09 November 2011

My Troubled Relationship with Discount Sales

It is so hard to not get sucked in. I can have my resolve in place, but then people keep asking "When is this going to go in sale?" My answer is that it isn't. This is really hard as a person who sells things to not have sales. The pressure comes from all sides. It comes from customers, from fellow craftspeople, from society. With things out there like Groupon and Living Social. From all of the Peer pressure to participate in Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. It reenforces the idea that it is not okay to make your living selling things. That may sound hyperbolic, but that is what it boils down to. We are pushed on all sides to think that price is the only factor, and you cannot sell anything if you aren't constantly lowering your prices in order to get people to buy your goods. This is unsustainable. At some point, the price will be too low to make a profit. The price will be too low for your work to have any value. And if you make all of your product by hand by yourself, you cannot follow the model of mass produced goods. And in order for an item to be put on sale, it is either overpriced to mark down or the person making it is not making enough money on it.

Mass produced goods have several things you don't have if you make things yourself. They have access to cheap supplies and cheap labour. They have more room to make lower margins because they the advantage of a high sales volume.

The next argument is that if you price your goods properly, you can afford to have a sale now and then. I would like to argue that you might be able to afford it in dollars, but not in perception. I have my good priced properly; all of my materials are accounted for (usually materials are less than 10% of my product, it is all labour), my labour on the piece itself, the design process are all in the wholesale price while paying myself a living wage. You double the wholesale price to get the retail price. The retail price covers my time to photograph, market, sell etc. my products to the general public. If you are a store, you get that retail mark up to cover the costs of running your retail business.

But can you afford the perception that your product is not worth it's retail price? That is what sales say. If you are constantly having sales, then why would anyone ever pay full retail? This is another perception that I would like to figure out how to change peoples' mentality around. And is this the customer that you want to attract? I don;t know about you, but I am trying to establish long term relationships with people who will continue to follow me and support me over time; not just a quick one-off sale at a loss.

How do you establish the perception of the worth of your product? Take cost out of the equation for a moment, and focus on the product. Can you tell me why it is special? How long did it take you to develop the skills to make this? What do your particular sensibilities bring to your product line? What emotions does this evoke? How can we stop trying to compete with the mass production model? I don't have all of the answers here, but I think it is important to consider these questions. If we do not value our work, then we cannot expect anyone else to either.

I am not saying that you shouldn't have the occasional sale. Discounting goods on occasion can be a good tool in your business toolbox. This is one you should use with care. I tend towards giving discounts to my most loyal customers as a reward for continued business than trying to start out my relationship with a customer by setting a precedent of expectations that aren't sustainable.

18 October 2011

Do You Really Want To Quit Your Day Job?

In talking to people about what it is that I do, I end up getting asked for advice on all kinds of things. Sometimes I feel like I should bite my tongue in order to be more encouraging of people to follow their dreams, but I am not sure that is doing them any favours. Don't get me wrong. I am all about people leading the life they want to live, but that is kind of part of it. The whole doing what you love for a living is a dream for many and a goal for some. I try to share my experiences with people to help them learn a little more quickly the lessons I have learned the hard way, but there are some of those lessons that you just cannot be spared. Be forewarned, I am going to be honest here, and tell you that even though I love what I do, I don't always love it every day. When speaking to someone who is starting a business, transitioning their hobby to a full time business, or just evaluating what they might need to do to continue doing business, one needs to consider all of the pieces in the big picture to model their business structure so that it is sustainable. I see a huge disconnect in value of ones time as a small business person v. someone who works for someone else for a paycheck. I have spoken to a good lot of people in the last several years who feel pressured to turn their hobbies into business.

I have given the scary advice that maybe you shouldn't turn your hobby into a business. Supplemental income is great, but do you really have what it takes to make this into a full time endeavour? There are so many things we take for granted being gainfully employed by someone else. The magical things that just happen that we don't have to think about ever. Those things, you have to do them yourself! All of them. Many of the things usually employ people with advanced degrees. Advanced degrees we don't have. If you would have told me that I would be able to talk about Social Media and Marketing Platforms two years ago, I wouldn't have known what you were talking about. I would have thought you were talking about shoes. Now the lingo spills out of my mouth, and I can hear myself sounding like some sort of marketing alien from another planet.

You also don't have certain luxuries. Sure you can blow off work at any time to go to the river, but then you may just find yourself like me having 2.5 days off in the last two months. Maybe, you have no income to speak of for oh, three months, but then you have orders stacked to the ceiling in a two week period. Or if a family member dies or you have to go through a traumatic break up, you can't really mourn and freak out for the weeks or months it takes to really process such an event. Also you have to go buy office supplies. And do your own books. And @#&! TAXES! Some of these harrowing aspects can take a toll on your personal relationships as well; not to mention your creativity. And sick days? Those deadlines become so much more crucial when you don't get paid until you cross that finish line. It is also your reputation that is on the line, and how you perform now has a direct correlation to whether you get future projects. The stakes are higher.

It is deceptively easy to to start. You make a thing, and your friend likes it, and suggests you start an Etsy shop. Nothing wrong with that; I love Etsy, and I owe a lot to Etsy, but you get out of it what you put into it. And even then there are so many factors to seeing results. I have to ask if you love making the thing, will you love making the thing all day every day, and spending all night every night on the computer? That was another shocker for me. I had absolutely no idea (I started my business at a time where the internet wasn't a factor) how much time I would be spending on the computer. Editing photos, researching, interacting with customers, writing copy, finding venues to sell your work, constant tweaking. Learning to manage my time is still a huge struggle. I know, it just all seems like something anyone can do, but you know what? Not everyone has the wherewithall to start their own business, and keep going. Talk to any small business owner, and they will tell you; it is not for the faint of heart. You don't do it because you sort of like to make things, you do it because you have to make things. You have to. Now that is not to discount the passion of the hobbyist, but it does take a special breed of person to take on such a huge undertaking. Many will tell you that they had NO IDEA what they were getting themselves into when they started. Many will tell you they still have no idea..

Yes, I do love what I do, but not every day. Some days are amazingly productive. The designs work like magic. Other days are spent in mind numbing production where I am so sick of making flowers I could scream. (Sorry little flowers; you know I love you, it's just that I always have to make so many of you at once..) You have to be prepared for there to be days that you have to do things that aren't the best use of your time, and for a while you may not be able to outsource your tedious tasks to someone else. Unexpected things come up that require immediate attention that only you can give. We all can dream of magic production elves, but we are magic production elves often doing the work of several people.

What's my point in saying all of this? It is that you should know as much as possible about what you are getting yourself into; though even as prepared as you can try to be, there is always a learning curve. And there are always the bad parts that people leave out of polite conversation. I have bitten my tongue over the years, but recently, I feel like I am not doing anyone any favours by leaving out the hard parts. I am not saying these things to discourage the prospective small business person; not at all. You should just have an idea of what you are getting yourself into. That it is hard, and everything always takes longer that you want it to; sometimes it takes years. There are a very few that had easy smooth sailing into a successful business. It takes a lot of determination and an insane idea that you just aren't going to completely fail. That failures are learning experiences, and that after all is said and done, you have to make the things. And that for the most sucktacular week you have, there will be some random person who will tell you how much they love your work, and that makes it all worth it.

02 October 2011

Putting Yourself in the Right Place At the Right Time

PNCA - Meet and Greet!
photo: etsy labs

I am such an occasional writer these days, but I have had many ideas to share with little time to share them aside from twitter. These end in long form rants that are in fragments that get my point across, but may sound a bit insane. As you may or may not know I have been a part of a group called I Heart Art PDX that has been putting on low or no cost programming around building your small creative business, professionalism and valuing your time. Okay, maybe that isn't the official tag-line, but that has been what it has turned out to be. We are nearing the end of our second year, and making some decisions on sustainability for our program, and we just put on a conference about sustainability called Hello Etsy. I am not going to talk in depth about these things here, but you can read about them on their own sites. Right now my involvement with I Heart Art is inspiring me to write about a variety of more business related topics.

A bit of background: I seem to have a knack of knowing where to put myself at the right time. I can see in the room the person to stand next to, or what show to go to or what corner to turn or what place to be for my next opportunity. I am not particularly aggressive about it, I just look for where my next opportunity might lie and go there. I don't always know what the opportunity will be, just that I need to be open to a possibility, and go to the place. It isn't about being in the right place at the right time, it is about paying attention to where your next opportunity might lie, and go there. The next time you are drawn to someone, just go up to them and say hello, and see what happens. I happened to be at a talk with Matt Stichcomb from Etsy, and I just happened to run into some friends there, and I just happened to find myself in a meeting with Matt and about a dozen people at eight o'clock in the morning (and for those of you who know me, I am NOT a morning person). I went because I was drawn to an opportunity. I had no idea where it would lead me, but I knew that it was important.

These few people (some have moved on, some are still here on the leadership council) are the group that started I Heart Art Portland. A pilot program sponsored by Etsy, PNCA, The Museum of Contemporary Craft and the PDX Etsy Street Team. We have brought innovative education programs, and events to the arts community here in Portland, Oregon. The opportunity to be a part of the creation of this group and this program came at a time where I was seeing some success on the Etsy site, and gaining an online following. I had recently left my old art collective; which had left a bit of a hole. I found myself being asked by a few too many acquaintances to help them start their Etsy shops, organize sales events, or general things that I had experience with. I didn't feel that I was willing to give up my experience and expertise for free, but I wasn't comfortable with the idea of charging for it either. I Heart Art Portland came along at the exact right time. It gave me a group to work with who provided to a broader spectrum of people what individuals were asking of me. It gave me a place to refer people looking for advice on starting and running small creative business.
Ready? Set? Launch!
photo PNCA

The group of people behind the scenes at I Heart Art Portland are truly amazing. Our first event went off without much fuss. It was incredibly well attended. Etsy sent us people. We had beer and cake. We all got along, there were no real disasters, no technical glitches, no bickering or infighting; in short a extraordinary group. Most of the last two years has gone this way; even when we were thrown some major events with short deadlines. Even though I was a part of these accomplishments, I am still in awe of what we have managed to accomplish. In a way, I think that is part of allowing yourself to be open to the possibilities. I placed myself in the right place at the right time, because I saw an opportunity there. I have gained a ton of knowledge, and I have been allowed the opportunity to share that with my community in a way that makes more of a difference than if I sit at home behind a computer all day.

Last Sunday, on the heels of last week's Hello Etsy conference, I got to spend the entire day with the leadership counsel reviewing the year's accomplishments, tossing around ideas, and writing a plan to make our program sustainable. All of these discussions and Hello Etsy made me feel a grand shift in my thinking about my own business too. An overall theme of my life seems to be a realisation of something that I was missing that had been there all along. For instance: using timed tweets and writing an editorial calendar with all the links in one place to market the Hello Etsy conference. I knew about timed tweets for two years, but why had it never occurred to me to use them? And why didn't I research links and write a plan in advance for the marketing? Such a time saver! I wouldn't have to research the same thing over and over. It was right there all along, and I didn't do it. A small thing, but a major revelation. And I have been meaning to write business posts all along, but have never gotten around to doing it.

I came home from our day long council retreat exhausted, but inspired, and I wrote quite a bit. Enough for several blogs worth. Things I was afraid to say, but need to be said. This blog is about process, but this is part of my process too. There is so much more to running my business than making things. Part of my creative process is ideas. My ideas are just as much of a creation as something I make with my hands. Ideas are meant to be shared and discussed. Today's idea is putting yourself in the right place at the right time. It works for me; it may be something you might like to consider too.

25 September 2011

No Photos of the Tulle Dress I've Been Working On!

I love posting on Twitter my projects in progress. For the last two weeks. my Twitter feed has been filled with posts about a tulle wedding dress restoration and alteration project that has been dominating my house. And by dominating, I mean that there is tulle EVERYWHERE. Many have followed along, and have been asking, begging for photos. Unfortunately, there are no photos. I took on this project as a favour for a friend (I have exited the wedding dress world for the time being for the most part), and because occasionally, I like a crazy challenge. The thing is, this is someone else's wedding dress. Now, I am sure my bride friend would send me some wedding photos to post somewhere some day in the future after the wedding is over, but for now I just can't post photos.

I have had some real fun in posting in progress corset photos, and sharing my creative process by posting about works in progress. The response has been amazing, and I seem to have an audience who is actually interested in the mind of a crazy person, um, i mean creative person. It is great to be able to post photos of these works in progress, because they don't belong to anyone yet; only to me, and the only consequence is that you as the viewer/reader have an idea of the mysterious process of making things. Weddings are different. There is that whole thing where the groom cannot see the dress until the day of at the ceremony when the bride is revealed walking down the aisle. Then there is the ownership part. Every single wedding dress has been a collaboration project between myself and the bride. Yes, I design the dress, and make it to fit with perfect details, but the concept begins with the bride and her dreams of her big day. The process has run the gamut of everything wonderful and awful about concept to production to finished product. But this process as it pertains to weddings is somewhat mysterious and secretive. A ton of work done in secret for the big reveal. And it's more than that. It is also being advisor and confidant; which involves quite a bit of trust. And a tacit agreement to be the holder of the secret fabulous dress. That it will be perfect and gorgeous, to make her perfect and gorgeous for not only her groom, but also for her family and friends.

So therein lies the problem of photos. If you look at my blog and my website, there is a sore lack of wedding photos in comparison to the amount of weddings I have done. So many in fact that even though I may easily spend six months with someone, I would be loathe to tell you each dress and their person behind it. Many times I have been promised more photos, but have had few follow up with me, and I am just as bad. And as you may have witnessed with this particular project, is the sense of accomplishment, but also relief when the dress has left my hands and my studio. At which point I am onto the next thing, and not too interested in chasing after the past for a photo.

19 August 2011

Tell Me Your Favourite Colour Garter Giveaway

Garter #1630 is the number that I am on today as I write this post. Don't ask me how many flowers or dresses I've made; I couldn't tell you. For some reason I started writing down each garter I made, and being a bit obsessive compulsive, I couldn't stop. If you have followed my progress, you will know these garters; I made my first one in February 1999 for a Valentine's Day show, and they have never stopped selling.

I recently opened my ribbon box to create a custom set for one of my long-term shops in San Francisco, and noticed that a ribbon order is long overdue. As I cut the last bit of powder blue silk ribbon off of the spool, I knew it was time for an order. I dread these orders. The silk has to be imported, I have to choose carefully, or I will find myself stuck with a colour I never use (hello, too cold silver that has been languishing unusable in the box since 2002). But I am always looking for the next new colours so I don't get bored making the same things over and over.

This time I am going to try something a little different; I am going to ask other peoples' opinions. Shocking, I know! As we creep into fall (and thinking ahead to spring 2012), I thought it is time to add a few colours. I am not one to follow trend, but everyone has their colour preferences. I have to serve the lingerie community that varies from traditional brides to burlesque performers. For your opinions, you will get a chance to WIN a matching pair of garters! Here is my collection on Etsy. What are your thoughts on the following additions?

1. Sesame (paired here with silver and a dark red rose)

2. Olive (shown with both rich gold and peach)

3. Sage (shown with cream and peach and matching pink flowers)

$. Navy (on the bottom band with silver)

So there you have it. Leave me a comment, and let me know what you think of any or all these as possible additions to my garter collection, and your favourite existing colours. I will choose at random one lucky person who commented here to receive a matching pair of garters to be made from stock on hand, and shipped to you via first class us post within 4 weeks of comments closing 8/31/2011. UPDATE: Thank you for your comments! I will be notifying the winner 9/2/2011. Comments are closed now.

23 June 2011

and on to the next thing

If you have been following my Twitter feed lately or have visited me at Crafty Wonderland or talked to me in person recently, it is no secret that I am working on an exciting new project: CORSETS. And you may say to me, but Kirsten, you have already been making corsets for years. True, true, but these are different. These are steel boned traditional waist reducing corsets. Each has three layers of fabric, spring and spiral steel boning, and tons of handwork. My great-grandmother Bachan taught me how to sew when I was three. She hand basted everything with a needle and thread, and I thought that was totally crazy and unnecessary. But these are all hand basted; they have to be for the pieces to match up perfectly.

The lovely absinthe green and black lace corset pictured above is my first of hopefully many. I am learning about how they fit, and techniques that will save me from tearing up my fingers like I did on this first one. I used an altered commercial pattern on this first one, and I have already designed a new on from scratch (in muslin form below). I hand sewed the lace on and hand flossed the boning in the traditional manner. I am not sure that I am interested in historically accurate in looks, but I do use all the traditional techniques (as I always have with everything else I make). I have been thoroughly obsessed, and researched this topic way too much in the last six months. There is something really satisfying about hand finishing a garment.

Why this, why now? When I started my business 13 years ago, I was making really crazy labour intensive pieces couture style. All cut to fit and hand finished with excruciating detail. I need to be challenged. I need to make my own designs that dance around my brain whether I have time to attempt them or not. This what makes me happiest. In the last several years, I have been relegated to accessories and taking on whatever project that offered me enough money to survive. I had so many ideas that never got to be made, or are sitting half finished in boxes or languishing in sketch books or invading my dreams. The dreams haunted me with the designs I longed to make instead of wiling away the hours avoiding the things that I had to make on deadlines that had me pushed up until the last minute..

So here I am. There will be a trunk show in the fall, date(s) and place(s) TBA. In the mean time, I am looking to try this lovely muslin on as many bodies as possible. If you are in Portland and have a waist 27-32 i would love to try this lovely muslin on you. I will be grading the pattern to fit other sizes, but I have to start somewhere, so if you are outside this range, I may need to try a later muslin when I get to that point. I am slow. Slow because all the things that I feel are worth doing take time. Slow because I still have to fill orders and take the occasional odd project to keep going. Interested? Send me a message.

06 June 2011

Why I Am No Longer On Facebook

Some people are early adopters, I am an early abandoner. This is the blog of my business, but what follows is a personal post. It contains information that may contradict the gal you know online. That is okay. She will continue on as ever after this post. I am writing this because I have been asked too many times: Why do you hate Facebook and why did you leave? Here is the true sordid tale:

It gave me pause to leave Facebook given that I had cultivated an audience there, but that audience was also the reason I felt that maintaining a presence there ate at my soul. I should be jaded and have a thicker skin; I have been using social media of various forms since 2003. Online, I abide by certain rules: namely, that I don't post anything that's too personal: no relationship references (my online persona is that of a single lady who dresses in fancy lingerie & drinks tea with her cat), no politics or religion (thought it creeps in here and there, I am human after all), nothing derogatory, and absolutely no photos of my ass on the internet. Since there isn't really any separation between myself and my business in the world of online, the idea of what might appear with a google search rules what I write & post to my various profiles. There is no expectation of privacy when it comes to the internet. All it takes is to forward an email or a screenshot or a google search. Everything posted online is online FOREVER. It isn't that what I post isn't true, nor lacking personal aspects, but it is the PG-13, positive, interesting version of my life with certain details omitted. I am, after all, an actual person running a small business. This is my livelihood and so much of my "branding" (I have been doing this since before the internet, and the word "branding" existed) is wrapped up in my creative process, my aesthetic, my inspirations etc. This seems narcissistic to me, but it works; after all, I have been in business for over 13 years.

What felt different about Facebook (as opposed to other social networking sites) was a long progression that started in my second bout with social media (we can think of friendster of a first boyfriend, a sort of teenage relationship but one before adulthood here) which was I joined in 2003. It was pretty neat to keep up with friends of certain groups, meet interesting people (I have several in real life friends I have met first online), exchange ideas, and dip ones toes into a little voyeurism. It got me to start writing again; which has been incredibly an incredibly helpful business skill. Being the entrepreneur, and putting my business first, I joined each of the next thing with a bit of trepidation (all the time and effort of maintaining yet another online presence), but I felt it would be okay if I followed my own rules right? The more of my own content I post online, the more exposure to new audiences. But there are little bits of my soul in each of these places. I have managed for the most part to avoid embarrassing photos, have posted the occasional subversive or snarky comment, but that's just me. Mostly, I posted about my experience as an independent designer/business person and the ins and outs as a maker of fashiony things. I have learned a lot along the way, much from reading copious amounts of information and interacting with others on various sites; enough to give advice on social media to others in a professional setting (scary, I know).

The difference here with facebook over any other site (and I belong to so many) is just how ubiquitous it is. Most other sites only encompass certain groups of people. Etsy for crafty, indie DIY business (which includes the vintage sellers), people creating their own things on a small scale, Twitter for industry & tech people, Myspace for teenagers and musicians, for burners and tech people etc. Everyone was on Facebook. When I finally gave in and joined, I had 85 friends within the first 4 hours that I joined the site. I was up to 400 within the month, and when I left 4 years later, i had 750+ friends even after paring down multiple times. It's like everybody I ever knew was on Facebook, and that is pretty much true. With the exception of about 20 people, I knew everyone on my friends list in person at some point in my life ranging from preschool to the present. So overwhelming, is that anyone whom you have ever met can find you. Even if you use all of the privacy settings. I had my profile locked down and allegedly unsearchable on google, but the whole friends of friends thing would allow people to find me. I would get really tired of someone, and unfriend them, and a new friend request from said unfriended person would show up minutes later. (I found out later by accident that if you unfriend someone without blocking them, you will show up in the "suggested friends" section on their homepage, gross!) My inbox would be stuffed full of spam with people begging for money to fund their various projects & causes, invitations to parties across the world, to just screamy blather that made me hate my "friends". Oh, the things people would post. Things I cannot imagine talking about to my best friend would go by my horrified eyes on a daily basis.

I tried to hard to make it work. I hid people whose posts I couldn't stand, but couldn't unfriend because it would cause problems for me (hurt feelings, backlash, rifts in business relationships; where unfriending would actually cause serious consequences. Which is really stupid. Being Facebook friends isn't important!). I blocked the stalkery people. I unfriended my significant other/best friend, because it felt harmful to our relationship to be interacting online in lieu of in person (picture us sitting at my kitchen table looking at our matching smartphones instead of talking). I tried for positive interactions. I tried to post interesting content to give value to my readers (I found that i had a lot of them). But more and more, just logging on and looking at my newsfeed made me upset. I could feel my blood pressure rising when I would see the inane messages in my inbox, the endless invitations, the endless pleas for money and attention. Facebook didn't make me feel connected; it made me feel alienated. I started hating my friends. I don't hate my friends. This was unacceptable.

The end came with a couple of events. My birthday (in November) consisted of a bunch of messages from my friends in lieu of anyone bothering to call me (save for a few), which made me feel creeped out and alienated. The second was a family issue that i felt compelled and pressured to post about on my page (definitely against my rules). There was really no use to do this other than to feel like I was doing something in a situation where nothing could be done. Then I started to feel like people were watching for a train wreck. In mid-December, when my computer's power source exploded, I never bothered to log in again. I got a whole lot of crap from people for leaving. I started to feel like "dance monkey, dance!" Oddly I finally was out of the loop, but best of all, I felt free! There were months of explaining myself every time I would run into anyone. But you know what? For the last few years, when I would see any of my Facebook "friends" in person, people would act like they knew me because of what they read on my Facebook page. Even more creepy, is that I never ever saw them post anything ever. Which means that there are many more reading silently than those actually posting. It was extra creepy, because 2010 was an especially difficult year, and I did my best not to show it. I know that it is my doing, but this was also incredibly alienating as well, to have people talking to my about how great my life must be going. When is it appropriate to replace taking the time to having a cup of tea with someone by reading the random sentences that they post online?

Social media is what you make of it. What works well for some doesn't work for others. There are many who love Facebook. It works for them in ways that it doesn't work for me. Was it helpful to my business, maybe. I had thousands of hits to my website and my Etsy shop from Facebook every month, but most of my 'fans' either knew me or my work already, and can find me many other places (my website, etsy, blog, twitter, flickr etc.). I am a much happier person. I suppose I miss some invitations to parties, and the mundane goings on of everyone on my friends list, but I have managed to live this way for 30+ years before Facebook's existence in my life. Six months out now, I can still say that I truly hate it, and I should log on one of these days to delete my account. But I cannot bring myself to even log on. Why bother? There is no real deleting of it anyway, it will exist somewhere in the internet ethers. So I will just leave it there abandoned as a partial record of a few years of my life along with all of my other abandoned accounts. The irony here is that as I post this on my blog is that it will end up on my Facebook account. *sigh* The thing is, there will be another thing. There always is. Chances are, I will join, spend countless hours cultivating my presence, and abandon it in time too. And most likely, so will you.

UPDATE: I finally deleted my personal account, or deactivated. In doing so, the site's bots tried to emotionally blackmail me by showing me photos of people I want nothing to do with. Regardless it is not visible anymore. My fan page is still there; i pawned it off on my sales rep and mother, so I can share in the ignoring. I can't say that I feel free, because people still ask me about it.

17 March 2011

six and a half costume notes

Once again I was asked by Miss Lisa Degrace (if you remember the giant skirt in Flying Iron) to design costumes for her new production called Six and a Half. Her character "Lily" goes out into the world where she encounters people who could be real or apparitions.

I put Lily in a red dress; in part as a reflection of her personality, and to separate her from the world she enters. Red reminds us that we are alive, and that she is alive in the land of dreams that she is traveling in. Her red contrasts her from the people she encounters who alternate in between being people, ghosts and robots. I put these characters in a palette of whites with stark outlines to give them a timeless and other-worldly feel. Their costumes are accented with red to connect in small ways with Lily and the world of the living.

The show opens this weekend in a double header with We Two Boys. If you are in Portland, I hope you can see it! I posted the information below:

an evening of new work by Lisa DeGrace and Meshi Chavez

6 1/2 and We Two Boys
March 17 at 8pm
March 18 at 8pm
March 19 at 8pm
March 20 at 4pm and 8pm

Sliding Scale tickets $15 - $25
503-893-5999 to pay with cash or check at the door OR for credit card or debit card.


6 1/2
How does my past influence my future? What am I holding on to? What is holding me? Am I awake or am I asleep? Is this a dream or a nightmare? Lily, a brave and terrified fool, ventures into the unknown.

Created and Performed by Lisa DeGrace with Alicia Ankenman, Mark Kline, and Capra J'neva
Direction/Choreography by Tracy Broyles and Lisa DeGrace

We Two Boys
"We two boys together clinging, one the other never leaving..." A translation of Walt Whitman's poem We Two Boys Together Clinging from language to movement. an investigation into the modern condition of masculinity and the tension that exists when men express their need for one another.

Choreographed by Meshi Chavez
Performed by Richard Decker and Meshi Chavez
Music by lyd