Monday, December 29, 2014

Holiday Hangover (and SALE!!!)

 

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The holidays this year were HARD.  I’m not going to lie.  I had so many reflections I wanted to share on my blog and honestly, I’ve forgotten all of them.  In the midst of the normal holiday madness, I took a week away from both kids, and my husband, and went to Chicago for the One of a Kind Show.  It was great.  I’ll go back next year.

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Being there, by myself, made me realize how seldom I am actually alone. I haven’t traveled by myself in the last eleven years and my literal stance has changed.  I no longer carry myself with a “don’t f*** with me” attitude.  I’m somehow softer. I smile, I talk to strangers.  I make friends with the person next to me on the airplane, the cab driver, or the electrician who adjusts my lights at the show.

Leaving my family for a week on a “business” trip was new.  I was totally alone in Chicago, staying in a condo and cooking myself simple, paleo, meals.  All I honestly did was eat, sleep, work, and exercise.  For five days.  It made me wonder a little bit if that was what my life was before I had a husband and kids.  Before I had a family.

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Needless to say, I was glad to return to the love and commotion of my home and family. I missed my people, and my pets, while I was gone.  And when I got back it seemed everyone was in full-fledged holiday mode.   There was a decorated tree, the kids were making ornaments, Christmas music was playing and within hours of my return, we were doing Christmas shopping. 

We were busy fulfilling custom orders right up until the end of the day on the 19th – we shipped everything a day early this year per the USPS guidelines, but somehow they still managed to deliver about 10% of my packages after Christmas. I don’t understand what was going on, but it was frustrating.  I planned ahead, I didn’t overload myself, I gave everything an extra day in transit.  Apparently, it wasn’t me.

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Now that the holidays are over I’m ready to say GOODBYE to all this stock – see all this stuff?  I made it for you.  We need to clear the shelves to start our 2015 line, so for some incentive – 45% off moxieandoliver.etsy.com through midnight on December 31, 2014 with code “MOREMOXIE45”  

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And this is me.  The holidays made me tired.  Family drama. Travel. Post Office drama. Employee drama.  Kid drama.  I’m pooped, but enjoying a few days “off” of work – still answering emails and working on computer related Moxie & Oliver things, but in my PJs, all day. 

xo

c

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Gift for Everyone On Your List


‘Tis the season to shop ‘til you drop. This year, skip the retail chaos and complete all your holiday shopping in one place. Moxie & Oliver is your one-stop shop for everyone on your Christmas list! No need to fight mall crowds or search aimlessly for the perfect gift—cross off your shopping list at our online store without leaving the couch. Our variety of handmade leather products offers something for everyone.

For him. Play up his manly side with quality, vegetable tanned leather. A gift such as a flask, guitar strap, belt, wine tote and wallet are both masculine and practical. He’ll think of you each time he uses his new leather companion.

For her. Along with a plethora of leather women’s gifts to choose from, Moxie & Oliver makes beautiful jewelry for her. You can never go wrong with a necklace for that special lady in your life. Our handmade jewelry features shaped pendants with fun and floral images she’ll be sure to adore.

For your BFF. You know everything your bestie owns, so what to get him or her for a gift? Opt for something unique and out of the ordinary, like a mason jar lantern straps. These nifty leather straps attach to a mason jar to add adornment and hanging capability for a cool DIY project.

For Mom. A mother can never have too many handbags, and we carry plenty to choose from. Pick something special for mom among our wide variety of bags and purses, which come in all sizes and styles. Mom will love a long-lasting wristlet, clutch, or tote bag in a unique design chosen especially by you.

For Dad. What to get the man who has everything? Add a personal touch to Dad’s favorite tech items with a handmade electronic case, such as iPhone or iPad cases, laptop bags, Kindle cases and more. For a less tech savvy Dad, go for a high quality leather belt or watch.

For man’s best friend. Yes, even your furry sidekick will love Moxie & Oliver. Our assortment of pet products includes leashes, saddlebags, collars and horse leads.


Click here to shop!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

5 Great Christmas Gifts Ideas Under $50! Start your shopping early!

We know it is not yet Thanksgiving and we are not trying to rush the holidays, but taking some steps for a bit of advance planning will allow you to relax more and really enjoy the Christmas season once it officially starts. We have come up with just a little selection from the many custom and unique options of our creations for bags, electronics, housewares, wearables and more.

  1. We guarantee you have not seen belt buckles as unique and personal as ours. We have a variety of patterns and shapes available, all in our high quality hand dyed and tooled leather and metal finishes.
  2. We have a great selection of watches and straps that vary with round silver or square brushed pewter watch faces, and options of narrow or wide cuffs, wrap, or skinny strap bands.
  3. You will make a lot of people happy with our great selection of small wallets. We have coin wallets, bi-fold and tri-fold, passport wallets, and checkbook cases and more to choose from. Again, all are created with our unique tooling and dye process, with high quality stitching and closure options for those on your Christmas list.
  4. For the musician on your list, our cool guitar hangers are sure to please. We have some great patterns from wood grain to poppy and bee patterns for a unique and safe way to hang and store a guitar when not in use.
  5. Those on your list with iPads will love our wide variety of custom iPad cases. We have some great patterns and colors all from flexible, lightweight leather with silicone inserts to protect your tablet.  No worries if you have other tablets such as Samsung or Dell. Contact us with your specifications and we can create a unique tablet case exactly to your specifications.


Bee Patterns iPad Case.

Check out our leather craft kits for the creative one on your list.  Please let us know about any custom ideas you have and we will come up with a final product exactly to your needs. All the beautiful and tooling, dyes and protective finishes on our products are of the highest quality to insure years of use and beauty.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

100 Reasons to Shop Early

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The day after Halloween, my husband had Christmas music playing by 9am.  Fair enough, since the stores already have Christmas d├ęcor lining the shelves.  Why not extend the holiday spirit, I say, and relieve a little bit of the stress of shopping by getting it out of the way in November!  That way you can enjoy family, friends, good food, booze, and warm fires.

And, of course, you can get some decorating done, too. Each year we make 100 limited edition stocking ornaments and give them away starting November 1.  The ornaments are free with every purchase of $100 or more (before tax and shipping) through www.MOXIEandOLIVER.com and we’ll give ‘em away until they are gone – that’s what they are for!

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Our bee patterns have been so well loved that this year we decided on the “One Bee” pattern. Each stocking has a bee and a little line of honeycomb.  They’re all the same pattern, but since they are all made by hand they are all a little different.  Each actually opens like a stocking so you can put a small candy cane or gift (engagement ring!? How awesome would that be???) inside.

I’ll post an update here when they’re gone.  As of 11/3/2014 at 4:17 PST they’re still available!

xo

c

Monday, November 3, 2014

Back on the Market

 

Yesterday morning I woke up to an email from the employee I hired not even a month ago – she is putting in her two weeks’ notice.  Not for anything I did, or didn’t do, but because she was offered a full-time job elsewhere.  Regardless, though, I have to find another employee in the busiest time of year.

It’s not like I’m totally up a creek here. I have two employees that have been with me or over two years – one is leaving to go back to school in 2015, and the other may just be with me forever.  But looking for a new employee is definitely not my favorite thing to do and this is a horrible time to do it.  Leatherwork just doesn’t come naturally to most people, and no matter what kind of craft and art experience someone has, it certainly doesn’t guarantee that they will do well with leather.

So I re-posted my craigslist ad, and have already sifted through probably 25 applications.  I have to review every application to look for someone who is compatible not only with the job, but with me as well.  It’s a small studio, so having an employee who I get along well with is incredibly important.  I look for things like – commitment, drive, personality, and intelligence.  It is like being single again, looking at profiles of a potential partner.

When I was working at law firms I used to say that jobs were like relationships – in each one, you learn what you need, and what you don’t want, in any subsequent ones.  You shouldn’t expect the first one to be the one that lasts a lifetime, since it will take time to figure out what you need in order to be happy with a job, or a person, for the rest of your life.  Now, as an employer, I feel much the same way – jobs are like relationships, and it should have been a red flag when the employee that just left said when she was single she went on as many dates as possible since it was “a numbers game.” I feel like this job was a number.

When people tell me their dating stories, I always say that the best part of being married is that I don’t have to date anymore.  It is a time consuming emotional rollercoaster, and honestly I’d rather live my life than wonder if someone is going to call me back.  Or, for that matter, wonder if they are going to up and leave. 

Over the years I have only had three employees, and depending on how much jobs are like relationships, maybe only two count based on duration. Each time, I’ve learned a lot about what is really important to me in an employee, and what matters less (or not at all). I have good leads this time, and am confident I’ll find someone who I will enjoy working with, and who will appreciate working for me.

xo

c    

Thursday, October 30, 2014

My Biggest Mistake (and a give-away)

 

Last Wednesday when I got home from the studio there was a message on my voicemail from a customer.  The week before we spent a few days making a set of “Conquistadors” flasks for him.   His message said something like, “The flasks look really good, but I’m torn – they say ‘Conquistadors’ on them.”

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My heart sank, and I spent the rest of the night trying to figure out what had gone wrong.  My husband looked at the flasks and suggested, maybe it was supposed to be “Conquistador.”

He was right.

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When I talked to the customer the next morning I agreed to re-make every single flask.  I had one assistant out sick Thursday, and one came in Tuesday and was taking Thursday off.  I called the gal who usually does just the stitching on an emergency and she helped a bit.  But, 50 flasks in a day is a lot even for two people.

I got the flasks to the post office just after 3pm and they arrived in time for the customer to give them away at the event, “The Conquistador”  - most importantly, everyone loved them.

I beat myself up about this – it was totally my mistake.  We never got printed artwork from the customer so we were doing it all by phone with a poor connection most of the time.  Somewhere along the line, my brain over-rode the singular version because I thought – they are all conquistadors that they are giving the flasks to, so it must be plural, right?

Well, now I have a limited edition of 50 flasks.  And they’re cool, too!  So here’s the deal: I will sell 25 of them at a discount through my Etsy shop. The other 25 I will give away,  All you have to do is tell me the biggest mistake you’ve ever made, and how you conquered it.  That earns you the right to be one of our conquistadors (and gets you a free flask).

xo

c

Monday, October 27, 2014

U-Kew-Lele Strap

 

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From across the pond, our Sugar Skull Guitar Strap makes its way onto a ukulele and into the recording session of U-Kew-Lele’s first album! Thanks to Michael for sending along the photo.  Looking – and sounding – great!

xo

c

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A bit of “Street Style”

 

Back in August, one of our favorite customers, Rachael Renee, was stopped on the streets of Portland and asked about her style.  It just so happened to include a custom  Moxie & Oliver leather cuff! Here’s the blurb her husband sent along from the Portland Mercury.  And, I love seeing your Moxie & Oliver pieces in action, so if you have a photo of yourself wearing/using/enjoying one of our pieces please send it! It’s the reward for all of our hard work!

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Rachael Renee

"My overall style is country inspired because I'm an equestrian. The bracelet was custom made for me by Moxie and Oliver in Seattle. The necklace was my grandmother's. I wear two watches because one was my grandmother's on the other side. The other watch I actually use. Also, I 'm really embarrassed about my shoes but I broke my toe. They are the only ones that are comfortable right now!" -Rachael Renee (check out her amazing band at and her photography.)

Monday, October 20, 2014

LeatherCraft Kits are HERE!

 

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This weekend my husband took the kids so I could go to the studio and work on some new pieces.  These are pieces I am especially excited about because instead of putting my artwork on leather, they give you a chance to put your artwork on leather!

We are starting with six of our most popular items as kits and I have been experimenting with different ways of simplifying my artistic methods even more.  For our Clutch Wallet Kit, I did a simple floral painting directly on the leather.  No tools were required, all I need was the kit, paints and some water.  Here are a few photos of the piece in progress (sorry for no hand-in shots – I was working by myself and that is totally awkward. I have no idea how people shoot themselves while working!).  

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The clutch wallet is a piece we have been developing for several months now – and it is handmade, start to finish, right here in Seattle!

The next kit that we are introducing is our Leather-Wrapped Flask Kit.  We are making this kit in four different flask sizes – 4oz, 6oz, 8oz and 12oz – and it makes a wonderful gift.  We have actually made this kit a few times using permanent marker to add pattern.  It works wonderfully – you could let your kids draw on a flask for dad (or mom!) for a holiday or birthday gift.  Much better than a tie or a robe!

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And speaking of kids – my little one just woke up, so it is time for me to sign off.  He’s making adorable eyes at me so I do so happily.

More soon!

xo

c

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Three Weddings

 

 

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If you ever need an extra wedding guest (yeah, because who ever needs MORE people at their wedding?) invite me! I love weddings.  Totally, totally, love them.  My assistant has, in the past, accused me of “loving love” and I suppose she’s right, I do. 

I fell in love young-ish (21 or so) and knew immediately it was love.  We met online so I can’t say it was love at first sight, but at first sound.  One snowy January day when the busses weren’t running and I couldn’t get to our date, I called my now husband and left a message. He had me at “You’ve reached the voicemail…”

I still love the sound of his voice.  And he’s adorable, so that’s a bonus, and it means we make really cute children.  But I digress – I’d marry him all over again, not just because I love him so much, but because I love weddings, too.  The celebration of love and family, pretty dresses, lots of presents, food, cake, wine, dancing… what part of this sounds bad?

So since I can’t go to weddings every weekend, I’ll settle for making wedding gifts.  Recently I made a custom wine tote for one of my mom’s employees, and a former co-worker.  He’s a graphics guy, so of course he had a logo made for the wedding.

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For a wedding that happened this past weekend, in Idaho, we first did the ten flasks on the left for the bridesmaids.  Each is a limited edition with our “Pressed” leather with an Idaho applique on the back.  The bride was following the progress on Instagram, and showed her smoke-jumper husband.  He decided to go for a set of woodgrain ones for the groomsmen!

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This last piece is a valet tray that I made for a high-school classmate to give one of her friends as a wedding present. She and I hung out in the same circles when we were in school together (and I won’t say how long ago that was) but we weren’t close.  Working with her on this piece gave us a chance to reconnect – we both have small children, and are artists married to non-artists.  She is, of course, across the country from me but smart, creative, baby-loving people are always welcome in my life and I am glad that my work has given us an excuse to reconnect.

xo

c

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tiny Megaphones

 

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On Tuesday as I was pulling out of the driveway I saw something pink on the ground in front of me.  It looked suspiciously like my phone.  In the middle of the concrete.  I got out, picked it up and found my precious phone with a shattered screen.  Did I run over it? Who knows. The better question is – how did it even get there?

So I got in the car and my daughter says, “What’s wrong, mommy?” I told her that my phone was broken.  She then proceeds to tell me that it is going to be okay, I said I know, it’s fine, I just have to pay money to fix it.  She tells me to tell “them” that I don’t want to pay money and they won’t make me.  I say, that’s not the way it works, and can we please not talk about the phone anymore?

That lasts for 30 seconds.  “Mommy, you don’t seem like your normal self.  Are you sad about your phone?” 

I try a different approach.  “Let’s talk about something else.  Tell me about your playdate with Evan yesterday.”

She tells me about her playdate, and we make it to school (40 minutes away) without another mention of the phone. 

Until Wednesday.  Just leaving the house, I wanted to remind my husband to bring our daughter’s swim bag with him.  She says, “What are you doing, mommy?”  I said, “Calling daddy to remind him to bring your swim stuff.”  To which she replies, “With your broken phone?”

Yes.  Thanks for the reminder. 

This morning in the car we made it to school with no phone mentions.  I did hear her start singing along to Meghan Trainor’s song “All About the Bass” in the backseat.  It could be worse, I think – at least she is singing with a song that empowers women to not look like Barbie dolls. 

But then I remembered the music video. If you only listen to the song, there’s an element of empowerment.  Finally someone is telling women to not look like they’re 12-year-old boys.  If you watch the video, though, you have to wonder how anyone could take the delivery of this message seriously.  There isn’t a single attractive-looking woman in the video, even Trainor herself is dressed like a baby doll.  If you’re going to try to convince women that they look great the way they are, why not make them look great the way they are?

By this time you’re probably wondering how in the world Meghan Trainor and my broken cell phone are related, other than they are both mentioned in the car on the way to school.  The answer is in my daughter.  Our little kiddos are megaphones for our bad behavior, the things we don’t want them to see, hear, or focus on, but also on the things we reward them on.  As a woman who had body issues growing up, I am very conscious of how I interact with my daughter regarding her body. My husband and I recently did the “Whole30” diet, and I was very careful to make sure she knew that changed our eating because it was good for our brains and our bodies – I never mentioned our good looks.  It’s like saying “don’t think about the white polar bear” – as soon as it comes up, it’s all you will think about.

One of the side-effects of trying to raise your children to focus on health over perceived beauty, and not to dwell on the broken phones of life (as in, teaching your children to be positive, healthy people) is that it forces you to do it yourself.  These tiny beings won’t listen to a word you say about how to behave, unless you embody it yourself.  I say it all the time – having children forever changes you, and for me, it’s made me a better person.  Hopefully that will help them realize their full potentials as well.

xo

c