Today I'm going to highlight another handbag from my new Mary Pow collection: the Parallel Cross Body Purse.
When designing this purse, I explored color combinations that I feel reflect the seasons and natural world. At the same time, I used my interest in crisp, clean, straight lines to harness these colors. Each purse's color combinations are framed with beautiful, textural linen fabrics.
The Parallel Cross Body Purse features beautiful details, such as hand-pieced parallel lines on the front and small squares on the back.
This well-appointed cross body purse has several unexpected details to make carrying your essentials simple and accessible.
This purse currently comes in five colors: Sunset, Spring, Autumn, Winter, and Summer.
My entire new collection of handbags and wrap belts are now available in my online shop. Today, I'm highlighting the showpiece of the collection: my View Tote, currently available in two colors, Ocean View and City View.
To capture the brilliant look of sunlight reflecting off the ocean, I used four shades of blue in this tote. The hand-pieced detailing is surrounded by a lovely soft gray linen frame. The whole result is a stunning handbag with a look that you won't find anywhere else.
For City View, I used an entire gradient of grays to capture the quality of a city at night. The hand-pieced gray and black squares are surrounded by a dark-gray linen frame. The result is a dramatic, urban and modern look.
I prefer to work with natural-fiber fabrics, such as cotton and linen. That means these totes, and all of my handbags, are incredibly light-weight. It's a real plus for a bag to start out light-weight, when it's bound to be weighed down by all of the items you put inside.
The interior of a bag is just as important as the exterior. I've lined the View Totes with an incredibly soft upholstery fabric. An interior zipper pocket keeps your valuables safe or your private items hidden.
Well, it's over!
Months of prep, hours and hours of research, lots of designing, tons of sewing, hours of over-time, and yes, even a few emotional melt-downs... Plus, two days of show set up, one evening at the preview party, three days of the retail show, and a couple quick hours taking it all down...
I did it!
After a long wait in our car to get into the loading dock, my husband and I arrived at my booth space #1113, mid-day on Wednesday. We set up my pipe and drape, and prepped my space. Everything went smoothly; it made me so pleased of the work I put into designing a simple booth that sets up quickly and easily!
On Thursday afternoon, I leisurely put the finishing touches on my booth, got all my products displayed, and made sure everything was ready for the evening's preview party.
The retail show started on Friday morning. It was nice to arrive at the show knowing everything in my booth was already set up and waiting for me. What a stress free way to start the show.
I was very pleased to see that women loved my handbags. They raved about the unique colors and designs, and the lightweight quality of the fabrics. Actually, men also loved the purses; several told me that if they were women, they would be buying from me!
It was surprising to find out what colors most people were drawn to. The pink sunset with a touch of gray was very popular, as was the gray ombré with a pop of red.
I was thrilled on Saturday morning when, first thing, a well-dressed man wearing a dashing hat and a long red coat purchased a pouch that matched his outfit (center photo, above). He immediately transferred his phone and credit cards from the case he was using to the new pouch!
My wrap belts were very well received! Several woman who thought they couldn't wear a decorative belt tried them on, loved them, and purchased one! Many people told me how great they would be when traveling: just add a beautiful belt and an outfit will look completely different from one day to the next. Great idea!
I met so many wonderful people at the show. I couldn't believe how many people pulled me aside to tell me how amazing they thought my work was.
What a show!
This was the largest show I've ever done. It was so well-organized, too. My booth neighbors were great! I met the most wonderful couple from Colorado: artist Lynda Ladwig and her husband. (Check out her ceramics. I loved her work.) I pretty much talked myself out after three and a half days at the show. But yet, I sort of miss my home-away-from-home: booth 1113.
And thank you so much to all of you who support me and my work online. You are wonderful!
I'm down to the wire now. There is only one week to go until the St. Paul American Craft Show.
How am I feeling?
I'm proud of myself.
I'm scouring artists' blogs and Instagram to get an idea of what to expect.
I still don't know what to expect!
What's Happening This Week
This week I'm finishing up work on my final design: a coin purse I'll have available in eight different color ways.
I also got a chance to set up my booth!
My husband took our kids to visit their grandparents for spring break, and I took advantage of the empty house to do a trial run in our living room. Yes, I set up my entire 10 foot by 10 foot booth in our living room! It just fits!
I'm excited that I got a chance to set up my booth this week because now I'm not as nervous about the show. I even got to try out the lights, something I was very concerned about. I'm keeping it set up all week so I can add the finishing touches to it slowly.
Having an art show booth set up in my living room has transformed part of my house into a show room. (It also means I have to walk through a maze to get to the front door! What a strange experience!) I'm surprised how happy I am with how it looks. Perhaps you remember when I was so worried about figuring out how to create this booth in the first place? I have learned so much in these past few months!
Back from the Printer
I've received my promotional postcards, business cards, and hang tags from the printer. They printed a bit darker than I would have liked, but all in all, I'm pleased with how they turned out. I think the design I came up with reflects my style rather well.
One disappointment: I did not get the domain name I was anticipating for so long (www.marypow.com) in time to have it printed on these cards. But maybe that's good; it gives me plenty of time to figure out how to switch everything over to the new domain later, without feeling rushed.
Yet To Do
Next, I need to work on pricing, tagging, and packing. Tagging can be fun, and packing isn't so bad, but pricing? That I could do without. It can be very difficult to price one's work. Sometimes it's even an emotional process. Of course there are loads and loads of pricing calculators out there. Calculators that help an artist factor in the materials used, the time involved, the overhead, and the profit margin needed to sustain a business. But yet, these don't consider the "why": as in why does someone feel compelled to buy art or craft?
Pricing. Maybe that's a topic for a future blog post. But for now, I have a stack of half-finished purses calling my name!
The 2016 St. Paul ACC Show is April 8-10. I'm in booth #1113. I hope to see you there!
Timing is Everything
This is one of my favorite quotes. It's the perfect reminder for someone who wants to do it all.
I'm a busy mom of three young kids. I'm running my own creative business. I'm trying to do new work at the same time as maintaining my original business. It's a lot.
I have to remind myself that timing is everything. Yes, I can do it all ...but not all at the same time.
For the past two months I've set aside making sharks and bugs and whales, and all my other MinneBites products, to focus on my new work. I've been exploring new ideas and creating handbags and accessories in a more sophisticated style for an upcoming show.
It's been amazing and refreshing -- and incredibly difficult.
For one, I've had to say "no" to more people. I've had to turn away customers and custom requests. I have to do this to be sure I have enough time to create the new work. But, it's hard to say no. As a single-person business, it's easy to second guess myself. Especially when I'm spending money on my business, but currently not bringing much in!
For two, it means my MinneBites shop on Etsy and my shop on my own website are getting empty. I've had to take out all of the items I usually have as "made to order". As items sell out, I can't add them back in. The virtual shelves are getting empty! It's a bit hard to watch. I have to take a deep breath and remind myself of my goals for the year.
On the other hand, I have to be sure the relationships I cultivated throughout the years remain intact. For instance, this week I'm working on an order of sharks for UncommonGoods. They are a wonderful account, and I need to be sure I maintain that. But, I had to take a week off of creating new work.
And so... timing is everything!
I've become pretty good at creating a schedule. I've also become really good at adjusting - and readjusting - my schedule. Days off of school, sick kids, sick babysitter, sick sewing machine. These things happen.
We have to make priorities -- and then we have to be ready to constantly readjust.
I believe I can do something new...
I'm on a journey. And this year I'm trying something new.
It's tricky to try something new. You have to veer onto a new path and just believe that it'll be a good one.
Troublesome thoughts like to creep in ...
"What if it's a bad idea?" ... "What if nobody likes it?" ... "What if it is all a waste of time and money?" ... "What if it is too hard?" ... "What if it's too much work and I can't do it all?"
I tell myself that I can't think like that. Those kinds of thoughts are the rocks in my new path. I have to jump over them and keep going. If I don't, I'll be stuck in the path and I won't be able to move forward.
Here it is.
I am trying something new.
(Deep breath. Smile.)
I've decided that I should release my new work under my own name. It feels odd to step out from behind the MinneBites name. But, MinneBites will still be around. I love working on my MinneBites designs and I will continue to do so.
However, as I learn and grow and work as an artist, I feel that I should sign it as my own, so to speak.
My plan is to debut my new work at the American Craft Council Show in St. Paul this April. It's a very large, very well-regarded show that I am extremely honored to have been accepted into.
And yes, it's freaking me out a little bit, too.
I would love to have you follow along with me on my journey!
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I am an artist and designer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My specialties are textiles and pastels.