4-19-17 The SS 17 Launch - Bralette Bonanza

The entire spring/summer release, dubbed the "Bralette Bonanza" was characterized by one theme: asking for help. Asking for help, for me, always feels awkward. Am I being an imposition? Should I be able to handle this myself? As my Aunt Debbie would say "Just ask. The worst that could happen is they say no." So I did.

The colorful release of this season started as all things must - as an idea. Alexi and I were bouncing ideas off each other in a bar - what's the next move? I had imagined an e-book release with all the patterns and step-by-step photo tutorials.. but wouldn't it be great to partner with a yarn brand? Alexi of @twoofwands has often partnered up with Lion Brand. They're a great, family owned company, with many different types of yarn... but I just needed cotton for summer, and I needed a TON of color.

Who better than Paintbox yarn? I'd seen them on Instagram and around the web, with a light dk weight cotton and boasting 60 (60!) colors, I knew they'd be perfect for The Queen Stitch... but how to go about it? I am just me and they're a huge company! I am just a nobody. A small-business, up and coming, and they're this whole brand! No! Wait! Stop! I am a designer. I may be up and coming, but I have potential. My designs are worth the investment. (Talking myself up and away from low self-confidence is part of the small business owner must-have skill-set. )

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So okay. After many e-mail drafts trying to make myself sound illustrious or professional, I deleted all that and sent an e-mail off to the designer side of LoveCrochet. I asked if they ever collaborate with designers on larger projects, and how about me? The reply was immediate "What did you have in mind?" And with this gorgeous, short question, we were off! The first step towards the Bralette Bonanza!

For the next three months I worked on the 10 designs that would make up the e-book. One of the biggest aspects of this project was accessibility and comfort. I really care if people feel comfortable - whenever I have people over I make sure I have a bottle of wine and some cheese and crackers (or I ask Peter to go and get some lol). I want you to sit, have a drink, tell me about your day, do you need anything? I wanted to carry that into my designs. No matter what body type a woman has, I wanted there to be alterations, support, and coverage levels to make everyone comfortable. Confidence is always more beautiful than a waist or cup size. Each design features a coverage gauge, a difficulty gauge, and plenty of alterations for different sizes and support - so you can go to werk.

Artwork by @monicakimgarza

Artwork by @monicakimgarza

Artwork by @aleksandra_cirt

Artwork by @aleksandra_cirt

So now I had the yarn and the designs... but how to showcase it? I needed a photo shoot.

I usually just use myself in my pics and posts - but what a terrible example of the accessibility of the designs and the different forms of the female physique! I blasted my friends online - would you be willing to wear some bralettes in front of a camera in exchange for copious amounts of mimosas? All said yes. I love my friends. I spent the next week or so planning outfits getting inspired. To put everyone in the right mind set I created a mood board on Pinterest. It featured bold pastels, sparkles, opaque colored eye shadows, chunky accessories, and party favorisiert. I ended up buying some little tchotkes from amazon - bubbles, yellow party cups, rubber duckies, sunglasses!

Enter Christiana. Christiana is a fashion maven who stands 5' 11'' works at MAC and looks good even when sweating and swearing (I should know, we play volleyball together). We attended a Shanghai Mermaid event together in NYC with the theme of Dragon Ball in the 1930's. I wore a drop waist silk dress, pearls, and a bit off fur. She went in Geisha Drag. Being half-Japanese, she wore a silk kimono from her mother, but you wouldn't have noticed... Because her face! Bold red hues, gold cheekbones that could cut a diamond, and her hair done up with cherry blossoms. It was unreal, over-the-top, and perfect for The Queen Stitch. I commissioned her that night, and she made a happy addition!

So I had the models, the space, the outfits... but I needed a cameraman. Enter Peter, my gorgeous, lovely live-in man friend. He has been so supportive during this whole having-two-jobs thing. Making pies, telling me it's okay, and do I need a top up on my Gin. Irregardless... he has a really nice camera. He's also been practicing for the last year on framing, posing, shutter effects, the works. Awesome, he was in.

The day of the shoot was fun, colorful, musical, and a whirlwind. It took five hours but it felt like 5 minutes. I was feeling very thankful for all the help. It was two weeks to launch.

Enter Lee. Lee is the boyfriend of Alice, with whom I work at my day job. He works in websites, creative, and ad tech. We were all at a dinner party when he mentioned he had seen my site. "Oh!" I said, "What did you think?!" "Well..." He pulled out his phone to show 3 pages of notes "I had a few suggestions...". Now, accepting help is a little different than asking for help, and if it's possible, requires swallowing even more of my pride - I am so happy I did. Lee volunteered his time and expertise in exchange for liquor. He talked to me about the goals of the brand, and also the business. He showed me how the formatting and content can display these goals in different ways. So I decided to re-do my website the week before the launch. Casual.

After several more of my friends looked over the e-book for typos or formatting errors we were ready. The Bralette Bonanza features 10 top designs with written instructions, step-by-step photo tutorials, and tons of alterations. I am so proud of it and I couldn't have achieved it without the support of the maker community, the help of my friends, and Paintbox Yarns.

Katie Jagel