Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New Collection launched.

The past three weeks have been quite hectic. First up was the finalization and production of the new Collection based on the Engine Room of the steelband. For those who may not know, the Engine Room is the rhythm section of a steelband. It comprises the trap set or drum set, conga drums and, unique to the steelband, an iron, a scratcher, and cowbells. So the new line represented these three unique percussion implements found in a steelband. Most smaller groups of steelpans, or steel drums would not usually have an Engine Room. It is reserved for the larger steelbands.

But in researching and launching this collection, I also learned a good deal about the history of these implements; how they were derived, etc. It was quite interesting and further evidenced, to me, the ingenuity, creativity and innovation of the people of Trinidad and Tobago who invented and developed the steel pan, also known as steel drums.

As a designer with no in-house production staff, there is always a challenge in launching a new collection- and particularly at Christmas time, when all jewellers are super busy. And in Trinidad, it was no different. There was little evidence of the global downturn here. Folks were still shopping and ordering custom made pieces and repairing or melting down pieces. So I had to really be very persistent to have my full collection of 30 plus pieces ready in time for the Dec 12th launch.

And Launch we did. I'm still taking photos of the pieces, so those will be posted on the site shortly -during the long Christmas break, as well as on this blog.

And we had great media coverage for our launch. A feature in one of the local newspapers, an interview on several radio and television stations and video coverage for the Caribbean Airlines in flight video news report. This was great, and so now we're on the brink of Christmas and all are ready to celebrate the birth of Christ.

Don't forget to accessorize when visiting friends over the holiday week. Look smart and enjoy


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Classical Movement on Steelpan

Last evening I spent an enjoyable four hours doing what makes me most happy; listening to the best steelbands in the world play some of the best music in the world. It was the 11th Pan Is Beautiful --Steelband classical music competition. Held in Trinidad in an outdoor venue, it was refreshing for body, soul and spirit.

I sent a band by band commentary of Tweets (http://twitter.com/lizmannette) to the online community at Twitter and I did see some new folks following as no doubt they became intrigued with the references to steelpan or steel drums and classics.

This event was one of those that makes me so glad that I can be in Trinidad. The lineup of 8 bands was just about the right number for me. Any more and it would have became a bit wearisome. But as it was, the combination of strong, and emerging bands, arrangers and conductors was a true reflection of the steelpan community in Trinidad. Most players were young. Majority of the audience was over 40.

As I sat in the audience, I remarked to a friend via email that this is one group that is near and dear to my heart and for whom I created my line of steelpan jewelry: People who support the steelbands continuously in rain or shine or, as on Sunday evening, balmy island evenings.

The performances of Exodus and Solo Pan Knights Steel Orchestras were definitely the highlight of the evening for me. And not surprising, Exodus took home the crown. They certainly were well rehearsed and smooth under the baton of Pat Bishop with a Pelham Goddard local composition. So next to Wagner, Suppe, Rogers and others, local composer Pehlham Goddard brought home the win. We are so talented and creative. Amazingly so. I'm proud to be of the family that invented several developments in the steelband world and who continues to set the tone for future developments. My uncle Ellie, the legendary Ellie Mannette, continues to work to this day, in his 80s, making the best steel drums. And so, my task is to add some beauty and fashion to this.

Listening to Classical music inspires me to create graceful, elegant, timeless pieces of jewelry. Already, I see it in my head. Pan is Beautiful--the classics by Liz Mannette. sounds good to me.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Moving into the Virtual Office

This business was launched in Trinidad and Tobago in 2007 and over the last 23 months I have been operating primarily from Trinidad, but traveling to the US, China, and Canada to meet suppliers, participate in marketing and industry events and to develop retail relationships. The staff has been as many as 6 to the current 3, plus I work with agents in Asia, free lancers in India and Eastern Europe that I source through Elance and I have advisors in the US. Now I am looking to connect with distributors in Europe and the UK.

In sum, the business was always intended to be global. Even though I design in Trinidad, the market of people who listen to the music of steelpan and steel drums and who would want fashion accessories and jewelry on this theme is global.

So, now I am structuring the business to really be run from anywhere in the world. By creating a virtual office, with the technological tools and software support, I can still have access when I am in NY or Hong Kong and staff can work from home or wherever they wish.

It will be quite interesting to communicate, particularly on new designs, from a virtual office. But I am looking forward to the increased flexibility, access to talent from around the world and the freedom that it should provide.

Of course, it will also ensure that I have info on our various customers and loyal fans wherever I happen to be. It was a bit frustrating being in Toronto in September and not being able to contact those who signed up at our display during Caribana in July. Converting to an Internet based Customer Relationship Management system (currently exploring Batchbook) will reduce these frustrations. I hope.

But you can continue to expect unique, quality designs of fine jewelry with a steel pan theme, top-notch packaging and information with each design and the Liz Mannette brand making you proud to show the world that you love steel pan and steel drum music.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can

Hello. If Barack Obama can become the President of the United States, then I can certainly build a global fashion brand based on the steelpan and steel drums.

Yes I can.

Like so many others, I feel very inspired by Obama. And of course, as I tell everyone, we are Harvard Class of 91 classmates!!! So I am especially proud.

But more than that, this win has caused me to take a good look at what I'm doing. Hmmm. starting a fashion business based on steel drums is a whole lot easier than taking on the political establishment in the US, as an African American. Given that I do have a family history in this artform, creative ideas without limit and the story to make good p.r., then there's no reason why Liz Mannette will not become an international brand similar in stature to the major Italian and European brands. My name is already European; Mannette is French and can sound Italian.

So there is nothing stopping me from building this business within this niche and accessorizing all the people of the steelband music world with stylish, quality items that say "WOW".

Monday, October 27, 2008

Open Call at Henri Bendel

it all started at 4 am this morning. I woke up, wishing I could have stayed in bed another few hours, because it is quite cold in NYC. But today was another one of those significant signpost days: The open call for new designers at Henri Bendel.

Left home at 5:00; took a cab to the subway and rode to mid Manhattan-on a relatively crowded train, mind you. This is NY. Always people going somewhere doing something. I love it.

So I got to Bendel at my targeted time of 6:00am, and already the line was around the corner from the entrance. As I calmly took up my spot, feeling like someone camped out for tickets to a Madonna concert or something, I felt very proud of myself for getting up and being there.

So the next woman who came right after me started to chat and asked me, based on my accent, where I was from. Would you believe she was also a Trinidadian! Amazing coincidence. Antoinette lived in Connecticut and was looking to develop a re-usable shopping bag from fine cotton in India. She was also a fashion designer for almost 25 years. So needless to say, things started off quite well. In fact, as a true Trini, she liked and wants to buy one of my steel pan bracelets.

After my friend Jennifer, another Trinidadian lawyer on a trip to NYC, came by at 8:30 for morale support, the excitement begun. Since I had never been on an open call for new designers at Bendel or any other store in New York or elsewhere, I was expectant, and had the mindset that what ever happened, it was a learning experience.

So after about 9:15am the line started to move, as about 30 persons were let into the building at a time. At this time, Jennifer and I became more organized. She would open the jewelry case and arrange the display, while I would start talking - the elevator pitch of key points that distinguished my collection - and set out the brochure and case and music CD, etc.

So at about 10:15 we entered the building, down into the basement ("the dungeon" says Jennifer) to register our name and await our turn. My new friend Antoinette, who was in bags, was seen first since there were so few bag designers (hmm. maybe I should keep this in mind). She returned with not too good news; Her bag was not accepted. Ah well. She was primarily looking for this type of feedback to decide how far to go with it at this time.

Then my turn came. Jennifer and I approached the buyer's line with a mixture of excitement and adrenalin flowing. All of 2 minutes I was told, while you stand and show them your stuff.

So as we got to the buyer's table with two young buyers, I started my elevator pitch. "Hi. I'm Liz Mannette and my jewelry is all based on the music of steel drums...." Of course, I forgot the speech and the elegantly worded sound bites. So much for preparation. The two pleasant girls smiled and asked a few questions about the jewelry and even examined a few pieces. And then they said, "It's very interesting that you're working with the drums, but we don't think it is for the Bendel customer." Sigh.

Ah well, at least they were pleasant, and you know what I took away from the experience; Do what it takes; if it doesn't work out, correct and continue. So listening for divine guidance in the whole thing, I heard it very clearly; Find the buyer's for this jewelry. Seek them out, get to know them and connect with them. So this is my renewed focus on connecting with my existing customer base; get them to refer me to friends and family and build the business globally in this way

Friday, October 24, 2008

Planning a show with a "Wow"" factor

This past week, I decided its time to do our own show; to introduce new items to our customers, to increase brand awareness and to allow people to understand the philosophy and values behind the Liz Mannette design company.

The National Museum is interested in hosting this event so we can combine the historic traditions with a new and dynamic fashion performance unlike anything ever seen. Certainly, it will be the first fashion accessories display of steel pan/drums jewelry because this line is the only such collection in the world. Other persons have a few pieces, but we now have almost 70 pieces in our collection, and much more if I consider the designs I alone wear because I decided not to produce them (as yet).

So we are looking to do a show with a difference; I want it to have a real 'Wow' effect to have the audience wondering "was this a jewelry show or theatre." Even though it will be in Trinidad, persons must feel that they were treated to a show that could have easily been in New York or London, in terms of the design and performance, though we will have our unique Caribbean, Trinidad and steel pan/drums element. So do keep checking the blog for the final announcement of the date and how you can get an invitation.

It will be challenging and a ton of work to pull it together, but we will have fun doing this for the first time.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Christmas 08 Collection on its way

New designs, new collection. The lifeblood of a fashion design company. Well, the new Collection for Liz Mannette that will be unveiled for Christmas 08 is coming together -finally. Some of the ideas in this Collection have been in my head for over a year, and now finally, the samples are almost perfect. This is the exciting part.

Next is creating the full Collection that provides some breadth and depth within the design theme. Now I haven't been to any fashion design school and so I know little about the formal approach to creating a Collection. All I know is there should be pieces in a range of price point so that almost everyone will find something on their level. Some may be looking for a gift for a spouse in the US$1000 range; others may be looking for something in the US$200 range. And then there may be several who are celebrating and want a piece in the US$5000. Also, from a design point of view, I seek to provide things that are trendy and fashionable at the moment as well as pieces that are classic and will last a lifetime.

Most of my first steelpan/steeldrum designs were pure metal with a smooth finish - sterling silver or 14K gold. Now I have added a stainless steel collection. This season I am venturing into some new pieces with different textures; one has a hammered finish. And also I am adding some color, with diamonds and gemstones. A few pieces will be designed in collaboration with a New York based colleague. This is an exciting new dynamic as she brings a totally different perspective. Others pieces will be ideas that have been churning around in my mind for quite some time.

So this is what's ahead from the Collection. Folks can read a bit more of the ins and outs of the design theme on my Ning page where I write a bit more openly to support a steelpan fashion design community.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My first runway show

Last weekend was my first runway show where my accessories were being featured. With seasoned (some 20 year veterans) designers from Trinidad in Toronto for the Caribbean event called "Cuttin Style", the Liz Mannette Collection was under the bright lights for the first time.

Going to the fittings, the rehearsal and being backstage were all new experiences for me. And getting such great feedback and positive comments from the back stage staff and the models about my jewelry was also wonderful.

So what was it like. All the designers seemed quite organized, with their dresses and outfits all laid out, with the names of the models in the order of appearance. The makeup artist team was in one corner, and the hair stylist team in another corner. Some water over in one corner, and then Liz Mannette accessories laid out at another end, right before the models exited the dressing room. Although the plan was to see them all dressed and decide how to add the pieces, I could tell this good plan would not work. So while the models were getting dressed, while some were getting their make-up redone, or others were being fitted with head pieces, I made my way around the dressing room with earrings and pendants.

The Fashion Coordinator, a large funny guy by the name of Richard Young, was in charge, and suggested that one area be adorned with accessories for each line. So for the opening designer, Simply Garnet, who had interesting casual and elegant styles in black and white, I opted for earrings only. This was thrown off a bit by the two male models whose tunics cried out to be accented with our pendants. But in general the range of earrings was a good fit for Simply Garnet. Photos will be on the site soon.

Then with Robert Young of The Cloth, a friend for several years, the pendants and wrist pieces were used. The Cloth's production was different. He wanted fun, enthusiasm and playfullness on the runway. So the models wore ponytails and were asked to skip and dance along the runway. Good for him. Who says a fashion show has to be all dour faced models. (As Tyra Banks once said on her America's Next Top Model Show, look like your dog just died). Fortunately, Liz Mannette jewelry adorned happy faced models, which is a Caribbean runway style, I was told.

So the jewelry was worn with two of the designers. And I learned to always take the smallest sized pieces. The girls did have remarkably thin wrists!

Just before the end of the show, I was asked to greet and wave to the audience. So this, folks, was my first runway wave. Well, I didn't quite walk the full runway. I just walked to the front and did a wave while the sparkly MC told the audience a bit about the jewelry collection. So there it is. My first runway experience. Many lessons learned for the next time. Bring an assistant. Bring my own snacks (for outside the dressing room of course). Bring the smallest items for thin wrist models. Speak directly to designers in advance, and even look at sketches to see what the Collection is all about. And have my camera or iphone with me to take stills or short videos as the accessories are added.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Liz meets famed designer David Yurman

In New York City this past week I was so excited to be at the launch of David Yurman’s new fragrance at Saks Fifth Avenue. Got there early enough to look at his new Collection, including pieces I had seen in magazines for the past few months.
Tall lovely models wearing Yurman jewelry, tasty finger food, sparkling wine, elegant black wrist cords sprayed with the new fragrance, an overall bubbly atmosphere and everyone in black. This was the scene in the designers gallery on the ground floor of the prestigious store. The Saks staff were all so friendly, yet professional.

And we were not disappointed. A bit after 4 pm David and Sybil Yurman appeared. He was quite calm, pleasant and totally gracious. Standing in line to greet him, I decided to say exactly who I was and why I was there. “Hi. I’m Liz Mannette, a jewelry designer from the Caribbean. I’ve always been so inspired by your work and when I grow up, I want to be just like you” or something like that. I can’t remember the exact words. But I do remember feeling so comfortable speaking with this icon of the jewelry industry who has been designing of over 25 years.

He also has a sense of humor. As I said I wanted to be just like him when I grew up, he laughed and said I would have to have a sex change, change my skin and lose some of my hair! And he actually looked at some of the pieces I wore that day. I let him know that my designs were all about steel drums aka steelpans. He noted that I had a theme, and said that’s good.

But there’s more. After he moved off to greet other visitors, I went over to the photographer on scene who was busy taking photos of the launch and asked if he got a good shot of David Yurman and me. “Not good enough,” he said, “Let’s go take another.” I hesitated a bit, thinking that would have been a bit too pushy. But the good fella insisted, and since he worked with Yurman, who was I too challenge him.

So we went back to David Yurman, by this time talking to real customers who were wearing his new pieces. And David, even more graciously, came over and put his arm around me and said - and this is great, “One designer to another”.

So now I am tracking down the photographer to get a copy of the photo. I will hunt him down and find him. Just kidding. Keep looking for the news.

Monday, September 15, 2008

If you're looking you will find them

Read an interesting post on the Style 360 blog about black jewelry designers.

I posted a comment as a black designer myself. So maybe I should be featured in JCK!
Russell Simmons, Chris Aire, Donna Chambers, and now Liz Mannette. This is the company I aspire to keep.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Twitter and Toronto

To those who are into Twitter, I've started sending Tweets of my daily adventures in the world of jewelry design and running a new business. And of course, when I travel, it will be even more exciting as then all my staff etc can get continuous updates of what's going on with me.

Hey. We'll be back in Toronto in two weeks. This for the Caribbean Fashion Gala on Sept 27th. Liz Mannette Collection will be on the runway with top fashion designers from Trinidad and Tobago. This will be our first major fashion event where the full Collection will be profiled and promoted. So, I'm quite excited about this as it will be great exposure, and practice for when I do my first major show.

We'll also be organizing one or two private showings while there and hopefully we can reconnect with the friends we met on our last trip to Toronto during the Caribana celebrations. I think we're close to getting into a Toronto retailer, which is the goal after all is said and done.

Maybe I can even visit some Toronto sites and have some fun while I'm there.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Congrats to Classmate Obama

As so many others in America and around the world, I am really proud and inspired by the rise and accomplishments of my former Harvard Classmate Barack Obama (1991)as he becomes the Democratic Party's candidate for President of the United States.

Here's to his continued success.

Although we were classmates at Harvard, the most I remember of Obama was that he was quite smart and deliberate in his opinions and positions. But he certainly represents a milestone for people of color in the US.

Liz Mannette jewelry should soon be stylishly adorning Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fall schedule is sure packed

This week we sat down and outlined our marketing events for the rest of the year and, indeed, it is quite a schedule. Already, even in our first year of operations, we have been invited to major international events in LA, NY and Toronto and events are scheduled for the same day. Hmmm! Clearly I either have to clone myself, or get others out there meeting the fashion industry, media and customers.

This weekend saw the London Panorama and also the Yokohama Pan Festival in Japan. We heard everyone had a wonderful, fantastic time. We made some connections with a few steelband folks in both countries, and thought about visiting one of the events, but opted just to send good wishes. We will have a presence by this time next year as we move outside the familiar USA into Europe and Asia where the steel band community is large and as vibrant as those who play "steel drums" in America.

We're putting the final touches on our stainless steel line this week and finalizing the samples. They look lovely and so we should have our big launch of that collection by the end of September, just in time for the Caribbean Cruise season and our LA show. Those who sign up on our website for our newsletter, will be the first to view the Collection and even pre-order at special prices. Already there quite a number of pannists and steelband folks have been asking about the lines. Stay tuned.

I try to wait until we have pictures to back up our publicity before letting the word out, but I am so excited because both Jessica Simpson and Ashlee Simpson received Liz Mannette pieces of steel pan jewelry last month and loved them. Also Pink and Natalie Cole now own Liz Mannette pieces. This was at the Style LA: Swim and Resortwear Charity Event where our items hit the runway with the swimsuit line from Miki Nembhard. This is great publicity for us as we are aiming to get into mainstream retailers so that all those who love steelpan music, who like ethnic jewelry or just new designs can see and experience the fashion behind the rhythm of the Caribbean. Look out for our first major retailer coming soon.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

never a dull moment

There is never a dull moment with us. Coming right off Caribana, we're gearing up for several big events. We're awaiting photos of several high profile celebrities who were exposed to the Collection in LA a few weeks ago at the charity event LA Style; Swimwear. We don't want to spoil the fun and tell you who they are until we can post the pictures. But stay tuned for that. And news of the next celebrity event.

Big news this week. Our branding consultant from New York who designed our branding materials, Everard Findlay, was featured in the September issue of Men's Vogue!

Both on pages 38 and 154, Everard is featured with a $3300 Gucci pinstripe suit in gray with black stripes. He looks totally cool, and he should, because he is indeed a cool, talented guy. Next shot of Everard we hope will include the Liz Mannette cufflinks. But this is great as Everard has invited me to participate in his Six Drums/Six Artist exhibit to be held in NYC in October. No doubt, big names in the fashion world will be paying a bit closer attention to him, so we'll be sure to hear more of this.

We're on our way to New York where the steelband community gets together for the biggest steelpan party outside of Trinidad at the Brooklyn Steelband Competition of the Labor Day Celebrations. And Liz Mannette will be there. Look out for our promotional postcards at the steelband show at the Brooklyn Museum. We will also be supporting WIADCA at their Labor Day breakfast for the City's political, business and media leaders. More on that once confirmed. We are also aiming for a retail event or trunk show in New York just around this time as well. Stay tuned folks


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Toronto was a hit

Well, all I can say is that Toronto was a smashing success. We organized our exhibit at York U and we were able to meet and interact with many researchers, writers, academics on mas, pan and Carnival. It was also good for me to see the slide show presentation on the history of steelband by Kim Johnson. Kim and I used to be neighbors in Trinidad, but this was actually my first time listening to him share his great knowledge on pan. We are trying to get that slideshow and some of his images for our pan project---more on that later.

We also ran into mas man extraordinaire Peter Minshall, who was quite happy to see our Collection of steelpan items in precious metals, and our product brochure which showed the link between the pan and piano. And we will be inviting him to our launch of our next Collection closer to Christmas. Ray Funk was also at the conference. Ray has been researching calypso for years, and now he told me he will be focusing on the steelpan. I do look forward to working with him in the future. And Dr. Keith Nurse of UWI spoke on the potential for Carnival and cultural industries, which set me thinking of what we can do to be an example for other companies in this sector. I'm already looking forward to collaborating with him.

Of course, the main item on the agenda for the Thursday (July 31st) night was the Kings and Queen's competition at the Caribana festival and our promotions. We were offering all registrants from Toronto the chance to win a free trip to Trinidad for Panorama 2009. So we had our hundreds of nicely designed postcards and positioned ourselves strategically at the gate to ensure all patrons received one. We had to compete with folks giving out free bandanas, free whistles, free water and a chance to win a free diamond. This was our first time doing this sort of public promotion and while the 1500 - 2000 people at the event were Caribbean Diaspora, I'm not sure we will do this kind of promotion again.

Things were a bit different on the Friday night, which was the Pan Alive competition. This was for the true, true pan people and so we had donated one of our signature pieces, the sterling silver basspan bracelet (retail value US$200) as a door prize. We still distributed the postcards (because we had almost 5000) as people entered. In general, I found almost 85% of those approached were receptive and polite. Was it the pan people, or the Canadians, I wondered? Anyway, we did have the opportunity to give our promotional message to the audience as we did the door prize. Next time we have to have a big banner on stage with us.

Hey, be sure to visit the Toronto page for photos of the exhibit, the door prize and other fun things from Caribana.

Most important for us, and for all our supporters in Toronto, we made contact with someone who will be helping us get into retailers in Toronto. So soon we will have a big announcement of locations where the Collection can be purchased!!! This is great.

And, more good news. The Liz Mannette Collection was invited to participate in the Caribbean Week Fashion Gala happening on Sept 27th. So I will definitely be visiting Toronto very soon and very often.

Thanks to all of those who made this Toronto Caribana launch a success. My marketing assistant Carlene worked so hard to get our exhibit together and my sis Bernadette came up from New York to give some support. We have a great team here.

So now, it is on to the next gathering of pan people...in Japan, UK and the US.

It can be tiring, but I'm having a great time.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Preparing for Toronto

One of the main goals is to have a Liz Mannette presence wherever there is a large community of steelpan people. This is our intention because we always want to remain true to our roots, and we came out of the steelpan and steeldrums world.

So in keeping with this goal, we have been deliberately reaching out to the main steelband shows, at least in the United States for this year. We've been to Maine, West Virginia and soon we will be in Toronto, London, Tokyo and New York. This is certainly a lot of travel and a big stretch for a startup fashion company based in Trinidad and Tobago. But the steelpan pioneering spirit is within us at Liz Mannette so we have no hesitation about stepping out.

And it brings real satisfaction to see the faces of those who email us, or the pannists we may never have met, if not for our designs. In fact, it certainly reinforces to me the unifying nature of the steelpan. People from so many different groups, countries, ethnicities, languages, etc are all brought together by this instrument invented in Trinidad and Tobago.

So our next big step is into Toronto. We will have a unique display at the York University's conference on Carnival. I don't think there is another fashion company at a Carnival conference. So Liz Mannette Inc. will be the first.

But I specifically wanted to be at this conference because it will expose the Collection to a different audience of academics, artists and intellectuals- I hope.
It also forced us at Liz Mannette to think a bit more about the philosophy behind the Collection so that our display could be in sync with the theme of the conference. This was a bit of a challenge, but I knew that the reasons for starting the entire line were all part of the immigrant's need for belonging in a foreign land. And that was what this conference was about. So stay tuned for further news on our presence in Toronto at the York U Conference. And of course if you are in Toronto, do come over and say hello to us. We'd love to meet with you.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My first designs

As I share in my bio on the site, this fashion design company really started when I could not find quality pan items for myself and to give as gifts. This was about three years ago in 2005. And so, I decided to create my own jewelry and accessories.

However, since I did not know how to make jewelry and frankly, I had no strong interest in doing so, I did the next best thing, which is to find someone with the skill and expertise I did not have.

And so, after a search for a local jeweler who was willing to spend the time and effort to work with me to create a design --the bass pan line of items was born. The first piece I designed was the bass pan pendant. And I chose the bass pan because I had never seen any jewelry with the bass pan. Most of what was available were variations on the tenor pan. And I say "variations" because they were all rough approximations of a pan. This really offended me, because I felt that if I were to wear a steelpan, it should be an actual ("authentic") design of a pan.

This led me to Ellie Mannette's company where I borrowed some note layouts and found the accurate bass pan dimensions and specifications. So all the pieces are proportionate to the existing 55 gallon oil drum

I would love to hear from you if you have seen steelpan jewelry anywhere in the world that you like. If we can create an online marketplace with the best steelpan accessories and lifestyle products of the highest quality, I think it would be just great.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Starting Out with Liz Mannette

This is it. I've finally jumped in and started the blog to track the development and launch of our fashion design company. This is a big step and I was determined to do it by the end of June. So, at least I've kept close to my deadline.

But what is this all about? Liz Mannette has been launched as a fashion design company for people who like the music of the steelpan, also known as steeldrums, or steel drums.

And the purpose of this blog is to share the development and goings-on with customers and also to receive comments, questions, opinions, etc from all who have an interest in steelpan, fashion and everything in between.

The name of the fashion line, at this point, is Liz Mannette, which is an abbreviated version of my name and I am the main designer of all the products as of now. Initially I started with another name..StrumOn... but after considering the successful business models in the fashion world, and getting a few thumbs down from an unscientific test of that choice, I figured I'd do what the big names have done successfully...use my own name as the brand. And given the Mannette name awareness in the steelpan world, I figured, why not capitalize on this ready awareness. So from Elizabeth Mannette emerged Liz Mannette, and the journey is now underway.

What do I mean by a fashion design company for people who like the music of the steel drums and the steel pans?

Simple.The instrument was invented in Trinidad and Tobago around the 1930s and by migration of Trinis (as locals of Trinidad and Tobago are called) it spread all around the world, mainly to big cities of London, New York, etc, but eventually throughout the world creating what we now know as the Steelpan Diaspora.

Now the music connects a global audience on each continent, of diverse players, supporters, musicians, educators, male, female, young, old, rich, poor, black, white and brown, and others who share the passion and love for all things associated with this instrument.

Our aim at Liz Mannette is to design beautiful, classic, elegant and stylish fashion and lifestyle accessories to enable people of the steelpan world to reflect and express their love of the music in the daily lives.

We'd love to hear from you.

thanks for reading