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I was running late. Had to drop off a costume to Sanctuary first and then whip over to Costco for some chocolates. I thought it would be nice to be able to offer visitors a treat when they stopped in to chat. I had put together a little slide show loop of pics from photo shoots, and had that on the end of my table playing on my laptop. The other end of the tabel had a list I had made up of all the retail locations where you could buy Cairns Technical Gear, some brochures and business cards. In the centre was a sample of the Cairns Full Protection Lap Blanket for wheelchair users and the Cairns Rain Protection Apron for scooter users.

I was a little disappointed by the location of my table. It was in the middle of the east side of the room, and because there was a projection screen in that corner, the lights were off. This wasn’t an issue for any of the tables around the outside of the room because they had spot lights aimed at their tables. In between presentations they would turn on the ceiling lights and cast some light onto my table… this is where the bowl of chocolates come in….

...all that glitters... and smells like chocolate...

I had some past customers come by to visit me and see the new product, which was a real pleasure for me. One of the customers who dropped by already owns two of the Cairns Full Protection Lap Blankets, one in each colour. It was the first time that I met her and it was such a treat. She was using her red one that day.

See how dark it is?

She was the second customer, that I had not met before, who approached my table for a chat. I just love that part of the Abilities Expo. I get to meet the people after they’ve been using the product for a winter and find out what they think, get their views and talk about new ideas.

I even had someone I’d been chatting with on Twitter come by and introduce himself. He writes a cool blog ‘Priority Seating’ about accessibility on transit in Vancouver. His Twitter handle is @nextstoporbust, if you’d like to join him. It’s so nice to be able to put a face to a name.

I had Rina Liddle and Prophecy Sun stop by from LiddleWorks to chat… we would be meeting up again later in the week to do a photo shoot.

Me and Rina

Me and Prophecy Sun

The afternoon was a whir of visitors and lots of people that came by 3 and 4 times to grab one of the chocolates. It was fun to watch as some people would saunter by for the 2nd time and act like they didn’t notice the bowl, only to turn back and grab a few more for later.

The entertainment was really good. The CanDance Team performed to a number by the Black Eyed Peas. And there was also a singer/guitar player that I really liked, Glenn David Loft. I’ve looked all over for the info and can’t seem to find it. Here’s a picture of him. If anyone knows his name, let me know in the comments.

For the last month I’ve been trying to find an active, younger guy who would like to assist me in my design process. I’m designing a pair of adapted street-wear pants that would be appealing to younger hip guys, that don’t want to look like they’re wearing adapted pants. Then, from across the room I spotted the best looking man I’ve seen in years. I started having one of those moments where I was thinking…”I can’t approach him… he’s WAY too good looking”. I’m glad I did because he was not only interested in helping me, but, he was full of ideas and enthusiasm. I’m looking forward to having the time to work on this new project.

Our friends Ken and June showed up for a chat as well. They have modeled for us in the past and are much fun to chat with. They have both been so supportive of what I’m doing.

Ken and June

The afternoon was a whir of visitors and lots of people that came by 3 and 4 times to grab one of the chocolates. It was fun to watch as some people would saunter by for the 2nd time and act like they didn’t notice the bowl, only to turn back and grab a few more for later. Can’t wait til next year. It’s a great event that ConnecTra Society puts on at the Roundhouse in Vancouver.

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Last Friday I got my insurance renewal notice. Of course I got the notice that I have to go through Air Care, as my car is what they would consider a ‘throw away’. I decided that I should go right away, because I’m not much for procrastinating and I don’t want to be having to rush around at the last minute, if it doesn’t pass. I just had the girl in to see her mechanic and he had mentioned that she had a hole in her muffler. I decided to give him a quick call before heading over to the Air Care Station. He said not to worry about it… just go and see what happens… ok, I will.

Here I am in the line up at Air Care. It’s such a beautiful day… nothing could go wrong! I decide to tweet about the fact that I’m the sixth car in the line up. Low and behold, somebody was actually manning the Air Care Twitter account and I got a response immediately!

Got up a bit closer… the line moves fairly fast and they started letting cars into bay 4.

I decide that I would not keep my car running and I only moved my car after each two cars moved ahead…. I was having fun, listening to the radio, tweeting and taking pictures with my iPhone.

I got right up to the next one to go in, when the unthinkable happened…

Apparently too much of a good thing. I walked into the bay while people in all the other cars in the line were sitting there wondering, ‘what’s this woman doing WALKING in?’

He assured me that it happens all the time. Not sure, but, I’m thinking he was just being nice.

She started up and purred like a kitten. I pulled up to the first section where I was told to present my papers and $ and put on my emergency brake.

Looks like I’m in for the $45 dollar deal. Thank goodness they have the in-car ATM machine!

All he needs now is my Odometer reading….

Now, I’m allowed to pull ahead… The guy at the next section is beckoning… but, something is wrong. My car isn’t moving. Turns out he isn’t beckoning after all… he’s motioning to me to release my emergency brake!  I never use my emergency brake and I didn’t remember being told to put it on only minutes ago… now I feel silly…

I’m now in the booth watching my girl go through the rigorous testing that is done a BC Air Care. I can’t help but wonder… will she pass their careful scrutiny?

You can see the monitor above the big fan, that the technician has to pay attention to as he holds her petal to the floor.

I’m in the room… I can see her, but, I can’t get to her! she’s under a great deal of stress!

Finally, the door opens and I’m allowed to get back into my car. The next step is to pull up and get the print out of the results.

As you can see, the result is, that I get pretty bad gas mileage. Gee… I already knew that!

Turns out that my 92 Honda still has lower emissions that a brand new Ford Taurus! Compare!

I love twitter! I love my iPhone! I love my Honda! I love my mechanic! I think I even love AirCareBC!… although it may not have been such a good experience without Twitter and my iPhone!

I’ve been having a really hard time posting anything lately…. I’m always trying to keep it ‘light’ and ‘positive’, so when times are tough, I find myself with very little to say.

Time to lay it all out there… to bare my soul, as they say, or as close as I can get to that.

Last Christmas, my daughter and I kept a really low profile. We stayed home by ourselves. We went out for dinner one night and saw a movie with coupons someone had given us. We put up our tree and enjoyed our new little kitten, who entertained us by running up the centre of the tree, over and over again.

As this year winds down, I’m asking myself, how the heck I ended up here… more broke than last Christmas, wondering how on earth I’m going to pay my rent.  I feel like I worked every second last year and really didn’t have time to even stop to evaluate my finances. I just had to keep moving ahead with my goals with little time to stop and reflect on my personal situation.

I’m just going to start by trying to remember all the things that I did accomplish or put into action.

In the fall of 2009, I started working with Teresa, from Blacklake, who I’ve been working with ever since to establish quality manufacturing for a price that would make it possible to start selling Buggy Bag® at wholesale to retailers.  The manufacturing costs here made the price untouchable at that level, so I was only able to sell  the product one at a time, directly to end users… I wanted more people to be able to find it and use it.

The year 2010 started out with work for the movie ‘A-Team‘, going to a local theatre to fix a velvet stage curtain, and the construction of some Fencing Jackets for the Arts Club Theatre.

Much work with Rina from Liddleworks, and a photo shoot with the lovely Jessie Claveau for our new flyer which Rina designed.

Got my first set of samples back from Hong Kong. They looked pretty good, but, I wanted to make some changes to the fabrics, and components, and see what the prices would be like….shipping costs $350

My generous friends took my daughter and I to Whistler for Easter weekend where I was able to prove to my self that I could still ski. That weekend was such fun!

Went to the Dragon’s Den auditions and was told I didn’t have enough sales to move ahead. That was fine, and it was a benefit to me to work on the numbers etc. with Rina before hand. These exercises always shed light on the value of planning ahead and setting goals. My friend Wendy from PumpEase made it through the auditions, and onto the show which aired in October.

I was contacted by LandMark Direct, who do TV commercials like the ‘As Seen On TV’ ads. I decided to have them make a 1 minute commercial for me that would run in 150 spots across the US. The purpose being to test the market to evaluate where advertising $ are best spent. I sent some samples of the Stroller, Jogger and Wheelchair weather blankets, and the process began.

Received another round of samples from the factory … shipping $340

I met with the SCISN Board for the Rick Hansen Institute where I met with Gary McPherson about designing some custom wheelchair weather protection for him. I made a few sales there and met some lovely and inspiring people. It was through my work for former Vancouver mayer Sam Sullivan, that I ended up there. I had done a custom wheelchair poncho for him in the fall of 2009.

I did a bit of work for a friend who had a contract to do some costumes for the Olympics. Then, an old school friend of mine moved back here from Singapore. She needed a place to land while she settled back into the Vancouver workplace and found a place to live. It was really nice having Kai here for that time and we had many fun times and good meals together. We went to many free Olympic festivities. It was really fun being in Vancouver at that time!

I shortened many, many sleeves for a TV show called ‘Human Target‘, did some pattern work for two local women’s wear designers, then I headed over to my friend Deb’s studio to help her with a bunch of gaberdine 50’s styles she was manufacturing for a TV show called ‘Fringe‘. I think I spent a few weeks over there. Nice to get out of my place… even though my place is like heaven, I still get lonely… I know I talked her ear off… I miss working with people.

Got another set of samples back, decided to focus on just the three main products for now, because of the minimum order quantities. The zippers and fabrics now looked good, but we still have to work on the reflective logo…. shipping costs $275

Found a US Patent and Trademark Lawyer and started to proceed with this process…$2500 later, I find out that even though, I have the trademark Buggy Bag Registered here in Canada and have owned the buggybag.com address since 1998, and I make and sell mobility accessories…. they feel that there will be some ‘confusion’ with the other company that makes shopping cart covers and uses my name only with an extra “g” on the end….I should have applied for the US TM back when this company first offered to buy my URL…. who knew they would just add another ‘g’ to the name. The patent is still in process… and the cost is unknown, but a fair guess would land it in the $10,000 range.

Had Lawyers read contract with Landmark Direct… $500

Found out I need some very pricey licences to be able to sell a ‘stuffed’ article in Ontario, Quebec or Manitoba. One for each province and for each year at $500 each! Ouch, there goes my rent for that month.

Next, I stumbled across a blog written by the mom of a beautiful little guy by the knick-name of Bugg. I was moved by her ability to document their life and the wonderful quality of her blog photos. http://thebuggslife.blogspot.com/ I sent this little guy a Buggy Bag Stroller Blanket to use on his tiny wheelchair. I was so happy to meet this family and help make Bugg’s outings a bit cozier. We still keep in touch and I hope to one day meet them in person.

I then built some leather dresses for the character ‘Ginn’ on ‘Stragate Universe‘, and started working on another dog movie called ‘Treasure Buddies‘ featuring lots of cute children’s costumes, and also squeezed in an alteration of a down jacket for the movie ‘The Big Year‘, hemmed some shirts for ‘Ice Road Terror‘, and a bunch more custom work for ‘Stargate Universe’.

Got some more manufacturer samples still with issues …. shipping $400

It was around this time that I met a great guy by the name of Brian Bell, the founder of Interfit in North Vancouver. Some friends and I went to their fundraiser, which I also blogged about.

Got many different script revisions over this time and finally approved one and then had to get the money together before the commercial production could begin…. $3000

I made 9 pairs double layer fleece leg warmers for Sam Sullivan to give out to his associates, the moved onto yet more alterations for ‘The Big Year’, much more work for ‘Stargate Universe’ and the leather coat I made for ‘Sanctuary‘, which I also blogged about. It was right around this time that I got the sad news that Gary McPherson had passed away.

More one on one work with Liddleworks… business plan.

Got a first copy of the actual commercial. It looked great and I was really happy with how our conversations went. I was so apprehensive about the whole thing to begin with and the amount of $, but, if everything went well we would be getting lots of sales and valuable information about the marketplace, not to mention the commercial to use in whatever way we liked…$3500

More work with Liddleworks… hangtag designs…. three tags with usage illustrations. Had a friend help with the french translations and found a hangtag manufacturer close to the factory in China.

I made a dozen various aprons for ‘Red Riding Hood‘ before starting on the years fun show…. ‘The Fairly Odd Parents’ I always have fun working for Angus Strathie and this show was no exception! Many wonderful costumes for this show.

More work on business plan…more $$$ I owe Liddleworks.

Right after that I had the pleasure of meeting Jim Byrnes and making him a pair of trousers and an overcoat for ‘Sanctuary’.

A man I  spent two years trying to forget, suddenly appears in my life again, only to vanish again two months later.

Another photo shoot featuring 5 wheelchair models and one stroller model, a mom and a sweet working dog…$600

Pay for hang tags… $1100

September finally rolled around, the commercial was ready to air, the production was in place and would be ready to ship at the end of Sept. I had to decide where to have the product shipped to, and decided that most of the sales would likely be from the US, so I found a ‘pick and pack’ place in Blaine.

Volunteered at the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships. So fun, met lots of athletes and got to see some of the games.

Commercial aired to no sales and therefore no stats… frustrating, but, must keep looking ahead.

Landmark proposed an agreement to sell the product through catalogue sales.

Lawyer read another contract…. $500.

Chris, my brother and I head down to the ABC Kids show in Vegas to see what the competition is like, what to expect when we go to the show as a vendor, evaluate what kind of a booth we need,  to look for sales reps and get a bit of R&R. We walked hundreds of miles that week and most of it was in the convention centre. We also, visited just about every hotel in the  city, we won $76, and we had some fantastic meals.

Launched new version of the Web Site that has been in the works for many months… it looks great and it’s only Phase I! Was immediately “de-friended” on facebook by the fellow that did the last version of the website.

Went on a sailing trip to Molly’s Reach with some friends, which was another stellar weekend!

Product is ready to ship, need to get financing… bank turned me down… evidently I should have bought an apartment instead of trying to make this great product available… at least that’s what they would have me believe!

Went to a private investor, who saw the real reason I’m doing all of this and wants to help make it happen…. $17,000 debt

Landed the product in Canada and the US and took delivery the same day that we had our Buggy Bag reception for friends, customers and media…$550. Had a blast even though no media showed up, the important people were there. Including David Rountree, who I met when I volunteered at the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships back in September. He brought his ‘Floor-Board‘ for all of us to try. Sylvi MacCormac was a special musical guest at our event, who was also one of our models at the last shoot. We felt so honoured.

Inspected the shipment that arrived here in my living room with Teresa from Blacklake. We realized there was a small QC issue with the shipment and had to look at our options…. do we send them back? I’m totally against that idea. I try a few different methods to deal with the issue and discover that I can solve it 100% with the use of my commercial iron.

One of the perks of working in film is the ‘wrap party’ at the end of the show. I went to 4 wrap parties and a gala benefit for Spinal Cord  Injury. I wore the same outfit to 3 of them!

Got an order for the stroller and jogger blanket from Babies’R’Us… a small trial order for the Canadian web site.

Had to buy a Universal Bar Code number for the company… $500

Dear friend Barbara passed away, which left me in a blue funk for some time. Sadly missed.

More work for  the TV shows ‘Stargate Universe’ and ‘V‘.

Teresa and I head down to the States to deal with the QC issue on that part of the shipment. One day and two very sore backs later and we are back in Vancouver, satisfied that the product is 100% perfect.

December rolled around with no movie or tv work for me, so I started making phone calls. I always said I wasn’t a sales person, but, one call led to another and another and by mid December I had already shown the wheelchair weather blanket to at least 7 places and got it into 4 stores and 10 locations in the lower mainland. This is the easiest thing in the world to sell. It just makes sense because it’s easy to use and  it helps people stay warm. I’ve been focusing on the  wheelchair weather blanket, but, also got the jogger weather blanket into two stores as well.

I read a blog that really touched me and I responded by sending a wheelchair lap blanket to the autor, Patrick, for his wife Patti. The response I got was worth every bit of the hard work I’ve done this year!

I put 2 paid ads on Craig’s List one in Seattle area and one in NYC, looking for commissioned sales reps to rep the wheelchair weather blanket… $50. There may be a few potentials among the responses… I sure hope so. And it looks like I may have a rep in the Chicago area, who is a friend of Teresa’s…. Yeah!

Ok… now it makes sense!  As a single mom, with no financial help from anywhere, I’m just getting deeper and deeper in debt. This year of business has cost a lot. I’m financing my business with my income from film work, my lines of credit and those kind enough to help me.  My coffee maker, my kettle, my watch, a computer, and my hair dryer have all become incapacitated in the last couple of months… not sure if I’m just noticing all of this because I can’t fix or replace them at the moment….but, it just adds to my anxiety levels. I have to keep reminding myself of the quote I put up on my facebook wall a while back:

‎”I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.” — John D. Rockefeller

I sure hope that’s true… because my intention is to keep on keeping on, no matter what, because I believe that it is the right thing to do, and to continue to count my blessings.

This year I:

posted 171 times on the facebook fan page….

tweeted 684 times….

wrote 28 blog posts….

responded to 479 emails about the offshore production….

did work for 16 different production companies

responded to 275 emails from Liddleworks….

added a store front to my FB page as a way to sell old stock…

had 750 Buggy Bag units manufactured

took 49 guitar lessons….

spent 60 hours in dance classes….

got to 99% on Brain Challenge….

hugged my daughter 730 times….

toilet trained my cat….

After reflecting on the past year, I know what my blessings are as clearly as I know everything is going to turn out great.

I’m thankful for my daughter, my brother, my parents, my friends, my guides, my supporters, my vision, my health, my atitude, my customers, my humour,  my suppliers, my teachers, my dance partners, my employers, my mentors and everyone who has crossed my path for whatever reason…..please know that every single one of you are responsible for at least two of the things I’m grateful for.

I’ve been asking on Twitter if anyone would like to hear a bit about the building of the Stargate Atlantis Wraith Queen costumes. I say ‘a bit’ because… well, it was some time ago and I don’t have pics from building the first one, but, I’ll give it my best  from what I can remember.

I had just finished a four year stint working as the head cutter in the costume shop on a show by the name of Andromeda. One of my friends was co-ordinator for SG-1 and SG-Atlantis…. yes, two distinctly different shows working out of the same costume shop! A huge job for a shop co-ordinator, but, my friend is that kind of amazing. She asked me if I’d like to come and cut as part of her huge team in her shop, and I jumped at the opportunity to work with her again.

The designer for Stargate Universe was Christina McQuarrie and she gave me the honour and challenge of executing one of her amazing designs for the Wraith Queen. This one was to be made out of a white leather, and utilized a textured pale kid leather along with white StingRay.

As I said, I didn’t have any pics of this, so I found these ones on-line to jog my memory. It seems that the top pics may be action figures… how exciting to think that one of the costumes that I built was made into an action figure!

The coat was very fitted in the top and if I recall, we padded out the bust (a common thing to do) You will notice that the top two pics have blue trim… this is not the original costume. This is someone else’s interpretation of it. The lower pic is an on-set shot and shows the more subtle contrast of the different leathers. The waist cincher was the most difficult aspect of the costume. It was cut out of stingray, which is similar to cutting through a piece of glass that is glued to leather! Very, very horrible to work with. Couple that with the fact that it was bound with leather to finish the edges…. huge job.

The contrast pieces were made out of a lovely textured leather that I backed onto another leather to add stability. They were cut into asymmetrical patterns which were then riveted together and onto the garment. Cuffs were done in the same way and they had an interesting shape on the back side. The over belt was also made in the same way.

You know, it’s funny, the amount of work, time and money that goes into one of these costumes is just amazing… especially when you take into account that I can barely make out what it was or see any of the details from the pics, and I made it! I can only imagine what someone would go through to duplicate it from guess work!

Actually, I can imagine, as I was hired once to duplicate all the dresses from the Titanic as part of a touring theatre exhibit…. I sat for hours and drew pics frame by frame from the movie and I still had to use my imagination for almost all of the backs! I’ll save that story for another post.

I just found this picture of the original costume taken by the set supervisor. It’s a really good shot that shows the details and the fact that there was no blue on the costume.

 

 

That was my only season working in the shop at Stargate… many changes happened after that….   Christina McQuarrie moved on to become the illustrious designer of Sanctuary, I started doing contract cutting from my own studio and Valerie Halverson took over as designer of Atlantis (she is now the designer on SG-Universe)

Valerie asked me to do the next Wraith Queen that I built. This was the Hive Queen, her thrown was amazing and she was all connected into it. It looked like some kind of a web/goo…. creepy….

This dress was constructed from the base up. We started with a foundation garment. I cut and stretched the two layers of fabric over the bust, and then hand stitched it onto the bra to give it stability and shape.

This dress had a centre back invisible zipper and the skirt split in the centre front and had a long train.

The pic shows what a disaster zone my apartment turns into when I’m working… actually it looks pretty good in this shot!

The outer fabric layer is a gold mesh with sequins in it. It’s really effective because of its random nature.

I was good about taking pictures of the dress, but, I didn’t get any of the building of the the outer layer. The outer layer was like a leather corset, but it was not boned. The leather was extremely stiff and didn’t need any support. It was an embossed, stiffened cow hide that had a shiny finish. The whole thing was built by draping it and stitching it as I went. I then bound all the raw edges with a soft lamb. I think this was a very strong and effective costume for the Hive Queen. Lots of make up though.

If you have any questions you can follow me on Twitter and ask away…. @BuggyBag

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Buggy Bag® Mobility Products is dedicated to helping loved ones stay warm and dry while on the go. Buggy Bag® Stroller, Jogger and Wheelchair blankets protect against the cold and wet, while offering visibility in low light conditions.

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