Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Handmade With Love - TAG Fiber Artists Pt. II

I must apologize for the delay in the continuation of my TAG series...family illness, hurricanes, and other circumstances beyond my control.
As the holidays approach, I've made a conscious decision to forgo big box, and buy handmade by small business. It may be slightly more expensive, but I will be gifting a bit less this year. I care about quality. Clearly, you get what you pay for, and that is why small, independent artists have to price their pieces the way they do. They are not cheaply made, mass marketed wares. There is also more variety, and originality. I want my loved ones to know that I put some thought into my gift. So, although I may not be purchasing a ton of gifts from the mall,  a few, well chosen, quality gifts is the way to go for me this year.
Which brings me to the subjects of today's post! These Fiber Artists from The Artisan Group are incredible...

Rosy Toes Designs: Based in Ohio, 
Rosy Toes Designs is owned and operated by talented fiber artist Lucy Chapman. It evolved in 2012, from her Etsy shop, Seasons of Wool (established 2009). Lucy writes:

At Rosy Toes Designs, I use natural fibers and up-cycled materials to handcraft bags, pouches, Cuddle-Up sweater blankets, and luxury fashion accessories. I love how I've combined the ancient art form of felting with modern techniques. You'll find felted wool, alpaca, recycled silk, and up-cycled wool and cashmere sweaters in my shop. The materials and process used creates a unique look and story for every piece. 

My Seasons Of Wool shop on Etsy focuses on custom made felted wool and alpaca hats and mittens, with a few small home accessories thrown in. Customers have the perfect winter and fall accessories crafted in just the right color and size for them. 

Shop links: http://rosytoesdesigns.com

Recently, Lucy was featured in the December issue of UK Vogue!! Congratulations, Lucy!!

Courtesy The Artisan Group/Emma Maudsley 

Courtesy Rosy Toes Designs

Courtesy Rosy Toes Designs

Hunky Dori Boutique:  Based in Sarasota Springs, NY, Hunky Dori Boutique was founded by the talented Fiber Artist Dori FitzPatrick. Dori writes:

Hunky Dori Boutique was created in 2011 while I was pregnant with my 2nd daughter.  I wanted fun, hip, chic baby items and was not finding what I wanted out there.  So I turned back to my roots and decided to make them!  I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC for Textile Design and Apparel Manufacturing.  I worked in the fashion industry for 12 yrs for women's and baby fashion designers, as well as the home furnishings industry.  I got married in 2007 and became a stay at home mom in 2008.  Then the fun began!  

I hand crochet infant, toddler, kids, and adult hats. My best sellers are the hats I hand stitch, hand made, felt applique too.  Nothing is store bought and put together....I do it all!  Photographers have responded well to my infant hats and use them a lot for photo props.  The Artisan Group has really opened the door for me and I have gifted Bethenny Frankel, Denise Richards, and Alison Sweeney!  So exciting! I crochet with cottons, soft acrylics, and alpaca.  

My goal is to make great hat for your little ones, big sense of style!

Courtesy of Hunky Dori Boutique

Courtesy of Hunky Dori Boutique

Courtesy of Hunky Dori Boutique

Beautiful hats, Dori! Where were you when my kids were little??? Lol!

Shore Thing Designs: Traci Judge is the talent behind this Massapequa, New York based business, whose fabulous designs will soon appear on the hit TV series "The Vampire Diaries"!  

Traci writes: My shop is primarily scarves right now and I am working on getting the photos up of the Ombre scarves like I created for Denise Richards, Alison Sweeney and Pretty Little Liars.  The minute I post them they sell - woo hoo!
I am also working on a line of original wristlets that just need to be photographed and listed as well.
In my past life (that life prior to being a stay at home mom, that is!) I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC and studied Textile Design and Development.  I worked for 15 years as a Textile Designer designing fabrics ranging from Home Furnishings, Apparel, Swimwear and Intimate Apparel.  
I created Shore Thing Designs in 2005 and consulted and freelanced until mommyhood called!  I then turned Shore Thing into a creative outlet for all my obsessions -  anything fiber, yarn or fabric related is my passion!!  

Courtesy of Shore Thing Designs
Courtesy of Shore Thing Designs 

As you can see with Traci's work, when your work is your passion, you create amazing things!!!

2 Kute Kreations: In 2008, talented crochet artist Rose Kute founded 2 Kute Kreations, based in Jacksonville, Florida. Her shop carries a wide variety of gifts including baby hats, booties, blankets, adult hats, soap savers, facial scrubbers, and more!

Rose writes: I am a stay home wife and mother with health issues that prevent me from working outside the home. In 2008 one of my sons in law told me about Etsy and that I should have a shop for my items.
2Kute specializes in hats and booties/slippers from newborn to adult.

Courtesy 2 Kute Kreations

Courtesy 2 Kute Creations

Courtesy 2 Kute Creations

Those booties look comfy, Rose! You make them for adults??

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Handmade With Love - TAG Fiber Artists Part I

The very first time I purchased a handmade toy or article of clothing, I realized it carried an energy that no mass produced product ever could. There was a warmth, a positivity, a sense of pride...obviously all instilled by it's creator, who no doubt created each piece painstakingly with love. Hence the allure of handmade...

Now, there's handmade, and then there's handcrafted... the fiber artists at The Artisan Group take this to a whole other level...there are so many talented artists I need to cover, I need to discuss them in two parts...

Shanna's Tie Dye   The lovely and talented Shanna Torres has been a tie dye artist for 15 years and here is her story:

Shanna Torres finds creativity in every aspect of life. As a mother to three boys and
a military wife she must constantly adapt to life’s challenges. As an artist and an activist she shares that 
creativity with the world. A passion for the arts pushed Shanna to leave her small home town of Citico, 
Tenn. to major in Fine Arts at the University of Tennessee. While attending UT she met her now-
husband and she has managed to continue her artistic pursuits while taking care of their children, even as the war and military commitments have taken her husband away from home. The Torres’ have now been married for nine years and are currently stationed at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. 

Shanna is s self-taught tie dye artist and her creations for Shanna’s Tie Dye can be seen and followed on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. She is a proud member of The Artisan Group and affiliates with The Real Army Wives E-Magazine. She also works for Happy Family Organics and enjoys organic heirloom gardening, making meals from scratch, hiking, upcycling, reading, chasing after her three sons.

Courtesy Shanna's Tie Dye

Courtesy Shanna's Tie Dye

Courtesy Shanna's Tie Dye

Shanna's beautiful products have been gifted to celebrities such as Ryan Gosling, Mila Kunis, Vanessa Lachey, Jessica Alba, and Tori Spelling!

TG Bears Based in Indiana, and founded in February 2011 by the very talented Monica Collins. She makes her glorious, personalized Teddy Bears by hand using the finest, and softest materials. As a matter of fact, I am a proud owner of Jenny Bear (see photo below). TG Bears has also teamed up with Angels 4 Epilepsy, and together they have formed a Facebook support group for parents of children with epilepsy. It is a very active forum in which parents can discuss specific issues and support each other. The group link is https://www.facebook.com/groups/287235484682488/. Another wonderful contribution by TG Bears is sending a bear to a child undergoing a serious procedure related to their epilepsy. This bear is sponsored as a joint effort by member contributions, a contribution by Angels4Epilepsy and also one by Monica. Here are some photos of recipients  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.266828893394392.63142.113109522099664&type=3 .The group is open to anyone who has a child with epilepsy or has some other interest/knowledge that could be a help to those that have.

Courtesy of TG Bears

Courtesy of TG Bears

My Jenny Bear!! Check out my name embroidered on her paw!!

Me and Jenny B!!

These adorable furries make awesome holiday gifts!!

Crafty Ridge  This Indiana based company was started in 2011 by the lovely Angela Warren-Mixson. Here is Angela's story...

I create and sell handmade items on Etsy. My favorite medium is crochet and I am a proud member of The Artisan Group

Crafty Ridge is an eclectic blend of fun and unique crocheted items that can fit into just about anyone's life. There is a mix of fantasy and functionality in the items I have available. They are all handmade and have their individual quirks.

Being a SciFi geek and fantasy aficionado (summed up that means I'm a bit of a nerd) I love making anything from baby hats to the fun and unusual. I am inspired but just about anything. I love the fun and unusual, so I am pulled towards a lot of scifi and fantasy. However I also love creating beautiful accessories that everyone could use.

When I began crocheting my unique items it was just a fun way to create wearable art for family and friends. I never would have thought that it would have grown into something as great as Crafty Ridge. I am a proud member of the Artisan Group and through them I have been able to gift the beautiful and hilarious Amy Poehler as well as participate in the Press Bags at the 2013 Golden Globes and a Stylist bag full of items to be considered for ABC's hit show Pretty Little Liars. I thank my wonderful family and friends for being a ginormous support system and encouraging me to do what I love.
Here are links to five of my products

 I absolutely love my Bearded Viking and adore my Infinity Scarf in Oceans' which I sent to Amy Poehler, but honestly I think I fall in love with just about every creation for one reason or another. At least when I get it right.

Items by Crafty Ridge have been sent all over the world. In the past year I have sent Viking Helmets and Mohawk hats to the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic and New Zealand. At the moment I sell exclusively online with a few local bazaars and such mixed in.I am always looking to extend my business and get it out there.

Outside of Crafty Ridge, I am a full time mother of 2, and wife who is trying to build Crafty Ridge into my full time job.

Courtesy of Crafty Ridge

Courtesy of Crafty Ridge

Courtesy of Crafty Ridge

Hooked on Yarn, Connecticut  Hooked on Yarn CT's owner, Lori Byrne is a perfect example of having passion for one's work. Although this Connecticut native works full time, she finds the energy to knit and crochet her wonderful creations, two of which I proudly own. One of her beautiful scarves was featured on the ABC television show "The Middle"! (see below)

Courtesy Hooked on Yarn CT ( I have one of these slouchy hats in gray!!)

Courtesy Hooked on Yarn CT (This lovely scarf appeared on ABC's "The Middle").

This is moi! Custom fit, color, and I swear it was delivered as soon as I hit the send button on Paypal!! Someone told me it makes me look young!! I think I'll order one in every color!!!

MadiBella  Based in Tennessee, this lovely children's clothing line is owned and designed by the talented Charity Helvie...Here is Charity's story:

I'm Charity, the creator and founder of MadiBella. I love fabric and putting different fabrics together to create something fun, cute, and unique for your little blessings to wear! God gifted me with the ability to sew three years ago and brought me home from the corporate world of finance to raise my children and to open this little business of mine. As a member of The Artisan Group, I've had the privilege of gifting celebrities such as Giada De Laurentiis, Vanessa Lachey, and Alison Sweeney. I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to also gift some of my favorite musicians in the upcoming CMA awards! 

Courtesy of MadiBella

Courtesy of MadiBella

Courtesy of Madibella

Beautiful!! Where were you when my girls were little??

There are other talented TAG fiber artists I'm dying to tell you about!! Stay tuned for Part II!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What's On Tap?

Lot's of exciting things down the pike at Alexis Gopal Jewelry!! Although our event at New York Fashion Week this September was postponed until February, it's going to be bigger and better than last time!! Our new website is almost ready to go live...and yours truly even modeled for a couple of shots!!

We sent a pair of earrings to the hit television series "Pretty Little Liars"!!

I wonder which character will end up wearing them????

There's lot's more in the pipeline...but we can't spill the beans yet!!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Haute Couture for Pixie and Hazel: TAG Pet Artisans

Anyone who knows me, knows I love my Pixie and Hazel. Although I know they conspire to drive me crazy, like the time they dragged that dinosaur bone into the house. Or rolling around in the manure of some unknown beast, and coming in wagging their tails, as if nothing were wrong. Here they are, Pixie, my Maltese, and Hazel my Yorkie:

Pixie, don't let her cute face fool you...

Hazel, left. the mastermind of the operation, and Pixie, the first lieutenant

Me and Hazel, who is looking at Pixie, giving her the signal to grab the dinosaur bone...

Don't they look all cute and innocent??? Ha! Anyway, I do consider them my babies, and yes, I do dress them up for Halloween and Christmas, and other special occasions, they have winter jackets and sweaters (winters can be brutal in New England). Yes, I'm one of THOSE pet owners...that's right...I said it!

Where does one go to find Haute Couture for ones furry loved ones??? Well, look no further than The Artisan Group's very own Sophisticated Pup, owned by the gorgeous Michelle Cleek O'Halloren. Michelle's designs are sported by the pets of celebrities, and it's no wonder...they are amazing!! Much higher in quality, and unique than other pet clothing, Sophisticated Pup has been getting alot of media attention...

I asked Michelle to tell me a little about herself and her business, and here is what she said:

"Sophisticated Pup was started in January 2006 in Chicago, IL.  It was started shortly after getting my little pug, Penny.  Penny has always been the muse of my product line.  As a sufferer of Canine Liver Disease, she is a really special pup and one that is a constant inspiration and a pretty darn good model too!  

Our Mission:

Sophisticated Pup’s mission is to create truly unique, sophisticated, handcrafted pet apparel, furniture and accessories for the most lovable of dogs- which in our eyes is all dogs!  The products are not mass-produced, and due to the handcrafted artistry that goes into every piece of clothing, furniture or accessory, only limited amounts are created.  Sophisticated Pup uses only the highest quality materials in our designs.  

Sophisticated Pup is active in giving back to animal rescue groups and we make it a priority to donate product whenever possible to animal rescue groups in Chicago and the Midwest.  I pride myself in having unique products that are high-quality and beautiful.  Pet apparel should be both beautiful and functional.  We never want a dog wearing anything that will make it uncomfortable.  We dress our dogs to make them feel special, never to embarrass!

Through our affiliation with The Artisan Group, we have been fortunate enough to include our products in the celebrity swag bags at the 2012 MTV Movie Awards.  We have also gifted our products to celebrities Tori Spelling, Bethenny Frankel and Amy Poehler."  

The lovely Michelle Cleek O'Halloren at a trade show.

Actress Deborah Craig holding Sophisticated Pup at the 2012 GBK MTV Movie Award Gift Lounge

Courtesy Sophisticated Pup

Courtesy Sophisticated Pup

Michelle at one of her many TV appearances with reality TV star Teresa Guidice

I need to start my Christmas shopping early...
Thank you Sophisticated Pup!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Artisan Group - Pamper Yourself With Spa Quality Bath and Body Products

You know when you go to a spa, and there's that smell? That amazing, scent wafting through the air, lulling you into a state of bliss, while you get your massage, facial, or whatever indulgence you're there for?  I've always wanted that amazing scent in my home, and have tried for years to reproduce it, to no avail. There is no candle, air freshener, spray that can capture that essence.

One day I decided to turn my bathroom into my own mini-spa. I bought some rather expensive soaps, lotions, bath salts and other items from the mall. Some gave me a rash. Many had scents that were powerful and very artificial. None gave my bathroom the "scent".

As I started becoming familiar with the products being produced by The Artisan Group, I took notice of something. All the bath and body products were made of natural ingredients, most were free of chemicals. All looked so inviting, and so there was the beginning of a beautiful thing. I only purchase my bath and body products from TAG artists. Having high quality soaps and bath products makes you feel like a million, without breaking the bank in this economy. And my bathroom has the "scent".

Edensong Essentials   is based in Tennessee and was started in 1991 by the lovely Stephanie Rountree. Her company overview is as follows:

"EdenSong Essentials offers 100% raw edible natural organic skin care products of the highest quality from pure ingredients. Our exquisite scents and textures make it easy to go organic and natural. With our skin care products you can be confident knowing you aren't putting synthetics on your skin that may be absorbed into your body."

My very first bath and body purchases from TAG were from EdenSong Essentials:

No Pain Ya Balm by Edensong Essentials

Goddess Envy Moisturizer

Rapid Remedy Lip Balm

As I noted in my raves reviews left for Stephanie in multiple places, her products are indeed amazing.  Pain Ya Rub alleviated my aching mucsles, especially in my shoulders, and my face and lips were soft and smooth with the moisturizer and lip balm.  No wonder the Hollywood celebrities love her stuff!!!

Piccolo Paradiso was started in 2011 in Chicago, Illinois by the talented Rosalba Berardi. Her company profile is as follows:

"Piccolo Paradiso® products are handmade in small batches with lots of love. Our products are infused with the finest of pure essential oils, extracts, herbs and other earth derived ingredients and some fragrance oils. We hand blend all of these ingredients to create our distinctive designed soaps and products. 
Life's too short not to use the fancy soaps"~ Piccolo Paradiso®

Vino Soap by Piccolo Paradiso

La Luna Shave Soap by Piccolo Paradiso

Both of these soaps were amazing and luxurious...I never used shaving cream again after using the shave soap. The Vino soap was just exquisite. This company is another favorite of the Hollywood celebrities!! Check out her website to see who!!

Barefoot Bath and Body was started in 2008 by the lovely Deanna Thorsland Crowe in Minnesota. Her company profile states: "Barefoot Bath & Body is all about quality handmade products using kraft paper soap boxes made from 100% recycled materials and labeling made from 100% recycled paper. "

Citris Basil Soap by Barefoot Bath and Body

Green Apple Lip Balm by Barefoot Bath and Body

I posted a picture of the Citrus Basil Soap on Pinterest, and it has been favorited and reposted numerous times. I need to start a board just for TAG Bath and Body Products!!! This particular soap I took with me last week on vacation to Cape Cod, and it was wonderful!! So refreshing, and it smells wonderful!! Unfortunately, the lip balm was snatched out of my hands by my 14 year old daughter before I could try it, but allegedly, it is "Freaking amazing!!!"  Hollywood celebrities agree about all of Dee's products!

Scentability was founded in Wisconsin in 2009 by a lovely registered nurse named Tricia Hoffman Samundsen. She describes her company as follows:

Scentability specializes in quality, affordable handmade Bath, Body and Home Fragrance products. All my products are made in small batches and many made as they are ordered!

Scentability was officially established in June of 2009 by me, Tricia Samundsen. Starting out with just one size of handmade lotion, I have now expanded to dozens of items that can be custom made in over 350+ fragrances an
d essential oils! Each item is handmade by me, in my Workshop. Many of my fragrances and many of my products have come about by suggestions/special requests of friends, family and customers. I always welcome suggestions, requests, comments, compliments, etc.!

Shower Sinus Soothers by Scentability

Emu Olive Oil Soap and Holder by Scentability

Emu Olive Oil Soap and Holder by Scentability

Besides our mutual admiration for Tyler Perry, who I think would love her products, Tricia and I are both in the health field. I can appreciate the medicinal aspects of these products, especially the sinus soothers, with my allergy suffering daughter, and the emu/olive oil soap with all of us suffering from eczema/dryskin. These products are wonderful, and again, as noted with all the artists, a favorite with celebrities.

The Falcon Soaperie was founded in 2011 by the lovely New Yorker,  Jessica Falcon, in our native Queens, New York.  Jessica says "I make soaps from scratch, massage oils, soy candles, sugar scrubs, and customer perfume oils, as well as custom orders! All my products are natural, I even do organic baby oil gift sets. I love what I do!! I'm from New York City and I live in Queens. I've been making soaps since 2010 but officially started my business last summer. I have a husband who is a Police Officer for the NYPD and a Marine (served a tour in Afghanistan last summer) and we have an awesome and brilliant 3yr old daughter (one of my main inspirations for making all natural skin care products) ". 

We at the Artisan Group are very proud that The Falcon Soaperie sent 50 of their finest soap scrubs overseas to 50 female soldiers who are currently deployed. Our hats off to you, Jessica!! Here are some of her amazing products!

Products by The Falcon Soaperie

Patchouli Soap Puff by The Falcon Soaperie

Cirmes Tonsorial Parlour  was founded in 2011 in Iowa by the dapper Andrew Fuller to fill the grooming needs of men everywhere, including hunky Hollywood celebrities. Andrew states "Cirmes Tonsorial Parlour uses only the finest ingredients to create marvelous wonders for men, combining them with sophisticated, yet peculiar and intoxicating aromatic blends. It is our hope to bring the art, the benefits, and the joys of straight razors and mug soaps to a new generation as well as the old. What was once a mundane chore for every man whose 5 o'clock shadow arrives at 2 can be transformed into a personal, relaxing, and exhilirating experience for the mind, body, and spirit."  I personally purchased a few bottles of preshave oil as Father's Day gifts for some friends, and they loved it!!

Cirmes Preshave Oil

Rick Otto Snagging Himself a Bottle of Cirmes Preshave Oil at the 2012 GBK Productions Academy Awards Gift Lounge!

Lovely table display at the 2012 GBK Productions Academy Awards Gift Lounge!

Anatomy Naturals was started in Pennsylvania in 2010 by the lovely and talented Kelly Green.  Of her business, Kelly says "I want every customer to feel like they are receiving a special gift from a friend. From opening the box to discovering the lovely packaging to using the pampering products, I want each customer to be delighted by the whole Anatomy Naturals experience." Her products:

All natural gourmet skin care products handcrafted in small batches using pure, simple, and nourishing ingredients. Artfully labeled and thoughtfully packaged.

Anatomy Naturals Gentle Facial Cleanser

Anatomy Naturals Citris and Basil Body Scrub

Anatomy Naturals Revitalizing Mud Mask

Amazingly, Kelly also does her own artwork for her beautiful labels!! Stunning!!

BidwellBotanicals was started by lovely Jill Burrows Jones in 2002 in Georgia. She states:
The Bidwell Botanicals philosophy is to offer naturally based skincare with luxurious ingredients that are easy to understand and produce effective results. Bidwell Botanicals believes in the value of making time for self with simple indulgences, and that fully understanding what’s put on and in the body is important and empowering.

Lush Lip Care by Bidwell Botanicals

"Mojito" Shea Butter Sugar Scrub by Bidwell Botanicals

Zen Hemp Handmade Artisan Soap by Bidwell Botanicals

My all time favorite product from Bidwell Botanicals is their French Lavender Bath Salts. A scoopful in a tub of hot water turns me into a new woman. The scent is rejuvenating, and my 
skin is always silky smooth afterwards. 

FYI Readers!!! All of the above extremely talented artisans have been nominated for the American Made Awards Presented By Martha Stewart!!!!! Please visit their pages and comment!! Voting begins September 7th! Good luck to all of these amazing artists!!