CurveNY interview

Mcpete Sez Lingerie Newsletter and Women’s Wear journal interviewed Jacqueline while we were in New York. Check out the video!

From Maker to Making a Living

Do you ever feel like your entrepreneurial skills are not up to par with your creative instinct? Do you wish there had been just one business class at art school? Are you facing more questions than answers related to your craft business? Our very own Jacqueline Sava has the solutions for you.

From Maker to Making a Living is a workshop series designed to guide craftspeople through the process of understanding, designing and building their individual businesses. Led by maker and award winning business leader Jacqueline Sava, attendees will be guided through an eight-part series of lectures, exercises and activities focused on the development of their own craft-based business practices.

The knowledge and skills obtained in these workshops will allow makers to successfully balance their personal craft philosophies with the realities of marketing, selling and profiting from their businesses. At the end of the workshop series, each craftsperson will have a custom plan to ensure a successful transition from where they are to where they want to be, and balance their personal craft philosophy with the realities of marketing, selling and profiting from business.

WHEN: From Maker to Making a Living will take place as eight evening sessions between 6:30 – 8:30 pm on the following dates, in Toronto, ON Canada:
Monday, October 3: Myth busting. Making money is okay.
Tuesday, October 4: Options. Exploring without losing your soul.
Tuesday, October 11: Personal branding. Understanding your purpose.
Wednesday, October 12: Business goals. Defining a vision.
Monday, October 17: Costing per product. Am I really making money?
Tuesday, October 18: Costing in general. All the other expenses.
Monday, October 24: Selling. Wholesale, retail, pricing, and all that jazz.
Tuesday, October 25: Charting the course. Deciding which way to go.

To register for this course, visit the Ontario Crafts Council website here.

CurveNY 2011

After spending 5 days in Portland, Chris and I boarded a plane to meet Jacqueline in New York City.

These great ruffle panties are from our friends at Lavit

I’m usually the behind the scenes person that handles all the logistics for tradeshows so it was nice to attend and meet many of the faces that I only knew through email correspondance. I stepped into the showroom and was surrounded by the most beautiful and luxurious lingerie. You know, the kind that you save up to buy that will make your partner’s jaw hit the ground. I actually aquired a few new pieces that I’ll talk about in a later post.

Lacey was formally introduced to all of our lingerie stores and she was an instant hit. Our customers couldn’t wait to add her to their store collection.

Lacey at the Soak booth

While walking around and taking in all that New York has to offer, Jacqueline and Chris stumbled across this great vintage shop full of clothes, purses and shoes. Of course it wouldn’t be a complete New York trip without trying on a pair or two of beautiful shoes.

While on the topic of pretty shoes, I wanted to share some great whites ones that we saw at Lille Boutique in Portland.

This lingerie boutique was very minimal in their selection but every item looked like it was carefully hand picked and beautiful .

All in all, it was a very successful and fun week but boy was I ever happy to sleep in my own bed again.

Sock Summit 2011

Chris and I are finally home after a long week of beautiful yarns, delicious donuts, and friendly people. I think I will have to add Portland to my list cities that I love. The weather was great, the transit system was efficient, and their downtown had great restaurants, cute shops, great food carts and one giant book store.

We saw people carrying these bright  pink boxes around and heard that you can’t go to Portland without having a VooDoo donut. I choose the maple bacon which actually have a full strip of bacon on top of it. As we walked along the river, we noticed that there was a beer festival being held and stopped in to look around. We met some sheep that were about to get sheared. Look at that face! We saw a lot of beautiful yarns. The Sincere Sheep is a company that uses all natural dyes to create these beautiful colours. We’ll talk more about them in a later post.Hundreds of people showed up to participate in the super secret flash mob dance incorporating colourful skeins of yarn! Here’s the youtube video of the dance courtesy of ‘knittinglikecrazy’ Along with all the yarns, there were also great embellishments including these cute buttons from Jennie the Potter.  There were lots of great pairs of hand knit socks! And of course it wouldn’t be a knitting show without some yarn bombing. We had a great time and can’t wait until next year! Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth to say hi.

TNNA Columbus 2011

TNNA is always a great trade show. I particularly love the Columbus show. With the North Market for excellent lunches, Jeni’s ice cream, Pam’s popcorn and On Paper stationery store just down the road, what’s not to love?

There is always something weird and wonderful happening after show hours at the Hyatt bar. Sadly we missed the night that Amy Singer played her ukulele and everyone sang like they were sitting around a campfire. Happily we didn’t miss the night that Alisha pulled a taxidermy grizzly bear head out of her suitcase and proceeded to knit a massive ‘bear skin rug’. That bear became famous at the show. Everyone wanted to take a picture with it.

We got to see old friends.

Dave from Louet doing a weaving demonstration
Ravelry with their first booth at TNNA.  As a footnote, they are a truly innovative company.

We met some new friends.

Marly Bird, host of The Yarn thing Podcast

We bought another Namaste purse even though we swore we wouldn’t.The fabulous new mini messenger bag from Namaste

We celebrated milestones.
5 years of Potter Craft

We spent time admiring pretty yarn. Be Sweet booth
Koigu booth

We launched new products.

Lorna’s Laces new Solemate. It contains a fiber that interacts with your body’s microclimate to moderate temperature. Out of this world!

We decided Nancy from Namaste was our favourite person when she showed up to a bar wearing this

Summer reading at Soak

As you may know, we are big fan of continuing education and ongoing professional development. Here’s how summer reading contributes to ongoign learning at the Soak office.

Summer book clubs. Oprah had one, elementary school suggest them, my mom is part of one as is my best friend. We have our own version here at the Soak office.

Here’s how it works.

  1. Each person selects two books.
  2. For each book read they get one day off of their choice during the summer. It’s not really an extra day off, but more a day of reading, anywhere they choose, other than the office. (8 hours per book, 2 books = 2 days off)
  3. While reading they consider the following questions about the books and keep notes of interesting findings they might like to share:
  • Why am I interested in this book? What drew me to it? Where did I hear about it?
  • How is the content of this book going to help me be more effective in my job?
  • How is the knowledge gained from reading this book going to contribute to a culture of learning at Soak?

   4.  In the fall, we have a luncheon round-up where each person tells everyone else about their reading and learning experience. That’s it!

My summer reading? I was the first to pick this summer. I am reading Sean Moffitt’s new book Wikibrands. Sean is a good friend and brilliant marketing guy. Check him out if you haven’t heard of him. I’ve also suggested Ngoc, our awesome marketing coordinator read this book. Sometimes I suggest books, sometimes I get introduced to new books!

My second book is a sequel to last year’s summer reading. The book strategy is the same as last year, we modified the ‘time in lieu’ part. Last year we tried to close early every Friday at 3pm (2hrs x 8 weeks = 2 days). We were always busy and it didn’t work so well.

Anyhow, back to my books. last summer I borrowed ‘Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time’, by Howard Schultz from my friend Gilad. It’s a great story on building brand, business and selling great products. It’s no wonder I was interested in it. You should read it. So, this summer, on my recent road trip to Montreal, I picked up Schultz’ second book ‘Onward‘ available in-store for their 40th anniversary. I plan on reading it at the cottage while drinking my morning coffee. I think it will enhance the overall summer reading experience.

Summer reading is important, so we stay up to date on current business books, biographies or whatever else is going on in the world outside Soak. If you work as hard as we do, you probably don’t have enough time to read either. We are busy, so it’s important to schedule in learning. We always want to spend more summer time in the sun, so in the summer, I offer up reading and relaxing away from the office. When the rest of our team sorts out their books, we’ll be sure to share them with you. I hope they do it soon, no reading, no extra sunshine!

What are you reading this summer? What books would you recommend?

Exciting delivery.

We received an envelope this morning and much to our enjoyment, it was the April Spring issue of Martha Stewart Living. Flip to page 38 and you’ll find Soak featured under “75 Spectacular Spring Things”!

It’s been an exciting day for us media-wise as we’ve received news that we’re also in Chatalaine for the April Issue as well on page 89! We haven’t seen it ourselves yet but you can bet we’ll be picking up the issue.

I have been reminded of Spring all morning. First it was the brightly coloured fabrics shown on Red Pepper Quilt’s blog. And then these magazine spring issues. Not to mention the sunny skies and melting snow. If you’re anything like me, and can’t wait for spring cleaning time (not because I enjoy cleaning, but because it means warmer weather is just around the corner) than perhaps a brightly coloured Carrie or Phil basin can help you with a few jobs around the house.

Spring uses for Carrie and Phil

Clean your blinds. Fill up a basin with some warm water and Soak and dip a wash cloth in the water to wipe down your blinds. It’s amazing how much dust can accumulate on each blade. 

Wash your winter accessories. Carrie’s larger size makes her great for hand washing several pairs of mittens, scarves and hats all at the same time.

If you are a big gardener, the basins are great for outdoor use. They are great for holding soil and fertilizer or to keep your bulbs and roots in one place.

Do you have any other ideas of uses for our vibrant basins? We’d love to hear them.

Heel – Round Table

Amy Singer, editor and writer at often does reviews on new yarns and knitting accessories. We joined her last month at the Purple Purl as she and a group of reviewers tried out our newest product, Heel. All of our reviewers came with their current knitting projects and eagerly waited to find out what they were going to test this week.  

 We received a lot of great feedback. You can find Amy Butler’s review here. I’ve summerized a few of the key comments that we received.

“I like the spearmint. It’s cool and I think in the summer, it’s going to feel good too.”
“It’s a little greasy, and I like that. It feels more like a lotion than a cream. It could go in a pump.”
“It’s a lovely consistency and it disappeared into my hands right away.”
“I didn’t find it greasy at all, in fact, I’m knitting with it right away afterwards and it’s not affecting me in any way.”
“Definitely not greasy — almost like the moisture is sealed in to my skin now. Very nice.” – Amy Singer

Thank you so much to all the lovely reviewers. If you’ve tried Heel, we’d love to hear your thoughts on our newest product.

Business is cool | Design Strategy Part 2

Author: Jacqueline

Everyone thinks that if you just make a better mouse trap, you’ll be rich. Each business discipline has its own priorities in terms of mouse trap function and profit. As designers, we want to understand it all.

Sales thinks… that without them, there is no business- your mouse trap is nothing, if I don’t sell it.

Marketing thinks… if nobody knows there’s a new mouse trap, who cares?

Finance/business thinks… if it’s just about the bottom line, the trap isn’t important.

Designer thinks… if I design a better mouse trap, it will sell.

Design must be all encompassing. One must understand all aspects and priorities in order to create useful products.

In the second part of the design strategy course, we dive into marketing. We talk about marketing as part of the strategic mix, not to become professional marketers, but to be able to understand what marketing is all about when in a business or client meeting.

We skim the surface of famed marketing terms such as the 4 P’s, (Product, Price, Place, Promotion), we look at types of products (core, functional, augmented, potential) and try to define the ‘true’ solution a consumer is seeking when they look at goods or services. We stop for a while on pricing products, understanding how value compares with price (why starbucks can charge 4x more for coffee than say, Tim Horton’s or the local gas station) and why people pay more for certain things. We close off understanding how to define consumer needs and target markets. When we move towards the world of understanding brands, we look at product lifecycles, adoption curves and a few other marketing fundamentals.

It’s important to note that this marketing research is done in the context of the business strategy (which we learned how to analyze in the first part of the course). If we don’t have context, all the marketing research in the world won’t help our products succeed. That’s just my opinion, based on lots and lots of experience.

You might have the same glazed over look my students did this week in class as you read over these topics. I’m okay with that. It’s not that our designer/ students need to master brand strategy. If they did, they’d go get degrees in Marketing. They need to be familiar with the concepts and terms, so they can work well alongside marketers and agencies collaborating on client projects.

Should you feel the need to understand these points further, I would direct you towards our course text book, my favorite marketing book for non-marketing majors, ‘Marketing a roadmap to Success’ by Ajay K. Sirsi. Professor Sirsi was one of my MBA Profs at Schulich School of Business and he wrote this book to help simplify marketing terminology for us mere mortals, who don’t have the time for four inch thick text books. Happy reading.

Birthday Celebrations

Congratulations to The Workroom in Toronto who celebrated their birthday on the weekend.

For those of you who haven’t heard of The Workroom, it’s a great place to sew, knit, quilt, and make new friends.

Karen, the owner, had a little party to celebrate full of great food and fun prizes. We included a fun raffle prize that included a Carrie basin, some fun yarn (thanks to Louet for the contribution), a bottle of Unleash, a travel pack, and some great knitting books. If you didn’t win the Soak prize but still want to get your hands on a Carrie basin, you can purchase one from our online store.


Thanks Jean for taking these great photos!