Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Splendor In The Grass

Black Lotus, Medina Maitreya (of Salomes' Suitcase) and Kami Liddle went out into the wilds somewhere in the East Bay hills for this photo shoot! They battled snakes and wild cows and Mountain Lions to get this shot! I love the whole composition - the hair - the clothes - the setting - the photography. Its just lovely! While I enjoy seeing Gorgeous Belly Dancers in their amazing costumes, its nice to see them wearing fashion as well. They are true Trend Setters!!!!!

Kami is gorgeous anyway...........but these photos are just lovely!

Kami is wearing stretch velvet Sampants - often copied, I might add, and the subject of my previous rant.
I was very upset. I know there is nothing that can be done, really about pirates, but it does help to know that I have the ability to modify this design (and all my others) to fit the hard to fit - which the pirates cant and wont do. This copying for profit practice does hurt designers, and it does hurt my business, but it just forces me to move on to other things..........I'll make it work to my advantage somehow. We all must.

I love this corset vest also. I want one and I have to get Medina to make me a much larger version somehow! (pretty please) This is your classic example of why we should try to buy from the designer. Sure I have the capability of making something similar. But would it be the same? No. Same Fabric? No. Same flair? No. Would it fit the same? No. Do I have the time? NO. Will it help the economy and help keep someone in business? Yes.

So There.

Model: Kami Liddle
Photo: Black Lotus
Corset Vest, Camisole, Hair, Makeup: Medina Maitreya
Pants: KathleenCrowleyCostmeCouture
Earrings: Auberon

Ok. So I lied about battling the snakes, wild cows, and mountain lions............but they could have!

Monday, March 22, 2010


I have been very happy here on Albion Street, but its getting a little cramped for space and Ive been on a little search to see whats out there in the way of work spaces. I have my criteria. It has to be a very short walking distance to my house.  This doesn't seem unreasonable as I am so very close to buildings that house creative types. There are several big buildings near me that are devoted to artists and the like. Some of the spaces are really beautiful but the rents for the space I need are still a bit more than I can cough up in this economy. There is something out there with light and love - I know it. I see them sometimes on Craigslist. But I am officially putting my request out there to the Universe. I am willing to share with the right person. Im in no super hurry. But I would like more room for all those big fancy ball gowns that I envision.

I wont be getting this:

But I would like it to be bigger than this:

Just sayin.,.........Santa can come early if he wants................

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Message To The Consumer

About a week ago, I got fed up and angry with all the people who have copied my designs for production and profit. Last year, I was wondering where my customers were going and I found some copycats knocking me off here and in Canada. Well, this is what I wrote last week on Facebook and the response was pretty amazing. I wrote this not only with myself in mind (although I have been plenty worried for me) but for all my freinds, collegues, and people that I respect and admire.

This is not a black and white subject as there are many variables and reasons for why people do the things they do. But this is how I feel. Something has to change.

Enjoy the read whether you agree with me or not.


                                            A Message To The Consumer

Lately business almost everywhere has tanked. It has tanked for just about everyone. People don't have the spare cash they used to have. Or if they have it, they are fearfully hanging onto every penny for dear life. I get it. We're in a Depression. Things have changed. They will get better, but things have to change before it gets better and we are very uncomfortable for now.

My business has tanked as well. I turned away from my custom clothing business a few years ago and focused on a few products that were becoming popular in our little belly dance community and were actually starting to pay my rent and put food on the table. And as this is my sole means of support in an extremely expensive part of the world, you can imagine how happy this was making me. I wasn't running out and buying myself expensive shoes and clothing, I wasn't filling my flat with velvet curtains, lush rugs, and satin sheets, but I was able to run over to Ikea now and then and buy pattern boxes or a cheap little throw rug. I was able to keep buying fabric to make more things. My name got out there and I was able to take care of my basic needs. The future was looking up for this starving artist type.

And then, as is what always happens to those of us who have put forth great ideas or concepts and do not have the means to mass market/mass produce/have a backer or a second or third income coming in, we get squashed. We go under. We go work for the man and often disappear entirely. This is about to happen to me, I fear. I hope not. But the danger is ever present.

Over the last few years, I focused on putting out designs and products that were special, different, fit well, were well designed, and made you feel good about wearing. I created my price points to allow me to eat, buy more fabric to make more things, and to hopefully be affordable for most.

There are two well known "designers" - one here in California and one in Canada, besides a few smaller others, who have taken my designs and mass produced them or are trying to. They sell them online. They sell them at festivals and events. People are buying their products and not buying mine now - the very same thing, basically, and I'm close to going under. My product is better. It is lovelier, it is well made, it is unique (or was at any rate), and you may no longer be able to buy my wares soon , because there will be no point in my trying to make them for you. I have asked these women to cease and desist. They refuse. They claim that they too are running women owned businesses and gotta do what they gotta do. This just backs up my claim that most women are vicious and all this talk about supporting your sisters is bullshit. (sorry, a little anger here) I did make peace with one person who is doing her product a bit differently, but it was still too close to comfort for me.

My patterns are copyrighted, they cannot be reproduced for mass consumption unless by me, and my resources for fighting back have dwindled now because people are going for the knock offs. But I'm not letting go of this. If it doesn't help me, maybe it will help someone else down the road.

This happens over and over and over and over. Piracy is deadly to small artists and designers who cannot defend themselves. I have been harping on this for years now. I dropped the ball for a while, but its time to get back in the saddle again and speak up. When you buy knock offs, you are usually getting an inferior product, are making a purchase from a pirate who did not do the original hundreds of dollars of work that it takes to get an idea into public domain, they do not have the skills or talent that the originator of the idea has - although they often think they do and DO have the skills to snow you, the consumer, and they are taking money away from the person who started the idea. They care nothing about what happens to the originator of the idea/design. They want to steal their ideas, claim them as their own, and hope that the original goes away. This is about greed and nasty competition. This is happening in our belly dance community. Tribal. Wasn't it supposed to be better than that?

While I am not trying to sound whiny, it is happening to me and my colleagues at a very bad time. And I want the public and the consumer to be aware that this is happening all around them. Not everyone can be aware of these things. I doubt that most care. But for those who have a conscience and do care, please buy from the original designers. You are getting a piece of the artists soul. Our designs are our babies. Its what we are here on earth for - to create. We deserve as nice a life as anyone. We deserve a living wage and our prices have to reflect that. I know that most dont think of these things. I hear so often. "you want that for this?" Yet you want beauty and special things in your life. You have to provide the maker the means to do these things for you. Its not rocket science.

And is this piracy thing an ok thing to teach our children? We teach them not to steal, but we are stealing on a day to day basis when we don't buy the original product. This makes us hipocrits. Like with any product on the market: know what it is. Know whats in it. Know where it came from. Know who's behind it. Know what this product is doing to your environment and the living things in it.

Please note that I am not talking about being inspired by something and making your version of it. I am not talking about making something for yourself, your friends, your troupe, or your family. I am always pushing, pushing, pushing people to sew, to make, to create, to buy supplies and fabrics - to support the dwindling fabric stores and the almost non existent fabric industry in this country.

I WANT people to be creative. I want everyone to find their creative "Happy Place" and luxuriate there........what I am pushing for here is awareness of piracy for profit. Its not fair. Its not cool. Its deadly.

Thank you.

Model: Kristine Adams
Photo: Kristine Adams

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thank you Ireland

Well, I did it. I almost forgot all about St. Paddy's Day today. I guess the realization last year that I'm not as Irish as I had been led to believe during my formative years got to me and my Irish side shut down. My Irish friends have been very nice about this, but still........its not the same.

However, I did start thinking about my Godfather, Andy Caverly. He came from Ireland and I always remember him looking like a leprechaun. He actually did when he was older. He was so proud of being Irish, although he lived here in the states, that he dyed his hair green every year and led the St. Patricks' Day parade. I remember him as being very kind and very jolly. I think the story goes that he befriended my mom at their church in Alameda, California, and introduced her to my dad. If I'm wrong, I'm sure someone will correct me.

I went to my Grandma Crowley's funeral with he and some of my sisters in the same limo. I was pregnant with my son. For some reason, the limo driver took us to the protestant cemetery by mistake and we ended up laughing our asses off. He said my Grandma was up in heaven enjoying the moment. I'll never forget that. I think he knew her better than I did.

So if it were not for the doing of the Irish, I would not be here. I would not be of Irish descent. I would not be creative. I would not live in this great nation. I would not be.

Thank you Ireland. I love you more than you know.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Rashani World Fusion

Rashani World Fusion is performing at L's cafe
Friday March 19th
2871 24th St @ Bryant
San Francisco
1st and 2nd Friday every month!
7 and 9 pm

As if I dont have enough on my plate these days, I have gone and joined a dance troupe - or I should say, a "collective", as there are so many good dancers out there who just need/want to dance with joy, put on a great show, and show off their strengths without the rigorous commitment of a troupe. (not that there has not been years of rigorous training and commitment, here, folks!)

Wendy Marlatt has brought  Rashani World Fusion to SF and I have such a great time dancing/ putting on performances with her. This is going to be great!!!!!! 

Come check it out, have a glass of wine, chill, and support a great little neighborhood cafe!!!!!!

Rashani World Fusion

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Zambra Fusion Bellydance

My dance buddy and good friend, Wendy Marlatt is back in San Francisco again after living many years in Dublin, Ireland. And while Ireland and the UK now miss her, I missed her more! I did get to go stay with Wendy and her charming husband in their fabulous loft deep in the heart of the city. I did get to go hang out in the lands of my ancestors, meet many wonderful people and have great fun, but its always nice to get your friends back after they have been gone such a long, long time!

Wendy and I started dancing around the same time at the FatChanceBellyDance studio. She took ATS abroad and spread the love - spread the word! She formed her own troupe - Rashani International, studied under the finest teachers here and overseas, hosted the best of the best who came to teach and perform in Dublin, developed her own style and has now brought it back full circle. She has pulled me out of semi retirement, has commenced teaching me fun new steps, and Rashani World Fusion Bellydance is now based in SF!

Zambra is a really fun, flirty, graceful, feminine dance!!!!!!!! Come to her workshops !!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Chris March goes to the Oscars!

Way to go Chris! Once again, Meryl Streep outshines everyone with her elegance and poise!

I was down in the LA area this weekend, but had to drive home during the Oscars - knowing this dress was going to get so much attention! It was killing me! I ran to my computer as soon as I made the 7 hour drive home. Im so proud. I'm so happy when people I care about get the kudos they deserve. Isnt she lovely?

Not that there were not many, many lovely gowns to swoon over, but this is how I would feel most comfortable dressing for something of this magnitude. So many dresses wear the actress. But not this one. Its perfect.