Omaha Welcomes Senator Wendy Davis: Inclusivity, Impact, and the Equality Economy

We at Hello Holiday are so excited to have this opportunity to bring Senator Wendy Davis to speak in Omaha. We're definitely a blue dot in a red state, and we live among a very engaged base of young progressive professionals who are actively invested in the diversity and growth of our city. It’s a very exciting time to live here. Facilitating discussions and events like this one with Senator Davis is an important part of raising consciousness and providing resources for progressive leadership in our community.

In a state where reproductive rights and gender equality laws require vigilant pursuit, this is an important opportunity to engage our local young professionals, activists, and people in the business community to continue the conversation about equality issues in Nebraska and how these policies affect our local economy. Hope to see you there!

Tickets on Eventbrite

Facebook Event

 

One Thing at a Time 2k16

Now is when we are buckling down to outline a year’s worth of commitments (or overcommitments), which is surely the basis of my personal aversion to making new year’s resolutions. Resolutions and promises and lists freak me out. Usually as soon as I know of a rule, even if I made it for myself, I want to break it. I also suffer from this extremely rare thing called fear of failure and it causes me to put unrealistic pressure on myself constantly, which of course is a totally unrelatable phenomenon to most other people. I read something recently about how procrastination is often about perfectionism, and that striving toward impossibly high goals doesn’t cause us to work better or smarter, but instead makes us paralyzed to act because we’re so afraid of failing. 

There is probably nothing wrong with putting pressure on ourselves. We should all want to attain excellence, but the paralysis I mentioned earlier sets in when we choose to set goals that are always beyond our reach. My other downfall that I am vigilant about is that my time, energy, money, etc. limitations sometimes keep me from focusing on doing one thing well at a time. Or, as has happened in the past, I set “wrong” goals that are imposed by others and aren’t necessarily ones I genuinely care about, which makes me more likely to give up and go back into that self-critical headspace that paralyzes me from accomplishing more. 

One of my mentors, Chris Guillebeau, writes about living a purposeful life and reaching goals by eliminating distractions, busywork, and things that you really just don’t want to do that are just getting in the way of the time you could spend in a more meaningful way—traveling, parenting, helping others, writing, for example. To stop suffering through unnecessary commitments, I always ask myself, “Why should I do this?" "What will happen if I don’t?” It’s cool to give up on things you don’t want to do. It’s fun and freeing to take a lightsaber to a big pile of dead stupid projects you are trying to ignore or shove into the back of your mental closet. The most important lesson I’ve learned from Chris Guillebeau is that freedom is more important than money, which is easy to forget as we fall back into some of our same routines and comfort zones after the self-reflection of the new year. (Chris is a particular favorite role model of mine because he manages his self-expectations so well and has shown me what it looks like to set and achieve high but realistic goals. He’s a NYT best-selling author, he visited every country in the world over the past 10 years, and he’s now finishing up his fourth book. To say the least, I appreciate his influence in my personal cabinet of advisors.)

My 2016 is going to be full of more of the same things that give me so much consistent pleasure and purpose: Political activism, reproductive rights lobbying, nonprofit advocacy, general bothering of political leaders through meetings and letters and phone calls, hosting events that build community by inspiring difficult conversations or bringing together disparate groups. Drinking shitloads of water. Taking off my makeup and moisturizing every day. Specific focuses of 2016 for me include designing a new line of products and taking a 14-day writing sabbatical in Berlin, which will hopefully contribute to my goal of finishing my next book.  

 

Do it anyway 2k16
Disable the comments 2k16
Rose quartz and serenity 2k16
Get your money 2k16
Share the credit 2k16
Comfortable shoes 2k16
Girls protecting girls 2k16
Darker lipstick 2k16
Water and skincare 2k16
Think of the children 2k16
Show up for your friends 2k16
Protect your space 2k16

 

It’s true that there will never be a perfect time to get started on a big new goal. But it’s not true that you need to hurry to accomplish everything on your list, or even that you need to do everything on your list at all. So before you begin anything, get your priorities right. Check your motivations. Don’t start things you don’t want to do. It really is going to be a beautiful year—I have a good feeling about this one. We're all a year wiser and a year better. 

One thing at a time 2k16. Grateful, thank you, more please. 

Looking Back: 2015, in list form

After a wild 2014, I expected more adventure and unpredictability in 2015, but the most surprising thing about this year was pretty much that I blinked and the whole thing was nearly over. In immediate retrospect, I feel like I kind of slept on this year. The important thing was that I put a lot of projects into motion and completed several things I started, most of which took a lot of head-down, focused work. Are these things I’m saying from a place of depression to reassure myself that I did not have an unproductive, boring year? Maybe…or maybe it’s also kind of true. 

In 2015, I found a repetitive, predictable routine of productivity that served me really well by keeping my personal life from distracting me from my work. Of course, in my work there is barely a line between the professional and the personal, but doing more team-based projects and trying to align my foundation toward more intentional future success was easier to accomplish without the distraction of being inside my own head. Though I did it subconsciously, I had to define some boundaries and embrace new habits. But I live for a routine. I am always adapting to myself. Here's where it got me: 

  • I started a 501(c)3
  • I saw Britney Spears in concert in Las Vegas
  • I rode a bike down a gravel road in a bikini to a beautiful open-air restaurant, where I had the best Argentinian steak I've ever eaten
  • I spoke before the Omaha School Board four times about adopting new comprehensive sex education standards in our public schools
  • I stayed in a penthouse hotel room with a complimentary bar (Veuve for breakfast) 
  • I hosted 43 guests in my home through Airbnb
  • A noted old white politician referred to me on Facebook as his "problematic fave" 
  • I had four letters to the editor published
  • I helped paint a beautiful outdoor mural
  • I sat by our unhinged sociopathic Nebraska Governor in coach on a Southwest flight 
  • I went to a secret party at a hidden bar under the S-Bahn in Berlin
  • I designed with Alice two beautiful silk scarves for mass production
  • My company got through the final Skype interview to pitch on Shark Tank, but didn’t end up making the cut for the show
  • I got a spontaneous massage on a beach
  • I ate the best dinner of my life in Las Vegas
  • I saw my daughter walk into her first day of Kindergarten and lived
  • I started drinking coffee
  • I posed for a solid half-dozen nude portraits
  • I spoke at 2 conferences, did 3 magazine interviews, gave 9 talks, moderated one panel and one community discussion, was filmed for 12 TV news stories, did 3 podcast interviews, and was on the cover of one local magazine
  • I think I served on 42069 different committees
  • I celebrated my 29th birthday with a candlelit dinner party at a 30-foot handmade table
  • Hello Holiday started an ongoing event called Omaha Hero Forum, bringing together unique groups to join in conversation with a secret presenter each month
  • I joined the board of Friends of Planned Parenthood
  • I ran into the Pacific Ocean with my best friend in the middle of the night
  • My project design work was featured in two books (one more coming out in 2016!)
  • I celebrated the 99th and final birthday of my great-great-uncle Bill Duane Bush, a WWII veteran
  • I partied all night in Berlin and walked right onto a plane the next morning feeling no pain
  • I was featured in the Product of Public Schools campaign from Nebraska Loves Public Schools
  • I bought my first works of art for my home
  • I saw living genius and hero Angela Davis speak about the U.S. carceral system, where she asked us to consider the intersection of capitalism and punishment in our country
  • I drove across New York in a Camaro convertible
  • I inspired a painting that I found in a downtown gallery called "Alice's Mom" (which now hangs in my living room)
  • I heard my own voice in advertisements for my company on Art Bell’s new radio show, which was a complete bucket list moment
  • I got a massage in a jungle
  • I took my daughter on our annual vacation to Chicago where she walked the entire Art Institute in her pajamas
  • I went to London with our team at Hello Holiday for our first international buying trip

More things that I am going to be very proud of are coming in 2016--early in the year, too. This year put so many things into motion that are sure to become defining milestones of my life. Looking back is done. Forward, now! 

For you: Silk Scarves Designed by Me + Alice

My creative muscles have been demanding some exercise in the past few months so I've been testing a few new design ideas for larger production. One thing I've always been proud of is my silk scarf collection, which grows as I travel--a vintage Pucci scarf from a swap meet in Berlin, a silk Dior polka dot scarf from a thrift shop in rural Iowa, a geometric pastel one picked up in a museum shop in New York. I only like to wear accessories that have a story behind them because when you take inexpensive, small things like that and choose and style them thoughtfully, they can become such meaningful personal signatures. I love how something so superficial can inspire connections that are wonderfully personal.

Silk scarves are easy to wear, but not as popular as they used to be, right? But why not? I love to wear them around my neck (which is also warm!) and tied in the back, or draped loosely over my shoulders and secured on one side with a cool enamel pin. (We have those, too.) If I'm wearing an outfit that wouldn't be improved by adding a scarf, I often tie one around the handle of my purse or thread it through the hardware on the strap. Natural silk is also a fantastic medium for art because it takes color so well, and the sheer fabric creates these gorgeous muted tones as it moves. It's also relatively inexpensive compared to other statement accessories one could find.

So these silk scarves are two of the first pieces I've produced as part of some new creative experiments I'm doing. They're 100% silk, ethically manufactured and sourced, and printed by a small community-driven studio based in Canada. I designed the one with the small lips, and the more abstract one was created by my five-year-old daughter, Alice.  They're $50 each and I have very limited quantities. 

Kiss-Off Scarf, 100% silk, $50

Alice Elfie Scarf, 100% silk, $50

OOTD: Fall is for cape dresses

Last week I was getting ready for a last-minute event after work. This happens sometimes, which is why I keep backup makeup and hair stuff in my office, and it's also maybe one of my favorite things about owning a clothing store--plenty of things to throw on and run out the door in when I'm in a pinch. Our Foret Cape Dress was my pick. I'd had my eye on it for a while, I loved the pattern, but I hadn't tried it on yet. But now that I have, I don't think I'm taking it off.  

Dress: Foret Cape Dress, Hello Holiday; Shoes: Swedish Hasbeens; Sunglasses: Prada

Seven Pieces of Advice for Beginning Fashion Designers

I was recently talking to Buf Reynolds, an Omaha-based designer who is the Designer Coordinator for Omaha Fashion Week and currently featured on the cover of Encounter Magazine. I've always admired Buf's willingness to seek and receive feedback, which is something that influenced me when I was a fashion week designer for several seasons. As she works with the OFW team to judge applications for the next season's show, she reached out to me (and many other past designers and industry people). We spoke about how designers can better position themselves for success with retailers, and I'm eager to share a few points from that discussion with you, for anyone who wants it. 

1. As a designer who wants to be carried commercially, you have to know something about the retail world. Spend some time thinking about what kind of retailer you want to work with. Is it Macy's? Is it ModCloth? Is it an indie boutique? Take a night and actually learn about your target market--not just the consumer who is the end buyer, but the businesses that you hope will carry your line. If a judge on a fashion week panel, someone in the press, or a potential buyer asks "Who buys your clothes," you should have an answer and a plan.

2. Think realistically about your price point in terms of what retailers will be able to sell. You can learn more about this by going into shops you like or looking at comparable stores online and observing what else they sell. What price points do they typically carry? That's the range you need to stay within. If you're far above their price point, you might not be a good fit and an ask may be a waste of time. 

3. And when I talk about retail pricing, keep in mind that's with a wholesale markup. For example, if you're planning to have a dress retail at $100, you need to be able to sell it to a boutique at $50. To make a profit from that sale, you should be able to design and produce that dress for around $25. That's just an example, markups vary, but this is about what your retail partners will expect at the low end. Many retailers will look for a 2.5 or 3x markup, in which case you'd have to manufacture each piece for $15-20. (No wonder it's hard to compete as an independent designer!) 

4. This markup is a good reason that many indie designers (like the ones in independent fashion weeks) want to venture out on their own, market their own private label, and not work with retailers. This can work, but then you have to run your own business which takes a lot of time away from design. Learn about designers who have done it this way, too--Clare Vivier, Rachel Antonoff, Dusen Dusen, Heinui, Family Affairs, Corey Lynn Calter, Samantha Pleet, there are so many. Whichever route you choose, there are many pros and cons.

5. Any retailer you approach will expect to see a "linesheet" and a "lookbook." A lookbook can be a .pdf file that shows professional photographs of all the pieces in  your line. It helps when there are photos taken straight-on that show how the clothes look, and then more styled editorial photographs that show how the clothes move and help the buyer make an emotional connection to your line. A linesheet can be an excel file or another .pdf that simply shows the prices of each piece, the sizes you can produce, your payment and delivery terms, and your order minimums. A typical linesheet would show the name of each piece, the sizes, and the wholesale and retail prices. It would also give an order minimum--sometimes it'll say the buyer must carry a minimum of five styles, and sometimes it's a value minimum like $500 or $1000. Sometimes pieces come in "pre-packs," meaning a set number of each size, and sometimes collections are "open sizing" meaning the buyer can get as many of whatever size they want, which is typical when pieces are made to order. Hello Holiday won't typically work with designers who can't give us a linesheet and lookbook, and that's not unusual. 

6. Keep your branding and packaging consistent and expensive-looking. Vistaprint.com and Moo.com are great resources to get hang tags, postcards, etc. on nice thick paper, PaperMart.com, Uline.com are good places to get plastic bags and hangers, and all of them often have sales and coupon codes. The branding and packaging can add value or remove value from your collection, and sometimes that's the deciding factor for a retailer who is considering your line. We just can't carry something with an ugly tag. I dunno. 

7. Designing one or two low-priced, well-designed, interesting accessories is a great way to get your foot in the door with retailers. Sometimes retailers want to try out a more inexpensive piece before committing to a big order of clothing from your line.

At Hello Holiday and throughout my brief experience in the fashion design and blogging world, I've been asked a few times about advice for beginning designers who aspire for more exposure, whether through traditional retail or through their own channels. There are many ways to reach your goals, but nothing beats hitting the pavement and building your own support and PR network because the truth is that no matter what anyone else has done, there is no formula you can copy for success.

The Politics of Being ~.*.~Invited~.*.~

Twice this week, I have heard women thank white male politicians for “recruiting” them to run for public office. I myself have been approached recently by men who suggested I run for local offices that I wasn’t interested in. I declined, but that experience, and the memory of hearing gratitude from other women toward men who encouraged them to lead, has stuck with me for the past few days. Women in leadership are great. I am not here to put that down or call anyone out. But I am here to tell you that we are not witnessing anything—locally, anyway—that represents a meaningful shift in the status quo.

I’m here to tell you all that you don’t need permission to be ambitious. You don’t need an invitation to take the seat at the head of the table. You don’t need authoritative validation to ask for something that much less qualified people have received. People at the top of the power hierarchy who recruit women—typically white women—in an effort to diversify our leadership structures oversimplify the problem to a gender equality issue of women vs. men. But the more I look for them, the more I find people communicating and collaborating across lines of perceived difference, finding alternatives to a system that has historically rewarded homogeny while congratulating itself for making room for a few token outsiders. 

Lack of perseverance, ambition, or drive isn’t to blame for the deficit of diversity in our community leadership across lines of gender, class, and race. It’s the systemic inequality, something white women honestly cannot experience to the same degree as those with other aspects of difference and identity. To see progress, forward-thinking change, and compassion across the fabric of our community, we have to acknowledge that looking to our left and right—at our own peers—isn’t the way to build the relationships that will lead to our collective or individual growth, in politics or otherwise. To serve people, leaders must consciously unlearn their beliefs and thought patterns that reinforce sexism, heteronormativity, classism, and whiteness.

One thing that excites me about the future, about entrepreneurship and access to technology, is how easily different perspectives from different cultural groups can intersect. Ten years ago as a young adult coming out of a small liberal arts college in a small town into the (relatively small) city of Omaha, I was opened up to dozens of organizations, collectives, and businesses led by people who did not receive higher education, did not have wealth, who did not have racial privilege that I had come to subconsciously associate with success. I began to unravel a tangled web of connections that has brought me to events, to opportunities to volunteer, to performances and fundraisers for individuals whose paths I may never have crossed otherwise. Whose work and ambitions and pain points and struggles I never would have heard. The call for equality and diversity in corporate and political American systems remains undermined by exclusivity, yet there are people creating their own platforms everywhere. Where race, sexuality, and class are taboo subjects in corporate and political leadership, they are simply part of the community fabric in other places. And that’s always been the case. The world is getting smaller, technology is amplifying the voices of anyone who wants to make space for themselves, and our leaders have no more excuses to ignore this vast resource of human intellect, talent, and experience.

I suppose I just want to be wary of too much self-congratulation. We should all examine who we have solidarity with. The insecurity of the marginalized is not the platform on which to build security for the powerful.

New arrivals at Hello Holiday: I'll spare the Autumn puns

After a few weeks of sitting on some new inventory we finally got in the studio with Hooton Images, an amazing new photography team for us. Our in-house photographer Amy Lynn made the big move to Chicago last month to pursue new opportunities for more editorial photoshoots, but we'll still be working with her from time to time on special projects. 

Below are some of my favorite picks from our fall collection at Hello Holiday. We sourced a lot of this in London last August from U.K.-based designers like Lavish Alice, Louche, and Emily & Fin, who has long been a customer favorite. Loved finally meeting Emily Rose Froud, the designer behind Emily & Fin, which we've been carrying since our start nearly three years ago! 

Lavish Alice is a brand for our more witchy, sophisticated, dark customers. The pieces from our Lavish Alice collection feature menswear details, capes, and luxurious fabrics at a very affordable price point. Finally, Louche is a London-based brand that we've been eyeing for a while and were excited to finally see in person. The fabrics are soft and wearable, they have stretch, they're comfortable. From this designer we've found several perfect day-to-night options for our swinging '60's queens. 

Overall, we've got a really strong Fall collection and I'm excited to debut the pieces from this most recent delivery. Later this Winter there are more fuzzy, warm, gorgeous pieces coming to transition with anything four our Fall collection, and back at the office we're already starting to buy for Summer. The fashion industry cycles are crazy, but there's nothing I'd rather do. As always, if you know any small designers or if there are any brands you'd love to buy from Hello Holiday, please let us know! We're always looking. 

Shop these styles and WAY more from our latest Fall drop at HelloHoliday.com.

Welcoming Our Newest Neighbors: Three New Murals at Indian Hill Elementary

Brendan Sullivan, Omaha World-Herald

Brendan Sullivan, Omaha World-Herald

Omaha artist Watie White's latest public project involves creating a series of murals in partnership with Justice For Our Neighbors-Nebraska. With support of other organizations including the Intercultural Senior Center, Omaha Public Schools, the South Sudan Community Association, and the Anti-Defamation League, he first creates a small-scale carved portrait and then renders those small linocuts into a giant mural installed on a public wall where it will remain for generations. The fourth, fifth, and sixth portraits in this series got installed this week at Indian Hill Elementary in Omaha. Watie enlisted help painting the portraits from people at a nearby senior center, children and teachers from the school, and other community members who were willing to pick up a paintbrush and fill in the outlines transferred onto the outside of the building by Watie. Sort of a huge collaborative paint-by-number project. This week, Watie is putting the finishing touches on the murals himself. 

Each huge portrait is based on Watie's original small-scale carved linocut, which is overlayed with text from an interview with each subject. The themes in the text are inspiring: A child's dreams for her future, a boy's laughter with his brothers, a woman's memories of picking flowers with her sisters. Each immigrant depicted shares a desire to give back to the communities that have welcomed them, and reminds the viewer that we are all active participants in a very diverse culture. By welcoming our newest neighbors, we become greater as a whole, more capable of tackling humanity's challenges, and more compassionate toward all the varied experiences across our fabric. 

Alice and I drove over to the elementary school yesterday where she got the chance to help Watie paint on this mural of Sandra Bleoussi, an 11-year-old from Togo. Alice doesn't just want to be an artist when she grows up--she would correct me that she is an artist already. When I was little, my mom often hooked me up with working artists and art educators in our area, and it did so much to encourage my creativity. I'm so happy that Alice has the same opportunity to engage in person with public art on this scale. Her brushstrokes will be on this mural forever, along with all of the other children from the elementary school who got to take a turn filling it in.

I really admire what Justice For Our Neighbors-Nebraska is doing as a nonprofit to engage the public in this conversation about immigration using a partnership with a local artist. Instead of just mailing lists or fundraisers, they're really investing in a physical reminder of the immigrant population, providing a platform for their own faces and own words to have a presence in the city for generations to come.