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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Portland or Bust, How a sticker loving child rode the Internet bubble and burst into the greeting card industry

{ the early years }
Entering the scene, 1976--as a child my obsession with illustration and craft hit hard and fast with the discovery of sticker collecting. My idea of a perfect afternoon was browsing the wall-to-wall rolls of stickers, carefully selecting new items (sparkly unicorns or scratch and sniff?) and digging into an irresponsibly large "Turtle Sundae". This was all a careful ruse by my clever mother--soon enough I was passed out in the barber chair while he touched up my perfect bowl cut. 

Known for asking far too many questions, I was soon enrolled in art and music classes to keep me busy. Bless her heart, my mother already had 3 older kids running the show. I attribute my creativity and passion for handmade to her knowledge of antiques, clever crafting, perfect penmanship, and home-sewn homecoming dresses. My entrepreneurial bent--I can thank the tireless work and support of my father. My business efforts started early, when at the age of seven I hawked hand-painted pet rocks door-to-door (a secret strategy for meeting kids in my new neighborhood). My first art obsession came at nine-- when I built my first pin-hole camera. Once I was even an extra in an After School Special. 

{ experience }
After a short stint in art school I went on to work in 1995 as the seventh employee for a small employee-owned Internet startup located in Atlanta, GA. Soon we were plucked up from obscurity into what would be an international buying spree--and the creation of USWeb. Focusing on Internet site development and marketing, the organization grew leaps and bounds in just a few years. In 1998 USWeb merged with CKS Group (well known for their extremely successful rebranding of Apple - at that time launching the popular candy colored iMacs.) Now known as USWeb/CKS, the Atlanta office grew again to over 200 employees and to include traditional advertising staff and work. Website projects now included marketing analysis, print and radio ads, online advertising and often took a year to complete. My time spent working for my father's software company in high school was influential, and I developed a knack for e-commerce and interface-complex development projects and my workload bloomed to 80 hour weeks.  While working as a graphic designer/art director at USWeb a few of my clients included Coca-Cola, MCI, KinderCare, Royal Velvet, and MinuteMaid. 

5 different company names, 15 different managers, 5 different offices in close to 5 years... ah, the Internet, a story of excess, times of change, unbelievable opportunities and risk taking. Shortly after yet another merger in 1999 (and becoming the company known as marchFIRST) I left and started working with my own roster of Atlanta based start-ups and the couture bridal designer Anne Barge . My consulting and design work focused on branding, information design, developing strategies and assisting in the design and interface for what was usually a very complicated software backend. 

{ Portland bound }
Looking for a change, I moved from Atlanta, Georgia to Portland, Oregon in Spring 2001 on a mission-- find a new challenge and pursue the perfect cup of coffee, late-night spots with excellent french fries, and a vintage bicycle. Looking for a way to work with my hands, combining my original illustrations and background in graphic design-- I jumped and started Owen Says; Launching at The National Stationery Show--a NYC based stationery industry trade show hosted at the Jacob Javitz in May of each year--the Owen Says line of hand glittered greetings has grown to include many popular characters and the addition of gift items. Currently I am working on an expansion of the online store with new items not found as part of the wholesale line--like prints, limited edition greetings, and printable calendars and stationery sets. Licensing and custom work inject life and whimsy and provide new ways to expand on my specific style of cute and occasionally the weird.  | follow me on twitter: @owensays

Monday, February 23, 2009

Social Media: My take

Maybe you haven't heard of  Twitter or think that this new world of Social Media does not have a place for you and your business. 

Are you happy enough that the website shows up on Google and that your webdesigners tell you your site is cutting edge -- nevermind how effective it is.. or how much you invested last year with no return. It's not important (you hope) because everyone in your industry pays attention to {press} {shows} {etc}. You see Twitter as another source of media clutter that will just sit there mockingly, like your spam-filled email box and endless Facebook friend updates. Stay with this line of thinking and you might miss out. Or worse, you might give your core audience the idea that your brand thinks it is too cool or doesn't care-- if you continue to dump money into a website that nobody visits you should understand why that is.

And while Twitter is growing and there are many companies utilizing it well, media outlets writing about it, and politicians pulling out their mobile phones in the middle of a presidential speech; There is still this stigma and disinterest from many businesses that thrive on a fanbase, word of mouth, and brand fanatics. They are turning an aloof back on social media. Their websites are uninformative or not updated, their blogs nonexistant or impersonal and--running risk of falling out of touch--they sit by bewildered, clutching to their press releases and the same way they did things in 1995. Meanwhile their fanbase will jump ship to more relatable brands (ones with more than a corporate facade) and their competitors will get an edge that they don't see coming. 

{don't miss 50+ Social Media & Twitter links: here }

Friday, February 20, 2009

Barbie collides with NY Fashion Week

The scene: the creme de la creme of creative talent, elbow-to-elbow -- a moment of solidarity in the fashion world. An occurrence as rare as a sighting of the infamous Sasquatch. The competetion is still strong, but the goal is a shared one.

view NYFW Barbie Runway Coverage

Inspired by ever popular fashion icon and it girl-- Barbie; The Barbie Runway Show was an inspired event where top designers (Alexander Wang, Tuleh, Bob Mackie and others) each created a different Barbie look resulting in a spectacular collaboration. Heidi Klum and Jonathan Adler were among the celebs looking on from the front row.


{SHOP: UK Telegraph Cover and vintage Barbie photos c/o Ebay. click on the photos to search current auctions}

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Your childhood doll just became high art - The Barbie Doll Portrait Project

I admit, as a child I was not into Barbie dolls. I would buy them at yard sales, cut their hair and discard them. 

Far more joy was found in the purchase of the Barbie Star Traveller Motorhome -- which I sat on top of and rode like a skate board down the street. I was too much of a tomboy for Barbie, and thought that Skipper should have had a better backstory and more accessories. It was a travesty that Barbie's dog was so silly looking. But Barbie just got arty.

These series of photographs, known as The Barbie Doll Portrait Project ignites a Barbie passion that I lacked as a child and tickles the vintage loving photography enthusiast in me.  For 52-weeks a collectible Barbie doll was transformed into portraits with details about her hair, clothes and story. "Here was an opportunity to FIND ART in the form of a reclaimed mid-century icon." [from website] 

The blog features post after post of delicious portraits of Barbie and some impressive vintage hairdos and finery. Look at the detail on the handbag! When you find an image you can't walk away from you can buy 10 cards and envelopes for $15.00 and frame a little Barbie vignette on your wall. Be sure to include your favorite Barbie enthusiast. Or you might create a convert, much like myself.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Twitter for the overwhelmed







{read my take on social media: here}

Monday, February 16, 2009

The ultimate party favor - Cupcake Soaps by MadeByMe

I happened upon this hard-to-pass-up gift item in the MadeByMe store. Precious cupcake soaps.
Available in a variety of tempting scents, these soaps look just like your favorite indulgence without the guilt. I can see them as part of a place-setting at a birthday or bridal/baby shower, or maybe packaged in cute little cupcake boxes and stacked in a tower as wedding favors (oooh with a monogramed sticker on the box, natch.) These delightful faux-treats can even be glittered on special request. (And you know I love me some glitter.) Scents:
Peanut Butter Fudge, Strawberry, Watermelon, Tea Rose, Sugar Cookie, Pumpkin Pie, Toasted Marshmallow, Baby Powder, Orange Blossom, Lavender, Sandalwood, Wisteria, Jasmine, Plumeria, Patchouli

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Hour Friday. Crazy food combination melts in your mouth.

I admit, I really like food. Just so you understand, I really like to eat. I mean, really. And while I consider myself adventurous, I was still quite surprised when I came across the following on the popular Portland restaurant The Tin Shed Happy Hour Menu. Then I took a bite and WOW. The craziest combination was an explosion of YUM in my mouth.
Not hard to replicate--if you can't make it to the Tin Shed try this at home. 

Berry Garcia (their name)
Roasted red pepper, jalapeno, black bean, Tillamook cheddar & berry jam, topped with jalapeno-cilantro creme fraiche. 4-

It's the combination of the sweet pepper, the hot pepper, the creaminess of the cheese, the bite of the bean, and the sweetest of the jam (use just a little) makes it combine to the most delightful flavor. Made from pantry ingredients, a snack that could be made when the fridge is looking sad and empty.

Lust After Munki Munki Gnome Pajamas

I have been a huge fan of the Munki Munki line of pajamas for some time. Their products have the most clever vignette patterns by illustrator great Heather Ross

Their adorable gnome poplin pajamas are currently on sale in The Horizontal Life online store. Many other patterns to choose from, but the gnome pattern is definitely a fave. If I were to pick one gift I would reallly like for Valentine's Day it would be this pajama set. I can see myself curling up to watch a movie or reading my current book addiction, eating some milk and cookies. Not to mention the gnomes would pair well with the fuzzy-slipper-boot-socks I bought elsewhere on sale recently for $4. Steal!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Make A Paper Gnome from Crowded Teeth

Gnome week continues. I stumbled upon the excellent artwork of Crowded Teeth artist Michelle Romo and fell in love with her website and blog and just had to share! Check out this whimsical gnome and the adorable directions to make one for yourself. I can't wait for the book of all her handicrafts to come out! Everyone will want one on their shelf.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

BRING THE LOVE: Gnome items from MultiplePersonality

Continuing Gnome week here on the Owen Says Blog. I adore this Gnome Girl Plush and Gnomes Print (edition of 50) from the Kansas City artist Sara's MultiplePersonality store on Etsy. The most darling little girl illustration available in a few different colors. I'm partial to the green. This is one of those items that I would buy as a gift for a friend and end up keeping for myself. Bring the love!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

GNOME & MUSHROOM PRINT now available

Visit the Owen Says Store for new products not found anywhere else. First up, two Gnome & Mushroom items to coincide with the free desktop wallpaper posted here on the blog earlier this week. 

Fine Art Print

Desk Calendar
two page downloadable and printable

Monday, February 09, 2009

Download free GNOME Feb/Mar Wallpaper Calendar

Do you need something to cheer up the your computer desktop background? 

This new Gnome February/March Calendar can be saved and used as a background wallpaper. Know someone who loves gnomes? Please pass it along to bring a little gnome to a friend's day. Download the full sized image here.

Instructions for changing your wallpaper: PC | MAC

Saturday, February 07, 2009

NYIGF - more links

These miniature concrete buildings by Pull+Push and a lot of other fab gift show coverage and photos on apartment therapy.
Design Sponge always has excellent coverage:klein reid + soda + and esque
dermond peterson and utility canvas
austin press
eastern accent
dfc design
jonathan adler

Friday, February 06, 2009

NYIGF Winter Show Coverage

Blue Barnhouse's blog coverage included Hello Lucky's booth as well as other talented and fantastic lines.
Photo by Blue Barnhouse Links: show | setup

coverage from other vendors

There is some legislation coming down that affects children's products and was a hot topic at the show

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Read my fab West Coast's Rep's Blog: Crow & Canary

Carina-my beloved and hard working Rep, who can be found traveling throughout the West Coast and beyond-has lots of pretty photos of cool stuff on her Crow & Canary Blog. She has an impeccable eye and is always finding wonderfully marketable lines from artists around the country that are not found everywhere. Her keen style and sweet personality have made her a fast favorite among the artists she represents and the stores that call on her to select product to stock their shelves. Visit for more information on the lines that Carina represents.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


Check out the New Online Catalog (requires password). Page through the card styles online or download a PDF of the catalog and print your own copy! Updated often!

CD Catalog also available! Portable and requires no Internet connection or password to keep track of. Browse the catalog and print what you want. CD is both pc and mac compatible. 

Email to request a CD or password. 

Copyright 2009 Jennifer Erts unless another artist credited. Do not copy, reproduce, reuse, modify any of the content or images from this site without permission.