Looking Up…

August 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

We installed our new “old” shop sign this past Sunday.  I just love it; it incorporates reclaimed bits of tin and wood from my Grandpa’s old barn.  I’m glad to have a piece of him watching over us as he’s been the spark to my bird-nest-lovin’ fascination.  I remember being very little and running out to this very barn to greet him.  He had a special surprise for me…he held me up and high and on a shelf was a well formed bird’s nest with three small bluish eggs.  I was smitten ever since.

The weekend proved to be a bit better too as it finally seems some of our new marketing strategies are enticing people to come inside the shop.

And I officially finished my Orange is the New Black Cross Stitch Pattern.

It took exactly 44 hours within 8 days to complete…that’s an average of a little over 5 hours each day.  So, when I was finally done I spent about two days doing exactly nothing.  I did at least finish writing up the notes and uploaded the PDF with the computer generated pic (hated that!).  But, I was just useless.  Yesterday tho my malaise began to pass and I hand washed it and framed it up a bit later.  Now, I just need some real pictures and we’re all ready to celebrate for our official launch of August 15th!  Good things to come – so keep watch!

–Lisa LeBlanc

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Out on Good Behavior…

August 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

Ahhhhh…I’m 40+ hours into test stitching my new Orange is the New Black Cross Stitch Pattern and it seems totally conceivable I will finish well before the launch date I set for August 15th.  Awe Yiss!  Squeezing this into about a week in half has felt a wee bit like solitary confinement.  And when you do a chunk of monotonous work days on end, your mind certainly goes places you haven’t been in quite a while.   I revisited last meetings with friends who have passed, saw arguments and injustices long ago in a new and slightly wiser light, I even contemplated my value and place in life presently.  It’s been WAY intense and I so welcome finishing this and launching this baby in the world!

Today, though as I was finishing some details on the border and keeping watch at the shop, I was reminded of another prison drama.  A young lady (spitting image of Gretchen Mol, I swear) strides in clad in workout spandex and barks across the store “you gift wrap?”  I explained we do…sort of…if a store labeled bag is ok with a smattering of tissue, then yeah.  She ignored me, and I continued helping someone else.  She comes to the counter with a vintage tea set; darling for sure…total bitch to wrap for someone in a hurry.  So, I’m protectively wrapping each lid and vessel and oh. my. god. she starts to advise me on how to expedite this.  Remember Brooks from Shawshank Redemption, paroled and fumbling around as a meager bag boy?  That was me!

Trying to recover, uh, some dignity, I’m like “Sooooo…are you headed somewhere right now?”  She faltered a bit and finally smiled “uh, yes”“yeah, you seem a bit in a hurry”  Since I’m a pro (ha ha), I give her a blank enclosure card to fill out, at least keeping her busy while I finish up with the wrapping.  Thankfully, she seemed satisfied as she hurried along to whatever festivities (in her workout clothes – yoga party?)  I’m not mad; it actually is pretty funny.  We move so fast in life, we miss out on the details and tiny interactions with one another.  And if I’m being honest, I am just as guilty, because here I am, a chunk of a week en-massed in stitches…hoping they count for something and to someone.

–Lisa LeBlanc

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Strange Days…

August 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

This has been a tougher than usual Summer for our little shop; the last two weeks tho have been horrible.  There are days I could of literally sat in just my underwear for hours without anyone ever knowing…as no one ventured in…at all.  All summer we’ve been trying to come up with new marketing ideas, exciting lines and with our trip to market, we were super excited.  I just launched a loyalty program in store to reward my locals.  First I sent it out in our e-newsletter…I received the most unsubscribes right next to the time I messaged everyone about a charity crochet class to make hats for sick kids…for reals.  I posted it to Facebook (which I’m beginning to agree is useless) and got a smattering of likes.  *sigh*

Yesterday the one young lady that walked in was mesmerized with our new candle display.  I literally had just set it up 2 hours before she walked in and it was filled with brand new, beautiful inventory.  She gets on her cell phone and best I could tell she was having a real dilemma deciding on what to get for someone.  She said a couple times how lovely the candles were to whomever and then I hear her say “oh, yeah, I’ll just go to xyz shop” turned on her heel and left.  *sigh*

Despite being quite crest-fallen and wondering if there’s some kind of rumor in town that we kill puppies or something (we don’t), I was pretty eager to get to the shop this morning.  New day, new attitude!  And shortly after I opened the door an older lady enters…yahoo!  And just like I’m living in some bad rendition of Steel Magnolias, because she’s someone locally important’s mama – it begins.  She mills around and wants to let me know “no offense, but your shop sure isn’t much to look out from the outside”  She must of gathered I was a shade lighter than pissed and tried to recover with Southern charm “I mean its just soooo lovely in here…you just wouldn’t know all of this was in here”  This is part where I tell C and she asks…”what are we suppose to drag everything in the store out on the lawn”

I didn’t think the front was looking too bad.  I have mentioned before on the blog that I’ve gotten a few comment on the garden less I forget to weed the front.  Right now we have lantana in bloom and a nice stand of bright sunflowers.  C is working on enhancing our signage too.  And honestly its a rural town, we’re not Macy’s…and never will be.

And truly, it’s not just me that’s having a sh*t summer in town.  1 business closed last month, 1 will close this month, and 2 will more than likely be gone in September/October, their landlords just don’t know yet.  Everyone wants small businesses, mom and pops, but I don’t think the majority realize were an endangered animal of sorts.

–Lisa LeBlanc

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Catching Up…

July 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

I am really not sure where the month of July went?  Summer is nearly over and so many of the projects I just knew I would finish are still at the bottom of an ever growing pile.  ugh.

I can show you a few bits and pieces coming thru my studio…

A new chicken scratch embroidery design for Halloween!  It actually is embroidered with glow in the dark floss…gah, it is a-maze-ing!  However, my camera pooped out during our vacay and I’m just not sure how I’m going to capture that after dark glow with an iPhone??  I hope to finalize writing the pattern this week because Halloween will be here before you know it!

At a snail’s pace, I am still trying to keep up with the Craftsy Block of the Month.  This is June, recently completed in the month of July.   *sigh*  I love the block, the Lamoyne Star; but hated the technique of Y seams.  This was actually my 2nd stab at completing it.  The center points still are off but closer than the first try.

And here is July’s Tumbling Blocks all cut out.  If I complete it today then I will have caught up…but alas, I seriously don’t feel like sewing (more Y seams *sob*)…not to mention all the other things to do.  I really do need to assemble it soon as just yesterday a sales rep came in threw a bunch of his stuff on top of all the teeny tiny pieces.  What numb-nuts does that???  Seriously.

Believe me, he was just as annoyed with me.  This is where modern day Southern collides with the “Grand Ole” South.  Generally, I do not like sales reps to just drop in; I even have a nice note on the door to schedule an appointment.  No one ever reads it; so when “grandpa” strolled in and asked if I was too busy to see a bunch of stuff in the trunk of his car.  I replied “yes, I am – do you have a line sheet or website listed on your card”  First I noted an air of disbelief that I was truly busy and then he seemed surprised that I would ask for something of this nature.  A line sheet is a pretty common offering to leave with your clients.  He was already teed off, but I was curious – “what other stores do you sell to in the area?”  He wouldn’t tell me, he just slyly prodded “who you worried about, honey?”  No one – I just don’t want to carry the same sh*t my neighbor sells.  Anyway, hysterically – he told me twice before he left – that I could call him to set up an appointment.  For what?  I still have no idea what he sells?!  Ahhhh, retail!  It does keep life interesting!

Ohhh, and before I forget!  I’m so excited to say that just about a week or so ago, the HGTV Design blog featured my Downton Abbey Cross Stitch Pattern in a fun post about TV based DIY crafts.  Yay!  Check it out!

–Lisa LeBlanc

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Atlanta Market!

July 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

We’re back from market!

Wow!  It was a great show.  Not a ton of surprises trend wise…it has actually helped me stay above trends by having a strong foothold in the handmade movement and being active in places like Etsy and Craftsy.  What I did see was a renewed enthusiasm from both buyers and vendors – I think everyone is ready to shake off the doldrums of austerity and let loose…a little.   Okay what did seem to be on trend?  Here’s my short list:

  • nautical anything – anchors, stripes, knots, rope – even saw an uptick of mermaid stuff
  • woodland inspired – from cute creatures, to activities of fishing, hunting and camping.  (mushrooms were the big item in this trend and owls continue to thrive)
  • bold geometrics (such as chevrons).  Neon for kids and slightly muted for adult accessories and decor
  • vintage – duh.  reproduction linens, ball jars, anything you’ve seen on Etsy in the last three years.  (the hot trend was to retrofit vintage baskets, ball jars, even cheese graters into light fixtures)
  • handmade-ish knit and felted wool creatures either for children or morphed into home decor/gifts for adults.
  • accessories.  nearly every gift line is dabbling in jewelry.  We found some neat things to mix into the shop.
  • succulents – this doesn’t directly apply to gifts and decor – but they were used in many showrooms.  Look for items such as terrariums or glass orbs to help display customers’ collections.

Now for a little seen and heard…

  • Kurt S. Adler snagged the licensing for a line of Downton Abbey ornaments.  I totally wanted to order but C said no…too many of our customers prefer Duck Dynasty to Downton…so we got this:
  • Also, at Kurt S. Adler, I walked in on a buyer’s total meltdown.  OMG!  They usually have buyers for large stores and apparently none of the true decision makers were in the group.  Drama ensues and someone (some guy) nearly cried…”guys (choking back tears), I just don’t want you to think I’m not pulling my weight!”…”Jeffery, just write a proposal and he will review it” – what what?  Y’all know we’re shopping for Christmas ornaments, right?
  • Magnet Works probably lost my business 4ever.  I’ve been ordering for a while, like years.  I go to their booth, and it was like tumbleweed.  I’m greeted and the specific questions I ask are barely answered…okay, I ask for a catalog so I can look up the answers.  Nice lady grabs one out of a cabinet of 200-300 catalogs.  I’m flipping through it and trying to navigated their booth – which is a hot mess – stuff too high to sort through and a really awkward astroturf/stepping stone path that I kept tripping on.  “Can I just bring this catalog home tonight and give you a written order tomorrow?”  since this was just taking too long.  She asked for a business card and it’s the ONE thing we forgot.  I explain; she scowls.  “No, sorry I can’t”  “Really…I’m going to place an order, a reorder”  “Oh I guess”  Um yeah, retailers/vendors please take note!
  • We got kind of caught up in Building 2’s upper floors of 16 through 18.  It’s a lot of huge showrooms dedicated to rep groups.  So ultimately, millions of little booths…a bit of a headache to navigate.  We ended up finding these super precious items from the Aspen Companies, we found ORE products (a friend and I had had success with them in the past in another venture)…I don’t know if they were exhausted but they had a little trouble identifying their best sellers…eek.  I looked into Sloane Ranger…I’ve been watching them for a while as they have adorable fabrics used throughout their bag collection, its just the zippers are HUGE and the labels…ridiculously huge, like someone driving 50 miles an hour can read it’s a Sloane Ranger bag in detail as you walk along the street.  They had a few modifications in the zippers that I liked but the damn labels!  Then the very twee sales girl shows me a case of jewelry (see everyone is into accessories)…and she picks up these very twee anchor charms and seems mesmerized in their tiny, special, twee-ness and I don’t even know what else, picking up each one and then repeating in the same order – saying little but how tiny and special they were. Everything was telling me “abort, abort”…I ask what the minimum is and she says $500 – uh bye.
  • I fell in love in the back room at Raz.  Well, with their closeouts. How long has everyone known about this???  Some of the case lots were ridiculously large (not as large as Sloane Ranger tags…but almost).  As one lady shopping next to me put it when she couldn’t touch the case lots offered on most items  “My husssbannd sez wer smaall potatoes”  and yeah, I guess I am too.  But I got some fabulous finds and a good price I can pass on to my customers.
  • We made into the Market Buyers Club…Oh yai!  The Buyer’s Guide detailed that based on our past attendance we now had access to two specialty lounges – ooh la la.  However, they were never on an actual floor where you would possibly want to shop.  Oh well, we were excited with the extra little mention on our badges…like we were big small potatoes, or something. 

I hope to get back a bit more often in the next couple years.  The trip actually confirmed for me that I’m still offering something of value to my customers and community.

So keep your eye on our main website for all the new market finds!

***not all pics are mine; each is linked back to their respective home on instagram.

–Lisa LeBlanc

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Christmas in July

July 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

image courtesy of the Ponchatoula Chamber

This weekend we’re celebrating Christmas in July in both my tiny town of Ponchatoula and my shop, Nest Interiors.  The idea is to get a head start on holiday shopping…uh whatever, right?  No one will question if you totally decide to splurge and treat yourself.  We’ll still have you covered last minute for the holidays…so, you might as well go for it as no one will remember you like tiny embroidery scissors that look like a stork, or honey scented bath bombs, or even a little rubber duck with devil horns?

The entire shop is 15% off including sale items (excluding our silver monogram line of jewelry).  Can’t make it – that’s ok,  the website is open and the discount is yours through Sunday – just enter HOHOHOT at checkout.

–Lisa LeBlanc

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March 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

Here’s a sneak peek of a new pattern I am currently developing.  The pattern is mostly complete; I just like to stitch everything out to see how it will finally look and oh yeah, I’m complusive!  It’s been several months since I’ve stitched and it feels great to be creating something new again.  Over Christmas I had developed a small cyst in my finger (no cause for alarm) but the amount of stitching I was doing (and the speed) really, really aggravated it.  It’s still there but, so far, I’m not having a bit of trouble.

So, last night, all I have is one hour, one measly hour, to stitch.   Everything is set, the house is quiet, my work area set, and my hulu queue set with (I am so embarrassed to say) The Carrie Diaries.  Or what I like to call the perfect crafting storm…hit play and realize my white embroidery floss had been pinched.  I suspect the cats.  Anywho, I moved on to another color and grumbled a bit.

Hopefully, I can move on a bit faster through the weekend.  I need a new TV series to bridge my time through the stitching.  I’m not sure if you’re like me, but I have to have something on while I work (even in high school I had to have a TV on while I studied).  But it has to be just the right kind of show or movie; nothing too good or interesting to draw you in and simple enough to follow along in case you miss a bit because you aren’t really paying attention.

The last two weeks I found the Netflix series House of Cards; I love Kevin Spacey and I love politics…but everyone in it is just an absolute train wreck and makes for excellent crafting tv.  I made a ton of jewelry for the shop through 13 episodes including these totally sweet and innocent wire wrapped bird nest pendants in the midst of episode after episode of power grabs, deception and fairly self-destructive behavior!   Whoever said you can’t be productive while sitting for hours watching TV was wrong!

–Lisa LeBlanc

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