Thursday, April 30, 2009

Superstar bags

You saw it here first; beautifully colored organic cotton net bags. Our new colored net bags are very pretty; there are a few saturated colors, but most are subtle. When you see them filled with a contrasting fruit or veggie they will be striking! The colors will help with organization. They are all hand dyed and no two are alike.
While I really love my baskets, the net bags are my superstar product. They have been great, used in dozens of ways including produce.
I did separate batches of pink (going from warm rose to ballerina pink) and yellow (yellow pepper to pale lemon) today, and I think I am now getting the hang of it. There are a few tricks to it, if you want to dye them yourselves.
This is one gigantic bundle. We'll have them this weekend at Corona del Mar, Studio City and Brentwood farmers markets. They cost $1 more per bag than the natural color.
People come up to the booth and see the net bags on the table and ask "what are these?" but they never notice the sample bags hanging right above the bags. This weekend I will hang a hot pink or orange bag, see if that catches people's eye!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

They love a Monogram

What could be more custom than a monogram? It screams class and sophistication; it makes an item extra special for $10.
I thought immediately of monogramming the liners and totes when I ordered them. I had this one done so I could show it as a sample. Everyone is crazy for it. It gives people a new idea and is wonderful for a gift. I have a monogram shop client in New Jersey and they are showing our products this spring, but I wanted to have a few pieces done locally. This was done by I-Initial in Tustin, my favorite momogrammer since I have yet to show them something they can't monogram! They did a fab job on some hemp bags for me this week too. Note that there is still a mark from the hoop, but this will go away.
So this is my first order, a yellow Cannes with liner, monogrammed both on the front of the tote and on the liner. The mono on the front is finished in the back very well -- as opposed to having a big piece of backing; the mono on the liner needs to be higher up so you can read it when the liner is drawn. I had one of the St. Tropez baskets monogrammed for my sister, and she uses it for her kids' swim stuff.
These are great to personalize for bridesmaids' gifts or other. More later; but this gives you ideas...

Wild Wild Net Bags

So here they are, "ta da!" inspired by the colors we see each week at the farmers market in our fruits and veggies and flowers. They are les fauves of produce bags....
I've been busy in my dye pots coming up with what I call a "commercially viable" colored net bag....these are my first samples. They aren't tagged and aren't set up yet, but you can get an idea of where I am going. Aren't they pretty!?
I am sticking with the same colors as the baskets; this go-around is rosey pink, sunny orange, golden yellow and combinations of those. The first ones out of the pot are a very saturated color; the last ones are much more subtle. So that in the yellow the colors go from a bright bell pepper golden yellow to pale lemon. You'll notice I carefully did not tint the French Basketeer label; that is sacrosanct.
I did some solid, some ombre like my fabulous Antibes baskets, and some combinations, like yellow and pink.
I will have these in the markets and shows this weekend, and I will feature them in Jennifer's Brentwood farmers market. I still have to work out the best way to present them. I can't wait to see what my regulars have to say! I think it's a matter of preference; I love color (obviously) but for sheets and towels, only white (Matteo linen, please). Some people will like the color, some people want unadulterated organic cotton net bags.
More on this later, wanted to get the pic up; this was late in the day and you can't fully appreciate the color.

Monday, April 27, 2009

New Produce Bag Tags

I am constantly improving and editing my materials and display. I like to keep it fresh and seasonal. I've changed how I display the net bags: for the launch party, I just had a huge flat stack of them, like a pile of crepes, because I was crazed, quite frankly. The net bags and baskets arrived about 36 hours before the party so there was no time. I show them in a small basket if it's not a big eco-crowd, and if it's a big eco-event I stuff a basket with bundles so the tops show, like little rosettes. That looks nice until everyone inevitably pulls out a few bundles to look at them. Now I like an overflowing basket on its side.

I've been wanting to make a new hang tag for the produce bags. Initially I rejected the hang tag idea for the net bags since I support the elimination of any non-essential packaging. We use as little packaging as possible; that means a little 100% paper raffia and 100% recycled paper hang tags. That's the extent of it. You carry your basket away, of course. There was one buyer in Glendale who actually asked me for a plastic bag to put her basket in! I looked at her and smiled and explained we advocate eliminating plastic bags. That is the only time since the launch that I have been asked for a bag.

But I've found that sometimes people like a hang tag for the net bags; not if they are going to take them and use them immediately in the market; those people very politely hand me the raffia for reuse. But a lot of people buy them for gifts, a go-green intro gift, party/dinner/lunch/baby shower favors, and it's nice to have something that explains the product, or at least gives an indication.

The other advantage to the hang tag is that it tells you where the bag came from. When I ordered the net bags, I made a point to put my own label on them, visibly, and on the outside, not the inside. But it is constant now -- repeat buyers come and say "everyone asks me where I got them. Can I take some of your business cards?" I kept the company name pretty simple, the website is just the company and the name is on the label. So now when patrons tell me people want to know where they got them, I've taken to pointing to the label on the net bag and saying "that - dot com." Oh...

Anyway, last night we went out to dinner to celebrate D's Confirmation, and at the end of the meal I had a tiny single espresso, with a little lemon rind. It was a particularly good espresso, which I normally drink in France (with little or no effect) and very very rarely here. I got home and was wide awake. Until 1:30am or so. In that time, I looked at 1,330 script fonts, fiddled with a variety of styles, layouts and text conbinations.

In the end, I modified the previous net bag hang tag, which was color and designed by a dear client, Linda, in Calabasas. She used them for the holidays to give her friends citrus from her trees (clever!). I am a classicist, and I decided to go with black ink on recycled paper, to keep with my theme and to save on ink and printing costs, which means I can offer a low cost product. I am using the font from the logo (I still like it best after viewing another 1,330!) and added a more concise explanation and the website address. I'll start to show them this weekend; see what people think.

On Saturday: Maria and Nicole will be at CdM market, I will be at a school benefit in West LA; Sunday: Michelle & Robert will be at Studio City market and I will be at the Brentwood market. I'm going to dye some net bags too tonight and try them with the new tags. I decided what I want to do with the dying for a "pretty," commercially acceptable look so we'll see how it works out!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

California Master Environmental Assessment Moves Ahead

I have a board at the markets, Look Who's Banning the Plastic Bag. It's a growing list of municipalities, cities, regions and countries around the world who are either considering or have already moved away from plastic carrier bags. People always stop and read gets them thinking. The list of who is considering a ban has more than doubled in the last year. A lot of people then ask, if so many cities in California are considering a ban, why aren't there more cities with bans in place?
The short answer is that if a city passes an ordinance banning plastic bags without completing an Environmental Impact Report ("EIR," proof of sorts that the plastic bags are indeed bad for the local environment), the city can expect legal action from the plastic bag industry. Between legal defense and costs of the EIR (estimated to be minimum $30,000), this sounds like a headache to a lot of would-be bag busters.
The great news is that the State of California Ocean Protection Council voted last week to produce a master environmental assessment ("MEA"). The MEA will serve as the basis for local EIRs by California municipalities, saving time and the expense of producing individual EIRs.
The MEA should take 6-9 months to complete. The expectation has been that once the MEA is done, many municipalities will then move forward with their own EIRs and eventually, bag bans, which would take 6+ months to implement.
More on the California Ocean Protection Council later this week.

Tie Dye Drapeau

I've been waiting for the perfect embellishment for the net (produce) bags. Stencil? Dye? I have talked to several dozen folks about the concept over the last year. Today I got an enthusiastic answer: tie dye! Tie dye t-shirts were part of the offering today at The Ecology Center, and I was right next to that booth and so got to watch what everyone was doing with the dye. Someone had the great idea to try a net bag in the dye. Soon there was a row of them on the drying line! I was amazed how many people said they were already using them (and wanted to buy more). Unlike say, Glendale, this crowd totally gets the net bag concept.

Kristin and her team took to the bags and they came up with a few really cool designs. I have commissioned her (of sorts) to color a few bags in a way that would be commercially viable (e.g. for CdM) and also tie dye. Maybe something like a pretty pink bag, or green bag. I'm going to have to take some samples around and see what people think. It's sure to provoke discussion.

Tie die can be like a Rorschach test. What do you see in a tie dye bag? Moi, I see the French flag, or drapeau, if you turn this bag on its side. Eh oui, they don't call me the French Basketeer for nothin'! I don't know who dipped this bag and if they had the French Flag in mind, but I thought it was pretty cool. I picked up this little soldier at a brocante somewhere in France, and he came off the shelf to reinforce my point.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Ecology Center - Earth Day!

We had a GREAT day today at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano! French Basketeer sponsored a booth for "decorate your own" reusable bags, and let me tell you, the kids loved it! Wow, just set them up and let them go; no creativity lacking here today. There were a lot of Mother's Day bags being made; lots of hearts and peace signs and glue-on rhinestone hearts. What would you rather carry, a bag with the name of your local grocery store, or a bag your child decorated for you? We also had some fantastic felt hats in the form of animals and bugs; deemed "Mother Earth animal hats"; the kids loved them! How cute are these boys?? All proceeds from the hats and bags went to The Ecology Center.
OK Evan, you have to tell me the story behind the Organic Peonies; the one flower I can't grow here; I covet them from my grandmother's house in Calgary.
Special thanks to Brynne for her lino stamps; eco-artist extraordinaire. Thank you to Maria and Max for making today happen!!

News Ads Work!

Thank you to the many Laguna residents who came to the Corona del Mar market today after seeing our ad in the Laguna Beach Independent. Everyone says print is dying, but in Laguna we read the Indy cover to cover (at least I do!). I was happy to see you leave with your baskets, net bags and BioBags, and Rick the market's manager always loves to see new patrons; everyone is happy!

I love to see people returning with their baskets; this shopper had a large green Cannes basket overflowing with green and white, herbs and flowers; STOP! need a shot of that! Lovely composition! The Queen Anne's lace was so delicate. It smelled like dill and other herbs. It was a very very cool, green basket....she did a great job.....notice it's full but still holds its shape; I'll have to do a post on construction of the baskets one of these days.

I met Liza a few weeks ago, and today she bought a lovely Antibes ombre in yellow XXL; all the baskets are hand made and some are more perfect than others; Liza's basket is perfect, and she knew it. The yellow is cheerful but very subtle; yummy. Here it is with her oranges and sweet peas and everything else in it. Of course it's not even half full; but she'll use it for the beach and then it will be full....

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Time to Market!

This weekend I am doing a bit of a marketing push; we will have quarter page color ads in the Laguna Beach Independent and the Newport News. My goal is to bring more people to see our booth in Corona del Mar, and to keep getting our name out there. You can always shop online with us, of course, but most people like to see the merchandise...and that's great because my baskets look better in person than online....look at this beautiful subtle yellow Antibes on the table in the photo.
Last week we were in the Coastline Pilot Everything Green section, and that generated some good sales, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that people see and like our riot of color ads. See you at the market Saturday!

Monday, April 20, 2009

New for Spring

We have some really cute tote bags for spring, fully-lined raffia totes with raffia handles wrapped in satin-y ribbon and a gardenia.

These are all hand made and range from $40-65.
The gardenia totes are also on the FeltandWire blog today; thank you Alyson; one of her readers who comments on the post will get one of these for free!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Santa Barbara Parasol Patrons

We had some of the younger set at the booth today, because we had some really beautiful hand-painted Chinese parasols; I thought they would do well today with the sun and the heat, and they are the same hot colors of the baskets. I asked each of them if they wanted to be on my blog, so here you are, with your permission, cuties with your parasols; I hope you all enjoy them and I hope you learned a lot of really cool things at the Earth Day Festival!! Come back in a couple of years when you're ready for your first market basket :)

Santa Barbara Earth Day

We had a great day today at the Santa Barbara Earth Day festival! It was a real happening, with well over 10,000 visitors, tons of informative exhibits, and great music! The photo at left doesn't do it justice.
Today, Santa Barbara discovered our net bags, and I was really happy to see so many people had been looking for this product. Many thanks to the well-organized CEC team; it was wonderful to have their efficient help during setup!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Markets this Weekend

Look for French Basketeer this weekend at various farmers markets across Southern California

Corona del Mar Saturday 9am -1pm at Marguerite and Coast Highway.

The Americana at Glendale is opening this weekend after much publicity and should be an excellent venue and a very classy event since Jennifer McColm is behind it! I want to see the cable car/trolley! We will have some very pretty and new merchandise. Saturday 10am - 2pm.

Sunday we will also be at Studio City farmers market. Lovely patrons, lovely manager, top quality product. Thank you to Carole and Melanie! I will be in Santa Barbara but Michelle & will be capably manning the booth.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Earth Day Events

Look for French Basketeer this week in the south county area Daily Pilot's Green Section. We have a cute ad and a little story about us. Thank you Shelli!!

Earth Day is next weekend, and we will be out in force as a sponsor of the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival, hosted by the wonderful Community Environmental Council. We have some really pretty & cute free or very cheap things like Tshirts, in addition to a truck load of baskets & totes and market carts. Look for us in the sponsor row facing the entertainment stage, near the VIP booth.

The week after, we will be at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano for their Earth Day celebration -- lots of educational info, fun interactive things to do, and French Basketeer will be sponsoring a FREE decorate your own reusable bag booth. Thanks to Evan and Max for their work; more on the Ecology Center on my blog soon.

Corona del Mar patrons

How cute are these two ladies, in front of the booth in Corona del Mar? One more chic and one more sporty, and both ready for spring with their French Basketeer totes!
We've been in Corona del Mar for 5 weeks now and it's hardly been work; I love talking with the shoppers!
Come to the market for my best prices and latest merchandise! Saturdays 9-1pm at Marguerite and Coast Highway, behind Bandera.