The Runway Show of Charlottesville Designers

21 02 2011

I’d like to introduce you to my other wild idea. I’m a big fan of both Project Runway and Project Catwalk, the UK version. I’m also someone with a degree in a fashion suject with a history of working in the trade. And when I did work in the trade, as a print designer, I worked with a company that had only 30 employees. The company started with plain un-printed fabric, chose a pallet of colors, designed garments, designed prints, had samples made, presented them at trade fairs, culled the line according to orders placed, had enough yards of fabric printed and dyed (outside the US) to make enough garments to fill those orders and some reorders, and sold the garments. The operation was so small I got to observe the whole process. And I didn’t realize how much I’d learned and appreciate the opportunity I’d been given until it was over. Thanks, Claude, Neil, and Randy.

Given how few people it took, I realized that a fashion design company working out of a relatively small (compared to NYC) town was possible. And that led to the realization that small town designers shouldn’t necessarily have to go off to NYC to see their work on runways and in shops.

After I moved back to Charlottesville, I walked downtown and I saw runways. The walk down from the bus stop outside the Omni on Water St. to the skating rink entrance. A sunken one along the buildings on a side street where businesses had been.

Then I met a variety of local artists making wearables, and I visited Les Fabriques and saw the drawings on the walls of their teaching room. I even met people who have a screen printing business and are interested in printing repeats.

Now, through Twitter, I’ve met someone who might be able to provide even more local design contacts. I do believe that this crazy idea of mine is possible in Charlottesville. It’s a magical city where things that aren’t thought possible happen all the time. Why not for me?

La Vida Local – Charlottesville

6 02 2011

My idea for combined marketing of local textile goods has expanded. In thinking about marketing, I always wondered whether there would be enough customers specifically for local textiles. If only we could reach all the customers who give special attention to buying local goods, whether that be local food, or local furniture, or local yarns, or whatever.

And then it occured to me. We can! We only have to offer more local goods than just textiles. There’s already a group for marketing local foods, and you get into complications, law-wise, selling food. Complications I know nothing about.

But we could offer everything locally made but food. So I’ve set up a FaceBook page and a blog for La Vida Local – Charlottesville. I welcome comments and suggestions.

Where I’ve Been and What I’ve Been Up To

16 08 2010

I admit it. It has been a long time since I posted on this blog. Honestly, I looked at the stats and couldn’t believe I actually still had some visitors from time to time. I haven’t been updating things like Linked-In and this blog. I am one person with limited time, and when I write, I don’t write short, and there has been so much else that needed doing.

What have I done? I’ve found a way to make a living for the meanwhile. I didn’t look back to see if I had actually posted that I found an appropriate job right away that covers the bills if not much more? It’s at Cottonwood, a quilt shop, in case I haven’t, and I’ve been working there three days a week for nearly half a year now.

I got US cards made and am carrying them around and giving them out when I get the chance, except for sometimes when I forget and then kick myself. I like my cards. They’re from Vistaprint and I call myself Pocktorian Textiles, Tutoring, and Text because I’d like all three to become income streams.

I’ve hooked up with a very old friend who lives in Seattle. She mentioned she wanted to write a novel, and I’ve had one in my head since when I last lived in Charlottesville, so I made an agreement with her to write some on our novels each week and exchange. After three weeks I’m finding it works for me. Every week, I’ve added to the book-to-be.

I’ve dug out Mom’s sewing machine, though I haven’t plugged it in yet. I’m scared that after 5 years idle in the UK, it will need servicing, and I don’t have the extra money to do it, so I don’t want to know if that’s true. That makes no sense, but that’s what’s going on in my mind.

I’ve initiated something. I was disappointed to find out that Charlottesville’s First Friday is more about schmoozing and food than art, so I decided to get together with a friend and DO ART on Second Fridays. I can’t say it’s been a huge hit, but there’s been some interest and I’ve sure had fun hanging out with Andrea and I know new stuff after every one, so I’ll keep doing it.

I’m preparing to apply to Virginia Center for the Arts and for a studio at McGuffey.

I’ve made several beaded bracelets and a necklace.

I’ve painted a scarf in watercolor style.

I’ve done a decent watercolor botanical and decided that botanicals are really what I’m interested in doing in watercolors.

I’ve set up my knitting machine, though I haven’t yet done anything with it.

I’ve designed two art quilts, and used the same technique to design a scarf.

And I’ve acquired a few bits of furnishings for the house, specifically a funky computer desk to put the sewing machine on, and a bookcase. There’s another small bookcase, too, flatpack, that I need to acquire a drill to put together, dang it.

The loom is not yet unpacked. I really miss it, but there’s no room. There are still a bunch of boxes in the kitchen, in the living room, and in the bedroom, where the boxes hold our clothes for lack of anything like a dresser. Still no platform for the futon that serves as our bed either. A platform would really help for my husband who has problems with an arthritic hip, but that will come, someday.

I’ve hooked up with a vintage shop to research and compose some Ebay descriptions. Don’t really know where that’s going at the moment, but I’ve learned a lot.

I always feel like I should be much further along by now, but when I list all I have accomplished, I don’t feel so bad.

What motivated me to post now was something I heard myself say in the shop the other day. “My aim is accumulate experience, not money, and I’m succeeding.” True. But why do I feel I have to make that choice? True, and isn’t it great that I can call that success!  True. But then again, there’s a ruefulness, a joke on myself, in saying it. It’s a statement with depth, one that asked for further thought and exposition on. Perhaps I’ll write a whole post on it down the line.

Pocktorian Becomes a US-Only Entity

24 03 2010

I received a couple of e-mails yesterday from Anne LaVene that were so ugly I’m tempted to post copies of each one here. I’ll resist the temptation and be better than that.

Suffice it to say that Anne made it totally obvious that she did not share my vision for Pocktorian and had no interest in helping other Norwich textile businesses start up. Nor did she seem to appreciate at all the support and opportunities being constantly offered by UnLtd.

Therefore, I forwarded the specific e-mail in which she expressed that to UnLtd withdrawing my support for Anne taking over Pocktorian-UK, and suggesting that they reconsider their support for her and consider cutting off the grant. Apparently, they had already come to that conclusion themselves.

I was rather upset by this last evening. I feel bad that the textile graduates of Norwich, UK will not have this possibility for starting a business in Norwich. Also, since I have been getting copies of all the e-mails full of opportunities for holders of UnLtd’s level 1 grants, I am sure that, had I been able to stay in the UK and head Pocktorian-UK, or had Anne actually taken advantage of those on its behalf, Pocktorian-UK would be well on its way, and several other businesses would already be on their way also.

I know this because of the replies that have been coming in to a Gumtree ad I placed over a month before I left the UK. I’ve been passing them on to Anne. The good news is that I also passed one of those on to UnLtd, and they suggested that she apply for an UnLtd grant of her own. So even from here in the US, I’ve been able to facilitate at least one textile business to be in the Norwich area.

This is long enough. My next post will be about what I’ve been doing in Charlottesville to begin to envision the right version of Pocktorian for Charlottesville. I do welcome any comments and suggestions, particularly from Charlottesville textile artists and any Norwich textile people who have ambitions to start businesses locally.

Someday in Charlottesville….

4 02 2010

I will be asked about the name of my business, Pocktorian Textiles. I will tell them that it is a reincarnated version of Pocktorian Textiles in Norwich, UK. I will tell them of the five years I spent in Norwich and how I hope Pocktorian Textiles – UK still exists.

I will tell them that the word “Pocktorian” refers to the residents of Norwich who lived near the Pockthorpe Gate of Norwich, and how I know they were weavers because in the 1500’s, they rioted when a merchant moved in French weavers from Ipswich. I’ll tell them about the poem from just a century or two back that mentions Pocktorians and predicts a new flowering of weaving in Norwich. I’ll tell them how I imagine myself as a weaver from Norwich who went off to earn her fortune in America.

Or maybe I’ll invent a new name. Or maybe I’ll go back to the name my business used to have when I lived in Charlottesville: Sheep Appreciation Week. Folks liked it then, do you?

As for Pocktorian Textiles, Norwich, I can’t predict what will become of it. I now know that I will be returning to the US and that Pocktorian will not have the grant unless I can find someone as enthusiastic and knowledgeable as I am, someone that UnLtd will accept as a replacement for me. If you happen to know someone like that, please contact me.

Without the grant, what will become of the Finnish spinning wheel which I just bartered two of my handwoven scarves for today? I don’t know. I almost certainly can’t afford to ship it to the US.

How will Ruth find a suitable place for her business? And how will Foncelle find a place better than ours? And where will Marion turn for a sympathetic listener, someone who knows about finding a way in a young industry when you’re not so young anymore? Will those who have wished us well and told me what a good idea Pocktorian is offer more than good wishes to keep it going?

NUCA shows no interest, or to give it the benefit of the doubt, has too tight a budget to consider fostering Pocktorian for the sake of its graduates’ futures.

Anyhow, now my posts will be split. Half about my efforts to leave Pocktorian – UK is the best situation possible when I leave, and half about my plans and hopes for the future in Charlottesville.

And, as usual, time will tell. I will not regret having given Pocktorian – UK one heck of a try. I had amazing success while it has been going, for such a shoestring of an operation. It was just now going to take off, I am sure, if only I could have stayed.

No, I must not “if only”. It won’t help. I will simply do my best with things as they now exist and count that as enough.