Thursday, November 10, 2011

Affirmation & Inspiration

 So I know my many many (like all three) blog followers have been waiting with baited breath to hear about my costume collection unveil in Vegas over Halloween weekend. The collection I decided to call “Vegas Marie” was a trio of Marie Antoinette inspired corset and mini skirt combos with lace bell sleeves and a ton of blinged-out French glitter girl accessories. My two girlfriends and I rocked it on the Strip in honor of my friend Nicki's 30th birthday. It was amazing. The photos are amazing portfolio material. We made the top 10 in a Las Vegas nightclub $25,000 costume contest and professional Las Vegas showgirls came up to me and asked me for business cards. It was everything I had hoped and more. It was affirmation.

It came on the heels of a horrible week – eh actually make that a horrible month at work leading me to the conclusion that I'm just not very good at being a property manager. I try, I care, but I still flounder. Possibly caring is really my problem. I take the constant criticism way too personally. I don't have the thick skin that business requires, I'm emotional, I'm passionate, and I pay for it.

This is exactly why I need to be doing something that I am passionate about, something I'm good at. My talents are going to waste. Being in a city like Las Vegas where everything you see is fantasy come to life really renews a person's dreams. Things are possible there. I know every time I go there I bring a piece of that magic back with me in my heart.

So the portfolio is coming together now with the Vegas Marie collection to round it out, and the website is actually up and running, although I still don't have quite enough inventory listed to feel ready to really launch advertising. Now that I have something I can show people to show what I can do, its time to set my sights on what will be the next big step. I would love to get a little more focused in my next collection, and show something that has real cohesion and vision, as opposed to just pulling out everything I already have in my closet and mashing it together. I need enough time to pull something like that together, so I'm thinking next summer. And I have a concept.

I'm not exactly ready to share the entire theme just yet, but I will say that the inspiration came from my trip to Vegas, and my beautiful friend Jessica. Since it was Halloween weekend, and we only had one costume actually planned for a three night stay, we had sort of planned ahead to bring costume accessories that could be worn the other two nights with regular party dresses, to be sort of “in costume”without having to go all out costume every night. Jessica brought us three gorgeous Venetian style masks. We ended up never wearing them. A few days after the trip, I glanced at my vanity at the pile of jewelry that I had unpacked in a fury looking for a pair of earrings we couldn't find when we were packing up already a half hour late for check out at the hotel . . . and the mask sitting prettily on top of the pile. Inspiration. In that pile of hurriedly unpacked accessories, I saw glitter and feathers and steamy Venetian Carnival nights. I love this part - the sketching and the dreaming, its almost as good as seeing it all live on real people. So stay tuned Glamour fans.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sweet Success!

I finally have a few minutes to relax and reflect on the experience of my first fashion show. Last week I participated in the Sugar does Seattle Art and Fashion Show, a show that mashed together designers with all different kinds of aesthetics as well as local artists and musicians. It was insanely fun, inspiring, and I learned a ton about myself as a designer and the direction I'm headed in.

One thing I learned is that I'm not a fashion designer. I'm still an accessories designer who is baby stepping into the world of costuming, in that I do design one of a kind wearable art pieces that are intended as a focal point, rather than a complete look on their own. In order to not send models down the runway naked in just hats and jewelry, though, (as exciting a show as that would have made) I needed to come up with clothing looks that enhanced the designs I was showing. I went with sheer tulle ballgown skirts and fishnets on each model, rounding out a bubblegum fantasy look that I got by drawing inspiration from the idea of the Sugar show itself. This genius woman, Timmery Turner, created Sugar in LA to support and promote up and coming female artists and designers. The spirit of this showcase, marrying different forms of street art with the next things in fashion under an umbrella of sticky sweet love and respect for each other in the community, is beautiful in itself. The collection I found myself making for the show was inspired by graffiti, tattoos, candy and sugar.

It was frikin fabulous. Backstage was nothing short of complete insanity. I felt like I was watching myself from outside of my body most of the night. I ended up with the greatest group of models and hair and make up professionals who WORKED my creations, made everything come together and were so easy going. A couple of them told me at the end of the night that I kept my cool under pressure and I was well organized, which I took as the highest compliment considering I felt completely the opposite. It was HOT backstage (and not just because of the male models being body-painted in every corner). There was very little room to maneuver and to get models dressed and get hair and make up done, everyone was sweating gallons. Another very important tidbit I learned about my previously untested in a real world setting corset creations – is that they aren't washable. Eww . . .

Its impossible to reflect on the night and not see things that I could have done better. For instance, rather than spazzing out on how awesome of a frikin acid trip dreamscape it was seeing my collection standing live in front of me, I probably should have been doing designer-y stuff like last looks before they went out. Watching the video back I noticed things like a necklace that I forgot to put on one of the models, which unfortunately I think made that particular look, and a couple of the ballgown skirts that were worn high on the waist when I would preferred to see them a little lower slung. I also intended to make rings as thank you gifts for all my models, but as I was still putting tags and linings in and changing directions on things for the show the morning of the show, I realized I wasn't going to have time for that (Sorry models). Then there was my rather pathetic tiny little vendor table, which could have used about 6 additional feet of room to spread out merchandise for the display to really look the way I pictured it in my mind. All in all really, that's minor stuff. It went incredibly well and had the effect that I wanted it to. Publicity baby!

I talked with tons of fellow fashion industry peeps at the show, and since the show the connections have continued to be made. I'm terrified now to lose the momentum I have going at this moment, so hopefully it wont be too long before I'll be announcing whatever's up next for Shameless Glamour!

I also have had time since the show to reflect on that dang company name again, after hearing it shouted a million times throughout the day as we all tried to get organized, I realized its kind of long and doesn't roll off the tongue as nicely as one would hope. I have debated dropping the “glamour” and just being Shameless. I sort of feel now that glamour is kind of implied . . . Either way, SG or just Shameless, its going pretty well. The website is going to start getting regular retail items listed on it soon and have full online shopping functionality, and hopefully I'll get a website launch party together this Fall. Stay Tuned!

Monday, May 23, 2011


During a critical conversation with my boss the other day I was told that I am perceived around the office as being, “a bit of a diva.” Well you got me there, I thought. In fact, I suspected the words he chose, “a bit of a diva” were deliberately understated to soften the delivery. If that’s as strong as the perception truly is then I’d say people around work don’t really know me at all. You want to see a diva, I can give you a Capital D to the IVA.

I pledged to attempt to work harder at developing interpersonal relationships with people around the office, and my clients. He went on. He used the word “aloof”– a word I detest. I explained what others perceive as being aloof is really just being guarded. I’m careful, I’m diplomatic, I’m professional. I guess that comes off to some people as entitled snobby little punk. Oh well I guess, if the stiletto fits . . .

After having a relaxing weekend away from the daily grind, spent in my true element preparing pieces to show in a fantastic art and fashion show this summer, creating and dreaming and reveling in the glittering colorful beautiful world inside my head, I emerged Monday morning with a wonderfully renewed sense of self. The perhaps unfortunate byproduct of this renewal, however, being that I realized I don’t much care what people at the office think of me.

In general, I don’t care all that much what anyone thinks of me anyway. Sure I like to be liked, but not being liked doesn’t have any effect whatsoever on how much I like me. I did say that I’ll try to “reach out” more at work, and I will, but I’m certainly not going to bend over backwards to make people see me as any less of a diva. If anything, they better be ready to see more of one. At one point in that horribly awkward conversation with my boss I did explain that the momentum I’m building with Shameless Glamour (which they are thankfully supportive of) is so exiting for me that I am likely to feel a little extra empowered and a little extra confident as things continue to blossom for me in that area of my life. That’s likely to make me act even more diva-esque.

Truthfully, I can hardly wait for the day when Shameless Glamour is ready to become my full time gig and I no longer have to have a “day job.” This is after all the dream of every small time entrepreneur in the beginning. Holding on to that dream is what gives me the strength to get up every week day and go to my boring thankless job.

The message that I have to share through my creations, through my REAL work, is one that by its nature, creates divas. Divas of all shapes and sizes and colors and orientations. Those are the people who wear my designs. Those are the people who know me. Those are the people I want to spend time around. Fellow artists and craftspeople. Lovers of all things sparkly. My Shameless Diva Nation.

If through my art I inspire even one little girl or boy to hold their head up high, rock some rhinestones and be the diva they were born to be, even if people will call them “aloof” or “snobby” or any of a hundred other things a diva can be called by people who don’t understand them, then it will be more than worth not having a lot of friends in the business world. The business world doesn’t get me. It doesn’t get any of us. But honestly, would we want it to? I’d say the business world better watch who it calls a bit of a diva, because it could be worse. I’m guessing if someone has an issue with me not asking about their day before I make a request of them, then they really wouldn’t like me walking around wearing a crown and a rhinestone encrusted corset in the office every day . . . and that could be arranged.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

World Peace

There is a rather well known stereotype that women who compete in beauty pageants are a bunch of vapid sparkly coked-up airheads who think that “world peace” is actually an achievable thing and given an opportunity to address a crowd, (such as during their moment of on stage glory during a beauty pageant) they will speak of it in a dewy, idealistic, generally ignorant way, with glassy eyes staring into oblivion and a robotic perma-smile emblazoned on their clueless faces.

Another sterotype about beauty queens, and perhaps this is more of a stereotype known better to those involved in the pageant world, is that beauty queens are shameless self-promoters. I had a very intense philosophical discussion about this with two fellow beauty queen friends in the car on the drive over to the pageant we all attended together a few weeks ago. (Yes, beauty queens have intense philosophical discussions). The word shameless kept coming up over and over. Shameless, being the entire theme of my business and something I generally look at as being a positive, self affirming, make no excuses, love who you are quality, could also be used to describe the, “get a picture of me in my crown over here with this homeless guy” mentality that beauty queens so easily fall victim too in the race for a bigger crown.

Like most stereotypes, both of these generalities have some roots in truth. But it’s the over generalizing and applying to wider groups of people that creates a stereotype, and makes it offensive in the first place. As a beauty pageant contestant, I am here to tell you, I have never tried cocaine. The rest of it, all true. My two friends and I made a pact in the car that night to be more aware of the self promotion behavior this year, and keep our actual volunteerism separate from our “appearances” where the crown and sash come out. As for the behavior of acting like Prozac zombie Barbies who believe in world peace . . . well, I’m not sure I can do anything about that one.

I do believe world peace is possible, and I do believe that human kind can forge a continued existence on this tortured planet and move toward healing the damage we’ve already done. Maybe I’m a little naïve, maybe I’m a little over-idealistic, but I don’t think its ignorance that allows me to still believe in the possibility of world peace and world wide healing. I pay attention. I watch John Stewart.

With the people of several nations in Northern Africa rising up over the past month and overthrowing their dictatorial governments, I think a lot of people like myself have found inspiration watching revolutions unfold. Yes, its not exactly peaceful, but times like this, tragic as they are, make you believe in strength in numbers, make you feel that by working together we can accomplish common goals, even a goal of eventual peace among Nations. If they can do that, then we can also do whatever it is that’s close to our own hearts here at home.

At the pageant a few weeks ago, when I wasn’t scrutinizing every inch of their butts for cellulite and thinking to myself “omg, I wonder if my thighs are that jiggly . . . ” I listened carefully to the ladies on stage talking about their individual platforms. I was inspired by the sheer variety of topics out there to be tackled and seeing that each of these ladies was taking on something different. The following week, a fellow member of a Green Living Committee I’m involved in through a professional organization, leant me a video. It’s called One Peace at a Time. The premise of this wonderful film is that if all the world’s problems or all of a region’s or group’s problems piled on top of each other seem too big to handle, too much to ever solve, one should start with the most basic one, and go from there. Just pick something, and tackle the thing that is the most basic item at the heart of the problem that’s important to you, and work on that.

That’s what beauty queens do. Beauty queens have an uncanny ability to pick a cause as their personal platform, roll up their beaded sleeves and dive into it, driving support to it, and speaking about it with passion, this is one of the reasons I’m proud to be a beauty queen, despite the stereotypes associated with it. Sure, we tend to make our personal stand wearing a crown and stopping occasionally to pose for photo-ops, but all self-promotion aside, there really isn’t many other activities in the modern world that allow a gal a reason to wear a crown in pubic, so you have to forgive us for wanting to get as much use out of it as possible.

I have also recently been looking for a way to use my business, Shameless Glamour, to support some of my personal causes so that it won’t just be a hollow and empty venture supplying sparkly things for meaningless purposes. (and to tie it in with my pageant platform thereby providing me with seamless segway options when discussing my business aspirations in a pageant interview, to move into talking about my community involvement . . . damn that is pretty self-promoting isn’t it?) So, anyway, this weekend, on an inspiration binger, between redesigning my website and ripping apart the altogether wrong start I had on my latest corset project, I designed a very special “Earth” glass nugget glitter cocktail ring.

I’ve been making these fun daytime casual glitter glass nugget rings with Hello Kitty and Mr. Yuck stickers for a while now, but I’m really excited about this new design, because it’s more than fashion, it’s meaning. It’s my little symbol of a clean, healthy, peaceful, sparkly, beautiful, utopian world. I’ve decided that the proceeds from the sales of this particular ring design will be donated to Environmental Working Group and/or Washington Toxics Coalition campaigns. It’s a small thing, but for my little fledgling business, (which is not exactly making a profit yet) I think it’s a good start. I believe that what the world truly needs to deal with the issues facing our generation as leaders, is just that, a start. . . . and world peace.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I have a girlfriend who will be celebrating her 30th this year on Halloween and she and her sister and I have decided to do it up big in Vegas. Since my 30th birthday ended up falling on a cold windy rainy traffic laden Friday night, my birthday party that year (as well as every major birthday party I've ever had) was less than well attended. So I'm looking forward to her's, October in a climate where you can wear a skimpy outfit without planning on only going places that have a coat and umbrella check. And since its Las Vegas, and I happen to be a woman who owns a jewelry company, it will be one more opportunity this year to draw some attention and hand out some business cards.

Yes, Halloween is still seven months away, but I do tend to plan my costumes that far ahead, I mean that kind of fabulousness can't just be whipped out at the last minute, it takes preparation. As things continue to come together for the online store, and I make plans for a blow out launch party and a trip to the East Coast this summer for a pageant/PR campaign, the year is shaping up to be a very over the top all out glam year for me. I wouldn't want it any other way (you know, in case this is the year before the end of modern society as we know it.)

In keeping with the all out glam theme, I think it may finally be the year I do Marie Antionette. I hadn't gone there before because it got a little cliché trendy there for a few years when the movie with Kirsten Dunst came out, but that is dying down now so I think it might be the perfect time to go for it. I've also been having these visions lately of how I might someday pull together a dream of an actual physical store, and in my mind's eye, I see white glitter covered mannequins in the front window, with Marie Antionette wigs, wearing my little feathered top hats and mini crowns. The fabulous former Dauphine of France is sort of becoming a sub-theme to my 2011.

The one issue I've been stumbling over a little since my revelation about contributing to the downfall of society, has been finding a balance between the utter fabulousness that I normally embody, and something called . . . humility. Shamelessness is pretty much the exact opposite of humility. How does one keep a modicum of humility when all of their goals involve promoting something that's all about freedom of expression, freedom to be over the top, and the freedom to boldly say “LOOK AT ME!!!?”

Well, for a start, I'm working on a page for my website to provide links and information on various charitable and/or activist organizations I already support, and can support even more through my business. For example, things like donating some jewelry to The Ruby Room, a local organization which collects used formal gowns and provides them to girls who can't afford a dress for their prom. Girls need the right jewelry for that prom dress, too. Shameless Glamour is going to be all about helping teens cultivate self-esteem through supporting organizations like The Ruby Room and keeping the arts in schools, as well as safe cosmetics for glamour that doesn't hurt the environment or cause disease. So, social responsibility may provide a little bit of weight to the other side of the scale, conscious-wise, but does it really help me remain humble? No, not really. It makes me feel even better about myself. Now look at me, I'm all sparkly and fabulous and helping others and saving the world and crap.

The thing about the word humilty that scares me is that from the same root comes the word humilate. I don't like to be humiliated. I don't want to have to lose embarrassingly to learn a lesson. I don't want to lose period. I want to be the decisive and glorious victor. Funny that my choice for a Halloween costume this year is someone who I'm sure, must have felt the same way. I wonder if Marie Antionette had moments (maybe just before the angry mob of French countrymen chopped off her head?) when she thought she needed a little more humility? Maybe I should go as Marie, post revolution. A zombie with head re-attached, yet now humble, Marie Antionette. Hmmm . . . I'll think about it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ah crap, did I just start the Apocalypse?

A horrifying thought occurred to me the other day and its got me all twisted up and confused about my goals. Well, ok not really. To tell the truth, it’s the kind of internal conflict that should have me all twisted up and conflicted, but it doesn’t. I suppose that’s the truly terrifying part, the fact that even the notion I may be contributing to true evil strengthening its foothold in our already corrupt and sinking society isn't dissuading me from wanting to promote my website, continue making new pieces to list in my Etsy store every night, and stockpiling supplies for genuinely fantastic statement art pieces to someday be displayed in galleries and in my own chain of storefronts.

I have these visions in my head for various objects which I intend to completely cover in rhinestones, large things, that will take a lot of frikin rhinestones. Like a mounted fiberglass replica of a marlin. I would call it “Disco Fish.” Its absurd and fabulous at the same time. As I’m thinking about the logistics in my head, though, I also thought about how I would describe my work when asked about it in a gallery setting.

The first question people will ask me about my art is am I trying to make a statement about excess? Something so blatantly excessive, it has to either be a commentary on our world of wanton do-whatever-you-want-iness, or its encouraging it. In my case, the whole theme of my business being “shameless glamour” – I’m not really going to be able to pull off making a social commentary on it. I’m totally encouraging it, and encouraging it shamelessly. I’m encouraging people to robe themselves in rhinestones and feathers, revel in excess and flaunt frivolity shamelessly. I’m basically promoting Sodom and Gomorra. I'm bringing on the very apocalypse.

I mean lets be honest, the end of the world has to be getting close anyway. Society is getting so corrupt and excessive and lustful with its 24 hours connectedness, automated everything, instant gratification everywhere, and now people like me out there selling rhinestone top hats and corsets. Real salt of the Earth, Angelique. There won’t be much use for a rhinestone encrusted corset during the apocalypse. Except for maybe as some kind of unnecessarily glamorous lightweight body armor. . .

Maybe that’s what’s got me so scared, really. The idea that the fun may be nearly over. Is it time to party like it’s 2011? I put off learning archery in favor of covering fish with rhinestones. Damn. Well, all I can really say is that if its almost over, if this is going to be the last year I have to ride the wave of frivolous bliss, I wouldn't want it any other way. At least I'll make some memories. I'm going to have a fabulous launch party a little later this year, and I'm going to go to New York this summer. I wouldn't want for the stupid apocalypse to happen and take away my means for being able to do those things, and not have done them. I wouldn't want to be huddling around a fire in a barrel at a refugee camp off some desolate dusty highway telling the youngsters about the good ol days and not have a fantastic story to explain why my body armor is made of rhinestones.