February 10, 2016

Reflections and Insights from 2015

honolulu hawaii beach sabrina chin

So 2015 just flew by.  It was a year full of saying Yes!, traveling to Crafts shows large and small and learning some big lessons along the way. I didn't accomplish all of the things I wanted, but here is what I took away from the past year:

vancouver convention center earth hanging

1. I challenged myself.  It was our biggest year yet, and I signed up to 2 big Crafts at the end of the year.  Holiday season is nuts, and I thought I was prepared but I wasn't ready for the response. We ran out of inventory in our Vancouver show and I had to build up stock in 2 weeks for our next show. A big feat since all of our products are handmade here in Toronto.  A lot of late nights and lattes in November were had. It was exhausting but exhilarating and I'm definitely my happiest when I can tell my story and see the pieces come to life on my customers. (Thank you dearly for continuing to support me!).

customer with leather feather necklace from Loveatfirstblush

2. Learned how to Build a Booth.  Dreaming up the perfect booth design for months and finally executing it paints a different story. Working under a budget and time constraints to construct a beautiful storefront for just a few days, then having to take it down, is sooo much easier said than done. Try setting up in 6 hours at 4 in the morning! A lot of lessons to be learned here but we managed to win Honorable Mention for Best Booth Design at the One of a Kind Show 2015.

oneofakind show booth display loveatfirstblush
3. Pivoting. My biggest lesson in 2015 is learning that the 'tried and tested' may not work the next year. Everything changes quickly, different platforms to social media, you name it, you have to  constantly adapt every year. Each year presents different challenges and you can't rest on what's worked in the past. It's about experimenting with the new and testing what may or may not work well for your brand. It's been a bit sad to see Canadian fashion brands go out of business in recent years, and perhaps they are not nimble enough to adapt to what is clearly a shifting market.  

4. Be Present. Living in a big city, especially one like Toronto, and having a business that runs online, it's hard to unplug and relax. It was nice to escape to Hawaii in July for some down time. The beautiful beaches, and gorgeous sunsets are amazing visuals and reminders to just be present in the moment.

misty vancouver harbourfront with seaplane landing

5. Vision. I had a big to-do list in 2015 and not everything was completed. As a busy entrepreneur there are so many tasks to complete that it can be quite overwhelming. It's hard to take time out to plan for the bigger picture but it's also important to grow and evolve. This year I'm allowing myself to map out my path and to not feel guilty about taking time out. As I come into my 6th year of business, (it's been 5 years since I quit my day job!) I've set some new goals and taken a new direction of where this brand will go. I'll be going back to school this semester and I hopefully will be sharing more of what I'll be learning here.



September 3, 2015

Outdoor Markets: Kempenfest 2015

As summer winds down and we look towards fall, I wanted to update you on our summer adventures thus far. We've successfully survived our first outdoor market over the July break. We were lucky to have such awesome neighbors beside us to help us out during that freak thunderstorm. Several tents blew away, but ours stayed pretty grounded.

We have a few shows lined up for fall and the holidays and I'll be documenting our process more in depth. Stay tuned, it's going to be very busy season!

Follow us on instagram at @loveatfirstblush for more adventures and behind the scenes of our studio.

Outdoor booth canopy set up at Kempenfest Love at first Blush
Colorful Floral Cat ears for sale at Kempenfest Loveatfirstblush

March 21, 2015

Design and Development: Sourcing the Finest Crystals

natural amethyst druzy geode gemshow
mineral and gem show with tibetan cystal quartz
sourcing through clusters of tibetan crystal quartz
gem haul of crystal quartz and tibetan quartz
rare spirit quartz gemstones and crystals
Lessons in Sourcing

When I worked for my last fashion design job, most of our trims and embellishments were brought to us on trim cards, all neatly laid with lists of color options. We would call our own in-house trim department to bring us several options of any trim we had our heart set on and in a weeks time, we would get an abundance of trims to choose from; from photos to real trims brought to us.
It was just as simple as a phone call or an email.

Having my own company presents its own set of challenges in sourcing as I don't have my own trim department and not everything is brought to me on a color card. Instead, I do my own shopping, locally and at trade shows, finding the right companies to work with that have the best quality and selection.

It's fun to pick out my own crystals and inspect them myself as each crystal is truly unique and one of a kind. It's like picking out a diamond, you're looking for cut, clarity and carat. For me designing and creating a product is about the process, always striving to continually perfect my craft. 
And because of this, I find I am very attached to most of my work because I know the story of how I bought each crystal and where it came from.


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