Sunday, May 18, 2014

So I went and did something...

Alright so I just pulled a bunch of content from my website and posted it here.  I am not totally sure what I will be doing with my site as of yet so this happened.  I may be getting a new site all together and deleting my old site and this blog too. So anyway if any of you are still around watching this blog here are some posts you may not have seen!
 And so it happened again... I got bored and sort of depressed with how my work was going.  I figured it was time to do something wild again, something to really break the mold, something really sexy!  I had an interest in body chains and body jewelry but was not sure of the direction I might go if I designed them.  After looking around at what everyone else was doing, and not doing I questioned myself.  How could I bring my style to this type of jewelry???  hmmmmm I thought, I will mix my signature hammered metal look with chains in a visually pleasing yet functional way.  Part statement piece, part body chain and a whole lot of sexy.  That was the idea anyway and I just ran with it!  
Peyton Drew wearing the first G2G Jewelry body chain! 
I contacted local model Peyton Drew and asked if she was interested in this project.  Part of the deal was to become the face of my brand in stores and on my new business cards.  She agreed and we set out to do something amazing.   This was a real turning point in my work and my thought process regarding design for woman's jewelry.  I needed to challenge myself like never before and create a piece that was not only stunning to look at but also functional and wearable.  I love the mechanics involved with designing a piece like this and making it fit so perfect and move and flow with a body in motion. Below I am going to show my process with this piece and try and give you an idea of what goes into a custom piece like this. 

This is the initial sketch and design from my first meeting with Peyton. 
Starting to do the full size layout sketches.
After a full size template fitting the design changed and evolved! 
With plans finalized its time to cut metal! 
Hammer time! 
Top and bottom pieces cut, hammered, and polished, now it's time for a fitting.
Tedious work measuring, cutting, and attaching the chain piece by piece. 
So many pieces of chain went into this! 
3 hours later and it's all done! 
From concept to reality.
Final fitting before the shoot.
On location with photographer Gloria Budiman and Model Peyton Drew.
Rocking poses with an old tractor! 
And that is how its done! 
So there it is, my most challenging piece EVER.  From the actual design, layout, and construction to the final shoot this was an intense time for me!  I was amazed at how perfectly everything fit and actually fit in real life.  Peyton could dance and jump around and this piece was just a part of her.  This was such a great way for me to break the mold and really push myself to new levels.  I can't wait to keep moving in this direction and doing wild challenging pieces.  
Now on somewhat of a side note I am starting the design process for a collection of beach wear specific body chains.  These body chains will be designed to wear with swim suits, and for the beach environment.  Here is a preview of what is coming! 
Peyton totally rocking this piece at the first prototype fitting!

Finally I want to say a big thank you to everyone involved in this project, you were all awesome! 
Photographer Gloria Budiman
Model Peyton Drew
MUA Kristy Jahn

 So here I am one year from when I really started to push my jewelry line G2G Jewelry.  It seems to me like it's been much longer but at the same time it feels like it went so fast.  I consider my "start" time to be when I started at the amazing clothing store Symmetry here in Ft. Wayne IN.  I was given a chance by the owner Laura and things really started to happen after that.  I was finally in the market that I was shooting for and it was evident by the sales.  Laura and her the wonderful staff at Symmetry have been instrumental in helping me grow and learn the fashion industry.   It was a chance that changed everything and a chance that changed me!   Sales have been very consistent over this first year and are growing as I have established myself at the store.  My fan base is still growing and those who love my work really love it!  It's such a great feeling to see my hard work start to pay off.  I can't wait to see where this next year will go. 

How I started at Symmetry! 

One year later! 

I would like to thank all of those who have been so supportive and helpful in this first year.  I really appreciate all of you and what you have done for me.  I think I will name a few names now, some of the most influential people who have helped me and continue to do so.
Carissa my wife for putting up with my s*** for all this time.  
Laura the owner of Symmetry, the one who gave me my "big chance" an expert in the fashion industry and a complete professional.
Taber a wonderful employee at Symmetry and the one who does such a wonderful job of arranging and displaying my jewelry.  She also helps me with pricing and is a great source of encouragement. 
Lyse the most amazing photographer I have worked with to date.  She is able to see my vision and make it better than I imagined.  She is a woman of great character, strength and wisdom and has helped push me to new levels.  Lyse keeps me on my toes and asks questions that make me think, she also intimidates the hell out of me!  
Emily the one I call my G2G top model, and the face of my business cards. She is a pure natural in front of the camera and has taken my look to the next level.  Emily is such a easy and fun person to work with and can really nail the look I want.  She can bring the attitude but does it with high fashion class! 
Amanda who is Emily's sister, also a great model and just as easy as her sister to work with.  You can now see her in print as part of the the official G2G Jewelry signage at Symmetry and more stores to come.
Kristy who does the makeup for all my shoots.  She is a world class makeup artist and gets it perfect every time!  She can really pull the look together and is a wonderful inspiration in every aspect. 
There are many more who have helped and continue to help but I wanted to name the major players.  I truly appreciate each and every one of you more than you know.  THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Chengdu Fashion Week 2012

Rachel Bougher... International model...Where do I start?... Midwest Fashion Week 2011, Dayton Fashion Week 2012, Chengdu Fashion Week 2012, Numerous print magazines and even acting, the face of local International designer Marlene Haute Couture for 2 years, the list goes on and on!  Born and raised in the Midwest right here in Fort Wayne Indiana she has made an impression on the local high fashion scene.  I met Rachel though socal networking and started following her modeling and soon met her at a local event.  I was immediately impressed with how this 18 year old handled and presented herself.  It was obvious from her grace and poise she was quite a model. Naturally when I heard she had been accepted to walk in Chengdu fashion week I was very excited for her.  I watched intently on Instagram for pictures and updates about her trip, as it was just about the only line of communication.  I knew when she got back I had to hear the whole story... and so I asked.  Not long after she arrived back in town we met up and I had the privilege to to hear that story complete with pictures, lots of pictures!   So without going on forever and ever lets get to the interview!  

How did you first get started in modeling?

I started out with a modeling and acting class known as Barbizon. I was enrolled in the MidWest Barbizon which took place in Fort Wayne and I was a part of the 2011 class. Having this extra help gave me a huge booster not in only feeling able and ready to start my modeling journey, but in other ways such as higher confidence and being able to sing in front of an audience. After finishing Barbizon, I started to search for work on my own. Thankfully a local photographer known as Fisher Fotography wanted to help get me started on the right track. Eventually I was able to start reaching about around town and became very close with International Fashion Designer Marlene Haute Couture. She took me under her wings and helped me grow and develop into a high fashion model.
Chengdu Fashion Week 2012
Chengdu Fashion Week 2012

The story of your modeling trip to China is fascinating. Tell us about how it happened.

Well Marlene Haute Couture was invited to Chengdu Fashion Week many months ago. My mom at the time was helping assist her and Marlene asked for my mom to come along there with her. I was very excited for MHC! My mom was in contact with a woman named Vivienne over in Chengdu, she was able to help give me the opportunity to come and model in Chengdu after I sent her my measurements, height, experience, etc. After finding out I was accepted, there were only two weeks before we had to leave for China! I was so excited and trying to wrap my head around my thoughts. All the way from getting my first passport photos, to going to Chicago for a weekend to receive a Chinese Visa AND taking all my college finals a week early! Whew!
In the end, it was very humbling to know I have had so many wonderful opportunities to enjoy what I love.

Chengdu Fashion Week 2012
On the flight to Beijing China, and things sure get interesting!!! 

From what you told me you had quite the adventure getting to China, and once in Beijing a frightening incident! What happened?
Just thinking about the trip and the way there gives me a headache, it was a long 12-13 hour flight!  When we boarded our flight in Michigan to take us to Beijing China, Marlene, Karen, and I started to experience the different culture on the plane. It was noisy, loud, smelly, and very unpleasant! We even had seats right next to a bathroom! Landing in Beijing was where things started to take another turn. It was very early in the morning when we arrived (around 12-1AM) and our flight for Chengdu didn't leave until around 7AM (If I remember correctly). It was a huge culture shock! We looked very confused and when trying to ask for help, many people didn't understand us.
It's a crazy thing to think about just simply saying "Hello, do you speak English?" and no one can understand.
When we found someone who actually spoke English, we later on found out he was a con artist trying to scam foreigners into staying at very sketchy hotels and ask for "tips" for his help. We sadly believed he was someone who worked at the airport because he was dressed in a suit and looked very professional. He was able to take us away form the airport and stick us in a hotel room, but thankfully we figured things out before our flight and got out of there and back to the airport!  I just know now to only trust yourself when traveling and to always be aware of what's going on around you at all times! 

Let me tell you that after hearing Rachel tell this story and then reading her response here... This my friends is the PG version!  There is just no way of really telling this story without writing pages and pages it seems.  I can't imagine what it would be like to arrive in a place like that  with such a communication barrier.  I would chalk this up as a character building life experience! 

Arriving in Beijing China

Once you arrived in Chengdu, what was the time line like from arrival to walking the runway the first time. 
Well all 3 of us were extremely tired but finally made it to Chengdu! Only thing was, it we didn't have our luggage because we forgot to check it in when we reached Beijing! So we had to file and claim luggage and hope the airport would bring our belongings to the hotel. We had met other designers, assistants, photographers on the flight from Beijing to Chengdu. (and we were not the only ones who didn't get our luggage) Finally reaching the hotel we met Vivienne and others in charge and were placed in our rooms. Our hotel was BEAUTIFUL! I went to my room, knowing I would be placed with a random model, but found out I was there a day earlier than all the girls. The next day came and the models started to arrive as we had to learn the new walks for the runway, figure out which rooms to go to for fittings that night, etc. My roommate was Anna Kolesnik. She was from the Ukraine and was one of the youngest models there being only 17. At first I was taken back and got the feel that she didn't like me, but we bonded over my shoes I had brought with me from back home and started a friendship.
Outside the hotel
Here they are going over different walks and learning how the show is going to run.
Diagram for different walks and designers.  That outline is the shape of the runway.
Some of the models hanging out backstage
Such a beautiful venue for the show!

You said you were the only American model at Chengdu Fashion Week. How were you received and how did you mesh with the others? 
If I could take another trip back to Chengdu, I would in a heartbeat. Modeling was a big deal to go over there for, but the friendships I brought back in my heart are ones I will never forget.
At first I had a better relationship with all of the students and helpers for Chengdu Couture Fashion Week. There were many helpers, boys and girls, for this Fashion Week. They were all students there assisting because they wanted a possible career in fashion, design, music, etc. in their future. They were so nice and polite to me! Most spoke English very well so I was able to communicate easier with them. They even knew how to pronounce my name. In Chengdu, many of them watch the show "Friends" and recognized my name, Rachel, because that was who Jennifer Aniston played in the TV show.
I had many of them ask me where I was from. I would tell them "America" and they would just reply
"Oh wow! That is my future homeland!"
"I want to move there!"
"You are so lucky! What is it like?"
They told me they loved my eyes and my hair because it was so different. Always complimenting me saying "You so beautiful Rachel!" I'm telling you, they were way too nice to me! 
Signing an autograph for one of the student helpers
Outside the Hotel with some fans
Later on in the first week I became really close with two of the models there. One was Anna and the other was a girl named Silviya. They were my two Ukranian red heads! We grew closer because Anna spoke more English to me than the other girls did. Most girls spoke their own languages to each other and I would try to act like I knew what they were saying. Silviya understood Russian but didn't speak it very well, so she spoke English all the time. Silviya took me out some nights to bars to meet some of her friends (It's legal for me over there! Don't worry!) And Anna would take me to the black markets during down times between shows during the day.
Saying goodbye was one of the hardest things for me to do the day before I left. I gave Anna one of my shirts as a "remembrance of me" And Silviya and I talk on different global phone apps still to this day... 
Rachel and Silviya out on the town

Did you have a favorite designer you wore on the runway?
Honestly, each designer brought their own unique expressions of creativity to their was hard to have a favorite! Along with Marlene there were a couple other US designers and a few from Russia, Ukraine, etc. Walking for Marlene was always an incredible opportunity and since I was able to wear her designer showpiece the last night of the show! I also enjoyed a designer from California and his partner. They were very nice to me and said I wore their dress beautifully (all black with slit at bottom of dress with a red, orange, yellow flower on the side) They keep in touch with me for any upcoming work they want me to be a part of. 
One of her favorite designers Jamil Khansa
A dress from Jamil Khansa
A collection by Marlene Haute Couture backstage. 
What was your overall experience like in China? Did it change you in any way? Is it something you would want to do again?
Chengdu, China holds a part of my heart ever since I left. Besides the dirty air and bad plane flights, I would love the chance to go back and be with some of the people who made my experience so worthwhile. Having the opportunity to be the only American model was a very big honor to me. I received a call from a random number asking me about being in Chengdu Fashion Week again, but was unable to understand the rest of their message or name to call them back. But hey, you never know! Maybe I'll have another chance to go back one day in the future.... 
I have to admit that even though I do not know Rachel as well as some I am very proud of her going for this and actually doing it!  I hear pretty often about how boring our city is and nothing is going on...  There are people doing big things and involved in big things, you just have to know where to look.  Before I got into the fashion world I had no idea there was a "Fashion World" right here in our city.  So before you think your city or our city might be boring take a look below the surface and find the stories like these!  You just might be surprised like I was.  So even with all the buzz, excitement, and pretty much non stop action, Rachel did have some time to slip away and do some sightseeing.  I will leave you with those pictures.  Thank you for reading! 
So here I was chugging along with my jewelry line and everything was fine.  But that's just it... it was just fine.  In the back of my mind I had visions of wild crazy stuff that you may see in the fringes of high fashion, but it ended there.  And then it happened, one day while messing around on twitter I commented on a tweet from someone I had talked to for about a year.  Her name is S. Avery and she is a celebrity stylist, basically someone who styles someones look.  I think I could use some help in that area myself actually... ok ok I'm day dreaming again, it's way out of my budget anyway.  So long story short in the course of the conversation we decide to do some sort of a collaboration.  Well that turns into me designing a piece for her, which by the way scared the heck out of me. How was I going to design something for HER???  Well not being one to run from a challenge I jumped in with both feet.  It was decided I would design this piece for her and have it in a local art gallery show coming up.  That's all well and good but let me fill you in on the timeline I was working with.  ....Big Breath...Pretty much my wife and I were expecting our second child at any moment this piece had to be big crazy and bold and surpass anything I had done before....breath.... oh and I had to have it designed, built, modeled in time for the gallery deadline of Aug 16 (I had just over a week)..... oh my that's not much time.... Whew ok ok lets do this!  And then it happened! I freaking did it!  I jumped so far out of my box I can't look back and see it, I am ready and not scared to jump now! Here are the details of the piece and the build I call my "Make a Statement" project. 
Here is the sketch that Avery sent me.  This is when I knew I was going to be in for an adventure!

So here we go with my initial design sketch, well after many other and much messier sketches.  The design changed from this original concept you will see as we go. 

Here my wonderful friend Chelsea is being very patient with me as I work on the full scale mock up of the piece.  It's more tapered, or graduated now than the original design.  On a side note she is wearing G2G earrings! 

So here we are with all the pieces cut out and ready to hammer. I do all of my hammering with one hammer and it's free form hammering.  I do not use forms to shape the metal. 

Whew this was my first time hammering a collar piece and it came out perfect!  It was such a relief to see this part come together because it was the hardest part to hammer.  All the other pieces were flat. 

Here are all the pieces hammered and just laid out on a board.  Nothing is connected at this point, but I am very excited to see it coming together. 

Its a bit hard to see here but I was gluing the sheer black fabric to the pieces.  This is what makes this piece so flexible and wearable.

Here I am riveting the back plates on with copper rivets I made.  

All put together here and polished.  Ready to be modeled! 

My friend Chelsea once again helping me, this time dress shopping just hours before the shoot!  The model was busy working and Chelsea is the same size, just a few inches shorter so it worked out perfect in the end! 

Here the amazing makeup artist Kristy Jahn is putting the finishing touches on Model Emily Berz and then we are ready to shoot!  I am very proud that I styled this shoot so well, it was a first for me.  Kristy took my idea and concept and really nailed the look, she is a truly talented professional. 

A few shots from the shoot, I only needed one shot for this whole project.  That ONE shot that really nailed it is the one at the start of this post.  It is just WOW, a real statement and that's what this piece of jewelry is! A real STATEMENT! 
Special thanks to everyone who helped me on this project.
My wife who put up with my craziness for the week. 
S. Avery for giving me the opportunity to jump, and giving me advice and encouragement throughout the project.  
Chelsea for modeling the mock up and dress shopping last minute.
Emily Berz for modeling and bringing that attitude to the shot and just being a fun person to work with.
Kristy Jahn for the world class makeup artistry, you really tied it all together with that double wing hotness! 
Amber Sturgis for the photography and getting that perfect shot I needed, and for getting the prints done. 
I couldn't have done it without all of you, I thank you all and appreciate each of you so much! 
Thank You