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 Japan, UK and the US.

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