And it was pretty awesome
I’d recommend doing it in the form of a Nikon camera. More specifically, the Nikon D800 You know, with a lens attached and a couple 32 GB cards inside. Like I did on one of those awesomely touristy double decker buses last week in NYC.
Oh yes I did.
A normal person would panic, but not me. I’m not normal.
I’m experienced at dropping thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment on the ground.
Only last time I did it (several years ago, mind you) it was the Nikon D2X camera body with an 80-200mm lens attached. In the middle of a session with a client. And I dropped it on the sidewalk outside our studio.
That time I panicked. (Because I used to be normal.) But after quickly determining that everything was working just fine, we carried on with our session and never had an issue with that camera or lens.
So while last week’s debacle on the double decker did cause me to string together a few profanities, I had faith.
And after Keith pried the lens cap off of the cracked filter …. USE A FILTER PEOPLE … we found that the camera was just fine (sans filter anyway). And kept shooting away…
Par for the course with our previous Nikon experiences. High five Nikon people.
Now, if you’re wondering why Keith continues to let me carry the camera, here’s his answer: (shrugging) “It’s a Nikon. Stuff happens. And it’s insured. Also, I just pre-ordered a D810.”
Of course he did…
Not a sponsored post. But this post does contain affiliate links. To equipment we actually own and that I did actually drop on a double decker bus in NYC. Also, I DON’T actually recommend dropping cameras on the ground. Or money. Over and out.
All of it. You win everything.
I didn’t expect to like you all that much. I like trees and grass and I kinda sorta have this thing about personal space. Crowds are not my favorite. And there’s this reputation that your people are rude. Yes, I realize that these are terribly judgmental statements … I’m being honest about my preconceptions.
You can imagine my surprise when I found my family falling in love with you. Hard.
All of us.
On day 1, Mayhem discovered Pie Face. She ate her weight in pie in three and a half days. Guaranteed. Her picks: pumpkin was her hands down favorite, lemon was a close second and apple crumb rounded out her top three. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you she ate pie everyday. At least twice a day. Which is why we won’t be moving to your city any time soon
Hoofing it to see the sights was not something I realized would be so easy to do. But hoof it we did. We walked and walked and walked all over and enjoyed every second of it. Feeling safe the entire time. Something I wouldn’t be able to say about my own hometown.
And then we hoofed it some more. Carrying pie along with us.
Not even kind of kidding.
We found cultural icons flanking every path we walked.
And at the end of the day, there was pizza. Delicious, Patsy’s pizza.
There is SO much more for me to say about New York. Other things we did, other sights we saw and how very much we enjoyed the people. But for now, let’s leave it at New York – 1, Angie’s
preMISconceptions – 0.
You win, Big Apple.
It was one year ago today that my girl and I sat down, completely unaware of the journey we were about to embark on.
We pulled some construction paper from the closet, a roll of masking tape from the “junk drawer”, sat down on the floor and got to work. Once the masterpiece was on her and securely in place, SHE clipped a handful of colored pens to the neckline and declared it was now perfect. I, of course, snapped a photograph with my phone and posted it to Instagram. As we parents do these days
To be honest, I’m not even sure what to say about the past year, or especially the past three months. We began making paper dresses for fun. We continued making paper dresses for fun. And as long as it’s fun, we’ll continue to make paper dresses.
There was never any intention to gain attention. And when friends suggested, then suggested some more that I start a little blog so I could maybe show a little bit more about how we make our dresses, I went ahead and secured the fashionbymayhem.com URL. And then it sat for months. I didn’t even put the site “up” until four months after purchasing the name. Mostly because I wasn’t sure exactly what to do with it. Each time a friend would ask “how did you make that?”, I’d kind of laugh thinking they were kidding. Because the truth is, there is never a plan when we sit down to make a dress and there isn’t an exact formula we follow. At the risk of going artsy fartsy on you, we sit down and take Mayhem’s (and my) preferred method of learning: trial and error. We start taping paper together, then hold it up to see if it: fits around her, is the length she wants, is “puffy”enough, etc. We don’t use tape measures or rulers and we actually didn’t use scissors until about four months into this project. We’d simply fold and tear the paper when we needed to.
In the beginning it was incredibly easy. And then as Mayhem continued to request dresses, I found myself being challenged in the best ways possible. Having spent the thirteen years prior to Mayhem’s birth creating photographs of other people’s families and children as well as designing and building sets in our studio, I was missing that creativity. And I didn’t even know it. I knew that I currently had the very best job in the world but I didn’t know how to make it my own. I read books and blogs and magazines and articles of every kind about “parenting”. I watched friends share their lives, journeys and ridiculous “Pinterest worthy” crafts. And I wondered what I “should be doing” with my kid.
I tried cooking. And crafts. And I’ve had more Pinterest fails than should be allowed by law.
I’ve wondered how other moms do it all. And then subsequently realized they probably don’t. Or at least they don’t do it ALL well.
When friends started reaching out via private messages and emails late last summer to let me know how much they were enjoying the photographs of our paper dress creations, I was genuinely surprised. But I was appreciative none the less. I was encouraged that maybe I was doing something in this parenting gig a little bit right and I was watching my girl flourish.
Little by little our audience on Instagram began to grow. Moms were sharing our feed with other moms and I found a community who I had a lot in common with. And we were each doing our own thing.
But more importantly, Mayhem and I had found something that we could do each and every day. Something that was fun for us both. Something that was new and different every day. Something that we each learned something new from each and every day. And it was the one thing we did each day that for as long as we were doing it, I knew there would be no tantrums …. Truth.
When the first story/interview about our dresses was published online in December of 2013, the result was that the number of followers we had doubled. From around 500 to around 1000. And I was genuinely surprised. But again, they were mostly moms, just like me, doing their best each day to raise kids who will hopefully be great adults.
When the next online story/interview was published in late February of this year it was a bit of a different story. What started out as virtually the same interview I had done previously, morphed into our story being shared around the globe. Multiple times. I wasn’t surprised. I was dumbfounded and speechless.
All the while, I’ve kept saying to my husband “But we’re just sitting on the floor taping paper together …. do you think they know that?!?!”. For the record, he thinks you do.
Which brings us to now. And a whole lotta questions that a whole lotta people ask on a regular basis. So on this first anniversary of our first paper dress, we’d like to share a little more about the current state of Fashion By Mayhem.
On Media Appearances:
There’s a reason we haven’t done many interviews or appearances. Actually there are a few more than one reason, but here are the top few:
1. We don’t watch a lot of TV. And the Voice didn’t call … probably because they’ve seen those videos of Mayhem singing. I kid
2. The immediate response from the TV media when our story went viral was EXTREMELY AGGRESSIVE and that was a MAJOR turn off for us. I won’t go into all of the details but having our cell phone numbers “leaked” among networks/shows along with our extended family being just shy of harassed to get in contact with us was not cool. Not cool at all. And you know what they say about first impressions ….
3. Nearly everyone who reached out wanted Mayhem to create a dress “on the air” for them. And I believe the quickest way to destroy her creativity or desire to continue to make dresses is to force her to do it. I don’t force her to do it at home and I won’t force her to make one because it’s good TV. There have been many times over the past year when I’ve suggested we make a dress and she’s said “not right now” or “I don’t really want to” and that’s completely OK with me.
I’m NOT saying we won’t ever do any appearances, but what I AM saying is that they have to be the right fit and sharing the right message for us to participate. I’ll continue to trust my gut on these things. And possibly start doing our own interviews right here
Yes we will. We HAVE to. When our story went viral, I discovered very quickly that our only decision was to either find credible (because of my moral/ethical beliefs) ways to monetize or to shut things down completely. Why? Again, there are lots of reasons, but to start with, we incurred lots of expenses right off the bat. The first was that this blog shut down due to traffic overload. The solution? … We had to move this site to a new server. What that meant was that hosting this site used to cost me about $6/month and all of the sudden it was going to cost about $80/month to handle the traffic. I can think of lots of things I’d rather spend $888 dollars on this year than additional web hosting costs, so this thing has got to pay for itself! Second, we had to get attorneys involved right away. They cost more than $888 …. Third, trademark and copyright costs. I’ll spare you many of the details we’ve had to go through to protect our work, but let’s just say, the government is making lots of money on us. Did you know that it costs $35 per image to register your work with the US Copyright Office? PER IMAGE. I’d like to tell you that I have a sizable tab running with them at this point, but they don’t let you run a tab. I might just earn enough points on my AMEX to take that trip though…
So how do we do it?
Well, that’s something we’re still in the process of figuring out. But what I can tell you is that I’m finding lots of ways we don’t want to. I’ve turned down $250, $500 and $1000 offers to post images to my Instagram feed. Because it feels like a conflict of conscience. I’m doing my best to keep my IG feed as true as possible. Have I mentioned some things I like in my feed? You bet! Because I get emails every single day from people wanting to know more about stuff we have/like and where to find those things. And I think sharing an affiliate link to some of those things on this site is fair.
But for all of the stuff I sift through each day, it becomes worth it when you find the few things that completely resonate with who we are and what we do. We’re welcoming the right creative opportunities that allow us to work with fantastic people. The Vogue collaboration was truly beyond a thrill. Why? We got to keep doing what we do. Make dresses, photograph our creations, and then allow them to be shared with a bigger audience. That is called win-win, friends. We’ve had the opportunity to speak in front of and consult with some pretty fantastic companies/brands about photography, storytelling and simply “how we do what we do”. And that is something that we truly enjoy. We’ve been working on a creative collaboration with a company that will allow Mayhem to continue to “do her thing” as well as opening her eyes to experiences so far beyond what we can do here at home. And I’m beyond ecstatic! Because all of these collaborations fit within our goals as a family. And allow us to stick together – which is important to us.
So what else will we be up to?
We’ll see. I’ve been told lots of times that I need to strike while the iron is hot and take advantage of as many opportunities as possible right now. But here’s the thing – I will NEVER get this time back with Mayhem. And I like being a mom. So I’m not ready to give up spending my days with her. I do, however, enjoy that we get to be creative on our terms and if that opens up opportunities that are a good fit for our family, we will absolutely take advantage of some of those.
If you’ve stuck around to read all of this, thank you. THANK YOU. Thanks for sharing in this crazy journey with us. We’re looking forward to whatever year 2 of paper dresses brings!
You want to know what the cutest book on the market for the 3-6 year old (girl) crowd is right now?
It’s this one:
Maggi and Milo … No doubt about it. (And yes, that’s an Amazon affiliate link.)
When my friend Kristin (namesake of the Kristin Dress) mentioned to me a few weeks ago that she’s working with the author Juli Brenning, she couldn’t say enough about how completely adorable the book is. Then she asked if Mayhem and I would want to check it out. I jumped at the chance. Like most kids, Mayhem is a fan of books. BIG fan.
So the day that the book arrived, we had to open and read it IMMEDIATELY.
An adventurous little girl, donning a dress and rain boots, setting out on frog hunt with her dog …. To say Mayhem was smitten is an understatement.
And then there’s the song. Yes, you read that correctly, a SONG. It’s on the Maggi and Milo website. And it’s beyond adorable. Go listen for yourself. We’ll wait here.
Told ya! Adorable, no?!?! We have a tab open on my computer so that Mayhem can play the song over and over. She’s begging me to find out how we can put it on my phone so we can listen to it in the car. I’m still working on that, but I will gladly fork over the money if I find it’s available on iTunes!
In the meantime, Mayhem has a new favorite bedtime read. And to be perfectly honest, I love it too. I confess to singing as well … Just one little frog, just one little frog, I am waiting on just one little frog …
Disclosure: We were gifted a copy of this book just to see what we thought. We were not obligated to write about it. But we LOVE it and think you will too, so it would be a complete and total disservice if we didn’t climb to the tallest roof on the highest tower shouting that we think you should grab a copy for yourself. Because Maggi and Milo are awesome and we can’t wait for their next adventure! Over and out.
I’m guessing we could crack the code with this particular sequence.
I get asked a LOT if I see and/or read all of the comments/mentions/tags we get on Instagram. And my honest answer is no. I’m fairly certain it’s not humanly possible. And here’s why: 80, 50, 80.
But when I’d open the app, I still had my notifications pop up at the bottom of the screen and I’d always go check out the news tab to see what was happening on my feed as well as see what my friends were up to.
It’s when actual friends started texting me and sending private messages asking me “did you see what so and so commented?” or “DID YOU SEE MY COMMENT?” that I realized that my news tab was not indeed sharing all notifications with me.
Truth is, the magic number with Instagram is 80. Currently. That’s how many notifications IG allows in your “news” tab. And that’s the 80 most recent. So, if you happen to mention me in a comment on a photo of yours and then 80 people stop by and double tap on any of my images, I NEVER get that notification that you mentioned me. Ever. The only way I’ll see it, is if I happen to see your image and read all of the comments and notice my name in there. If you happen to mention me in a comment on someone’s photo that I don’t follow …. chances are, that one is lost in the great abyss forever.
I do however click on and read the comments on my own photographs and try to engage as much as possible on those.
So that’s the deal. The current magic number is 80. Any combination of comments, “likes”, new follows and tags will add up to 80 in my notifications. And that’s all I will see. Need proof? Feel free to put your addition skills to the test on these screen grabs I snagged yesterday:
So now you’re wondering what’s the deal with 50, right? Well, about a month after our story went viral, I was going to publish this post. Because I didn’t want people to think that I ignore the comments and mentions that I discovered I wasn’t actually seeing. I started grabbing screen captures of my notifications (like you see above) and one day the magic number changed to 50. And it stayed that way for a few days. I have no idea why. It just did. (My best guess is that was a test of the emergency broadcast system … this was only a test.) Shortly after, the magic number jumped back up to 80 and has stayed that way since.
So if you’ve ever wondered if I (or anyone else for that matter) see every comment in which they’re mentioned, there’s a very good chance they don’t. So please don’t take it personally if you don’t get a reply. The simple truth is that the comment/mention may not land in the notifications. For now anyway.
And there you have it – my guess for the combination to unlock Instagram
So was this news to you or did you already know this little tidbit about IG?
We’ve mentioned here before that we like the idea of auctioning off some of our dresses for various charities. After hemming and hawing and trying to figure out how to make everything run perfectly smooth, I realized that’s probably not going to happen. No amount of planning is going to give us the experience, so it’s time to jump in with both feet and see what happens.
Last week you may have caught us on The Doctors TV show chatting about food allergies. If not, you can check out our segment here. Many of you already know that Mayhem’s allergies are fairly extensive and possibly life threatening. Basically, they’re a big deal to us. And lots of other families live with the challenges as well. So with this week being Food Allergy Awareness Week, we’ve decided to kick off our dress auctions with one benefiting FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education). It’s my personal go to site whenever a new question comes up about Mayhem’s allergies and always the first site I direct others to when they ask about food allergies.
And with teal being the color for food allergy awareness, I knew EXACTLY which dress to auction off. I’ve never actually posted a photograph of it to my Instagram account. Not in color anyway It’s one of the dresses we created specifically for our Cincinnati Magazine photo shoot and a personal favorite.
I love this one. Really REALLY love this one. And it holds some very special memories for us too.
My husband thinks I need to make a few details clear: This dress is made from tissue paper and clear packing tape. I repeat: THIS DRESS IS MADE FROM TISSUE PAPER AND CLEAR PACKING TAPE. What he actually meant though, was that I should make it clear that this isn’t designed to be a “dress up” dress. We had to carefully cut the back of the dress after the photo shoot to get Mayhem out of it and then we taped it back together for display purposes.
We’re auctioning it as art or memorabilia. In other words, if you try to put this on another kid, it’s probably going to rip or tear. Also, the pipe cleaner necklace you see her wearing in the above photograph is not included. That thing was long gone months ago. Just FYI
Here’s how it’s going to work (this time anyway …. read also: learning curve happening here): We’ve set up an auction using Ebay Giving Works program. It’s a super cool way to sell/auction off your items and donate a percentage to a charity of your choice.
We’re donating 100% of the sale price of the item to FARE. We’re also not charging for shipping. Which is why I’m limiting it to US shipping this time around. If we get someone who wants to step up and cover international shipping charges for us, we’ll open that up next time around. But since we’re personally covering shipping charges, I’m sticking with domestic only this time. IF you happen to work for USPS, FedEx or UPS and would like to donate shipping, drop me a line, we’d love to chat
So let’s get this giving party started! If you want to check out and bid on the dress, you can do so RIGHT HERE.
The auction will be live for five days. And I’m excited to have FARE be the beneficiaries of our first charity auction. Those peeps are doing awesome work and families like mine are eternally grateful for the research and education they provide!