2016

Posted on January 24, 2016

It has been a long while since my last post. As soon as I moved into the Dana Warp Mill I went into a different mode. It has been a mode of survival and passion and focus. I have been able to take a look back the last few weeks and really take it all in..see how far we have come but in the same breath figure out where we are going next.

The new line that I just launched this weekend is more thought out, more connected and cohesive, a bit of a softer more refined me. (Maybe I am just getting old ha ha)  So many life changes happened in the last few years–the biggest was moving out of our basement into the mill and never looking back. Since then we have hired a few key people that have been the driving force to growing mindfully. I have also been focusing on various other areas of product development that I personally have longed for in the marketplace such as glassware and table top…with so many more items I hope to expand into but this season I went back to basics and went back to where it all started…hand drawn designs on pillows that speak to me, tell stories but also a feeling and connectedness. I think it is so easy to get lost in busyness, maybe I shall say insaneness of being a mom to two amazing girls and trying to be there after school while all the while running a growing business from my iphone. Or waking up at 3am so I know I will get things done so I can go to the mill and help with production and keep things moving. I know it sounds crazy but I love it, it is who I am and where I belong at this very second. It’s very challenging and everyday I get smarter only because I make mistakes that make me shift gears and re-evaluate. I also have the best customers who reach out and talk to me, or shops that are so amazing that totally appreciate what we do…they are the real reason we are growing…with out them we would not be making anything…and Maslen and I hope to just get better at making things and getting them out the door for you all to enjoy them. We believe so much in our American Made story and process. We want to keep things simple as we grow..I don’t want to add to the craziness of the world, I only want to create things that are useful, well made and designed….my new home is so simple and white with pops of color and I truly feel so good knowing I love every piece I have in my home now, only having simple pieces that tell our story and that is it. I deleted so much and it feels good to have a lot of white space now to breath.

My focus now is to keep growing as a designer and keep changing and let my life be where my design goes..it has always been a reflection of where I am personally…and continues to do so. I hope this is the start of blogging again…I always loved taking moments out to reflect..and often it’s my facebook page or my Instagram page that get’s the most love these days. But writing has always been one of my favorite things to do. It somehow makes things more clear to me.

Attached are the newest line inspired by SUMMER in Maine. I missed it last year –Mas and I were so focused on moving and building a home…and we realized how critical it is to take a moment and stop, breath and appreciate life and everything the universe has given us. Enjoy the new catalog here: http://issuu.com/erin_flett/docs/erin_flett_2016 xo e

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My first samples came late last week of the wool blankets I have been designing from  a local Maine Weaver. They turned out amazing and now waiting on different finish options for the edges and wondering if I go with washable or non washable finish. The texture is different if it’s washable…but not exactly sure how yet. But the best thing is that they are not scratchy. The girls fell in love with them…and with harsh long winters here in Maine, we all need a good cozy blanket! The second color way is navy, sea blue and gray with red edges..which is so lovely but the colors were way off in the sample so I will show that option when it’s a bit more polished. For now you can see the orange sample…which of course is my love! The edges are a bit ruffled do to some shrinkage in the wool that won’t happen in production…and I am going with a slightly lighter weight yarn. I love how thick it is but afraid it’s a bit much for a throw… Lots of fun things happening at the studio. With a new catalog coming out with a entire new approach and a over haul on my two sites, ETSY and my own…I think this year is going to be the year where things just fall into place. Basically you will see a limited number of color options per design strategically thought out for the perfect eclectic mix and match sort of vibe and therefore we will have pics of each pillow in each color way. Which will be so amazing finally! AND not to mention a TON of new designs that promise to brighten up any room in your home. Happy Tuesday everyone! e

New Line for 2014!

Posted on February 15, 2014

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The girls had a snow day on VALENTINES so since we were all excited about the day off and the new pillow designs we just got in from our stitchers…we did a impromptu photoshoot…since I always love having the girls be apart of the photos in what ever facet they care to take part, it was no surprise that boredom took over in creative silliness with our newest addition to our family, “Louie” our new Yorkie who is now a year old!

The new smalls have piping and are more mod and splash of color rather then narrative woodsy characters we have done in the past. And the new inspired POP ART ICONS are a bit of departure and new direction this season that are more about simplicity and boldness then a composition of elements. I feel these really represent where I am at the moment with design. I think I am at this point where I want things to have a instant punch of color, but have a iconic form that is still hand drawn and human but also has a nod to everything I gravitate to when I am out junking…pop art, mid century mod, retro in a not cliche or trite way..The SUN (circle with bands) graphic was inspired buy a small record album I found…I added a few bands and it was so simple it was amazing to me. I had a  few weeks where I did not thing but draw and I came up with a million things that I  loved but these icons spoke to me in loudest and that is what focused on.

These little snippets with the kids are only good for a very short amount of time, a small window as you all moms know before fun turns into drama! At the end of the shoot (maybe a hour) ary starting to get tired and started throwing pillows at us and I lost Breshia to some video game half way through..but what was captured was a pretty spot on moment where the girls are lounging with Louie content to just hanging out enjoying the day off.

These days with them are so precious and perfect…minus the little stuff like B deciding to make herself a duck tape iPad case and almost cut her finger off with our fabric cutter? Yes I know…I about died…she did this about 6′ away from me in a split second I removed all cutting devices and told her “scissors USE scissors!”

But the day ended we all enjoyed our Valentines dinner at the Mill talking girl talk since Maslen was out shoveling the masses of snow we had received the night before!

Happy Saturday everyone! These new pillows are finally going up on ETSY now that images are finally shot…amen! e

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Getting Settled

Posted on January 11, 2014

3It has been a while since my last post. So much has happened since October. We slowly emptied my home studio and our basement and merged into 1400 sf at the Dana Mill. The process has been a bit hard since we moved during a few really big graphic design projects so things took a bit more time then I expected. Soon I hope to have a true before and after post that is design worthy. But for now a quick glance at my glossy white and chrome desks from IKEA and my new 27″ IMAC that is a complete dream to work on.

From not loving the first space which was only 900 sf  and figuring out how to work out a larger more expensive space in every facet…with no plumbing…We managed to make this 1400 sf space a monster work horse with a hand built 36′ printing table (my amazing husband Maslen built from scratch) and a cutting and shipping table, and a huge industrial wash out sink shipped from CA, buckets of water based ink, a complete 1950’s kitchen we hand stripped from a old house in Cape Elizabeth, tons of inserts and hundreds of yards of fabric…as well as a retail corner that hopefully will be a bit more glamourous then it is now..full of our latest designs…all of it being much better and more amazing then I could ever have hoped for.

The other day before I headed out to pick up my girls at school, I looked around and I took the picture above. The light was amazing, it was smoking hot with the sun beating in (light therapy for anyone here in Maine with the long long winters) I glanced around and really felt more alive and complete that I think I have ever really felt, maybe in my entire life. It was a feeling where something had come together with a lot of pushing and shoving, a lot of dreaming and hoping but a lot more pushing and shoving where I demanded to let go of fear and be selfish and persistent. Some people talk you out of yourself, sometimes talking you out of who you need to become, other times it’s your self that talks you out of your dreams…passing it aside. I am here to tell you that honestly when you take that step the universe is in line with you and your vision. That shift brings energy and life and makes it real. I looked around, whispered to myself and to the universe or the God within and I just said thank you.

I have focused my attention to new ways to reinvent myself through design, drawing hours each day and fine tuning a bedding line that I hope brings continuity and balance to our offerings…I finally have custom canvas that was woven just for us, using the same resources and mills as the bark cloth fabric we have been using..all woven here in the USA. Glassware comps are filling my walls where soon I hope to get samples…and possibly dreaming up a blanket throw that connects all the linens together through color and texture. I am also hand printing my drawings on some small note cards that I have been thinking about since I started a few years ago….so many balls in the air and not too worried about how it will all flush out. I just know some may take months to get right while others will come together next week and be out in the world. It’s just about doing….making, drawing…living through my work and my work living through me…my design has always been my life and my life been my design. Even though I am not at home, this studio is a reflection of our family…our life and how we choose to spend time…the kids continue to love it…and my deepest desire and want is to have the girls come and feel this joy I feel by creating their own art. (they have everything you can imagine to make anything they want)….Being apart of this journey and process. Knowing how hard one must work to get anywhere and nothing gets done by thinking about it…

On a recent ride home from the mill one evening last week, after the girls were starting to bicker and be basically insanely impatient with one another, I stopped them for a second to share what being happy meant. “Happy is when you are content to just listen, happy is when you share, happy is when you know it’s ok, happy is doing and being true to who you are, happy is being grounded and helpful. Happy is about loving one another even if the other does not give that same love back, happy is a feeling when you are doing exactly what you know you are suppose to be doing…” I shared with them why it was so important for me as a mom to share this process with them because what we have made together has made me so so happy. “I want you both to know that we are nothing with out being happy inside, that we need to speak our truth everyday and do what we love because it sets us free to be who we are meant to be.” That they need to walk through this world with purpose and integrity..and above all thankfulness for every good day and every bad day…and for each other and for everything. It’s what keeps us pushing and what keeps us alive inside. I felt both of them pause…hopefully long enough to really feel it…

But I love being a mother, a teacher, a guide…some days I don’t feel like the perfect mom, not even close, you know the days, but honestly most days I love being in this world with these two amazing young ladies that make me laugh, bring me pure joy and really teach me everyday what is truly important.

Here’s to an amazing 2014! xo

e

WE ARE MOVING out of the basement…

Posted on October 20, 2013

Well, it’s been a week I won’t soon forget…a week of excitement and totally insanity trying to make something work…my last post on September 1st was about my journey through the Dana Mill and how somehow I need to get myself in there…

My first thought was to take the space I had been obsessing over for a few years now…not very large about 970SF…it had water and lights and was equipped for what we needed. Mas and I talked endlessly about it, and finally we wrapped our heads around the idea of being out of our comfort zone..and I signed a lease for this space.

I showed up the 15 of October, super excited and received the keys. I had received estimates to paint the walls and floors. I looked around and felt like the space was a bit small but I tried to let that feeling go. I also tried to let go of the floors which were plywood instead of the old mill floors I so loved. I thought of taking the floor up but then discovered Asbestos tile beneath which of course we would not touch! So here I was, in my new space with all this glorious light..and felt a bit disappointed? What was wrong with me I thought..I should be so so happy? I had been wanting this, dreaming this for years…

So, a little side note, or a big side note, when I was looking around the mill of course you peer into every open space available and I remember the space down the hall that I told Maslen was our future space, the space we move into a few years…a dream space..it had the floors, the lower windows and it was BIG. I imagined a long silk screening table going along the back side of it and going and going and going…well I could not stop wanting this space. I was told a while back that it was 3 times my current rent of the space I was currently looking into, and well, it was 1400 sf and jutted out over the water…and oh, one BIG thing, it did not have plumbing…yup. No water means no printing…ok so I again…I tried to let it go.

So back to me standing in the original space, the one where I signed the lease, gave my money and standing there…I invited Heather Knuppel out to take a look around…a new soul that I just love who is working with us now helping make some adjustments on production, wholesale and new offerings that we have been dreaming up. She is my devine intervention…finishing my thoughts for me and basically taking balls and running with them. I love her…I will post about her again I am sure but for now, just know she has been amazing and helping me get my creative insanity in check. She has worked with numerous home design companies and basically is going to help me “fly” as we both put it. She shows up, we do a little celebration dance…and I say…it’s small right? Then with out her answering…I say, ok,  let me show you my dream space…I take her down the hall—a long hall, pass the last entrance to the mill and up a ramp and to the right, we both see light pouring into a dark hallway. She peers in, and well we both gasp. It’s not 5 mins that I am on the phone trying to work out a deal…asking about the cost, how low they could go, cost of water…you know the drill. So honestly two days later, I have a deal on the table that I can swing, I have multi plumbers give me quotes…and well let’s just say they found a old water and vent pipe under my floor —yes I know, super insane awesomeness and yes, I am now moving into this DREAM SPACE.

When I turned the key to walk into the space for the first time, I walked over to the right side of the space and peered out to see the river below me roaring by and the dam to my right…pumping water. I didn’t realize that this space juts out over the rushing river below and the sound is like a symphony lullaby completely in tune with my heart. I was home…I was home, I was home, I was home…I kept feeling this and saying this in my mind..chills running up my entire body…I wanted to cry, i wanted to sit down on that floor and cry with joy…it was ours. We worked so hard, saved our money and worked some more..and it was ours….this was it and I knew it…this was the start of something so amazing I could already see it in my minds eye. It was already working for me, not me working for it…I was no longer afraid (ok not so afraid)…I felt peace though. A sense of complete okness. I wanted to live there, I wanted to be there…and now I can’t stop thinking of it…dreaming of it…so we begin…

Reality check: the first trip with kids and mas was not so magical…it’s hard for others I think to feel what a designers feels..or sees what they see. I think Mas sees a lot of work, the kids see a roller skating ring ha ha…and I think he feels he is going to have to share me with this space…be unavailable to him and the kids…we talk about this…and I know I must keep focused on family first…bring the family together not apart.

This journey with Maslen is based on trust that we are a team…and as this thing grows…our team (our family) has to stay strong. I think the hardest part or one of many hard parts is that I must keep our home intact…I don’t know if you know what I mean but when you are obsessed with your life’s work…sometimes your other life can be a distraction. But in my quest for completeness, maslen and the girls are intertwined with my work, they feed it, inspire it and embrace it…most of the time. Other times real life stares at me, laundry piles, homework, cooking and cleaning and oh, playing and laughing and just being a good mom, and a amazing wife and partner. Basically I have to keep my shit together. I can’t just dive into the depths of my creative being and work myself to death..because I think I could…

I guess as I close this chapter and open a new one, I say to you that your passion feeds you and guides you and sometimes the people around you are cheering you on and sometimes  they are not…Mas has always been my rock…but he has always been the balance in my madness. I need him as much as I need this next step. We talk over dinner, alone at last..and we talk about him building our first super long 36′  table that will ramp up production like no other…. and moving out of the basement…and he say’s…”we can move it all out…then I get the basement back for my tools”…at this second I see light in his eyes replaced from a unknowingness. I smile, and I take a deep breath, because I know at this moment the other half of  my heart is on board with me.

The other thing that drives me is knowing that we are hand printing and sewing everything here in the USA. This has become my personal mantra on how to keep growing mindfully, while keeping things simple…working local…while bringing manufacturing back to Maine’s mills…and in this case, one yard at a time…

For now here is where we are at–a few pics to enjoy!

PS. I was given a tour of the basement the first day I received my keys and I felt I was taking a tour through history. Dan, the main maintenance guy who has been so good to me and in return has already been bought lunch and a few cupcakes from the local deli—took me on this amazing journey through the basement of the mill. I took a few shots…the most insane thing was that the river actually runs through the basement of the mill to release the pressure of the river. The old musty smell of mold and dirt was so strong, and boards weak from years of age…it was awesome. I found old machinery, random left behind parts and well I found a room filled with the old cotton carts that I about died over! So Dan let me borrow one for my space. It’s amazing…please check it out in the pics below!  e

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Dana Mill, Westbrook Maine

Posted on September 01, 2013

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Did you ever feel like a little person, pressing your face up to a glass window looking at something magical inside? Did you ever feel butterflies and excitement imagining what ever was inside to be your very own?

The Dana Mill in Westbrook, Maine has been that place for me. I first came across it when I partnered up with AU BAGS. They had a giant place on the first floor. I still remember walking in for the first time. The smell of old wood, brick and the energy of something gigantic inside. It consumed my whole being and as I walked into the AU production floor where all I could see was sewing and cutting tables, the smell of old sewing machines and equipment and the hum of large industrial sergers…rows and rows and rows of fabric..every design and color…I was in heaven. I know it sounds strange, not having any connection to this place at all, never knowing much about industry, manufacturing…but I could not stop thinking of my own designs being stitched up as I walked by each stitchers magical table…in that moment I only hoped that my pillows at that time would be made in a place like this…for people to enjoy…

But as you know, things change and AU has sense moved up North and was recently sold from John Milburn, the last owner…the partnership being a great one, a real collaboration creating a few prints for their Raincoat Cotton Bag line. But that was a few years back…but the mill has always been a place where I am drawn.

Fast forward a few years, as my own little business grows..double then tripling in sales in the last 4 years…I find my self again peering into the mill with that same feeling hoping it may be my turn to hear my own sounds of creating. But this time long tables of usa woven fabrics being hand printed, the sweeping high pitch repetitive sound of the squeegee being swept over screens…light pouring in from the massive windows and the sound of the river pounding and rushing below. Boxes being filled, orders going out, designs being made…and finally, deep breath, my world in a space that reflects where we are headed.

So my vision, is to expand my printing capabilities and have open studio times where people like you can come and shop…talk design and color and custom projects. I continue my graphic design as well as continue to expand my line, changing it up, but having this amazing back drop where while mixing ink I don’t have to run up stairs or climb out of my bulk head from our studio basement to see what color I am mixing.

It all sounds very simple choice but the flexibility of being here at home working is amazing and been so good for us. This vision needs to be a decision based on how it can or will pay for it self. Just a glorious place to work is not good enough. The space big enough to grow, make things easier and more efficient. Not make my life more complicated. (God knows I have enough of that). Having people in and out of our home to work has been fine really, but climbing over dirty laundry (no joke) and showing customers our newest things as they pour through my living room…and mixing ink in the dark is hard but doable…I need something big, a reason for the big leap…what is it..what is it that I am so afraid of? Yes do I dare say I am scared? Of what? I know I won’t fail…it’s something else that has been holding me back…

When I am stuck or in a transition space I ask for signs..some devine intervention… sometimes baby steps is how I get to my ultimate AH HA moment. Before I went on my own I had a job that gave me 20 hours of freelance design work a week. A bandaid so I could grow my own clients as a graphic designer. (a long story but basically I had to give up something to make it happen) But it was a opportunity I could of passed up but didn’t. I asked for some sort of help to leave the security of my day job…and this came up, not without sacrifice or challenges…but I did it. After a few years I left the security of those quaranteed 20 hours..that was 9 years ago..and I have never looked back. It was such a gift to have those 20 hours. We could pay the mortgage, and the basics…it was just enough to get me there…give me a chance. But we all know we just need those basics to feel safe enough to leap. But what happens when the leap is not so easy, the leap is more of a giant step where you must believe in nothing more then your gut, your ability to fly? Passion has always lead me down the right road, determination has always been my ally. How can a 1000SF space be such a metaphor for me…a link to keep going…?

I walked around the Old Dana Mill soloyesterday and took these pictures. I needed to get out of house, grab a coffee (of course) and clear my head. A misty fog loomed as I climbed to the 4th floor. A complete maze of brick walls and giant metal windows with a sea of industrial fans humming…I felt like a little girl finding her way…and after a few windy turns I came to a the highest point of the old mill and my chest felt heavy as I came to a window. I quickly realized that the screen was missing, it was just a insanely HUGE opening with nothing between me and the ground below. I moved closer to that window and stuck my head, just to peek. A  heavy feeling like a lump in your throat lingered. I stood there with the wind blowing and the sun pouring onto my face, the energy of the thunderous river below and for a moment I envisioned my self falling out of this window and what would become of me. I was scared.

I looked out, being so high up, I was in the sky…literally…I could smell the water below, a thick cleaness–the heat rising. And at that moment I saw two seagulls bird flying…darting and playing… At that moment I remembered a book I read as a child my Aunt Lynn gave me…it was a book about Jonathan Livingston Seagull, written by Richard Bach, a fable about a seagull learning about life and flight, and a homily about self-perfection. He discovers that his sheer tenacity and desire to learn make him “pretty well a one-in-a-million bird.” In this new place, Jonathan befriends the wisest gull, Chiang, who takes him beyond his previous learning, teaching him how to move instantaneously to anywhere else in the Universe. The secret, Chiang says, is to “begin by knowing that you have already arrived.” That was it…the difficult climb to the 4th floor that brought me to this window…gave me visual, a memory of believing. We all need it, and sometime we need to be reminded.

I stepped away from the window and I went back down the maze of floors and long halls, the echo of my flip flops the only thing I could hear. The mill asleep with no one around..a eery sense of walking around by yourself in a space filled with energy…once filled with  men and women with bales of cotton which would eventually be made into warp for use in weaving cotton fabric. I could feel them here…every step worn by years of climbing up and down, the wood floors with fifty layers of poly with large cracks and imperfections of years of hard work. These floors and walls were talking to me…telling me their story of passion and hard work but also the hard ships and signs of tragedy and heart ache. Industry flooded these walls but after increasing use of synthetic fabrics, increasing government regulations and heavier labor costs forced the closing of Dana Warp Mills on January of 1957. I felt somehow connected to these walls. And looking at these huge open spaces a strong sense of me wanting to fill them up again…scary and strange and a complete foreign feeling to me.

I have always believed that at that moment in conflict or transition you must go somewhere inside yourself and be alone…to escape…find quiet solitude. I asked for a sign and those two birds and the book reminded me of that insanely huge lesson…that we are already who we wish or dream to be…but at this very moment I need to be reminded.

I stepped away from the window and I went back down to the 2nd floor where one of many spaces are for rent and I pressed my face to the window where I could see every inch…It felt right to me…no other feeling…just a ok sort of peaceful feeling, this is the next step.  e

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PICNIC PORTLAND 2013

Posted on August 26, 2013

Picnic is an indie craft fair and music festival held in Portland, Maine. The event began in 2008 as a means to showcase local artists from the DIY craft scene, while bringing together some of the best indie musical acts from the area.

Thank you for an amazing PICNIC PORTLAND SALE yesterday–I can’t tell you how many amazing wonderful people we chatted with all day…I loved the stories, I loved hearing about the things you have purchased and where they live in your home and I especially love connecting with those of you who believe in us and support us everyday! The sale was as EPIC as I hoped and I can’t wait to see all the pics of the new things that we sold yesterday to all of you! xo e

Panther Pond Retreat

Posted on August 06, 2013

Early morning coffee at panther pond. Hanging out with only iPad. Wishing I had a lap top, but thankful for the view and quiet solitude. Between swims and long walks, and hopeful to reach for my paints…happy that mas and kiddos as well as our new yorkie louie, and wise old Canyan, (German short haired) are asleep awaiting another day of Maine lakeside joy. Waiting for inspiration to kick in, but also in love at this very moment for a complete brain drain where emptiness is the goal. Something that can’t happen among phone calls and deadlines.

Happy day to you all…reining in my kids, my partner in crime, and going to savor each moment till we head back…big things, amazing things can only happen when we are open, full and content. It’s been so insane this summer, and the crew all needed to reconnect, play, and remember that the Fletts work hard, but need to play even harder.

I know it all does not feel like work to me, but for all around me it must be wearing when mom never sleeps, and on the go…but hoping they see now or later the beauty of living and breathing what you do. Girls are at different stages, sometimes I feel like I will go out of my mind…so being here is like recharging the family so ultimately we all are more loving and patient and have a over flowing sense of love. I know with only that one component, we will be ok, connected and all the little stuff won’t seem so big. Xo e

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