Soft Greetings.

Considering this a proto “Season’s Greetings”. Now that I finally have the chronological time to do things like reflect and non-strenuously produce, I cannot seem to remove my bottom half from the couch beside the Christmas tree. It’s a damn shame, too, because I like to read and write and share but it seems that it is one of those things that becomes rusty with lack of use. Besides “oh, just do it”, I’m unsure what would be the most analogous to some steel wool and a little oil.

This year has been so full! Both with bad and with good, vibrating against each other. The ups have softened the edges of the downs (or, at least worked to divert my attention/increase my resolve) while the downs have given strong, shapely shadows to all that is good. I never felt the change but I have become a more steady and confidant business person over this past year. I feel like With Care Jewelry (as my DBA reads!) has settled into a strong place and I am excited to work from where I currently am to continue growing my business, my skills, and my opportunities. I blew past my greatest expectations for this year and doubled (DOUBLED.) my gross sales from last year. I was aiming for a 33% increase but actually hit 100%. Holy hell, thank you friends, family, fans, retailers, wholesalers, Etsy staff, boyfriends, girlfriends, daughters, moms, cool advice columnists, NRA members, art moms, popular restauranteurs, cult blondes, celebrity tattoo artists, Canadians, southerners, commercial design geeks, bar tenders, bar backs, estranged high school classmates, faghags, house guests, hippie nuns, and all the other beyond-definable folks who have helped me, or who continue to help me while I work on and succeed at this truly massive project I have created for myself. I am so damn fortunate.

I was stirred by the above video of the owner of Artifact Bag Co. (one of the first Etsy stores that “favorited”) explaining his good luck of harnessing one well-placed tweet from a popular blogger that we both follow. I am not always comfortable talking about myself or what I do. While my mother proudly tells people that I am, “an artist in Providence, Rhode Island”, it has taken me a number of years to unlearn the too-long pause between, “What do you do?” and whatever the current iteration of my answer may be. While I might now quickly answer, “I’m a designer and crafts-person”, it is not without a small feeling of being smug or egotistical or like I am gloating. Similarly, marketing has always presented a problem to me because it felt like I was a shameful shill. Despite what I am doing right now, despite how brilliantly colored my hair has been, despite how I may carry myself, I’ve never felt comfortable yelling for people to look at me. I do not like to be the center of attention… even if sometimes it does sound like a fun idea.

However, this video helped to rearrange my thoughts of self promotion. If I am confident in myself and confident in my work, it is not a heartless shill to hope for or ask for the help of bloggers, taste makers, or famous friends. I’m just asking, “Hey. I have this great thing. Would you assist me in showing people how great it is?” IF you can’t quite reach something, there is no shame in asking for a boost. Get at me, popular friends, before I get at you.

 

Holiday! Sales!

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Hello, internet brigade. Very quickly, have you checked out the “Events” section of with-care.net? While I have no out-of-town markets on the list for this month (Pawtucket doesn’t count!) I do have plenty of public sales this month in the Providence, RI area. This weekend on the east side (there will be wursts!)! Next weekend on the Pawtucket side (there will be beer!) Third weekend on the west side (there will be child carolers. sorry, I know that is the opposite of an attraction!)

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I am packed and ready, buster! In the mean time, enjoy this cute, cute photo of my new dog:

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What It Is.

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Hey there, world! Remember “What It Is”? In case you forgot, it was this brief heading I would apply to me yammering on for a brief period about whatever was wading around in the shallows of my brain.

But, before I break into that great and glorious list, check out that image up top. I was doing some internet research and came across this original advertisement for the ultra-popular, must-have, perfect-gift-to-give-and-get “DAMN I’M GOOD” bracelet. 1977! How neat! The internet is a beautiful vortex. It has also been my sole source of employment for the past four years and counting. Life in the future isn’t so bad.

BEING COZY

Maybe it’s because I lost some of my precious body fat running around the block so many times this summer. Or, maybe it’s because I’m getting up in years. Maybe it’s because I cut off all of my hair the other day (more on that, next). Regardless of the whys, I’ve been feeling a little more cold than usual. Thus, “being cozy” has stepped up its place on my list of priorities. The other day, my pal Jesse asked her blog readers, “What do you wear when you regress?” My ideal cozy outfits are much the same as my ideal “regression” clothes: thick, wool socks (sorry, Jesse!), thick, spandex running tights (black), wool, turtle neck sweater (shrunken. also black. also sorry Jesse), and a small, tight skirt (often black!) for modesty and to guard against wearing tights as pants. So, black= soothing, even. Tight= ever embraced in a loving hug.

But, more so than cozy clothes, I’m talking all the trappings of cozy- save for the warm bath. I hate baths. But I’m talking soup. I’m talking scarves. I’m talking staying in and hanging out in the living. I’m talking quilting and warm bevs and a pinch, just a pinch, of nutmeg. By far, my best cozy investment of the past few years has been an old, red, rubber hot water bottle. It looks like a cartoon but, when filled with boiled water and placed at the foot of my bed, feels divine.

MAJORLY SHORT HAIR/JOAN OF ARC-ING IT

There is now a lot more of my face in the world. And it is awesome.

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RAMEN NOODLES

Last month, Dave’s sister and I started talking about, despite being snobs currently engaged in polishing off a 5 course farm-to-table dinner, that there was something so wonderous about a hot bowl of 14 cent ramen. Not even Oodles of Noodles or anything they sell at Whole Foods. More like Top Ramen and Maruchan. The next day, I made a bee-line for the corner store by my job and exited 30 seconds later in victory, small, red package labeled “beef flavor” in hand. Since then, I have invested in a large pack of the strange and mysteriously named “oriental flavor”. What is “oriental” supposed to taste like, rugs?

METAL FURNITURE

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Attend yourself to those two beauts up there. The A/V cart came from the flea market and was kind of a godsend as it matches our gross, pastel yellow walls perfectly and our former tv-holding situation was getting kind of desperate. The metal cabinet on the right was actually a godsend. Like, it might have been sent for me by a god or deity. I found it abandon in a bush, down the street from my house. With exception to the couch, which cost a pretty penny (and almost cost me my entire relationship. Furniture shopping brings out the worst in me, it seems) and the two lamps from Ikea, everything in the living room has been bought 2nd/3rd/4th hand, was a gift, or was found in the garbage. Actually, you could say that about our entire house. Many of our furnishings were fished out the waste stream with a metaphorical safety pin tied to the end of a shoe string. It’s how we roll.

Tool Kit

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I would like to think that, someday, this is what my soul will look like.

In my continued efforts to keep learning more than I really need to know, today I had an 8 hour, ASA-compliant course in basic Jewelry appraisal with Mona Miller: Rad Woman.

On the way out, an older woman in the elevator said to me, “Well, good for you. Living the dream.” And I had to answer, “Actually, The Dream is really stressful and weird, right now.”

With the Brand.

About a year after Dave and I started dating, he went on tour for a month. OBviously, I missed him. I was still all moony-eyed and love and stuff. We didn’t have a dog yet and, even with two roommates, the house just seemed too empty. Only dating a year and, already, here I was, A TOUR WIDOW! Oh. The sobbing.

But there was another aspect to my despair: I was painfully, acutely, jealous.

Crushed in a van, driving all day? Lucky. Human body stink and not showering? Lucky. Seeing the USA whip past at 70 mph? Showing up somewhere and not knowing anyone or what you have to do? Three weeks of creating in-jokes???! I mean, joining the Navy to see the world sounds fun but joining a band to see the east coast and maybe a couple hundred miles inland is more of an idea that I can get behind. I’m not a natural musician and doubt that I will ever be called upon to perform as one but, I am so, so, so envious. I might no longer notice if Dave isn’t home for weeks at a time but, the idea of him getting to see and drive the great, open road still stings. Even if there is car sickness. Even if there is MacDonald’s.

Get in the van? With pleasure.

However, I have realized that, while I don’t have a band, I do have a brand. And I can use it to take me to places far and wide. Granted, my jewelry is much better traveled than I am and, in only a few short years, has a much more impressive passport than I can ever imagine having. But I can also realistically dream of gigging from shows to fairs to other stuff thanks to my little With Care Mobile Party Set Up (as I have decided to call it. I expect to fashion it accordingly so, watch out.

And not that conventions and meetings and stuff never seemed boring to me but, I really like meeting up with other independent makers/small business owners and talking shop/people we know/cool tips/etc. I feel a weird connection to them and I feel super pumped when someone is like, “Oh! You’re With Care Jewelry. I’ve seen you around the web/grab/book/blog.” Like, I have to hide how excited it makes me. Because it makes me really, really excited. It’s the feeling of supporting something bigger than me that I am likewise buying into and creating and nurturing. There’s me and there’s my project. There’s you and there’s your project. Let’s get together and have some fun.

I guess this is just my way of justifying my purchase of a new turtleneck from Audrey Cantwell’s Ovate line. Because I can turn around and victoriously shake my fist while exclaiming, “Rah! I’ve done it for the little guy! I’ve got your back, sister. We’re in this together!”

Make it. Sell it.

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I almost forgot to mention, With Care is now being sold through Luniac Glamour in East Greenwich, RI! Downtown East Greenwich is like a small business Main St. USA dreamscape. Lots of little cafes, coffee places, bars that have late night music, chocolate shop, bookstore, cute fire house, antiques… even a witchy store/gift shop. And it is all up the road from a beautiful waterfront and boat basin.

As shopping online becomes more of a regular activity (and, one that I obviously support) I become that much more enamored with stores and shops that are well thought out, passionate places. I think that it will be a long time before the internet can replicate the all important phenomenon we call “vibes“. That’s why, yeah, I could buy that ridiculously rad Swedish Dream Salt Soap online- but I would rather take a leisurely walk downtown and buy it from Queen of Hearts – after smelling and touching all of the things. A good store provides you with more than just a product; you are able to enter freely into another world. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming, like the Prada store in SoHo. Other times, it can be achingly utilitarian, like taking my shoes to the Wayland Sq. Shore Repair. Granted, my shoes do appreciate the upkeep, but I choose that shop because I like to walk into a dark storefront filled with years of shoe-related this-and-that. A good store is magical. Viva brick and mortar. Viva plate glass and display racks. Raise your roll of register tape to the sky.

With Care on Scout Mob!

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Back a few months ago at Renegade Brooklyn, I was approached by a rep from Scout Mob about working with them to create some deals. Two months later, I give you the With Care X Scout Mob shop!

Working with them so far has been such a pleasure! A great group of people who are working hard. I didn’t even have to write the copy for the page. Other web shops will often nab your pictures and descriptions, merely copying and pasting from your site to theirs. And that’s kind of lame. I really think that the extra effort that Scout Mob gives shows through once you start navigating around the site. Everything is consistent- consistently well done. I’m pretty happy to be aligned with them.

Check it out to score a few of my favorite pieces at a reduced price. Quantities are limited so act soon!

(Double freak points to see myself listed under “Boston” as my nearest metropolitan location. I kinda forget that Boston exists except as a place I occasionally go to see a show or eat the best vegan Chinese food. It’s a good life.)

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Box.

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It’s been a while since you’ve seen my face, huh? Well. Here it is. This is how I usually look: ensconced in stuff, holding a small dog.

The internet is all about the aspirational. A giant stack of Ladies’ home Journals, descending from the sky and aiming to crash down all over you. This is why I am gifting the world one (1) perfectly unflattering image of myself in my never-to-be-show-worthy studio. Sure, there are strong pieces. Industrial metal and leatherette chair? Check. Antique Craftsman tool box? Check. Mid-century modern anything? Many checks. In a circle. But there are many other things that I keep around to aid my creative process. Like a gallon of water, not for drinking.

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Beautiful 1800s pine flooring, cut nails and all, strewn with a cutting mat, a sweet garbage-find of a paper cutter, quilt parts, pens, nibs, a precision machined scrimshaw tool (??!) and, yes, one copy of Billy Joel’s The Stranger.

And even though I am the common denominator, I am still a little surprised when I see all of this (insert a mental image of me swirling both hands around in a vague fashion here) condensed into something small and nice and perfect.

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My. God. Such a nerd for packaging things. If I had the budget of both time and money…? Oh. And wouldn’t that insert card look good with a little diamond or hand or something embossed onto it? Or if the foil stamping was black-on-black, or black-on-gold- like a piece of precious treasure? Each order wrapped in a custom printed handkerchief or bandana. Stuffed with a patch or sticker or button or pennant or tiny book or token or lucky talisman. Maybe even a small golf pencil. Ephemera will always get the best of me.

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But, for now, gold foil stamped boxes. Look so good. Dream come true. Perfection supported by a whole lot of “other”.

 

(In other, other news, this week: the weather has been lovely, I am consigning in a new shop in East Greenwich: Land of Posh Moms, we have a new roommate, also named “Dave”. I am achieving my previously-unknown dream of living with 2 people with the same name. Hilarity, always.)

 

 

What’s Been Up, Visually.

I know. I said, “More words!” but, sometimes, pictures work well, too. These are some of the things that I’ve been up to since Memorial Day heralded in the summer season (I follow the tourist calendar, not the celestial.) Sorry/not sorry for the non-iPhone quality of these photos. I also keep a trim budget.

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Spending late nights laying across the cool, marble steps of the Rhode Island state house.

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Docenting a brief trip to the boardwalk with my out-of-town friends. Also, pointing at things?

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Assessing what remains.

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Such as, what remains of my favorite arcade, which was sheared in half. Sad, sad times.

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Peeping rainbows while trying to make my with-care.net email forward correctly. (Thanks, Ian!)

Uptight, city living.

Uptight, city living.

 

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Complete with berry breakfasts

and backyard ducks.

and backyard ducks.

 

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Attended my best friend’s wedding.

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Always time for novelty.

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Made these YES/NO ONE/TWO flippable rings for a class at RISD.

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Ate some amazing doughnuts by the river with my mom.

Oh yeah. and I bought a vending machine. That has no keys. But that will be a thing for another day.

Oh yeah. and I bought a vending machine. That has no keys. But that will be a thing for another day.

Oh. Hello.

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I don’t do this often.

Gee. I’m so sorry that I haven’t seen you, blog world. I will try to be less tardy. Like. Really. And, I am also seriously sorry that many of my past updates have been heartless rehashes of stuff that has been posted on Instagram (even though I love it so) or cheap advertisements for “Oh! New thing! If you loved me, you’d buy it.”

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See, I like to read blogs. I like it when they are about actual people and, some of those people, they are very nice writers. Not just pictures. Not just evocative photo filters. Words, though. Oh yeah. Bring me the words. Make them plentiful and maybe even a little long. I can take it. Otherwise, I have a 3 volume dictionary to help me out. It’s outdated but, the most important parts are still there.

Things have been very busy this summer. For good and for not-so-good. Lots of driving from Rhode Island to New Jersey or New York. Lots of work for Renegade and lots of work stemming from Renegade (that’s good.) I had set out in late-springtime with a mild set of ideas as to what this summer would be like. It included late night hangouts on the state house steps, going to the beach, wearing cut-off shorts, and drinking a bunch of tiki drinks (particularly “Dr. Funk: the ladies’ favorite”). To date, I have done one of those things. Lucky for us all, it was the shorts.

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What I didn’t plan for was being sick for 20 days. 20 gross days of being unfocused and mewling like a teensy, sad kitten whose antibiotics didn’t work the first time around. I spent more time than is believable laying across the bed, body drawing a line between the window A/C unit at one side of the room and the small fan sitting at the other. And, during this time, panic attack after panic attack. After a few days (okay, like, a week), I couldn’t really tell what parts of me were sick and what parts of me were just scared I was sick (and, obviously, would be sick for-ev-er). If you know someone who has reached this point, don’t tell them, “Duh. Idiot. Just relax.” Surprisingly, this line of thinking doesn’t actually work. Mind over matter sometimes, talking-with-a-licensed-professional some other times, glasses of wine over everything, right? And, when mild substance abuse doesn’t clear it up, try running away. Write that down.

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So, here I am, on pleasant leave, hiding out at my parents’ house. And, you know, this summer hasn’t been much of a season (all enthusiastic cut-ff short wearing aside). Even in small ones, city summers are pretty miserable. But here, held gently in American suburbia, the Summer is how I remember. There’s the beach! And hamburgers! The gentle smell of cedar! Mild sunburn! A weird sensation that, at 5pm, I should be at work on the boardwalk! It is, truly, as my downstairs neighbor says, “Summah”. Don’t fear suburbia. Embrace it.

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