PaperQueen | Queen & Grace 2016 Year
2016 is coming to a close and we wanted to send out a note of gratitude to all of you who have supported PaperQueen and Queen & Grace this year. We had an exceptionally interesting year and wanted to share a few of our 2016 highlights...
My husband texted me at 10:30pm asking when I would be home. (I was out with a girlfriend and he had been out with work colleagues.) I didn't respond right away. He texted me again at 10:40pm, asking again. Strange, I thought. I hastily wrapped up my wine drinking and went home to find him sitting on the sofa, waiting anxiously for me. He had the expression of a kid, ready to spill either really good or really bad news to a parent. Oh dear. "Sit down" he said. Oh God. "I've been asked to take a full time position in Shanghai starting in two weeks and I'm not accepting it unless you come with me. Will you come?" Hmmm. After four minutes of me questioning him intensely I said yes. (I'm sure the wine helped.) Life changing moment.
Turned off my website, packed, went to airport. It was that easy. Two weeks after I arrived I went on a cashmere tour. Little did I know that it would change my business entirely. Started a Blog.
(Walking into the cashmere wholesale market in the middle of nowhere. It's funny how life works...)
(View of the Bund from Mercato restaurant. Great restaurant with an even greater view.)
Decided to design Felt Totes and the "Ultimate Clutch", taking advantage of the incredible connections I made and getting access to so many factories. My creative juices were flowing! Finally my Fashion Design schooling could be put to work.
People started ordering cashmere off my blog, before I even began selling cashmere.
(The Ultimate Clutch)
(Felt totes, available in five colours and two sizes. Small size shown $75. Large, $85. Wearing a Cashmere Button wrap $125. Weekend Waterford plastic glasses, $24 set of eight.
Returned to Vancouver with a grand assortment of jewelry, handbags, cashmere, silk scarves. Procrastinated all weekend before going back to work. I knew once I walked in to my office Shanghai would become a distant memory. Went to the gym work out Monday morning, still procrastinating, when Hallmark emailed me, mid treadmill run, asking if I would be interested in designing them a collection of greeting cards. Ummm, let me think about that.... I emailed them back, treadmill still running, saying exactly this "I've been waiting 21 years for this email. Yes, I would love to." Got off treadmill and went back to work.
Held a Trunk Show in Dunbar showcasing the cashmere and everything else I sourced in Asia. The response to the Queen & Grace collection was overwhelming. Ran out of inventory and had to take orders. I realized Vancouver is really in need of more good quality, well priced accessories to choose from. Maybe I am on to something. A very successful show, validating my hunch...
(Cashmere blanket/large wrap - $175 - available in many gorgeous colours)
(Cashmere Button Wrap - $125)
(Cashmere Button Wrap can be worn several ways - $125)
My husband came back from his two month job, six months later. I knew that would happen.
Turned 49. Sweet baby Jesus!
JULY & AUGUST
Hallmark owned my summer. The drawings were the easy part, the copy was the tricky part. They prefer sweet sayings, I prefer salty. I would send them suggestions of sweet copy and sprinkle them with the odd shit, piss, damn, fuck just for fun. They would howl with laughter and say they found it madly humorous but that it was not Hallmarks brand so they couldn't use it. Sigh... I continued coming up with sweet and sappy. It was very challenging but I got it done. I will be part of their Hallmark Signature Collection as one of their Canadian designers sold in over 200 stores in Spring, 2017.
(Thinking of doing a series of black Indian inked drawings, prints, mugs, cards. Yes? No?)
(When I wasn't drawing, I was imbibing with my Boating Baccarat, with friends and my fabulous husband)
Hit the road to California on a ten day art Gallery tour, wine tasting road trip from LA to Napa.
(Art gazing at the Getty Museum, LA)
Flew to Rome for a four day intensive buying trip for Queen & Grace. Hired a translator and was introduced to the garment and wholesale district in Rome. OMG! It was a surreal experience to say the least. Checked six hockey bags of inventory onto the plane...
(In Italy, my happy place. Adding up the days damage on my buying trip in Rome.)
(Frieze art show in London, England before Rome. I LOVE London.)
Hosted first of five Trunk Shows in six weeks. West Vancouver, Dunbar, Victoria, Point Grey and Hollyburn. This is when business gets C-R-A-Z-Y! Holiday season is in full swing. Totally fun, social, exciting. The entire year of planning, buying, preparing is now presented to you all. Thank you for supporting me and what I do. Because of your enthusiasm I keep doing what I'm doing.
(Canada Post loves me...)
Business was in full frenzied turbo mode right up until Christmas. Feeling a tad burned out. Slipped on ice, black eye and concussion. Definitely time to slow down. I've recovered - not many Christmas photos though - not a good look!
Got asked to do a very exciting show in the New Year. Details to follow.
There have been (many) times that I thought of wrapping up my business. Either selling or closing. It HAS been 21 years after all. But because you are so enthusiastic and supportive of the direction my business is going, I continue. I want to thank you again for supporting, encouraging, buying, telling your friends, sending your friends, and generally being such awesome supporters, connectors, friends and customers. It is a pleasure doing business with you all.
Wishing you the very best for a new and exciting 2017. It's only as good as you make it... so get out there and make it great!! xx
PS And here a shout out to my darling friends that took me in their tribe, making my experience in Shanghai so much better and brighter by showing me my way in Shanghai and teaching me how to be a true Tai Tai. xx
(The Tai Tai's)
PPS And to my darling tribe. I love you and am so proud to call you my family. xxx
(Taken December 29, 2016)
Wow, what a year you’ve had. Congratulations on the Hallmark deal. I missed a lot of your e-mail when I first looked at it, but have spent the last hour looking at it. I enjoyed it so much, and it was so well put together. Just want you to know how many compliments I’ve had on my new coat [cape]. I love it. Continued success in your endeavors, and Happy New Year to you and your family. Good health, many happy times, and much prosperity, and no more falls. Loads of good wishes, Helen.