November 24, 2009

Christmas Sale!

We are now on ETSY!!!

Facebook Fans Receive 20% off Entire Etsy Purchase!!!

Want 25% off your Etsy Purchase? Become a Facebook Fan and Follow this Blog!!!

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!!!


Natalie and Carrie

September 22, 2009

Red Tape

I will be the first to admit that I went kicking and screaming into legitimacy...I was so sure all that paperwork and license fees would stifle all of our fun and creativity. I just am not good with the "Red Tape".

I just want to have fun all the time and write blogs, play on facebook, and sew pretty things for little girls. Who cares if I have a tax i.d. number and why on earth would anyone want one..ugh!

But then I drifted back in from the la la land I live in and acknowledged that if we want to see the fruits of our labor hanging in a swanky boutique window or if we want to go to a trade show without riding someone else's credentials then we must surrender. Thank God for Natalie who has a natural understanding of business stuff. She is good with numbers and is not intimidated by the details or paperwork. She just gets it. I on the other hand can't seem to absorb those types of details...they just bounce right off my brain. If I am honest with myself then I guess I must admit that I probably have selective comprehension. If I don't think it is fun then I just act like I cant do it so I dont have to. Yeah I said it.

It all started with a class Natalie took at the International Textiles Expo called "The Do's and Don'ts of Starting an Apparel Business" taught by Frances Harder. Frances Harder is the founder of FBI (Fashion Business Inc.) a non-profit educational business providing intelligence and support to smaller creative apparel companies. Her books and instructional materials are available from Harder Publications. The title of the class pretty much speaks for itself and it delivered the info we needed. At the class Natalie also purchased a great set of reference materials called "Fashion for Profit" which pretty much summarized the class. Natalie was fired up and enlightened about where we needed to go next.
Before we set out and signed up for every license under the sun we sat down and discussed our goals. What were we doing this for? Did we want to stay small and cozy and sew outfits for our girlfriends or did we want to have a massive obnoxious fashion empire with sweat shops in every country.
In the end we agreed that we wanted to be able to purchase our supplies wholesale and to be able to wholesale our own products to retail boutiques. Maybe someday it would be great to design a collection and hire people to sew for us. In the end it seemed practical to apply for only the minimum credentials needed to get the ball salt on your food, its much easier to add than to take away.

In a nutshell we started at the City of Henderson and applied for our business license. They proceeded to give us a checklist that outlined the other credentials we needed to operate as a manufacturer:
Home occupation permit
State sales tax permit

From there we were directed to the requirements outlined by the state of Nevada:
Business License
Sales tax permit
We formed a simple partnership entity...and...

when all was said and done we probably spent about $300.00 in fees so that we could pay taxes. Furthermore we committed ourselves to plenty of future useless government revenue generating fees...the clerk with the State of Nevada even admitted it!
Finally, I ran across a great blog that inspired us to share our own journey...check out Amber is the owner of Baby Fabulous - a trend-setting infant and toddler apparel and accessories line. Her blog is meant to share some of her startup and business growth experiences in the hopes that it helps somebody else going through the same thing. She has years worth of experience and has documented every detail. Her selfless sharing is invaluable.

August 10, 2009

Carrie's Sewing Room

Welcome to the place where I get CRAFTY...

(Cue music...go to fabulous playlist and select Beastie Boys' "She's Crafty" for maximum reading enjoyment :)

We never really knew when it happened….it just sort snuck in under our radar. Even in retrospect the day and time eludes us; nevertheless, the room we so fondly referred to as the dining room is now identified as “the sewing room”. My husband hasn’t quite surrendered yet but he knows if I don’t sew there then the only other place for me to go is the “band room”. That’s right, the custom room he built out in the garage that houses all his toys. Did I mention that it is air conditioned and fully sound proof? His toys have air conditioning. I think it would be a great place to sew and create but I’m not so sure he agrees. I am definitely holding on to that card until I really need it.

If you look closely you can see remnants and artifacts from the ancient dining room era...long gone but definitely not forgotten.

Don't you love my Grandmother's pincushion...she was born in Buckingham Palace in the servants quarters...I'm just's probably a royal hand-me-down.

Hello Kitty pins from my very first sewing kit...

You KNOW I have a it...the sales guy at Quiltique called it a Sewing Computer...It does so many cool things and has saved me hours! Thanks honey for my birthday present!

I love this tool has become a permanent fixture on one of the dining room (I mean sewing room) chairs. I think the name of the company that makes them is The Mommy Tool Belt...I will find out for sure.

I was given this plate as a gift when I was little...I use it as a "catch all" while I am sewing. It says, "A little patience, a little smile and a job is done in a little while." Natalie LOVES it when I say that to version is "enjoy the process."

The serger I use is a Janome My Lock mom bought it for me for my birthday from Cynthia's Sewing Shop. It is simple and easy to use and I love it! I am so busy sewing I don't have time to take the "free class with purchase"...I am sure it can do things I never even thought of...

At first I used to take out my sewing machine and all my stuff and then put it all away at the end of the day. Not so much anymore. It’s like a factory now and I only clean it up when we are having company. Cleaned up it just looks like a tidy factory surrounded by 8 leather dining chairs. At least I put the ironing board away. Is it perfect? No. Is it conducive to me still hanging out with my family while I sew? Yes. And that is just fine with me. I have a feeling that is why my husband doesn’t spend much time in the band room…it’s lonely in the cushy, quiet, air conditioned room.

July 20, 2009

Wholesale Wrap Up

So we conquered the cotton prints and were so spent! It was the last day of the Expo so we had to act fast to find the rest of the fabrics we needed...velour and corduroy. Surprisingly, they were both hard to find. There seemed to be rows upon rows of booths with fabrics that had no appeal to us or our needs. Finally, we got lucky and stumbled upon David Textiles.

From our perspective it looked as though they only had quilting fabric and licensing/character type fabrics. Had it not been for a very affable, eager and humorous sales rep we may have kept walking. He looked kind of like this guy. He made us an offer we couldn’t refuse
Within moments he had more swatches of cord than we could have hoped for and the perfect velour!!! He let us run them over to the Seven Islands Fabric booth to see if it worked with our cottons and it was perfect.
Next we needed buttons…we needed the perfect blingy button, not too big, not too small but just right. In spite of the overwhelming plethora of choices we could not find what we needed.
Natalie was all out of annihilate and I was “swamped” as usual. She was wandering aimlessly from booth to booth and begging me to leave. I knew if we didn’t pick something we would kick ourselves later…buttons are pricey man! So, we saw, we overcame, we conquered. Buttons…check! They were so inexpensive I don’t think I could pay retail again without complaining all the way to the cash register.
So to wrap it up, if you are interested in buying fabric or all things crafty at wholesale for your fledgling crafty business this is what we recommend:
Find a trade show as close to home as possible…no need to pay more than necessary for your first experience...unless of course it is in Vegas.

• If you already have your business license and tax identification number then you are golden. Just register for the trade show under the category that best fits your trade. For example, retailer, buyer, manufacturer etc.

• If you do not have all your ducks in a row yet (translation: AMATEUR) then see if you can attend the trade show as a representative of a company that is not an amateur. If you ask VERY NICELY I am sure they will be more than happy to accommodate you. Be sure to represent them with the utmost professionalism. We were honored to represent Pattycakes awesome place to find that perfect outfit or have a princess tea party

• If someone is nice enough to allow you to ride their coat tails (Patty Zimmer you ROCK!!!) then make sure you DO NOT make a purchase using their credentials unless they have given you prior approval. In the end it all comes down to the tax burden and who is going to carry it. When we sat down to make our first wholesale purchase we made it very clear that we were a new business and in the process of getting our paperwork. The vendors and exhibitors were more than happy to help us with our order; HOWEVER, our order would not be shipped until they had the required information from us.
• Be laser focused (like Natalie)! Be perfectly clear in your own mind as to why you are there…do not get distracted (like Carrie) by all of the options. We stepped through the doors knowing exactly what we wanted and did not leave until we had conquered! It helps to preview the exhibitor booth layout online so you don't waste time wandering around searching for your favorite designer.
• Our smokin’ deal with David Textiles is a perfect example of what happens when you wait until the last day and hour of the Expo to make your move. Many exhibitors will be more likely to negotiate in the 11th hour. Remembering that we are AMATEURS, we did not plan that, we just got lucky.
• Finally, have a blast…we laughed so hard at ourselves and how lame we were!

July 8, 2009

Can You Say Wholesale?

When a cheetah hides in the tall grass waiting to pounce on a herd of cute little antelope it can encounter a phenomenon called "swamping effect". As the hundreds of antelope fly by it becomes so overwhelmed with it's options it can't focus on any one antelope. Before he knows it dinner has passed him by. All he sees is a bunch of antelope butts in the distance. Due to his inability to commit and focus he ends up with nothing and, really, any one of them would have been just as tasty as the other.
I am the cheetah, Carrie the Cheetah... the antelope are really bolts of fabric and...well you get it. I am a decision making nightmare...there are so many beautiful options...ugh!
Natalie on the other hand, well, she is the kind of cheetah who starts killing antelope right away...she is Natalie the Annihilator...she picks off the antelope she wants and never looks back wondering if she got the tastiest, fattest, or yummiest antelope...she is full and completely confident in her decision.

So Carrie the Cheetah and Natalie the Annihilator step into the International Textiles Expo...although it sounds like a match made in hell it works...there is balance. Seriously I was sooooo excited...I felt like an insider and was sure we were going to uncover some ancient Chinese secret of the fabric world. Armed with our swatches of jewel toned knits we bought on our LA Fashion District trip (again, a story for another time) we hit the floor. Our goal was to find the perfect compliments in corduroy, velour, and unique cotton prints.
It became evident very quickly that we were in for a long many little time. Luckily, we knew what we did NOT want and that was basically the same options we could find at the local quilt store. Not that there is anything wrong with quilt shop's just not going to provide options that will set us apart. Many a late night has been spent searching the internet for unique fabrics...they are out there but they are just soooo expensive! And then we saw it....smack dab in the middle of the expo....corner booth TA DA!!!...Seven Islands Fabrics.

As we flipped through the bevy of swatches we knew right away we had found EXACTLY what we were looking for. There were so many amazing options that even if we closed our eyes and did a round of eenie meenie minie moe we still couldn't go wrong. Every single print was slightly retro with a Japanese vintage flair...girly, soft, amazing colors...PERFECT.
As the "swamping effect" started to overwhelm my senses, , I remembered we had swatches to work with...yes, a starting point, a foundation to build on. Nevertheless, I sat there with a huge pile of choices and my brain went into shut down mode. From Natalie's perspective I was probably drooling and my eyes were rolled back in my head. Seeing my distress, she suggested we break for lunch.
Three helpings of tortellini later, we had refreshed and renewed our focus. Sketches and swatches in hand Natalie the Annihilator and Carrie the Cheetah sat down with Lisa from Seven Islands Fabrics and placed our first wholesale order. Natalie was genius at sorting through my indecision and the end result was perfect! We found beautiful fabric and paid 1/5 of the price had we purchased it retail or online. Yay for us! We will be back in September!!!

June 18, 2009

Fall '09 Collection Fabrics

Aren't they pretty? And that is just a small sampling of all they yummy fabrics we will be using for our new collection. We can't wait to turn yardage into fashion and we are inviting you along for the ride.

If you hadn't already noticed, our blog is a bit sparse but not for long. We are moving from infant bloggers to toddler quickly and we promise to do our best to be current. I admit that this post alone has taken quite an undertaking to is a mess, baby is in bed, rest of family mesmerized by of course, I snuck into the office for a brief encounter with cyberspace.

The process of starting our Fall '09 Collection began back in the Spring...which is actually when our Fall '09 Collection should have already been done...WHATEVER. We had just come down from the high of the success of our Spring collection and were rested and ready to start again. Most of the knits we planned on using for Fall were purchased on our first shopping trip to the LA Fashion District (that's a story for another time). We still needed so much...corduroy, velour, unique cotton prints etc. Retail was our only choice locally so we figured we would be off to LA again; however, my lovely, bright, smart friend Allison mentioned that there was a textiles convention at the Rio Hotel that very weekend...The International Textiles Expo to be exact...right in our back yard...BINGO!

And then we remembered we were amateurs and that they don't let just any old seamstress into a textiles convention just because they love fabric. I told you we were new at this. But never fear, Pattycakes is here! Our blossoming relationship with Patty Zimmer, owner of Pattycakes Kids, was once again working to our advantage. Patty was gracious enough to allow us to attend the convention as representatives of her lovely boutique. What an eye opening experience and what an education...we were like two kids in a candy store.

May 22, 2009


In the Fall of 2008, I was finally getting back into the swing of things after my 4th child turned six months old. It was time to quit having babies, enjoy raising them, and prepare to face the big 40 with grace.

Meanwhile...down the street, Natalie was already there..with 4 kids in the mix she had started a quickly growing cupcake/catering business and was somehow managing it all quite well. Inspired by Natalie's success I re-visited my love for sewing and decided to try my hand at ebay selling embellished and re-vamped Halloween costumes.

Upon sharing my idea with Natalie it was all over...before my first costume was even finished, Natalie had bought a serger, designed her own pattern, and sewn her first custom dress only to top it off by casually mentioning that she had been to fashion design school BEFORE becoming a pharmacist and a mother of four. Who knew? It was a match made in heaven and Brava Boutique was born.

Within weeks the original plan evolved from Halloween costumes to custom Halloween outfits to custom Christmas outfits. By the end of November, Brava Boutique had created a 25 piece fall/Christmas collection for our first client (hey Marcine!). We named our creation Glad Heart based on Proverbs 15:13. "A glad heart makes a happy face."

As much as Marcine loved it, we needed more input. In exchange for a good old fashioned GNO, we asked all the moms we knew to tell us what they thought of our first effort. By the end of the night we had 8 custom orders and a re-newed confidence that we were on the right track!

Since that great night in November we took our first fabric shopping trip to LA, obtained our business license, attended our first textiles trade show, put on our first (and probably our last :)) fashion show, met with a web designer, and bought swanky brand new Bernina sewing machines.

As of April 2009, we are basking in the glow of the success of our Spring 09 collection. In one night we sold over 50 of the 85 pieces we designed and are currently in the middle of creating an exclusive Summer collection for Pattycakes Kids. Plans are already in the works for Fall and it will be our best collection yet!

May 21, 2009

Baby Blogger

Today is the day I officially become a blogger...I am a brand new babe to the world of the cyberspace diary. I have perused many a blog in the recent past sort of wondering why anyone would want to memorialize every little step in their matter how mundane or profound. And why would anyone want to read it? Naturally, I found myself re-visiting certain blogs and being sucked into the details wondering what was going to happen next...How was the sweet young couple with all the kids recovering from the plane crash...did the husband pull through?...Did the fabric designer I love so much release her latest collection?...How did the big trade show turn out for the baby blanket designing mom? And then I realized, not only was I engaged but I was also learning things I needed to help my own business grow. I was grateful for the selfless sharing of information and have decided to be a part of it.

Brava Boutique is our name and sewing unique custom clothing for little girls is our passion. The name of our clothing line is Glad Heart. As we approach our 1 year anniversary in August we thought it would be fun to memorialize the process we go through of creating a clothing line from it's birth. We will take you along for the ride as we design, sew, and market our Fall/Christmas Collection for 2009... but first we need to catch you up on how we got to where we are now...