Posts filed under Fancy That

Summer in Paper by Lorraine Nam

August in the District is particularly lazy and hazy - Congress in recess, residents away from the office, students at all levels soaking up the last rays of summer before school starts. In fact, I am writing this post from Cancun on a much-anticipated vacation with my husband's family. Celebrating many milestones this year and eager at a chance to be all together next to blue waters and ancient pyramids, family members flew in as far as The Netherlands. While we're enjoying this week on the Yucatan, I am quite excited to share Kicheko's latest collaboration. Kicheko teamed up with Lorraine Nam, New York-based illustrator, textile designer and paper artist, to produce three distinct images styled with pieces from the new collection. Narrowing down our favorite summer activities to exploring the city, poolside hangs, and weekends at the beach - Lorraine went to work in her Brooklyn-based studio cutting and transforming sheets of paper into 3-dimensional landscapes. Her attention to detail and whimsical product styling evokes a sense of play and reminds us to pay attention to the details and enjoy these hazy days. I chatted with Lorraine about her work and lessons she's learned along the way as an artist in New York City.

Tell us a little about what you do. What do you like about your work?

I like to say that I’m a paper illustrator. I work as a textile/bedding designer where I get to work with a team of talented people and on the weekends and after work during the week, I work on my paper projects which is my own personal creative outlet. I’m constantly thinking about what I can do in my work and usually what I make is reflective of what I’m thinking about and what I think will look really cute as a miniature! I really enjoy using paper as a medium and I’ve been cutting paper for about 8 years before I experimented with using paper 3-dimensionally. I really enjoy telling stories through my visual language.

Tell us more about your design process.

I usually start with an idea. I keep a list on my phone of any ideas I have and the list is always growing. Then I start cutting! I don’t like to overthink an idea because I still want the process to be enjoyable and I want to learn as I go through. Once I’m done with the different “props”, I’ll arrange them together and figure out what the best way to photograph is. Then I take a photo and the last step would be to edit the images to reflect the story I want to tell.

What design in your own work are you incredibly satisfied with/proud of?

I’m always happy with the newest thing I make. Once a project is done, I look forward to starting the next and seeing what happens through the process!

What has been the biggest challenge working in your industry? 

Probably the biggest hurdle for me,  after moving to New York was creating your own community of creatives. It’s difficult to work in the creative industry and having that support from friends who are doing the same thing or something similar helps tremendously.

If you weren’t at your current job, where would you be? 

If I wasn’t working as a textile/bedding designer, I would still be in my studio working on paper projects!

You have a blog called #ffffff walls. What was the impetus or inspiration for the blog?

I created the blog with Jonathan Chapline, who I also went to school with. The idea started after moving to New York and missing that sense of community that we had in school. We were going on these studio visits where we were having these amazing dialogues about art and what it’s like to work as an artist in New York, ESPECIALLY with a limited amount of space! We felt that the work that these artists were creating deserved to be shared and we created the blog as a platform to document this particular moment in which the artist is creating their work.


What’s your favorite artist feature to date?

My favorite studio visit is with Sterling Wells in his Red Hook studio space. His studio visit was one of the first ones we did when we started the blog and it just captures his energy. After working in watercolors and creating landscape paintings, he ventured into sculpture. Sterling showed us his in progress water sculpture in which he proceeded to take out a hose and just douse his studio with water with no care to everything in his small studio space.


Wow, that's ballsy. Now, I want to ask you some rapid fire questions that speak to who you are and what you are learning. Go back one year, what is the best thing you learned last year?

Exploring with paper 3-dimensionally and learning the importance of a good photograph.


What is the best thing you have learned this year? Using Instagram as a way to tell a story and showcase my work.


What is the best habit you have going for you right now? I have a pretty good work habit once I get to my studio. I just need that extra push to get there!

What is your biggest challenge right now? My biggest challenge is having the right work/life balance. I love to work and be productive but I also need to figure out when to take a break!


Name three creatives, artists or style mavens that inspire you?

  1. Matisse

  2. Iris Apfel

  3. Maira Kalman

Now to some fun ones. What's on your playlist now? I don’t have a specific playlist but I do love listening to Com Truise on Pandora when I’m working in studio. Also, Blood Orange and Rolling Stone.


What books/podcasts/TV shows are you loving right now?

1. Book: Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

2. Podcast: This American Life especially the ‘Stuck in the Middle’ episode with the hold music.

3. TV/Movie: Frasier and Ex Machina


Most used app on your phone? Instagram! I’m a visual person and I love using the explore feature to find inspiring people doing cool and creative things.


What recipe can you not get enough of? I don’t ever get tired of avocado toast!


Next place you want to travel? There are so many places but India has definitely been on my list for a really long time.


What is something  silly that makes you laugh uncontrollably? Cat videos


What makes your heart happy? Definitely food.


Best advice someone has given you or you have given someone…. It’s not someone I know personally (though I’d love to meet him!) but this quote by Ira Glass has always resonated with me.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” -Ira Glass


I have to ask - do you have a favorite Kicheko design? There’s so many to choose from but I think my favorite would have to be the original Parlay Cords. I love that there’s so many combinations to coordinate back to your outfit.

Thanks to Lorraine for taking the time and working with us on this super creative collaboration! We love what you do and especially enjoy collaborating with artists to make something together. Please check out her work and her studio visit blog #ffffff walls - it's full of great conversation and inspiration.


Behind the New Collection

It's been over a week since we debuted the new collection, launched our lookbook, had our first major pop up of the spring season at Northern Grade. This week, we were delighted to be featured in the Washingtonian and launch our 7-day online pop up with Bezar Marketplace - a marketplace where people who design special things connect with people who desire special things. What feels like a month has actually been two weeks - phew! On this grey and peaceful day, I thought I would share more details behind the collection and the aesthetic - the pieces that have meanings and the pieces that just make us happy. 

One of the principles that guide Kicheko's design is an eclectic minimalism. I love the style and choosiness that our customers exhibit in their fashion choices and desired to provide an array of necklaces that invoke simple silhouettes using quality elements. Sia has been a constant on my playlist and while listening to 1000 Forms of Fear, the inspiration for Elastic Heart emerged. I liked the idea of using neoprene, a resilient, memorable, and highly functional material. Coupled with gold-plated brass tubing, I love the simple lines and curves it adds to a look. I can see this paired with a blazer/collared dress shirt on the weekdays and a t-shirt/jeans/ballet flats outfit on the weekends. The Blush Sterling is another playful pendant necklace using double-stranded blush faux leather and a matte silver-plated pear shape pendant. The Tusker Half Moon establishes a different combination of nylon cording, gold-plated brass arc, and soft white leather to create a longer necklace that is malleable, clean and creates interesting shape to your outfit. 

Last season, Kicheko released the Parlay Cords, natural braided rope and nylon cording set on gold-plated magnetic closures. We introduced it as the "lego of necklaces," something that can be built upon, combined with various colors, and even coupled with necklaces incorporating the magnetic closures. It's been so fun to see what you've all done with the Parlay Cords - the combinations you've made varying color, texture, and knots. I love the versatility of the pieces that can be worn in professional settings and on weekends just wiling out. It even fits the needs of moms with young children because their little ones can tug on the necklaces (okay let's be real, rip off the necklaces) and the necklace proves resilient just needing to be clicked back into place and reshaped. 

Sketching for a collection released between spring and summer, it wouldn't be right without considering a season that is meant to be spent by water at some point - the beach, lake, kayaks, sailboats, etc. I definitely had nautical inspiration on the mind and began researching various knotting techniques. Some of these knots are incorporated in the Kedge Hollow and Darling Hitch necklaces. The Solstice uses 100% natural cotton braided rope, another nautically inspired element, and can be combined with various fiber tassel pendants in several gemstone colors.

Observing the collection, you can quickly gather that Kicheko enjoys using mixed materials. Two of our new necklaces, the Synthesis and Gilded Terra use unglazed ceramic beads crafted by a collective of women in South Africa. I wrapped and sealed the beads in gold foil with the intention of creating a speckled pattern. Customers have shared that the beads look like golden worlds - definitely an inadvertent effect but I love it! The Synthesis uses woven lavender cording, magnetic closures and white leather. The Gilded Terra features a ceramic bead centered by gold-plated metal bars.

I try to incorporate an earthy sensibility in Kicheko's designs, which extends itself to recycling and using natural materials. The deer tine necklaces use 100% deer or elk tine naturally shed. The tine is cut, sanded, drilled and coated in acrylic. Set on a dainty 14k gold-fill chain, the deer tine necklace balances edge with elegance. Quartz is an energetic, balancing and amplifying stone. It harmonizes and is a prolific natural stone. I love using quartz in Kicheko's necklaces and studs. The hexagon studs are laser cut and hand-painted in acrylic for a modern yet woodsy look.   

Along with the release of the new collection, I am so excited to share with you not only our new pieces but also our giving model. Each purchase from Kicheko's new collection provides a scholarship for children most in need to attend school for one month in eastern Congo. Currently, Kicheko is working with Mango Tree School, a primary school based in Uvira that educates over 200 primary-level students in the South Kivu province who are underresourced and cannot afford school fees and the other costs associated with attending school. 

This year our goal is to help students most in need to attend school year round. Often times, families will be able to afford school fees for only a few months. Children cannot attend school the remaining months of the academic year resulting in them falling behind unable to successfully complete year end exams and sadly, the cycle repeats the following year. Kicheko is trying to combat this cycle by identifying students who are most in need and working with families to ensure that their children stay in school year round. Our model extends to earrings too! Each purchase of the wooden hexagons or druzy quartz will also send a child to school for one month. Two pairs of fabric covered studs will send a child to school for one month. I hope you've enjoyed reading more about the pieces in our new collection and that you feel that much more inspired to shop and share Kicheko!

Kicheko Giving Model

Amanda Vega, Owner & Curator, Kaleidos

[kuh • lahy • dohs] An online shop offering a curated mix of vintage & independent designs. May you look through & always find something beautiful!

Amanda Lee

Two years ago, I remember meeting Amanda Vega for the first time. We shared cheesecake amongst a group of girlfriends and even though this was a new meet, I had a really good feeling about her. Amanda modeled for our first lookbook. Among other pursuits, she is also an artist and musician performing locally in the DMV area with her talented husband, Posido. Amanda is also business owner and curator of the newly minted online shop, Kaleidos. We spent a bright morning together at the Artist's Lofts where we chatted about business, life, the fears and excitement of building new things, and a few fun rapid fire questions (playlist, skincare, recipes, etc). Enjoy the interview and I hope you grow encouraged in your own journey to pursue the best and most authentic version of yourself. From that, the well runs deep, rootedness grows, love flows, dreams may emerge, and others draw close.


Tell us about that “aha” moment for Kaleidos. What was the origin story?

At the end of 2012, I left my job as a visual merchandiser for H&M to pursue music full-time - something that I’ve felt calling and knocking on my heart since I was 15. In 2013,  I decided to focus on songwriting - now that I had this time and space. I encountered a really serious bout of writer’s block. I tried to discipline myself through it. Whatever I could squeeze out of myself daily, I tried, but ultimately felt like my soul was dry and had nothing to say. My husband and I moved back to Virginia and moved in with my mom - financially it was difficult.

We had to simplify and scale back a lot and one of those areas was my closet. I had a lot of clothes but wasn’t wearing them so I thought I would start selling them. I discovered a whole community of shops on Instagram, instashops - where women sold their clothes. I began to get really serious about it and started getting creative about creating an instashop - it tapped into my experience as a visual merchandiser. I took a lot of time taking good pictures and styling the clothes for sale on sisters and friends. I started gaining more followers. It was fun and doing this tapped into a distant dream that I've always had of owning my own small boutique. While managing my instashop, I discovered many independent and emerging designers. After that point, I started concepting a real shop.

What is your dream for Kaleidos?

My ultimate dream is to successfully open up a brick and mortar. I want Kaleidos to be a shop that has a creative community behind it. For example, I would love to incorporate live music and do pop up events in the shop. I named the shop Kaleidos because inside of a kaleidoscope live these little variant objects, that when shining light on them creates this inspiring swirl of beauty. Life is far from being one-dimensional. We have complexities (stories, ideas, hopes, dreams, pains). It's the amalgamation of these fragments that make life so interesting and beautiful - and that is the heart behind the brand of Kaleidos.


What has surprised you about starting Kaleidos?

What has surprised me is that I could actually do it. It started as a hobby and it quickly snowballed into Kaleidos. I’m surprised that I have actually made this a legitimate business and attended my first trade show in New York talking to and selecting designers for the shop. I am actually doing this. There is a lot of fear coupled with a lot of excitement. When I feel those insecurities, I tell myself to keep going.


What is a “lesson learned” piece of advice that you would tell a budding business owner?

Work hard. Believe in yourself. Keep going. This is something that I tell myself all the time. You can do it. You ARE doing it. Just keep going. Specifically, I would say organization is important. There are a lot of roles and tasks that you have to juggle and balance. You get pulled in so many directions but in order to move forward, you need structure. Write down your objectives. Create a structure for yourself so you can move forward. I'm still learning to master this.

What’s on your playlist now?

I am pretty loyal to Kye Kye, Lykke Li, Banks, and Broods. I listen to a lot of woman-fronted bands that are more performance based and have a strong vibe and have an electric/synth sound. I went through a phase when all I listened to was Daughter. Lately though, I have been playing a lot of the "discover" section on Spotify. I love discovering new emerging talent. whether in music or fashion. It's definitely become a passion of mine. (My newest discovery is Norway artist, AURORA.)

What creative do you absolutely love right now?

I am inspired by Madeleine Furlong of Wide Eyed Legless. I am inspired by her aesthetic, approach to life and minimalist fashion sense. She has a good way of exuding a lot of creativity in simplistic form. Also, I am super, super, SUPER late on the ManRepeller game, but I've only recently discovered the amazingness of Leandra Medine. This interview just made me love her so much.

What jewelry are you loving right now?

Right now, I’m wearing my Kicheko collaboration necklace and have been wearing it for a few days now. Love it. I love not caring too much about what I’m wearing. The necklace speaks for itself. It is my outfit. I wear clothes with it of course, but I  can wear it with a t-shirt and jeans and pop it on. I’m also wearing Young Frankk rings, which I’m carrying in the shop. I’ve been a big fan of hers for a long time.


What beauty product is a game-changer for you right now?

I’m into skincare products right now and recently discovered Herbivore Botanicals - a skincare line that uses natural ingredients. I’m using their black charcoal soap and toner and absolutely love it.

What recipe can you not get enough of?

It’s super simple but I roast a lot of veggies. The mix varies but it includes brussel sprouts. sweet potato, red potatoes, asparagus, onions, carrots, zucchini, cauliflower and sunflower oil with salt, pepper, garlic. Set the oven to 425 degrees for 25 minutes and you have a super healthy dish.

Who are your style mavens that inspire your own aesthetic?

It's a mix - Lykke Li, Alexa Chung, Leandra Medine, Mary Kate and Ashley Olson. You can get a visual aesthetic of my favorite lady muses here on my Pinterest. The core style that represents the Kaleidos girl is that they wear whatever they chose to wear effortlessly and with confidence.

If you weren’t doing Kaleidos, you would be…

Doing music. I haven’t given up my music. This new venture has definitely occupied me in my creative space but it all started because I wanted to do music and it’s still a big part of who I am.


I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the head and heart of Amanda. Her diverse background in visual merchandising, music and fashion set her up to uniquely curate an exciting new addition to the creative community. Follow @shopkaleidos on Instagram and visit her online shop. We have our eye on a few pieces ourselves and are excited to keep up as the shop rolls out new designers in the next weeks. Also, check out our collaboration necklace, the Nanga - a beautiful mix of natural and nylon rope cording designed to anchor any outfit and drawn together with gold-plated magnetic closures. 

Introducing the 'Nanga Necklace'

A collaboration necklace between Kicheko Goods & Kaleidos 

When Amanda, owner and curator of Kaleidos, and I came together to collaborate on a necklace for her new shop, we knew we wanted something summery, unusual and yet translatable to other seasons and occasions. Inspired by bodies of water and the vessels that float and sail upon its undulating waves, we experimented with various nautical knots. Highly functional in its strength and yet artful in its design, we found our anchor piece around which the rest of the necklace comes together. Concepting the necklace in segments, Amanda chose three colors that offered a vibrant pop of color and contrast of texture. I finished the segments with gold-plated magnetic closures to offer a versatile way of securing the necklace in place. While designed with each piece in mind, the necklace also allows for additional pairing of colors and textures giving the potential to evolve over the seasons.


Meaning "anchor," in Swahili, we named our collaboration "Nanga." World, meet the Nanga - we're so excited to share it with you. 

You have to find something, something that anchors you, something that keeps you looking forward.


The Nanga Necklace is both a playful and anchoring statement necklace that is a beautiful and natural adornment to any outfit. A balanced mix of color and texture, the Nanga can both stand out and blend in depending on the wearer's ensemble and styling. Perfect for dressy occasions and casual days, the Nanga is a versatile and distinctive accessory piece. Find your Nanga today at Kaleidos




Click on the photo below to view the video trailer for the 'Nanga' necklace. Featuring Kye Kye's "Dreams (2am)" from their album Fantasize

Quantities limited // Sold exclusively at Kaleidos

Photos: Shop Kaleidos // Jen Eun // Model: Joanne Violet // Dress: Uzi Nyc

Cardboard Reliefs: Jason Yen

Jay Yen at Work

Many of us are quite used to collapsing and discarding the delivery cardboard boxes that come to our doorstep. Amazon Prime, Birchbox, Wine of the Month Club, Mom's quarterly care package? Whatever your flavor, most of us see cardboard as a delivery vehicle. However, local DC-based artist, Jason Yen, sees more than corrugated fiberboard. By day, he is lead designer of DC community magazines/newspapers, HillRag, MidCity DC, and East of the River. After hours, Jay is also a food enthusiast and mixed media artist. This month, Jay has a gallery of cardboard reliefs up at the Hillyer Art Gallery in Dupont.

The exhibition remains open until February 28 so if you are local and can make it, it's worth seeing. 

At times taking a critical view of social, political, cultural and personal issues; Jay's work also takes on the versatility and lightheartedness of having no significant meaning attached but rather, a comical and fictitious play of puns and pop culture. Articulating his desire when others see his work, "his aim is usually to see people smile in a clever way." Seeing his work online presents a two-dimensional picture of a story or statement. However, up close and in person, his work reveals dimension and depth as his process of cutting, pasting, layering and coloring gives a unique intricacy and complexity. 

Jay Yen Cardboard Relief
Jay Yen Cardboard Relief

Talking with Jay, he shares more about his process but also purposely restrains allowing others to perceive and interact with his pieces personally and uniquely. Whether one sees symbolism or one gains a laugh, that is the intent. 

What about cardboard and mixed media inspires you as an artist?

Finances inspire my use of cardboard/mixed media. I also have the freedom to use any thing I want in the creative process. Traditional art supplies can be costly so starting out in cardboard, I've been able to build upon this base using magazines and print publications. It's also become my way of being environmentally responsible in my art. 

How did you get started and what was your first piece?

I've been pretty creative my whole life. In high school I started to paint... I did that for many years, but got tired of it. My first piece in cardboard relief was a girl sitting on some steps. I sold it a couple of years ago. The next closest is the girl in the library. If you look at that piece and the latest piece you'll notice a difference in skill and quality.

Who influences your work and who do you look up to?

Nobody really consciously influences my work, but I like all kinds of fine art and street art, so I'm sure there are bits and pieces that my mind collects.

What's your Dream BIG? Where would you like to see your work displayed?  

I would like to influence other artists, continue to find joy in creating, and selling my work to use the proceeds in a Godly manner. I mean, I'd love to be a famous artist; a pillar in this event art period of anything goes :). But that's a slim chance. So really, finding joy and using the money in a missional way. But who knows... I always tell Katie, I'm doing better in my art career than VanGogh did in his...

Lincoln Monument
Man with Bouquet
Dim Sum
Posted on February 24, 2015 and filed under Fancy That.