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  • Kathy | Couture Planet

Welcome (almost) back to the world!  We hope that you and yours are well.  We have been sewing/donating masks and sewing/shipping bags -- proceeding with caution but, probably like you, are raring to go!  A lot has gone on, and that’s putting it mildly.  Michelle and I have done a lot of watching, listening, thinking, and talking.  Where do we go from here?

All of our discussions keep coming back to the idea of community.  Since the beginning, Couture Planet has had a laser focus on community.  We have our community of customers, retail partners, neighbors in the building, and citizens in our city.  We have our community of woman-owned businesses, and businesses that, like us, strive to be impact-driven.  


When we first took a small space at the Lydia Pinkham Building, it was an old building with great bones but lots of dust.   The building had an interesting and important history as the laboratory of Lydia Pinkham, a pioneering female scientist and entrepreneur who ran a very successful mail order tonic business in the mid 1800’s.  It was half-full and occupied by budding artists and earnest entrepreneurs.  The location has exploded, is fully occupied and includes a restaurant/food shop, a pierogi maker, a clay studio, a fitness studio, a yoga studio, an enamel artist, an artisan upholsterer, and a printing/embroidery business.  The growth, however, has been thoughtful and organic.  The restaurant is farm-focused and woman-owned.  The clay studio, fitness studio, and pierogi maker are also woman-owned.  The yoga studio and printing/ embroidery business are owned by young African American women.  Our building forms a strong community with a supportive and nurturing environment where we share resources and look out for one another. I don’t know if I can aptly convey how important it is to us.

Our community extends beyond our building to the City of Lynn.  We have employed and mentored students through the city summer jobs program and the local career center.  We became cherished friends with some of them through college and graduate school, and into their first and second jobs.  They have supported us as much as we have supported them. We will commit to upping the ante on our participation.

We have tried to extend our support to our larger community by volunteering our time.  Michelle is a long-term member and Second Vice President of the Board of the Lynn Museum & Historical Society.  As an art and cultural mecca for the city, the museum devotes a majority of its resources toward engaging and educating students about the history of their city I just finished my second year participating in the College Mentoring Program at Girls Inc. of Lynn.  I have worked with amazing young women with so much drive and promise.  Many of them have recently immigrated to the US and are learning to become, “strong, smart, and bold!”  I’m committing for the long haul.

We now know that this is not enough. We are assessing our actions and attitudes and reflecting on “where do we go from here?” Black, LGBTQ, and civil rights are tied to a share history.  We know that to be silent is to be complicit. If we shied away from controversy in the past, we will no longer standby silently.  We will voice and show our support.   We will carve out more time to watch, really listen, think, and discuss issues with our neighbors– and double down on our mission of being relevant by becoming better allies to our community, especially the marginalized and those most in need.  

These are some of the businesses mentioned that form our community:

digsenamels.com

inboundinkonline.com

jajupierogi.com

limitlessfitness.com

soulcityom.com

theclaystudio.org

uncommonfeasts.com

  • Kathy | Couture Planet

Couture Planet has joined countless other manufacturers and home sewers across our nation with the effort to provide much-needed supplies to our medical workers. 

The Coronavirus first affected us at Couture Planet directly when the New England Made wholesale show being held in Portland, Maine, was cancelled the day prior to setup.  (This was March 12).  Soon thereafter, other shows in Richmond Virginia and Houston, Texas on our schedule for mid-April were also cancelled.  It felt like we had all just started thinking about "social distancing" -- a new term the whole country had recently learned.  We considered that this would slow our business down.  We were, of course, taken aback, but soon began to make plans for how we would use this break in the action to catch up.  First, we wanted to catch our breath after a fast-paced holiday season, followed by a surprisingly busy January and February (typically a slower time of the year for retail sales).   Then, we wanted to get our creative juices flowing by experimenting with new styles and shapes.  It is difficult to manipulate the newspaper and takes a lot of trial and error accompanied by patience.  

Then, very quickly, we all began to understand the scope of the problem.  Businesses began closing and the Governor of Massachusetts shut down all but essential businesses.  We learned about the immediate and overwhelming shortage of protective medical masks.  Through social media, we saw groups were organizing to do whatever possible.  We knew we had to be part of that effort.


My business partner, Michelle, was determined and didn’t waste a moment!  We quickly got up to speed on how to actually make the mask -- thanks to a number of online how-to videos and conversations with friends in the medical professions. We sought donations of fabric and elastic.  Quarter-inch elastic is scarce at the moment.  We reached out to a partner business who makes labels for our bags—ClothingLabels4U – who dug out a big roll of elastic and shipped it off to us.  A community member in the Lydia Pinkham Building (Joselito's Upholstery) found another large roll and again, happily donated to the cause.  We continue to reach out for donations within our local community (see information regarding donations at the end of the blog). We are able to continue to employ our full-time sewer and feel incredibly privileged to be helping with this effort.

Completed protective masks are going out daily. We are working to help supply the Massachusetts DCF (Department of Children and Families) via an effort coordinated by Lauren Baker, our neighbor and wife of Charlie Baker, Governor of MA – who is leading these efforts.  Some masks are also going directly to local medical personnel in need.  We will continue our efforts, while maintaining a safe work environment and practicing social distancing.

None of us know what tomorrow will bring but we know we have to support those in the trenches while the rest of us do our part to flatten this curve.  On a good day (and there will be more of those in the future for all of us- promise!) we understand the value of community.  In times like this, we embrace that community because without it, we are nothing.

NOTE:  We are seeking donations of cotton fabric, ¼ inch elastic, and pipe cleaners.  If you have anything to contribute, please email us at info@coutureplanet.com




  • Kathy | Couture Planet

We are still catching our breath from the holiday madness but are already making plans for the year ahead. Before we get to that, let’s briefly reflect on 2019. It was a very good year!

Michelle and Kathy flank their friends at Scout & Molly's Lynnfield.

We ♥️our retail partners

We absolutely love our retail partners! You keep us going on a daily basis. We have met many of you and forged great relationships and friendships. We want to meet more of you in 2020! You are our connection to all the folks out there who love fashion and want an eco-friendly, MADE IN THE USA, unique product to own and carry. We can’t say enough about you guys and thank you for your business and support.


Improved logistics (make that GREATLY improved logistics)

It is sometimes difficult to simultaneously be the maker, marketer, and seller. We are always changing hats and fighting the clock. This year, we stopped for a moment (and got some stellar help) and brainstormed ways to be more efficient and, hopefully, more productive. We tweaked our online payment system and brought all of our shipping functions in-house. The process is probably only interesting to us so suffice it to say that we can now answer shipping and tracking questions on our phones – from anywhere and at any time. We plan to continue to up our technology quotient. BTW: Retail partners --watch for a wholesale portal coming online sooner rather than later!

Our booth at the New England Made show.

Trekking across New England -- and beyond!

We loaded (and unloaded, and loaded, and unloaded) our cars and hit shows across New England. We returned to some tried and true venues – and added a wholesale show where we found some great new retail partners and met so many terrific fellow New England MAKERS. We were seriously in awe of the creativity and entrepreneurship happening in this part of the country. We attended some high-energy women's conferences, including the MA Women's Conference and met some truly enthusiastic people -- including many amazing female business owners. We were proud to participate in the "Designing Women" Marketplace at the New York Historical Society -- a truly gorgeous museum! Michelle met lots of customers last winter at various shows across Florida and she’ll be back there next month.


NOW... WELCOME TO 2020!

"You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems."

We were recently gifted the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. It seems that traditional goal setting often proves futile so thus, we are learning to systematize our hopes and dreams! Clear believes that "you do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems." We are going to continue to grow our brand and business while holding tight to our philosophies: eco-friendly business, Made in the USA, small footprint, and community first!


Here’s where we will be focusing our attention:


New shapes/styles

We are working on bringing new shapes and styles to market. This has been a long-time goal but we keep getting snagged in sustainability, stability, and sourcing. Creating newspaper fabric has its challenges. Creating a product that wears well is important to us so there is lots of beta testing. Think crossbody bag... think larger tote... think new strap alternatives! We hope we will have more to report on this in the near future... know that we are listening to you!


Coming to a party near(er) to you – NEW MARKETS!

In 2019, we added a sales representative in Texas which has opened a lot of new doors in that great state. We will be at a retail show in Houston in April, but first will drop in at a real estate conference in Richmond, VA. We are currently researching wholesale, retail, and maker shows across the country and will hopefully be showing our bags in some new geographic areas. Keep up to date on our Events Page.


Nationals Championship Stella

Sports (we don't just root for the home team) 😊

Try not to hate us because you ain't us. In the recent past, we New England fans have enjoyed unprecedented success in so many sports. We have certainly enjoyed providing Tom Brady and Mookie Betts bags to all of our fellow fans, yet we can root for other teams! We happily gathered recycled newspapers to commemorate the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl victory (no nose holding – swear!). This past year, we celebrated the Washington Nationals World Series Victory. We gathered recycled newspaper and can make you St. Louis hockey fans Blues bags! A Couture Planet sports bag is a great way for a fan to carry a piece of their team with them daily.




Blogger event at Scout & Molly's Lynnfield

CP ambassadors, bloggers, influencers, friends

Word-of-mouth continues to be our best marketing tool and is helping us enormously in building our brand. We have partnered with some fabulous young bloggers and learned so much about social media and “influencing” from them. Their generation has a lot to teach us about women supporting other women –something that is essential to who we are as a company.


Our commitment to our community

Our planet is suffering, and so we all suffer. We all need to be more eco-conscious in large and small ways. Recycling (and upcycling) is at the center of our business. We recycle all of our waste, except for a tiny bag of garbage weekly -- and we're constantly working on reducing that footprint. We will continue to work hard on responsible sourcing -- doing business with companies that share our commitment to the planet. We recycle and re-use all of our packaging. We are proud to be a Made in the USA company. We want to be part of our local community -- and have our community be part of who we are. We employ local workers and volunteer at local non-profits. Couture Planet is so lucky to do our work in the growing city of Lynn, MA, where there is so much energy and enthusiasm regarding who we are and who we can become. We will continue to focus on being more than just good neighbors, always working to contribute locally.


Our blog

Yes... the blog itself gets a mention! We want to create connections with our customers, old and new, so we plan to update our blog on a regular basis to let you know what's going on here at Couture Planet and in our community.

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