Archives for posts with tag: Culture

bigI didn’t start life as a Gourd Goddess.   To be honest, I didn’t even start life as Denise Meyers.  I was born Denise Condit, a fact I did not discover until I was 39 years old, and which is another story entirely. The point is,  I have been reaching for the stars since I could remember, always dreaming of a life much bigger than the one I grew up with, always wanting to stuff  everything I possibly could into a day, always keenly aware that I would not live forever, and if I didn’t grab every opportunity that came my way – even ones I had to invent myself – I might never get the chance to do it again.

When I was fifteen, our psychology class in high school was reading ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST,  which was being filmed, at the time, at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem where I lived.  I called the production office one day and asked if anyone from the production would speak to our class. Joel Douglas, the production manager (and Michael Douglas’ younger brother), agreed, and showed up two days later to discuss the film at length.  When he left that day, he invited me to come to the set anytime I wanted.  I went as often as my mother would allow, and was there the day they filmed Will Sampson pulling the sink out of the floor and tossing it through the window just before he escapes from the hospital. Icuckoosnest photographed the basketball scene through the fence one afternoon, ate lunch in the commissary in the general vicinity of Jack Nicholson and Michael Douglas, had Scatman Crothers ask me if I smoked and if I did, could I light his cigarette for him, and was the reason Joel Douglas remembered to order sea sickness pills for the cast when they headed to Newport for the fishing sequence.  I got my first kiss in that insane asylum as well when Joel Douglas pounced on me in the production office one afternoon, something I did not expect, but which makes for a great story.  My first kiss was in an insane asylum on the set of an Oscar winning movie!

Years later, when I was in college and decided I wanted to work in the film business as a career, I wrote a letter to Michael Douglas, asking for a job.  His business manager wrote back, largely because Mt Saint Helens had just erupted, and stories of the ash covering the Pacific Northwest were all over the news, so I sent her a jar of that ash and a friendship was born.  She agreed to get me work if I moved to Los Angeles, and a few weeks later, with my Volkswagon bug packed to the gills, I headed south by myself for a job at the Willliam Morris Agency.   One day while I was waiting to use a pay phone at the gas station across the street from Warner Brothers Studios, I struck up a conversation with a man from Oregon who not only had just moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of a career in film, turns out he was from Salem, was a popular disc jockey at a radio station where I had interviewed – with him – for a job.  We became roommates a few weeks later,  are still great friends to this day.

meandrayTaking no for an answer has never been my strong suit.  I wanted to live at the beach, and found an apartment right on the water in Malibu that was part of a small complex owned by a bachelor who had more money than he knew what to do with.  We paid $850 a month for four years, and hung out with people like Robert Englund (Nightmare on Elm Street), Sherilyn Wolter (Celia Quartermaine, on General Hospital), David Simkins (who wrote Adventures in Babysitting) and Ray Abruzzo, who would later go on to star as Little Carmine in The Sopranos.  I wanted to write screenplays, so I did, and after awhile, I wanted to get as far away from the film business as I could, because quite frankly,  as much as I love movies, I didn’t love writing, or the process of pouring my heart and soul into something that I found so intensely frustrating, and so incredibly unrewarding. Besides, everyone in Los Angeles is a screenwriter and I wasn’t good enough, at the time, to make much of an impact.

I went to work at the Bodhi Tree Bookstore for some perspective, and that’s where I saw gourd art for the first time.  When the woman who was making, and selling them, offered a class one fall, I asked my boyfriend at the time to sign me up as my birthday present.  I fell in love with gourds that weekend,  back when no one knew what a gourd was.  I had no idea Robert Rivera even existed at the time, and which I still think has benefited me greatly in terms of developing my own artistic style, because I had to teach myself everything I know now about gourds.  I had to learn to work with a surface that was curved in two directions, had to learn about tools and equipment, about photography, about applying to art shows, and then art galleries, how to write a contract, and what to say in a cover letter to a magazine editor.

oldgourdI was so naive about the art world that it never occurred to me there were rules, so I barged in where other artists “feared to tread”.  I saw a news brief in the back of Art of the West Magazine about an art show in wine country that featured some of the top Western and wildlife artists I’d been reading about, and so I decided to apply.  The gallery owner called me back and said she didn’t accept gourds because “they are a craft”, so I shot back that she obviously hadn’t seen mine, and I would appreciate it if she would at least take a look at my work before passing judgement.  I got into the show, and into the gallery and did extremely well at both.  I had my first, and only, sell out, a year later, at the San Dimas Art Festival, which is a funny story in itself, because after challenging anyone and everyone who said gourds weren’t a legitimate art form, I started getting into some of the best art shows in the country.  The day I delivered my work to the San Dimas art committee, I spent the entire rest of the day crying, I felt so out of my league.  The artists in the show were famous, at least among the Western art crowd, and I was embarrassed to have my pieces shown alongside theirs.  And by the end of the show, the only thing I had left to take home was a nice, big, fat check, and a tremendous amount of respect from my fellow artists.

piggycanvas1aA few years ago, I decided to test myself artistically to see what I was capable of.  I could design, woodburn, carve and paint a gourd with my eyes tied behind my back, but I felt horribly uncomfortable around canvas.  I liked the “cheat” of woodburning, and how fast acrylics dry, I was used to the curved surfaces of a gourd, and how to make allowances for imperfections in the gourds.  Painting on a flat surface felt foreign to me, but I wanted to see if I could paint things other than cougars and coyotes.  I am embarrassed to say that the first few weeks of this new experiment were horrible.  I hated oils, and canvas, and not working on something I could rest in my lap.  I missed my woodburning tool, and my Dremel, and thought most of what I was working on was dreadful.  I decided to take gourds in all different shapes, cut them into pieces, and reassemble them into works that were five and six feet tall, with contemporary themes.  I covered some with hundreds of flat backed beads, and painted others with copper and brass from powdered metals I found online.  I painted nursery rhymes, and Japanese geisha’s, and even found some bare wood frames that would allow me to expand the artwork beyond the edge of the canvas onto the frame itself.  I bought a hollow core door and woodburned a tiger on it that is two thirds the size of an actual tiger.  I was commissioned to create a piece for the executive producer of The Lord of the Rings with Frodo, Sam, and Golum, and painted a leopard in oil, on a three foot by five foot canvas, and just for the fun of it, reproduced an Ed Hardy painting from a Sailor Jerry’s campaign just to see if I could.

LOTRtroutcontemporary1sailorjerrysIMG_0600bluejayevan_elvishighres#B1A6heytigerlargegeishapaintingpin up girl wine boxdodcoffinleopardhandbagflowerbox

And when I could see that the economy was turning on its ear, I decided to create “functional” artwork, that would allow a collector to justify the purchase, because the art had more than one function.  I turned to handbags like my life depended on it, then decorative boxes, then functional boxes,  day of the dead coffin boxes, boxes designed to look like vintage ads, or wine boxes with pin up girls on them, and recently began working my way back to gourd art again.  I am currently in the process of designing the largest and most elaborate gourd I have ever attempted, with every sort of creature I can think of to put on it, from hummingbirds to blue whales.  I expect this new piece to take at least four months to create, and when I am finished with it, I expect to sell it for more money than I have ever sold a single piece of artwork for, which is a pretty high bar considering that I’ve sold work for $22,500 in the past….

But that’s okay.

Because taking no for an answer just isn’t part of my internal make-up.  I may not have been born a Gourd Goddess.   But I will never stop reaching for the stars…..

elephantsWith the American Crafts Council show behind me and a world of opportunities ahead, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the process of creating, whether its handbags, art, writing, or promoting a worthy cause.   Art is a difficult business, which is not something I think anyone who attends an art show ever thinks about.  And why would they?  As you walk through the aisles of an art show, indoor or out, it can seem as if the artists have always been there, creating beautiful things for you to admire, and when you leave, and the convention center, or the street that just days before was filled with white tents and throngs of people is now home to parked cars and delivery trucks, it’s hard to imagine what went into making that event happen.

work1I start months in advance to prepare for an art show, primarily because I am the slowest painter on the planet, and if I don’t have a dozen or more handbags woodburned and in the “painting pipeline” I would show up at most events with works in progress and an interpretive dance entitled, “What I Would have Brought to this Show If Could Paint Faster”.  I am in the studio 12 hours a day, seven days a week, in the months before an art show, with piles of work I am in the process of finishing, in the process of starting, and would really love to do if time allows.  As the time draws near for the show, the categories become what I have actually finished, what needs to be finished, and there is no WAY I am EVER going to finish this.  The studio is filled with handbags that are drying, with storage bins full of fabric that need to be cut and assembled for the linings, jars of paint and brushes that somehow seem to migrate across the enormous table I use to work on, despite my best efforts to contain them, until I can’t find anything I need because now the table is also stacked with bubble wrap and Elmer’s glue, and empty glasses of wine.

work2Two weeks before the show, I fill a cardboard box with bags that are dry and need to be assembled, bags that are assembled but need to be lined, bags that are lined but need a handbeaded handle, and drag the whole thing upstairs. The kitchen table is filled with hardware parts and beads, and a card table is set up beside the ironing board for the linings and handmade clutches.  There are purses drying in the bathroom because its cold in North Carolina even with a wood furnace blasting 24 hours a day, and because I use a polyurethane varnish to protect the bags against water damage, they dry slowly.  Because the show is less than ten days away, I don’t have the time to spend letting them dry naturally, and anyway the polyurethane stinks up the house so the faster it dries the better.  It’s time to pack for the show too, which means all my panels have to have a coat of paint, I need to rent a trailer, and a hotel room, and take pictures of what is finished and update my website and send out an email blast to my collectors to encourage them to come to the show, and make arrangements for the dogs, plus I also need to pack my show clothes, and all my equipment, and then, its time to leave.

booth1aMove in is the day before the show, which means checking in, finding your assigned space, unloading the truck and trailer, hauling everything to your booth space, assembling everything and (in my case anyway)  repainting half the panels we brought with us because somehow, despite my best efforts, they are scuffed all to hell and look like I found them in landfill.   Faster than you can say, “its showtime” the hall begins to fill, and you keep your fingers crossed that you will at least make your expenses, which can run in the thousands of dollars once you factor in everything from booth fees to supplies. You get to know your neighbors better than members of your own family when a show is bad, or slow, and in the lull you  trade horror stories with one another about rude customers and greedy show promoters.  My favorite this time was the man who sailed into my booth with his camera out and pointed at a handbag.  I asked him, politely, not to photograph the work, and he looked straight at me and said “you can’t stop me from taking a picture of anything I want”.  I raised my hand in front of the camera as he started to take the picture anyway, and said, “actually, I can”.  He stepped back and told me if I touched him, he was going to deck me.

work3It’s a hell of a way to make a living, and while I realize the economy is still bad and there is so much uncertainty right now, its an incredibly poor business model even under the best of circumstances.  There is little or no job security either.  I used to do an art show I loved more than words can say, as much for the people who put the show on as for the fact that they have insisted on keeping the event small, so everyone can make money. A majority of the shows revenues are reinvested in the community as well, and the show promoters  encourage high school art students to pursue careers in art with scholarships to support their artistic endeavors.

bluebirdebTwo years ago a fellow artist accused me of “violently attacking” her at the show, which, as anyone who knows me well knows couldn’t be further from the truth. I was put on “probation” for a year, then never invited back to the show, which I am the first to admit still hurts to this day.   You can get accepted to a major show one year and start to develop an impressive and devoted client list, and not get in the next year for reasons that are never explained and watch those connections slip through your fingers, or watch your booth and everything in it blow away at an outdoor art show when the winds kick up and in spite of the fact that there are four hundred pounds of weights attached to it, or fight a chargeback that winds up costing you more than the art you sold in the first place,  because someone forgot they bought something from you, and when you provide proof of the sale you don’t get the chargeback fees returned to your account.

dodwedding1I love art.  I really do.  But its incredibly hard work, and its both heartbreaking and terrifying when you get into a show and you don’t sell anything, or you don’t get into a show and have no way of selling the inventory you slaved over for months and invested your heart and soul in.  I get that there are no guarantees in life, and that just because I am exceptional at what I do, doesn’t mean I am entitled to make a living at it.

scrabbleassAnd the worst of it is, I can’t stop.  I want to make beautiful things, and write screenplays about people and  stories that inspire me, like the Women’s Air Service Pilots script I just finished, or short stories about where I live and the cast of characters who inhabit this place, or blogs, like this one, about what motivates me, inspires me, frustrates me and makes me glad I possess both the talent and the drive to create even though I often wonder what the point is of having these skills if having them causes the kind of self doubt and fear  I wrestle with sometimes.

Even so, creating gives me a platform to celebrate causes that matter very much to me, like the drive to raise money for a Rose Parade float commemorating the Women’s Air Service Pilots this New Years Day.  The Women’s Air Service Pilots were a remarkable group of women who flew military aircraft in World War Two, and who are the subject of a screenplay I finished this past January entitled LUCKY 13, about 13 women pilots who completed bomber training at the Lockbourne Army Airbase in 1943. By 1945, the entire WASP program was unceremoniously disbanded despite their enormous success, to make way for male civilian pilots hoping to avoid being drafted into combat duty overseas.  It’s an incredible story and the dream of my lifetime to see it made into a movie.  In the meantime, I am pleased to be part of a fundraising effort to make the float a reality, so please visit http://www.fifinella.com/rosedonate.htm for more information on how to contribute to this hugely worthy cause.

 

I am back from the Natureworks Show in Tulsa and before I go any further I just have to say this.  I wish every art show on the planet was like Natureworks.  This event was started over thirty years ago by Bill Cox and Ken Greenwood in an effort to provide artists with  an exclusive outlet for their work (and a MUCH appreciated respect for the incredible diversity of sheer talent on BOTH sides of the “artistic fence”), and the citizens of Tulsa with a host of arts programs and public art works, paid for with the proceeds of the sale.   High school art students compete for and receive generous college scholarships, the riverwalk near Oral Roberts University features dozens of wildlife sculptures from some of the most talented wildlife artists on the planet displayed in a beautiful park setting, the Federal Duck Stamp Program and the National Elk Refuge all receive support and donations from the organization.

The show is run by volunteers from all walks of life; there is a retired general, a bank manager, a mortgage broker, an ex-sheriff…you name it.  Every year they put up the booths and most of the lights, help unload and unpack, host an artists dinner, feed us lunch, host an opening night event that brings in hundreds if not thousands of prospective buyers.  There is a hospitality suite, an artists breakfast, and every year, a gift of some kind to say thank you to the artists for participating in the show.  A few years ago, it was a directors chair with our names on them.  This year it was a cooler.  Sometimes its a handmade pencil box, or a thermos.  The point is, the people who run the show treat us like they think we are worth something, and while that may sound like a no brainer on one hand, you’d be surprised by the number of art shows and promoters who feel artists are a dime a dozen.  I’ve been kicked out of shows for something as simple as telling one show promoter that I didn’t want to be across from a particularly disruptive artist because his constant, unpredictable and explosive outbursts were unprofessional and severely impacting my sales (and, consequently their percentage of my sales) and he got invited back the next year while I didn’t.  So being at a show where the promoters treat you well is truly an added benefit.

I didn’t make a tremendous number of sales at this years event, but I came away from the show with some fantastic trades, some wonderful memories, and the feeling that I am loved and appreciated by people I truly admire and trust. So thank you Ray and Linda Goldsmith, Lon and Bonnie Canada, Tiny and Barbara Thompson, Doug Collins, Steve and Mary Ann Iverson, Treak Trasker, Sue Gideon, Chelley Wallack, Glenn and Judy Wright and Jon and Leigh  Reaves, among DOZENS of others.  You guys are the absolute BEST!

I am back in the studio again and working on all kinds of ideas for upcoming events.  I have started doing decorative boxes and hope to branch out into wine boxes, jewelry boxes and trinket boxes, plus I also started doing gourds and paintings again, so I am also going to be updating my website to reflect the new works I am adding to my product line.  I am not sure where all of this will lead, but I am finally at the point in my life where I truly believe that every day is the best day of my life because its the only day I have.  And I intend to make the most of each one.

 

When I was twenty I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to do with my life, and I often felt that if I could have barreled ahead without restraint, I would have been where I THOUGHT I wanted to be a long, LONG time ago.  But I am also reminded of two quotes that have defined my life, and how grateful I am at this particular point in time that I didn’t get where I wanted to be thanks to the lessons I learned along the way.

Patience is NOT one of my virtues, as anyone who knows me well can tell you, and yet, when it comes to my art career, I will take all the time I need to get things just right. I had no idea how to make a purse, or where to market one, where to find the hardware…I used to carry a BACKPACK, if I carried anything at ALL, and, anyway,  I’d invested fifteen years of my life in a career as the top gourd artist in the nation. I’d been on HGTV, had articles written on my work in the Wall Street Journal, Southwest Art Magazine and Wildlife Art news, participated in group exhibits, had one woman shows, gave demonstrations at gourd festivals and gallery shows all over the country and even presented a gourd commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Gombe Research Center to  my hero, Jane Goodall.  I  sold a gourd to golf legend Hale Irwin, was commissioned by the executive producer of the Lord of the Rings to create a piece for the Lord of the Rings; The Two Towers with Golum, Frodo and Sam Gangee, and I still hold the record for the most expensive gourd ever sold at $22,500.

It always bothered me that people spent HUGE sums of money on artwork they left at home.  No one buys Christian Louboutin shoes, a Rolex, a Prada bag, or a Christian Dior dress JUST to leave it in the closet, so why do people buy gorgeous works of art to leave them at home?  It seemed to me you could have an AMAZING accessory that was ALSO an incredible addition to your art collection.

And so, I embarked on the journey of a lifetime when I decided to combine art with function in one of a kind and limited edition handbags…I wasn’t going to line the purses at first, until one very wise woman  pointed out that without a lining, you would hear everything you carried rattling around inside it.  I knew I wanted to work with wood but I didn’t know how to protect the purses against water damage. I knew I wanted to hand bead some of the handles, but the last time I tackled a bead work project with any great enthusiasm,  I wound up with a pile of very expensive seed beads and a loom that gathered dust for years until I finally gave it to the Goodwill.

As the saying goes, “If you want to hear the sound of God’s laughter, tell him your plans” and I am convinced I have had God in stitches most of my life.  I spent HOURS on the internet trying to find fabric and handles and beads and varnishes, craft shows, art shows, wholesale shows and boutiques, and just when I thought I had one aspect of the design process worked out, something else came along to challenge my approach; how do you secure all the things on a travel trailer handbag that make the handbag so fun to carry without sacrificing its function; how do you finish the back of a leopard handbag when the front and the insides are so captivating; how do you wrap images around handbag when it has irregular sides, and THEN finish the entire thing in gold leaf?

Its been an interesting process but, as the other saying I define my life by so eloquently states, “Its the journey, its not the destination”.  I have had some amazing support this past year from some truly remarkable women, and I thank you all for believing in me when I’d started to think this might have just been the dumbest idea I’d ever come up with….

I can hardly believe that 2011 is right around the corner, but I already have two very exciting shows lined up in February and March (The American Crafts Council Show in Baltimore, MD and Natureworks in Tulsa, OK) that are inspiring me to hit the studio with great passion and determination.  I have so much I want to do and such great opportunities ahead of me that the sky is the limit.

There will be more insights in the days to come, but for the moment I just wanted to say to all of you who have been on this journey with me, whether you know it or not, your faith in my work has been the fire that has helped light my way.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart….

The handbag business is continuing to make minor strides in the marketplace with several new developments.  An online interview I gave last April to a handbag design website was posted this morning, and even though the questions I was asked to respond to were left out of the article (making for some pretty choppy transitions) I am pleased that it was finally published!

Handbag Designer 101 Interview

Secondly, my work is being debuted at the Trendz Accessories show in West Palm Beach, Florida and is being handled by a handbag rep who services Florida, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico, so hopefully by this time next week I will be up to my eyebrows in orders.

Thirdly, I managed to get portfolios to three top boutiques in Wilmington, Baltimore, and New York City where I hope to establish accounts before Christmas.  The boutique in Maryland is calling with an order, which is good, because I really need to have my Christmas accounts in a row and filled at least two weeks before Christmas.  And I have an idea for a handbag that will have all seven on the big cats on it for one very lucky lady to open on Christmas morning!

I also had a previous client contact me with a spectacular insight into what she thinks makes the bags so fabulous. She said women spend a lot of money on shoes so people can look….at their feet?  She thinks women should invest in a beautiful handbag, because a unique handbag can help you make a statement about who you are and what you are about better than just about anything else you can think of.  And of course, she’s right!!!!

So if anyone wants to get on board the Christmas Express to make a statement about who you are and what YOU are about, now would be a good time to do it!!   I am offering 20% off any handbag, evening bag or tote on the site, along with free shipping.

Happy Holidays!!!

www.denisemeyers.com

I am conflicted. Christmas decorations are already up at most businesses in town and it isn’t even Halloween yet….

But I have a feeling that if I don’t start reminding people now that Christmas is almost upon us, they will wait until the last minute to place their orders……

That would be a real shame…..

Because these handbags don’t make themselves you know….

Although, it would be nice if they did….

So here’s to Christmas….

May it be ever so bright…….

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There is a cycle to my work that I  have experienced since the day I first decided to become an artist.  The idea phase is probably the one I embrace the most, because I allow ideas to float in and out of my head until I find one I can develop and grow.  On occasion, I  have been lucky enough to see the finished product in full, before I even start, but that is rare.  I dreamt about a finished work once, even though I hadn’t even started on the piece, and within weeks, it was not only completed, it looked exactly the way I had seen it in my dream. A few years later, when I saw it displayed in the collectors home who eventually bought it, it took my breath away. I had worked on it with such intensity, and sold it so quickly, that I barely remembered creating it.  As I stood before it, I thought, “Oh my God, what a beautiful….wait a minute….I did that!”

For the past six weeks, I have been hard at work creating pieces for a collector in California, finishing a commission, and completing a trade I made with a very talented photographer many years ago.  In the middle of all of this, I had a garage sale, I put a bunch of stuff on ebay, bought a Flip camcorder for a YouTube project I am working on to promote the handbags, figured out how to use iMovie to create our submission for the Amazing Race 18 (provided there is one, of course) have been putting the finishing touches on several evening bags and totes that will go in the mail tomorrow to my first ever handbag rep for a trade show in Florida.

Its been fun, and exhausting, but the process of watching this business begin to develop, to see the reaction to the work, and to be approached by boutiques and galleries interested in promoting the bags, tells me I am on the right road.  I can’t wait to see where it goes….

Just got back from the Sausalito Art Festival last night.  After 96 hours in a van loaded to the rafters (do vans even HAVE rafters?) two weeks, and 5575 miles later, there is SO much wonderful stuff to report.  I have been trying to get into the Sausalito Art Festival since I first became an artist, and I can honestly say that the hype was everything I had hoped it might be.  The staff at the festival makes everything so effortless; the tents were set up for us, electricity was provided, volunteers were on hand to ferry your equipment to your booth.  We were given food coupons for all three days of the festival, so no one had to stand in long lines waiting to order $8.00 hamburgers, or $4.00 cups of ice cream.  Breakfast AND lunch were provided, and the opening night festivities were perfection…an open bar, sushi, dim sum and antipasto, followed by dinner and dancing in the main tent.  There were two bands who played on opening night, and enough food for an army, plus I actually sold on opening night,  unheard of at events like this.

The weather was unbelievable; it was between 79 and 84 degrees, and the location was sublime…right on the bay where hundreds of houseboats and sailboats were either docked or moored.  The Bangles, The Fixx, Jefferson Starship and Dave Mason all played at the main tent, and local bands played on a smaller, more intimate stage, not 100 feet from my booth.  I was busy all weekend long and made a number of sales on Saturday and Sunday.  Monday was quieter, until a woman showed up asking me to call a collector who bought five handbags on Saturday. My initial response was one of dread; usually when that happens, something is broken, chipped, doesn’t match the couch, the husband didn’t like it, the handle broke,  or there is some other problem.  I was absolutely delighted beyond belief to find out that this collector wanted to buy even more bags, and I can’t wait to find out what new bags I get to make for her!

As if that wasn’t enough, I got a call on the way home from a handbag rep who wants to promote my line in Florida,  and THEN I got an email from a gallery owner in Florida who also wants to purchase some bags for a gallery in Naples.  I got an idea for a new line of handbags based on vintage travel trailers, and when I got home, my house sitter asked if I wanted some slightly damaged luggage stickers that her grandmother, who helped found Swiss Air, collected from the 1930’s to use on bags,
and when I saw what she had to offer, I flipped.

I can hardly wait to get back into the studio.  It feels really good to know that I not only had a good show and an excellent time in San Francisco, but that I am more convinced than ever that I am onto something really huge…

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This will come as a shocker, but I don’t know everything.

I do know what I don’t know though, and what I’ve been told is that I don’t know how hard it has been to read my blog posts because of the white on black typeface.  So, Sharon and David, let me know what you think….. So far, I like it.  But I liked the other one too, so what do I know?

I also know that its time to announce that it looks like one of the orders I took at the Accessories Show is going to come through and its a doozy!  I met a pair of very stylish young sisters from Dubai who own a boutique called Fleurt, at the Mercato Mall, and from what I’ve read about their shop, I am excited and honored that they have chosen to give the handbags a try.

I am also hard at work on putting the finishing touches on new pieces for the Sausalito Art Festival over Labor Day weekend, and I am about to finish up a bag for the Western Design Conference at the Pavillions at Snow King Resort in Jackson Hole that I kind of hope doesn’t sell because I LOVE it!  Its no secret that anyone who knows me knows I love old Westerns and this new bag, which borrows liberally from an old Hopalong Cassidy radio I have coveted for a long time, is GORGEOUS.  It has taken FOREVER to paint, but I never claimed to be the fastest painter in the world.   I am pleased with the results AND the vintage radio dials I found on ebay to help complete the look.   Watch this space for pictures because I can assure you I will post photos of it when its done…

I also want to honor another request with this post. I have been asked many times to include pictures of what the “rest” of a finished bag looks like, so I posted those pictures at the top of the blog so you can see what a completed bag looks like, inside and out. After mentioning a hundred times about how that box of fabric I opened two years ago gave me a ten million dollar idea, I finally realized it would be nice to show how the fabric finishes the look.

As a reminder, the fifty percent off sale on any canvas tote on our website is good until Friday.  Send me an email with your phone number and  I will give you a call to arrange payment, since we don’t have a shopping cart. Shipping is not included in this offer, but over the next few months, we will have other sales that will!

Here’s the  thing….I come by my stubborn streak honestly, but I DO eventually listen to your suggestions.  Because I know what I don’t know.  And I know enough to admit that I don’t know everything!

When I was twenty, I knew exactly what I wanted out of life.  I wanted to “be somebody”, but I didn’t grow up in a home where ambition was encouraged. My parents were hardworking people; my father was a mechanic and my mother stayed at home until my sister was in her early teens.    I don’t think they intentionally dissuaded my passions, they just didn’t see the world the way that I did. Frankly, there is no reason they should have.  Everyone has a different path in  life, and I wanted mine to be an uphill climb, straight to the top.  But as I sit here today, thirty years later trying to say precisely what is on my mind, I am forced to realize that the path I chose was more like a rollercoaster ride than anything else, and it was all my doing.

I have avoided testing myself for thirty years because I have been afraid that if I took a chance on myself, and I failed, I wouldn’t survive.  It seems absurd to be saying this when so much in the world has gone haywire (I am reminded of the line in Casablanca “the problems of  (one)  little (person) don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world”, which is true, by the way), but as I began to wrap up preparations for the Accessories Show at the Javitz Center in New York this weekend, a strange thought occurred to me.

I have been preparing for this moment all my life.

If it works, it works and if it doesn’t, then I will at least know I did something so far out of my comfort zone that it took three decades to work up the courage to do.  That may sound silly, but the fact is, I have worked myself like a show pony most of my life trying to skirt around this kind of  investment.  The small voice inside me that doubted my decisions, my “position in life”, my choices, setbacks, challenges,  lessons, and even triumphs, were all because I told myself, I don’t know how to do this. I’m not even sure that I should.

Then,  something interesting happened last week. I invited the Guinness beer heiress, Daphne Guinness to become a “friend” on facebook.  And when she accepted, I not only felt “validated” as a designer, I started to think about how different her life is from mine.  How I have always given “people like that” credit for getting where they want to be because “they” have the resources and the upbringing to know how to go about it.  But what occurred to me, more than anything, is that Daphne Guinness, whether she knows it or not, has been an inspiration to me, simply because of the fact that she has no “fear of fashion”.   And it isn’t because she is widely considered to be one of the best dressed women in the planet (although she is).  My new collection may not be the most original line in the world, but its an amazing line, and I know it.  I don’t need to be afraid to take it to the market, even in this kind of economy, even though the bags are expensive and are designed to be that way.  Because I have been working toward this moment my whole life.

Its time to find out if this is truly the path I am meant to be on or not.

By the way, I did something else this week I thought I would never do. I succeeded in revising my website, myself.  Have a look.  I think you will like what you see…

www.denisemeyers.com