Kim & Barry married under a full moon on a crisp November night in Northern California and it was absolutely everything. The event was held at Reinstein Ranch in Livermore just outside of San Francisco. If you know the Bay Area, you know that this is an area with stunning rolling hills that appear to go on forever. It was the most romantic and rustic backdrop you could possibly ask for. They saw the full moon as the perfect symbol of their two worlds coming together and even though the day began with storm clouds and rain, everything had cleared by the afternoon and everyone was treated to a glorious full moon in the evening. Kim and Barry spoke of their partnership with such love and affection each stating that the other allowed them to be their best selves. The event itself mixed several traditions and was even kicked off with a little sage burning before the ceremony began. Friends and family kept warm in blankets and by the firepits and heat lamps and clearly reveled in the joining of the bride & groom. You couldn't have scripted a more beautiful wedding.
It's that time!! Hello December! This is one of the biggest questions I get asked by friends and clients: Where should I print my cards!!?? Followed by, what's a photo gift that's not cheesy? No one really needs your face on a paperweight, right? Not to worry, I have some options (and a few deals) to tell you all about. I for one have been a little behind the ball on getting my own Christmas cards ordered this year but I've been trying to up my print game for a bit now so I'm excited to share some of my favorite companies to work with for cards and photo gifts!
(I'm interrupting to disclose to you lovely readers that I'm an affiliate with the vendors in this post and receive a commission when purchases are made through these links. But to be clear, these are companies I use myself and appreciate - it's really a win/win if you think about it. OK, let's get back to it...)
So why does print matter in the first place? I think we can all agree that it's how we keep our memories from fading, they're tangible meaningful physical evidence that we are here. It's so different from digital images on your phone or computer. Plus, who knows what file formats and systems we'll be using in the future? I mean, Facebook didn't even exist 14 years ago. Print is a real honest to goodness memory right in your hand and there's really nothing like it. With that in mind, here are some faves I have. Hope this helps you make some decisions and get those cards out. Empty fridges are awaiting your ugly sweaters.
Paper Culture Why do I love them? They plant a tree with EVERY order, their designs are kick ass, AND they use eco-friendly materials. I can't say enough good things. I got my personal cards from them last year and just ordered up a set for my Mom (we've been doing annual Elliott-family cards since 1986 y'all for reals, she's committed!) - Another awesome feature at Paper Culture is that you can have a designer review your card at no extra cost to make sure everything is looking good. I had one help me out with some of my colors to get them just so. They're currently running 40% off holiday cards through 12/12/17 so move on that deal while it's still going!
Parabo Press Parabo has some fun offerings including large engineering prints which are a beautiful way to showcase something like a big landscape or even a big family pic and bonus, they often have free print deals! I am a big fan of their squares and used them as part of my client gifts from last year. They also have softcover books and accordion prints that I think are perfect for grandparents and extended family gifts to tell more of a story.
Artifact Uprising I’ve been going to Artifact Uprising for years now for calendars and their new albums look awesome. I'm thinking about working that into my personal routine because I used to scrapbook (yes friends! I scrapbooked!!) and there's something about having it in print, in an album that is tangible and beautiful and ready to flip through that is so great. I HAVE to start getting images off of my iPhone. It really keeps your memories treasured. Back to the calendars, I love their design options an they have stands you can purchase (and then just order up another calendar next year without the stand) to hold all the months. I also like the idea of hanging them with washi tape or a magnet on the fridge. Another favorite product offering that they have now is their Baby Book. It's a stunning interactive journal that allows you space to write and room to add images. What a cool thing for your kiddo to receive someday.
Minted Minted is great because it's kind of a 1-stop-shop for so many gifts. There's apparel, artwork, stationary and not to mention the photo gift selection. Many interesting ways to turn those family pics into something fun for grandparents. (Plus, hey-yo - get 20% off holiday cards with the code: HOLPHOTODMOTIF through 12/31/17 - boom)
Family photos in the wintertime in Seattle can definitely come with some challenges. It's chilly, often pretty rainy, and keeping a little one upbeat in those circumstances can be...interesting. Omg, not this one. Little Scarlett was a freaking blast to photograph. Last year and this year we managed to be mostly rain-free throughout the session and then the rain drops came a knocking. We went to one of my favorite (sort of secret-sauce) spots in town the Arboretum Waterfront Trail. It's a lovely path that takes you through lily pads and across little footbridges and gives you lovely views of Lake Washington. Scarlett had such a good time exploring, walking her dogs, and hanging with her parents (or rather running every which way).
It's hard to say when exactly I knew I'd be friends with Sondra. If I had to bet it was somewhere between us laughing over a moment in Bridget Jones' Diary and us then taking it 10 steps further by actually reenacting an entire scene in person, WITH accents (as you do). Let's just say even with thousands of miles between us and limited opportunity to actually connect on a regular basis I feel incredibly close to this sassy and fiery lady and therefore immensely grateful. She's the kind of person that would fight for you if anyone so much as looked at you sideways and she has such an immense heart. Last month I ventured back east for some visits and my first stop was to see Sondra in NYC. We're always commiserating on life, love, work, and general ponderings and this trip was no exception. Sondra is a Director of Technical Design at Ann Taylor LOFT and LOFT Outlets. She has been there 18 years! Given that so many of us seem to job-hop a lot these days (myself included) I wanted to dig in a bit more. I think it's invaluable to learn from one another's experiences whenever we can so I asked her if I could interview her to learn a bit more about her career in fashion, living in New York (after years in New Jersey, she's a new-ish resident of Brooklyn), shopping trends (just in time for the holidays) and how she continues to look for ways to stay relevant in an ever-changing industry and workplace.
Can you describe your career path? Did it follow a specific trajectory from childhood or did it evolve a lot?
I knew from a very young age that I wanted to work in fashion. From eight on, I was doodling designs in a sketch book on a character named Martha Martle that I invented. I decided to go to Syracuse University because it offered a full liberal arts education. I wanted this just in case I was 100% sold on my new career. When I graduated I had a hard time finding a job as a designer. While SU focused on construction and pattern-making skills, they did not push portfolio. Other schools like FIT and Parsons work with students all four years on portfolio, so once they are interviewing they have projects to show employers. My portfolio skills were not strong enough to land me a job in design. I started freelancing at Ann Taylor in the Technical Design department. My boss, who is still a mentor of mine, Renee Bavineau, really took a chance on me. I was a 21 year old kid out of school, and I had zero experience. It wasn't like today where everyone has 3 or 4 internships before they start working. The interesting thing is I fell into Tech Design, but it's what I'm best suited for. I never had the most interesting or creative design at school, but I was really good at helping others to make their pattern better. I sort of lucked out that I'm in a position that I'm well suited for. I am responsible for maintaining fit integrity while also making sure the factory understands the aesthetic of the merchant and design team. I've been with Ann Taylor/LOFT 18 years. I'm a definite anomaly in that business. I'm also constantly open to evolving how I work and trying to pay attention to the industry, so that I have skills that will carry me into the future.
What is your favorite thing about working in the fashion industry and even more specifically working in product?
My favorite thing is the creativity and the constant change of the industry and business. I love working on product and figuring out how to make it better. It's really easy to work on expensive product, because there are no limitations. In my work, we have to continually find ways to move the product forward in a way that is appropriate for who we dress, while still staying within a certain cost and price structure. I manage a range of products at work, but my favorite is dresses because they are challenging to fit, but also so beautiful to work on. Dresses are emotional and feminine. I just love them!
You're located in NYC, one of the most inspirational cities in the world. What do you find most invigorating about it? Is there anything about it that you find challenging?
I love the energy of New York City. I grew up outside of Buffalo in a small little town. I wasn't exposed to many people who were that different from me--lots of working class Roman Catholic Italian and Polish families. I love that New York has exposed me to all different types of people. It really forces you to go outside yourself and to be open in a way that was not possible for me if I stayed close to home. The constant go of the city is this energy that just feeds me and keeps me moving, learning, growing and challenging myself. When I leave New York for too long I go through withdrawal. I get really anxious and I just can't wait to get 'home.' The things I sometimes find challenging--the cost of living, especially real estate and getting to an age where I am considering buying my own home. And also dating. With so many people it should be easy, but I haven't found it to be.
You recently moved to Brooklyn, arguably one of the hottest boroughs in New York. Do you have any insider favorite things to do or places to go eat in your new hood?
I love Brooklyn! I wish I moved here five years ago. I moved to South Park Slope from Hoboken, NJ in May of this year. I still have so many places to explore but some of my local favorites are Laconda Mariella, a great Italian spot with good wine. And I also love Piccoli Trattoria another great Italian place a block away from my apartment. Also in Downtown Brooklyn Dekalb Food Market recently opened. That is a great spot--all different local food vendors from around NYC and Brooklyn.
People seem to be making more purchases these days with littler known companies that are more mission-driven to make a difference in the world. Do you have any favorite brands that you're loving right now who are being innovative on that front?
Yes! I love what Everlane is doing with their total transparency. I also really like Rachel Craven Textiles based out of LA. The shoe company Coclico is all about sustainability, and accessories designer Clare Vivier uses more natural dyeing processes on her leather goods. My newest love is a local store in my neighborhood called Bhoomki. The only sell ethically made goods and they have their own label, which is made in an all women factory. And they are all about sustainability and employing factory workers in an ethical, fair way.
You've had a very successful career to date, What advice would you give to someone just entering the work force?
Be kind and be willing to work hard. I would rather employ someone with gusto, drive, and willingness than someone who on paper has the 'best' skill set. Dress professionally for your interview--I don't necessarily mean a suit, but look put together. It does matter how you show up and present yourself. And try to have fun with what you do. Try to create a work environment that is pleasant. You spends hours a day there, so you might as well enjoy it.
I typically photograph a lot of little ones so my photo shoot with the Azadi family provided a fantastic opportunity to try a slightly more adventurous location. We lucked out with a stunning San Francisco November day and met at the Land's End Visitor's Center. From there we meandered down to Sutro Baths and checked out the "ruins" of this once operating bay area bath house. We checked out a cave or two and then made our way up to the Land's End trail which led us to a beautiful vista where we had a perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Mak & Heather have their hands full with these three kids. They are so funny and witty it was hard to keep from joking. You can tell it's a family trait. Their sweetness was ever-present. You could see it when little Charlie helped his mom onto one of the tall rocks or when Isabelle took her dad's arm and my favorite moment of affection was Audrey photobombing her sister's portrait and generally hamming it up whenever possible. Watch out for these 3, I feel as though in the very near future, they'll be running everything and keeping us all in stiches while they're at it.
Okay y'all twin girls in adorable outfits and hats? I mean...get ready for this post. Ha! it was all I could do to keep myself from pinching cheeks and cooing. These two little ladies were WAY too cool for that though. Brooklyn and Lucy were such chill little ones just going about their day like having a photo shoot at the park was no big deal. I absolutely loved photographing this super sweet and very photogenic little family at Lincoln Park in West Seattle. We had the perfect day for it.