Archive for March, 2020

Here we are, new day, slightly different view (it’s the weekend, cue the 20 ft. shift from the office to the studio) and rapidly evolving world statistics that change by the hour.  There’s nothing like a week of alone time in the ‘home office’ to trigger a metaphorical drive down the mental super highway at breakneck speed towards introspective reflection. Given we’re all finding ourselves confined to the four walls of #wfh environments these days, I anticipate many reading this might feel the same. This post has a decidedly different flavor from those shared previously on Around the Pound – more personal (notice a switch to ‘I’ instead of ‘we’), no fancy layout or pretty picture collage, and yet, I hope equally inspiring (maybe even more so) as any other morsel of content crafted here over the past 8 years. In case it wasn’t obvious from the frequent flatline of postings over the years, I’ll let you in on a little secret, The Gilded Lobster isn’t my main gig. Shocked? That means I’ve done a really good job of keeping things buttoned up over here, as a very private individual and introvert, it’s what we do best. For purposes of this quite personal post, here’s the abridged back story to provide context of what I’m really here to share today.

I launched TGL in 2012, like one’s go-to accessory, in complement to a full-time career in the fashion industry. A side hustle if ever there was one, TGL offered a much-needed escape opportunity to extend knowledge and experience beyond my 9-5 (if anyone has worked in fashion, you know those hours are irrelevant, but stick with me for purposes of story-telling). Before hours, after hours, on weekends (any free moment, really), at TGL I was working with a small group of clients providing consulting services in creative direction, brand positioning, sourcing, product development, etc., all while maintaining a demanding day job inclusive of a daily five hour (yes, you read that correctly) five hour roundtrip commute to Manhattan from our home in New England. I finally acknowledged life was passing me by faster than the scenery outside my train window, and quite honestly, I was exhausted. In 2014, the captain and I purchased our Gilded Getaway House in Newport. Meant to provide solace from the hustle + bustle of weekday life, we were left clamoring to spend as much time on its sandy beaches and rocky cliffs as our so-called primary life would allow. It was A LOT. In 2015, I made the difficult decision to shutter the business operations of TGL, while keeping the platform you know here as a canvas to continue sharing what inspired me personally as a designer. In tandem, I accepted it was finally time to explore professional opportunities closer to home, a scary venture given I’d be hedging a well-established career in an industry known not to have too many wide-reaching options outside the mecca of Manhattan, at least, not without making major life changes we weren’t ready to explore just yet.

Pre-virus (is that what this will come down to, another defining pre- and post-era in our history books?), I was recently asked to share one of the times I was most challenged as a leader (clearly the universe was somehow preparing me). No pause needed, flash-back five years (hence the back story). I was in pursuit of a career change to be closer to home, polishing up the portfolio, refining the resume and aggressively pursuing leads. Setting: Memorial Day, 2015. Sitting in a Florida airport waiting for a return flight home to New England after a long-weekend getaway, an unknown number rang my cell. It was the boyfriend of one of my team Creative Directors. There had been an accident, (in respect of privacy, won’t share too many details) resulting in paralysis. I don’t remember the flight home or if I even slept that night. However, what I remember as distinctly as yesterday were the weeks that followed. The next morning I was tasked with sharing the news with her team of direct reports – a group of ~ten, young, earnest female designers and product developers finding their way in a dog-eat-dog design world. Tears and quiet silence, followed by questions about what would happen next – lots of them. Next, the broader design department, 45 strong. Then the sales team, the production department – the story repeated within our small-ish company until I had recapped everything I knew 10x over in our office overlooking the bustle of Broadway in the heart of Herald Square. When it was over, I went into my office, closed the door and bawled.

Little did her direct team (or anyone at the company for that matter) know, behind the scenes I was already well into an external interview process that if things went according to the plan I hoped for, would likely remove me, the ‘boss’ boss’ from their world as well. I had hired nearly all of her team personally, traveled with many of them to lands near and far and taught them everything I knew about design and the industry. For the two months that followed, I did everything within me to be the best leader I knew how to be, a source of unwavering strength and poise, while channeling whatever iota of creativity and design DNA I could muster, maintaining timelines (which in fashion, are unforgiveable), answering to client accounts and providing empathy to a team that was starting to accept the sad reality – their boss, but more importantly, colleague, friend and mentor, would likely never return to the office.  In the end, I was offered and accepted the position I was pursuing, and in a conversation equally as difficult as the one that post-Memorial Day Tuesday, shared with the same team that I would be leaving my creative post after more than eight years with the company. Deep down I knew it a decision in pursuit of a well-balanced life, and yet, felt in prioritization of myself, I had in some manner betrayed each of them personally; the individual they were counting on to lead them through this difficult time would soon also be gone. My final day in the office, after a surprise farewell party, I retreated to my office, closed the door one last time and bawled (again).

In the wake of our current state of affairs, it seems there are articles on every professional platform, headlines like ‘Leading in Times of Trauma’ to ‘How to Lead in a Crisis’ flooding the inbox. The truth is, while providing a good point of reference, these articles can never really prepare you fully for how you, or your teams, will react. In the past two weeks, I was transported emotionally to that period five years ago. Thankfully, not due to someone being sick or critically injured on my team, but because in the blink of an eye, people were tasked to process the unprecedented and turned like clockwork to those in leadership roles, myself included, for guidance. Within days, I found myself in an empty office, buttoning up details for the coming weeks while the team was settling in at home for what appears to be a long haul. In quiet solitude, I reverted to this story I’d tucked away to leverage when a call-to-action arose.

As leaders, we each take on this role differently – some rise to the occasion in times of hardship, while others, unfortunately for those they lead, fall short. Their teams will be hard-pressed to forget (and maybe even forgive) how their leaders acted (or didn’t), or what was said (or wasn’t). For leaders in ‘creative’ positions, the expectations often feel higher. In the midst of chaos, we bare the weight of not only acting as a beacon of guiding light to those around us, but are called upon to continue serving as a source of inspiration, tasked with developing ideas and design thinking that will carry the team to the other side. It is this creativity, the heart and soul of what drives us to get out of bed every morning, that can so easily get lost in the shuffle. In retrospect, that team of five years ago lost their leader in the blink of an eye, but beneath the surface, the common thread that brought them together was still there – designing and creating beautiful products. They didn’t need someone to teach them the mechanics of knit stitches or how to pull together a color palette, they needed a leader to reinforce what had already unified them and quench the fear that the unknown would tear them apart.

If you’re a leader yourself, likely you have your own story that challenged you to be something bigger than you may have ever imagined. There are thousands of stories like this one, hold yours close so when you’re required to tap into the reserve, it’s there to guide you. If you’re a team member, acknowledge and show gratitude towards the really good leaders in your life, they may make it look easy, but behind closed doors, there may just be tears (lots of them) of self doubt.

I promise a return to a regular cadence of inspirational spirit at Around the Pound is in process, in fact, several posts are already in the queue (it looks like we’ll all be here for a little while longer, so we’ve got you covered). In the interim, I hope this dietary supplement of perspective (I was completely inspired by this post from one of my creative heroes) provides a new way of thinking about TGL from here forward. xx, D.

Image source unknown, via Pinterest.

 

PSA: We interrupt your never-ending news feed filled with doom & gloom to bring you something slightly more uplifting – pretty pictures + thoughtful prose, all in the spirit of optimism that brighter times are ahead. It goes without saying, no one will come out of the current global crisis untouched. Individuals, local businesses, large corporations, international organizations – everyone will feel an impact to some degree across the spectrum. Like all of you, we’re doing our best to be healthy, adjust in solitude + process the calamity facing our world; as creatives, staying inspired is our guiding principle, it’s what keeps us grounded and encouraged to continue moving forward. Hence, our intent remains steadfast at Around the Pound, sharing stories of the things we love, people and brands we admire and places we aspire to someday visit – we hope you’ll stick around if you’re in need of something light and beautiful in the coming weeks. As always, (and perhaps more than ever), we’d love to have you.

Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the country, but is by no means lacking in creative spirit. Over the years at TGL we’ve shared our unabashed admiration for Ocean State brands and entrepreneurs, from furniture makers to an ice cream purveyor, and yes, the best doughnut in New England. Lotuff Leather joins an expanding list of small businesses designing and producing American-made wares we simply can’t get enough of. At times like the one we face currently, these homegrown companies, built on passion and pursuit of a dream, need our support more than ever.

Founded in 2013 out of a small studio, Lotuff Leather embodies end-to-end the true essence of what it means to be from ‘America’s Creative Capital’. Embracing the approach and technique of European ateliers, the Lotuff team, lead by Creative Director Lindy McDonough, lovingly handcrafts each leather good using the best methods, leathers and materials they know. The team of artisans, many classically trained at RISD, (a two mile stone’s throw across I95), means talent remains hyper local within ‘lil Rhody, hitting the mark on centralized craft + employment opportunity. Under McDonough’s guidance, the brand’s collection is a testament to not only meticulous craftsmanship, but also design leadership, a venture which earned Lindy a well-deserved induction into the esteemed Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).

In the words of McDonough, “Creating a piece that will be handed down generation to generation, and become more beautiful as you use it, that was always the ethos for the company.” Having personally worked with some of the most magnificent and respected leather workshops in Europe, we can attest this is an artistry learned over years, not days or weeks, with the same exquisite attention given to each piece by Lindy’s team at Lotuff. Since we know many of you have some extra time on your hands these days, watch Lindy’s behind the scenes view of life at Lotuff and you’ll quickly see for yourself, “Bringing Handmade Back to America” isn’t a marketing slogan, it’s the brand’s bonafide modus operandi.

Consumerism will look different in coming months, likely even years. As you contemplate your next purchase and where to spend your hard-earned discretionary dollars, pause to consider a few things: quality, integrity and community. In case we haven’t sold you, Lotuff’s quality is nothing short of superior (appropriately donned the Porsche of leather bags by stylish critics). Lindy’s business model oozes the time-honored spirit of American Made at its core. And, Lotuff nurtures a local creative community with close ties to one of our nation’s leading and most highly respected art institutions, educating and developing a new generation of artists in the tradition of fine arts and crafts. Currently, the studio is closed in mindfulness to the health and safety of the team, but their online shoppe is chock full of in-stock products. Looking for something slightly more personal? They offer bespoke services too, and inquiries are openly accepted. Here’s a few things on our wishlist to spur a virtual return to the office haul, date nights at our favorite Rhody restaurants and long weekend getaways across New England.

The Working Tote | Like your favorite Boat + Tote, in leather

The Mini Lois Pouch | The cosmetic carryall to ‘Meet you for cocktails’ clutch

The Mini Leather Bucket Bag | You had us at ‘Shearling’

The No. 12 Weekender Bag | Destined for future Gilded Getaways

The American Alligator Tripp | aka The Ultimate Crossbody

Images courtesy of Lotuff Leather.

In the blink of an eye, travel (and let’s be honest, life) has taken on new meaning entirely. We’re optimistic the world will return to a state of normalcy (albeit defined differently from here forward) and we’ll find ourselves navigating new spots in traditional Gilded Getaway fashion. In the interim, like the rest of the country world, we’re relishing the quiet comforts of home while mentally adventuring to places high atop our list ‘to-visit.’

We discovered Vancouver-based Flourist in early 2019 and have since been creatively captivated by a relaunch with beautiful new branding, a picture perfect bakery and an unwavering company mission celebrating supply chain transparency. Originally founded in 2014 as Grain, the team behind the Canadian brand has been dedicated to providing consumers 100% traceable grains, beans and fresh-milled flours, exclusively sourced in Canada. “In a category dominated by opaque supply chains and mysterious origins, Flourist connects people with the sources of their food. Every product can be connected to the farmer who grew it.” In an era where scrutiny of everything we ingest, apply and encounter has become paramount to maintaining health and happiness, you’d be hard-pressed to ask a brand for anything more.

Working in collaboration with creative studio Glasfurd & Walker, the world of newly named Flourist provides not only delicious products, but a visual feast for the eyes. A reimagined brand mark reminiscent of flour mills past is the common ingredient across product packaging, brand signage and the necessary to-go tote. Defined as ‘nostalgic but with a modern touch’, the logo resides on a field of kraft, the most humble of papers in the design world and perhaps a nod to the humble farmers behind each grain and grassy pasture.

Out of their simple and sophisticated storefront, Flourist serves sourdough, sweet treats and specialty coffee in the company of many other menu items to the Vancouver community. If, similar to us, your mouth is watering but the miles are far, Flourist thankfully ships to locations across the United States and Canada. They also have an extensive recipe collection on their site, perfect for work-from-home days when something savory (or sweet) is just what the world demands.

Flourist | 3433 Commercial St, Vancouver, BC V5N 4E8, Canada

Images courtesy of Flourist and Glasfurd & Walker.

Five years ago we backed a Kickstarter campaign to launch a new brand, Appointed. An assortment of American-made paper goods were destined to elevate desktops one beautiful bookcloth covered notebook at a time. The brand’s founder, Suann Song, had been designing and producing letterpress wares we’d purchased for years; we knew any creative pursuit she was leading, we definitely wanted to stand behind.

Fast forward from 2015 (when we could barely contain our excitement over the soon-to-début brand) and Appointed is celebrating their 5th anniversary. Under the discerning eye and creative direction of Suann, we’ve watched the boutique brand grow to a curated collection of products, each the embodiment of the brand M.O., “Everyday elevated paper goods to inspire productivity and creativity.” In the five years since purchasing our first notebook, Appointed has become a staple for every project and planner we took a pencil to, and quite honestly, if asked to assign a score, we’d unequivocally hand out a perfect ten. Every layout, typeface and color selection – perfection. For all the paper peeps out there (cue #paperpeoplearethebestpeople), that’s a proclamation not to be taken lightly.

Last week we received a surprise package, wrapped in a signature box with bespoke branding. Inside, 5th Anniversary special edition wares and a handwritten note from Suann, thanking us for our ongoing support for the past five years. We weren’t alone in receipt of such a delightful display of gratitude, similar boxes were posted to fellow backers and loyal supporters – the act a reflection of Suann’s combination of poise, generosity + humbleness that reminds us why we fell head-over-heels for this now iconic brand in the first place. In honor of International Women’s Day, congratulations to Suann and the many other female-led brands + companies we adore, we applaud you for being industry pioneers, champions for creative culture and amazing spirits in the company of fellow females. xx

Images courtesy of Appointed Co.

CREATIVE CRUSH | MARCH

March 7, 2020

It’s 2020, have you heard? We know, it’s been awhile since we last dropped in, and scenes from Detroit circa 2019 are basically a fading memory. However, if you’ve been following along, you likely heard the exciting news, we launched a complementary insta-feed, chock full of things we love behind-the-scenes at TGL. Don’t worry, we’re still snapping pics of eateries, shoppes + tucked away treasures from all our travels (although, who dares to do much of that these days??), but if you’re in the mood for more curated content, join us here for the freshest catch of inspiration, posted (almost) daily. From fashion to food, frivolity to faucets, like a great meal, if it caught our eye, it’s worth sharing.

CREATIVE CRUSH | MARCH EDITION

Quintessential camel. (@bonsergentstudio | @toteme)

Neutral with a pop of noir (@plaingoodsshop | @gachotstudios

Saturated salmon + rusted reds. (@stitchdesignco | @t_o_o_g_o_o_d )

Marble movement. (@laura___ | @brittrademaker)

Heavy-gauge handknits. (@babaa)

Minimalist merchandising. (@framacph)

A killer kitchen. (@stevengambrel)

All images sources tagged here.

 

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