Wednesday, March 30, 2011

NEW NEW THINGS!

I have had a horrid cough and cold type thing (to be honest DrMr and Ruby have too), so I MISSED the glorious Finders Keepers market last weekend, which did make me a little bit sad, but made my wallet quite happy - especially because we just yesterday had to spend $1000 fixing things on DrMr's car.  So you know, maybe for the best.  I have spent lots of time at home, cooped up and quite bored, but most of all PRODUCTIVE.  SO much new stuff on Georgie Love.  Here are some of my favourite things:

Vintage Crockery Necklace from birdofplay




Wooden Jewellery Tree from birdofplay
Ceramic and Sterling Silver Hello Pendant from and O design

Starry Night Brooch from and O Design


Red Origami Crane Stud Earrings from Under the Shade of a Bonsai Tree
Patchwork Doily Brooch from Under the Shade of a Bonsai Tree
So you know, LOTS of glorious and varied handmade pieces.  I have to say that I am particularly fond of all of them.  I have been trying (AND DOING) a massive update in time for the Georgie Birthday NUMBER 5.  WHICH IS IN TWO WEEKS.

Friday, March 25, 2011



Lots of lovely new pieces from Lauren Williams now available on Georgie Love.  Gorgeous!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Parenting, weight, self esteem - you know, it's all lighthearted fun here

Can I tell you something honestly.  Me: I am probably about 30 kilos overweight.  And also to be perfectly honest, I am not too stressed about it.  I definitely think being overweight is a choice and if I really was bothered enough, facing serious health risks, or felt bad about myself to do something about it, I would.  I know what I would have to do to lose weight, but I enjoy life, food and wine too much to really be interested in denying myself that.  And also because clearly, self discipline is not my strongest forte.  I accept this and the consequences.  And I am aware of the consequences, I don't need schooling here.


I don't eat a lot of junk food, my favourite foods are quite seriously vegetables, I exercise every day, I have low blood pressure, no cholesterol issues, no diabetes risks... I feel good.  I feel pretty happy with myself for the most part.  I mean pregnant, I feel quite heifer-like, but these are extraordinary circumstance.  I feel like I will be a good role model for my daughter/s. (not saying that baby 2 is a girl yet, we honestly don't know).  We eat well, we are active and I am desperately trying not to share any inherited food issues.  I think there needs to be an emphasis on healthy, versus skinny.  DrMr is naturally skinny, but with a preference for junk food, which I think is probably worse, but we both love the "good life".


See my mother was never really overweight, but she struggled with her weight and being comfortable with herself her whole life - I doubt she is there yet..  She was also terribly ashamed of having two overweight daughters, and I remember being conscious about my weight and understanding that I was on a diet, from about the age of 4, which filled me with a lot of self loathing all through my teen years as I was clearly a disappointment to her and "not the kind of daughter she wanted".  But I also know that a lot of my food attitudes are inherited from her - food as reward, food as comfort, secret eating, denying and rewarding.  My older sister was usually always a lot more overweight than me and my mother would always comment on how unhealthy and unhappy she obviously she was, point things out about her appearance, and I implicitly knew from a young age that overweight people were gross and it was a good thing that I wasn't as bad as that.  It was a competitive environment, and I would feel superior: well I may be a bit fat and ugly, but at least I don't look like that.

Breakfast at our house.  Oh, I kid, I kid.
Having one daughter and possibly another, I am so concious of not creating a competitive environment, passing along inherited food issues and making them feel bad about their appearance - ever.  I am a strong person, between having a mother who was food and fat obsessed and a father who told me I was plain without make-up, I think I have pretty good self esteem and a healthy view point as an adult.  My upbringing also makes me hyper-aware of the affect that a parent's words and approval have on their kids. 

I was talking to DrMr in the car the other day and asking him how do you explain what fat and thin is as a concept, without using body types as an example.  It's rampant.  I don't want Ruby to look at anyone and judge them on how they look, versus what they are like as a person, but unless we start taking an interest in an Amish lifestyle and cloister ourselves away, it is not something I am going to be able to 100% influence.  I would love to be a person who didn't judge anyone, but of course we do - we will drive in the car and laugh at a Harry High-pants old man, or giggle at some particularly unfortunate ensembles.  THAT is the part of myself that makes me feel ugly, a part that I wish I was better and above.  I don't ever want to put another person down to make myself feel better, worse still - that Ruby thinks it's ok to do.

As parents, how do you approach this?  Is it something that is on your radar in the way you parent and the decisions you make?

I am so very interesting


Do you know when I blog, like at about 10  or 11 pm when I can't sleep and my mind if full of all the random things I am thinking of and then I write all these INCREDIBLY thoughtful, impressive and witty pieces in my head that are then gone by the time I wake up in the morning.


It's a shame.

Other than that, I have been busy hanging out with the toddler, complaining about the humidity and hayfever, making cardboard boats out of boxes, eating roast vegetables tossed with meredith feta (seriously, my favourite and my best meal in the universe) and wondering why 24 weeks pregnant feels like about 34 this time around.

Bec and I have also been busy talking to some new people for Georgie Love, which is EXCITING.  We haven't done an update as big as the one planned in QUITE SOME TIME.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A great new hobby for DrMr and me...


Pity it's already been done - a couple re-creating Mills and Boon covers.
  
"Sometimes we sit for hours staring at a sea shell. Other times he'll hold me by the neck in front of the Pyramids. But there's nothing we like more than NEARLY kissing each other near some horses. I always try to look hot in front of him so he doesn't leave me"

That's US, EXACTLY.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

DISCOUNTS and WINNERS

Ok, so I thought Georgie Love's birthday was this month, but it may actually be NEXT month, so clearly pregnancy is rendering me stupid.  Still, having a month to think and plan to do something (MAYBE) is good.  I have some ideas, I ALWAYS have some ideas, but we will see how we go translating that into actual ACTION.  I feel useless at the moment.. .or maybe distracted is a better word.

ANYWAY, DUE TO MY ERROR, the code FORGETFUL will give YOU 15% off anything you like at Georgie Love.


ALSO, the winner of the scarf is the lovely AMY from Life with Soul.  Yay!  Amy, if you could get in touch with your fave scarf and address, I will get this out to you quick smart.  :-) Well, definitely before the next cold snap anyway.  Yay!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Blind man with a blind guide dog...


If this story doesn't make you go AWWW... and make you feel a little happier and smooshy inside, then I am not sure we can be friends anymore.

ALSO, IT'S THE WEEKEND PEOPLE and Rubes is in the midst of her Friday-post-3-consecutive-days-at-daycare 4 hour nap.  We usually have very quiet and lazy days, but we do have a Friday morning tradition of spending time together having a babycino at a local cafe.  Today they gave us 5 marshmallows each, which is ridiculous.


But happy making for a 2 1/2 year old.  She told me today before we left that she was going to eat 4 marshmallows today (indicating that she would be stealing mine too), but the cafe staff thought we needed a sugar hit obviously.  The perfect thing for a pregnant lady and a toddler : SUGAR. Ahem.


This is only half as bad as how she looked at the end of it.  But LOOK AT ALL THE SUGAR-INDUCED JOY.   I love this time with her every week, after a few days apart.  I really look forward to it.

Once a week.  We can deal with the sugar fallout!


Don't forget, you have TWO more days to enter the Frankie and Ray scarflet giveaway.  Don't worry if your favourite colour is gone, as I have 5 more up my sleeve (and by my sleeve, I mean waiting at Bec's house to be photographed by me and put online).

Also new this week: a big new range of Pearl and Elspeth vintage fabric skirts.  These sell out super fast when I have them in (in the past 24 or so hours, two have already gone).  They are ace and the new range is all in the most Autumny perfect colours and weights.

Other than that, I am going to try and get to the craft hatch market this weekend.  Rubes sleeps from like midday till about 3 usually, which makes getting anywhere to do ANYTHING kind of tricky for us (and I have 10:30 am yoga classes both weekend days, which I am loathe to miss).  I DO want to check out this one, as I have been wanting a Teddybears Wednesday softie for the unborn bebe for a while (and I have my eye on you Frank) and check out the lovely Joey Nomad pieces too.

If I am lax at saying hello, please understand that I am RIDICULOUSLY SHY and AWKWARD and feel like a tool pointing myself out in public, but I will be the one wrangling sticky toddler fingers off of everything, and holding hands with a bemused and beardy DrMr.  Whatever you are doing, may it be MOST EXCELLENT.  And remember:

via http://www.adteachings.com/
The muppet is awake, till NEXT TIME.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

It's Been Forever, but.... GIVEYAY!


I haven't done a giveaway in forever.  And actually, it's very, very close to Georgie Love's official 5th birthday and I haven't done a thing in preparation to celebrate as we have been distracted with lots of other life stuff, so I need to get on to that PRONTO. Cause it's like days away and my head is you know, still stuck somewhere in December 2010.

Anyway, I for one am very happy that it is AUTUMN, the days are warm and sunny, the nights are cool and easy to sleep in... and everything just feels a little cooler and crisper.  It's just a beautiful time of year and it already feels like we are having a proper SEASON, unlike Summer, which was just a journey to crazy town.  To celebrate the onset of the new season, we have a giveaway from one of our very favourite people, not just from Georgie Love, but life in general.  I think of her as a friend.  Jo is the loveliest of ladies and if you see her at a market, DEFINITELY go up and say hello as she is just ace.  She will be at the Melbourne Finders Keepers  later this month (which we will not this time around), so go and see her for some not-available-anywhere-else specials.  


We are giving away one of her signature, pure wool scarflets, which are just the most perfect thing to keep your neck snug over the cooler months.  These are always EXTREMELY popular and sell very quickly and we have just got 4 newies in stock (and I have asked for more to follow) and we would love to be able to give ONE to YOU.  Just pick your favourite one, leave a comment and the randomiser will choose someone on the evening of 13 March 2011 to be the winner.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

conclusions

I want to say a big thank you to everyone who expressed their views (and hopefully will continue to do so) about the Made in Australia issue that I have been blogging about over the past few days.  I originally blogged about it because I was genuinely surprised that Nancybird didn't manufacture in Australia and I was curious in general whether this sort of information encouraged or dissuaded people to buy a product - any product. It's definitely a complex and massive issue and obviously one that is not going to be resolved by this blog or anytime soon.  I certainly didn't intend to try and resolve it - it was something that has been on my mind for a couple of weeks, and the blog is a place where I like to talk about these things sometimes, get feedback - have my opinions challenged and opposed.  It's important to me, because I like to think and I definitely like to be informed.

I am also really glad that Emily took the time to respond - she is clearly extraordinarily passionate about her business, and is invested in running an ethical and sustainable design business.  I really do wish the best for her as I have always loved what Nancybird have created.

I am genuinely not trying to persuade anyone to either support or boycott the label, of course we should support local designers and small Australian industry, but I think we do need to be informed to make the right decision for ourselves.  My Georgie partner Bec, who discovered the label in her bag and was as disappointed as I am has actually changed her mind with the conversations we have been having.  Having visited Hong Kong earlier this year and viewed some terrible conditions, she is quite passionate about this issue. I hope she doesn't mind me repeating our conversation, but her viewpoint is:


I think nancybird is back on my list of shops okay to shop at. and this is why:


Emily is clearly passionate and has made decisions based on what she feels is ethical and fair. throughout her email, she struck me as honest and i believe that she would not allow practices like those we associate with 99% of the products out of china to be associated with her brand. because of course money is important, but so are her ethics. ROCK ON NANCYBIRD, via Emily.

I think this is great and this is the point of debate and discussions - people have to do what they are comfortable with.  As for me, I am not so sure at the moment.  There is clearly a Nancybird bag that I am currently have a passionate long distance affair with, but I think first I would try and purchase something I know is made locally first .

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Response from Nancybird

This morning I received a response from the owner of Nancybird, Emily Wright.  In the spirit of openness and fairness, I wanted to post it here for you to read if interested, and my response to Emily is also included below.  It is long from both of us, so I apologise - but interesting if it is an issue that concerns you.
_______________________
Hi Sally,
 
I read your blog post last night about my label nancybird, and wanted to write back to you today.
 
I think you raise really important, complex issues. They are things that I've thought about extensively, and have made considered decisions about along the way in my business.
 
I'd be happy for you to add this email in part or in full into your blog post if you like as a right of reply, or if you'd like to just read this for your own information, this is ok too.
 
I do have an issue with the link you have added regarding working conditions in China in your blog. I feel this is a little unfair - I would be happy to explain and show images of the small factory stitching our items, but I don't agree with Nancybird being linked to that article. Those conditions are CERTAINLY not the case for us, I work very closely with one factory, as I have over the past 4 years, and I can vouch for the good working conditions of the physical space and workers entitlements (sick pay, overtime, accident insurance).
 
The area around Hong Kong (Guandong province) is now a highly regulated place (although there will always be exceptions, as there are in every country including Australia), and the factory we use is small (about 60 people there), has been there for about 25 years, always run by the couple George and Lotus.
 
We now on all our swing tags (since we updated our swing tags last season) have a summary of where materials come from and where they are produced. We also have more detailed information here - http://nancybird.com/about/origin-2/ on each element of the range.
 
We print all of our outer fabrics locally. Ink and Spindle do all our screen printing. They are our designs - it's mostly me who designs these, but I've also had another friendly textile designer design some prints for me - Andrea Shaw. She's also designed our last few linings too. We also produce all our digital print fabrics here. I design every single item that we make, always. One day in the future I might get some help with this, but at the moment, and up until now, that's how it's been.
 
I own the business, I have no backers, no outside funding, no-one but me (and the people that work here, all 4 of us!) making decisions.
 
We love using really great, quality materials, and want to produce a really well designed, interesting, thoughtful product, and I feel we pretty much do this with each range.
 
I'm afraid this letter may become too lengthy, so please forgive me if I skip forward or simplify a little.
 
I started by making everything myself - prints, cutting sewing etc etc. The question for me became - where do you go beyond designer maker?
 
I think handmade things, things produced and designed by artisans and designers are hugely important. I think it's a great movement, that focus back on the handmade, and something that has definitely grown in the time since I began my label around 9 years ago.
 
But what do you do if you want to move that into something a bit larger? If there's a local industry there, that is ideal. There are still some producers sewing fabric based products. Producers of leather goods are much, much harder to find.
 
The other issue I found is people wanting locally produced things, but often not prepared to pay for it. Would you pay $800 for one of my bags? Even if it was possible to make and find makers locally to produce it... It becomes then a product that most people couldn't afford.
 
Other people, such as the lovely Jarren from the label Temono have made it work for him by producing it basically himself with an extra pair of hands or two, which is amazing. I know he still battles with educating people on the price of his product. I've had lots of great chats with Jarren about producing locally, and the issues we've both had along the way.
 
My decision to look offshore was certainly not taken lightly. The manufacturers that I eventually found are really amazing. They had, and have, the skills for the detailed work that we do. They have the machines needed to produce our work - special sewing machines for different parts of a bag or wallet. In saying that, a surprising amount is handmade - all the woven straps are done by hand (I have a great video of the ladies weaving our straps), our wallets often have little hand stitched elements too, and many parts of making are hand formed or pressed.
 
I wasn't sure if your post was more about us stitching our bags in China, or the perception that you had that we were wholly made in Australia.
 
We certainly do promote the parts that we've kept here - I am really proud that I can use local printers. I am really proud that I design everything. I am inspired by my local surroundings, and this is reflected in my work.
 
We definitely talk this up, no doubt about that. I also love that I don't automatically go for a Scandinavian motif, that I prefer to use something that feels more Australian, like using a local plant to feature instead.
 
I feel that we explain our origins pretty clearly. The website is where we have the most space to explain it all, and it can be found in pretty detailed form there, and our swing tags details origin too.
 
Just as a side note too, we are also working on other projects (a little early to let on about it!) with local artists and an environmental group based in Australia, donating part of the profits to them. It's an exciting project for next season.
 
Anyway. I hope this explains some more about our business. I really appreciate being given the chance to respond.
 
If you would like any further information please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.
 
 All the best,
 
Emily
 
__________________________________
Hi Emily,

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to me and my concerns - I was eager to hear your thoughts and reasoning on the topic and will be posting your reply on my blog later today.

I certainly did not intend to offend you or Nancybird in any way - as a genuine fan of your label, I was taken aback to discover that the bags were made (stitched) in China as I was under the impression that it was wholly manufactured in Australia.  I was surprised and disappointed to find out it wasn't, but I do think it's commendable and reassuring that you are forthright about where and how your products are made.  I wrote the blog entry more as a launching pad for discussion - whether the country of manufacture does or does not influence people's decisions making when buying products.  I was trying to work through how I felt, as it was on my mind (I have been tossing up buying the Brentford Bag for a number of weeks, since I first saw it previewed in your newsletter at the start of Feb).

I own and run a website that sells and promotes handmade products that are designed and produced locally.  It is something I am passionate about, so obviously I am quite invested and interested in this issue.  We have so many talented people and quality products being made here, that I love to see that supported as much as possible, and that independent makers are able to support themselves doing so.  I do however also think it's incredibly difficult these days to isolate items that are wholly Australian made - fabrics, zips and buttons(etc)  are printed overseas and imported and then used to make an item here.  I really don't know where that line is drawn - it's a complex issue and one I didn't and couldn't resolve in a singular blog post.  Certainly as I was trying to highlight that I don't know what all my feelings are on the issue either.

I am just generally concerned as a consumer that cheaper labor is being used in a country that is well-known to have unethical practices.  Even if the factories used offer significantly better conditioned than the notoriously inhumane places, we are still financing the cause and the government that supports those conditions. 

I don't think there is an answer to any of this - if we stopped manufacturing in China and in other countries with unethical conditions, prices would sky rocket and their economy would collapse, not to mention the impact on everyday families trying to feed and clothe themselves. There is no easy answer and I certainly don't have the solution.  As such, I need to make informed choices where I can that sit well with me in my role as a consumer. 

Thanks again and all the best
Sally

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Breaking up with old flames

Yep, that's my bag
So. I have been on the hunt for the perfect handbag.  I have a Nancybird Bag which was/is my every day one, but it's kind of got a narrow opening which means rummaging through it in a hurry (which I do on multiple occasions every day) ca take me too long to find anything.  So I have spent literally HOURS looking at bags trying to find the next perfect bag to take everywhere.  I have searched etsy, madeit, Australian stores... everything (usually late at night in bed).  I support handmade items and Australian-made industry so I do take those factors into consideration as much as I can before a purchase.  And not everywhere is forthcoming about where their materials are produced - materials sourced locally does not mean an item is produced locally.

I have quite the collection of Nicola Cerini bags, which I have always liked and I know they are made here in Australia - and the price reflects that.  They are practically made from the highest quality materials and just last and last.  I have friends who have worked closely with Nicola for a number of years and have been lucky to visit her gorgeous studio a number of times and can vouch for a wonderfully made, locally produced product.

So back to my bag search, I am absolutely in love with this stunning bag from the new Nancybird range.  IN LOVE WITH IT.



JUST LOOK at it.  It's just so beautiful (more than anything else, I do love a good bag).  I have always loved Nancybird and have several of their bags.Their leather is the softest you could feel and is Italian produced and they use local Australian designers for their fabrics (which is also often hand printed locally).  They are beautiful and good lord do I covet this bag.  I was even tempted to save up my pocket money properly and buy it.  It's $365.  I have had the opportunity to buy them wholesale from industry fairs, but I did not think I could wait for it.

Click me big to read tag
But see despite that in all of it's luscious beautifulness, it's made in China.  My Georgie partner Bec found this tag in one of her Nancybird bags and she refuses to buy another.  For the price and "Australianness' of the brand, this is disappointing to me.  I have always thought I have been buying and supporting Australian owned and made items.  I would love to be absolutely wrong about this, so if anyone at Nancybird wants to tell me that I am wrong, then I would gladly listen and amend this.

Look, this isn't meant to come across as a harsh critique, because I am in two minds and the bag absolutely CALLS TO ME IN MY SLEEP, but I am curious about other people's opinions and ideas. Does discovering this sort of thing disuade you from making a purchase?  Does it influence your decision making at all?

I think un-ideal manufacturing conditions is almost inevitable and I try and make informed decisions as much as I can, but I think I also almost subconsciously have a what I don't know, won't hurt me mentality about it all, which is not something that I am exceptionally proud about.