Wednesday, 22 December 2010

happy christmas...

I’m sat having an easy thursday afternoon in my day job just waiting to hear if there are any last minute alt's to a branding job I have been squirreling away on. In an hour I break up for the Christmas holiday’s (my first time off in eight months). The office is closing until the end of January and I am taking a small break from ‘Dear Colleen’ to re charge my batteries. I've had an amazing five weeks in the run up to Christmas and did far more business than I ever dreamt I would - those who lived through it with me on twitter will quite rightly think I’m a total moaning mini but now I’m on the other side I can look back and say it has been amazing and once again this year I feel like I was chucked in the deep end and somehow didn’t drown.

It’s a funny thing facing Christmas alone on the wrong side of the world. For a start it’s pretty dam hot and sunny over here, which to my English brain just doesn’t make sense. More importantly I am just about as far away from my family as I can be, I feel a little sad about that but I’m mostly sorted and am looking forward to getting the day off to cycle, catch up with friends and relax. I also love to cook so will spend at least part of the day making lots of yummy food including the legendary pav, which I believe is the Kiwi Christmas desert of choice. I hope you all have lovely Christmases however you’re spending the day.

I just have a few people to thank who have gotten me through the last few weeks; Chris and Sandy my bosses at scooter design endlessly supportive and kind employers. My assistant Jen who filled in for me at the Auckland Art and Craft Fair at the drop of a hat and who has also helped me run a passable wholesale business. Evie for keeping this blog alive and putting together some fabulous articles with little or no guidance from me and finally I huge thank you to my brilliant Mother the most remarkable person I know, she has kindly managed my UK based Etsy shop and wholesale orders. She just got on with it, know what she was doing and made my life a lot easier. I couldn't have asked for more.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Christmas in New York

My guess writer Evie is just back from New York (lucky girl) so here's her top tips for a festive time in 'the city'...
I'm really lucky. I just got back from New York where I had a super time as both tourist and bargain hunter. As someone who resents having christmas in summer I loved the cold, short days, incredible Christmas displays and totally excessive use of fairy lights. I would recommend to everyone to save your pennies and try and visit NYC around Christmas at least once in your life. And so with no real theme in mind (hipster, budget, fashion) I restrained myself to suggest just 5 places you must visit. Luckily they're all free or inexpensive so that leaves money for spending on the good stuff!

1). Brave the crowds on 5th Avenue and the Rockerfeller Center. The Christmas decorations and window displays (particularly at Bergdorf Goodman pictured) are spectacular and you have to go and try on at least one pair of insanely expensive shoes. If you're brave (I wasn't) go in the morning when there aren't queues and go ice skating.

2). Eat at Five Guys. Traditional style burger joint, there are several as they are now a national chain but still feel like a one off place. Nothing flashy but the burgers and skin-on hand cut fries are incredible. Make sure to get ALL the toppings and I recommend getting takeaway and eating in private. It gets messy.

3). Visit the Guggenheim. NYC is full of amazing galleries and museums but to me the Guggenheim is the best. It's a stunning piece of architecture and such a clever layout. It's size and format means the exhibition is really well curated and entirely manageable. No art over-exposure or sore feet. I've been twice and loved it both times. Even non art lovers will be able to handle this one.

4). Go to Brooklyn, especially up to Williamsburg. If I went again I'd spend most of my time over there. It's too cool. It's so nice to get away from the noise of the city too. You must go to Beacons Closet (both of them) and Buffalo Exchange thrift shops, great pickings at fair prices just give yourself plenty of time and energy. Check out all the little shops you pass as well, especially on 5th Avenue in Brooklyn.

5). Ok I'm going to cheat on my 5 things and put two together. Go to Grand Central Station and just marvel at the ceiling. It's so pretty, plus you can stand there and think about all the movies that use it as a place to lose people (so if you're travelling with someone you want to ditch go here and run off). Finally, obviously you have to go to Central Park even (or especially) if it's snowing. It's a great place to people watch and see lots of pampered NY dogs and crazy dog walkers walking 12 dogs at once.

Now I'm really going to cheat and share just a couple of quirky shops you should checkout.

The Evolution Store in Soho, If you love Taxidermy, you'll love this place and The Mysterious Bookshop, a bookshop specialising in crimes and mysteries.

I was really lucky to get some great recommendations on where to go. Guide books are one thing but it means a whole lot more fun when you can get some real life tips from some like-minded people. So with that in mind please share your favourite places, shops, things to do and eateries in the comments.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

house keeping...

While it's been a busy couple of weeks for me, this of cause has lots to do with the run up to Christmas and is also partly down to the fact I've been lucky enough to have myself and my work featured in a handful of rather cool places (mostly blogs) but I also did my first magazine interview with Homestyle. Thanks to Jessica from Foxes for scanning it in.
As for house keeping. Firstly Christmas posting dates, that's it for orders to the State and Canada the final guaranteed delivery date as been and gone - sorry. Our lovely neighbours in Australia still have until the 9 December to place orders and New Zealanders can wait until the 20 December to get their orders in. Also New Zealander might like to buy my items from Foxes or Felt as prices work out a little cheeper postage wise, plus Foxes have an exclusive line of 'Dear Colleen' items including the 'Skills' poster pinned above my desk in the photo.

I'm also showing at two fairs over the next couple of week - my assistant Jen is taking a big bag of goodies up to the Auckland Art and Craft Fair next saturday (so sorry that work commitments mean I'm unable to attend myself) and the week after I'm at the Christmas Craft2.0 at the New Dowse. I think this is likely to be my last outing in New Zealand so make sure you drop by to say hello if you're in Wellington that weekend.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Christmas knits...

Every Christmas I watch Bridget Jones. If DVD's were like books my copies of Bridget Jones would be a well thumbed, coffee stained penguin paperback. There is something about all that snow, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant that puts me in a festive mood. So when I thought about christmas sweaters (or jumpers, or pullovers) I instantly thought of Bridget and Mark Darcy in theirs. Any other time of year I would grimace at the sight of someone in a jumper like that but at christmas they are ok, they can even be kind of cool. However before you settle down in your knitted glory with some eggnog comfortable in the knowledge you're not completely breaking a fashion crime there are a couple of rules to follow.

  1. His and Hers or in fact matching with anyone is still a big no-no. You may have christmas spirit but you have not lost (all of) your dignity.
  2. Leave the flashing christmas tree earrings at home, or even better in the bin.
  3. Snowflakes are best, seconded by deer. Anything with a smiley face comes last ie. reindeer with smiley face, christmas tree with smiley face, christmas pudding with smiley face.
  4. You do not want to dress like a christmas pudding.

Now, there are two ways you can wear your christmas sweater effectively (although the second one is questionable):

1. Nonchalant hipster chic. Hipsters can enjoy christmas too. Look a bit cutesy and kitsch. Team a loose sweater with skinny jeans or tights and some big clumpy boots (engineers boots look good). Roll up your sleeves, roll up your jeans if you like. You can even have some holes in your jumper if you're into that. Make it look like it was your Dad's sweater and you just don't care. Curl up in the library or a cafe. Look cool. You may add a hat.

2. Snow bunny. It doesn't matter if it's not snowing just channel some Scandinavian vibes. This look is best pulled off with a longer knitted dress. Wear tights (or don't if you dare) and pixie boots, or elk fur boots and maybe an elk fur hat or ear muffs (not recommended for southern hemisphere). Wear some blush to give you that wind burn, cold air glow. Goggles are a nice touch. Look streamlined and sexy like a Bond girl, or better, a Bond villain.

Example 2. D&G winter 10-11

If you don't have anything suitably festive lurking in your cupboard I've found a couple of workable ones for you.

From left: ASOS Fairisle jumper £38 , Topshop Deer jumper £48, ASOS Curve Blanket Cardi £29.

Because it is the season of good will I'm going to end this post by saying that if you still have an overwhelming desire to make like Mark Darcy and wear something totally absurd, you may. Just make some mince pies too.

Fashion Friday by Evie Kemp