January 7th, 2014

5 expert tips on bra care and fitting from San Francisco’s Alla Prima

5 Expert Bra Care Tips

In need of a proper bra fitting, I recently visited the wonderful San Francisco lingerie shop Alla Prima for the first time. In addition to a new size diagnosis, I also got a lesson in bra care that I won’t soon forget. In the spirit of spreading great advice that will extend the life (and dollar) of your underthings, I just had to share.

  1. Wash bras every three wears. Dirt and sweat break down the elastics, so regular washing will keep them feeling new longer.
  2. Always hand-wash, using Forever New. Don’t use Woolite, it’s a detergent rather than a soap and is hard on lingerie (and even clothes). Tocca is another good alternative. To remove excess water, don’t ring out, press between towels. Lay to dry.
  3. When you’re trying on a bra, clasp it at the outer-most hook, the largest band size. All bands will stretch out over time, so give your band room to grow while maintaining the right fit.
  4. Three basic bras and three fun bras is a good wardrobe minimum at any given a time.
  5. Get fitted by an expert. I always thought my band size was a 34, but Alla Prima measured me at a 32. It felt tight at first, but after wearing this size for a few months, I now realize how important that is for support and taking into account the way bands relax over time.

Another note on fit: I’ve heard for years that for proper support, the band should fit tighter than you might expect. But after being sized by novices at shops like Gap Body and Victoria’s Secret, I went years with band sizes that were too loose. Think of it like buying jeans — you know they’re going to stretch with wear, so start tight with room to relax over time.

If you’re like I was and need a full bra-fitting revamp, be prepared to get “friendly” with your measurer, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the nuances of fit and cup styles (demi, plunge, full-coverage, on and on). There’s no sense being shy about getting a fit that will help you feel great about yourself!

***

Lastly, for the easiest bra shopping you’ll ever experience, I can’t recommend True & Co. highly enough. The online bra boutique offers free shipping for at-home try-on boxes of five bras at a time, and the feedback they’ve gotten over time on those boxes has led to invaluable information on what bras are suited to what body types. Before I ordered from True the first time, I knew I needed a hands-on fitting to determine the right size (hence the learnings above!), and my second box of try-ons is on its way now. You can get $25 off a purchase of $100 using my referral link.

Graphic at top made from images from trueandco.com

December 11th, 2013

Giveaway! Win $100 to San Francisco boutiques + my gift picks for style-savvy families

Gifts for Style-Savvy Families, curated by #sunanddotter

Thanks to SixDoors, today I get to offer a $100 giveaway! And introduce you to a new way to shop. SixDoors is a San Francisco startup with a wonderful local-focused mission: It’s an iPhone app that offers shopping and same-day delivery from hundreds of SF boutiques.

I have loved this app so far. And I’m not just saying that. I believe wholeheartedly in the dollar-vote effect of supporting independent brands, as well as of supporting local businesses. When it comes to discovering and shopping independent brands, I do it all the time — but mostly online. To discover and shop local boutiques is a different practice, fully in-person, taking the time to walk, Lyft or drive to each shop. UNTIL NOW. In shopping the SixDoors app, I’ve discovered multiple local shops that I didn’t even know existed. (And I stay in-tune with this stuff!) Now I love A&G Merch and Twig Gallery and Mabuhay, but I only know about them because of SixDoors. It’s an all-new approach to shopping your own community, and I’m excited to see where it goes.

So, onto the giveaway! I’ve teamed up with 11 other SF bloggers to highlight our favorite products that are available for same-day delivery through SixDoors. We hope you’ll #ShopLocalSF this season and support the local businesses that make this city so fantastic.

My own favorites make up a gift set for style-savvy families: Each of the products above will satisfy parents’ style standards just as much as they’ll entertain their kids. A win-win that I always love! (Cue Sun + Dotter plug.) Each item is available for same-day delivery anywhere in San Francisco. To access, download the SixDoors app and head to “The Holiday Shop” tab, where you’ll find this and 11 other hand-picked gift lists from bloggers like sfgirlbybay and Style Smaller.

Gift list details, clockwise from top left: Santa Fe Kids PJs from Bath Sense ($48), Fred XYZ Wooden Blocks from Twig Gallery ($34), I Can Fly (illustrated by Disney-famed Mary Blair!) from Tantrum ($4), Buck Stacking Game from A&G Merch ($49), Wooden Puzzle from Tantrum ($34), Djeco Ocean Puzzle from Fiddlesticks ($22), Jess Brown Paper Dolls from Half Hitch Goods ($39), Wooden Four-in-a-Row from A&G Merch ($69), Maileg Wolf with Scarf from Tantrum ($34). 

In support of #ShopLocalSF, we’re giving away a $100 credit toward any items from SixDoors! 



And the best part is, you can enter a separate $100 giveaway on EACH of the following blogs.

 

  • Day 1, GIFTS TO PAMPER A FRIEND: Visit Victoria of SF Girl By Bay on Friday, 11/29 to find perfect gifts for pampering.
  • Day 2, GIFTS FOR THE TRENDSETTER: Visit Kelli of Leopard and Lavender on Monday, 12/2 to find stylish, of-the-moment gift ideas.
  • Day 3, GIFTS FOR CITY KIDS: Visit Kate of Style Smaller on Tuesday, 12/3 to discover picks for the little ones in your life.
  • Day 4, GIFTS FOR THE NEWLYWEDS: Visit Allison of Engaged and Inspired on Wednesday, 12/4 to find gift ideas for your favorite new couple.
  • Day 5, HANDMADE GIFTS: Visit Natalie of Coquette on Thursday, 12/5 to find items made lovingly by hand.
  • Day 6, GIFTS FOR SAVVY HOSTESS: Visit Melissa of Savvy in San Francisco on Friday, 12/6 to find gems for your favorite in-the-know gal pal.
  • Day 7, HOSTESS GIFTS WITH A TWIST: Visit Paul of Urbanite Suburbanite on Monday, 12/9 to find a little something unique for your holiday hostess.
  • Day 8, GIFTS FOR THE FOLKSY FOODIE: Visit Ana of Fluxi on Tour on Tuesday, 12/10 for yummy, giftable treats.
  • Day 9, GIFTS FOR STYLE SAVVY FAMILIES: Visit Janette of Fashion Loves People on Wednesday, 12/11 for unique gifts for parents and kids.
  • Day 10, GIFTS FOR THE FRENCHIE FOODIE: Visit Andi of Misadventures with Andi on Thursday, 12/12 to find great gifts for the Francophile in your life.
  • Day 11, GIFTS FOR THE STYLISH GOURMAND: Visit Marcia of Tablehopper on Friday, 12/13 to find great gifts for your favorite foodie.
  • Day 12, Visit Adelle of Fashionista Lab on Monday, 12/16 to find high style items for you or your favorite fashionista.

 

Cheers to discovering some amazing San Francisco-based shops (and blogs!) this holiday season! Check out all of these hand-picked gift sets and #ShopLocalSF by downloading the SixDoors app.

November 5th, 2013

Join my DIY feather headdress workshop for free, live online this Thurs

DIY feather headdress and crown

On Thursday, I’ll be teaching my feather headdress workshop LIVE online! For free!

I hope you’ll tune in on creativeLIVE from 9 a.m. to noon PST on Nov. 7 and make a headdress along with me. Or you can purchase the class for $19 for access anytime. Enroll now for reminders.

I’ll share how to make two styles of feather headdresses: First, my traditional style made with suede, and second, a new lace crown style that brings the bling. The beauty of these headdresses is that you can personalize to your heart’s content. They’re perfect for any age, from infants to kids to free-spirited adults. Using a tie-back closure makes sure they’ll fit any size, anytime.

Here’s what you’ll need to make one or both styles. I recommend finding these materials at your local fabric or craft shop so you can color-match and be hands-on (and support local biz!). But if you can’t find the right products there, I’ve linked to my favorite online options above with the “#” signs.

Leather & Feather Headdress Supplies

  • 2 leather strips, approx. 1.25″ x 17″ (You’ll need a way to trim these precisely, like a rotary cutter with a metal ruler and cutting mat. You can do it with scissors, but it doesn’t turn out as precisely as I prefer.) #
  • Suede lace, approx. 3′ #
  • Feather trim, approx. 5–10″ (I.e., feathers that are sewn together with an edging, which is much easier to control than individual feathers.) #
  • Tandy Leather Weld glue #
  • Aleene’s Tacky Glue #
  • Paint brush (for glue, optional)
  • Accoutrements: Additional loose feathers for lining the band. Rhinestones. Sequins. Additional feathers for layering over the standing feathers. Glitter. The sky’s the limit!
  • Flat iron for hair (for redirecting feathers, optional)

Lace Crown Supplies

  • Crochet lace trim, approx. 15″ (Look for crochet lace that looks like a crown, with a distinct zigzag pattern on one side.) #
  • Beacon Stiffen Stuff #
  • Lumiere metallic fabric paint #
  • Paint brush
  • Glitter
  • Rattail satin cord
  • Aleene’s Tacky Glue #
  • Accoutrements: Feathers. Rhinestones. Sequins. Etc.

I’ll detail the full instructions in the class.

See you there! xo

diy-feather-headwear

October 25th, 2013

What happens when you invest in a woman + 30% off at FashionABLE (including the scarf I designed!)

To celebrate FashionABLE’s third birthday (congrats!), the team has put together a beautiful video about the power of investing in women. It’s amazing the impact it can have on all the future generations she touches — even more so than for a man. Please watch it and share!

Today would be the perfect time to support FashionABLE in their mission, as it’s the last day to get all products on the site at 30% off. That includes the brand’s new leather goods, as well as the scarf I designed earlier this year, the Genet scarf! (Did you miss this? Yes, we share the same name!)

 

October 18th, 2013

Today, The Podolls launch their flagship store + Podots for kids

The Podolls flagship store

“When did you get your hands on the kids’ pieces?” “Two hours ago,” answered Josh Podoll, just three days ago while we were at a special preview event to celebrate today’s opening of The Podolls flagship store, which beautifully showcases the line that Josh and his wife Lauren design together. The opening of the store also marks the launch of Podots, their first-ever kids’ line, inspired by their adorable 2-year-old Dashiel. I was dying to see it…

Podots by The Podolls

And it blew me away! Fortunate for all of us who love to coordinate with the littles, the Podots’ textiles and shapes are all echoes from The Podolls’ gorgeous women’s line.

podolls-jess-brown

And what, doll clothes, too? Yes, they totally collaborated with Jess Brown in Sausalito to outfit her beautiful rag dolls. Too much!

podolls-minimalism

“Minimalism” tees for hardcore dads.

The Podolls: She.Rise kids' bracelet exclusives

Besides showing off its eponymous line, the store is stocked with brands that complement the aesthetic Josh and Lauren have perfected — and the accessories are stunning, from Freda Salvador shoes to Clare Vivier bags. And the jewelry case! For one, Lauren worked with She.Rise to add a few exclusive sizes to their line of Swarovski crystal wrap bracelets: Kid’s sizes! It’s hard to read the scale here, but the kid’s pieces are on top, with the women’s coordinates below in the case.

Podots by The Podolls

You’re dying for these to be available online, right? Coming soon!

It’s been a treat to call Lauren and Josh friends since earlier this summer, and I couldn’t be happier for them right now. To purchase from The Podolls is to support so much goodness, as they are an amazing example of combining earth-friendly textiles (including the Ghandi-founded Khadi cotton from India), ethical production in San Francisco, and designs that stand the test of time. They’re beautiful people, inside and out.

The Podolls’ flagship store opens today in Burlingame, and you can shop their current collections online.

janette-lauren

 

September 18th, 2013

Welcome to my home! My baby-proof styling and nursery

Home of Janette Crawford, creator of Sun + Dotter baby & maternity styling service

Last month, I had the opportunity to share some scenes from my home with the wonderful Camille Styles. Photographed by Maria del Rio, we showed a few areas that are fully styled, and yet fully kid-friendly. I want my daughter to fit into my life, rather than the other way around — in the best possible way. (Keeping my sense of self was something I was afraid might not be possible after having a baby, but it is! I started Sun + Dotter to help other people go through this process more confidently than I did.)

Baby-proof styling is a concept I love — and one that I haven’t seen anyone else offer as a service! To explain just what I mean by “baby-proof styling,” I mean interior design that takes into account babies. Furniture and rugs that are durable, cleanable and comfy. Decor that’s not dangerous or breakable. No loose lamp cords. And as few plastic doodads as possible. So here’s how I’ve done it in my house.

Home of Janette Crawford, creator of Sun + Dotter baby & maternity styling service

In my Camille Styles interview, when I said “Just put the nice things up high,” Camille called me a genius. (Love it!) Like in this shot, I put a few nicer frames and art pieces on the mantel where Viv can’t reach. I burn candles up there, too. The phases of the moon print is by Frederick Akum from Little Paper Planes, and I took the photo myself of me and little Viv, with a tripod and a remote! Viv’s chambray shirt is from the Baby Gap boy’s section, and the striped leggings are from Old Navy. I found her party hat at Tantrum.

005_Janette+Viv

I’ve always loved vintage Danish candlesticks and have collected a handful of them, and neither they nor Viv can do much to hurt each other. And I adore the pairing of these two art pieces: An Alyson Fox print next to a Danielle Krysa (a.k.a., The Jealous Curator) original. Two amazing artists I’m lucky to call friends.

Home of Janette Crawford, creator of Sun + Dotter baby & maternity styling service

Some of my favorite pieces are in this shot. From the top down: The black-and-white family photo was a flea market find rather than my own family, but they’re all so beautiful and happy, I couldn’t not buy it. (I found this several weeks before I found out I was pregnant, starting my own happy family! A nice omen.) Beside that is a 1940s photo of the small Craftsman house Jon and I owned in Kansas City, and beside that a baby photo of Jon. I made the “coil pot” bust in a college ceramics class. On the next shelf is another Alyson Fox print (also in an Ikea frame, with plexi rather than glass, in case Viv gets hold of it). On the bottom shelf is one of my new favorites — styling shelves with pillows! These neutral-shade kilims go perfectly with my eagle cushion by Areaware, which is modeled after Victorian dolls — a toy that doesn’t look like a toy.

022_Janette+Viv

This is one of my favorite photos that Maria captured. Sweetness times a million. My kilim pillows are from Craigslist and eBay, and the artwork is by Tchmo. Of these two things, I love how the styles contrast and the colors match, both of which make them work so well together.

The home of Janette Crawford, founder of Sun + Dotter, personal shopping & styling for design-conscious parents

Like I mentioned on Camille Styles, this is an Ikea Karlstad couch, which I added Midcentury-style tapered legs to (mainly to disguise the Ikea-ness). I shopped so many couches, from $100 to $10,000, Craigslist to Room & Board, but the draw of the removable, washable cushion covers is what sold me. It’s really comfortable, and the color disguises my white dog’s fur without being too light to live on. The new legs really did an amazing transformation. The rug is Alyson Fox for West Elm.

The home of Janette Crawford, founder of Sun + Dotter, personal shopping & styling for design-conscious parents

This is really just a promo shot for yours truly, but this bench is another spot where everything is baby-friendly. More pillows and books, plus a wood sculpture by Workerman and an Ikea fake plant. Plants add so much texture, but this one won’t spill dirt everywhere when it gets knocked over. The wooden cars are handmade in Iowa by Bannor Toys.

The home of Janette Crawford, founder of Sun + Dotter, personal shopping & styling for design-conscious parents

Onto Viv’s nursery! I love gallery walls but haven’t done one anywhere else in the house, so Viv has a few. The artwork, clockwise from top left: A framed Hmong textile I got on eBay; a Hammerpress “Hello Baby!” card from Jon’s sister when Viv was born; a sweet card that says “ça va?” that I bought at Tantrum for my fellow-Francophile husband; a Matthew Korbel-Bowers print from Society6; a Lucius Art print from Storenvy; another Society6 print; Lisa Congdon’s neon Painted Ladies, exclusively from The Bold Italic store, and an Alyson Fox print that you might recognize from the Sun + Dotter website. On the dresser: a paper bowl made in Africa, a peacock from Twoolies, an elephant from Nook-Nook and a rabbit from Dsenyo. All these animals are from social-good companies, and their global styles and colors are perfect for the room.

The nursery of Janette Crawford, founder of Sun + Dotter, personal shopping & styling for design-conscious parents

The first thing I bought for this room was the Themis mobile, and from there a brightly colored, pattern-filled theme emerged, including lots of textiles from around the world. The Midcentury rocking chair is vintage from Stuff, the dresser was an amazing Craigslist find, the crib is Ikea via Craigslist and the rug is from Anthropologie.

The nursery of Janette Crawford, founder of Sun + Dotter, personal shopping & styling for design-conscious parents

I found this limited-edition Indian wall hanging at Ikea as well. It’s hard to capture neon colors with a camera, but the yellows and oranges in this mobile are definitely day-glow. They made creating a cohesive color palette for the room a bit of a challenge, but once I incorporated some textiles with hot pinks (as so many textiles from around the world include, like the Hmong fabric above), things clicked into place.

The nursery of Janette Crawford, founder of Sun + Dotter, personal shopping & styling for design-conscious parents

Viv’s moccasins are from Manimal, handmade in Brooklyn by Kristen Lombardi. Her headband is from my store, a Thief & Bandit Kids string headband made exclusively for me. The striped shirt is from Mini Boden.

The nursery of Janette Crawford, founder of Sun + Dotter, personal shopping & styling for design-conscious parents

The door to our backyard is in Viv’s room, so I needed a rug that could handle (or in this case, hide) the dinginess from frequent foot traffic. These wooden toys are by Janod, Plan Toys and The Original Toy Company.

The nursery of Janette Crawford, founder of Sun + Dotter, personal shopping & styling for design-conscious parents

I’ve been collecting patches from all the states Viv has been to. I’d like to sew them all onto a classic weekender bag, but for now they’re just decor in her room, along with some taped-up Instagrams I had printed through Picplum.

***

I’d like to pretend that sharing these photos from my home is no big deal, but in reality, it blows me away that people might be pouring over them on Pinterest the way I’ve done with other people’s homes. Be sure to read the Q&A that accompanied the photos on Camille Styles, because I shared more styling tips that I’ve gotten great feedback on — thank you!!

If you’d like to learn more about the baby-related personal shopping and styling I’m offering, read more and join the newsletter at Sun + Dotter.

xoxo!

September 6th, 2013

Favorites: Sun + Dotter edition

playdate6

  • It was a treat to be featured in Jeanne Chan’s Playdate series on Shop Sweet Things. Jeanne, Eva Kolenko and I took our little ones on a picnic in Alamo Square Park. I was there, and Eva’s photos still make me want to be there. I’m amazed she got so many great shots of Viv, because I swear all Viv did that day was run away from me. Until she became obsessed with this baguette! Hilarious. Kids are the best.

  • This just in! Last month, I had the opportunity to do a video series with eHow on pregnancy fashion. This is my first stab at on-camera work, and of course I want to fix every little stutter, but I’m so happy with how it turned out. I had fun with this video about versatile maxi dresses, especially because I love any maternity-friendly wear that can be worn outside of pregnancy as well. We’ll see if the idea catches on — one in three Americans visits eHow.com every week! A few other favorites: Cute Ways to Dress When You’re Pregnant and The Best Jeans for the Post Pregnancy Body.

style-hacks-for-life-with-baby

  • Lastly, and maybe most excitingly, my home was featured on Camille Styles! More on that soon.

And that, in addition to a big vacation and my pop-up shop, is why I haven’t been around lately. It’s good to be back.

July 22nd, 2013

New pop-up shop for August: FASHION LOVES COLOR

 

postcard-front-web

Things have been quiet around here… because I’ve been prepping for a new pop-up shop! These colorful beauties and more will be available this August in my online store, plus I’ll be sharing it in person in Austin at MOSS on the 3rd and in San Francisco at Rare Device on the 17th & 18th. I can’t wait!

FASHION LOVES COLOR is a traveling pop-up shop of ethically made, globally sourced goods. In it, I’m thrilled to feature Alyson Fox (accessories, art prints), Manimal (leather accessories), Teysha (shoes) and Vaalbara Designs (clutches), plus some of my own finds (pillows). Many items are one-of-a-kind, and all are inspired by the colorful textiles made by indigenous people from around the world.

This pop-up came about after I was asked to speak at this year’s Texas Style Council Conference in Austin. I wasn’t sure that I could make the trip work, but the idea of hosting a pop-up shop while in town came up (thanks Jon!). I ran the idea past the owner at Rare Device in SF as well, who loved it, and suddenly we had a concept on our hands.

 

MOSS Designer Consignment

 

In Austin

11–5 Saturday, August 3
MOSS Designer Consignment, 705 South Lamar Blvd
Fancy cocktails courtesy of Bone Spirits and Standard Magazine

For the first Saturday in August 3, I’ll be set up in Austin at MOSS, a fantastic designer consignment shop. Alyson Fox will be there for the first few hours of the day. My friends at Standard Magazine have hooked us up with cocktails from Bone Spirits, a local farm-to-bottle distillery, which we’ll pour till it’s gone. The Texas Style Council Conference “shopping field trip” will visit the shop in the afternoon.

That evening starting at 7, I’ll set up again at the conference’s Prom Party and Pop-up Shop, which is open to the public for a $20 ticket here. On Sunday at the conference, I’ll be speaking at noon about purchasing with purpose. Can’t wait to share more about the talk soon.

 

Rare Device on Divis

 

In San Francisco

11–7 Saturday & Sunday, August 17–18
Rare Device, 600 Divisadero St
Wine tasting Saturday 4–6 courtesy of Scribe Winery
Media partner The Bold Italic

In the middle of August, I’ll be at Rare Device all weekend! A shop I’ve admired for a long time, first opened in Brooklyn by Rena Tom, now located in my neighborhood. I hope to work with owner Giselle Gyalzen much more in the future. The lovelies of Scribe Winery will be pouring their vintages for a Saturday happy hour.

 

MOSS image from The Coveted. Rare Device image from L’Aromatica Perfume.

 

 

June 28th, 2013

This Wednesday in SF, make a feather headdress with Fashion Loves People!

Feather headdress by Fashion Loves People

On Wednesday at Tantrum in Cole Valley, I’ll be teaching a workshop on how to make my Fashion Loves Babies feather headdresses!

You can purchase tickets online or in-store at Tantrum, $39 or two for $75. (Or email me!)

7:30–10 p.m.
Wednesday, July 3
Tantrum, 858 Cole St
Tickets $39 or two for $75

Wine & munchies from La Boulange included

We’ll have lots of DIY bling (you should see Tantrum’s shiny stash!), so you can make a headdress in any style you choose.

Would love to see you!!

Lion Tamers workshop at Tantrum: Feather Headdress with Fashion Loves People

June 27th, 2013

Score Swap SF, featuring the coolest style partners in the land

From 1-4 p.m. on Saturday at 1564 MRKT in SF, get your swap on! Bring shoes, vinyl, clothes, books, magazines, housewares, art supplies, accessories and “Boyz II Men cassettes (please!).” $5 guarantees your spot. Proceeds go to local charities, and the best things go to your closet.

The list of style partners is ridiculously good (myself included!), who are donating swap goods and raffle prizes. See you there?!  Keep reading →

June 27th, 2013

Boxy blouses

Tilden Top by Upstate
 

Gravel & Gold
 

ace-and-jig-beklina
 

Canopy Top by The Podolls
 

Ilana Kohn at Beklina
 

Gravel & Gold Boob Blouse
 

This silhouette feels so fresh. A bit over-sized, high and wide necklines, sleeves a bit longer than cap-sleeves, no-stretch fabrics. A basic tee (or dress) that’s not that at all. And these textiles!

Top to bottom: Tilden Top by Upstate, made in NY, $188. Gemini top ($85) and dress ($170) by Gravel & Gold, made in SF. Harbour Dress by Ace & Jig via Beklina, made in India, $180. Canopy Top by The Podolls, made in SF, $135. Olive Shirt by Ilana Kohn via Beklina, made in NY, $156. The Boob Top from Gravel & Gold, made in SF, $125.

 

June 18th, 2013

Introducing my newest project: Sun + Dotter, curation and styling for design-conscious parents

 

Sun + Dotter

 

I’ve been hard at work, friends! And today, with the launch of Sun + Dotter, it all pays off. When I was pregnant a year and a half ago, I was so overwhelmed by baby gear. I was determined to buy products that fit the style of my home (rather than filling it with monkeys and monsters), and I didn’t want anything but the essentials.

So I’ve started a service company to help people cut through the clutter. My first online class, “Stylish Toys & Gear,” is available for enrollment now!

There are two ways to work with Sun + Dotter: affordable online classes for anyone anywhere, or personalized styling for parents in the Bay Area.

If Sun + Dotter sounds up your alley, be sure to join the newsletter. And tell your friends! THANK YOU!

Check out Sun + Dotter »

 

June 17th, 2013

Design The Life You Love

A year ago today — June 17, 2012 — was a day I’ll never forget. It was my husband’s first Father’s Day. But I digress.

The morning of this June 17, I left Jon and our 7-month-old at home for some quality daddy-daughter time.* I was on my way to a three-hour workshop by industrial designer Ayse Birsel that had reeled me in by its title alone: Design the Life You Love.

“Life, just like a design problem, is full of constraints — time, money, age, location, circumstances, etc. You cannot have everything,” Ayse said. “If you want more, you have to be creative about how to make what you need and what you want co-exist. This requires design thinking.”

It’s part of the human condition that we try to be good at too many things. Ayse herself is an immigrant from Turkey who lives and works in NY, has children and maintains a commuter marriage between here and Dakar. But was I understanding this correctly, that with a tweak in our thinking, we actually CAN do it all?

Please go on.

There’s a three-step method to this madness. In step 1, we split our life into pieces. In 2, we change our point of view. In 3, we use our new POV to put those life pieces back together in a new way — a strategic, more thoughtful way. Like if Martha Stewart came into your house and rearranged everything. It would just look better. And there would probably be cookies in the oven.

Step 1: Deconstruction

DLYL-deconstruction

The first step is to break your life into pieces. I was amazed at how after I did this, I was looking at an incredibly accurate list of what’s truly important to me. I love my list. Make this list up of only what matters to you, no one else — start each one with “my.” “My writing, my baby, my husband, my upbringing, my education.” Break it up as granularly as you want. Also important: There are no weaknesses in this list. You are strong.

Step 2: Point Of View

There are multiple exercises for defining and then shifting your point of view on your life, but these two stand out most to me. They’ll make even more sense in Step 3. They are:

  • Dichotomy Resolution. Consider what you want and what you need. How can you reconcile the two? For example, what you want is a vacation, but what you need is to save money. Consider how you might get to a vacation destination without breaking open your piggy bank. Could you travel for work — or get a different job where you can? Could you volunteer for a cause? Could you purchase something on your trip that you could come home and sell for a profit?

  • Hierarchy Shift. Take the example of the Dyson Airblade. In traditional fans, rotating blades are the means to an end of moving air. But a hierarchy shift in the design process removed the presupposition of using blades at all. The goal of a fan is to move air — in what ways can that be done? Imagine that blades aren’t even an option.

Step 3: Reconstruction

DLYL-hierarcy

To use a David Sedaris metaphor: On the gas stovetop of life, Work, Family, Friends and Self represent the four burners. If we turn one off, the other three burn brighter. Even more so if we turn off two.

For example — a single person won’t be particularly obliged to Family, so he’s able to be really good at Work (80 hours a week), Friends (party on, Wayne) and Self (run every morning). For a full-time mom, Work in the traditional sense is out and Family takes center stage, and we can only hope she leaves room for Friends and Self.

For many of us, Self (mental space and/or physical health) gets left by the wayside. And at busy times in life, Friends can be forgotten.

Ayse gave this example of her own life’s restructuring:

DLYL-dichotomy-resolution

Note the plus sign here — this is where my friend Emily and I gave each other a look of wonder during the workshop. Epiphany. Ayse fits friendships into her busy life by making it a point to work with her friends! She bluntly said that she often doesn’t have time at all for friends she doesn’t work with. And that’s OK, because all her core needs are met. She’s good at four areas of life because she’s combined two priorities into one. It’s an idea that’s so simple, yet so profound.

“Figure out how 1 + 1 = 3 for you,” she said.

If family is important but far away, can you find a way to travel there for work? If work keeps you away from family, can you change your job and work together? If it’s hard to squeeze in both exercise and spending time with friends, can you exercise with friends?

I sketched out multiple takes on my own reconstruction. At the time I had a baby under a year old and was still figuring out how much she needed me, how much I needed her and how much that would affect my work — a work in progress.

To this three-part structure, I’d add how important the cherry on top really is. My parents both worked, and they both made Work and Family their top priorities. But if they’d added a cherry on top — more time with friends, or spent on themselves — perhaps their focus on family could have been even richer. In Ayse’s example, Work+Friends is #1 because her success at Work feeds her success at Family.

This exercise brought light to so many areas of my life. At the time I was working part-time at Storenvy, working with my husband. He works really long hours, so it made me appreciate combining work and family, getting to spend more time with him. It also made me realize how I could orient my job to best serve my skills. It made me realize how important it is to me to have friends who work in the same industry as I do (and not feel bad for spending less with those who aren’t). It made me think of my co-workers in a different way, embracing them as friends in order to make the most of the relationships I build in the office. And on and on.

The lessons in this workshop are ones that will stick with me the rest of my life. I can’t tell you how much I’ve referenced them myself, and how much I’ve shared them with friends. It’s amazing how empowering this strategic perspective on life is. Don’t like the way something’s going? Change it. Redefine it.

Make 1 + 1 = 3.

*But back to Father’s Day. Before I left that morning, I told Viv how her dad likes his eggs. He never did get his breakfast in bed, though. But don’t worry, I took him out for a feast afterward — a brunch of chicken and waffles, plus the kind of rambling inspirations that really stick to the ribs.

***

Later this week, I’ll be making a big announcement — it’s the manifestation of how, over the past year, I’ve redesigned my life! Such a far cry from where I was when I took this workshop. It’s crazy. And very exciting.

How about you? Do you need a redesign? Or do you already love your life?

June 16th, 2013

Happy Father’s Day

Jon Crawford in to&from

For Father’s Day this year, Jon made an amazing gift list for the spring issue of to&from, the online magazine featuring gift-guides-only. He’s on page 65: “Gifts for the old-school dad.” All picks are from Storenvy! But my favorite part was the long and eloquent description he wrote of what Father’s Day is like for new dads. Here’s an excerpt, and the full text is at joncrawford.com.

The best thing about Father’s Day is that you almost always get the gift at the top of your list. Because the one thing you truly want — the one thing at the top of your heart’s proverbial Amazon wishlist — is for your little Mini Me to look up at you and simply say the words, “Happy Fawders Bay, Dada!” When you hear these words — those poetically eloquent words — your Father’s Day dreams are fulfilled, your heart fully explodes, and you sink into the couch to start the long road to recovery with only afternoon football to aid you.
This experience made me realize. Father’s Day gifts aren’t about the gifts. They’re a physical object or gesture that reminds the dad in your life of the first time he heard ”Happy Fawders Bay, Dada!” If you can make him feel that feeling again, you’ve given him the best gift in the world.

June 7th, 2013

Favorites

Every now and then, my favorites from around the web. 

wildebeest-xx-bandana-collar-viv

 

  • A while back, Stella (my dog), Viv and I were invited to a backyard party slash 15-dog photoshoot for local dog accessory brand Wildebeest. We sat Viv down with Jazz (above), a dog she’d never met, and it was KISS at first sight! Wildebeest has some really lovely designs, like this bandana collar, which are all made here in SF.
  • I was honored to be featured last month as an inspiring woman on Go Mighty. So fun to be interviewed by my talented friend Helena Price. I’d been thinking about creating a Life List for a while, and this was the perfect nudge.
  • I planned a swinging bachelorette party! For this weekend. And I went to BottleRock in Napa last month for another friend’s bachelorette. Both weddings are in July… and Viv is a flower girl in one! I can’t wait to see four of my closest friends tie the knot.
  • I booked a trip to Mexico! For July, for one of said weddings. Three days in Cancun plus three days inland in San Miguel de Allende. Our connecting flights are through Dallas, where we’re dropping Viv off with my in-laws (who live three hours away in Oklahoma City) for the week! Ay caramba. Can’t wait.
  • And I’m launching a new business in two weeks! Details soon. It’s been a busy time. Busy but so, so good.

May 30th, 2013

Notes from Alyson Fox in London, launching her & Other Stories collaboration today

Alyson Fox & Other Stories

To all of us in the U.S.: I’m sorry. I’m sorry that these Alyson Fox pieces — which she designed exclusively for & Other Stories, a high-end brand launched last spring by H&M — aren’t available to us. The new brand’s stores and online sales are only available throughout Europe, where Alyson’s collection launches today.

Alyson Fox & Other Stories

So it might be time to call in a favor from an international friend!

Alyson Fox & Other Stories

(That’s Alyson herself, modeling pieces from her collection…

Alyson Fox & Other Stories

And some of her sketches alongside some final products.)

Alyson Fox & Other Stories

Alyson’s collection includes a little bit of everything, with jewelry, clutches, espadrilles, pins, skirts, tops, leggings, scarves and even skivvies.

Alyson Fox & Other Stories

Alyson told me a bit about working with the H&M company, which she started on for this collaboration back in 2011. “They were so careful in executing everything the way that I saw it. They honestly wanted my voice. I was very much a part of the entire process. Viewing samples, having Skype calls, getting to travel to Stockholm.”

Alyson Fox & Other Stories

I asked about the quality, especially in regards to the brand being under the H&M umbrella, but she said there’s really no comparison. They’re substantial pieces that cost more and mean more, not fast retail at all.

Alyson Fox

“My favorite part about this collab is working with such a noteworthy brand and seeing my ideas come to life and feeling 100 percent positive about the whole process,” she said. She’s in London now, seeing the goods hit stores today!

***

Earlier this month, H&M signed the Accord on Fire & Building Safety in Bangladesh, which holds them legally responsible for any rule-breaking in Bangladesh factories — a big deal. I still can’t love H&M’s fast fashion model, but it has maintained a good reputation for transparent labor practices and use of organic cotton over the years. The & Other Stories brand sounds really exciting to me, especially with its promotion of independent designers like Alyson, Clare Vivier (yes!) and more.

May 24th, 2013

Half off at Hammerpress + all proceeds benefit Oklahoma City tornado victims

Hammerpress letterpress art print

In a stroke of generosity — for Oklahoma City tornado victims and for letterpress lovers everywhere — everything at Hammerpress is half off today through Sunday, and all proceeds benefit the Red Cross for OKC tornado relief. It must be time for a late spring cleaning at my favorite letterpress shop, because this is a steal of a deal. I’m crazy about this trio of 12×12 art prints on the shop’s trademark super-thick recycled chipboard, now $10 each. Use code OKC2013 at checkout.

Hammerpress letterpress art print

 

Hammerpress letterpress art print

 

May 21st, 2013

Q&A with new baby brand KinderStuff: “We have solved the problem that kids grow but clothes don’t”

Kinderstuff Stella

 

Welcome to the next generation of organic kid’s clothes.

This spring marked the U.S. launch of KinderStuff, an innovative U.S.-German line of baby and kid’s clothing. Several things make KinderStuff different: Not only are all items organic and ethically produced, but like Warby Parker and Everlane, they sell exclusively through their own online store, avoiding markups from middlemen. And after babies grow out of their KinderStuff clothes, you can return them for resale or donation while getting a discount toward new purchases.

The concepts of this brand really speak to me. As someone who buys my own clothing with a ”quality over quantity” mentality, buying baby clothes was quite the adjustment for me — I was suddenly buying for disposability, because babies grow so quickly. It felt so dirty!

KinderStuff helps that. Ethical manufacturing and the ability to return outgrown clothes make you feel good about what you’re buying… not to mention that direct-to-consumer pricing and built-in discounts save you money. Each of the brand’s 15 garments available now are $25 or less, and they tell me that more styles and sizes are on their way soon.

I learned more about the brand by talking with Kinderstuff’s Florian Wolf.

 

Kinderstuff Patch

 

 

Two things that set the KinderStuff brand apart are your markup-free pricing model and that you take back all garments that you make. What inspired these traits? 

We realized that when it comes to dressing babies, parents face two major pain points that nobody really addresses. So we thought about a new way of consuming baby clothing.

First, premium kids fashion is really expensive. This is due to all the middlemen involved, who all take a share. We have no fancy physical stores, no wholesalers taking their cut, and no crazy brand markups. By selling exclusively on the web, we can offer amazing baby clothes at great prices. It’s an unconventional retail model that we believe creates great benefits for parents.

Second, kids grow but clothes don’t. When kids outgrow our clothing, parents can send their used KinderStuff products back to us, free of shipping charges and in return for a discount on future purchases! Returned used clothing is then donated to charity, recycled, or resold at a discount.

DAS VERSPRECHEN_ELEMENTS

 

KinderStuff manufactures only in the U.S. and Germany. Why is this important to you? 

For us, “sustainable living” was part of growing up. I mean, we did not fanatically try to save the planet, but small things such as turning off the lights or our mothers’ honest attempt to buy at the local farmers market influenced us a lot. So when we came up with the idea for KinderStuff, manufacturing in the U.S. and Germany just felt like the right thing to do.

Among others, two reasons drove us to do so: First, only we can ensure that every KinderStuff product is 100% safe, non-toxic and organic. There’s just been too many scandals where even big corporations couldn’t ensure that their clothing, which was manufactured in low-cost countries, didn’t meet minimal standards. By manufacturing in the U.S. and Germany we can furthermore ensure that our products are truly of superior construction and durability.

Second, we think this is a great step to revive local apparel industries and create jobs. Besides that, it enables us to ensure fair labor practices. The factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed over a thousand people last month was far from the first fatal accident in the country’s garment industry. We just don’t want to be part of that system. All the factories we work with are certified manufacturers and we personally regularly inspect them. We screen every potential partner thoroughly in order to be able to keep the promises we made to our customers.

 

KinderStuff Benny the Bunny

 

The line illustrations on some of your pieces are really unique compared to most graphic baby clothes. What’s the story behind them?

Glad you like our designs! When it comes to organic (baby) clothing there is one more thing that we would like to change: Most organic clothing is usually pretty dull. We aimed to create products that are fun and hip. We actually collaborated with various urban artists to come up with refreshing new designs and will keep on doing so.

 

Your site doesn’t yet have any returned garments for sale. When can we expect that?

That depends on when customers start sending back their used KinderStuff. It will probably take another couple of months until people start doing so. However, people seem to respond very well to the offer and we’re therefore confident it will happen soon. Many customers are very excited about this part of our business model.

 

As a special treat just for us, get $10 off your KinderStuff purchase
with code TEDDY3248!

May 14th, 2013

On the Bangladesh factory collapse

As you no doubt know, three weeks ago on April 24, an eight-story factory building collapsed. Early reports counted a death toll of a few hundred, and especially at first, the event felt more like a far-away bullet point in the news than something that might actually affect you or me.

But soon, we heard that the factory building was one where garments have been produced for brands that we know well, like Zara, Lee, Nike, Walmart and more. Last week the body count continued to climb, now reaching over 1,100.

I wasn’t initially going to write about this, because my goal is to cover positive news about ethical fashion, not negative. But this event is a game-changer — which I realized fully only after listening to a Terry Gross interview on NPR with Elizabeth Cline, author of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion.

“I’m 100 percent convinced this is the turning point,” she said. “I feel like it’s too bad of a tragedy for the brands to bounce back this time.”

She pointed out that the media coverage has been linking the connection between the demand we create for cheap fashion and the tragedy that happened as a result of unsafe factory conditions. This connection wasn’t being made a year ago, she said, and the turning point will happen because brands can sense that.

If you’re at all interested in ethical fashion, definitely listen to this interview: Elizabeth describes how our relationship to our clothes has changed over the past few decades and how our consumption has changed as a result, and she describes her experience reporting undercover for her book in Bangladesh specifically. (She wasn’t surprised to hear this latest news.)

Her message for people who are wary of spending more on ethically produced garments: “Sometimes it’s about how you shop, not where you shop.” Don’t think of your clothes as disposable, think of them as pieces you’ll wear for years.

Some effects of the factory collapse: Retailers including H&M and Zara have signed onto a plan that finances fire safety and building improvements in factories they use in Bangladesh (NYTimes). As many as 300 factories in Bangladesh have closed due to demands for safety from workers (BBC). The Bangladeshi government is now allowing trade unions to form (BBC). The minimum wage in Bangladesh is increasing, though it’s still one of the lowest in the world (BBC).

Read more real-talk coverage on Bangladesh from Ecouterre.

May 9th, 2013

For Mother’s Day, 24 kid-tested, mother-approved spots in the Bay

Janette & Viv Crawford

I’m a Refinery29 “cool mom” today! Sharing three of my favorite Bay Area picks for kids. Tantrum in Cole Valley, Fairyland in Oakland and the kid’s section at Cotton Sheep in Hayes Valley made my list. I can’t wait to check out new spots from the eight other moms featured.

Refinery29′s BEST kid-tested, mother-approved spots in the Bay »