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Vintage Fall Display Inspiration

 In the past, I have had the honor of working with and for a very good friend, Rita Reade,
who is the proprietor of the creative vintage business Mammabellarte 
and co-founder, along with her sister-in-love, Christie Repasy, 
of The Vintage Marketplace vintage show.

For several shows, Rita hired me as her visual designer and stylist
to style all of her beautiful creations into an inspiring booth setting.

One fall, the show theme was 'Farmgirl Fancies'.
Rita and her son unloaded her trailer, and I took it from there to create a setting
that would embody that theme  - along with Rita's unmistakable business brand.

The Big Picture: 
Rustic elements and a focus on ivory, white, tan, and green set a Farmhouse mood.

Rita's signature pink is still in there, but it's taking a back seat in the color palette this time...
It's important to continue her brand palette at each show, 
so all of her colors always appear - but in varied quantities and prominence.
That enables us to shake things up visually and present a fresh look at every show.

Her business name - Mammabellarte - appears prominently from several vantage points.

The Details:

Decorative elements combine with props and products

to provide ample shopping space and decorating inspiration for customers.
When it comes to unusual products, you have to SHOW shoppers how to use them!

Visual merchandising sets a mood, tells a story, and transports the viewer into the past...

The prominent view inside the tent was a last-minute decision:
Those are vintage window screens that I turned into an 'awning' at the back of the booth! 
It was a spur-of-the-moment idea that became my favorite part - 
sometimes, inspiration strikes and the 'plan' gets revised!
It was the MOST popular visual in her booth.

One silver tray just dropped **perfectly** into the seatless iron chair
and created a riser in this display area!
It's all ready for the resin decoupage appliques that Rita makes.

There's some inspiration for your fall displays and windows!

.Visit the Vintage Marketplace website and facebook page
for information about the September 2016 show in Temecula, CA.

this content originally appeared on my DIY home decor blog

On Creativity...

This is so true, no matter what it is that you do as creative work.

And it is also true that many people never hear this information... 
they just toil away in silence, hoping and wishing for 'a break' to come. 
Scribbling and drawing, doodling and writing, scratching out sentences and paragraphs.
First drafts become fiftieth drafts... 
and the struggle to reach their lofty visions goes on.

This is how it IS, and how it is SUPPOSED to be. 

Those stories of 'overnight successes' are bunk.
Celebrity can come in an instant - and the instant is often quickly over. 
The phrase 'Fifteen minutes of fame' doesn't lie. 
[Though, admittedly, many celebs outlive that fifteen minutes somehow].

Creativity is a commitment to a pursuit.
You have a dream, a goal, a vision.
You work toward it every day

Maybe you can only squeeze in five minutes a day to be creative.
Snap a photo. Write a sentence. Sketch a scene. Flesh out an idea.
It builds your skills, your ability, your 'eye', your vision - exponentially.
Much like accrued interest on a savings account, 
this kind of devotion to the practice of a craft, an art, a creative work,
is what compounds daily and increases the value.
You just keep getting better at it the more you do it.

[Have you heard about the principle of Ten Thousand Hours?]

Just keep working.
[paraphrasing Dory there...]
Keep writing, or drawing, or snapping photos.
Whatever it is that you create, keep creating it.
And forget the 'published' or 'exhibited' credits...
Even if no one ever sees the work, it's building your vision.

It doesn't matter how long it takes.
One day, you will look at your own work
and smile 
and say out loud to yourself,

"Hey, I'm GOOD at this!"
(now get ready for your moment and cue the paparazzi)

  1. 1.
    (of a person or action) clever or skillful, typically in a crafty or cunning way.
    "her artful wiles"
  2. 2.
    showing creative skill or taste.
    "an artful photograph of a striking woman"
    "artful precision"

credits: original quote by Ira Glass . graphic image (top of post) by Sawyer Hollenshead

Hotel MoJo... and HoJo

I began my visual merchandising career in a hotel gift shop,
a brand new venture that my Mom worked with the hotel owner to develop and open in the 1970's
at the Howard Johnson's Hotel across the street from Disneyland...
 That window on the left (which used to have a neon 'Kathy's Gift Shop' sign in it)
is where I experimented with merchandise to create my FIRST window displays ever.
I was thirteen years old when I started, thanks to my Mom trusting my ability.
The shop has expanded four times since then, 
and one of my Mom's original employees now manages it 
(along with the new one in the new Marriott Courtyard Hotel across the street,
owned by the same company). 

Ever since working there for six years, 
I've been watching the evolution and demise of the hotel gift shop...
 viewing many on my travels to speaking engagements, gift shows,
and of course visiting the Disneyland Hotels to see what they are doing.

Hotel gift shops have devolved 
from huge shops that carry every possible thing a traveler might want (or forget)
and offering a plethora of souvenirs silly and sublime,
into the newly-coined 'quick stop shops' in an alcove next to the registration desk,
which carry a measly offering of tiny personal care items and bottled beverages.
The change is disheartening.

Today, I read something with a more positive outlook
regarding hotel gift shops...
a new view from some independent hoteliers that have created an opportunity: 
they reach out into the community to source handmade, artisan, local products,
and to give a more entrepreneurial / independent store spirit to their shops
than we've seen in the mainstream before.

Not only that, but the design of these new shops is less 'corporate' and more 'indy' in style!
Quirky, inviting, personalized, and decidedly forward-thinking,
they are spaces that would stop any weary traveler in their tracks!

BHG has a column in their magazine called 'FRESHSHOPKEEPER'
and it was in this column that I saw these photos and read about this new direction:

I encourage you to go grab a copy of the August 2016 issue of BHG Magazine
and read up on this new outlook.

It bodes well for the hospitality industry, for retail in general, 
especially for artisans and makers who want to get their product into local shops.
It's a whole new sales opportunity that is not dependent upon
huge wholesale shows and mass-manufactured, imported goods.

Gift Shop Buyers at boutique hotels like these
are looking for exceptional, quality, unique merchandise
that will reflect the local community, attractions, and history
in a fresh, new, engaging way that customers respond to.

And that's evolution, my friends! 

Just an aside here....
I saw the Hotel Emma during construction last summer.
My son Joel is the Project Manager for the fire suppression system on the project.
Now that I have seen this photo of just one of their space designs,
I can't wait to visit him in San Antonio again so that I can see the finished hotel!

Artful Studio/Office Design Project

I'm getting a GREAT response to my new offering of 'Artful Makeover' services!
As I tell each of the clients that I work with:
You really don’t have to spend money to create an efficient, inspiring office or studio - 
start with what you have!

When designing an office space, think about the function needed for your specific work processes. 
Move around as if you were working, and decide what storage & work surfaces are necessary - and where.  
Remember that the ‘work triangle’ concept of kitchen design applies to offices & studios, too!

* Starting with the largest furnishings, assign each a place and use - considering light sources, access, and traffic flow. 
* 'Shop your house' and garage for pieces that can be used in fresh new ways to add style - think outside the box!
* Get creative with the colors, furnishings and details you select to express YOUR style and brand with every choice. 

You can have an inspiring work space that works almost as hard as you do ;)
 Want more Top Tips for your home office/studio space? asked me to contribute to a new blog post about office setup,
and it's FILLED with pro tips to consider when setting up your home office -
great advice from small business owners and design professionals!

Whether you work in a home office, art studio, craft room, or classroom,

my new 'Artful Makeover' services will help you to work happily, efficiently, and creatively.
I design beautiful, efficient, inspiring spaces where your creativity will thrive!
Read about my Artful Makeover Services

Keep reading to see how I approach the design process...

Keep Moving Forward.....


I am SO excited about a new direction for my business!
It's one that will enable me to work with creatives, artists, makers and crafters 
who need help with their work & hobby spaces!
Last week I worked on an #ArtfulMakeover in artist Sharyn Sowell's studio...
and it truly engaged ALL of my creative energy as I helped her solve dilemmas in her space
that had all but shut down her creative muse.

I helped her tackle storage and organizational challenges,
set up systems to contain the myriad of supplies she needs,
and assisted in making this space just SING her brand image in the process!
I'll share more of that project from start to finish soon, but here's a sneak peek:
As we worked, Sharyn learned a few things from me:
"Seriously, Deb is an artist's dream! She studies your work needs and your style, 
makes your studio far more efficient and then the eye candy is packed in... 
Who knew my own studio would turn into such an inspirational place for me?!?!? 
And I'm working faster, too. She's a real gift!"

I learned some new things, too - including that there are a LOT of creative people who need help like this!
So I'm broadening my horizons, breaking out of the retail 'box',
and moving forward in a new creative direction...
providing studio & booth design assistance to artists, creators, makers, and vendors.

Find out more about this NEW service HERE