Sunday, February 28, 2010


 (Source: here)
week #4 entry #1 02/21 - 02/28: academic journal
I learned a ton this week and made some major strides in my project.  All the confusion of "What should I name my brand?" and "What am I doing?" is starting to come together.  However, I think my proposal is backwards.  I have way too many questions and some of which don't even matter. "What logo is most appealing to my audience?" should be deleted.  I thinking doing surveys is a waste of time Conducting surveys is going to take up too much time, time where I should be designing shirts, researching, and contacting my mentors.  Additionally, I am the best judge of what emotions I want my brand to evoke and how to create a cohesive message to my audience.  This observation is true of my question: “What product is most appealing to my audience?”  I don’t think I’ll be answering this with surveys.  I may ask around school to my friends what designs they like best, but no surveys.  I think I’ll be answering this by researching what’s popular and worn by DE students.  I think a whole new set of questions is necessary.  I need fewer questions too.

 (source: here)

Thursday, I also conducted an interview with Aliza, an expert in marketing and branding.  She gave me her brief history, which is full of incredible achievements, some of which are working with Spike Lee and working for Saachi & Saachi.  She is currently working on her own business where she is creating her own line of environmentally friendly cleaning products and yoga products.  After giving me her impressive bio, she gave me a ton of great ideas and a structure to creating a brand.  Most importantly, she gave me a structure in the creation of a brand.  This is so incredibly important because before that I had been “winging it.”  I will use this structure this coming week.  I have already started putting some of it together.

Some points and ideas she gave me:
  • I need to look at existing trends and make my own spin off of them.
  • Give consumers an opportunity to be a part of my brand.
  • Maybe partner with the art department
  • Do my own fashion show for the presentation. (!!!!)
  • Ideas for a basic structure for my presentation
  • Creation of a brand video
  • Inspiration board (which I have already started)
  • Understand why my brand is important.
She gave me some wonderful ideas for my secret ad campaign, which you will see more of in the coming weeks.  I couldn’t just let her go, I asked her to be one of my mentors and she agreed.  Oh, yes, I have decided on a name: drift.  I have gotten the opinions of Aliza, Ms. Diaz, and my friends and family.

Plans for this week:
  • Create Brand Outline
  • Think about presentation
  • Work on Inspiration Board
  • Read more Why We Buy
  • Talk to Chris! (that didn’t happen this week)
  • Edit Proposal
  • Send Aliza my proposal and ask for advice about questions and how to edit them. 

I made my first self-imposed deadlines of finishing Handmade Nation and creating a name.

It’s amazing how my project just kind of develops.  For example, I have decided that interviews aren’t completely necessary for my project.  A lot of the things I’m learning are best with the guidance of experts in the field and my research. 


credit: here

Saturday, February 27, 2010

saturday inspiration

Music is so helpful when deciding the direction of my brand.
Especially when I have a brand video in mind.
Tomorrow I'll update you all about the cool stuff I've been up to!

In the mean time enjoy Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

Friday, February 26, 2010

snow day inspiration

 (found on loveology, one of my favorite blogs!)

The beginning is enchanting. Anyone know the song?  

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

the name game

week #4 entry #1 02/21 - 02/28: personal journal
(source: saved on my computer, if you know, please let me know!)

I have broken this post into two parts: frustration and success.
If you would like to skip the frustration, please scroll down. :)

Deciding on a brand name is like pulling teeth. I have a lot of ideas, but so many of them are taken, or just don't work. It gets frustrating when I find what I think is a gem, and someone doesn't get it or doesn't like it. Or when I'm thinking and thinking and nothing comes my way. I want to bang my head against my desk. I'm hoping to come up with something by Sunday and have a survey ready for my FOCUS group (in my independent study a group of 6 students and an adviser meet once a week to discuss our projects) and Sunday is my first self-imposed deadline. I'm sure if I didn't make a deadline it would come to me so easily. Has anyone else dealt with this? Any advice?

Also, HTML? Yeah, I'm not the #1 fan of HTML. Blogger makes it easy to pick one of their layouts, but I'm looking for something a little more pro and I'm not exactly the HTML-master. I used to be pretty good at myspace and xanga layouts back in the ol' days, but this stuff is driving me nuts and is making me very frustrated. I was thinking of perhaps having a layout made for me, but that requires money, something I'm not quite ready and able to spend at this time. Urg. Any helpful HMTL sites or great simple layouts that you can recommend?

However, I did have a turning-point in my project this week. On Monday, the author of my indie-business-bible (The Handmade Marketplace), Kari Chapin, commented on my blog. (she has a charming website) I couldn't stop smiling all day. I am so happy to have her support! (!!!) I am also psyched to have my work space generally spruced up. Even though the weather here has been so dreary, my space is bright and clean.

Tomorrow, my mentor, Chris, and I are having a conference. One of his designs is displayed here. We're going to talk about my blog, an ad campaign, my possible names, and all the advice he can give me. It's hard to believe that I have access from so many knowledgeable sources. Also, I am supposed to chat with another pro in the field this week too. I'll let you know how that turns out!

Also: Great Success! I talked to Aliza today and she agreed to be a mentor and she was so so so so helpful.  More to come on that!  Plus, I am working on HTML and have made some simple changes.  HTML, I will conquer you!

Monday, February 22, 2010

winter formal decorations

This past weekend was my school's winter formal. I was so excited to come up with a theme and make decorations. Inspired by the Chanel Couture Show of 2009 (pictured above), I decided to stick to a white only color scheme. All those white masses are flowers made from paper. Incredible, I know. The flowers are so beautiful and I have always liked to work with paper anyway, so all the decorations were made from simple white paper and tissue paper. Affordable and surprisingly beautiful.

Our formal decorations:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

green thinking

image from bluebird vintage

week #3 entry #2 02/14 - 02/21
I learned one of the coolest things thus far during this past week. I read an interview with Grace Bonney, the creator of one of my all-time favorite websites Design*Sponge, in The Handmade Marketplace. Grace talks about how she only accepts digital press kits. If you don't know what a press kit is, let's get a definition for you..

A press kit, often referred to as a media kit in business environments, is a pre-packaged set of promotional materials of a person, company, or organization distributed to members of the media for promotional use. They are often distributed to announce a release or for a news conference. (source: here)
If I were to make a press kit for my t-shirt line I might include my business card, a shirt, a bumper sticker, and perhaps a magazine with all my designs. However, a digital press kit includes a simple press release, blog url, images of work details on work, how my work differs from others, and how can someone purchase the items. Grace argues that this is more budget-friendly for independent shop owners. She says "why waste budget on sending samples to everyone?" and that's a good point. Additionally a digital press kit is a much greener way of promoting your work. It reduces printouts and if you use a flash drive, it can be reused. Brilliant! Plus, you can include lots of great photos and even attach videos.

I think that this would be a fabulous way to give my work to the FOCUS panel when I present my work in May. It's green, which I'm hoping to keep in my business ideology. Plus, it's creative. At least... it seems creative to me. I could even go so far as to paint my logo on each flash drive and tie my business card with some twine around it. Or I could even get them made like the one in the photo.

This past week there were also some workshops for FOCUS students on Tuesday. I attended one on crafting something by yourself and interviewing. Some things I learned in the interview workshop are to be aware of the behavior of the person that I'm interviewing, to make a solid list of questions and not to just "wing it," and to keep people on track. As I said in my last post, I have been reading a lot of interviews and I don't know if I really need to conduct to many myself. Instead, it is important that I focus on making my designs and to gain excitement about my brand. In the crafting your own.. workshop I learned that it is especially important to make a schedule and to stick to it. I know this is very important with my project. I also think I should start setting my alarm clock earlier. Additionally, I reconfirmed the importance of a workspace, which I have also read about in Craft Inc. and Handmade Marketplace. Mr. Emery suggested also starting with a creative warm-up everyday. Some important things I learned about my presentation are that i must prepare a lot in advanced with an audience, perhaps prepare a gallery space in advanced, and to engage the audience. Until next time...

Saturday, February 20, 2010


For my independent project, I am required to keep logs of my work. Here are logs from the past 2.5 weeks.

Week One
Senior Focus Field Work Log Dates: Feb 1st-7th
Name: Isabella Whitney

Monday: ~2.5 hours; senior focus meeting, blog-hopping for inspiration
Tuesday: 2 hours; writing first journal entry & blog-hopping
Wednesday: 1 hour; blog-hopping for ideas for names/designs/what's popular
Thursday: 0; none
Friday: 0; none
Saturday: 3 hours; researching for how-to books, reading how-to books at Barns and Noble, blog-hopping, talked to mentor
Sunday: 2 hours; e-mailed Mrs. DeVito's daughter, wrote 2nd journal entry, blog-hopped,

Week Two
Senior Focus Field Work Log Dates: Feb 7st-14th
Name: Isabella Whitney

Monday: 1.5 hours; senior focus meeting, blog-hopping
Tuesday: 2 hours; reading & blog-hopping
Wednesday: 2 hours; reading & blog-hopping
Thursday: 1 hour; reading
Friday: 0; none
Saturday: 1 hours; read read read
Sunday: 2 hours; read, wrote journal entries, blog-hopped

Week Three
Senior Focus Field Work Log Dates: Feb 14st-21th
Name: Isabella Whitney

Monday: 1 hour; blog-hopping
Tuesday: 2 hours; reading & blog-hopping
Wednesday: 2.5 hours; working on my inspiration book, came up with lots of great ideas about the philosophy of my brand,
Thursday: 1 hour; reading
Friday: 3 hours; reading, writing, commenting on other blogs, getting inspiration, revamping the look of my blog,
Saturday: 2 hours; blog-hopping, buddy assignment
Sunday: 3 hours; buddy assignment, reading, clearing up space, making calendar

I could spend forever getting inspired

week #3 entry #1 02/14 - 02/21

Hello! I am proud to say I have 6 followers! Hooray! It's so exciting to have people interested and excited about my project. I am so psyched! My class begins soon and I cannot wait. A lot of reading was done this week in addition to a ton of creative thinking. The Handmade Marketplace is really a great source of information. There are so many successful talented people who are feature in the book that it's impossible not to get something out of it. I'm hoping to try to read most of the rest today. Hopefully homework will not interfere.

I really should scan some of the inspiration pieces I cut out. The inspo book looks pretty good. On another note, I need to contact Mrs. DeVito's daughter on Monday to set up a time to interview her. This past week FOCUS students had panels to enhance our topics. I attended one on interviewing and self-creating something. Both of which were helpful. I'm going to have to craft some good, helpful questions. I may send them to Dr. Brown who knows so much on the topic. This week I also revamped my blog. Like the new layout? Picture? Banner? Links? I'm happier with it than before, however, I'd like a new banner with the name on it. I'm hoping to edit it a bit more, but it works for now.

I feel okay about my work this week. It's not like I'm not reading and doing stuff, but Colin is right: I need to get a list of deadlines. I could spend forever getting inspired, reading, and editing my blog. It’s critical to my project, but I need to move forward. Today I am going to clean up my work space (workspace above from here.) and add a calendar so I can keep track of my time and use it most efficiently and get cracking tomorrow and Tuesday. I wish I had a workspace as beautiful as the one above! (I'll post a plan of action for this week later today.) I think that moving past the research stage will happen organically during this week because I have my interview with Mrs. DeVito’s daughter, who has years of experience with marketing and branding. I hope to have a good list on questions to ask her and maybe I’ll have some names that I can show her when we meet. This will help me move past this name phase, which has been driving me crazy.

Goals for this week:

  • Come up with interview questions
  • Draw a picture of me for the blog
  • Create name and survey
  • Edit proposal

Accomplishing these things this week will keep me moving forward and keep me productive in my work. I also hope to rework my proposal this week to add some dates and add my class, which will be taking up a significant amount of time. Additionally, I would like to add “How to create interview questions?” or something about the topic of interview questions in my guiding questions because I feel that that may turn out to be an important part of my project. Then again, I’m thinking that interviews may not be essential to my project after all. I’ve been reading a ton in Handmade Nation and I don't know if I should conduct them myself. Perhaps, I could fix my proposal to do only like 3 interviews at the max. I just feel like the other parts of my project are so much more important.

Next week, I should maybe start some secret ad-campaign, to raise awareness about what is to come and to get people talking at school about something mysterious. I am very excited to do this. Maybe a huge mysterious bear banner (image from here) in the Klein hallway? Maybe some self-drawn characters? Not sure yet. I am psyched for this. More mischief to come.

Friday, February 19, 2010

inspiration part deux

I was browsing WhoWhatWear and today the site is doing a special on what celebrities wore to NY Fashion week and I can't help but to be drawn to her headpiece. I just love the way the rich colors of the flowers fall on her dark hair. Stunning. I made a flower-hair wreath last spring with pink silk flowers. I defiantly will be making more for my photo-shoot with the matching color palette.

I have four followers! Yay! :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


week #3 entry #1 02/14 - 02/21

I've been dreaming a lot lately. I've been skimming through old Urban Outfitters, Free People, and Anthropologie catalogs to form my inspiration book. Conclusion: I have image of this whimsical, almost midsummer night's dream-esque fantasy. However, it may all change when I decide on a name. Words that come to mind:
  • natural
  • free-spirited
  • a little romantic
  • whimsical, dreamy
  • fun and not too serious
Photo from Fondly Seen, Moodboard, {frolic!},and originally published in Elle Decoration.

When it comes to places for a photoshoot, I thought a beautiful greenhouse (photo from here) would be wonderful, or some sort of fort, perhaps make an outdoor bed with lots of rugs and blankets. Definitely somewhere colorful because it will be a spring collection. Flowers! Lots of flowers. I'm thinking baggy, dark, beautiful denim or belted khaki shorts paired with the crisp white shirts and perhaps black ink on the shirts. Ahhhh, gorgeous. Barefoot models with a summer-glow. Girls with minimal make-up. I'm getting ahead of myself. More to come..

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

we're getting somewhere

Week #2 Entry #2 02/07 - 02/13

So... what have I learned this week? Now, that is a wonderful question. I learned something very important folks. I learned what direction my project is going. Woohoo! Okay, the last two weeks have been dedicated to research and finding inspiration, two essential pieces of my project. However, it gets tiresome. I want to DO something. I want to see tangible progress and just when I was feeling oh so down, I saw the light. Ms. Diaz showed me this wonderful online class which is essentially a step-by-step of my project and I have officially signed up! I am so excited! It's especially great because it caters to people like me, who are only interested in small-scale for now. I will perhaps expand later, but for now, I want this to be small time when its 100% me making products. Okay, so let me explain what exactly "Indie Business 2.0" is and what I will be learning in it.
Indie Business is a 6 week Online Class for women and men wanting to build an online or local creative business. We'll focus on Starting, Surviving and Succeeding in small business and cover everything in between! The class is taught by Leigh-Ann, Jill and Elsie and is hosted in a members only blog with 26 sessions, 7 DIY projects and 3 live chats to give you all the tools you need to establish yourself and achieve success with your Small Business! The course also includes a printable workbook with original illustrations by Elsie and room for all your homework, notes and ideas!
Oh, doesn't that sound marvel0us? If it doesn't for you, it does for me. Each of the teachers knows what she is talking about and has essentially independently completed my focus project. It starts March 7th and ends April 16th. This will give me some time to continue research, conduct interviews, try some surveys, and come up with an awesome name up until the 7th because I think I will be quite busy when I get involved with the class.

This class is also awesome for getting to know people who have the same passions as me. I will not get down. I will have a support group who understands what it feels like to smashing your head against a wall when you don't feel creative. Additionally, I will make friends and have people to network with in the future. Awesome. I copied the course outline, you can skim through it here:
Course Outline:

Teachers: Jill - LA - Elsie
(P=Project, S=Session)

February 22 - March 1

Leigh-Ann's Indie Business Story
Jill's Indie Business Story
Elsie's Indie Business Story

1P: Indie Business Portfolio
Term 1: March 7 - 20
2S: Open your Umbrella
3S: Product & Potential
4S: Style & The Importance of a Name
5S: Predicting and Embracing Trends
6P: Office Inspiration Board
7S: Find your Strengths, Weaknesses & Skills - Quiz
8S: Main Marketplace - Local
9S: Main Marketplace - Online
10S: Pricing + Production + Expectation = Success
11P: Business Calender
12S: Presentation through Display
13S: Presentation through Photography

Term 1 Text Chat w/ LA, Jill & Elsie
Term 2: March 22 - April 3
14S: Taking Advantage of Online Resources
15S: Taking Advantage of Local Resources
16S: Working with Etsy
17S: Working with Flickr
18S: 10 Things Not to Do
19S: Blogging Effectively
20P: Business Card Keeper
21S: Networking Locally
22S: Networking Online
23S: Print Media
24P: Creating a Blog Widget

Term 2 Text Chat w/ LA, Jill & Elsie
Term 3: April 4 - 16
25S: Full Time, Part Time, Hobby?
26S: Mainstream vs. Indie
27S: Time is Money
28P: Receipts Organizer
29S: Good Business
30S: Being the Face of your Business
31S: Work and Family
32S: Keep it Fresh, Stay Inspired
33P: Indie Goals & Dreams Journal
Bonus: You're your Best Cheerleader

Term 3 & Farewell Text Chat w/ LA, Jill & Elsie

This week I focused on research on the hows of starting a business. I re-addressed these questions:
What is the best way to show the development of my website? I had a wonderful idea to maybe make a short movie about the making-of my photo shoot for my first line of shirts. It'll be able to show my panel some tangible results and some inspiration. Perhaps a stop-animation to show the growth of my logo?

What product should I sell? I had an idea. Laptop bags? I am targeting a teenage audience that brings computers to school everyday. Genius or stupid?

My proposal needs a make-over. Questions like What is my brand name? and the Basic How do you photograph your items? need to be included in the proposal. I'll also have to revamp my plan for the 10 weeks to include this class.

Some things I have learned this week:
  • I need to create an inspiring place to create my work
  • I need to do some major research when I figure out a name to see if it is taken anywhere else so I don't have legal issues (yikes.)
  • I need a name that is easy to spell.
  • I should keep an inspiration journal (i do this) with times and dates so i can go back to the source when I'm not feeling inspired.
  • what words I want my brand to evoke.

Words that should be tied to my brand:
  • Fashion conscious
  • Environmentally-friendly (not focused)
  • Modern with a vintage twist
  • Edgy
  • Clean, Fresh
  • Young, but Mature (Is that possible?)
  • Excited
  • Focused
  • Fun
  • Whimsical, Dreamy

Goals for next two weeks:
  • Fix the Proposal
  • Come up with a name (big task)
  • Make a new blog layout.
  • Draw self-portrait for blog picture.
  • Make a survey for brand name
  • Finish reading The Handmade Marketplace
  • Schedule a DATE for my interview with Mrs. DeVito's daughter
  • Make interview questions.

Sounds like a busy week. Talk to you later.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

the blues

Week #2 Entry #1 02/07 - 02/13

I forgot to upload my journal entries for last week... here is one:

When my FOCUS adviser said focus can be lonely at time, I laughed. Didn't really believe her until now... I guess the double snow days kind of contribute to this, but I can't help but feel a little isolated. Tuesdays I don't have to go into school until 12:30. Sometimes it feels like I never get to see my friends because of my freak schedule. Plus, I have club meetings during Monday and Tuesday lunch, and typically my friends eat early. Additionally, work is overwhelming.
I am trying to create my own brand identity, product, running website, and become recognizable on campus in less than 10 weeks.
Awesome.. Sometimes I just don't know where to start or if what I'm doing is even going to help me down the road. Plus, it is SO frustrating doing an artistic related project. I feel like the program doesn't understand that I need to sit around for hours on end searching through blogs to see what is popular and to get inspiration. Getting inspiration can come from anything. I could be watching Annie Hall and suddenly come up with a brilliant idea that could be the breakthrough to an amazing company name. However, watching Annie Hall doesn't look as good on paper as doing a lab. It's annoying. All venting aside,things are beginning to look a little better. Ms. Diaz found an awesome online class, that is absolutely perfection for my project that I will talk about in my second journal. I am really psyched. In the class, I'll have structured homework and connection to a community of people doing the same thing as me, which is the solution to feeling so blue. It's really cool, but I'll wait until my other entry to share all the good news.

All things considered, this past week was pretty productive. Aside from blog-hopping, a term I made up to describe the process of looking at all the blogs that I follow for updates, I have been reading a lot. Also I found an excellent book. When I was out buying a Valentine's Day gift at Barns and Noble, I peeked through the crafts section and found The Handmade Marketplace just laid out right before my eyes like a message from God. I could not have found a more perfect book for my project. (I'll talk about what good information I have learned from that source in my other entry.) It is also so pleasing to look at. The illustrations are beautiful and inspiring in themselves. Like Six Week Start-Up does not make me want to cuddle up in bed to read. Six Week Start-Up reminds me of an army sergeant.


Sir, yes, sir. Thankfully, I don't know if Six Week Start-Up will be useful at all with my project. I think it is better suited for people who are trying to make the big time, not me just yet. My other book, Craft Inc., is proving to be helpful, but not as helpful as I had hoped. However, I can't judge it, I haven't finished it yet.

Oh yes, I have very very good news! I have scheduled an interview with Mrs. DeVito's daughter who has worked with major Fortune 500 companies and has a ton of experience in branding and marketing. I hope this interview will be helpful. She may be more knowledgeable about the big time companies, rather than my little project, but I am still so excited to talk with her. She will probably be very helpful in pointing me in the right direction when it comes to starting a brand and what makes a good name-type of stuff. I have to make a list of questions in the coming week to prepare.

Personal Goal for the Week: Don't get so stressed! It is a huge waste of time. There are a million creativity-sparking things that I can do that will be productive for my project and will make me happy as well. Okay, that's all for now.