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The Place that I Call Home

 

Born and raised in on the slopes of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado I am a mountain loving, ski-bum by winter, camping junky by summer.  Brooklyn has been my home for the past 10 years and i wouldn’t change that experience for all the world, but it is time to plant roots for good, it is time to let Bittersweet by Design blossom in to everything I have dreamed for it.  It is my goal to set-up a permanent and physical presence for Bittersweet by Design in Denver, CO. To become a thriving and inspiring part of a great community that already shares so many of our core values.  We will be spending the next few months formulating and refining plans to make this dream of blue skies and snowy mountain tops a reality. So keep an eye out as we progress with these plans!


We hope you are as excited as us!!!

-JS

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Change your Clothes, Change the World

New Year’s Resolutions…the Sisyphean task we attempt each year, but rarely feel satisfied or “resolved”. My resolution for 2014 is (to continue with mythological references) a Herculean task: Change the world, by getting you to change the way you buy clothes.

 

Do you loathe cleaning your closet? Are you unnaturally attached to each and every single item that occupies your wardrobe? I mean, like even the socks with holes in them?  Okay, maybe I am a bit extreme in this capacity, but I want you to understand my full meaning when I say “I love clothes.” I have a deep seeded emotional attachment to the items in my closet and I think everyone should feel this way towards the garments that they wear and purchase...okay maybe you can throw away holey socks...but, if you do not have an emotional reaction to your possessions what is the point of possessing them?

That has always been my thought and I say that as someone who owns a PEZ dispenser collection-completely useless but for delivering sugar pills in an entertaining manner. But I digress, if you do not love your clothes it is time to give them to someone who will, and find clothes that you do love, that you will cherish and treasure objects that become heirlooms, or become something else altogether. Your old shirt is someone else's new favorite necklace...think about it.

Happy New Year!


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Winter is Coming

The snow is finally starting to fall here in Brooklyn and after a week of crazy cold temperatures across much of the country it is finally starting to sink in that winter is coming. It is that time of year when we start to look back on the months that led us to this point. The best of lists and countdown clocks are here, but I always like to look at December as a time for planning the year ahead as well as reflecting on the year now mostly behind us.  The crisp air and white snow are the perfect palette cleanser to help us start fresh and wipe the slate clean. 

I am very excited for the year to come with many big goals and plans that I hope to share in the coming weeks and months. I hope you are excited for a new year and a new chance to make a difference as well.

-JS

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Fade to Brick

Fall foliage, the seasonal changing of colors-brights to the demure; vibrant to rusted. Colors and leaves soon to be swept away by the wind and cold. There is one block on my street that plays out a beautiful production of this quiet transition, for five years I have been mesmerized and excited for this time of year so that I may walk down the street and watch nature take her course and prepare our environment for the coming winter. Fall is a palate cleanser, a refreshing breath of air after the hot and humid summer. A time to reflect on the year as it has transpired and prepare for the months of holidays, family and travel just around the corner.
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The Price of Fashion

The cost of fashion is high especially when your clothes are cheap to buy. The price of that t-shirt you are looking at may only be $15 and that seems reasonable to most consumers, especially in our current economically repressed society. But the lower price tag is usually indicative of lower standards in the manufacturing and production of the garments, whether it is underpaid or overworked employees or sub-standard working environments. These are commonplace practices in “fast fashion” and affordable fashion industries, and it is not really a revelation to most consumers. Events such as the Bangladeshi factory collapse bring conversations about ethical fashion to the forefront for a period of time and everyone talks about what we need to do to change things, but then 6 months later we find ourselves in “Back to School” mode and consumers are bombarded by ads for Kmart and cheap clothes once again.  We here at Bittersweet by Design know that our clothes are more expensive than what you are used to and we stand behind our clothes and our prices. Our prices reflect our standards and we want you to buy less clothes and wear the clothes you do buy longer. Some basic calculations will tell you this is actually “cheaper” in the long run than buying cheaply made clothes on a regular basis. We want you to be return customers with us, but not to buy the same thing over and over again. We could go on and on about this issue and maybe one day there will be a New York Times Op-ed by yours truly...Instead let me just quote the great Vivienne Westwood “I think it is ecologically friendly [and in our humble opinion ethical] that clothes should be expensive”.

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The magic of MAGIC

If you are not an apparel industry insider you have probably never heard of MAGIC. Do not fret, prior to my first year of college and paying good money to learn about “Fashion Design” I hadn't either. And even hearing about it does not do justice to what MAGIC is. To my knowledge “MAGIC” does not stand for anything, but I always just say it is 'where the magic happens'. It is where fashion becomes a multi-billion dollar industry. It is like a shopping mall on every performance enhancing drug in existence.  To be fair MAGIC is actually 10 different trade shows all under the umbrella of “WWDMagic” or “Magic Market Week.” Concurrent to these 10 trade shows there are a dozen or so other apparel & lifestyle trade shows taking place at the same time. Each one slightly different but all with the same underlying goal-connect: designers and brands to retailers and buyers. It is exhausting and inspiring simultaneously. All taking place under the glowing neon light of the Las Vegas strip, where the energy of the city drives you to “just keep going”.

Having attended last year with a vague idea about “Sustainable Style” and a semi-business plan in my brain I spent my time mostly wandering wide-eyed, talking to anyone I could. My general shock was acceptable and allowed me to take in the sights and just absorb what I was looking at. This year as an actual business owner I had a much more difficult task and did my best to stick to it. I am very excited about all of the new partnerships that I have formed as well as the prospective leads for more (I’m looking at you men!) and I cannot wait to introduce you all to the new brands and products that are doing their part to cultivate a better world with fashion!

Bring on the new arrivals!

-JS

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Back to School

Back to school has always been one of my favorite times of the year. I love clothes, I love fashion, I love to see women become radiant and stunning when they find that perfect top or dress that they have been longing for. Perhaps it's a bit shallow, but it is part of me, I have been sketching women in clothes since I was 8, sewing since I was 12, I had a brief fling with chemistry but ultimately knew I was meant to be a lady of the cloth and pursued a Fashion Degree from Pratt-graduating with honors and a year of internship experience under my fashionably wide belt. I spent the next 3 years slowly decaying from creative boredom in corporate fashion. I and I was stifled and stagnant, it was time for a change.  I was at one of those crossroads where, as my Great-Uncle Jon told me “you just have to pick a path and stick with it.” So simple but so true. We can never know where one path versus another is going to take us. But it is so much better to move forward in either direction than continue standing indecisive until the end of time. So I chose an unknown path, one that I have more or less constructed myself along the way. Hopping from place to place growing where I could while trying to figure out what it was that I wanted. One of those decisions is terrifying and exciting. Those are my favorite kind of decisions, the ones where you let the universe guide you: a leaf on the wind.

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Red rocks, green trees and blue skies as far as the eye can see. A dainty white puff of a cloud passes by and is joined by a sporadic cast of similar characters, a soft lilac light starts to shimmer on the horizon, it is daybreak and you feel renewed. It is serene and beautiful; it is reviving and alive-thriving. When we let the beauty of the world overtake us it stirs the spirit and inspires us: awakening the creative spirit to make something.

The beauty of nature is an awe-inspiring portrait. It is what drives me, it is where I look for inspiration and relief. Sometimes the problems of humanity seem so grave that I forget what I am trying to protect, which is humanity itself.  If we do not take care of our home, and our neighbors we are doomed as a species and have set a terrible example for our children and grandchildren.  Perhaps that seems a bit deep for a fashion blog but that is the perspective you can achieve when you look at the grander scale that is universal time.  We as humans have only existed for a blink of an eye in the cosmological sense, and in that blink of an eye civilizations of man have already been destroyed and forgotten, meanwhile humans cause the same destruction on the world they inhabit, causing irreparable damage to our environment and the other living creatures that inhabit it.  If we are to sustain as a species, as a human civilization we need to live and work in a sustainable way. If we want mother Earth to protect us from extreme weather events that happen more and more frequently we need to make a change in the way we think. We need a re-education, so let’s go back to school. Starting with redifining style.  Let’s rewrite the rules of fashion.  

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Redefining Style

Wearing clothes is rarely an option, but when it comes to what you wear the choices are limitless.  So how do you choose? What drives you to dress as you do? What is your style, your dress code? What are your dressing rules and regulations?

As I see it, “style” by definition is too unique to define with standard terms.Your style can be completely opposite from your best friend’s and you can both be considered “stylish”.  But to have style in whatever form it may be is something that is rarely attained without a clear vision.  “Style” is knowing who you are and dressing the part.

Cultivating “style”, like discovering who you are, is not an easy task, they are life-long evolving journeys.  I am nearing thirty and am still learning who am I am what I want to be “when I grow up”.  You may say I’m a dreamer, my mother does. I am okay with it, it is one of my favorite features: always with my head halfway in the sky, always looking up.  I embrace life hands on with the curiosity of child. I want to know and do everything, be everything, I still think I can be an astronaut! I want to explore the world, I want to be a citizen of the world. But most importantly, I want to make sure we have a world to explore for a long time to come.

I am passionate about about making our world a better place in whatever way I can. I recycle, turn off lights and faucets, use public transportation and reuse plastic bags. I wanted to do more, with 7+ years of fashion industry experience and a lifelong dream of dressing women in stunning garments, the seeds began to sprout, and an idea was born that I truly believe is the future of fashion.  I am not going to take credit for the idea, sustainable clothes have been around for decades, fair trade and ethical treatment of workers are not new concepts, recycling is ingrained in me, and I hope in everyone else. Because one person can make a difference, and it is my intention to do so. I hope you will join me on the ride.

 

w/<3

JS

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