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ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Michelle O'Hollaren


The Artisan Group is proud to announce this week's Artist Spotlight Feature is Michelle O'Hollaren of Sophisticated Pup, Fine Pet Products!

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Sophisticated Pup, Fine Pet Products

We caught up with Michelle and asked her a few questions about her truly sophisticated (indeed!) line of pet products, and her experiences so far working with TAG. Here's what she said:




Tell us a little bit about your shoppe. 
Launched in January 2006, Sophisticated Pup is a boutique designer of pet apparel, collars, leashes, dog beds and accessories. All of my products are designed and produced in Chicago, IL. The product line was born out of a love for a little pug, Penny, who suffers from Canine Liver Disease. Penny's well-being is at the heart of Sophisticated Pup. Sophisticated Pup also is active in supporting animal rescue groups within the Chicago and midwestern region.

With my product line, I release seasonal collections, much like how a clothing store for people would. I create a line of coats or dresses and release them for that for the particular season. Once that product line has sold out, it is discontinued. I spend a lot of time researching for my new product lines and even more time sourcing my fabrics. I love the fact that I am creating a quality line of products for pets that are all handmade in the USA.

What is your favorite product from your shoppe and why? 
While I create many products for pets, I have a soft spot for my dog dresses. There truly is nothing cuter than a dog in a tutu, and Penny in a tutu is no exception! I really love the damask tutu dress that I created for display for the GBK MTV Movie Awards Celebrity Gifting Suite earlier this year.


When you're not handcrafting designer boutique pet accessories, what are your hobbies? 
When I am not designing products for my shop, I am often quite busy promoting them! I attend many pet industry trade shows as well as art fairs and street festivals promoting my product line. I try to get involved in various events in collaboration with animal rescue groups in the city. Whether it is physically being present at the events, or donating products for silent auctions for the animals in need. I take advantage of any opportunity for pet fashion shows of which we have had several this year. 

Besides focusing on the promotion of my product line, I love spending time with my husband, Ryan and my dog, Penny! We love trying out new restaurants, traveling and enjoying everything that our home city of Chicago has to offer.

What do you like best about The Artisan Group? 
Being part of The Artisan Group has been an amazing opportunity for me. The collaboration with other artists and designers is really wonderful. It is a very inspiring and motivating group that supports and builds off of each other. The opportunities that I have had as a result of my affiliation with The Artisan Group has been phenomenal as well. I was able to have my products on display at the  GBK MTV Movie Awards Celebrity Gifting Suite, and also have been able to gift my products to celebrities Tori Spelling, Bethenny Frankel and Amy Poehler through The Artisan Group.

What was most gratifying was when I received a hand-written note from Bethenny Frankel thanking me for the products that I sent for her pup, Cookie. 


I have grown as a designer and my product line has grown in the time that I have been affiliated with TAG, more than any of the years in business prior to my membership. I have been featured in several major newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune Red Eye and the Chicago Sun-Times, as well had many television appearances on major broadcasting networks including NBC, WGN, WCIU-TV, FOX, KTVK, and Pet Fashion TV, here in Chicago and also in Indianapolis, IN, Phoenix, AZ and Toronto, ON. All of these features were a result of exposure due to my products including in TAG opportunities.

I am very grateful to be part of The Artisan Group and look forward to more amazing opportunities through the group in the future.


Michelle recently participated as a display participant in a luxury celebrity gift lounge on June 1-2, 2012 at L'Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, in honor of the The 2012 MTV Movie Awards Nominees and Presenters.

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Melissa Ahonen



The Artisan Group
 is proud to announce this week's Artist Spotlight Feature is Melissa Ahonen of Baby Button Tops!


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BABY BUTTON TOPS

We caught up with Melissa and asked her a few questions about her adorable hats, headbands and hair accessories, and her experiences so far working with TAG. Here's what she said:





Tell us a little bit about your shoppe. 
Baby Button Tops came to light when my son was born pre-maturely and was hospitalized for his first month. It was stressed the important of keeping his head covered to prevent getting sick. After getting to a certain stage, cute and comfortable hats that are affordable are almost impossible to find. I decided at that point I was going to take matter into my own hands and make him hats. From there, it grew from making hats for just him, to friends and family, to starting a business. As Easton grew, so did styles and options. BBT also added headbands and wrap sashes to the mix when my niece needed some fun accessories.

We recently launched a full line of headbands with former contestant Adley Stump, who competed on The Voice, Season 2 for Team Blake. This launch has been a wonderful experience in both personal and professional growth.

What is your favorite product from your shoppe and why? 
My favorite item as of now is the Fleur De Lis headband in the Adley Stump Collection. It is just so fun, it is classy with the black and gray tones, but yet has swarvoski crystals, turquoise stones, and all of these fun elements to it. I think it’s a piece you can wear with so many different things.


When you're not creating such stylish hair accessories and baby hats, what are your hobbies? 
I love family time with my three year-old and husband, anything outdoors, reading, and listening to all styles of music.

What do you like best about The Artisan Group? 
The wealth of knowledge that the group has. You can come to the group with any question, issue, conflict, or other business issue that you might have and someone will always be there to help you. The Artisan Group is a group that will always be there for each other and that is something you don’t find in most other groups.


Melissa recently participated as a display participant in a luxury celebrity gift lounge on June 1-2, 2012 at L'Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, in honor of the The 2012 MTV Movie Awards Nominees and Presenters.

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Linda Bahr



The Artisan Group
 is proud to announce this week's Artist Spotlight Feature is Linda Bahr of Engelfelt Designs!


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ENGELFELT DESIGNS

We caught up with Linda and asked her a few questions about her fantastic felted soaps and scarves, and her experiences so far working with TAG. Here's what she said:





Tell us a little bit about your shoppe. 
I'm a fiber artist. Felted soaps, knit and crocheted accessories, woven lavender sachets, and items made from felted repurposed garments are some of the products I love to create. Craft fairs and word of mouth were how I started out decades ago selling my products, and Engelfelt Designs came about in 2009 as an Etsy shoppe.

I come from a family with a long tradition of being artisans and crafters in our "spare" hours. My father was a geologist, so my four siblings and I grew up overseas in parts of the world where art and handwork are a large part of the educational upbringing. I wove my first pillow and knit my first pair of baby booties in 3rd grade -- grubby little things, but it was a start!

What is your favorite product from your shoppe and why? 
My felted soaps are a relatively new venture for me, and I do love them. However, I have recently become obsessed with nuno felting. I love this scarf:


When you're not handcrafting your gorgeous line of felted soaps and accessories, what are your hobbies? 
Several of my hobbies intersect with my career choice as a language teacher (French and German) and so I'm not sure where the separation is! So let's call them my passions. I travel as much as is humanly and financially possible. We've traveled extensively with our 2 sons, who are now grown, and I coordinated a student exchange program with a school in Germany for 23 years. This has morphed into an adult exchange, now that I'm retired. I'm off to Europe next month for 4 weeks, as a matter of fact. I read like a fanatic -- anything and everything. I love my garden, though it does suffer a bit in my absences. And cooking is another favorite activity. Actually, eating is too... And can red wine be a hobby? If so, it's on my list, too. :)  

What do you like best about The Artisan Group? 
The Artisan Group is so amazing in so many ways. Participation can be at any level you choose, so it fits well with my lifestyle which is insanely busy at times. I have participated in several opportunities, from sending business cards for the (GBK) Oscars to doing products for the special Earth Day event, and most recently, being a display participant for the (GBK) MTV Movies Award Gift Lounge. This last event was absolutely the most amazing thing I have done with my business. 

The support system and energy was awesome, from Valerie's amazing overall management and business skill all the way down the line to all of the members who are so generous with advice and counseling on the dozens of topics that come up daily. With this team support, I have spent so much time working and reworking my products to try to measure up to the caliber of the superb artisans on our team, and have enjoyed every minute.


Linda recently participated as a display participant in a luxury celebrity gift lounge on June 1-2, 2012 at L'Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, in honor of the The 2012 MTV Movie Awards Nominees and Presenters.

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Erica Taylor


The Artisan Group
 is proud to announce this week's Artist Spotlight Feature is Erica Taylor of Paper and Place!


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PAPER AND PLACE

We caught up with Erica and asked her a few questions about her unique map jewelry, and her experiences so far working with TAG. Here's what she said:





Tell us a little bit about your shoppe. 
My husband and I decided we had enough of Chicago's brutal winters and relocated to the Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas area. I left behind my all of my friends and family and suffered from frequent bouts of homesickness. In 2010, I read an article that mentioned children of future generations would not even know what maps are. Everything just clicked for me! So, late one night I designed my very first piece using a vintage chandelier crystal prism and a map clipping of Chicago. Every time I wore it, strangers would unexpectedly grab me by the neck to take a closer look. That's when I realized THIS is what I am supposed to do. The rest is history.

What is your favorite product from your shoppe and why? 
Hands down my favorite item is the custom chandelier crystal map pendant necklace. I love how mixing two unexpected elements together can result in such a beautiful and personalized piece.


When you're not handcrafting such unique geographical pieces, what are your hobbies? 
You'll find me at the park running behind my busy 3-year old son, taking in the local museums or rummaging the aisles of a local vintage shop.

What do you like best about The Artisan Group? 
I enjoy the unconditional advice and support from my teammates. It is refreshing to be part of an organization of like minded business owners who all share the same goal... taking their business to the next level.


Erica recently participated as a display participant in a luxury celebrity gift lounge on June 1-2, 2012 at L'Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, in honor of the The 2012 MTV Movie Awards Nominees and Presenters.

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Diane Perry



The Artisan Group
 is proud to announce this week's Artist Spotlight Feature is Diane Perry of Catcophony Wearable Art-Handcrafted Jewelry!

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Catcophony Wearable Art-Handcrafted Jewelry
{website} www.catcophony.com

We caught up with Diane and asked her a few questions about her fabulous handcrafted copper, brass, and silver jewelry, and her experiences so far working with TAG. Here's what she said:





Tell us a little bit about your shoppe. 
When we moved to Georgia I found I had the time and the space to set up a room for my crafts. I have always done some form of art (painting, sketching) or craft when time permitted. Even in grad school, my apartment mate and I made Christmas ornaments as gifts one year while we were studying for our doctoral qualifying exams. It took the edge off a particularly stressful time. But, jewelry-making had not been one of the forms I had tried until about 6 years ago. I was disappointed at not being able to find some nice, simple earrings. 

So, I started researching tools, techniques, etc., on the internet. I am a very visual learner, so this was perfect. Slowly I started acquiring the skills and a friend convinced me to do shows at the local farmers market. At shows customers kept asking me if I had an internet store and I finally took the plunge. I tried Etsy, but only sold some of my excess stash, but when Artfire made me a deal I couldn’t refuse I took it, and then Supadupa did and I took that as well.

What is your favorite product from your shoppe and why? 
It it’s hard to pick—like which is your favorite child—and is usually the item I am currently working on. My current favorite is the earrings and bracelet set I made for Amy Poehler. It was fun to make, not just because she is such a super lady, but the way it all came together. I also made it in a bronze and brass version.

When you're not handcrafting such lovely pieces of jewelry, what are your hobbies? 
I love being outdoors and living on five acres in Georgia gives me plenty of room to run around gardening, hiking and swimming. I also enjoy golf and reading, especially mysteries.

What do you like best about The Artisan Group? 
I love the interaction and sharing. I learn something new every day from this talented group—actually it’s more like 10 things! It’s a great support group, sounding board, think tank, and all-around therapy group. I had no idea when I joined (The Artisan Group) what an impact it would make on me, my business, and my creative process. And the bonus is getting to know some phenomenal and creative people.


Diane recently participated as a display participant in a luxury celebrity gift lounge on June 1-2, 2012 at L'Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, in honor of the The 2012 MTV Movie Awards Nominees and Presenters.

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Jodi Broglio



The Artisan Group
 is proud to announce this week's Artist Spotlight Feature is Jodi Broglio of jolio design!

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jolio design

We caught up with Jodi and asked her a few questions about her gorgeous colorful paper goods, and her experiences so far working with TAG. Here's what she said:





Tell us a little bit about your shoppe. 
My shop is a mix of all the things I love -- color, patterns, paper, type and stationery. As little girl I was mesmerized by the designs of the pink wallpaper on my bedroom walls. I’d spend hours making cards and wrapping gifts making them special with bits and pieces of this and that. I love designing custom prints, stationery and invitations and to be able to turn my passion into a profession is thrilling beyond words.

What is your favorite product from your shoppe and why? 
Right now I’m crushing on my Malibu collection with its bold black and white graphics and pops of bright colors. I’m always a sucker for polka dots and love the use of color especially the yellow. It’s fun and graphic and makes a statement. I thought it was a great look for Mila Kunis and fits her free-spirited personality.
 

When you're not designing trendy invitations and other paper goodies, what are your hobbies? 
I have three little boys that sure do keep me busy and on top of my game every day. They make each day jam packed with endless energy that it’s really something that I can keep up. You can find me at the beach building sand castles, at the park feeding the ducks, riding bikes, yoga, tennis and of course at Starbucks getting my daily fix. A MUST. I love movies, especially comedies like Old School because laughing feels so good, music like Jack Johnson when I want to chill out, and of course I do love my celebs, pop culture and fashion. Nothing is better than flipping through a brand new magazine like Vogue fall edition. I must say my true love is designing -- for me it’s the most amazing feeling and a creative escape like nothing else and I feel so grateful to love what I do everyday.

What do you like best about The Artisan Group? 
I've worked as a staff designer at Mattel for eight years with some of the most talented people in the toy industry, attended design conferences all over the country, exhibited at prestigious trade shows in NYC but NEVER in my entire professional career have I ever been in the company of such genuinely supportive talented people as the members of The Artisan Group. I love how ANY time of the day or night you can pop on Facebook and be inspired, learn, get feedback, share, feel supported, laugh and really feel like a part of something special. I feel like I know every single person and have a connection with so many members in the group that some days it pushes me harder and gives me the pep talk I needed. It’s been amazing to be part of this group and truly an honor to watch it grow and see everyone’s success stories. But c’mon, the best thing so far was sending a collection to Ryan Gosling with a love note that I still can’t believe what I actually wrote to him -- if you can only imagine.


Jodi recently participated as a display participant in a luxury celebrity gift lounge on June 1-2, 2012 at L'Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, in honor of the The 2012 MTV Movie Awards Nominees and Presenters.

GUEST BLOGGER: Nikki Henry of NKHenry

The 4 Handbags Every Woman Should Own, To Look Their Chicest Best

By Nikki Henry of NKHenry Handbags and Accessories
Shoppe | Twitter | Facebook

Hello, Artisan Group readers, I am thrilled to be today’s guest blogger.

As a handbag and accessories designer, I am constantly observing the bags that women carry when I’m out and about. With my accessories line, NKHenry, my aim is to design and create chic and affordable bags mostly with minimalist silhouettes. 'Less is more' is the motto and below I discuss how investing in key handbag styles will take you from season to season with minimal effort.

Satchel

Satchels have become the bag du jour for American women. From “Gossip Girls” to suburban housewives and everyone in between, this bag can be caught hanging off ever so nimbly from the forearm of every in-the-know fashionista.

These bags come in a wide variety from boxy shapes to more round edged versions. The commonality amongst them is that they tend to have mucho hardware. These bags have become a statement piece of sorts and usually boast a lot of inside compartments and pockets, which makes them so appealing to most women, as we can tuck and hide away of all the STUFF that we carry around each day.

Satchels come in a variety of beautiful leather and non leather fabrics. If you are one of those women who carries a ton of stuff it is advisable to purchase a satchel with a detachable shoulder strap so that you can occasionally wear the bag on your shoulder as well. The satchel is a must-have investment in both black and a warm rich brown. This bag will function well as your casual companion leaving other more demure styles like clutches and baguettes for more formal occasions.

Hobo

The Hobo is so chic because it is grown-up bag, but its silhouette also lends itself to meld and contour with your body. I love Hobos and I think they are the perfect shoulder bag for casual and general day activities. I’m more partial to one strap Hobos than two, but as the two strapped lovelies tend to outnumber the one strapped versions, I guess there is something to be said for having two straps.

A Hobo in a nice lightweight pebbled leather a lush suede material is a must have. Why? Because these fabrics meld into the body and create a sensuous looking juxtaposition to your look. It’s just that extra oomph factor to make your jean with white tee or maxi dress look that much more chic. A hobo is where I would move away from basic black and instead opt for a luscious chocolate, copper or animal print. In shopping for a hobo make sure the bag isn’t too bulky or thick, as you need to put your stuff in it and we don’t want the bag dragging you down with too much weight! That is neither good for your health or well your chicness!

Clutch

You can’t go wrong with a great Clutch… The Clutch is the ultimate chic accessory -- as it is designed primarily to provide a slim silhouette to your outfit. A Clutch is appropriate in any situation where having a streamlined or no fuss look is desirable. For example a night at the theater or attending a gala… The Clutch sits perfectly in your lap and out of the way. You don’t want a clucky shoulder bag or some other big bag at places like these, trying to figure out where to put I and most importantly distracting from your haute outfit!

The Clutch may not be seen as “practical” as some of the other styles, but I look at it from the opposite perspective… Clutches allow you carry only what you need for where you’re going… Most have just enough space for keys a few cosmetics, cash, credit cards and other small personals, so in that sense this style is very practical. Along with the chain shoulder bag, the clutch is one of the few styles I suggest owning in multiple colors, fabrics and prints.

A basic black leather clutch is a must in your accessories closet. Our NikkiGirl clutch is a chic version of the black clutch—trendy and timeless with small gold studs and made of lush Italian leather. This investment piece will go a long way you will take this lovely lady from a night out on the town and all of your social gatherings in between. This fall we are re-working the NikkiGirl girl clutch by adding a front pocket under the flap area for more storage options. The larger body functions as a cosmetics pouch of sorts and the front storage under the flap is perfect to keep your keys, cash and cards handy yet hidden.

Chain Shoulder Bag

The chain handbag is the perfect marriage between a clutch and a shoulder bag. The chain shoulder bag is probably one of the least owned handbag, but in my opinion one of the best handbags to own - I absolutely love them. Much like the clutch, this style is very versatile and will take you effortlessly from day to evening. They are the perfect companion with jeans when you a tres chic French look or for complementing an evening dress and everything in between. Demure, yet sexy, classic yet modern the chain shoulder bag comes in many styles and flavors.

Chain handbags should never be overstuffed. They provide just the right amount of space for your small personal essentials but are mostly coveted for the ultra feminine and chic aesthetic .

Baguettes, for example are a great choice for petite women—they are usually lightweight, have a short strap drop and add to the feminine charm of a petite frame. Then we have the standard chain bag in which the bag body usually hits at hip length, making them perfect for quick entry. In addition to copping the classic black, get this style in an exotic print and a bold color like red, to add just the right amount of pop to a neutral or monochromatic outfit.

The Lexi Bag debuts this Fall in our shoppe as our first chain handbag and we are just in love. Lexi is sexy and feminine with a unique crescent shape and hanging tassel zipper puller. She is perfect for looking chic in either jeans or leather shorts.

Take care and stay chic!
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