Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Self Portrait: April

April, did you have to leave so soon? I was just getting used to all the wonderful things you were showering me with. Many of you already know of the love affair I'm having with the Norfolk Arts District/Better Block (sorry, Mike you were bound to find out). April was the month that brought this relationship about, then exploded with exciting news. I met so many wonderful people through this process, my favorite being my pop-up partner, John Wharton (pictured in the background, see his website here!). In the short 30 days we knew each other before the pop-up event we tested our sprouting friendship by building a shop via emails, texts, Facebook messages and a brief coffee meeting. We exchanged a lot of goals, ambitions, personal stories and probably way too much Ashley bossy time (sorry, sometimes I still think I'm five bossing my family members around). John and I created a little place to call our craft and plant home for a few short days and it was magical.

The allure continued with the success of the first Town Fair in Town Center, which my friend Allison and I created. The announcement that The Norfolk Planning Commission voted unanimously in the support of the ordinance that would create the Arts District was a huge sigh of relief. Kitsch's news of their planned expansion (happening right now) and the AlchemyNFK buildout underway were welcomed signs of growing culture. And Sunday's news of the Hurrah Player's purchase of the Texaco Building made me jump 10 feet into the air with joy.

We. Are. Making. A. Difference. Change is happening.

We are making Norfolk our craft/plant/art/music/locally-grown and locally-owned home and it will be magical.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday Musebles

The weekend was one big game of hurry up and wait. Lots of emails, calls, texts, scans, faxes, signatures and waiting. Hopefully soon I can share some good news, until then I'll share with you my favorite part of the weekend: our picnic! After a trip to the gym on Saturday we packed a little picnic lunch and headed down to the Hague. It was sunny and breezy so we hung out for a few hours just talking. I even got a catch-up call from Spain! All and all, it was a pretty swell afternoon. Wish that weather would have stuck around a little bit longer...

Music Monday

April's Music Monday, by Adrienne.... Who should be home this week! I absolutely cannot wait!!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Momentarily Obsessed With...

1) frank's red hot.  I feel like a pregnant woman because of the cravings I've been having for Frank's. I have never gone through so much hot sauce in my life! I seriously determine what I'm going to make for dinner based on if I can pour a little (or a lot) of Frank's on it. Honestly, I'm not ashamed. And, this might not be a momentary kind of thing...

2) hop notch IPA.  I've also been craving some tasty beers this month. I ran down to the Shady Grove just before sitting down to write this entry and picked up a six-pack of this IPA. It certainly packs a punch at 7.3% alcohol! The beverage is also pretty yummy. I'll try to keep to just one during this post :)

3) downton abbey. Thanks to my boss and a very convincing NPR article I started watching Downton Abbey last month. The first season started a tad slow, but by episode 3 I was hooked. The second season I was able to borrow from a friend (first season courtesy of Netflix), but I finally caved and bought the third season. I can't wait to find out how the wedding goes....! Eeek!

4) house key holder.  Probably be needing one of these very soon.... I've always had a thing for antique keys, and of course, nothing is better than that teal color!

5) leather wrap.  What a trendy way to carry all your electronic cords when traveling! Mine all end up in a zipper pouch and get into a tangled mess. I'm not sure when my next trip will be, but this will be on a must-have list.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

First Town Fair

Next time I will have photos of the other merchants :)

Yesterday was the kickoff to the Town Fair handmade marketplace series at Town Center. Despite the chilly temperatures and wind, I think it was a success. We had 13 merchants and 3 Town Center businesses, which were scattered all around the Fountain Plaza and the three-hour time frame was perfect. Some applicants complained about the times not being long enough, but I feel we got the late lunch crowd, the people running errands in the middle of the day, and then the dinner crowd. We immediately had five people ask for applications for the rest of the dates and are still getting inquiries. Our original merchant cap was 30, but we may tip over that by the time the Summer is through!

The next Town Fair is Saturday, May 18 at 3 p.m. You can find us in the Fountain Plaza (in front of Bravo and Ruth's Chris) in Town Center, Virginia Beach.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Color Therapy: Window Displays

This isn't actually "color therapy" but I thought it would be cool to share where my inspiration came from for our window displays at our pop-up shop. Plus, it's still all pretty to look at. Enjoy!

Cali also tackled this project for me and shoppers just loved it! I have a few people who even inquired about some custom-made versions!

 There would have been great for our back partition wall. Although, I didn't have 40 pounds of tissue paper on hand....

Recycle old beer bottles by hanging them with handmade fabric flowers! Yes!

 Might be a little dainty for John (he is a dude afterall), but it's pretty!

How cute and easy would these be to make? Boy do I have the paper for it!

This is a great idea for a Christmas window display... John, let's keep this in mind for December ;)

Accomplished this with John's air plants and some of my vintage packaging.

Adorable...next shop?

My friend Cali was able to paint these adorable curtains (minus the face) along with our business names. I think those small touches made huge leaps for the window display.

 In the background you'll see a retro bike covered with airplants and moss... This would be an awesome window display idea for us because we could hang things from everywhere on the bike.

John and I wanted to have some sort of guest book or giveaway in hopes to collect emails and contact information. That definitely didn't happen - and with the volume of traffic we had, it just wouldn't have worked. Although, the idea of hanging business cards on a tree would have been super cute.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday Musebles/Better Block Wrapup


I don't think anything could have prepared me for what happened in the 11 magical hours of the Better Block. The crowds began to funnel into the shop at 4:45 on Friday night and didn't stop until after 9 o'clock. John and I met so many lovely people, got loads of compliments on our pop-up shop layout and decor and made some money in the process!

 Every person that came in the shop loved our atmosphere and the overall point of the the Better Block. We had a few people ask if this would be a weekly or monthly fest, and while we wished it would be, we had to explain that wasn't the case just yet. John had one property owner approach him about moving our pop-up (as is) to his retail location in Oceanview. The offer was kind, but the $1,600/month rent option really isn't up our alley. I was offered to set up our pop-up shop in some other places along the proposed Arts & Design District for a weekend a month and that seems a little more feasible at the moment.

Ideally, the Better Block wants the building owners to do some repair work and get more permanent retail, restaurants, etc. into the spots even if they aren't 100% of what they could be. Just make the immediate repairs and get some positive attention to the area. Mary Jo, who was the co-pop-up partner of Mary Cup of Jo was asked by one of the district's current business owners what it would take...$20,000? She said sure, that'll buy a kitchen. Obviously nothing happens over night, but if ideas are planted, hopefully they'll eventually sprout.

I feel like Saturday was more of the shopping day. Families came out in the masses, we were making sales left and right, people were giving the shop so much love John and I were beaming. I hate to sound conceited, but our shop was pretty amazing. John and Patricia's items meshed so well with mine, it just seemed like a real cohesive store.

We were luckily enough to not have to tare everything down on Saturday and were (kinda) given permission to stay a few days. We're waiting to hear what "a few days" actually turns into, but in the mean time, our pretty storefront stays as is and we're getting some free advertisement! I am still feeling exhausted from the whirlwind of the weekend. I have a stack of business cards, emails, notes and scribbles I need to respond to, a website and wedding invitations to finish up, and God, do I need to get to a gym! However, there's not one ounce of me that would have changed a thing.

Favorite quote of the weekend "It looks like my grandma's house in here."
Along with "This shop is the place to be!"
And "So you'll be here every weekend, right?"
From the cutest little old lady "I have so much of this stuff around my house...would you want some if I could gather it up?"

Many thanks to: Susie Sanderson, Cali Carpenter, Chris Holder, Melissa Taylor, Mike Mars, Ryan O'Grady, Allison Wermers, Bob and Kristy Pursell, Ari Durrell, Terri Boone, Tina, Barkley Brown, Pam Morrow,  Barney Mars & Deb Janezeck for use of their driveway and paint supplies, Victoria Farr for the beautiful lights, Michelle Odom for the pillows, Norfolk Printing for the awesome job on the maps, Andrew Howard from the Better Block, Ron Williams and Lori Crouch from the City of Norfolk and my awesome pop-up partners John and Patricia Wharton.

Also, to Jesse Scaccia & Hannah Serrano for being such an inspiration in Norfolk.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Better Block: Day 3

All the street lights are the god-awful orange color.

Today is the big day! I've been luckily enough to have a flexible schedule with work all week, working 7:30-4:30 and today I'm taking a half day to finish up around our shop and help with the outdoor space. The weather is looking a little foul for this afternoon, and it sounds really windy out right now, but fingers crossed it'll all clear up by 5 p.m. 

Gotta love the pizza box, it's like a real kitchen!

I'd say our biggest change for the day was the addition of our pallet couch by Mike and Ryan. Didn't they do a fantastic job?! You'd think they were professionals, but in fact, they aren't. Haha, the duo made up their design as they went along. Since there were a few random nails and the wood is so rough, I covered the bench with table cloths my sister sent me from India. We're getting pillows from a local crafter today to throw along the back. 

My friend Alli tackled the pattern wall project. We were kiiiiiinda told not to use nails, but after discovering those 3M hooks weren't cutting it we put a few holes in the wall and covered up the fact with some an awesome display.

John's display is looking amazing. I love how it feels like you've stepped outside into your garden with his homemade gardening bench (he did it himself - with pallets!) and tree stump grape vine display. His terrariums and air plant creations are so unique, people are already getting sucked into the store by their appearance.

 At one point later in the night we heard this loud (like, really loud) music coming from a few doors down. I popped my head into the Texaco Building, which will house O'Connor Brewing, an arcade, outdoor games and music, and they had a full on concert-style sound system going. It sounded amazing! Anyone volunteering to fill in for me while I get my dance on?? Hahah.

The Better Block opens tonight at 5 p.m. I'm sure you've already scouted out where to park and have a pocket full of cash ready to spend at 765 Granby Street :). Stop by and say Hello to us, we can't wait to meet you!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Better Block: Day 2

I got to the shop promptly at 5 yesterday and got right to work. You could not imagine my deep gratitude for the people who have shown up to volunteer. Immediately, Tina, Ari and Terri got to painting on the wooden pallets John and I planned on using for tables. My friends Susie and Cali worked on folding maps and some decor for the shop. 

We weren't exactly sure how to assemble the tables, but the guys from Better Block assured us they would deliver wood for legs...and sure enough, they did! Chris and Bob put together four large pallet tables and a coffee table made from an old window frame (Mom - can you believe I'm still holding onto this thing??) in less than an hour! They came together so well, I'm hoping they have enough passion to put together a couch tonight! 

I am absolutely obsessed with this wreath my friend Cali made from newspapers  (left). It was a pinterest find, and although it took her 2 hours to make it was definitely worth it (although she may not agree, haha). On the right is our sandwich board display for the sidewalk.

Tonight is the big night. We have lots of people stopping by to lend a hand setting up, painting, folding maps and whatever other odd jobs we can find. Wish us luck, tomorrow is the big day!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Self Portrait: March

Yes, I know it's long overdue. It's not March anymore, in fact we're 10 days into April and I'm just now posting my March portrait. But honestly, I took some cheesy photo last month because I was in a hurry and could have written about some non-meaningful story. Instead, I decided to wait until our annual Spring camping trip. I always look forward to these trips for many reasons. The exercise, the friends, the fresh air, the ability to clear my mind and relax. And this time I needed it more than ever.

I read an article last week from the retiring AltDaily Editor that said "Dive into Yourself." That means something different for each person. For me, for the past six weeks since my last self portrait, it means stretching my limits and crossing my boundaries. I've spent countless hours driving to estate sales. I've attended a half dozen coffee dates meeting loads of new people. I designed a "neighborhood map" which the city and Better Block has backed and will be printing for the this weekend's event. I've built a website. I had a 9-inch needle hammered into my thigh. I took a marketing class. I refinished furniture and sorted through 1,000 pounds of crafting materials. I went camping and hiked 12 miles. I'm not listing this to brag, but to simply say: I dove Head First into myself.

I'm exhausted. Drained. Pooped (as my Grandma always said). But I have never felt so great.

Better Block: Day 1

photo by Steve Earley | The Virginian-Pilot
Ta-Da! The Better Block space! I know it doesn't seem like much now, but we have big plans in store. Luckily the space didn't need too much work, since the front walls are already painted. The rest of the building is basically off limits due to a leak in the ceiling and broken glass in the loft windows. Last night we made a floor plan that includes a craft library and tons of pallet furniture. My friend Susie hung the Christmas lights and the lit the place so nicely! We swept the floors and tore down some of the ceiling (and swept the floors again).

the back of the space which will be hidden by fabric partition
boards donated for the weekend by EcoTrends

The Virginian-Pilot has been giving the project a ton of great coverage in the newspaper. You can see the articles here and here. My pop-up business partner, John from Glass Gardens, was interviewed over at NorfolkLive. It's a great feeling to have such an awesome community spirit behind this very involved project.

The ceiling was dangling in the window and what kind
of display could we make with that in the way?
It had to go. Thanks for the help, Jen :)

We were able to move in John's collection of junk (and I say that as lovingly as possible), which we will use for displays and tables. Tonight is going to show a huge transformation. We're building tables, bringing merch, painting and so much more...stay tuned!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Monday Musebles

 Our 4th Annual Spring Camping Trip! We stayed at a new cabin this time, on Skyline drive at mile marker 81. Great location and really well-taken care of cabin.

Spring is in the air!

Newly-engaged couple, yay!

Glad we weren't the ones having to carry the chainsaw to this part of the woods!

Almost there, one mile to go.

10 miles down. Time for our traditional pasta dinner and s'mores. And wine.