I went to a fundraiser last week for the Ama Foundation that supports a school in Nepal for orphans. I was invited to the event by one of the co-hosts, Sean Gelbaugh, a photographer who I used to work with at RedEnvelope and Smith and Hawken. Sean and his wife Dawn, who is also a photographer, became involved with this organization through their children’s school in Oakland and have traveled to Nepal volunteering their time and skills over the past few years. It was great to see Sean again with his family and friends, actively involved in supporting such a wonderful organization.
It’s been challenging to keep up with all the talented people I worked with at Red Envelope, Williams-Sonoma and The Gap. So much time and in some cases, distance separates us all. But it’s been fun when we’re able to reconnect, share memories and even create some new imagery together. I’ve kept in touch with my former graphic designer at Red Envelope, Meredith Peck, who is now married and living in San Francisco. Meredith designed my website for 12 Small Things, which I appreciate on a daily basis. She still helps me with email and marketing design. Meredith now has her own freelance design business and has also just launched Spark and Pepper, selling her beautiful jewelry designs. She has had great response to her work and I’ve had fun helping her with bits of knowledge I’ve learned over the years.
One of my more recent connections since leaving the corporate marketing world, has made for some of the best creative collaboration I’ve enjoyed in a while. It’s one thing to work under pressure anticipating what a merchant or CEO will think of your work. It’s quite another experience to be your own boss and critic and be able to both art direct and approve photographs on the spot. I was very fortunate to meet my current collaborator, photographer Mark Johann, through my friend and mentor Darcy Lee, owner ofHeartfelt in Bernal Heights. Darcy and Mark had been together for a few years while I was starting 12 Small Things, and my husband and I enjoyed hanging out with them and sharing our mutual interests. One conversation led to another and Mark started shooting for my website for Valentine’s Day 2010, continuing through our latest summer 2012 shoot pictured here. While we started with stylists and photo assistants, the economy and our friendship has allowed us to pair down to just the two of us working with one good model, having fun making photos.
The creative campaign we created at Red Envelope relied on great casting and I have been fortunate to have kept in touch with Jeffery at Look for his help with model selection for 12 Small Things. Experienced models bring so much value and life to a photo shoot, and I am lucky to have worked with so many talented women over the past few years. The model for our summer shoot, Renee, is not only beautiful, but is a talented singer and had just been chosen the week before our shoot, as a contestant for the next season of the X-Factor. She had her final audition the next day was still wearing her contestant wrist bracelet during the photo-shoot that we had to tuck behind her clothing. Mark and I both had a feeling she would be a finalist if not a winner, no matter what the judges decided.
The main talent behind my summer 2012 collection are the women from Afghanistan, Vietnam and Kenya who produce the beautiful new products you see on 12 Small Things. Our great summer tunics from Afghanistan are made by women from their homes, as they are not permitted to work in public. This additional income helps Afghan women have a little financial independence supporting themselves and their families, often without the help of a husband who may have died or sustained injuries from the war. Zardozi, a non-governmental organization helps these women gain economic opportunities by bringing all the material to their homes and collecting the finished embroidered pieces with direct payment. Women often use the income to pay for their medical expenses or schooling for their children. While we cannot see these women in public or in photos, we can appreciate the work they are doing and only hope they can gain more independence and equality in years to come. I hope you enjoy these and other small gifts for summer that make a big impact. Thank you for giving.