Archives for January 2016

Day 14: Sunny Skies

Day 14: Sunny Skies

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KUSIKUY’s new logo will not have a monolith in it.

Well, ya gotta love the NYC creatives.  I almost had another designer quit on me because he felt I was over-managing him and, “had my head up my ass,” as far as my creative direction went.  Fortunately I’m a NYC type myself an can appreciate the blunt, in-your-face-ness of NY.  And it gave us both a moment to better understand each other and know that my ill-guided suggestions, were just that, and the designer gets to be in charge of the design (and educate me on what it’s all about).

It has been both challenging and exciting being the “student” in this project, patiently forming a team of experts to lead this launch and guide me though these unchartered waters – with a lot of faith and patience on their end too!

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We will visit Concrete + Water in Brooklyn tomorrow…

When I left the scene 7 years ago (in 2007), the story was al the rage.  Lots of text, Kindles were new, transparency in clothing was unheard of and I was a storyteller.  Now stories are old news.  Everyone, even developing world producers, have smart phones, and the photos are taking the place of 1,000 words and then some.  And not just snapshots, but beautifully constructed art photos and short videos.  On Monday our first samples ship from Bolivia.  Photos are coming first!
Tomorrow I take a group of MHC students to NYC to meet my re-launch team and others working in social investment and fashion as part of a career exploration day.

Day 13: Delivery and blessings

Day 13: Delivery and blessings

Ahh, blessings.  I’m working on a minimized web site right now.  The hardest thing for me it to tell and show so little about KUSIKUY – when there is so much to say and see!pillowbox

The newest thing is the delivery will be in a pillow box  with tan tissue paper and Bolivia string with pom poms.  We will have a small card with the name of the knitter written on it and her blessing (ch’alla).  It turns out all KUSIKUY products are blessed.

Usually the blessing is an invocation of the spirits of Pachamama (earth mother) and one’s ancestors to look over the wearer of the glove; that they stay warm, protected, healthy and happy.  The yarn is also blessed as are the animals.

The first day of the month is when Bolivian businesses and people pause for a moment, light incense and through messages delivered in the smoke, thank the spirit ancestors, Pachamama, protective mountains and rivers for all they have given and ask for continued help and remembrance  in all that is still still needed.  Spirits are invited to beer and pure alcohol spilled on the ground for them.

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Bolivians create a ch’alla celebrating the election of president Evo Morales.

Day 12: Back to school

Day 12: Back to school

Mount Holyoke College_200pxThe semester has started and now the KUSIKUY re-launch is sharing time with a book to write, a Social Entrepreneurship class to teach and 1,800 students seeking the services of Entrepreneurship Programming (which I coordinate) at Mount Holyoke College.  Now I get to switch hats and become the mentor once again, guiding students through brainstorming, concepts, launches and scaling. It’s a never ending cycle and one that is full of surprises, rewarding and creative.  entreprneruship club

Today I meet with the KUSIKUY mentors to review my own web content and design.  Looking forward to getting the style sheets and logo redesign in from Jimmy too!

Day 11: Colors and snow

Day 11: Colors and snow

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The KUSIKUY Pallet – 60 luscious eco-dyed colors and 16 natural shades, all 100% pure superfine, alpaca fiber.

Today it snowed a little; snowman snow.  This snow person my son and I made is missing its KUSIKUY glittens.  Today we contemplate the new look for KUSIKUY, the fonts, colors, logo… The inspiration on this cold, grey winter day is KUSIKUY’s color cards, a breath of saturated fun amidst a sea of white on white…IMG_3008

Day 10: A riderless horse

Day 10: A riderless horse

Coming back IMG_2991from dropping the kids off at school and my neighbor’s horse decides the summer paddock is a much better place to spend the winter (except it’s not!).  We have a fun moment, giving “Big Red” the right of way, slowing down and letting our businesses take back seat to her slow, nonchalant stroll down the middle of the road.

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Big Red taking a stroll past Lilac Ridge Farm… on the way up the mountain to KUSIKUY’s Vermont offices.

The sky says, “snow tonight” which is nice since my daughter wanted to go cross country skiing with me tomorrow.  We’ll of course be wearing our KUSIKUY glittens – it’s so easy to adjust bindings that way, and we never lose our gloves by stuffing them in our pockets and having them fall out.  When we get home, we can lay them out by the fire, knowing in less than an hour they will be dry and ready for the next adventure.

Day 9: A Writing Respite

Day 9: A Writing Respite

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A Sustainability Circle from my summer Fulbright research of quinoa growers and local sustainability in agricultural communities (scroll back to the previous blog series to learn more).

With KUSIKUY, the new budget is in. Team is forming. Mentors are looped in and networks reached out to.  On the academic front the MHC syllabus is done, guests invited, projects confirmed, notices sent out, and calendar arranged (classes start Tuesday…).

Now I can take a respite from the busy beaver planning, organizing, coordinating… and sink into some deep thinking, letting my spirit wander though the ether, gather up ideas, thoughts fleeting images and forms and shape them into something palatable and important – calling to soul and spirit.  And so starts day 1 of writing a new academic text, a short philosophical pivot book on how social entrepreneurship builds sustainability in today’s world.  

The argument is we are all social entrepreneurs on a micro level of running a household and making choices on the life we choose to live, job, management of personal economy, etc…  and we have power with these choices and they have impact.  Should be out in May-Aug (it’s a Palgrave Pivot Book).  First chapter will be read by my students on Tuesday and the book will unfold over the course of the semester…  

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Tamara at her stand-up desk at her home office in VT. All of Tamara’s work is done standing up. There are many good reasons for this – but Tamara’s is that it’s better for her back! http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/five-health-benefits-standing-desks-180950259/?no-ist

Spring is certainly the time for new beginnings!  

Day 8: Power of Now

Day 8: Power of Now

cat snowAfter a lovely snowy morning meeting with business students at Greenfield Community College and making a fantastic connection with KUSIKUY’s soon to be new brand designer, art director and life archiver extraordinaire (name to be released at a later date!), it is now time to settle in to creating (and updating) Entrepreneurship Programming to support the 2,189 Mount Holyoke College students I serve in their business development.  Listening to Eckhart Tolle‘s Power of Now keeps me here and not daydreaming (too much) about all of the wonderful plans for KUSIKUY (other then the soft launch around V-Day!).

The KUSIKUY knitters are so good at the Power of  Now.  Often when first arriving in Bolivia, I start talking to them about my Big Plans for KUSIKUY: next month, next year, future expansions …

At first they are interested though soon they stop nodding their heads, their attention goes elsewhere (I begin to wonder if maybe my Spanish off and I’m not being understood…) and eventually someone will ask me a dona lily 9 febreroquestion about something happening now, that has nothing to do with the grandiose thing I am going on and on about.

“Oh yeah, now,” I am reminded, and I slow down, smile, breathe, sip my tea and feel humbled.

On other occasions, I’ve asked the women why they don’t want to talk big plans with me.  Knitter Dona Lily explained it best, “you don’t know what the future will bring, and when it brings what it does, it is there and that’s it.”  Tolle would like that!

Day 7: Great organizing tool!

Day 7: Great organizing tool!

mindmapBig thanks to fellow entrepreneur and educator,  Jim Verzino for introducing me to XMind, a great tool for organizing ideas and projects.  Jim and I are using it for our collaborations.  I’m using it for the KUSIKUY launch, and I brought it to a community travel and performance project I am helping out with.  All with great success.  Super intiuaitve and very flexible, I like that the program downloads onto my computer so I don’t have to worry about having a wifi connection.  My XMind is always with me, even when the internet is not (which happens quite a lot here in Vermont and especially in Bolivia!).XMind is free but takes a moment to download, so be patient.  Enjoy!

Day 6: Sampling

Day 6: Sampling

glitten longJust got off the phone with Bolivia.  The knitters are loving our new designs and feel they will be gorgeous.  New features include hand carved tagua buttons from sustainable rainforest nuts, a special button-hole for the thumb, bold men’s and artsy women’s designs.  Inspirations come from ancient Tiahuanacu pottery, purple mountains, Andean skies, rainforests and sun.

Current Challenge: Can we get the new line out in time for Valentine’s Day?

I’ll keep you posted!

Day 5: Inspirations

Day 5: Inspirations

Tamara inspirationWow, it’s been a whirlwind with the re-launch.  Getting into mentoring programs, deciding on the scope of the re-launch, designing it, exploring best practices, the industry, peers, my customer.  getting up to date on so much that has happened in the design-fashion world in the past 8 years.  Now branding.  It seems simple at times and huge and overwhelming at other times.  I can’t imagine how I ever did this in the first place – for years doing all production, design, sales, marketing… a one stop shop.  With no real experience in any of it!  But somehow I pulled it off.

But now we are beyond “pulling off” and are instead gorgeous, meaningful, inspirational, art.  It feels good to welcome the women knitters as the true artists they are, celebrate their work with carefully created designs, and unveil KUSIKUY as the serious brand it was meant to be.

My inspiration though out the whole process?  The stark cold frosty breath still, silent mornings of NYC corners, waiting for a bus, a train, hands cold, thoughts distant and the cool, stark warmth of the Andean sunrise, dramatic cliffs, windswept plains, softly glowing vast skies mauve, gold and the deepest blue, piqued with the tone of a single flute, whispering across the bare silent hills, and the scattered seed of sacred quinoa – a symbol of life, continuity, fragility and endurance… (NYC photo credit: Rebecca Lepkoff)