Things to do in Detroit before/after DUCF 2012

The Detroit Urban Craft Fair is this weekend! Two days, 100 vendors- it's definitely worth making the trip if you're not local. This is my fourth guide to Detroit for out-of-towners (or even distant Metro Detroiters) that could use a handy list of places to eat, things to do, and places to stay. Last year, a group of girls from Toronto came up to my booth at DUCF and told me they used my guide to have a great first time in Detroit; mission accomplished!

First, fair basics: the DUCF Facebook event page has everything you need to know. Saturday December 1st, 10am-7pm and Sunday December 2nd, 11am-6pm. It's at the Detroit Masonic Temple (at Cass and Temple) in the Drill Room. There are two lots to park in, parking is $6, and there's a lot attendant. Once you're inside the Masonic Temple, crafty signs will point you to the fair (hint, you'll have to take an elevator, and you'll probably want to get a little lost and check out the beautiful building).

photo by AlexaEats
 If you're an early bird and want to get breakfast before the fair, I recommend the Hudson Cafe. They have really good eggs benedict, amazing berry stuffed french toast, and red velvet pancakes!

If you just want to start your day with coffee, check out the new Great Lakes Coffee. They're open late, so if you need evening coffee, that's the place. Also new is Cafe con Leche del Este, a pop-up coffee shop in Lafayette Park. I know the Batata shop frequently sets up shop there, so you might get some sweet potato waffles if you're lucky.

Cass Corridor Museum
 If you need an afternoon break from DUCF (it's huge, you might need to go back), check out the Detroit Historical Museum. Even if you've been there before, they just finished a huge renovation that's worth another look. Then go to the Cass Corridor Museum. It's still a work in progress, but they're having an open house on Saturday. It will showcase the art/political activism of the area, which you definitely don't want to miss if you're into all that.

I could list a bunch of places to shop, because a bunch of them just opened up in the city, but I'm saving that for next week. The DUCF is only this weekend, are you kidding? Get back there!

If you want an evening adventure, Noel Night is happening on Saturday. It's like a giant Midtown open house. The streets are packed with people, and it shouldn't be too cold to walk around comfortably this weekend. Here's a schedule of every event happening, and if you're looking for a place to eat right in the epicenter, I would try Traffic Jam & Snug or Motor City Brewing Works. We tried to go to MCBW last year, and there was GIANT crown of people in the middle of Canfield St., following the the Detroit Party Marching Band making a lot of racket (and I mean that in the best way possible!), and it was a little too much excitement for this tired DUCF vendor, so we headed to the much calmer Mudgies, which a lot of people think of as a lunch place but don't realize that they have really good dinners too and are open until 9pm. But if you like all that excitement, I really recommend exploring Noel Night. The Detroit Bus Company will be shuttling people to various nightlife places from Noel Night, so if you still want more adventure, I would check out their schedule.

photo by David Lewinski

For a list of places to stay the night, refer to the 2011 guide, and for more places to eat/get coffee ect., here's 2010 and 2009.  Have an amazing time!

This year so far...

Eastern Market After Dark runway show
Somehow, it's already winter, and I'm ready for holiday shows and events. The "Summer Tour" was awesome; Renegade Craft Fair Chicago, DIY Street Fair, Michigan Lavender Festival, and Eastern Market After Dark.

I have some more events coming up: The Detroit Urban Craft Fair (12/1-2) and "All Wrapped Up" (12/15) at the Aveda Institute in Royal Oak.  I might be adding some more, for more frequent updates than this old blog, you can follow me here:

Facebook:  Always the Forest
Twitter: @alwaystheforest
Instagram: @alwaystheforest


1870s upstairs "studio" bathroom redo

 It's been two years since we moved into this 1870s house, and I finally finished a room! The upstairs "studio" bathroom is now my little sanctuary. There wasn't too much major work involved in getting it completed; the most complicated change was installing a fan above the shower, which involved cutting holes in the ceiling and getting into the attic and roof.  Other than that, it was just a new coat of paint, new light fixture, mirror, and little decorations. But it made a huge difference!

The view right when you walk in the door. Window to the left, shower to the right. There was a pretty cool existing sink, so we kept that. I got the antique scale from a house a few blocks down, and it still works. The porcelain chamber pot is a housewarming gift from my dad (we have a strange sense of humor) and it currently houses a plant.

I made the curtains from vintage fabric I got at a garage sale. The tiny little glass vase on the floor next to the chamber pot is from City Bird in Detroit.

Framed botanical print, air plant from City Bird, laboratory flask found in the basement of the house when we moved in, flowers from the yard.

The table was a thrift store find, the little moss-containing bell jar is from The Urban Merchant in Romeo, little vial of tea tree oil, and homemade deodorant.

 Michigan-print shower curtain made by me, bathmat crocheted by Billy's stepmom, my little bathroom apothecary cabinet, and more framed botanical prints.

 Baking soda, calendula petal and lavender bath tea.

Detroit Creamery Company bottle from a garage sale, flowers from the yard.

In Always the Forest news, my line is being carried in a new store in downtown Detroit, and I have a show coming up, which I will post about in a few minutes. Stay tuned!


Fashion in Detroit 2012

I hurried down to Fashion in Detroit after teaching last Saturday, I didn't want to miss the 2:00 show. It was Emily Thornhill's line, Homeslice. She uses all organic, American-sourced fabrics, and the entire line is produced in Detroit. There were some hand-printed fabrics that I really liked, and my favorite piece had to be the white cape with a black bow on the shoulder.

We stayed for the next show, Martini Retro. It was a vintage collection from the 1970s that was discovered in a warehouse in Detroit. I thought it was pretty neat to see a little bit of Detroit history, and it's something you don't see at a typical fashion show.

New this year to Fashion in Detroit was the Market. Many of the designers that showed on the runway had mini boutiques set up where you could see their designs up close and in person, and purchase them right there. I really liked being able to see the designs up close.

What we wore: My mom usually goes for some combo of black and white, and always looks classic. I wore a gorgeous dress by Detroit designer Kelly Lynne, but decided last-minute to wear a sweater over it because it was chilly. You know, function over fashion. I'll have to post a picture of me that shows the whole dress, because it's pretty awesome!

Fashion in Detroit was awesome this year, and next year I would like to see even more local talent showcased; it's really inspiring!


Runway Show!

Last Thursday was the Workroom 1.0 event. Local fashion designers set up booths to showcase and sell their designs, and there was also a runway show. This was my first time doing a runway show with hair, makeup, and all that fancy stuff. It was quite an experience!

Backstage was hectic and crazy, but it all came together for a great show. Some of my favorite designers were there, and I got to meet hair and makeup artists, photographers, models, and a lot of other people I don't normally meet inside my sewing/design bubble.

Here are some photos of the event, most of them are by Laur Nash Photography (website and facebook).  Laur is a talented photographer and she's really nice and down-to-earth, which is something I really appreciate in people!

Always the Forest
Always the Forest - by Laur Nash Photography

Always the Forest - by Laur Nash Photography

Wound Menswear - by Laur Nash Photography

Backstage - by Laur Nash Photography

My display - by Laur Nash Photography

Fotoula Lambros Design - by Laur Nash Photography

Always the Forest


Workroom 1.0 Event Tonight!

I'm one of the designers participating in the first Workroom event event tonight! We'll have tables set up to sell our collections, and there will be a runway show too. It's in the TechTwo building, which is the former Dagleish Cadillac Building. There is also free secure parking next to the building, so come out and shop, meet the designers, and enjoy the runway show! It's a free event, door at 6:00, runway show at 7:30. See you there! More info here: https://www.facebook.com/#!/events/321148141252896/


Goals for 2012

2011 was a really interesting year. Even though I took a little hiatus from designing and producing the line in the beginning of the year, there was a lot of growth and learning that happened during the final months of 2011.

Let's recap: At the beginning of the year, I was super busy with music teaching. I just got a job teaching piano at a studio (love!), and it was my first year taking on a high volume of accompaniment jobs for our districts Solo and Ensemble season. So I decided to put Always the Forest on the back burner for a little while so I could focus on music and do a really good job.

Then, over the summer, I began working on the line again. My goals for 2011 were:

1. Pricing - Done! The time had come to develop a pricing formula and stick to it. I had to put my own feelings aside about how much I would actually pay for something, and price clothing items according to a standard formula. It also meant realizing that I myself might not necessarily be my target customer, and that's okay.

2. Get my line in more stores - This one took a different turn- I got my own pop-up shop! I had my very own mini-store at 71 Pop in Midtown. It was awesome because I had a physical place to direct customers to when they wanted to try something on to see if it fits.  It was a really neat experience.  I also decided that consignment might not be such a good deal, and I should look into doing wholesale instead.

3. Focus on online sales - My poor little online shop was dead, dead, dead. I updated the front page, and events, but that was about it. That will be priority this year.

 4. Balance all of the above with my teaching job - Well I didn't really balance it, the scales definitely tipped in favor of piano teaching, and I'm totally fine with that. And this year I'm starting competitions with my students, so fitting in enough time for Always the Forest might be a little perilous, but I'll make it happen. I have some friendly competition in the hard work department, Billy is working 40+ hours a week, going to school full time, and doing maintenance/administrative work for his auto wash. So I'm in good company!

Goals for this year:

1. Maintain the online shop - Post new items regularly, and get rid of items that are no longer in stock. I set up a dedicated product photography space in the sewing studio, so this should be a little easier. But I'm making this one top priority this year. People are getting more used to buying things online, even clothing, so it's important that I keep up with this.

2. Work more with other local designers - There are quite a few designers in the Detroit area that I really admire, and watch their progress to get an ideas of how to grow my business. I'd like to participate more in the growing number of group events, to support the local industry and learn from others. I already have one event on the calendar: I'm participating in the Workroom 1.0 Pop-Up, and I'll post more info on that soon, but I'm super excited about it!

3. Look into doing wholesale - This has been on my radar for a while now, but my main obstacle is how to make a proper line sheet for a store to make orders from when my fabric selections are always changing? This whole recycled fabrics deal is the foundation of my line, and I need to figure out how to make it work properly.

So that's what I have planned for 2012, but we'll see where it actually takes me!


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