The Life Aquatic Skirt

The Life Aquatic Skirt | Sophster-Toaster Blog

I was late to the Wes Anderson game. I watched one of his movies, Rushmore, for the first time a few years ago. I’m not sure how I avoiding every one of these amazing movies for so long. When I did finally see one, it was only because my brother recommenced it as “something you would like”. After watching Rushmore and loving it, my husband informed me that The Royal Tenenbaums is one of his favourite movies. I’ve now seen them all, own The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions on vinyl and have become quite the fan of Wes Anderson’s signature aesthetic.

The Life Aquatic Skirt | Sophster-Toaster Blog

I love Wes Anderson’s use of simple and consistent colour and structure. I especially love the way he uses pinks and blues. Since my newest skirt is inspired by one of my more favourite of his movies (I don’t think I could ever choose a true favourite) I decided to also plan a Wes Anderson inspired photoshoot to go along with it!

The Life Aquatic Skirt | Sophster-Toaster Blog The Life Aquatic Skirt | Sophster-Toaster Blog The Life Aquatic Skirt | Sophster-Toaster Blog The Life Aquatic Skirt | Sophster-Toaster Blog The Life Aquatic Skirt | Sophster-Toaster Blog The Life Aquatic Skirt | Sophster-Toaster Blog The Life Aquatic Skirt | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Top Sopshter-Toastrer
Skirt Sophster-Toaster
Shoes ModCloth
Earrings Designs by Amber
Necklace gift

All photos by me.

Dirty Hair: Four Days, Four Ways

Dirty Hair: Four Days, Four Ways | Sophster-Toaster Blog

About two years ago, I switched from washing my hair everyday to every-other-day. I made the change for a few reason but primarily with the hope that my hair would look better between washes when I’m travelling. The first few months were rough but, over time, my hair eventually adjusted to the new routine. Now I can go one or two days without braving the small, spidery cottage shower with its terrifyingly unpredictable water pressure and temperature changes.

During my most recent trip to the cottage, I decide to try something different. This time, I didn’t pack any shampoo, conditioner or dry shampoo for the four day trip. I did bring a small bottle of lightweight argan oil that I like to use as a detangler on wet hair, which I applied it once after my last wash at home and once after a swim in the lake.

Now don’t get me wrong, my hair still gets super greasy between washes. To pull off a three day stretch, I needed to plan a few easy hairstyles. Specifically ones that would hide how sleek and straight the top half of my hair would become while the bottom held on to my natural beachy waves. I packed hair elastics, a few bobby pins, a cute hair clip, two ribbons and a wire headband. With only these few supplies, I can do just about any of my go-to hairstyles.

Day One

Dirty Hair: Four Days, Four Ways | Sophster-Toaster Blog

I washed my hair in the morning with shampoo and condition and applied some argan oil before combing. I braided my hair into a pair of two braids for comfort in the car and containment on the boat.

Day Two

Dirty Hair: Four Days, Four Ways | Sophster-Toaster Blog

I took my braids out before bed and brushed my hair thoroughly with a boar hair brush. I then slept with it down like I always do. The next morning, I brushed it again and loosely braided a small section to give my roots some visual volume. I secured it with an elastic. and put it in a ponytail along with the rest of my hair. Once it was all tightly secured, I removed the elastic on the braided section and let it fall apart, blending into the rest of my hair.

Day Three

Dirty Hair: Four Days, Four Ways | Sophster-Toaster Blog

After a swim that probably made my hair dirtier, I applied some argan oil again and combed out the tangles. Then using only two hair elastics and two ribbons, I put my hair into milkmaid braids. (You can find my tutorial for No Pin Milkmaid Braids here)

Day Four

Dirty Hair: Four Days, Four Ways | Sophster-Toaster Blog

On day four I was heading home. I put my hair up into a messy bun and used a colourful wire headband to cover up my greasy hair and give my roots a bit of support so they didn’t sit as flatly.

That warm shower when I got home was amazing but I love doing this to my hair every now and then. It’s worth it for how soft and moisturized it feels for days afterwards. It’s like getting a fancy moisture treatment except all I did was not wash my hair for a few days and let it moisturize itself.

All photos by me.

Artisan Market Red Flags

I’ve previously written about the handmade/artisan market application process from the point of filling out the application. That’s the easy part. Today I’m going back to the beginning and talking about how you decide which markets to apply to in the first place.

Applying to a market is the same as committing to do the market. All (good) markets state in their contracts – which you must sign at the time of application – that should you be accepted, you agree to pay the fees and attend the market. This can frequently mean planning to devote huge amounts of resources to an event that you know very little about.

Applications to a market can go up as early as seven or eight months before the actual event. It’s one of the first things organizers need to get done, after booking the venue and making some-sort of website to advertise and host the applications. At this point in the market planning process, there can be a lot of unfulfilled intentions for the organizers and a lot of unknowns for you.

A good market application website, or mass email invite, will provide some information, like date and location, some stats, a mission statement of sorts, a link to a website, and an idea of the marketing language and imagery, but not much else. Finding and figuring the rest of the information is up to you. This can be very tricky for a maker new to their craft or new to selling at these big events, and, if you are anything like me, you will make a lot of mistakes and bad judgements before you get the hang of it.

Here are some of the red flags I’ve noticed in my four years of doing artisan markets. These early giveaways almost always guarantee a market will be bad, resulting in poor turn out and small-to-no profit for your time and effort.

The Market Stats are Estimates

When a market, especially one that’s been around for awhile, gives you a projected estimate of how many shoppers they expect, in place of real statistics gathered and averaged over the years, this number tends to be a result of wishful thinking and not something they can actually deliver on the day. New markets are an exception, but you should always take their estimates with a grain of salt.

They Don’t Limit Vendors by Category

Don’t be afraid when you see that the market organizers will be curating, limiting, or wait-listing. This is a good thing. This means that when you get in, the market will have healthy competition and won’t be over run with popular categories, which can end up being bad for everyone. I’m lucky in that my category is not very common. The best markets I’ve ever done have had 3-5 other clothing vendors, with differing styles or techniques. The worst markets have been the ones where I’m the only clothing vendor and completely out of context among the 7 soap makers, 3 additional bath and body vendors, and 11 jewellery designers all vying for attention.

They Allow Re-sellers in a Handmade Oriented Market

This is the number one determiner for a bad market! When I say re-sellers, I’m talking about people involved in “direct selling” schemes, or as I call it from atop my high horse, pyramid selling. Organizers will get desperate, greedy, or are just plain ill-informed, and allow these people in. Not only are they hard for people who make all of their own products (and all of their packaging, branding materials, etc) to compete with, they seem to lower the prestige of the market. Their products are often of lower quality and the people designing and producing the stock for them to sell don’t have the same ethical and environmental concerns and standards that a small, local maker has. People come to these events to support what we do, they are happy to pay us what we are worth. They don’t want to see this. Not here, not now.

A good way to tell if a market will allow direct sellers is that they will say somewhere in the application info that they will be limiting the number people who resell Scentsy, Sweetlegs, etc.

The Market is not the Main Event

This took me the longest to notice. I didn’t piece the trend together until a few weeks ago. It looks so obvious now; the best markets I’ve ever done have been purely a shopping event and the worst markets I’ve ever done have been tacked on to something else, like a street festival, fashion show or food truck fair. Another insidious sign, can be a market that plans workshops or children’s activities. It feels like the organizer wasn’t confident the vendors could draw people in on their own. In my experience, it actually reduces turn out and restricts demographics.

I image it could be different if you are selling food at a food festival, or children’s products at a children’s event, but the worst market I’ve ever done, was at a fashion show…. When an organizer does this, people don’t come for the vendors. They come for the event and maybe do a quick lap around the vendors, but they have no intention to actually stop and shop.

The Contract Doesn’t Forbid Early Tear Down

If a market goes badly, and there is no language in the contract prohibiting early tear down and pack up – followed by strict threats of being blacklisted for breaking this rule – less professional vendors will leave early. This creates unappealing gaps in once neat lines of vendor booths. The few people still shopping will think the market is over and leave before seeing every artisan still hanging on. Once one vendor (or an organizer!) starts packing up, they cause a chain reaction of others willing to cut their losses and throw in the towel early.

The Application Doesn’t Require Photos of Your Setup

This one is more of an orange flag. The very best markets will ask for examples of your typical booth layout so they can neighbour you with other vendors that complement or give intriguing contrast to your look, styling and branding. Most market organizers actually don’t think to ask about this, but still seem to put some thought into not pairing two competing category vendors next to each other or doing something silly like sandwiching a maker of vegan products between butter and leather artisans. But hey, I’ve seen some things that have made me think the organizers just tossed everyone in randomly. Poor planning like this from an organizer can be harder to predict ahead of time so when paired with other red flags on this list, I take this one more seriously.

The Name/Branding/Website is Bad

If you don’t like branding, don’t understand the name or can’t navigate the website, run. Your target demographic is going to feel the same way and things aren’t going to improve as the market approaches. Definitely don’t apply to a market that doesn’t have a website or at least a very strong social media presence.

The Location is Bad

If you have to look the venue up on a map and then can’t find it on street view, it’s a bad venue. Another thing to take into account is how the people who connect with your brand and products travel. Are they college kids who rely on public transportation? Don’t apply to a market in the middle of nowhere.

There’s No Fee

This seems like a great thing when you’ve never done a market before and have a lot of investments to make in something with no guarantee of return. But take a minute to consider all the time and money an organizer puts into pulling off a successful market. They have to book a venue, buy insurance, market the event and put together and process the applications, just to name a few. A good amount for a first time market to charge for a one day event (in my area on the edge of the golden horseshoe in Ontario) is $50-$75. An established market in a prime location can charge from $120-$200 for one day, but you’re going to get a lot more for that money. This organizer’s experience and reputation will draw a greater attendance. The best and biggest market in my area goes all out and provides a two day “upscale shopping experience” that brings out well-to-do women who shop like it’s a sport. They charge $250-$300.

The Booths are Small

Most markets will sell 10×10 foot booths where you bring your own tent. Some will offer smaller, less expensive spaces for vendors who make smaller, less expensive products, makes sense. Some indoor markets will sell 8×8 booths, which you can scale down so somewhat easily when you don’t have to worry about uneven ground, mud and other obstacles that comes with outdoor markets. Anything smaller than that, more than being difficult to adapt your tediously planned and perfected setup to, shows a real lack of knowledge and experience on the part of the organizer.

You Learn about the Event from a Last Minute Invite

Think twice about applying to a market that sends you an email inviting you to apply after the deadline for applications has passed.

There you have it. I wouldn’t say I sit down with a checklist every time I research a new market, but these are definitely things that when I see, I give a second thought about sending in my application. There are of course exceptions to these rules, but I have found them to be very good indicators, months out, of whether a market will be worth my time, work, and money. Of course, if you do see these signs, or are unsure of anything when looking into a market application, don’t be afraid to ask the organizer for more details!

May Showers and Apple Blossom Flowers

May Showers and Apple Blossom Flowers - Sophster-Toaster Blog

It feels like I haven’t blogged in forever. I’ve been so busy getting ready for my biggest market of the spring/ summer season, the Spring HandMade Market, that I haven’t had time for much else. It doesn’t help that it rained for days and days and days after a fairly calm early spring. A friend told me over the weekend that we passed the average rainfall amounts for the month of May in the first two days of the month.

I don’t think I’ve ever done a rainy day outfit, actually shot in the rain, before. So at the end of a week so rainy we had a road bridge guardrail collapse and both of our piers by the beach flood over, I decided to rectify this and use the gloomy weather to challenge myself to take some photos in less than ideal conditions. Plus, I couldn’t risk waiting another day and letting those beautiful crab apple blossoms go to waste!

May Showers and Apple Blossom Flowers - Sophster-Toaster Blog May Showers and Apple Blossom Flowers - Sophster-Toaster Blog May Showers and Apple Blossom Flowers - Sophster-Toaster Blog May Showers and Apple Blossom Flowers - Sophster-Toaster BlogMay Showers and Apple Blossom Flowers - Sophster-Toaster Blog May Showers and Apple Blossom Flowers - Sophster-Toaster Blog

Dress GAP
Sweater H&M
Stockings ModCloth
Necklace street vendor in Panama
Ring Blue Ridge Notions
Shoes ModCloth
Umbrella Amazon

All photos by me.