Thursday, August 18, 2011

BEHIND THE SCENES: MAKING OF A COCOCOZY THROW PILLOW!


COCOCOZY Coco's Flower cotton pillow in blue and brown on a peacock blue COCOCOZY Plaid Solid Throw
A playful mish mosh of patterns with Coco's Flower cotton pillow in blues and browns on a peacock blue COCOCOZY Plaid Solid Throw. (above)
My cute big sister just said jokingly to me last night,  "No one really wants to know how sausage is made." My friend AM would say, "No OSS. Stay a mystery Coco. Please keep things mysterious.". ("OSS" is a term best of friend AM, another friend AOB and I all invented years ago...it is called "Over Sharing Syndrome"...I have it...clearly). Well throwing caution to the wind, I will ignore best of friend AM and my dear big sis DS and over share with you with a behind the scenes of the making of a COCOCOZY pillow! Here we go!

(P.S. I know this is a P.S. in the middle of a post...is that even possible? A P.S. not even in the middle of a post but at the beginning of a post? Well let's see how this works out. P.S. my "big" sis is quite petite actually but I like calling her my "big sister" and even better my "older sister" only because it makes me feel younger. My big older sis is in fact only older than me by 10 months and as far as being big, she weighs in at about a size 2. Meanwhile I'm a size 2 on a rare good day...a very good day when I haven't eaten a thing for a week (hee hee)...a 4 regularly and the rest of the not so good days, probably somewhere between a 4 and a 6...so a 5 or a size 4.75? Truth be told, on a really really really really bad day, I'm a size 5.46 which technically rounds up to a 6 but when it comes to weight and sizing women do not round up...we are precise. On a bad day, I am a size 5.463581. I am just being accurate and honest here. You would not want me to be inaccurate...right? So the "big sister" reference simply makes me feel petite and young and I happily claim my kid sister status even though I am grown woman...something wrong with that...I know. As soon as my big sis reads this though and finds out I have been discussing her dress size on this blog, I think she will try to disown me and I will possibly not have a big sis anymore...I will have to do all kinds of apologizing and explain that I mentioned it in passing and it really isn't a big deal and it was only by way of explanation that she is not big. She'll make me erase it because she will call my mother who is very proper and will encourage me to not discuss private matters on the blog and then I will say "Oh you guys it is not a big deal." Then they will express grave disappointment. Then I'll probably feel guilty and like I've invaded my darling sister's privacy (which I have). Then I'll try to rationalize it all and think to myself, "She is a size 2...most people would be proud to be a size 2. I think it is okay to stay on". Then I'll leave it on the blog. Then I'll get an email from my mother who is a Ph.D. college professor and who is in Paris right now. My mother will strongly encourage me to erase this non sequitur. Then I will probably erase it. So the question is...should I just erase this oddly placed parenthetical P.S. now or should I just go with it and then erase after my sis and mother give their input? Hmmm...what to do...hmmm... :-))

So as most of you know, this week I've been showing my COCOCOZY textiles collection at the New York International Gift Fair for the second time this year. We have some good news as we got into a fabulous home store in New York...a staple for decorating essentials for the well heeled in New York. So excited!

I apologize for not blogging for almost 4 days. Showing the collection at the fair each day is a lot of fun but at the end of the day I have been exhausted this time around after my evening social engagements.

As promised, I wanted to share with you what it takes to get a particular fabric design and pillow to market. This post is a brief overview of what it took to get the newest COCOCOZY cotton pillow, Coco's Flower, to New York!

STEP 1 - THE SKETCHES - My designs are all original.  Ideas come to me in many ways.  Sometimes I draw out images that I think would make cool repeat patterns. In this case, I sketched my typical doodle flower that always end up scribbling on notepads when I am talking on the phone (that is the center flower shown below) and then I added in my version of a flower I've always seen my mother draw from time to time. Two doodles combined to make a possible repeat pattern! My take on high design!  :-)

original drawings for the COCOCOZY Coco's Flower design
My original drawings for the Coco's Flower design.  I usually sketch on graph paper. (above and below)

another original drawing for the COCOCOZY Coco's Flower design

STEP 2 - GRAPHIC DESIGN - Then my graphics person took my doodle (errr...sketch) and made it into a repeat pattern. In this case we made the design so it was capable of being printed in several different colorways and we have several different versions of this that we've yet to print. My graphic designer and I go back several rounds to make sure the final illustrator file that we create looks as close to the sketch, image or drawing I've provided as possible or as close to my vision of what the design should be.   The designer then puts the pattern into repeat.  Once that is done, that means we are ready to print.

Black and white graphic design file of the COCOCOZY Coco's Flower print

STEP 3 - MAKING THE CUT - Then I take all of the designs that I've created and lay them out on a table to decide which will make the cut.  I knew for this cotton collection that I wanted the patterns to be more whimsical and fun.  A little more casual then the sophisticated linen collection.  I also wanted to incorporate more than two colors in at least one of the designs...that's the reason Coco's Flower made the cut this round.

All of the designs for the COCOCOZY Cotton collection laid out on a table

STEP 3a - SOURCING THE FABRIC - This is where fab assistant KS (who loves the color pink) was invaluable in the process.  KS started working for me as an intern back in April and then came on board full time in May after she graduated.  I had already found a great source for the linen we use for the luxury COCOCOZY Classic linen collection of pillows, drapery and bedding...but I now wanted a durable reliable casual and a little less precious cotton for this new collection.  I had found one company in some far off place like Kansas or something to order fabric from...it came...it was a white denim...I realized this wasn't quite right.  So I gave KS a directory from a textiles fair I went to and said find us lots and lots of swatches to chose from.  KS of course smartly edited my lots and lots and lots request and ended up sourcing at several types of white twill, canvas, and denim.  She found a company right in Los Angeles who wholesales the perfect weight cotton.  We ordered a 100 yards for the samples.  Thank you KS!

STEP 4 - SCREEN PRINTING - Then I send the designs to my printing house where a screen is burned and then table printing takes place.  Directly below is one of the screens for the 1 color Coco's Flower pattern...and I also have taken a picture of the screen printing artisans printing a different COCOCOZY pattern on linen so you get a sense of how the screen printing works.  Before we printed by the way, fab assistant KS sourced a good weight cotton canvas for the cotton collection and we ordered about 100 yards only for samples.  We'll order more yardage once we go into production. I also went the color swatch process which involves me sitting by myself with a million and half color options and swatches and deciding what I would want each pattern to look like.  I go by feel when I'm doing color swatches.  I close my eyes and simply imagine the colors that each pattern should appear in.  Not scientific but it seems to be working okay for now!   BTW, I sent in the designs back in May or June...screens were not done until about two weeks ago!  Then the mad dash began!

Screen print of the one color COCOCOZY Coco's Flower print

Artisan screen printing another COCOCOZY pattern onto linen.
Artisan table screen printing another COCOCOZY pattern onto linen. (above)

STEP 5 - FABRIC REVIEW AND PILLOW SEWING - So in the case of the COCOCOZY cotton collection and this particular pattern, we did not get the final fabric strike offs (samples) until one 1 week before we were leaving for New York.  Less than a week really with no pillows made, no photos shot...nothing.  Just days before we were leaving, our print house called and said the fabric was done.  Now the call about the fabric being done didn't miraculously happen...it only came about after much begging and pleading on my part and after I called the print house so many times every day and I had fab assistant KS do exactly the same.  Just 7 days before we left, the fabric came.  We had one day to sew all of the pillows for our photo shoot.  I took the photos below from my Blackberry.  Fab assistant KS picked up the fabric at the print house, brought it to a park where I met her to review the final product so she could then take it to our sewing workroom where our sewing artist J could do her magic.  I never in my life thought I would be meeting my assistant in a park parking lot to review fabric out of the back of my trunk but I did.  When I pulled into the park, I saw KS chatting on her phone with huge sunglasses on sitting in her car.  She leisurely got out of her car popped open her trunk and just as I pulled up I got a glimpse of the COCOCOZY cotton collection.  I opened my trunk she brought over the fabric and here's what I saw...it was love at first sight by the way!

peek of the COCOCOZY cotton fabric just house after it was printed
My first peek of the COCOCOZY cotton fabric in the trunk of my car just house after it was printed (above and below)

peek of the COCOCOZY cotton fabric just house after it was printed

STEP 6 - THE PHOTO SHOOT - On Saturday before we left for New York and less than 48 hours after receiving the fabric (exactly 7 days before the open of the NYIGF), we met fab photographer Hugh Hamilton at my big sister's house for a pillow photo shoot.  The morning of the shoot, I was running around town like a chicken with my head cut off looking for another chair for a second round of chair shots.  Then I remembered seeing a great chair in dear friend JLF's fantastic home.  I texted JLF at 11:30am and asked to borrow the chair, she texted right back and said yes, by noon I was at JLF's loading a great classic cane chair into the back of my car.  I also went to my favorite florist and put together several fine arrangements including a pave of hydrangea, a moss topiary and some beautiful white phaleanopsis orchids. And yes, we did have the Coco's Flower pillow done and all the other pillows complete just in the nick of time for the shoot (I can't tell you how talented J, our sewer is)!  We started shooting at about 5pm and after 199 photos taken, we had finished shooting the new offerings for the COCOCOZY collection including new cotton pillows, new throw styles and colors and brand new colorways for the luxury linen line of pillows too!

Behind the scenes of COCOCOZY pillow photo shoot

Computer screen with images from the COCOCOZY pillow photo shoot

Stacks of the new COCOCOZY cotton pillows at the pillow photo shoot

Computer screen with images from the COCOCOZY pillow photo shoot

STEP 7 - THE END RESULT - On Monday, just 6 days before the gift fair began, fab photographer Hugh Hamilton got me the priority list of finished shots for the new items.  I immediately called amazing print designer EF who laid out new COCOCOZY booth postcards and new product one sheets in less than a day.  Print layout was completed by Wednesday.   Wednesday fab assistant KS was at the printers waiting for booth postcards and on Thursday we flew out of Los Angeles heading to NYC with me carrying over 150 pillow covers and dozens of throws with me!
COCOCOZY Coco's Flower pillow on a white armchair with a COCOCOZY throw in plaid next to a wood side table and a small topiary

COCOCOZY Coco's Flower pillow on a classic cane chair next to a white vintage side table with white hydrangeas

COCOCOZY Coco's Flower Pillow
STEP 8 - ADMIRING THE PILLOW IN THE COCOCOZY BOOTH - Have spent the last few days pulling the pillow off the shelves to show buyers, press, readers, and designers the end result!  I have also had fun putting together different pillow groupings and imagining how I might use this design in my house!  Phew and I LOVE the end result.
COCOCOZY Coco's Flower Pillow on a Lucite chair at the New York International Gift Fair

So there...my Over Sharing Syndrome (OSS) kicked in once again! No mystery here I guess.  Well I never was the type of girl who could be totally coy.  Will have to see if there is a post graduate college course in "Being Coy 101".  I would take it I think.

Hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes. 

Perhaps what I would want you to take away from this behind the scenes is two things: 1) If you have a dream, don't let doubt get in your way, just make it happen; 2) Anything is possible!

Happy Thursday!

xo
Coco

P.S.  Am getting on a plane tonight and taking a surprise trip and will let you know where I am going tomorrow.

P.P.S.  At my booth during the fair, I have had the chance to meet so many fabulous interior designers/shop owners who I have covered over the years including the very posh Los Angeles based Hillary Thomas of Chic Shop; darling Lee Kleinhelter from Pieces in Atlanta; Kevin Walsh and his sister Susan Walsh from Bear Hill Interiors in Arkansas; the talented Paige and Doug from Tracery Interiors in Florida; and, was thrilled when uber famous designer Michael Smith of West Hollywood's Jasper stopped in to say hi!  There were so many amazing readers who passed by to say hi too...including Tov, who was so sweet and who I was so happy to meet!

P.P.P.S.  Love my neighbors in the home textiles division at the gift fair.  Will tell you about them in another post.  One neighbor was helping another neighbor arrange her display yesterday to make it look as good as possible.  I heard one person say "it is not about competition it is about collaboration."

P.P.P.P.S.  Today is the last day of the fair.  We go into crazy dismantle mode at noon today!  Amazing to see all of the booths just come down in hours and all of the manufacturers pack up their wares so quickly.  I am wearing flats today...so I can dig in.  Just so you know.  I am wearing sparkling flats....one has got to sparkle even while doing manual labor...right?

35 comments:

  1. HI Coco,
    I thought that showing what long process it takes to design and produce a fabric was very interesting. I am always intriqued by the 'whole' process, not just seeing the beautiful end product.
    Also in design, I love the 'before and after' publications. Maybe that is 'man-thing'..... hope I am not offending anybody!! :-)

    As far as your lovely booth in NYC is concerned. I do not understand how you manage to do all of this. It is cross country. Do you schlep everything with you on a truck or plane?
    I am very much in awe of everything you have accomplished.
    I know you will be succesfull on the East coast.
    Best
    Ron ( empel collections)

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  2. I am loving your blog and your approach to being so open. You will have a following because of this.

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  3. Paige and I were thrilled to get to meet you in person, Coco. Your line is beautiful!

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  4. I too LOVE your patterns, some very reminiscent of Hicks and early groundworks ...when will the wall papers come out I will be in line...

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  5. Thanks so much for publishing this. It was delightful to read and so inspiring!

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  6. Thank you for publishing your "sausage" process. Yes, I wanted to know what went into the process and enjoyed finding out. Funny how all the creative processes take perseverance!! Congratulations on your initiative and designs.

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  7. Coco, I love hearing about all of the processes! It took me back to college days when I did some fabric design & screen printing, which I loved doing. Thank you for sharing & for following your dreams. It's all inspiring & energizing!

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  8. Love the print and seeing the process!
    Can you share any info about the wooden chair in the photo with the antique white side table? Thanks!

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  9. I love that you shared this process and love your work! P.S. my friends call me Coco!

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  10. How cool !! Thanks for sharing the process.

    xxLily
    goldandgray.com

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  11. Great pillows! Add such a pop of color and are in clean, contrasting colors. Love your blog!
    Jamie Herzlinger

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  12. Hi Coco ~ I'm ready for your wallcovering line....past ready. Love the pagoda pattern too ~ A nice update to the old standard. I think an equestrian print is in order....a fun one!!!

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  13. WOW! What a process I had no idea. What a great idea to give an inside perspective. Thanks for sharing.

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  14. Loved the story on how to make the pillow, glad you ended up posting it! Was great to meet you at the show and love the blog! I will send you some pictures of samples soon from The Paper Fitting!

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  15. I always wondered about that! And it really makes me like it so much more. Because I can feel your passion more from the original drawing, so I can now appreciate it in the translation and feel it there too. Does that make sense?

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  16. This was so fascinating -- thanks for sharing.

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  17. It is really amazing to know how much goes into it; from beginning concept to the end result of a gorgeous pillow in your showroom!!

    xoxo

    Karena
    Art by Karena

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  18. LOVED meeting you too! I adore your line and I'm so excited to be carrying your pillows at Chic Shop! Looking forward to hanging back in LA. Happy travels!

    XO - Hillary

    hillarythomasdesigns.com

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  19. Thanks a lot for sharing the process Coco! this is really motivating! I wonder how many vacation days do they give you in your executive job?!

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  20. This was so interesting, thank you!

    You're very generous for sharing so much. I love the patterns you create!

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  21. LOVE the behind the scenes look - SO interesting! The new collection looks gorgeous. I was so sorry not to be able to make it to the gift fair. Hope you had great success. Can't wait to hear about your trip!

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  22. I know for a fact that you never sleep, and I can see why--so much goes into your amazing pieces. Your great taste and attention to detail shines through in your designs and perfect booth! Can't wait for you to come home to hear about all the adventures. Am living vicariously through your 'surprise' trip and wish I could meet you there! xox

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  23. Fantastic post, good luck to you!

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  24. I think this was very generous information to share. It seems there is such a secrecy about the textile industry. Would love to know how you went through the process of finding someone to screen print your designs (although I am sure that is too much to ask). You have beautiful products!

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  25. BEAUTIFUL. love your textiles. be proud of what you've accomplished!

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  26. These types of OSS posts make blogs so different from magazines. Blogs are those friends that 'drop in' without calling, you see them almost everyday, they talk about everything whereas magazines always call, you don't see them as regularly as they seem to have more important things to do, and there is always this niggling feeling that they have something to hide.

    Yay for blogs (specifically yours), OSS, and sausages :)

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  27. Love it! Very interesting...

    I find all of your fabrics drool worthy- keep up the good work!

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  28. Overshare away! I love information like this. LOVE!

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  29. LOVE LOVE LOVED getting this behind the scenes look! Thank you for posting - I will look for you at the gift shows in 2012

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  30. Talk about under the gun! I've done a trade show and know how darn exhausting it is! kudos to you for pulling it off and having success to boot! As an budding fabric designer, I found your post refreshingly informative and I thank you for that. I will, in turn, post a similar how to -secrets of the biz- entry myself. It is about the comradery, not competition! We are all chasing our dreams!

    Thank you!

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  31. I think OSS just allows us to appreciate the end product that much more; I love to learn what goes on in the "backroom"!

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  32. This post is a winner winner! Love your design and your approach ! Success!!!!!

    Gabi

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