The adventures and musings of an aspiring shoe designer

Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

I Surrender

Through much contemplation I have decided that it is within my best interest to take a breather and stop trying so hard to make the shoe design business work.  I have come to realize that sometimes the harder you try the more you miss the reason you enjoy it in the first place.   I have learned through this process that there are more important things in my life and none of them have to do with getting anything more than I already have.

These are some of my visions and I know just how they should look.  I find the ideas come naturally, the drawing and specifying a little more difficult, but the execution well; this is the difficulty.  I am well aware that the execution is what makes or breaks them.  Through many lessons that I could share one day, I have learned that I alone do not possess all the necessary elements to make this work at the level to which I aspire. 

I am finding that although I know it is possible for me accomplish what I wish, it comes at a cost I am unwilling to pay.  I would love to see these shoes come to life but, in order for that to happen I would need the right team around me.

If someone wishes to steal the designs, so be it.  I know better than most what it takes to make this happen and not just anyone can do it, regardless of the money spent or the willingness to learn.  I am at peace knowing the designs are mine. 

The way I see it, they will either become a bad knockoff and will not look as intended or I will find the person(s) who can turn them into reality.  If the latter were to happen without credit to me, I will still be at peace.

Should my drawings find their way to the team of people who can make this work and should they think I have enough talent to invest the time into developing the designs and the designer that would be one dream come true.  If not, I accept what is and what will be.   

In any case, I am taking the time I need right now to gain balance in my life. I will gladly share more of my drawings when I have the time and inclination to do so.

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Balance

It has been eight days since my last post and I am writing this one to say that although I will still continue to blog I need to create more balance in my life. If I intend on having any time to devote to starting this business again I need to apply more focused effort and reduce my task list drastically, which means the blog will be less frequent.

Like many wives and mothers I continually face the struggle of attempting to wear many hats and often times I find when the balance is off, not much is accomplished. I am making a conscious effort to take many things off of my to do list, decide what is important and what is not, so that I may begin on much more sold ground.

Monte Carlo

After all that negativity I thought it would be nice to share something positive. These pictures were taken on a trip to Monte Carlo a couple of years ago some of the pictures are in Nice but most are in Monaco.  This was my first trip out of the country and a wonderful experience all around. I found myself speechless and in absolute awe at the beauty we saw during our visit. Enjoy!

Starting the New Year Right

I am one of those people who really feel good when tasks are completed, lists are checked off and things are organized.  So I am happy to report that I am starting the year off right. Christmas has been put away and the house is back to normal.   I have cleaned out my office which includes going through the previous years files and magazines to downsize.  I also finished all of my year-end accounting and filing for both home and business, so I am organized and ready for tax time.   I finally have a system that I feel works well and after doing the year-end routine I think I have nailed the easiest way to stay organized.

My magazines – I keep them for one year so I will only have January to December, I do one final look through and tear out and file inspirational pages, then either recycle or donate the rest of the magazine.  You’ll find that if you have a nice little stack your local fashion college will love the donation.  I remember when I was in design school we used those magazines for so many projects, it’s nice to be able to give them a second life if you can.

The receipts and paperwork – At the beginning of the year I organized a file system in my office and these are catch-all folders that are for house, my son, business, to do, etc.  At the end of each month I empty the catch-all folders and file everything in the yearly master file, I have one for home and one for business.  I have a separate receipt master file, again one for home and one for business.   I learned in previous years the way taxes and receipts are categorized so I set my master files to match those categories.  This year I was able to file December and then go through the yearly master files.  I threw away the unnecessary receipts and paperwork.  Shredded the statements that I don’t need anymore, and have my envelope ready to send my accountant. 

On a side note I had to close all of my accounts and start over in early December because someone had gotten my debit card info and began stealing from my account.  I do my best to stay ahead of the game but there seems to be no perfect way to avoid being a victim of theft.  I am well versed in how to handle the situation because this has happened before, a few years ago someone stole my husbands identity (they have his social security card).  Because of the social security number being compromised this is something that we will have to guard against forever, apparently.  Not sure if you were aware but you cannot get a new SSN even if it has been compromised.  Either way, this is a good reminder to pull your credit report and see whats happening.  I do this every 4 months anyway because of the identity theft. 

To get your free credit report go to annualcreditreport.com you can get one report from each agency every year.  Because this has become part of my accounting system how I do this is that if I get the Experian report, I calendar this in my Blackberry with the date and the agency, then 4 months later I get the report from TransUnion, then 4 months later I get the Equifax.  This is the free way to see your credit three times a year.  You will not get your score for free, but I find that this is a good way to keep up with what’s happening to your credit.

I am also reviewing my goals for the upcoming year and beyond and looking over last years financials so that I can start on the right foot this year.  I hope that you are all starting off your New Year feeling good as well.  Happy New Year.

Some of My Favorite Things

I thought I would share some of my favorite things with you; not that I’m Oprah or anything but for me they make life a lot nicer. 

My Ipod – this is truly my most treasured possession.  I have had the same one for years and believe me I’ve gotten my monies worth and then some.  Not only do I have all my favorite music but I have all my favorite books on it.  I love to read but who has time to sit and relax with a book, not me (maybe when I retire).  I listen to all my different books while I put on my make up, work out, drive, clean the house, etc… honestly I probably listen to 10-14 books on average a month. 

Which leads me to my next favorite thing – Audible.com, I absolutely love this company.  I am a platinum member which means I pay $22.95 a month and I get 2 credits.  With 2 credits I can buy 2 books and get 30% off any other books after I’ve used my 2 credits.  You can build up credits they don’t expire and you can cancel anytime.  I have been  a member for a couple of years now and have had no problems whatsoever.  If you listen to a lot of books like me, you really get a good deal this way.  Some of the books I listen to have taught me a lot about my next favorite thing.

Meditation – You don’t have to pay a penny for this one but I have to say I believe meditation to be the best therapy there is.  I do not claim to have mastered it and still have difficulty getting my mind to shut up.  However,  if I go a day without meditating I can feel the difference and it’s not good. 

Yoga – I actually haven’t done this in a long time,  I have a pretty bad knee injury that put me out of commission for a couple of years.  But, I do believe I will start practicing again, because I do remember how much better I felt when I was doing yoga daily. 

My Friends – Almost the same description as meditation, costs no money but possibly the best therapy there is.  If you don’t have some great friends I suggest you start being a little nicer and you will be rewarded with untold riches. 

Dogs – Now I know that everyone is not a dog person and if you are not then, please don’t get one  If you do get one make sure you know what kind of lifestyle you lead and get the appropriate dog for your life.   However, because I work from home I spend a lot of time with them and honestly I just wouldn’t want to live in a world without dogs.  They are a lot of work and yes they cost a lot of money (almost as much as children) but to me they give me so much more than I could possibly give them.  When Santa visits our house the kids get pictures with him and so do our dogs.

 

Keurig – I got this coffee maker as a gift from someone who obviously knows and loves me.  I drink 2-4 cups everyday and I really don’t know any better way to start the day than with a cup of coffee.

Chocolate – No need for expensive chocolate, pretty much any kind will do, I feel the same about chocolate as I do dogs, I don’t want to live in a world without chocolate.

Crown Burger – My favorite fast food joint, you might not have one near you and I am sorry because you are missing out on some pretty fantastic fries and fry sauce. I allow myself the treat of one Crown Burger visit every week and when I didn’t live here  and came to visit I would always make it a point to stop in and get some fries.

Christmas traditions – My husband loves Christmas and because of him we have developed so many wonderful traditions over the years and these are the things that you just can’t buy.  I hope you have your own traditions, for me Christmas is one of the best times because that’s when I feel the most “home”.  

I hope you all get to go “home” and have a Merry Christmas.

Does Quality or Value = Price?

I recently saw this in a little magic shop on their counter and really liked it so I asked the owner if I could take a picture.  I’ve actually given this a lot of thought in the last couple of years.  As I attempt to manufacture my own product I have a different perspective on price, value and quality.  This also ties into my thoughts of downsizing the unnecessary out of my life.  A few years ago I started to feel overwhelmed by the accumulating “junk” in my home, of course when we bought it we weren’t thinking we were buying junk but ultimately that’s what it ends up being a lot of the time. 

With this in mind I started cleaning house, literally and also started changing my buying habits.  How I look at things now as I am removing the clutter and unnecessary items from my house I ask myself a  series of questions. 

1. Do I use it?

2. If so, how often?

3. Do I love it?  

4. Is it a treasured item that brings me joy in some way?

If it doesn’t pass these tests I have been able to let it go and have learned that I need much less than I used to think I need.  I also find myself shopping with these same questions in mind.  I have bought a lot less of everything this year because of it. If I am trying on clothes and I am not excited about what I am seeing in the mirror, I put it back.  If you don’t love it in the store you surely won’t like it in a week, or at least that is true for me.

As a manufacturer my original thought was that I needed to produce the best quality and only use the best components because this would ultimately give my customers the best product. However, now that I’ve been at this for a while I am changing the way I view this.  My current opinion is that value is really the most important factor and depending on what the purpose is I assign value accordingly, based on what is important to me.  The value I place on an item gives me the formula for how much I am willing to pay. I tend to be both frugal and extravagant depending on the situation and I can be both of these things in the same five minute period. 

For example two of my dogs love to chase tennis balls but one of these dogs is always losing them or biting them in half so although I use them daily and feel like they are a necessity in my weekly shopping I am unwilling to pay for the good ones, obviously it doesn’t make sense to do that.  If I were a tennis pro I imagine I might have a different opinion but, as these are for the dogs to lose and chase I don’t need the best. However; I have found that there is one brand (I will not name names) that is not the cheapest, probably in the average group, but these ones, because of their quality or lack of it,  are easier to destroy, sometimes within 3 chomps.  I have learned that these are not worth it for me, the ones I do buy are a titch more expensive but can take a few hundred chomps. 

When I shop for jeans however I will find a pair that looks good and feels good, I don’t care what the price is.  I am short so I have difficulty finding a good pair of pants that don’t make me look like a munchkin.  Because of this difficulty in finding good pants when I do find them I keep them for as long as they last, I will wear them as long as they still look good.  Based on cost per use even if I pay a small fortune it is worth it to me. 

When I shop for jeans for my son it’s a different story, he is tall and grows out of pants very quickly. I tend to buy only a couple of pairs at a time for him and although we don’t get the cheapest as a rule I am more frugal in this area because I’ve learned I will be back in a month or two to buy more jeans for him regardless of the quality.  Either he will grow out of them or he will ruin them so it’s not worth it to buy quality or pricey jeans in this situation.

If I am buying something real trendy that I know will not be fashionable next season I wont’ pay a lot of money for it.  Again based on cost per use and the fact that I tend to get tired of trends really easy I don’t assign a lot of value to this kind of thing. Usually I will do trends in shirts and jewelry and if they don’t last the entire season I am not heartbroken about it. 

If I am going on vacation or have an important event, usually a couple of times a year I will buy something that makes me feel good.  These feel good items have a lot of wiggle room for me because these are the  items I will buy simply to treat myself, I know I probably will only wear that beautiful gown once but, you only live once.  This is where the “do I love it” comes in, if I am absolutely taken with something I will assign more value than it is probably worth because I love really beautiful things. 

If I buy something very cheap I tend to assume that it won’t last and for some things that is fine, some things don’t need to last they just need to fill a purpose.  I also find that if I pay a premium price for something because I think that the quality is better and it falls apart, I am expecting the store to fix the situation and I start to develop an opinion about just how good the quality of their products are.  If the store handles the situation well they earn some bonus points if they handle it badly that will end it for me.  I have a strong sense of customer service and I will vote with my money.  I can get over a quality issue but I cannot get over a service issue.  However if the particular brand continues to have quality issues I vote with my money there as well.   As we all have learned just because it has a premium price does not mean you are getting  premium quality and I have a much higher bar for anything that is priced above similar items in it’s category.  I don’t have any hard and fast rules it’s just what I find myself doing.

So keeping this in mind if you are a manufacturer it is important to understand what purpose your product serves.  Who is your customer and why are they buying your product? There is a market for high, mid and low price in every product, but you need to be aware of why people are buying your product and what the expectations are at each level.

Angels Among Us

This Thanksgiving feels quite different to me this year and I want to share with you the reasons why.  Usually this is the time of year I start to focus on what I am grateful for and to remember just how much I have to be thankful for.  Tis the season to give presents and shop for our loved ones in hopes that they will see how much they mean to us.  This year I won’t need to do that; yes I will still be buying some presents however, this year is different.  I have made it my mission to be thankful and grateful every single day and to attempt to tell all of my family and friends how much they mean to me. If you are my friend and I have not let you know all the ways I am thankful for you, trust me you are on the list but, it takes a lot of time to adequately acknowledge each of you. 

At the beginning of the year I decided that I was going to consciously notice, appreciate and acknowledge all the good I see around me. We are so bombarded by so much bad news it’s no wonder we start feeling so hopeless.  But if you know where to look, you can see amazing things.  Although the business side of my life didn’t go too well this year I have to say my personal growth saw its best year ever.  I have learned that no matter where you are in your life you can always give something of yourself.  As long as good energy is behind it whether it’s money, time or just your presence you would be surprised by how much you have to offer.

One of the many lessons that I have learned this year is that there are angels among us, they look ordinary (in fact they look just like you and me) but they really are very extraordinary.  Every time I choose to acknowledge, appreciate or notice (it is a choice), when I take the time to look I see many wonderful things happening all around me.  What  I also see is that I give myself the greatest of all gifts, this is the gift (for lack of a better word) we cannot find in a store, in a job, in a jar of cookies…..somehow we always seem to be looking in the wrong place. 

So in honor of Thanksgiving I want to share with you all the angels and in some cases groups of angels, I have met this year and some that I have known much longer.  It goes without saying that I am grateful for my family and friends but those thank you’s are private, this year I have some additional people who I want to acknowledge. 

German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County – These are the angels that saved my boy Courage, if you know me well, then you know Courage.  If you don’t he is the guy that (if I didn’t already know saving dogs was my mission here) cemented it.  This is a true fairy tale complete with a wicked witch and a very happy ending.  Here is one link but, there are so many stories about this very strong, brave dog you will be able to read as much as you want just google Courage the German Shepherd who had to eat dirt to survive.

Rocky Ridge Rescue –  And then there was Teagan, another fighter that (if possible) has a worse background than Courage, Teagan is the little dog that could.  Janice Wolf owner of Rocky Ridge Rescue is saving Teagan and many, many  others, she is one person we should all look to if we want to see amazing.  This one womans dream has become a sanctuary for so many deserving animals. If you want to see what love can do or if you just need a shot of joy just take a look at Rocky Ridge’s Facebook pictures.  Janice Wolf is the best humanity has to offer.

Dogs Deserve Better – The lady that started Dogs Deserve Better; Tamira Thayne is quite the rebel and I love her for it.  Her organization began when she was arrested for saving a dog that was literally freezing and starving to death at the end of a chain. She risked herself  and saved that dog, and yes you read that correctly, she unchained a dying dog and took this dog to the vet and saved his life and for this she was arrested and convicted. She has started a revolution and I am grateful for people like her that take a stand for what she believes in, she is and will always be a hero in my eyes, regardless of her criminal record. 

Rolling Dog Ranch – Don’t let the name fool you, Steve and Alayne take care of every kind of animal, what makes this sanctuary so special is that all of their residents are disabled, from blind horses to deaf dogs, everyone is special here.

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary – Possibly Angel headquarters, at least when it comes to animal  angels.  I am proud that such a wonderful place calls my home state their home, they are the best of the best when it comes to animal sanctuaries.

Autism Speaks –  A good friend of mine has a little girl with Autism so through her I have learned what a wonderful organization this is and I encourage you to see for yourself.

No More Homeless Pets – My local branch includes Danielle and all her co-angels who have given all they’ve got to see their goals become reality. The goal is to move toward a day where we have “No More Homeless Pets”, they are making great strides but, like anything else there is room for improvement.

Make A Wish – This group has always held a special place in my heart as one of my dear friends Michelle was granted a wish from these angels, she used her wish to take her, then 8-year-old, daughter to Disneyland. This was one of the happiest times in her life; as a mother nothing can bring joy like giving your child a gift you never thought you could afford.  Not too long after that wish Michelle lost her battle with bone cancer, she was 26 years old but, the love I feel for these people and what they do lives on.

Coastal German Shepherd Rescue– As is true with many other rescues they have saved so many like Alfie, Angel and Phoenix,  it’s really hard to pick one because like so many angels they do great work and it just never ends. It’s a good thing they don’t get tired, these angels. 

Operation Roger – These are angels disguised as truckers, they haul their load and also deliver rescued animals to their new homes.  So often homes can be found but getting the animals to a different state means the difference between life or death. Sue and her fellow truckers will help whenever they can.

Salt Lake County Animal Shelter – Not only have they done great work for other dogs and cats, when my Darbie was missing a few months ago I got to see first hand how great they are and how they do want every animal to find their home. I owe them a special thank you for reuniting me with my lost senior dog.  Side note – I found out that the microchip she had implanted as a young dog no longer sends a signal, turns out this happens quite often so please check your microchips when you go to the vet as a preventative measure.

Toledo Area Humane Society – This wonderful group went above and beyond with the care of another one of my beloved GSD’s. Sarge was shot, close range, 6 times by his owner and somehow managed to live.  Some may have heard of him some may not, but this shelter earned a spot on my list forever for giving this dog a chance at a new life, his new name is Paladin and he now resides at Best Friends. 

Guilford County Animal Shelter – These dedicated angels are taking care of Chamberlain and Phoenix and Susie as in Susie’s Law and too many others who’s sad, sad story I am finding is all too common. 

Corridor Rescue –  Better known as the Corridor of cruelty, Deborah Hoffman  is one woman who proves one person can make all the difference in the world, she is most definitely an angel among us. 

Project Safe Pet – Because the south can be a very dangerous place for animals, this rescue organization works to save as many as they can, they work with another group Cloud Nine Rescue Flights to get these dogs and cats to safe homes in other states, until they can get laws in place in their own state. 

ASPCA – You all probably know who they are and what they do, but they are there doing what they do everyday whether you think about them or not.

These are just some of the angels I’ve found, there are so many more but, they don’t all have websites or news stories but they all are doing great things.   I would be willing to wager that if you took a look around you, you will see some angels among you as well, maybe in the mirror.

So this Thanksgiving and every other day of the year I am thankful to be surrounded by compassion and love everywhere I look.

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