Pierogi Picnic’s Fond Farewell

This is it! The Pierogi Picnic Etsy shop has officially closed as of 9pm this evening. Let the record show that August 2nd, 2015 is a day that now stands in history! At least in my books. Though it’s a bittersweet moment, there’s so much to celebrate when looking back at these last seven years of sustainable design.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAIt all began with a skirt. I created a simple asymmetrical pencil skirt using a thrifted cotton t-shirt. Every which way I went I would receive compliments, along with inquiries on how people could get their hands on one of their own. That’s what inspired me to create an affordable line of retro, comfy, eco-friendly clothing. I had also recently discovered the growing handmade movement, and with encouragement from my husband, launched my own Etsy shop in the fall of 2008.

After debuting my store I continued to create truly one-of-a-kind clothing items made from recycled materials. Scouring Chicago’s thrift stores high and wide, I was collecting pre-loved fabrics and vintage textiles to create a unique line of casual and comfy clothing. Within a couple of months I began to add other designs. T-shirt dresses, camisole gowns, restructured tanks, vintage finds and more! It was in that year that I came up with some of my most popular designs, included the Resurrected Tee skirt, Revamped Flower headbands, Darling Dresses and No Sweat tunics. They were a hit! And so Pierogi Picnic took off!

Pierogi Picnic post-branding

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An Indie Biz: 2014 in Review

Pierogi Picnic: Eco friendly, affordable, design savvy clothing

2014 was quite the year for Pierogi Picnic and there’s so much to celebrate!

Beyond being the sixth year that I’ve been creating and selling my eco-friendly wares, this was the year I learned to pace and prioritize like never before! And with a baby on the way (we’re at 9 months today!) that’s a valuable lesson to have learned.

Though things had slowed down the second half of the year due to some funky early pregnancy woes, the first half of the year was as productive as ever. With custom orders pouring in off of Etsy and lots of traffic hitting the website, I found myself busier than ever! Focusing on the Pierogi Picnic website and online sales continues to be the best business plan I can have – especially now that baby is almost here!

My focus in 2015 will continue to be on expanding Pierogi Picnic’s virtual reach while really honing in on creating more made-to-order items. Once the babe is here and we’re in a rhythm the custom order portion of my Etsy shop will be up and running again and I can’t wait for that time to come! My hands have been fabric free for far too long! And who knows – maybe a new munchkin line will be on the way this year too!

So without further adieu – here’s a look back at what rocked the Pierogi Picnic world in 2014!

My Favorite New Designs: The Dawn & Dusk Collection

Pierogi Picnic: Dawn + Dusk CollectionMost Popular Item: Green Gal Custom Swimsuit

Green Girl swimsuitRunners Up: Sir Cycle men’s sweatshirt, Just in Case Lace women’s tank, all things Vintage

Most Popular Post of the Year: DIY Love Patch

Elbow patch: afterRunner’s Up: Inspiration: Suitcase Dresser, DIY: Earring Tutorial, DIY: Homemade Cheek & Lip Stain, Trends: Lovin’ the Leggins

Thank you to all of you for your support and encouragement throughout 2014! Here’s to making 2015 the best year for Pierogi Picnic yet!!!

An Indie Biz: Finding Balance

pierogi picnic finding balance Creating a healthy work/life balance is something we hear about all the time. “Making time for self,” “investing in you,” or my favorite, “taking time to breathe” are all fine and dandy – but how can we take the idea of maintaining time for your business, family and self a reality?

That’s a big question that I’ve been grappling with since the New Year. Pierogi Picnic is in the sixth year of rocking recycled duds and the opportunities to share what I’m doing are endless. Invites to take part in shows, magazines, and blogs are fairly routine these days. Would you consider that boastful? It’s not meant to be since I haven’t had the ability to take part in any of them – and it’s all thanks to being on the edge of burning out.

Attempting to balance a full time indie business with a full time (awesome but demanding!) job have stretched me thin these past couple of years and moonlighters fatigue is becoming more and more palpable. So what’s the solution? Is it a matter of setting a strict work schedule (oh to only have an eight hour work day!), designating sewing days, or creating a true resting day? Perhaps – but adhering to these kind of self-inflicted rules is only part of the solution. I often find myself sneaking in some photo editing while my husband roasts a batch of coffee beans – or saying “ooh – I’ll do some PR work while these potatoes boil!”

So the big question comes up again: How do you really, really create a healthy work/life balance without compromising your vision and quality of work? I asked this very question of my fellow maker friends via social media and here were some of the suggestions they shared: Continue reading

Designs: Best of 2013

pierogi picnic: top ten 2013

I may be a touch bit biased when it comes to the best Pierogi Picnic designs of 2013 – so I decided to let the numbers do the talking!

Using my Etsy and website statistics, these are the most popular designs from the past year! I’ll have you know that a few of these took me by surprise.

What a year! 

          1. In Bloom tunic dress
          2. Take a Bow scarf cowl
          3. Green Gal retro bathing suit
          4. Sir Cycle mens sweatshirt hoodie
          5. Point Out the Way open back top
          6. Miss Cycle womens sweatshirt hoodie
          7. Blossom cotton women’s swimsuit
          8. No Sweat mens cowl sweatshirt
          9. Cosby Skirt upcycled sweater skirt
          10. A Bow On It sweater headband

An Indie Biz: Welcoming the New Year

2013 Pierogi Picnic Annual Business Review final

It’s been quite a fruitful year here at Pierogi Picnic – and there’s much to reflect on. Whether perusing through my Etsy sales, looking back at the conjuring of new designs, or basking in the warm glow of gleaming customer reviews, 2013 was the year where my business shined.

Thinking back over the last five years, and the endless toiling to build Pierogi Picnic’s strong foundation, this was the year where the pay offs became clear and tangible. What more could a biz owner wish for?!

So to send off 2013, while joyfully welcoming 2014, I’ve drafted up a visual graphic that looks back on this year’s achievements. Because, after all, what’s the fun of running a small indie biz if I don’t get to celebrate milestones, breakthroughs, and all the success nuggets in between!

And if you’re wondering how in the world I was able to achieve, let alone set my sight on these goals in the first place, consider giving my yearly business planning worksheet a try. Download my customizable, and totally adorable, planning worksheet below to help you get your goals on paper for the year.

Here’s to a fruitful New Year to all the indie handmade business owners out there!

2014 Business Planning Worksheet Graphic from pierogi picnic

An Indie Biz: Taking a Break

Summer in Chicago: Inkling Boutique Sign "Treat Yo' Self"

Boy – is it hot outside! And beyond the naturally imposed sluggishness that creeps into my summer self, I also find that the season brings tons of distractions. Whether it’s a close friend’s wedding, long walks in the park with the dogs, swimming in the lake or festival hopping, there’s nothing like making the most of summer in Chicago!

Or so I found myself thinking on a recent weekend afternoon, as I sit sewing away at my machine. I started to fantasize about all the events, get-togethers and experiences that were taking place in my absence, when it dawned on me: I need a break!

This September will mark the five year anniversary for Pierogi Picnic, and since starting my biz in 2008, I’ve had nary a dull moment. Working full-time and running your own business is exhilarating, but exhausting work! So I’ve decided a teeny vacation from my biz will do.

But with all the time, sweat and love poured into Pierogi Picnic, I’d never dream of closing the shop or website, even temporarily. So as a compromise to myself I’ve decided to put custom order work on hold until the fall. This way I’ll have the luxury of sewing up new designs when the mood strikes – and can still sell creations that have already been photographed and posted to Etsy. But what it really means is that I can reserve my weekends off for time with family, friends and four-legged beasties.

So for those of you who have been eye-balling a custom swimsuit or sundress – know that they’ll be back in production in September 2013. Until then – take advantage of all the lovingly crafted readymade and vintage items in my shop. And if you’re not currently a fan of the Pierogi Picnic Facebook page – you’ll want to “like” it soon – as we’re going to have some big sales coming your way in August for our anniversary.

And to those who are fellow artisans and creatives – do yourself a favor too – take a break every now and then! You deserve it!

Summer in Chicago: Gelato - yum!Summer in Chicago: My Boston Terrier Butter

Summer in Chicago: Flowers from A New LeafSummer in Chicago: Lydia taking a break

An Indie Biz: Design Process

Pierogi Picnic: Design Process

Designing a new garment or revamped vintage clothing item is always an adventure!

I’ve used many methods over the years. Some involved intricate illustrations prior to creation. Others were more stream-of-consciousness, just cutting and sewing and making things up along the way. Still, in other situations I’d find myself with some general ideas of what I was looking to present and forming the vision in my mind before take scissors to fabric. No matter what the method – coming up with a new design can be the most exciting, and conversely, flabbergasting thing! Continue reading