situation while gaining wisdom and learning from where we've been. We need redundancy, spare capacity, diversity, and a shared body of knowledge. “Failure is intrinsic, healthy, normal, and necessary…” according to Zolli. But that doesn't mean we should take it lying down. We must prepare and be ready to adapt.

And now, as I return from my unexpected foray into education, I've got big plans. New website, new styles, new places, you name it. The sky’s the limit. And I don’t care how many twists and turns it takes me to get there. Allons-y!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Welcome Back

And we're back! And very excited to be attending Chicago's Indie Wed 2013! More details soon to follow! 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Country Wedding Fair

I wanted to share a few photos from this weekend's Country Wedding Fair at the beautiful Maidenwood Estate in Maiden Rock, WI. The setting was picturesque, as you can see, and we could not have asked for better weather.

It was such a treat to travel there with my friend Dana Cowan, who is the owner and massage therepist of the delightfully luxurious Clemona. Dana has a much appreciated calming presence and was able to keep me grounded even after thee cups of coffee (my usual limit is one a day). Dana is a wonderful massage therapist and tailors each treatment to the individual.  In fact, Dana seems to have acquired the nickname of The Knot Whisperer from one such client! I would have to agree.  She also offers Ladies Night packages where she will come to you. I've hired her for one such event when I had some girl-friends in from out of town and it was a phenomenal evening! 

I will continue to post information about more upcoming events as details arise. In the mean time, enjoy the photos from this past weekend! 

See all the photos from the event on my Facebook Page

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Country Wedding

Fall is here and Winter (gulp!) is quickly approaching. The changing seasons promise many things: cuddle weather, opaque pantyhose, not feeling guilty about staying inside for a movie marathon, and, you guessed it, Bridal Fairs! Apparently, January is the number one wedding planning month throughout the entire year. It makes sense! It's all fall colors, turkey, driving, family, shopping, gift wrap, more driving, more family, and maybe even more turkey. Phew! 

Oh, crap. We're getting married in six months. GO! GO! GO! 
Or, maybe that was just me. 

If you've got your radar on, you'll soon start to notice advertising for wedding fairs popping up all over. Starting the season off is a brand new Country Wedding Fair in beautiful Maiden Rock, WI taking place on Saturday, October 8th from 11:00am to 4:00pm. The idea is to invite vendors to the fair that can contribute to idea of a country themed wedding in the beautiful Maidenwood Estate and surrounding area. The line up will include the usual list of caterers, photographers, florists, etc, all with this particular theme in mind. So, if Country Wedding is something that strikes your fancy (and really, how could it not be?), you will really want to come check out this event. And when you're done at the fair, you're still in Maiden Rock. And what's not to love about that? 

Hope to see you there! 

Also, did I mention that it's FREE?! Because it is. So now you really have no excuse not to come. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Rings and Things

Today's entry is from guest writer, my most excellent friend, (who you may recognize) and fashion confidant, Kimberly. As she mentions below, Kim is in the process of starting up her own business which will showcase some pretty exceptional pieces of vintage jewelry. I really want her to get up and running soon, but I am also pretty concerned about those repercussions on my pocketbook. I may have a little problem. 


I am dropping in on Something New to chat about some of the amazing options out there for engagement rings and jewelry for your big day. First, I need to give a shout out to Refinery 29 who did this amazing post on unique engagement rings. I love that they covered a lot of different price points since pretty does not always need to cost more than your car. This ring, for example, from Charm and Chain that is a steal at $70.00, but feminine and drool worthy too.

Hello, Beautiful! 
Since this blog focuses on sustainability in the bridal industry, I'll also mention this incredible gorgeous conflict-free diamond from Barney’s New York. It's a little on the pricey side but has a wonderfully unique and earthy look.

Yes please!
My favorite ring from this post actually is worth more than my car…. thank goodness I am already married so I can keep my drool-face to a minimum. But now you will have to decide which is more important: the mortgage payment or this sexy ring right here. I am not even going to post an image for fear you may run off and spend your life savings this very instant. I can’t have that on my conscience…follow the link at your financial peril!

A very good sustainable option for many couples is to buy vintage or antique jewelry. You can find some really unique and beautiful pieces that both of you will love at a price that helps you get that open bar you were hoping for. One site with a great selection, whether you are looking for a diamond or not, is Can you believe that all of the rings below are under $1,000? True story. 

Get a closer look at these sexy rings here, here, and here, oh… and here.

That doesn’t just go for engagement rings, either. If you want to do affordable vintage on your wedding day (or Tuesday) costume jewelry is the way to go. It is unique, timeless, and sparkles. Who doesn't love that? This may be cliché but one of the best places I have found to find good vintage pieces is on, that's right, E-bay. There are a lot of sellers, a wide selection, and the inventory is always changing. If you are looking for pretty things that will not break the bank, Coro is a brand that was in business from 1901-1979 that is reliably gorgeous. Also, if you are looking for a matching set, try adding the phrases “Parure” (matching set with several pieces), or “Demi Parure” (small matching set) to your search. Below are just example sets that I found today… who knows what baubles will be there when you search (Can you tell that I love silver and blue?).

My other favorite brand is Schiaparelli, as in Elsa Schiaparelli, from the 1940’s-1970’s. She was a fashion designer with a bold and innovative look. The jewelry is on the pricier side, but each piece is a show stopper. And the jewelry was built to stand the test of time; you will rarely find one that is nicked or missing a stone, which also makes them great investments. Below are some of my faves.

Look at those watermelon stones. Yum!

And this one belongs on a Greek Goddess… or me. You know, whatever.

There are too many great designers and companies to get to in one post but I encourage you to explore! Look for things that you like and sellers with positive ratings and you can find some really great pieces. A lot of vintage is also unsigned, where the company or designer has left no stamp or identifying mark, which makes them less valuable in the market but it also brings the price down for those of us with champagne tastes and PBR budgets.

Lastly, my personal opinion, is that the most meaningful (not to mention free) vintage you can wear on your wedding day is something borrowed from a loved one. When my Mom was pregnant, her brother passed away, and my Dad gave her a gold and diamond cross to remember him by. She wears it every day and she gave it to me to wear for my wedding. It was amazing because it so personal, and although it was not a 1940’s Schiaparelli, it was more beautiful because it meant so much. And that, my friends, is why I love vintage jewelry. Almost all jewelry tells a story about love, whether it was given out of love, purchased to wear on a date, or passed down from generation to generation. 

Ok, enough with the mushy stuff! Look for more updates on happenings in jewelry in the next few months as I launch, To Vivian, With Love, a small business for curating and sharing the love of vintage jewelry! 


Kim, did you really use PBR in a metaphor??  That is why I love you. Tik tok, girlfriend.

Updates from Kimberly at To Vivian with Love will be available as soon as I can get my hands on them!