Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Unplanned planning

Life is weird. When I started this thing, I made myself some rules of engagement:

-no paid work until September 1, 2012
-be open to the possibilities (check)
 -write every day (that one didn't really happen)
-make time for loved ones (check check check)
-stop buying crap (didn't really live up to this one)
-any of the above rules can be broken (see above)

So, what's strange is that September is creeping up on us, and I seem to have found myself naturally wanting to get back to work. I've been padding around the apartment, out of sorts and antsy. And then there it is, this business which feels like has birthed itself and is elbowing me to come along. I asked my sister yesterday whether starting a line sounded right for me. "Of course!" She laughed, "You've been going on about doing this your entire life!"

I don't think this means an end to the creative sabbatical, in fact, I'd like to try to keep living in the creative sabbatical for as long as I can.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The singularity of difference

Me, circa 2001, in my beloved cherry red MGB.
Sometimes it feels a like living life is similar to a owning a cherry red 1969 MGB. Just as you get the brakes sorted out the transmission goes. I was talking to my little sister earlier today, who is sounding these days more and more like my wise older sister. We were talking about the challenge of getting past our own blinding fears so we can recognize the humanity of others.

It's so hard. I once read this cheesy corporate book (because I had to for corporate team building) about being In The Box. I'm going to paraphrase badly here, but the basic premise is the we all easily fall into dehumanizing other people so that they fit the view we want of ourselves. I hate to admit it, but that little badly written book has a point.

It's so easy to allow ourselves to try to script our universe, blinding ourself to what is actually in front of us. To blind ourself to other peoples needs, wants and realities because it doesn't fit neatly into our story. I talked a while back about wanting to accept things for what they are. Easier said than done.

I hope I'm not the only one who struggles with this. It feels like really truly relating to the real person in front of you is one of the hardest thing there is to do in this world of ours. It seems like our biggest challenge as humans. Or maybe it just does right now.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Loved up

On Saturday night I threw a launch party for Bryr at my place in Brooklyn. I spent the better part of the week planning, shopping, cleaning, arranging, hanging lights and downloading recipes. My sister was flying back to England from St. Louis, and some how re-arranged her flight so she could stop over in NY for 3 days. So, we got to spend an awesome 3 days together in pre-party hyperwarp.

You know that panic feeling you get when you're throwing a party- that nobody's going to show up? But they did indeed show up. People flowed through the door, hugs and smiles all around. Mostly friends, but also some new faces. They came and put my clogs on, and drank very strong Manhattans.

As the evening wore on, and more ladies were trying clogs on, walking around, showing them off to their boyfriends, I got giddier and giddier. I just really truly love to see people in them.  It's not just the affirmation that goes with people liking something you've made (which is I think what makes design addictive). It's also seeing the thing you've made look honestly great on someone.

By the end of the night I was in such a loved-up state that I was hugging friends, crying, declaring my undying love. People, it was like I was on drugs.

Let's just say, it was a really good night.

Friday, August 17, 2012


There have been a lot of ways that I've been good to myself over the last 4 months, but my eating habits have not been one of them. I've been in a 'fuck it' mindset, allowing myself to eat whatever I want when ever the fuck I want it. It's left me feeling pretty bloated and gross. Now, I don't believe in dieting or trying to be a 'skinny bitch' because honestly I never managed it consciously. I've experienced dramatic weight loss, but it's usually because I'm going through something extreme, not because I'm counting calories. In fact, I think I generally gain weight when I go on a diet.

I'm not a person who has a lot of willpower when faced with a duck on the menu at a good restaurant.

This week I decided I needed to reign it in. I'm certainly not there yet, but at some point I'm going to need to start dating again. As they said in this really bad movie, I need to get back to my game weight.

My dear friend, Erin, has a body that naturally comes in the shape of Elle Macpherson. (Seriously, it would be annoying if she wasn't so incredibly nice and awesome). Last year, she introduced me to the book, Eat To Live, which basically instructs  you to eat mostly green vegis, veg fats only and no salt. Sounds like a party, right?

So, I've been doing it for a nearly week now, and I actually feel really great. I don't think I've lost weight yet, but I feel light in my body. Usually I reward myself with things I know are bad... like buttered toast, pizza or a stray cigarette. But doing this diet, I've been rewarding myself with pineapple, strawberries, crates full of blueberries. If feels decedent like I'm staying at the four seasons. It feels good.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cold feet?

I had my first meeting this week with an adviser from a Small Business Development Center. It felt like a splash in the face with the cold water of reality. I'm starting a business. Okay, okay, I know I already knew this, but I didn't know this somehow. And to be honest, I'm sort of quietly panicking.

There are just so many things I don't know how to do, and it feels overwhelming. I don't know how to make a marketing campaign, I don't know how to do accounting, I don't know how to create an LLC, I don't even know if it will work... the list goes on and gives me a stomach  knot.

What happened to my creative sabbatical and why and I trying to do something that's hard? Why am I trying to do something that I so obviously don't know how to do? That sounds insane. Why can't I just let it be a really really expensive hobby?

The answer that comes back to me in my own voice, in a sort of condescending tone, is that nobody ever said that this Creative Sabbatical was just one big long enjoyable vacation. Nobody said it wouldn't stretch you and make you do things that felt like pulling teeth. You need to stop being a whiny little bitch, and follow this path. Because you're incredibly blessed to have this chance. It's what you've always wanted to do, so do it.

Wow, point taken. Sometimes you can be a real bitch though, Isobel.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Home sweet home

Kate from came over this morning to shoot my place. I've been a fan of the website for a long time, and have a habit of pushing their book on any friend who is about to move:

The way the author, maxwell gillingham-Ryan talks about your home is so non-designy. He believes that this is the space that you are going to spend most of your time in, and so it's important for it to make you feel good and be comforting. He's also a pragmatist, which I appreciate. He made to rethink my belief that I was "messy" and helped me design solutions that are user friendly, like putting a landing strip by the door for mail and keys, and having a million hooks everywhere to hang stuff. He also introduced me to the idea that every room could use some good lighting.

So, now my apartment is cleaner than it will ever probably be again, I feel like I should have people over:)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Tiny big wide world

I was thinking last night about social media. When I got out of college the internet was just starting. We didn't have facebook, or blogging. For me, it felt really lonely to want to be an artist just out of school with no network, like I was making stuff in a void. I remember writing my friend in LA about what he was up to in studio. We talked about setting up some sort of long distance crit group just so we could get some feedback. I tried hard to find other people out there doing stuff I was doing, but it was a challenge.

A few years after that, I started a sewing school for girls my age (it was called Stitch House Studio). I printed flyers and put them up around the neighborhood in San Francisco. I built a little website and created a mailing list. I posted on craigslist. The classes were fun, usually about 10 girls in my basement studio space, learning to make an a-line skirt.

Now when I think of Etsy, and all the other blog spaces for people to find each other, it makes me so happy. I hope getting out of art school isn't nearly as scary as it used to be, that it's easier to find a space to discuss ideas and get feedback. It's so incredible to be able to make things and connect to other makers.

Here's today's Bryr leak. They are the Phoebe Boots. So far, my favorites:)
Like BRYR on facebook

Friday, August 10, 2012


I've been holed-up in my apartment for the past week, doing nothing but photographing clogs, tweaking jpegs and messing with my website.  I can't believe it was only a month ago that I showed up in Minnesota, nervous and excited and ready to make some clogs. It seems impossible that so much has happened in that amount of time! Life seems to move fast when you're in the flow.

Next weekend, I'm throwing a big launch party in my backyard. I love preparing for parties, hanging lanterns, making food, mixing drinks. My sister is flying out here to join in the fun. She's been in St. Louis for a month finishing her first book, but now she's flying back to England.

The name of my company BRYR, which means 'to care' in Swedish and sounds like briar in English. I've always been drawn to brambles and blackberries, they remind me of when I was a kid in England.  When I was little I was obsessed with the idea of worlds where animals made cups of tea and had secret doorways in trees.

I thought I would leak one pair of clogs for you guys. These are the phoebe sandals :)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Life plan

Life plan
Last week, my friend Jennifer came over for dinner and drinks. We sat in the garden and finished off a couple bottles of pinot grigio between the two of us. As often happens with that much wine, we talked of future plans and far away places, and started dreaming big for each other.

We dreamed of houses in the hills of LA, lake-side farms in Minnesota, country retreats in the south of France and England, city apartments in Paris and Brooklyn, wintering in South America. We were drunk, so why not dream big? Our ideas were so genius, we decided we really needed to record them (We knew wouldn't remember them the next day). I erased my 'to do' list on the black board wall, and we free-flowed our ideas in chalk. It was excellent.

I suppose the reason I'm telling you about my drunken escapades is because I actually think it's pretty important to dream big like this every once and a while. To let yourself go with flights of fantasy, and see what you'd do if you dropped all your responsibilities. There's a snarky voice in our head that say, 'You can't do that' or 'You don't deserve that' or 'You're not that kind of person' or 'Do you think you're rich or something?'. But why the hell not? Why can't we all at least try to follow our dreams. Silly as they may be.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Yes! Yes! Yes!

I'm back in Minnesota, knee deep in leather, clog bases and shoe lasts. I'm happy as a pig in shit. I got off the plane on Monday and went straight to the factory and it's been go-go-go ever since. The process of designing when you've got the makers and sewers and workers with you is so incredibly satisfying to me. (It certainly beats sending a tech pack out to far away countries). It gives your initial design room to grow and to breathe and to evolve.

When I design, I think I have less of an idea of what the final product is going to be at the beginning than perhaps a designer should have. Maybe that's because I started out in sculpture, and not in design school. I like the opening up and changing of it. I like to see what happens when you just follow your yes instinct. It feels like, Yes! i love that leather, yes! I love that shape, yes! I love that feel, yes! I love that fit!

If it sounds like good design feels a bit like good sex, you'd wouldn't be far off.