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Design

It’s funny to me how I wished August would get here for what feels like fooooorever and now that we’re over half way through – I just want to fast forward and skip to SEPTEMBER! 

A lot of the folks here at the office think September is where Wildflowers really starts to SHINE (or maybe it’s just me thinking it’s when I hit ‘my stride’). I mean, you know we love our August collection. LOVE. It will always be the first release we ever did! But September…there’s just something about it. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s the largest release of the season, so it feels like there’s something for everyone!? Or maybe because it has some of the first fabrics and styles I designed in it? There were a few pieces I designed and decided August wasn’t the right time for them. The way the colors and prints were mixing just didn’t look ‘back to school’ to me. So I tucked them away, for one more month, and then when I sat down to begin designing—there they were, just waiting to be picked up where I left off. 


This twirly dress is one of those pieces. From the ‘smudge dot’ knit print on the bodice to the tiers of whimsical, seemingly ‘random’ prints (yes, those are GIRAFFES on the bottom), this beauty inspired the beginning of the release. Even Averi, the little stunner in the photos, couldn’t help but twirl, smile, dance, and laugh in the Tickled Pink Tiered Ballet Dress (and she’s a tough cookie to crack!). And to think, this truly only represents half of the color palette used! On the other side of all these pretty pinks and deep navy, you will see rusts, golds, and mellow aqua/gray stripes. All the gorgeous hues I seem to fall in love with over and over again, year after year…


And OMG, the photoshoot location, guys! Holy smokes, we found the best place to showcase these styles. The entire release has a very outdoorsy, Fall camping vibe, so when Caroline suggested shooting at Green Acres in Elgin, Texas, I had to pick myself up from the floor it was so amazing. The modern ’yurts’ and vintage airstreams in the lush green rolling hills, complete with llamas and donkeys, were almost more than I could handle. And when you add 10 little cuties and a 30 something piece collection – you get pure magic. 


So basically September has a little bit of everything— ballet dresses with major spin factor, cozy jersey knits in classic and unexpected prints, structured styles created in textured linen or rich corduroy (a personal fave of mine), and all the comfy tops and bottoms for Fall layering perfection! All this cuteness is just about a week away if you plan on attending a Pop-Up Party! Ahhh..I can’t wait to share more. I feel like everything just keeps getting better and better! 

XOXO,
Sam

When Lynn said to me, “wanna start a company?” I said ‘YES! But it has to be in fall. THIS fall.” It’s true, it’s like I had been waiting to hear those words my whole life. I was ready to begin (again) and I couldn’t wait a moment longer. I mean, nothing was stopping me once that noncompete was up, right?

Right. After a little prodding and pleading, Ashton and the whole team agreed, we could go forth with a FALL 2017 Collection. I couldn’t believe it, I STILL can’t believe it (broken record by now, I know, I know). We knew it would be a tight timeline. We knew we only had 7 months to get everything done, from designs to an ordering system, a team of Consultants to real life clothes! We knew it would be tough, but I knew we could do it. And we did.


Yesterday, Written in the Stars was officially released online. Our Consultants have been having ‘preview shows’ and in-home Pop Up Parties for the past couple of weeks and I swear the butterflies in my stomach haven’t stopped since then. All I can say is WHAAAT! I can’t believe your response. I CAN’T. I’m utterly shocked and humbled by the wonderful posts on our FB page and my own. I know I have a few FB friends out there, but I never knew that would translate into ya’ll showing up at these Pop Up Parties. I never knew you guys would actually love Wildflowers.

Sure, it’s been a bumpy ride. I’m not going to sugar coat it (ha, except I will because that’s just whooooo I am), there were times I wanted to give up! What the heck was I thinking?! I was 6 months pregnant…I hadn’t designed in years…and I was on my own this time, no Denise to bounce ideas off or steal color ways from. But after days of coloring and recoloring fabrics…our August release was born. We had a name. We had designs. We had Caitlin. We hired Consultants: 20 of the most lovely, hilarious, heartfelt women I have ever met. All we needed, all we had to worry about was…you. Customers. The sole reason we’re doing this. The bread to our butter, the heart to our soul.

I knew our team could pull this off in 7 months. I always knew that. But what I didn’t know was whether or not there’d still be mama’s out there willing to let me dress their girls again! I have the best cheerleaders in the world, don’t get me wrong, I KNOW THIS, but I’m a pretty modest kid, and being this way always makes me wanna play safe.

So we played it safe. We hired 20 Consultants for our first fall season (not going to lie, even 20 felt like a HUGE number to me), held our breath, and crossed our fingers. I’m no mathematician but even I know that 20 ladies does not translate to 50 states. But…as a team, we decided we’d rather give these 20 super stars a chance to thoughtfully spread Wildflowers and truly shine. As for the future? We certainly plan on growing and spreading our ‘seeds’ even further.

Theres a framed quote in my office that I think Caroline bought for Caitlin, and somehow I stole (sorry Caitlin!), that says “you’re a wildflower, beautiful and full of unpredictable growth.’ Those are some pretty words, right? But that’s all that they were to me until today… Today I feel it— I feel like we’ve made something beautiful, full of unpredictable growth.

xoxo,

Sam

As I sit here at my computer, before our very first Sales Conference begins, I can’t help but think this was all meant to be.

Think about it, how did this Midwestern gal find herself living in Texas, over a thousand miles from her childhood home? How did the founder of one of the first direct selling children’s companies ever, Kelly’s Kids, come to find me, and offer me the chance of a lifetime to create a new brand? Giving us the opportunity to make beautiful frocks AND give back to kids in need with our Seeds of Hope charity? 

I don’t even how to begin, but I’m certainly going to try (hang with me, it’s a long story)…

First, let’s go back to winter of 2011. Denise, Matt Kelley (mentor, friend, hero), and I decided to start a clothing company, for the boys that lit fireworks in our souls. Long days, late nights, and hours and hours of brainstorming lead us to The Good Ones Clothing. TGO is one of the best chapters of my entire life. Once we had clothes we needed a photo shoot location that could do our designs justice. Matt suggested Austin, more specifically the best street in downtown Austin—South Congress (ALL the photos in this blog are from SoCo too!). He knew the city was alive, with an energy and soul most people search a lifetime for. That guy, he’s a key part in my story, in THIS story. Without this trip, without The Good Ones, I would have never had the chance to fall madly in love with this place. From the brightly colored murals splattered across town, to the taco smorgasbords around every corner, I felt so inspired and full (tacos, ahem). It was that moment I told Denise “I wouldn’t mind living here.” And she replied “maybe we can make that happen someday!”

A few years later in the end of 2015, Denise and I left our jobs to start something new. We spent every single day together from January to May. I remember in February I received the most random Facebook message ever… A recruiter for Kelly’s Kids and Eleanor Rose reached out to me to design for them. I was so flattered and honestly, so shocked! How in the world did this lady know who I was?! And why was she ‘searching’ for me?! I couldn’t believe it. But as flattered as I was, I wasn’t interested in leaving Denise and my world. And besides, I had to wait 2 years to design anyway! 

Then in June 2015 the world stopped. Denise lost her battle with cancer and the world lost the most beautiful human. And I lost my partner…my best pal… I didn’t know what to do. 

In July I tried to return to my old world, my old job. After several calls and messages, they said no. My whole world was upside down. All I wanted was to go back in time…back to the old days. I wanted so much to return to the world we created 9 years ago, but I couldn’t. 

I quickly changed gears. To be honest, I hadn’t been on LinkedIn in months. I didn’t even really know how to use it, and my page (still) doesn’t have any descriptions or details on it. Ugh, who is going to hire this unprofessional mess of a human?! Then I stumbled upon my messages and saw that the recruiter from February! I immediately sent her a message and in less than 20 minutes I got a response! They were still looking for a designer, and they were still REALLY interested in hiring me! WHATTTT. I couldn’t believe it. 

The next 2 weeks went by so fast. I had a phone interview with the recruiter and then I was flown to Austin, the place I had become so smitten with 5 years before. You know the funny part about their office being in Austin? They had just relocated their creative office here the year before! What are the odds that the city I loved so much, was the place they chose to put their roots? 

I met the James family and instantly fell in love. They’re so down-to-earth, so friendly, and so darn funny, too! They got that front porch charm from the south! And they’ve got the best accents to match. The trip was quick, but eventful and in the end, I decided this was a place I NEEDED to be. This family and this company, was exactly WHO I needed. In January 2016, I moved to Austin and I felt like my life started again. They were so willing to adjust to get me here. Since I wasn’t allowed to design for 1 more year, I was hired to direct photo shoots and work on marketing with Caroline, the Creative Director.

At the end of 2016, the end of my first year at Kelly’s Kids, Lynn James walked into my office and said “why don’t we start a new company for you to design? That way you don’t have to design LIKE Eleanor Rose, you can design like Sam McDonald!” If you are trying to picture this right now, make sure to include my face covered in tears of shock and happiness. Again…WHATTT?! 

And, literally, after that, every. single. thing. fell into place. 

I reached out to Caitlin on Facebook (where would we be without FB?!) to see if she could come meet the team and ‘consult’ us on what we need to get this ball rolling. I hadn’t talked to her in almost 2 years, but I always thought of her so fondly and remembered what an outstanding Trunk Keeper she used to be. Once she got here and the team met her, it was obvious we didn’t need to hire a Sales Director, we needed to hire Caitlin. 

After Caitlin, then came the name… Wildflowers. I sent Lynn a long, long email explaining why we should name the company Wildflowers. I told her how the quote “Do you suppose she’s a Wildflower?” hung in my old office for years. How I felt we were a team of Wildflowers, everything we do is so genuine and from our hearts, just so natural and organic.

…and there are so many other little serendipitous occurrences that have popped up along the way.

I guess Denise was right, I guess ‘we’ made it happen— me moving here, keeping Austin weird with my utter weirdness, starting a new girls clothing company… I love that it feels like she’s the spark to all of this.

So what do you call a collection that was always meant to be? One that is filled with magic, from the prints to the people, from beginning to end? 

There you have it. This collection means more to us than you can possibly imagine and in 2 weeks the world gets to see what we’ve been working on! I can’t wait for you to touch the fabrics, see the rich colors, and learn more about our Seeds of Hope program (one of the BEST things about Wildflowers, if you ask me!). 

XOXO,

Sam

 

It’s a little funny to me that I’m designing a collection for next Spring when you guys haven’t even seen Fall yet! Part of me feels like I’m getting ahead of myself and another part of me thinks, let’s keep this party going! There’s no stopping the train once it starts and Wildflowers is going places, baby! (This is my positive cheerleader side that jumps out and squashes my thoroughly nervous nelly side.)

I’m feeling a lot more like myself these days. I think surrounding myself with designing has helped. I heard so many war stories before having a baby that I was worried I was going to lose myself completely. I was warned there’d be a week of crying in bed or that I’d walk around in a fog for a year. Thankfully I haven’t experienced these feelings…at least not in full. I’ve definitely cried here and there. And I’ve most certainly had a bit of a cloud hanging around my brain making focusing even more challenging than usual. Honestly, I don’t know how I’d have a second to design these days without the help of my husband Mark! (Or a second for anything else I might add!)

I’ve been designing my first Spring collection in my head for 2 years. I imagined pretty aqua shades and sweet mini dots, adorned in swiss dot cottons and eyelet trims. I imagined little garden prints and whimsical novelty items layered throughout. I even imagined where we’d do our first Spring photo shoot. Fast forward to two weeks ago, all my little imaginary thoughts and design ideas became a reality.  I worked on colors for days, back and forth with our team perfecting each scrumptious hue. I colored and recolored print after print, all the while dreaming of what silhouette that fabric would one day become. Designing a collection, from start to finish, is truly like having a baby. It takes so much time…and patience. The process is completely unpredictable. You have to wait for inspiration to strike and when it does, you have to ride the rollercoaster until it stops! There have been days I worked 13 hours non-stop and other days where I find myself in tears staring at my computer hoping and wishing an idea would come to me.

On those days, the days I lack inspiration, I think of Denise. Yesterday just happened to be one of them. Those who don’t know who she is, well…I’m sorry. She was my mentor, my first design partner, and my soul mate in friendship. I wish you would have been lucky enough to read her stories and see the world she created. She continually motivates me. I remember days when we felt uninspired, we usually ended up at a fabric store just walking the bolts of fabric talking endlessly about different things we wanted to design. By the end of the trip we were ready to hit the ground running. It was always nice to have someone to design with and someone to feel like a bump on a log with too, ya know?  Someday I’ll have another partner in design and I know it won’t be the same…but I know it will be magic. I’m far too passionate about Wildflowers to allow for anything less!

It feels so wild to submerge myself in design again. I know I just completed Fall (Andrea, my assistant would beg to differ since Holiday accessories haven’t been finished- eek!), but something about it feels different. Maybe it’s because I have a little girl of my own now? And I have the utter privilege of imagining her in next Spring’s designs? Or maybe it’s because the seasons change and so do we. All I know is my nervousness is only outshined by my sheer excitement. I can’t wait to dress your girls again. What an honor it will be!

I know this was a ramble filled blog, but my life feels a little ramble-y these days. I think once I’m back in the office I’ll gain a little more focus. But who knows, I’ve never been one to keep my thoughts straight! At least when I’m back to work I’ll have my girls there to keep me on track!

XO,

SAM

You guys, I feel like I’ve been holding out on you..there’s so much to share about Wildflowers! It’s hard to know where to begin. And for me, it’s hard to stay on track (especially with a brand new baby in the world)! My brain is always floating from one subject to another, sometimes faster than I can follow! So be patient with me, there’s a lot more coming your way.

This all began when I was hired by Kelly’s Kids last year to style photo shoots for their three brands – Kelly’s Kids, Eleanor Rose, and Bourgeois Bebe! That’s the only reason I’m here in the first place! Lynn, the founder, had been following my story for years and had a recruiter find me! DO YOU KNOW WHAT A COMPLIMENT THAT WAS?! I couldn’t believe it when I got the message! And it came at a time when I was truly lost. I felt like a loser, my whole world wrapped up in a place I could never go back to. Receiving that message gave me hope, something I hadn’t felt in a long time. 

 The “rainbow dash” gets a giggle every time!

The original plan was for me to start designing as soon as my non-compete was up, but on the first day I was free, Lynn suggested starting a new home-party company, so I would be able to design whatever my heart desires! Basically both of us getting a chance to go back to our roots, to grow something new with everything we’ve learned the past couple years. It was a dream offer, and it still feels like a dream right now. I can’t even believe I’m blogging again?! It all feels too unreal.

You know what makes it real though? The fact that we can begin growing our Wildflowers family even more this week. That’s right, hiring for Wildflowers Consultants begins this Wednesday, April 5th! I can hardly wait. It’s like the first day of school and I’m wondering if anyone will sit next to me in class?! Will anyone want to be at my lunch table?! Omg, I hope so! 

I know Caitlin, our Sales Director, is over the moon. She’s been receiving message after message of excitement. So many people are so happy for her and BELIEVE in her, and believe in US. It all feels too good to be true. And if you want to join us, you just have to go to the website and fill out an inquiry form to start! You’ll get the chance to hear from Caitlin and learn more about the heart of our brand, the selling experience, and the Seeds of Hope we plan on spreading to children in distress. 

See? I can’t believe any of it’s real. I get to design cuteness everyday, Caitlin gets to do what she does best – hire and train quality ladies that believe in our vision for Wildflowers. And we all get to help make the world a little bit better place – all while coming to your homes and hosting pop-up parties for a convenient, cozy, and CUTE shopping experience! What could be better than that?

XO,

Sam

How do I even begin? I know when I meet new people I usually just want to make them laugh or smile at something I’ve said. It’s a total Michael Scott complex. But how do I begin without having that in person advantage of silly faces, weird mannerisms, and nervous-filled word vomit? Well…I guess I do what I’ve been doing for the past 8 or 9 years. I’ll wing it.

A handful of pantones is the equivalent to a million dollars to meeeee.

Hi! I’m Sam McDonald. I’m a homegrown designer from the midwest, freshly plucked from the field at the young age of 19. I left high school and was immediately lost. It wasn’t a “reality check” kind of lost, because I didn’t have a very sheltered childhood, it was… “Why do I even exist” kind of lost? What’s my purpose? All I ever wanted to do was design (well, that and be an actress/model/singer triple threat) but in my heart I knew it wasn’t a realistic goal. How many designers come from Fort Wayne, Indiana anyway?

Well, ladies and probably no gentlemen, I found a designer from Fort Wayne. Or better yet, she found me. Denise DeMarchis. I was hired for a small local children’s clothing company to lovingly pack and ship orders to their customers. I didn’t know the woman behind the brand yet, but I could feel her presence everywhere. She was in the shelves and the way they smelled like vanilla lavender in Spring and cinnamon apple in the Fall. She was in the 100’s of bolts of colorful fabrics that filled every nook and cranny of the tiny apartment we worked out of. And she was…she is… She is a whole world and story of her own. Anyway…

Denise DeMarchis, my forever hero

Eventually I was pulled into design because times were slow, there weren’t orders to pack, but this lady, she kept us busy no matter what. My mottos in life have always been WORK HARD (thanks Dad!) and BE NICE (thanks Mom!). These two simple thoughts are why I’m here today (ok that and I GUESS I’ve got an eye for color, more on that later). I worked my butt off to be the best from packing, to layering fabric, to unloading inventory. I had to be the fastest, I had to be the best. I never knew how hard I could work until I met Denise. I never knew how badly I wanted to be a part of something until I met Denise. I wanted to so badly to be a chapter in her story.

And I was. I got to design with her for 5+ years. I got to travel with her for 6+ years. I got to call her my boss for 7+ years. And I got to call her my best friend for 4+ years.

Poor quality photo, but this was a huge & scary moment for us! Presenting to the Fort Wayne Boy’s and Girl’s Club at the Smart Girls Luncheon 2014.

I was inspired constantly, kept on my toes, taught to work faster, more deliberately. And to always trust my gut, and to do everything, even design, with my heart in mind. My head would spin from morning to night, with ideas, texts, emails, screen shots, sketches, fabrics, cute lines for descriptions, Facebook posts, customer photos… I could go on and on. It was crazy and I was in love.

Lots of talking about the past for a post about the future, am I right? To me, they’re so intertwined. I can’t think about taking a step into the future without recognizing where I came from. My ‘roots’. In order to make this happen, to make this love explode, I need to keep these stories in my mind and I WANT to share them. I want to share everything. I want to be open and transparent and show you the hectic, beautiful, insanity behind not only designing but creating an entire brand from scratch! A brand that’s been growing inside me for longer than I’ve known. A brand that’s been deep in my gut even longer than little baby Margo (just about 1 more week until she’s here, guys)!

 

Little Margo at 35 weeks!

And now it’s happening! IT’S ALL HAPPENING! This is the year Wildflowers Clothing becomes a reality. This is the year I get to share color, fabrics, and everything in between…with you all! This is the year I get to birth a baby and a brand. Dang, this just might be MY year. (I don’t know why everything’s always about me, geeeez…) We’ve planted the seed, all we need to do now is nurture it, water it with hard work, and watch it grow, grow, grow… And starting in April, we get to hire a team of strong, thoughtful and courageous women to share our story, each new collection, AND our hearts. Nothing beats that to me! I never knew ‘direct selling’ would become such a part of me, but it has. I believe in the connections. I believe in the relationships. And I believe in trying to keep as much human contact as possible in this very virtual world!

Last but not least of this long-winded post: Why Wildflowers, you say? A few years ago my old design assistant gave me a framed print that said ‘Do you suppose she’s a wildflower?” I’ve pondered that question quite a few times since. Maybe that sounds silly, but I really wanted to know what it meant to BE a Wildflower. And in the midst of brainstorming the name for our new brand, I think it finally hit me. I am a Wildflower. I was untamed, untrained, and lacked confidence, but when the opportunity came for me to step up…to bloom? I took it. I was nothing but a seed Denise thought worthy of planting. And now? Now I’m someone that has friends/cheerleaders across the country (heck across the WORLD) wishing me goodwill, wishing me happiness, and success. Now that I’ve “bloomed,” I want to share all the beauty I can muster with you. (And I’ve got the best team by my side the whole way! MUCH more on that later, too!)

The girls behind the brand! Just missing Caitlin (our new Sales Director!)

So yes, I DO suppose I’m a Wildflower. I DO suppose I was plucked from the side of the road to help bring even more beauty into this world. Wildflowers, they’re curious little plants… They POP UP out of nowhere, they can take over an entire garden if given the chance… They’re natural. They’re unique. And try to cut them down, I dare ya! I bet they’ll come back. Stronger than ever.

And it all begins August 2017.

XO,

Sam