Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Don't sweat the small stuff

Perspective. Perspective is a slippery little slope. You never notice you've lost it until you are caught up in whirlwind of self doubt, comparison and fear; unable the see the abundance and successes that actually fills your day to day. All that achievement gets hidden behind the doubt, and it feels terrible. I was just able to get some perspective and see how I can fallen into that hole.

Seeing that you have gone down the rabbit hole and trying to shift your way out isn't easy. It takes a lot to start feeling grateful again and see all the positive in your life. I was contemplating the fact that for a long time my travels have been such an immediate way to bring the bigger picture into my life, remember how lucky we are and also reflect on how we can do things differently. It can happen anywhere but certainly seems to happen more easily in the "holy-shit-this-country-will-kick-my-ass" kind of travel experience, but really any place that pulls us out of our comfort zones will do.

Traveling has been an act of healing as well. That movement out of my day-to-day has allowed me to change and grow in fundamental ways. But lately I've been reflecting on the fact that I won't be able to travel so intensely forever, and will have to find other ways to keep that sense of sanity and perspective. I have inkings on what that may be but for now just a couple observations on doubt, perspective and other random life thoughts; in no particular order.

  1. It is really, really, really hard not to compare yourself to others. That's ok, but just know your perfect person struggles too. More than you think. 
  2. Doing something ALWAYS feels better than sitting around thinking about it (hey, like writing a blog post :). 
  3. Promoting yourself or your brand can feel REALLY uncomfortable. But, if you decide to be a shopkeep (or anything else for that matter!) that has to change. Get brave girl! 
  4. The more I meet people, the more I realize we are all just doing our best. Be as kind as you can.
  5. It is really important to have some practice that grounds you: prayer, meditation, yoga, exercise. And then do it....everyday.
  6. It is so important to get out of your comfort zone as often as you can. This could mean leaving the country or just taking a different route to work (or both!). Comfort zones are killers!
  7. You have more in common with people from Peru or Thailand or Mindanao than you might think.  Same goes for the opposite side of your city. It is a beautiful thing to discover. 
  8. In this country we have it really good and really bad. We have so much material wealth and opportunity to pursue the things we love but we also lead such individual lives we miss out on the strong community bonds and relationships that other cultures get to experience. 
  9. It's important to pursue your dreams, but also pursue your happiness. Sometimes we forget that real contentment lies less in the big plans or dreams but in those quiet, seemingly unimportant moments of our day to day. Pay attention to THAT small stuff. 
Top image Satsuki Shibuya
Middle image via Instagram

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Window on Oaxaca

A sweet little video that meets all of the current needs:

1. Oaxaca obsession: check!
2. Story about weavers: check!
3. Story about students REALLY learning: check!
4. A real international development story: check!
5. Empowering women in their communities: check!

Yes! That will do nicely.

Video produced by a great little grad school in Vermont the SIT Graduate Institute of which I am a proud alum!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Territory site

The site is up! Super excited to share the news, go take a look around.....

Friday, January 31, 2014

Perception versus reality

And a month later, the next post comes. Still gleaning pace and understanding from those flurried thoughts I put down at the beginning of 2014. Especially the reminder that once a month is just fine...... but you still have to get it done. 

Touched down in Bangkok two nights ago; still feeling light and loopy. Lots of swarming sights and smells. Travel is still sweet even with an aging body and a shifted perspective. The warm air feels amazing, the birds and trees and flowers are all encompassing. Definitely needed to get a break from that long winter. 

Before my trip, I was peppered with questions about the protests here. "Was I worried? How bad was it? Weren't there bombings?". 

These protests are serious and they are quite literally in front of our work site door. Hard to pretend nothings happening, even if you wanted to.  I won't say I understand completely what is going on here and this post isn't really about protests. It's about the reality I'm living right now. 

However, spending hours and hours yesterday trying to calm my colleagues back home, I realize what a huge gap there often is between perception and reality. I suppose in a certain sense, it is a more dangerous time to be here, but I wouldn't give it up for the world. What an incredible opportunity and exposure to a massive movement of will and determination.  Not what the media wants us to think it is. The human spirit is strong here and the focus unwavering. It is beautiful to see in action. And I don't feel scared. I'm just an observer; interested, intrigued and still a bit jet-lagged. 

Photos from National Geographic 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


I truly did not think I would get a post out by the first of the year. But it just didn't seem fitting to let the new year slide by without paying homage to one of the best and hardest years I've had in awhile. 

So 2013, I'm not sure I'll miss you but I will never forget you. You were filled with so much heartache, tears, self doubt, and fear but you also provided me with courage, humor, grace and optimism to find a steady place to get through and learn so much. Thank you.

Ten things I will take away from 2013: 

  1. Comparing yourself to others is never helpful. Ever. 
  2. The people you love will be there for you, no matter how long ago the last phone call was. 
  3. It is always worth it to be generous. Always. 
  4. Sometimes finding your voice is hard, really hard. But once you find it, listen.
  5. The Midwest can be an amazing place if you let it be. 
  6. It is very easy to let your life pass you by dreaming about somewhere else. Unfortunately, that place isn't any better. Guaranteed. 
  7. Blogging once a month is ok. And you don't have to beat yourself up for it.
  8. More yoga, less refined sugar. Yes. 
  9. Finding what you love in life is important and rewarding. It's also hard work and sometimes you want to quit.
  10. Having strong friends and relationships is the backbone to any endeavor you want to embark on. Those people will be there to celebrate with you and also pick you up when you fall. Everything we do is all about people anyway. 

Thanks to everyone that has been a part of my year from near and far and cheers to what the next one brings. 

Photo via Made & State

Friday, December 13, 2013


As always, trying to stay grounded through the holiday season. 

A highlight before a week of rest and recuperation is Territory at the Randolph Street Market! Sat and Sun December 14th and 15th 10am-5pm. See you lovelies there. 

Photo on Instagram

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Amazingly warm slippers discovered over on Lena's blog.......It is getting cold out there.....available on zappos.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ermie at the LA Hammer Museum

I've been following the amazing Ermie during her week long pop-up for Arts Restore LA at the Hammer museum. Really gorgeous and inspirational. Here's a little peak from her blog

That macrame around the foot reminds me of my hemp jewelry making days. Time to bring that amazingness back. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Launch and let go

What. a. whirlwind. 

I was looking at the date of my last post and chuckled. Some say they "neglect" their blogs after three about three weeks? :).

But I have a good excuse. I was preparing and participating in one of the most rewarding and incredible days of my life: the Territory Launch. It happened. And it was amazing. There is just something about doing what you love. It is a ton of work but it feels so right. 

There are so many things I could say and I will down the road but for now I'm just riding the wave and keeping the energy moving. Life is good when you let it be. 

I didn't stop for a minute to take a picture, but luckily I have lovely friends that snapped shots. Take a look...especially  at the one in the middle of the most gorgeous, thoughtful and wonderful women I've been able to meet and share time with over the past you all. 

And now, right back to it....there is a website to build, global artisans to discover and beautiful craft to bring to the world

xoxoxo, R

Monday, October 21, 2013

Shop inspiration: Beatrice Valenzuela

I've been working on a longer post about the many ways people can live their lives and how to be true to yourself as we age, confront hard questions and continue to carve a our little niche in the world. Needless to say, it's not ready. But....never fear, one of my greatest inspirations out of LA, Beatrice Valenzuela, just opened up a store front in Echo Park and it's something to get excited about. I am ready to leave the gloomy weather in Chicago and head out there stat! All those colors and SHOES make it so dreamy. 

All photos via LA in Bloom

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Business and Decor Inspiration: MILLE

I am loving this space by Michelle of the lovely shop MILLE. I have been a huge fan of her aesthetic for a long time and when I saw these photos of her house, I was blown away. Especially being a kindred, cold-weather friend I would love to bring this much warmth into a Chicago winter. Everything seems like the perfect touch of color and clean lines. I've been so focused on the business launch (eek!) my little house has been slightly neglected...time to change that! 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Once upon a time in Japan....

And here they are, when you have completely forgotten, given up hope and otherwise moved on with your lives; I give you the Japan photos. The fact that it has taken me more than four months to post these reminds me that a) I am not quite over the loss of my over 500+ photos from the trip and b) I have way too much on my plate; and while most of my plate is filled with are fun and exciting developments, they are keeping me a little too busy nonetheless. 

And I must say, Japan just doesn't seem over to me. Usually I post photos to document and close a trip. And while that is partly true for this one, I feel like this trip was just the beginning and much more is to come. I'm not sure if it's the desire to go photograph the country again, or just walk the back streets of Gion, but I think I'll be back. Sooner than later.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Speaking of Making......

About four years ago, I went through a real career crisis. After discovering the blogosphere and all of the amazingly talented people making their livings through sewing, knitting and designing, I felt that I had truly taken the wrong path in my professional life.

And while I aspire to do something more creative in my future,  I have come full circle in appreciating my background and what I've accomplished in the first ten+ years since college. And while I do sit behind a desk (god forbid!), I know there is still so much to learn and discover where I am right now as well as making moves to where I would like to be in the future. It is so true that our paths unfold in strange, beautiful and unexpected ways, don't they? We just have to let them unfold. 

So even though I might not make my living creating beautiful things, that doesn't mean I don't create :). So speaking of making, I just passed a milestone! I've been knitting for about 10 years and for the most part have really stuck to scarves and hats. However, I've just started to venture into garment making and I'm happy to announce that I recently completed the first piece that I will be able to wear! Hooray!

I used the gorgeous Boardwalk pattern from Brooklyn Tweed and I think it turned out ok! 

p.s. I'm looking forward to fall clothes! 

Top photo from Brooklyn Tweed bottom two via Instagram

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Made by Hand

Lena Corwin is coming out with a new book next month, Made by Hand, and it looks great! If I had any spare time to take on additional projects, I would be all over these. I think I'll get the book and keep these projects for a rainy day. 

I am particularly interested in the marbling project by Ilana Kohn. I received one of her scarves in the mail when I ordered a dress and I LOVE IT! 

All photos from the book's new site.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


EVN and I are spending the Labor Day week in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Clean air, lots of stars, water, quiet, woods. Exactly what we need right now. Breathing deep, taking stock and of course, doing a little work. We are city folk after all :).....

Photo courtesy of your USDA

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Hustlers and the Dreamers

It is way too late on a Sunday to be starting a blog post, but I am creeping up on the two week mark, and there's no moment like the present. My late night posts tend to be full of spelling and grammatical errors but heartfelt none-the-less. 

One week ago today, I was in NYC at an Artisan Resource and Fair Trade show which completely and totally blew my mind. I learned more than I thought possible in two days about the artisan world and I felt incredibly lucky to be able to attend on my shoestring budget. I am also immensely filled with gratitude and love for the people that have so beautifully come into my life recently and helped out in so many ways. You know who you are! 

So it was 2.5 days of whirlwind talk, connection, beautiful products and, first and foremost, inspiration. People are so amazing to talk to when they are in their element :). And that connection is what makes it all worth it. 

My last night in New York, I read this. Read it. It's for all those people out there that are scared but sure, have a dream but not the next step and for those who have fallen and aren't quite back up yet. This one's for you...for all the hustlers and all the dreamers. 

Photo of me 13 years ago! I had the hustle then, I just didn't know it yet :). 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My little Pip Squeak

I'm heading off to New York for the NY Now Gift Show this Saturday. I'm super excited to meet with global artisans from around the world to talk collaboration!!!, learn more about their products and just meet people in the artisan marketplace. 

One thing I love about this show is that there are both domestic and international producers there. One of the American designers that will be there is the ever-so-awesome Pip Squeak Chapeau!  I have looked up to their design and aesthetic for so long so I'm looking forward to seeing them in NYC. And look at those pants below! LOVE.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Your element

At long last. I hope I've not hyped this too much but I did put a lot of thought into these words. I hope you enjoy it and maybe even relate a bit :). Here's to finding our joy. 

So I've been going through a lot of change lately. Some would probably characterize it as "sad" or "unfortunate" and for a long time, I probably thought the same. And, let's be honest, some parts of it have been really sad and hard and scary and frustrating; but now that I am coming out on the other side and the dust is settling, I am truly and wholeheartedly looking at this last year of chaos as the blessing that it has been; I am emerging a wiser, better adjusted and less anxious version of myself. And I like that......a lot.

During this time (and, let's be honest, it's not exactly over) I've been thinking a lot about my years up until this point (looking back at my past has never been my strong suit) and I've been reflecting quite a bit on the transitions into adulthood, how life doesn't turn out exactly how you think it will and how, in the end, as long as you find your element, your joy, that is all a-okay. 

I avoided the transition to adulthood for as long as I could. Really I did. I traveled for many years after college visiting and living in some far, and then farther, places of the world.  Driven by a sense of adventure and family history (I come from a long line of inquisitive vagabonds), I was immensely curious about the world and it was an exciting time in my life filled with seemingly endless possibility.  Looking back at all that movement now, I recognize that while it came from a place deep inside me that loves culture, adventure and experience, it also stemmed from a real resistance to settling down. Getting a job, being responsible, stable, and having to deal with some of the genuine challenges that come from modern life was something that frightened me in a real way. So that escape route worked pretty well for a long time until after many years of being out of my culture, away from my family and friends, I decided it was time to come home. I missed my people.

So I came back, settled down, got a(nother) degree, got a job and for a long time it was all of the things that I feared it would be: monotonous, superficial, claustrophobic. I had many breakdowns where I looked to move again, looked for another career, state, city... the list goes on. But then I started to settle more, find my rhythm, but I still had an itch. Something still wasn't right.

A couple weeks ago, I was listening to NPR a little later than normal and there was a interview with Sir Ken Robinson on the Commonwealth Club. Usually when NPR is on in my kitchen, I am doing something else and half-way listening; but as soon as I heard this "Sir Ken" start to talk (he really does go by Sir, he's British!), I sat down and just listened .....for 60 min straight. 

The gist of his message was simple. Find you talents = do what you love = be happy. Easy right? We all know how HARD it can be to find a career (ney calling!) you are passionate about, especially one that will pay the bills.  But as I sat there listening, I felt a real momentum starting to build around finally putting the effort and energy taking this concept out of my head and putting it into motion. 

We all spend so much of our time (and subsequently our lives) at work; so it makes sense that our time and energy  go into something we love. And as Sir Ken points out so eloquently, it is a shame that most of us don't do that. But we can try. And when it's all said and done, at least we can say we tried to find our gifts and joy to offer up.  Since it is as much a gift to others as it is yourself. 

So part of being back in this space is starting to own, further discover and then refine what my own element is. I feel it coming closer but getting there still feels far and, god knows, it seems hard.  But looking back on my last year of chaos, one thing I know without a shadow of a doubt, is that it's worth it to work on the hard stuff as they end up  being what saves you. 

So among many things in the coming months, I plan to read this book and this one and see what I find. I also plan to change this space and start the shop!!! But what I also plan to do is keep grounded, work hard, be humble and grateful for the things I do have. Discovering our dreams and passions are really only possible with the love and support in your current situation. Being able to achieve anything of significance means, in a certain sense, that we do not hold on to a particular version of what it might look like; allowing it to unfold moment by moment. Because allowing the joy of the present to manifest is where all the magic always happens anyway. 

So, I wonder, have you found your element?

Bottom and Top Photos via Indulge-in-reveries
Middle via Pinterest

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ermie and late to the game

Sometimes I feel like my angle on this blog should be highlighting really amazing things one to two weeks after they debut in the blogosphere...Anyone? Or things I promise you all (like longer posts on life and photos of Japan) will come after you have completely given up on them! (I promise they are still coming!!!) Ok, I digress! In any case, I was back on JPD's blog today and the sneak peek of her new collection she debuted Tuesday is gorgeous. I heart Ermie

Top two photos by Kate Miss and rest from Ermie 

p.s. isn't that model adorable!