Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ode to empty boxes...oh, how I love thee!!

When we come to market, our car is FULL of boxes!! How many do we have? We have so many boxes, we download a second carload to our friend Debbie, who owns our local needlework shop. Debbie drives to market to SHOP, and we come to SELL (with a little shopping on the side!).

Saturday was our first market day and it was CRAZY busy!  We opened the door (pictured above) a little before 9 and got SLAMMED! Before noon arrived, we were sold out of some of our goodies. Honestly, we were worried about the amount of inventory we brought to market. It's no fun to pack it up and bring it back home.  

Above are the sad little EMPTY boxes in front of our new Less=More Flip it series. You can see the actual models sitting behind them. Of course, we have plenty more leaflets at home ready to assemble ASAP. Thankfully...I assembled 1100 embellishment packs during the 13 hour car ride to Nashville, which will go inside the individual Double Flips. But for the rest of the show, I had to take orders on these.

Same thing on our Inspiration Boxer display - beautiful models, but the inventory was soon MIA!

We gave away a few empty boxes to shopowners who wanted them to get product home, but the rest are coming back home with us in their "flattened" state. They'l spend some time in the attic, and then reappear to make the trip to our next market.

Market will close at 4 today, then the building will erupt into a mad race to see 1) who can tear down their showrooms the fastest and 2) who can snag a coveted gold bellhop cart from the hotel to help get stuff to their vehicles. WHOA - we had better start checking the lobby soon...those carts may already be hoarded by another eager exhibitor!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ready, set, MARKET!!!

Market opened this morning...WHEE!! After months of planning, 13 hours of driving, a full day of setup, and one allergy attack (apparently I'm allergic to Nashville's early spring weather) we opened the door of our little L*K showroom at 9:00 AM. Below is a pic of our "front windows" that face the atrium hallway. We did a little chalk art on brown paper to jazz up our posters previewing the new kits.

Our market is held in a beautiful Embassy Suites hotel, so the designers arrive early to transform their hotel "living room" into a cool showroom. We schlepp in tables, containers, and all sorts of display to showcase our newest designs and create a fun atmosphere. People do all kinds of crazy things to work with the furniture that's already there, and cram the unwanted pieces into the back bedroom.  The sofa sleeper was too big to move, so we remade it into a display table to showcase our Inspiration Boxer series. We removed the cushions, put an unwanted coffee table on top, then layered a 6' table on top of the pile and camouflaged with an extra sheet from the maid's cart. Yes. that's our new "sofa table" in the photo below!

We used the bar area of the living room for our Flip-it/Double Flip display. More chalk art covered the large mirror above the bar, which was bolted to the wall!

When the shoppers are finished selecting their cash & carry merchandise, they head to the back room to Alan's checkout area. When his checkout line gets too long, we encourage customers to label their bags, throw them on the bed, and return later to pick up (after we've had time to total their orders).

OOPS! We caught Alan checking a few basketball scores in a quiet moment. Time to get back to (needle) work!!! More market update tomorrow.....

Monday, February 20, 2012

Countdown to Market...kit sneak peek!

Every year we go to Needlework Market in February...17 years in a row, that is!  I've only missed one, when I went to Guatemala with my 2 daughters and a group from my church. While I was enjoying the most interesting trip of my life, Alan drove to and fro Nashville, and managed the booth by himself. Of course, he did have a couple hundred kind needlework ladies cheering him on! Hmmmm...maybe I should plan another trip?!

No matter how much we plan ahead, we're always SWAMPED the weekend before market. We always plan a couple surprise kits for the market attendees, and somehow, they're always ready just in the nick of time!

So this past weekend we found ourselves assembling kits while watching one basketball game after another...and our sport-loving friends were there to help!

Right in the middle of our family room (and in prime TV viewing position) we set up a couple tables, and got to work!  After a full day of folding, sacking, intermittent cheering and eating, we finished assembling BOTH kits! As we completed kits, Alan packed them into boxes to make the trip to Nashville.

This morning, Alan is headed out to Heart's Desire, our LNS here in Wichita. Debbie helps us every year by carrying a (big) portion of our inventory to Nashville.  We'll download this batch of boxes to her, then fill our car again with more market stuff...more inventory, display tables and cloths, L*K banners, props to make things look nice, and much, much more. When we roll across country in a couple days, we'll be the car that looks a lot like the Beverly Hillbillies (sans Granny sitting on the top!).

Above is the sneak peek pic I promised!  We're doing a very special Limited Edition kit that uses these fabrics in a fun way. Check out the birds, bugs, stripes, dots, and rick rack. Who can guess what we'll do with these? We haven't shown the stitched part of the kit, but we'll guarantee it's quick and fun!

Back to my lists!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Meniscus, schmeniscus (my aching knee!)

Getting old isn't for sissies!  That's the title of a brand new L*K design, and it exactly sums up how I'm feeling today :(

After 3+ months of knee pain, multiple ice packs and a bottle of Advil, I finally had an MRI which revealed a "complex" tear in my meniscus. How did this happen?

Doctor: Is this the result of an injury?
Linda: I don't think so.
Doctor: Did you fall or have an accident?
Linda: I can't remember anything.
Attractive young doctor: And you are 39 years old?

Whatever! After an afternoon shuttling between the extremely pregnant X-ray tech, nurse practitioner, orthopedic surgeon, scheduling lady, and yet another scheduling lady, I'm home!  I'll have a little scope surgery the day after I return from market. I guess that means Alan will have to unpack everything from our cross country trek. Darn...I always LOVE that job!!! While he's unpacking market paraphernalia, and trying to catch up on a week's worth of work that piles up while we're gone, I'll be anesthetized, learning to use crutches, and (hopefully) greet casserole-bearing friends at the door.  HMMM...maybe I should do this every year!

Meanwhile, here's a pic of the timely new Snippet we released this week. It's quick, fun, and maybe a little TOO true. Stitch it for one of your "older" me! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day = husband in kitchen and car!

Valentine's Day is in the middle of the work week - who planned that? But we still want to celebrate, in the midst of the CRAZY week before we leave for Needlework Market in Nashville. Multi-tasking to the rescue!

Lizzie*Kate is releasing NEW products today, which means we're shipping products to hundred of shops around the US and around the world...all on the same day! We worked like little elves all weekend, then spent Monday attaching mailing labels and doing customs forms.

Alan is at the big post office at the airport as I blog, delivering a car full of packages, that hopefully meet the recently released postal increases and rule changes!  This afternoon, we'll greet the regular UPS man with an equally large pile of boxes. Shipping has become ridiculously expensive, so we choose the cheapest method, depending on weight and location.

To get a jump of the big heart holiday, we celebrated Valentine's early last weekend with 35 of our favorite pals from church. Every year the men cook the women an amazing meal, serve it, CLEAN UP, and then sing to us. I's hard to believe!. Truly, it's a certified MIRACLE every year!

Every year, the men gather the night before the dinner to bake cheesecakes for dessert. They actually make and bake 4-5 beautiful, tasty kinds of cheesecake. Above are the cheesecake bakers grinning after a successful night. My husband, Alan, is on the right. During this extravanganza, the wives go out to dinner (the guys order in pizza) and watch a chick flick movie. You could say, we are spoiled!!

After a wonderful meal the next evening, we finish with a cheesecake extravaganza! The varieties this year were (from left to right) Bailey's Irish Creme with chocolate topping, white chocolate raspberry, Heath bar cappuccino and white chocolate Amaretto with peach sauce. YUMMM!!!!

Tonight, after the shipping drama, we're planning to bring in food from a favorite restaurant (my mouth is already watering), open a bottle of wine, and relax. I'm going to make a yummy chocolate dessert from my daughter's food blog. If you need a quick chocolate VDay fix, click on the link below. Happy Valentine's Day!


Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine's countdown + sneak peeks!

What are you planning for Valentine's Day? Roses, candy, romantic dinner for two? We're really planning ahead this year, but I'm pretty sure it's not a traditional celebration. We're SHIPPING NEW PRODUCTS on the big V-day, February 14! At least it makes our deadline really easy to remember.

We'll be blogging frequently until then, sending you SNEAK PEEKS for our new stuff, soon to be appearing in your favorite local needlework shops. In the previous post, we showed you our new goodies at the printer...literally "hot off the press"!

Now everything has been delivered and we're busy assembling everything, before we can begin packing boxes. What's in the photo above? About a zillion tiny iridescent raspberry beads and golden heart charms. Every leaflet in our new Less=More Double Flip series will (eventually!) have one of these tiny packs attached inside.

After we fill the little 1" x 1" zip bags (in the car, watching TV, wherever!) we attach them to the Glu Dot strips. These waxy strips have a dot of adhesive wedged between the black stripes. You press down, then pull them off one at a time to attach to the printing! Our helper Carmen spends a lot of time with these Glu Dots, and so do we! There are 4000 Glue Dots on every roll, and we order several dozen rolls at a time!

The SNEAK PEEK for today is F117 Whine Less Breathe More, the 2nd part of the Less=More Double Flip series. (See pic for F116 Fear Less Hope More in previous post). The colors on the Less=More series are so beautiful, I hope you can get a good preview from this pic. 

Once we get these newbies shipped, we'll post a link on our website for a FREE border graph to combine all 4 parts of Less=More into one big design. This post will include a thread list for the entire project, stitch count and instructions. We'll preview the big photo of the whole Less=More series soon in another post. But the cool part is, these individual graphs make really great pieces on their own.  Look below and you'll see!!!

Here's a SNEAK PEEK of the cover of F116 Fear Less Hope More. We worked with our graphic designer Janice to create a "vintage wallpaper" sort of look for the backgrounds, and are excited to say these covers don't look like ANYTHING else we have ever done. That's a challenge!

Have a great weekend...and stay tuned for more PEEKS!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Flips flops in February and ...Double Flip sneak peek

February ...May ...which is it?  Is it a beautiful day in Wichitawesome!  The temps are in the 60's, the sun is out, I'm wearing my favorite flip-flops, and I'm a happy girl!

Right after lunch today I got a call from the printer that my job was ready for a press check.  I was on "standby" today, after I approved the first round of proofs yesterday, and final proofs this morning. I was happy to get out of the office (where the windows are OPEN!) and enjoy the sunshine on the short trip to the printer.

Here I am with the pressman, admiring his work.  He works hard before I arrive to get the colors matched to the proofs and also to the original stitchery I have on hand.  When I arrive I can make changes and tweak colors, if necessary.  Today I just signed off and told him to "start the presses"!

But look at my footwear on the first day of February!  My office is always warm because I have windows on four sides.  It's not unusual for me to crack the windows, even when the temps are below freezing.  But when the weather is in the 60s, it's a full out open air day!

When I left the printer, I took a couple press sheets home with me, just for fun!  You can see all the products ganged together on this color side of the sheet.  Of course, the other side will have all the black/white charts, instructions and details.  After these sheets dry, they make a trip to the bindery for cutting, folding, and boxing.  I imagine my new designs are spending this morning in the very noisy bindery!

And now for the SNEAK PEEK we promised!  This press sheet has 4 new Double Flips from our new series ...drum roll please...  Less=More Double Flips!!!  You can spot the 4 similar products on the press sheet.  Also on the sheet is a Less=More bookmark and a Snippet.

Here's a corner from one of the Less=More Double Flips.  I found this really cool saying, which meanders through the whole series, but also works really well in small bits (each design!).  Then I was inspired by lots of antique alphabets and sampler motifs, and just had the BEST time designing and stitching everything.

We're getting psyched to release the new series in mid February, so we'll be bringing more sneak peeks and preview info here on the blog.  Anticipation!