Thursday, March 31, 2011

April Fools Day - No Joke Sale!

It's April Fools day and we're sure you've already have enough whoopee cushion gags to do you for the rest of the year..And so, to ground you in reality once again, we have our No Joke Sale where you can get 25% off everything in our online shop with coupon code nojoke25..The coupon code will only be active until midnight Friday (no joke, only for 24 hours) so choose which t-shirt you want (or totebag or notebook..or all - we don't mind :)) and enjoy the 25% off + free shipping..Hopefully soon we'll have sunshine like in that picture..Stay happy all, ole..

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Precious Print Preparation!

It's Wednesday, the sun has been shining and it's all systems go in LUHQ as we're preparing to launch our precious prints..We've been talking about launching prints and adding them to our ladies t-shirts for a while but we're finally almost ready to unleash them to the wanting public - you (we hope)..

Elena has been in over drive all day taking pictures of the prints that we can use for our online shop and gallery. She's now busy editing them down and doing all sorts of funky stuff with Photoshop/Illustrator that my simple mind can't comprehend - she moves that mouse with speed and accuracy I tell ya..

Anyway, we're pretty excited about our prints..There will be regular prints and then we are going to have some extra special enhanced hybrid paint kissed prints..In fact we don't know what to call them yet (we want your suggestions!) but they look sweet..To create these extra special prints Elena paints the colour on in places and only premium designs are used and each print is numbered and signed..Also, there will only be 25 of these hybrid prints made and when they're gone they're gone...Our first hybrid print is called "Daydreamer" inspired by the challenge set to us by Daydreamer Magazine (Pg. 42) which you can see just to the left there...

In total we have 8 prints which we're going to release in a variety of sizes and paper types which we hope you'll find too darn adorable to say no to to :) We haven't nailed down the release date yet so the top tip is to join our mailing list to ensure you don't miss the launch..Once Elena has her editing of the pictures done it'll be time for me to work late into a night and add them all to the shop and the gallery - no telling how long that could take ;)

And, I've been able to successfully plead with Elena to get a sneaky peaky of one of the prints which none of you will have seen yet...This is one of my favourites, simple but striking...What do you think? It's called "Raining Birds" (hallelujah ;))

Not long til we launch our prints - ole!!

P.S. See Elenas new friend in one of pictures above? "Pequeno Blue" is his name (or so I've been told)...

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Twitter Talk in Kilkenny - The LadyUmbrella Journey Continues!

You know, when we started out with our ladies t-shirts venture it would have been impossible to predict, contemplate or even imagine all of the different things that have occurred in a relatively short space of time..Well yesterday another unpredicatable event occurred, I wound up giving a talk about Twitter in Kilkenny to the guts of about 100 people...

Krishna De, one of the foremost social media trainers in Ireland, got in touch with me a while back asking if I'd like to give a talk on Twitter in Kilkenny in conjunction with four local skillnets. I guess you could call me a "yes man" and without hesitation I said (drumroll) yes..For the event Krishna had also lined up Gary from Red Nose Wines to give a talk about blogging (which he nailed) and Peter from Emagine Media to discuss all things facebook (which he also nailed).

I had never given a talk before on twitter or indeed spoken in front of so many people but, despite bouts of dry cotton mouth whilst talking, I'm happy with how the talk went. Was unnerving at first having so many eyeballs fixed on me but I'd like to think I did an ok job. Two tweeps mentioned in my talk were Chris from Rizzo Tees and Jason from I Wear Your Shirt as they were really the two guys who first inspired me in how to use social media and were the first I "studied" (and I still study them today) and suggest you do too..

So, the LadyUmbrella journey has continued and hopefully now I'll be able to give a few more talks in the coming months as I've got the first one under my belt..Reminded me of the good old days of being in a band and on stage although quite a different audience ;) Anyway, I have uploaded the slides of my twitter talk beneath for anyone who would like to peruse them..

Also, thanks to all who came to the social media workshop (I think there were over 100 which is a great turn out) and all the nice tweets which I received about the twitter talk I gave. Like I said, it was my maiden voyage and to get such good feedback is encouraging and motivating. I really hope that if you were there you got some value of out spiel..

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Irish Blog Awards - Here We Go!

The day has arrived, the nerves are frayed and the spirits are high...This is a frantic blogpost as myself and Elena are about to hit the road to Belfast for the Irish Blog Awards which is taking place later tonight - we're finalists in the Best Irish Blog for a Businss (freakin' cool!)..I took a half day from the Loft Market but before leaving my fellow Lofties were kind enough to get myself and Elena a good luck card...That you guys - really appreciated and keep those fingers crossed for us...

Speaking of the Loft I strongly recommend you head in today and buy some Tokiki dresses (you can forget about our t-shirts for today) as 100% of all sales are being donated to the Redcross to help with the unfolding crisis in Japan...I've been fixed to the TV/web throughout the last week watching in horror as the tragic events have continually seemed to take a turn for the worse..The dresses that Tokiki makes are genuinely top notch - I even treated Elena to one and implore you to treat yourself too...100% of sales go to Japan - do the right thing...

Anyway, I better scamper, complete the packing and shave some of the grizzly stuff off my face - who knows, might be in front of a crowd later tripping over my words..."umm, I'd like to thank, eh, the Irish Blog Awards...and, umm..Google" - ah, I can dream (for a few more hours at least)...

If you're out there in blogland please cross the fingers for us, if you're in Dublin call into the Loft and if you're attending the Irish Blog Awards well then - see you later! Ole...

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Irish Blog Awards 2011 - We're Finalists!

I might have to try dig out a suit of mine, polish some shoes and get ready to look dapper - we're finalists in the Irish Blog Awards 2011 for "Best Blog of a Business" - how nuts is that?

Last year we were nominated for an Irish blog award but fell at one of the earlier hurdles and never quite made it..This year though we've been nominated by someone (whoever it is thank you!) gone from the longlist to the shortlist and now made the final five..Thanks to @IrishSmiley and @RedLemonader for tweeting to let us know that we had progressed - I was out of the loop until I got those tweets..Anyway, the final is happening in the Europa Hotel in Belfast on the 19th of March so a little over a week of jangling nerves to go...

The competition is fierce and making it to the final may very well be the pinnacle of our Irish Blog Awards escapades for 2011..There are some great businesses like the social media savvy Simply Zesty (who I read quite a bit of) in the final along with our twitter amiga Lorna from Garrendenny Lane. Another finalist (and new name to me) is graphic designer David Airey - Elena is a fan of his blog...Last but not least we've Blacknight - the hosting company who keep the majority of Irish sites online...As you can see tis stellar competition we're facing but heck to make it to the finals is nice - I'll tell you that for nothing...All my monkey fisted pounding of the keys over the last few years, penning the LadyUmbrella story, would be insanely nice to win an award for it, would be a nice chapter in the story of our ladies t-shirts..The award is being sponsored by - good luck to all..

Now then, we've got 9 days to stew in anticipation and excitement..Please, cross your fingers for us - with some luck we'll have a blog post of immense joy and celebration to post on the 20th of March...What is the feeling in your waters about it? Any Mystic Megs with a prediction? Ole...

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pancake Tuesday!

We've been gorging on pancakes here today in LUHQ to celebrate Pancake Tuesday..Fresh cream and strawberry jam was a winning combination...What is your topping or filling of choice?

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Futura Fair - The Fallout!

It has ended, our first ever trade show for our ladies t-shirts has come and gone and now we're left scratching our heads...Read on...

The show started on Sunday morning at 9.30 and so we arrived on Saturday evening to set up our area. As it was our first show we didn't know what was the done thing so decided to just get creative and try something. Elena came up with a whopper of a design which we printed out and she then painted. In total it was about 5 metres squared and when painted up and in place I think it looked pretty good. The overall set up of our area was not entirely as we had envisaged as we had a rail which just wound up blocking most of the design when the t-shirts were hung on it but thems be the breaks, the set up was done and the spirits were high - our first trade, bring it on...

It was an early start on Sunday, very early. Those who know me know that I'm a night owl of extreme proportions and so having to set the clock for 7.30am was as natural to me as as seeing a flying fish make a tuna sandwich. I managed to make that sandwich though and we arrived on time for the show. The early morning lethargy was quashed with coppious amounts of caffeine laiden coffee slurped back with a gullet in full gear. Once the caffeine had perked us up we sat and waited for the trade show to get fully underway...and we sat and waited....and we sat and waited....and we sat and waited...

Now, this is the part of the story where I'd love to be able to interject and go "But then!" - alas, no, not in this story. Sunday went by and in total one person spoke to us who expressed an interest in perhaps stocking our t-shirts (whether it will come to pass I do not know, I live in fading hope). Some of the few people who passed by mentioned that our set up was nice but for the most part it was as if we were not there. Sitting in that chair, with the caffeine coarsing through the veins and optimism failing, was really tough. There was nowhere to go and nothing to do.

After the show on Sunday I wound up talking to another exhibitor, a dab hand who had been around the trade show circuit and could smell a newbie a mile away. He said that the show was very quiet which somewhat made me feel a bit better about how badly things were going for us but he then went on to say that "Sunday was the busiest day of the 3 days" - I braced myself for tumble weeds..

The show kicked off again on Monday at 9.30 and after travelling across the city with a head full of "what the hell is today going to be like?" I took to my seat and started to mainline coffee. The tumble weeds which were promised had arrived. If I thought Sunday was bad and depressing it was only a glimpse at how lame a show could be. Sitting around all day doing nothing, hoping for people to pass by and take an interest in our ladies t-shirts was challenging. Both myself and Elena were so gutted and disappointed - ah, really was brutal sitting in that chair. In my mind I was hoping to get some orders, some big orders, from shops and the likes, so that we can get our next collection of t-shirts created. Now, they are in jeopardy - damn it, everything is in jeopardy!

Tuesday, 9.30am, final day of the show. Yet again, nothing happens. The money we had spent on getting the space at the show, the money we had spent on the artwork and fixtures/fittings, the money we had spent on getting there and back 3 days in a row had all been wasted. Hopes had been dashed, future thrown into disarray, plans scuppered, optimism obliterated - the fallout from our first trade show, the Futura Fair, has been toxic.

It's all about learning though I guess. This was our first show and I had expected it to be a learning experience. Sadly though I don't think I really learned anything but to avoid that show in years to come (if we're still here). I had my wholesale numbers ready and was gunning to do some wheeling and dealing with shop owners alas the opportunity never arose. I'm still just as clueless as to how to deal with buyers which was one of the things I wanted to do at this show (as well as getting some sales obviously).

So, where to now? Well, I'm not too sure...Our online shop is still ticking away (go on, get yourself a t-shirt, we need the cheering up) and we're still in the Loft Market but we're not in any more shops which is what the real objective of the last few days was...I feel obligated to make this a success so that Elena and her designs can really get the showcasing they deserve (like, look at how dainty she made our area look) but for now I'm left just, well, scratching my head...

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