December 31, 2013

Year in Review: 2013

2013 has been a wonderful year full of learning and growth. It has been a little over a year since I left my job designing men's socks. I spent much of the first part of the year freelancing for a range of clients only to find that I don't enjoy freelancing…or doing design work for clients in general. So I made the decision to dedicate all my time & energy to growing my own business…and I haven't looked back since.

This year I learned a lot about running a small business and accomplished way more than I ever expected. Earlier this month, my etsy shop reached 1000 sales and had the craziest holiday season ever! But this year has also been an internal growing period too, as I get used to this thing called "adulthood".

Here's a few life lessons from this year:

Know who your real friends are — I've hit that age where it seems like everyone around me is getting married or having kids. I'm in my late 20s when the party has long been over (30 is around the corner!) and everyone's living their own lives. The people I used to see all the time are suddenly unavailable (…all the time). I spent this year making new friends, reconnecting with old ones, and staying in touch with current ones. I feel like this is an important time in life to lock-in who your real friends are. They're the ones who always call you on your birthday, send you Christmas cards, or randomly text you to see how you're doing. They're never 'too busy' for you. But they're also the ones who will always be supportive of anything you do and be there for you when no one else is. These are the people you want with you all through adulthood.

Be flexible — You never know what life will throw at you, so just be open to anything and everything. Being flexible gives you room to adjust and adapt. Don't have plans set in stone because they'll just leave you disappointed when things don't go your way. Or you may come to realize that some of your plans may have been bad ideas in the first place.

Balance — Being a workaholic is too easy. Balance out work with some play. Offset your alone time with some time with good friends. If you ate a bunch of fatty junk food for lunch, maybe have a refreshing salad for dinner. When you've had a few really crazy days, it feels good to just take a day off for yourself. If you keep working yourself to the bone, you'll eventually burn out. Take the time to find your balance. It'll help reduce stress and you'll feel a lot better!

I have plenty of ideas of what I want to accomplish in 2014 and I'm excited for what's to come. I hope everyone had a great year as we say Goodbye to 2013. See you in 2014!

December 25, 2013

A Long Absence & Neko Case

It's been a really long time since I posted anything…It's been a crazy two months. Here's a (somewhat) brief recap of the past couple of months:

DesignerCon ended up being a total bust for me. I didn't even break even…I think it just wasn't the right audience for my stuff.

This year, my shop got slammed pretty hard on Black Friday – Cyber Monday weekend. In previous years, I typically get 5 orders (at most) during that weekend. But this year, I received around 30 orders from that weekend alone…and orders just kept rolling in after that. I wasn't prepared at all for something like that to happen, but it was definitely a HUGE learning experience. For a brief moment in time, I felt what it's like to be a high volume shop and it was crazy & wonderful. But it made preparing for Renegade Craft Fair very difficult; I really only had a couple of days to make inventory for both the LA and SF show. 

It was our first time doing the Renegade Craft Fair LA Holiday Market. In previous years, we did Unique LA instead simply because it was indoors. Overall, I did OK. It was definitely one of my worst holiday shows ever, but I think it was because of the weather and low inventory. It was in the 70 – 80s that weekend which made selling knits very difficult. You know it must be hot when Front Porch Pops is selling out of popsicles!

I just got back from Renegade SF on Tuesday morning. The drive back down to LA totally sucked. I was stuck in really bad traffic for the first two hours of the drive…and this was after spending 30 minutes of driving around Berkeley trying to find the freeway entrance. By the time we got back to LA, my contacts were really dry and stuck to my eyeballs. But once again, Renegade SF was awesome. It was a little slower this year compared to last year, but it was still a really good show. I think the lower turnout was due to the dates being too close to Christmas, so a lot of people were out of town or were already done with their holiday shopping.

I've been doing so much knitting for the past 3 weeks, it's not even funny. So far, I've knitted over 40 hats! (and I still have around 20 more to complete) This is the most amount of hats I have ever knitted in my life and the fact that this is just 3 weeks of work blows my mind. 

In that time, I've watched a lot of bad movies because I can't watch anything that requires me to be engaged when I knit. I've also been listening to a whole lot of music…I finally got around to listening to Neko Case's most recent album, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. This album totally wins the "Best Longest Album Title EVER" award in my book, but it's also an amazing album. I'm almost willing to say it's my favorite album from her. I constantly have this album on repeat; my favorite track being "Calling Cards". I think it's my favorite album right now because it hits me right in the heart and Neko Case just has this powerful voice that really resonates.

I should really catch up on some rest before tackling the next back of hats. Until next time, Merry Christmas everyone! And enjoy this Tiny Desk Concert featuring Neko Case.

November 5, 2013

See You at DesignerCon 2013!

I'll be at DesignerCon this year for the first time ever! We were initially on the waiting list but we found out two weeks before Kevin was leaving for his Malaysia trip that a spot opened up. Due to the short notice, I will be splitting the booth with my friends Beverly and Janet. Kevin's Meu stuff will be there, but he will not (he's still in Malaysia). This is also going to be the first time I'm vending as myself (and not as Quiet Tiger). This is part of an effort to promote myself more as an artist/illustrator. I've been working really slowly on my illustration stuff and personal work over the past few months but with DesignerCon just days away, I'm really forcing myself to focus and get work done. I don't have time to put together the zines I originally had planned, but I will have a few new prints. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen some work in progress. I'm not sure how many new prints I will have yet…it's definitely going to be a SURPRISE! But here's a peek at the newest one:
Root Beer Float Kitty
This print is also available in the shop.

So if you're in the LA/Pasadena area, stop by and say Hi! DesignerCon is this weekend Nov. 9th & 10th at the Pasadena Convention Center. I'll be at booth #614!

October 26, 2013

Bite of the Week: Tokyo Fried Chicken Co.

Over a month ago, Tokyo Fried Chicken Co. opened up in Monterey Park in the space that was once Open Door. The new restaurant (as the name implies) offers up a full menu of Japanese-Southern fusion. We've been avoiding it for the first month after hearing that there was consistently a long wait. So on Wednesday, we felt like it was a good random weekday to go. When we got there, the wait was still 30 minutes to seat a party of three. The food is served family style and includes a bunch of sides. The number of sides is determined by how many people are in your party.
Fried Chicken Dinner for 3
The chicken is flavored with soy, ginger, and garlic and served with their specially formulated ponzu sauces.

Chicken Rice
Honestly, the Chicken Rice was the best of the sides. It's extremely flavorful and comforting. There's just so much about it that just reminds you of a good home cooked meal.

Shishito Peppers
Creamy Potato Salad
Mac & Cheese
They recently started featuring desserts from other businesses, like a collaboration of sorts. They're currently featuring desserts from Quenelle in Burbank. I had to get the Strawberry Shortcake Bon Bons because I love the Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake bars. And this was definitely a much better version of them! They had less of that artificial strawberry taste and a nice crisp layer of white chocolate coating each bon bon.

Strawberry Shortcake Bon Bons
They also have a great beer selection from local breweries (Eagle Rock and Bootleggers, to name a few) to accompany your dinner.

So if you love fried chicken AND Japanese food, this is definitely give this place a try. But if you hate waiting, avoid this place on the weekends.

October 13, 2013

Sunday at the Brewery

It's been a few years since I last went to the Brewery Art Walk, but today I went because a couple of friends (who have never been) wanted to go. The Brewery Arts Complex was once a PBR brewery that was converted to artist lofts in the 80s.

Lately, I've been trying to make it a habit to use a camera instead of conveniently taking photos with my iPhone. I own a lot of cameras and some pretty darn good ones, so it's a shame that I don't use them more often. I've been carrying around a Canon S90 which I love because it's pretty much the size of my iPhone (except thicker) and it almost has the same functionality of an affordable dSLR without all the bulk. So here's a few of my favorite shots from today.

October 11, 2013

Udon I Can't Shut Up About

Recently, a new udon restaurant by the name of Marugame Monzo opened up in the Little Tokyo district of Downtown LA. It's conveniently located on 1st St. just a couple doors down from Daikokuya (some of you know this as the ramen place with the super long line). So if you're feeling like noodles but tired of ramen or waiting, GO HERE. I've been hearing buzz about this place for months, but Kevin and I just haven't had the chance to try it. We tried to go a couple of weeks ago after an opening at Q Pop, but we got so caught up with talking to friends that by the time we got there it was 15 minutes before closing and there were already two more parties waiting to be seated. So we decided to wait to try it on a weeknight when it's less crowded and it's easier to find free street parking. Yesterday, (as Thursday is like the new Friday) we finally treated ourselves to some yummy udon.

First of all, their udon noodles are PERFECT. Why? Because they're handmade on the premises and you can taste the huge difference between them and your typical supermarket stuff. They're just the perfect balance of chewy and doughy.

I got the Mentai Squid Butter Udon which had generous portions of tender pieces of squid (not the chewy, rubbery stuff you get from cheaper places). And the mentai (cod roe) didn't make it too salty either! Kevin ordered the Uni (sea urchin) Cream Udon which was AMAZING. What I got was already really good, but I kept picking at his dish because it was even better!
Mentai Squid Butter Udon
The only disappointment in my first trip to Marugame Monzo was in myself…somehow I totally forgot to order a tempura soft-boiled egg. YES, you read that correct! They offer tempura fried soft-boiled eggs! Here's the proof:

But FYI, it is a little pricier than ramen/pho/other noodle dish of choice, but it's totally worth it! What I ordered ran about $13 and I left feeling full & satisfied, but not too full to the point where I felt gross. So if you're ever in Downtown LA, I HIGHLY recommend going here.

If you want to read a real food critic's opinion, here's Jonathan Gold's review of the place. 

October 8, 2013

Mark Your Calendars for Renegade Craft Holiday!

This Holiday season, you'll have two chances to come shop from me IN PERSON! I'm proud to announce that I will be at Renegade Craft Fair LA + SF. Once again, I'll be sharing a booth with the boyfriend. And unlike summer, this time I'll have plenty of knitted goodies to help you get through the colder months. I also will have some new prints available (to be announced soon).
And if the hats shown above look familiar, it's because they're my hand-knit hats! Yep, the Renegade gang used a pic they took of my stuff (last year) for one of this year's promo images. I'm so honored to be a part of a great community of makers.

So get ready to get your Holiday shopping on and I'll see you there!

For more info on the events (including other cities), go to

October 6, 2013

Weekend Wind Down

It's been pretty crazy around here lately. Between the multiple client projects and the back-to-back bulk orders, I barely get any time for myself these days. And if I do happen to have some free time, I spend it knitting new accessories in preparation for holiday. This upcoming Monday, I'll find out if I'll be a vendor at Renegade Craft LA & SF for the holiday season and from there, I will have two months to prepare from both shows. I feel like I just got back from Renegade Craft summer and if I'm in, I'll have to do it all over again.

Being that I'm my own boss, I decided to take tonight off and just chill out for a bit. And by chill out I really mean eating a bunch of desserts while making lists of goals and things I would like to achieve in the coming months. Kev and I just went over to D'odici and to our surprise, they make macarons now! And they're actually really good! (I hate it when cafes start offering macarons because they're trendy but they end up being mediocre or totally suck!)

We got rose, earl grey, and pistachio. The rose was light, sweet, and not too floral, which is just perfect. Their macaron cookie is just the right texture; they were light and airy. I hate when places make them too chewy. They went perfectly with my lavender latte. I've been on this weird lavender kick for months…I LOVE lavender lemonade! And honey lavender ice cream is my new favorite thing!
Macarons & Lavender Latte
We also got a creme brûlée because in all our previous trips to D'odici we got there later when the dessert case was bare. I didn't think they would actually top it with berries because it was looking awfully plain in the case. But I'm so glad they did. Their custard was already the perfect texture so the berries were just an added bonus.
Creme Brûlée 
Once Monday rolls back around, I'll have to get back to work on a new client project from one of my favorite clients, start designing for Fall 2014 for another client (which I think is CRAZY EARLY), and then tackle two really big bulk orders. I find myself constantly asking "When do I actually get to work on my stuff?" but hey, I gotta pay off my college debt somehow. I have a few new things made for the cooler weather season. I just need to photograph everything. So I'll have a few more sneak peeks soon!

September 23, 2013

Monday Munch: Copa Vida

Today, we ran some errands over at Blick Art Materials in Pasadena. I didn't really need anything, but Kevin needed to pick up some gold ink to finish a piece he was working on for the upcoming Monkey King show at Q Pop. Coincidentally, we ran into Keiko and Malachi who were also there getting some art supplies to finish pieces for a show.

We hadn't eaten lunch yet so we decided to stop my the new cafe that opened up on the corner, Copa Vida. We've heard some great things about it from a few friends and decided to give it a try. Upon entering, I was in love with the place. It's bright and spacious, kinda the opposite of Intelligentsia. And what I really love is the great tea selection. They made extra care to cater to both tea and coffee drinkers. The teas were categorized by type: white, green, oolong, black, pu-erh, and each category had a few to choose from. Kevin got the pu-erh since not a lot of places serve it. I got the Ti Guan Yin (oolong) tea iced which is one of their daily cold brews. It's not shown because it was served in a basic plastic cup.

Naked Pu-erh
For lunch we had to go for the Croque Madame because we only know of one other place that does it. (And that's Abricott!) We got it with a kale salad. And when it came out we were totally impressed! We didn't expect it to look & taste so good. It was just the perfect combination of saucy, gooey, and crunchy! Kevin and I split this and it was the perfect portion to feed two people.

Croque Madame
Close up of a bite
So if you're ever in Old Town Pasadena looking for a quick bit to eat, stop by Copa Vida. I hear their pastries are amazing too!

September 18, 2013

Happy National Cheeseburger Day!

I stopped by DogHaus today to get a Little Mule burger and they were giving out these cute little mini cheeseburgers for free in honor of National Cheeseburger Day. They even had the folks at King's Hawaiian make custom size buns for them. I hope everyone's having a delicious day!

September 17, 2013

New Knits

I've been getting ready to stock the shop with some new knits for cooler weather. Here's a sneak peek at what's to come.

You can find them here.

September 3, 2013

Tumblr Time

I've been a little quiet on the blog lately, mostly because I've been juggling a few projects but also because I've been spending more time on Tumblr. I had neglected my tumblr for quite some time and realized that lately it's more convenient for me to post on Tumblr instead. So if you aren't already following me on Tumblr, you can find me here.

August 25, 2013

On Life, Currently.

Lately, I’ve been making an effort to draw every day. I’ve been trying to establish a good consistent work routine and also develop new work at the same time. I’ve made it a requirement that I post whatever I’ve been working on…no matter how stupid it may be.
In previous weeks, I was just Instagramming whatever I was drawing and have it post to Tumblr, but I found that a lot of those were just quick, thoughtless doodles. I’ve been trying to work on more narrative drawings and also writing about them, so my ideas are actually put to paper and not just floating around aimlessly in my head.
Sometimes I struggle to find a subject to draw, so I end up drawing dumb looking fruits or veggies. So this week, I started trying something different where I just write little stories or scenarios and then draw them. Essentially, that’s what I want to be doing anyways. I want to create visual short stories. It’s the best way to combine the two things I really love: drawing & storytelling.

August 22, 2013

Summer Treats

I've been working on some new stuff for the shop. I wanted to stay away from buttons for a while, but then I decided to just try a few out as a way of doing mini drawings. These were inspired by the summers of my childhood. 

This is the Summer Treats Set currently available in the shop and also on Etsy.

August 20, 2013

Weekly Want: May28th 01:19PM Watch

 I know, it's been a while. I almost can't even call this the 'Weekly Want' anymore. It's more like the 'Whenever I Want Want'. It's been a busy past few months. The Quiet Tiger shop has been growing and I've taken on some new freelance projects. I have also been getting a couple of wholesale orders here and there. I've barely recovered from Renegade Craft Summer, and next month I'll have to start thinking (and registering) for Holiday. I don't know where all my time has been going lately, hence this week's want is a handy (yet stylish). I've been a fan of May28th for some time. They remind me a lot of Swatch…if Swatch did more patterns. I'm currently obsessed with 80s/early 90s "sprinkle" patterns, and because this watch is just black & white it'll still go with everything!

Available from May28th for $39.99

August 15, 2013

Bok Choy Buddy

I've been getting myself into the habit of drawing more often. As a way to force myself to a lot of quick drawings, I've been drawing on index cards. Here's one of the drawings I did today of a little bok choy dude.

He's available for purchase in the shop.

August 1, 2013

Hello August!

I've been spending the past few days relaxing since returning from San Francisco. This was our first time doing summer shows and it's definitely a different pace compared to winter. Doing back-to-back Renegade shows was definitely tiring. But when it was all over, we treated ourselves to lots of great food. Here's a few of my favorite things consumed on my trip.

Pastrami Sandwich from Tartine

Lavender Honey + Mint Chip Ice Cream from Bi-Rite
Potato Puffs from Gregoire
Now that the summer shows are over, I have about five months to get ready for Holiday. I'm starting on some new projects this month; one of which is Discontinued Youth. I'm trying to take this time to focus more on my illustration work so I can properly launch my other shop.

July 25, 2013

Renegade LA Recap

This past weekend was Renegade Craft LA and it was the first time doing a summer show and it was also the first time I'd ever done an outdoors one too. All I could say is it was a big learning experience. The biggest factor that affects an outdoor show is the weather. And I feel like the weather played a huge role in whether or not people were in a buying mood. For the first half of Saturday, it was miserably hot and for the second half, it looked like it was going to rain. In fact, it was drizzling. The weather on Sunday was much nicer. It was overcast with a breeze and still a little warm, but it felt good. And I noticed that there were more people out & about and willing to buy.

Here's a little peek at my setup:

And here's Kevin's side of the booth:

Overall, this was the slowest show I had ever done and I probably won't do it again. I might consider doing the LA holiday show just because holiday tends to be busier, but it being outdoors is a bit of a turn-off for me. There was just so much dust in this area that at the end of each day, there was a gross layer of dust on all the products.

So now I'm getting ready for San Francisco which is my favorite show to do. I made a few more pouches, but I didn't really have to make that much more inventory since I still had a lot of leftovers from the LA show. 

And of course, Sebastian wasn't very much help.

The highlight of my day today was meeting up with Debbie Carlos. She came to visit and brought some sweet donuts from Donut Man. We got to hang out over lunch and chatted about our cats. You know, just typical us.

July 13, 2013

Now Available in the Shop!

I recently came across this beautiful floral fabric that I'm absolutely in love with. I love its light, watercolor-like feel. I've made a few new things from it that are now available in the shop.

July 9, 2013

I'm Now on VSCO Grid!

VSCO Grid is a minimal publishing platform from the makers of one of my favorite iPhone camera apps, VSCO Cam. It's different than Instagram in that it focuses purely on the beauty of photography. There's no "follow" button, no "like" button, no commenting. It's simply your little gallery of photos. But VSCO Grid didn't completely alienate itself from social media, you can still share your photos on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or via e-mail. Anyone can have a VSCO Cam account, but the Grid is currently by invite only and I just got my invitation a few hours ago. It took them about a month from the time I signed up for them to send me an invite. 

What I love about VSCO Cam is, unlike Instagram, the preset filters actually look more like real film photography. And even if a filter takes it a little too far, you have to option to go back in and edit the contrast, exposure, temperature, etc. I also love that the interface is very minimal and beautiful. 

Here's a shot of Sebastian from my VSCO Grid. I promised that it won't all be just photos of him.

You can see more on my Grid.

July 8, 2013

There's a New Shop in the Works

This has been on my mind for quite some time—the thought of opening a second shop. I've probably mentioned this before, but as my shop grows my Etsy fees keep piling up. Since October of last year, I've been paying at least $20/month but lately it's closer to $30-40/month. In the past, I've paid as much as $65 during a busy month, which I think is totally outrageous for how small of an operation my shop is. I love the Etsy community and all the exposure it's brought me, but the fees are killing me and sucking up so much of what I make. Aside from being a freelance graphic designer, my shop is currently my only other source of income so I really depend on it doing well.

(And that's probably the most money talk you'll ever hear come out of me.)

I've been dabbling with the idea of having a Big Cartel shop for a very long time. I've had a free account for about 5 years and just upgraded to a paid account earlier this year. I love everything about their platform and their monthly fee is affordable. Their lowest paid plan which is $9.99/month sounds a lot better than what I'm paying Etsy right now. The only major downside is that I get significantly less traffic going to it than with Etsy, which means I have to do significantly more marketing work to get it out there.

About 5 years ago, there was a moment in time when I considered changing my major from graphic design to illustration. I ended up deciding on sticking to graphic design because I had already invested so much time and so many units to it. Going through graphic design really opened my eyes to the world of branding, which has helped me a lot since being out on my own. But since graduation, I been having this itch to pursue illustration again. I've always loved stories and storytelling. When I was younger, I went through a poetry phase that later grew into an interest in creative writing. And what I love about illustration is it's a way of telling stories visually. I keep tons of notebooks & sketchbooks (hell, I even make my own!) and I have so many stories down on paper that I want to turn into real things; either as illustrations or zines.

I've also been feeling burnt out from Quiet Tiger. Because as much as the products do reflect my personality, to some extent they're also dictated by what customers expect from the shop and what's selling. Essentially, I started feeling like I'm just "the witty button girl". But don't get me wrong, I'm extremely grateful that a lot of people really love them. I just want to try something new and do more exploration & experimentation, which is why the new shop I'm working on is focused on personal work. For the new shop, I'm simply just going to make work that reflect me and how I'm feeling. A lot of it will be original drawings, prints, and eventually zines.

I'm currently working on new work for the new shop and hope to have new items up next week, so keep checking back. And of course, you can also follow me on Twitter to hear about when new items are added. In the meantime, some of the new mini pouches and cards are up in the shop.

You can find the new shop here.
From now until September 1st October 1st, you can get 15% off all orders with code: HELLONEWSHOP

July 4, 2013

New Additions to the Shop

I've been wanting to make some pouches for some time, but always struggled with zippers. After lots of practice, I finally got it! 

Introducing, the new collection of carry goods now available here in the shop. There's many more new pouches on the way in various sizes. You can pick one up for yourself in a few weeks at Renegade Craft!

June 25, 2013

Song of the Week: "This is Love (Feels Alright)" – Camera Obscura

I Love That Angst

I've been forcing myself into drawing more often simply because I haven't been doing much drawing in the past 4 years (pretty much after I changed schools). And from doodling random things, I've realized that I really like drawing angsty teenagers (mostly women). I'm pretty sure it's my way of expressing my feelings through my characters. From this, I have a couple of zine ideas lined up. I just need to finish all my work for the Renegade Craft Fairs before I get to work on them.

June 24, 2013

Around the Neighborhood

Today, Kevin and I decided to take a little walk around the neighborhood. A few years ago we used to ride our bikes around in the summer, but never really explored it on foot. Kevin lives in a little neighborhood of Alhambra called Midwick Tract which we didn't even know was its name until about two years ago. It sits just one mile east from the Cal State LA campus, but it's most known for its famous former-resident—record producer, Phil Spector. Just a couple blocks down from Kevin's house is Phil Spector's Pyrenees Castle.

And this is about as close as you can get to it. It's surrounded by so many tall trees that you can't even see it from the outside. Sometime after his murder trial the words "Phil Spector's" were removed from the sign.

Our walk around the neighborhood quickly turned into a "let's take pictures of houses without being creepy" kind of trip.

We stumbled upon the only mid-century modern house in the neighborhood which was surprisingly on sale at an affordable $679,900 for 3 bedrooms/1.75 bathrooms. I loved the stairs on the exterior of the house.

And then Kevin showed me this house that he just refers to as "the house on stilts". It's the tallest two-story house in the neighborhood. They obviously cheated.

House on Stilts
It was nice to use a real camera again instead of constantly relying on my iPhone. If you haven't explored your neighborhood lately, I think you should go for a walk! Have a great week everyone!