In need of a new carry-all that will stand the test of time? We’re loving the Clark + Madison luxury line of gorgeous, handcrafted, American-made bags (and wallets, travel kits, and passport cases among other covetable items). Did someone say high quality? The various linings are as beautiful as the leather exteriors and the products boast an attention to detail that can only be described as mind-boggling. Each exquisitely built piece features a one-of-a-kind design, like our favorite, The Navajo Weekender, constructed from vintage Navajo rugs sourced from founder Dina Epstein’s grandfather’s personal collection. OMG.
Made locally in Los Angeles, these bags have timeless appeal and practically scream heirloom. Just imagine passing one down to future generations (we guarantee you’ll be reserving your place in history as “coolest mom/stylish aunt/awesome friend). The pieces rightfully cost a pretty penny — they will last you forever, literally. Embrace our philosophy of quality over quantity and treat yourself or someone you love to a modern-day satchel that’s truly something special.
For years I’ve been giving people business advice as well as conducting branding and public relations workshops. What’s one of the most important things I tell people? “Get professional, great photos of yourself!” When an editor emails you for a photo of yourself, you should be able to email them something same-day. Don’t miss out on a great press opportunity because you didn’t take the time to get a head shot! Just like great product photography, having a few great photos of yourself can open doors when it comes to things like being considered to be a speaker at a conference, a judge for a contest, a new contributor for a website, etc.
You should know that I hate having my photo taken, meaning it’s an insecurity of mine. But since it had been over three years since my last photo shoot, I was long overdue for new head shots. Two weeks ago I took some of my own advice and had the amazing photographer Bonnie Tsang take new photos of me… WOW! She did such a beautiful job I was blown away. Working with a professional ensures you get press quality photos, meaning he/she has edited them, corrected or touched-up their picks, and that you are getting high resolution photos (300 DPI) which are needed for print publications. As you can see below, I now have a diverse selection of photos to pull from when needed. Already two editors have needed my photo, and instead of using something random they find on Google, I was able to control my image and send them professional photos! It really makes a huge difference…
Here are a few quick tips:
- Don’t wear white, it bounces the light and makes it hard to photograph.
- Wear something colorful, solid color if possible. Even if you normally wear black all-day, everyday, add a pop of color somehow to add something that catches the eye and brightens the photo.
- Consider getting a professional to apply your makeup – not only will it look amazing on camera but it’s a business expense!
- Stay classic in style, not trendy. Patterns and prints are great but they tend to be trendy, so wearing solid colors is best. Even people with larger-then-life personalities and products, such as clothing designer Betsey Johnson, tend to wear basics when being photographed so that it’s not the clothing attracting attention but the face. ;) It makes the photo timeless and easy to use across a few years.
- Practice make perfect… Practice your various smiles and “faces” in the mirror to get to know which you like, then practice them without looking into a mirror to get comfortable.
- Remember that you are the boss. In other words, as a paying customer, it’s your job to direct the makeup artist and photographer. Ask to see some of the shots during the shoot to see if you like the direction or not. Tell the makeup artist exactly what you want.
- Smile and have fun!
When Tina Roth Eisenberg (AKA the fabulous Swiss Miss) was sick of the tacky tattoos her kids kept sticking on their arms at parties, she decided to create her own line of kick-ass temporary tattoos for, you guessed it, design lovers. Tattly’s are designed by a curated crew of designers and illustrators including Julia Rothman, Mike Lowry, and Lisa Congdon. And the best part? They are made right here in the United Sates!
Need some special bling? Stick on a few diamonds to shine. Typography nerd? Try some word art. Whatever your thing, Tattly’s got you, well, covered.
Join us to collaborate and create! We’re so excited to announce that we’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for Unique USA’s latest venture — building the Unique Space. We hope you’ll support us and get involved in one of the most exciting and important things happening right now in Downtown LA.
Opening the Unique Space is crucial for LA’s future — it will ensure that our art, design and entrepreneur community is thriving and growing larger each year. We’re so certain about this that we’ve taken out loans, signed a ten-year lease on a building in DTLA’s burgeoning Arts District (a nearly 100-year old, two-story, 18,000 sq. ft. former Shepard Fairey studio space to be exact!), and are currently in the midst of updating plumbing, flooring, walls and other elements to ensure that the building is ready to move into this September. We need to raise $100,000 to offset half of the project’s cost, and when the building is finished (we’ve got an ambitious work schedule for the next two months!), the Unique Space will offer a co-work space with a photo studio, lounge, library, kitchen, rooftop patio and boardroom; event hosting for weekly workshops, lectures & community events; private offices and studio space for small businesses, and mentoring for entrepreneurs, artists & students.
Please join us in helping to build out this much-needed space and create invaluable infrastructure for artists, designers, and innovators of all kinds — check out our Kickstarter now for tons of cool ways to help out and get involved! Whether you live in LA or across the globe, we’ve created loads of rewards sure to entice all, and are hoping you might even find a couple. “We’re all in this together!” Thank you for your support and please help us spread the word! You can also find us on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram @theuniquespace.
On our recent trip to Portland, we stopped by to talk to one favorite brands, Bridge & Burn, who now have their very own retail location.
Name: Erik Prowell
Location: Portland, OR
What was life before Bridge and Burn?
Much simpler and less fulfilling.
You went from a comp sci track to becoming a fashion designer. How? Did you receive any formal training in design?
I working for a software company and going to grad school, when halfway through my Masters it dawned on me that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life behind a computer. I quit my job and dropped out of school and moved to the mountains outside of Breckenridge, CO to snowboard. My friend and I had started making graphic tees for fun and it slowly turned into a brand called No Star and a full time job. We started doing trade shows, which exposed me to the whole world of apparel. I had some ideas for some cut & sew pieces. A friend I met at the shows gave me a 3 weekend crash course in apparel design and introduced me to a great factory overseas that didn’t have production minimums, which allowed me to start small and learn as I go.
What is the meaning behind ‘Bridge & Burn’?
It means a couple of things. When I left my programming job to do graphic tees full time, I designed a shirt that had a hand holding a match under a bridge that read, “Never Look Back”. It kind of symbolized me leaving the corporate world and striking out on my own. I saw Bridge & Burn as the next phase of my life and had similar feelings as I was leaving the world of graphic tees. I also live and work just off Burnside St. in Portland and love all our bridges, so the name worked on a few levels. Our logo features the St. Johns bridge which was designed by the same guy who did the Golden Gate bridge.
Describe the process of bringing Bridge and Burn to life. Where did you start? How did you even know where to begin? How big is the company currently?
I started really small. The first season was 5 outerwear styles and I had 8 wholesale accounts. I already had relationships with stores through No Star and was familiar with the business. The whole development, production, and business side was way more challenging. Luckily I have some friends that gave assisted me along the way. It’s taken me awhile to become comfortable with my identity as a designer, since I never studied it or had any idea how real designers do things. I’ve tried to add a category each season and improve on existing pieces. I worked out of my apartment for the first 3 years and did almost everything myself, from design, graphics, photography, building the website, PR, accounting… you name it. Last Fall things kind of exploded and I hired my first full time employee. Now we have a retail space/office and 6 employees.
What does a typical work day look like?
I wake up at 8. Read email and the news in bed, while my morning coffee brews. I like to walk to work and listen to podcasts like Radio Lab or WTF. I’m in the office by 10 and the first thing I do is make a list of the days projects, which usually means copying the second half of the list from the day before. I like to hit up one of the food carts downtown for lunch and take a late afternoon coffee break. Regular work hours are filled with meetings and managing day to day business stuff. I tend to do my creative work in the evening when there are less distractions. If I’m lucky, I’m headed back home by 9.
What inspires you?
A little bit of everything. My Dad and Grandfather were big inspirations during my formative years. They really defined what cool means. On a day to day basis, I get inspired by my friends and all the rad stuff they are doing. Portland has a lot going on right now.
What advice to you have to aspiring entrepreneurs? What are some of the hardest and some of the most important things you’ve learned about starting and running your own business?
I think the number one thing is to really believe in yourself and your ideas. It’s not an easy path and you have to be confident and persistent to make it through all the challenges. My girlfriend gave me an old wood sign she bought at a thrift store last Fall that must have been from a high school gym. It reads Commitment, Dedication, Hustle. Those are the three main ingredients for any kind of success. I’m also a pretty cautious business person. I like to start small and learn as I go. When I began this project, I seriously had no idea what I was doing and made plenty of mistakes, but none of them were big mistakes. Lastly, you can’t take yourself too seriously.
Psst! Hey you on the beach in your tiny bikini. Did you know editors of national publications are pulling together their holiday gift guides this month?
If you have a product that would benefit from running in these important roundups, read on for tips on how editors want to be approached.
Be straightforward in your subject line
Your first challenge is to get an editor to open your email. Let them know from the start why you’re reach out. For example, “cool new coffee mug: gift guide consideration” or “patterned socks under $25 for gift guide consideration” are simple but effective subject leads.
Make it personal
Read the publication before you pitch, even if you take only five minutes to know if your product might be a good fit for their reader. Be ready to reference the section of the magazine (or the editor’s name who writes it) in your pitch.
Keep it super short
In recent years the pitch has been condensed to two paragraphs but for holiday gift guides, the format can be even shorter. Address the editor you are pitching by name, let them know which pieces in your collection are new and give them pricing info and a link to the website or specific page for easy and quick viewing. The only other thing they need is the smallest bit of story about the product or, as one editor suggested, “one small idea that gives some context or provides interest beyond it being simply pretty.” So, for example, if you’re pitching a cool new blue jean line and they are made in a 100-year-old mill revitalized by your company and located in North Carolina, by all means, say so!
A thank you for the editor’s consideration plus your name, cell phone contact and email address, is the best way to wrap up. Believe it or not, plenty of people fail to include an easy way to be reached, making it also easy for an editor to pass.
Present a great picture or two
The images you choose to show the editor should be embedded (not attached) in the email so that it’s the first thing the editor sees when they open the email. Make sure the image in the email is low-resolution (72 dpi) and cleanly shot against an all-white backdrop. If you can make available an easy link to your entire collection or to high-res images, all the better.
Be specific about when the product will be available
The name of the game for editors producing the gift guides is finding the newest products to feature before the next publication, meaning if you have a good product shot, you don’t have to wait until it’s out to pitch. Let an editor know the month or even exact date of your new product release, even if it’s yet to come. And be smart about what you consider “new.” Even a new color of an age-old product is newsworthy to editors.
Forego the followup
The only time of the year I recommend skipping the all-important pitch followup is when approaching national editors for consideration in the holiday gift guides. At this moment, editors are reviewing hundreds and hundreds of options—filing them in folders and cataloguing them for the various pages they produce. The only thing an editor might respond to your follow-up is an acknowledgment that they received your pitch. And in all honesty, they don’t even have time for that.
Expand your reach
Almost every magazine in every category runs their version of gift guides. Don’t limit your potential by pitching only to one audience if your product might also be a good fit for another niche, like a cooking or gardening magazine, as well. And on a final note, remember that pitching gift guides is not over in July. You will want to pitch regional magazines in late September as well as some larger online publications. And in November, you’ll be gearing up to pitch the online versions of the national magazines you pitched in July. Good luck!
Amy Flurry is State of Unique’s business editor and author of best-selling, Recipe for Press, a DIY guide to pitching blogs and magazines ($23.95, www.recipeforpress.com). Amy offers one-on-one consultations for emerging brands and her popular workshop, Pitch Lab, in cities across the country.