Saturday, December 11, 2010

loving Bali

My first trip to Bali was purely for pleasure. A much needed get away after many years of diligently growing Sweet Skins (and my three children). Although I grew up in South East Asia, I had never been to Indonesia before. Excited and ready for adventure, I stepped off the plane into an all too familiar hot & aromatic Asian airport. And into the loving arms of my sister Zoray and my six year old niece, Cempaka . Home at last!

Riding from the airport to our home in Ubud is utterly enchanting. Artful in every arch, and every doorway ornately detailed. Statues carved of stone & wood. Every stoop adorned with flowers and little offerings to the spirits.

I hadn’t planned on doing business in Bali. After all, I have a “Made in USA” business. Besides, I grew up in Thailand; if I wanted to manufacture in Asia that would be the obvious choice. But seeing as how every one I met was an artist, a painter or the brother of the maker (all of whom are ready and eager to do business with me) I had to at least consider the possibilities.

Ideas began swirling in my head like sugar plums -- thinking about the shoe collection I’ve always wanted to design, the denim line that hovers just near the men’s collection that’s been brewing in my heart, fresh style swirling and whirling in a cloud of accessories, hearts and wings twinkling away in the endless skies of blue that are the back drop of my dreams...

“Hey Mira, wake up! This guy carves wooden jewelry. What shall we have him make?”... Really?

Let me just spend the next three weeks soaking in one or any of the many beautiful non-chlorine swimming pools, while I contemplate it. This is how I spent my days in Bali: in water, in warmth, in love, in fruit & sweet black coffee for breakfast; Soaking in the maddening beauty of tropical plants and my niece’s beautiful face; losing weight while eating non-stop; walking until my feet blister, and then swimming & dreaming some more.

By the time I left Bali, I had conjured up an entirely new & jet set life-style to aspire to, including a home in Bali, a heavy dose of plane hopping and several new lines of beautiful wearables, made with love in Bali. Stay tuned…

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Making Sweet Skins

It all starts with me, in my messy design studio (a room in my home) dreaming away, playing around with drawing, fabric, colors & clothing concepts that I wish I had in my own closet and self taught pattern making arts. I get lots of inspiration from my friends, people watching, sunny days & nature.

Next step: I order the best organic and recycled fabrics that my money can buy. The fabric usually comes in it’s natural off white state, but occasionally I have a chance to have entire bolts dyed before they are sent to us. Organic fabrics is delicious stuff, but unfortunately each roll seems to have it's own personality. It can be unpredictable, thinker or thinner, some dyes up well, some not so vivid. Some shrinks up more and some doesn’t shrink at all! So if you’ve ever noticed that your new pair doesn’t fit quite the same as your old pair, this is probably why. Each piece of Sweet Skins is unique.

Fabrics are shipped directly to our local cut & sew shop. Sewnique is a small sew shop, in a converted garage out back of owner Cathy Thompkins house. Cathy is the owner of Sewnique, and the big boss lady to Monica, Adelida & Leonardo our experts sewing team. Being that we live in a totally non-industrial Eugene Oregon (a little city known more for it’s organic produce and green space, than factory work!) and that Cathy takes very good care of the crew, this is not the cheapest way to do business. We could send it away to be made in China for much cheaper! But we choose to keep the work right here, to support families in our community. Sweet Skins are made with love, and they are intended to bless all the lives they touch, at each step along the way.
Anyway, once the garments have been cut and sewn, I pick them up and bring them home. Here, they tend to over crowd my laundry room all throughout production season (which is most of the year). My family isn't really thrilled about that part. Open to change. I dye most garments myself with low impact dyes. I do my best to create the dreamiest colors and to keep consistency between batches. I wish I could say I was a dye artist, but I'm afraid it's just a means to an end for me. Every piece of clothing that we ever sold has been washed and dried, so that you know what you’re getting when you shop off the rack.

Once each piece is dyed, washed and dried I take the bundles to my little boutique & warehouse, known as Sweet Skins Eco Boutique. There one of a few shop girls will help to prep the clothing, steaming, folding, take inventory and check for imperfections. And there you have it, that’s how Sweet Skins are made. Thanks for shopping & making my dreams come true!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What We Did This Summer '09

Another beautiful summer in the pacific northwest. Here at Sweet Skins we managed to stay very busy, but we did things a little differently than we’ve done in the past. First of all, we graduated ourselves from the Eugene Saturday Market. After 5 years there, we said our good byes (we still shop there of course!). But now we have our own store “Sweet Skins Eco Boutique”. We spent alot of our summer getting the store off to a good start. Here’s Paula, our store manager, tending to the window display…

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As for Festivals, our other usual summer job; we didn't do too many of those either. Instead we participated in little ways, like donating hemp panties to Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Tennessee, of their “Clean Vibes Trading Post”. The crew at “clean vibes’ encouraged festival goers to recycling their used beverage container, with the help of some sweet little freebee’s like our panties, as incentive. Between Bonnaroo and the Gathering of the Tribes Festival, the Clean Vibes Crew rescued 280,000 bottles and cans from being trashed this summer. Awesome work guys! See a pair of black pSweet Skins panties handing there in the background of the Clean Vibes Booth...

Besides all the hard work of making Sweet Skins happen, we did take time to just hang out with the kids. Here we are swimming at one of the many glorious natural swimming holes that are part of life in Oregon…

And last, but certainly not least, I took the brave step of auditioning for Portland Fashion Weeks Emerging Designers Showcase. This required some serious work on my part, planning my collection for Spring 2010 while working on production of Fall '09, getting samples ready without the help of my sewing team (who were on vacation at the time...) and just plain working up the nerves to have my designers shown in front of a panel of fashion industry judges! See below: me looking less then glamous in front of the judging panel. The good news is, I got in!

See you on the Runway, October 8th Portland Fashion Week!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

News Flash

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sweet Skins In Haiti

We sent our friend Mikey to Haiti with a bag full of Sweet Skins. Well, actually Mikey was already on his way to Haiti and mentioned to us how much the local ladies would love our clothing. That’s all we needed to hear. We selected a number of bright colored summer styles to gift the ladies of Haiti-Ferrier. As seen here on Madam Brisson and her lovely daughters Madonne, Manici, Diedvi and Rebeka.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Struggles include everything from environmental hazards, to political oppression, lack of clean water, healthcare, education and work opportunity. As it turns out Mikey goes to Haiti regularly to assist in the Sustainable Development Project. Projects in the works include a student sponsorship program in which 32 children are given the opportunity to attend school, and a micro-loan/finance project which assists local farmers and crafts peoples with low interest finance for income generating activities.

On a lighter note: according to the Los Angeles Times, movie making is on the rise in Haiti. With an increased of 300% in the last 5 years, hopes are to transform this impoverished country into a cinema powerhouse – “Haitiwood “ – following the lead of India’s Baliwood. If this is true, we suspect Miss Madonne here just might be on her way to the glamorous life.

I’m not sure how to get involved in Haitian show business, but to learn more about the dire conditions in Haiti and how you can help, contact Michael directly at or log on to the website

Friday, May 16, 2008

Road Trippin'

Festival Season is on! Here's a little peak into our recent trip to Cali for the Whole Earth Festival in Davis. One of our favorites, I thought it was all gonna be so nice 'n mellow this time. After all, it's a straight shot down I5, the hotel is booked, the sheets are cotton, the festival is only blocks away and Whole Earth is one of the sweetest events ever...

Just as I hand the wheel over to my co-pilot and begin to settle in for a nice back seat nap, the old Dodge starts shakin'...worse and worse. What now? Surely this old rig is finally done for. But no, just a flat tire and with it, a moderate delay. Back up and running in no time.

At set-up time, we only forgot a handful of booth items. Well, we still seem to be reinventing the wheel every spring. Still wondering how my friendly competitors do it. They roll in right no time. I'm late. They are clean and refreshed, I feel like I ran a marithon. Their booth feel spacious and organized, mine is a chaotic mess of the cuties fashions you've ever seen. Oh well.

And night life? No thanks, I'm way too tired after a day of pleasing ladies... I'm all about going back to the hotel room to count my earnings, mind racing forward to what new styles can finally come to life with these funds. And my kids. Who's birthday am I missing this time? Well, I'm coming home with money at least. Gifts for everyone and a family dinner for sure...

There is nothing in the world like the feeling of heading home from a festival. Usually going north through Mount Shasta. Stress behind me, a pocket full of love, ideas ignited and dancing like sugar plums in my head. And smiling faces waiting to greet us... kids, cat, dog, house, design board, bills payable, orders on the website and grandma is there to. How am I so blessed?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Childhood Inspirations

I’ll start this blog by tell you a little something about my history. As I’ve had a most interesting 35 years on this planet. Born outside of San Francisco to a multi-ethnic hippie family, I was one of 5 (or more?) children. At age 3 my father moved us all to Thailand where I we lived for the next 10 years, intermittently traveling to destinations like Hong Kong, Malaysia, Tokyo and Burma.

Sounds amazing, and it was, but let’s get a visual here of non-disciplining hippie mom, 5 kids running wild, money always down to the wire, father on the other side of the world wheeling and dealing and yes, making more babies. It was in 5th grade at the International School of Bangkok that I realized I should be a fashion designer; the day I wore a striped skirt with a floral shirt and got laughted at by all the other girls at school. Naturally I vowed to dress them all one day!

Unfortunately our exotic life style in South East Asia would come to a screeching halt when I was 13. Suffice to say that the wheeling’s and dealings of international-jet setting-hippie papa took a turn for the worst. All of the family was displaces back to the US of A. It all gets a little grim at this part, so let’s quit for now and just bask in the sweetness of childhood in the tropics…

Running around in nothing but panties for the heat. Eating exotic fruit like rambutan, durian, papaya and mango daily. Trying and failing again and again to climb coconut trees like the natives men do. Making elegant floating boats out of folded banana leaves. Collecting the little pastel eggs of mosquito eating lizards. Sneaking out the back gates to make friends with poor families living in stilted houses over dirty rivers. Yes, I want to stay right here in mind all day, as I go about the work of my grown-up life…making fashions, an artist expression rooted in all that I am and everywhere that I come from.