Wednesday, June 30, 2010

And It Is Off To ACL We Go!

I am so happy! I just got the notice that I was accepted into the Austin City Limits Festival Art Market! That means come October 8-10th you will be able to stop by the Kailo Chic booth to shop all my fabulous goodies plus Brandon's new mens shirt designs and my new baby clothes. Now it is time to ramp up production for the show. I know it is three months away, but with the little one, time goes by much quicker with far less progress.

I can't wait!!!!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Craft Night Recap

Over two weeks ago I told you that I was having a little get together with some friends for a craft night. Well, I am very behind on the recap of the evening. Of course as is to be expected I didn't take nearly enough pictures, and we didn't get that much crafting done because we talked way to much, but the evening was a hit!

For the evening I decided to make homemade mint and feta ground lamb gyros and lemon and berry cupcakes. YUM! Everyone loved the gyros (forgot to take a pic, oops!). I made them by using ground lamb and mixing in several tablespoons of chopped mint, some feta cheese, salt, pepper, finely grated onion, and a little garlic. I formed it into a loaf pan and baked it in the oven at 400 degrees F until browned and cooked through. Then I removed it from the oven and drained the fat and set a foil wrapped brick on top to condense the meat. Once cooled slightly, I cut into strips and placed on warmed Naan bread (tastes better than pita bread to me) and topped it with cucumber and dill yogurt sauce. So good! It make me want some right now just thinking about it!

For dessert I made lemon and berry cupcakes! I did remember to actually take a picture of these. Check them out. Don't they look good?

Here is the recipe that I used for the cupcake part:

2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
3/4 cup canola oil
2 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 & 3/4 cup sugar
1 & 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup Almond milk (or regular milk)
1/4 cup lemon juice
Zest of 2 lemons

Mix the ingredients together, fill cupcake wrappers, and then bake at 350F until golden.

For the "icing": whip heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form, add sugar to taste, and the zest of one lemon. Decorate the cupcakes with the whipped cream and then top with berries. These cupcakes are a great light summer dessert and perfect for a 4th of July barbeque!

After the food was cooked and ready, everyone started to arrive! Of course the first part of the evening was spent playing with Madeline who almost seemed to demand a piece of jewelry from everyone before she would let them play with her. Just take a look at this little diva in training!

Later on she ended up getting a watch from someone as well! After play time ended, we started to munch on the food and craft a little. My friend Holley of Dead Flowers Shop ( and began working on a pretty ribbon flower hair clip.

My sister-in-law Melanie made a beautiful pair of yellow wood earrings.

My other friend Sally made a mirror, a pair of earrings, and really neat t-shirt. But alas, I forgot to take any photos! Boo :( Here is a little graphic image of what her shirt ended up looking like. Sally drew that image herself! What talent!

Overall I would say that craft night was a huge hit! I know that I had a lot of fun. And talking to the girls was just what I needed (that is when I decided it was time to move my craft room out of my tiny cramped studio).

I can't wait until the next time!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Well Check

Today we had Madeline's 6 month well check and the pediatrician even though she is almost 8 months old. Everything looks good with her which is great news. She measured in at 27 inches and 16 lbs 10 ounces. That puts her in the 90th percentile for head size, the 50th percentile for height, and the 25th for weight. What can I say? She has a big head for all her brains! Not sure why her weight is so low because she eats all the time! I even feed her about 2-4 times during the night. Apparently all of the constant wiggling is making her weigh less, even though she still has the little chunky thighs and tummy. Overall it was a good appointment.
The biggest news of the day is that she slept the entire 45 minute car ride home, which is a first for Madeline since she HATES car rides! Now it is on to more playing and working on her crawling abilities.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Baby Day!

In an effort to do more things to meet other moms and just get out of the house once in a while, I have started to go to a postnatal mommy and baby yoga class. I just got home from the class and I have to tell you it is great! I mean it is difficult to muster up the energy to actually go, but once I finish the class I feel so much better about my self and my post pregnant body. Thank to the class (I think I have been to 8 classes so far, just one per week), I now weigh less than I did before I even got pregnant. Actually, I haven't weighed this much since college. Given it is only about 3 pounds lighter, but I am happy! Now I still have some work to do on my tummy as it just doesn't come back together that quickly (even after almost 8 months since giving birth), but I think this yoga class will eventually do the trick.

In other baby outing news, Brandon and I are about to take Madeline (and my sister-in-law Melanie) to the Alamo Draft House to see Toy Story 3 for baby day! In case you don't know what baby day is, well every Tuesday at a few of the Alamo Draft House Theaters, they let you bring your baby to any show before 2pm. It is the perfect opportunity for new moms to get to see new movies at the theater while not having to worry about finding a sitter. It is awesome! If you are in Austin and have a little one, you should definately check it out.

Well, it is time to wake the little one and get ready to head on out! Later!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Baby Clothes

When I got pregnant I promised myself that I would not be one of those women who turned her business into baby central (i.e. diaper bags, baby clothes, flower hair do-dads). Well, I failed! I just couldn't help whipping up some cute baby outfits for Madeline, and now I am thinking about selling some of my baby bodysuits and skirts on etsy. You can see a some of the decorated rompers/bodysuits and little skirts in this picture.

What do you all think? Should I start selling these online? I have already sold them at some of the shows I have done the last few months (as you can see from the picture) and at Parts and Labour here in Austin and they have done really well.

I also realized at the last show (Renegade Craft Fair), that I had way to many girls ones and pretty much no boy designs. So I will need to work on some designs for little boys. Your ideas are welcome!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hanging Out with the Kids

The last few days Brandon and I have baby sat our nephew. Here we are playing on the living room floor.

Man is it exhausting taking care of two babies under the age of two! We are both wiped out after the day is over. I can't imagine having another baby right now. I don't think I would be able to keep up with my business, because it is hard enough right now with just one.

Anyway, although it was tiring, we did set up the new baby swim and play center that we got at Target a week or so ago. I think that they both enjoyed it! Check it out.

I can't wait until Madeline gets a little older and can enjoy the water a bit more. But she seemed to have fun despite all the water shooting up at her! We really need to start going to the pool more often, but days just seem to fly by and before I know it its Madeline's bed time. Hopefully we will get to do more swimming and playing out in the warm texas sun this summer.

Do you all have any fun summer plans?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

And We Are Done! Almost...

I finally finished moving and organizing all my sewing stuff out of my old studio into my new space. I have to admit during the whole process I was a bit worried that I had taken on more than I could handle and that I should have just left my stuff in the old space. Now that I am done setting up the new digs, however, I am elated with the results! I even have my own little lounge/nook for chilling out!

I still have to go through the rest of the house and move all the little odds and ends that are stewn all over into the new space, but for now I a happy with what I have accomplished. Here is a photo tour of the before and after of the new studio.

Before (During my sister's baby shower)

And After:

Sewing Space

Fabrics, Bags, and Other Stuff

Lounge Area

Pretty nice huh? What do you think of the new space? (You can see my old space here.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Little Progress

So, when I started this blog, I was hoping to have a new post up everyday. I even had a bunch of ideas for posts (and actually still do), but this whole moving my studio thing has taken up so much of my time! I had no idea just how much stuff I was able to cram into my little sewing hole. Just take a look at the before picture (nevermind little three week old Madeline asleep on the floor, too cute!):
Yes, it was a mess, but I was running my business out of that 10 by 12 room. Now I have about twice the space, and am on day three of sorting through all my crap. I really want the new space to be super organized, so I am taking my time going through all my boxes of old fabric and odds and ends.

Anyway, sorry I have not posted in a few days, but I promise to get back to it soon with posts that you will actually want to read like my baby food making extravaganza, craft night fun, and of course my finished studio (if I ever get done).

In the mean time, have I told you all that I love to bake? I think it runs in the family. Wink. Dad got his start as a cook and then went on to own two Italian food restaurants, mom is a great baker and cook and owned her own coffee shop and deli, and my sister is a pastry cook at the Four Seasons in Austin (and quite an artist in the kitchen). Well, I do love to bake, so you will definately be getting some recipes from me! I have even made a few wedding cakes. Here a some of them:

I have one more somewhere, but I can't find it right now and am too sleepy to look for it, so expect it at a later date.

Well, that is it for now. Time to hit the hay before I wake up to a crying baby wanting to nurse. Good night!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

New Studio Space

Had a few girlfriends over last night! I had a great time and I feel pretty safe saying that they did as well. I will definately have to post a recap of the night in the next few. I didn' take as many pictures as I wanted, but I do have a few to share. I also made a yummy greek style gyro with side salad of tomato, cucumber, olives, feta, and onion both of which were a hit! So I will post the recipe for you in case you want to try it yourself at home. But that will have to wait until later when I have more time.

For now I just wanted to post a quick little note letting you know that I finally convinced Brandon to let me move my sewing studio and business office into our front room which is twice the size of the current space I am in. I can't wait to plan out my new space! I will finally have room for all my business stuff in one location instead of spread out all over the house. I will try to take photos along the way to give you a glimpse into my old and new studio.

I think I see a trip to Ikea in the near future!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Meet the Whittens

Some of you know me already, but for those who don't, here is a little background on me and my little family.

To begin with, my name is Kara, and I was born in Austin back in 1983. I moved to a little town outside of Austin called Wimberley when I was 4. I grew up in Wimberley and when I graduated from the high school there I moved back to Austin to attend the University of Texas.

I met my husband Brandon in high school and we dated for a few months my freshman year (he was a senior). We broke up shortly before he graduated, and he moved on to Austin to attend the University of Texas as well. My senior year in high school we got back in touch and started to date again. Here is a picture of us from my senior prom.

We continued to date through my college years and the night I graduated from UT Brandon proposed. Here a picture of us shortly after he proposed.

In October of 2005, Brandon and I got married. I ended up making my wedding dress and my wedding cake myself to save money.

We lived happily together for 3 years after we wed, and then we decided it was time for a baby! Shortly after our 4 year wedding anniversary little miss Madeline Evangeline Whitten was born (on Halloween).

That was 7.5 months ago. Boy how time flies! Here are a few more pictures of Madeline as she has grown because who doesn't love pictures of a cute little baby?

Have I told you that I also have an adorable little nephew and beautiful sister? Just look at them.

Kingston (my nephew) sure does love his cousin! And Madeline loves him too!

Well, that is it for now. Tomorrow I am having a few girl friends over for some crafty fun! I can't wait to show you all the awesome things we are sure to make!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Booth Setups Through the Years

So, when I was preparing for my first trade show years ago, I didn't know what to expect. How are booths set up? How do I arrange my product? Well, I searched all over the web, but could not find many pictures.

In order to help out any other potential trade show participants, or just show you how my booths and displays have progressed over the years, I now give you Kailo Chic booths from shows past.....

Yesterday I posted a photo of my first ever trade show booth (March 2007). Here it is again so that you can get a feel for the transition by booth have made over the years.

A few months later in August of 2007 I set up in Dallas again.

The next show I did wasn't a trade show, but a Holiday show called, Stitch, where I sold to the public. This show was great! I had so many sales! I also liked that I had so much space to really display my stuff the way I wanted instead of having to cram it all in a small little booth.

In 2009 I participated in a few more shows, here are my booths from another Dallas Trade show and the Atlanta Gift Show.

Dallas Apparel Show

Dallas Apparel Show

Atlanta Gift Show

The Atlanta show was the last trade show I've participated in. I then became pregnant and had Madeline, so traveling for trade shows has been put on hold for a while. I have however participated in several local shows selling my products directly to the public. Here are a few pictures of those booths.

As you can see, there has been quite a change from the first booths I did with the black backdrop. I really think that the lighter backgrounds really make the products stand out more. What do you think?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


When I last left you, I told you how Kailo Chic began. Now let me tell you about how I grew to where I am now.

After I made my first few handbags, I took some of them to a local boutique that sells all Texas designed and mostly handmade stuff (Parts & Labour). One of the owners, Lizelle, said she would consign my few bags and see how they did. Well, would you believe that I sold most of them within the next few weeks! I was shocked to say the least. I really couldn't believe that people liked my stuff well enough to spend their money on it. But boy did they!

After those first few bags sold, I used the money I made to purchase more fabric and supplies and then got to work creating new styles and playing around with my sewing machine. You see I have no formal design training, and I only learned to sew in my high school theater department. So, I had to teach myself how to create and design. I looked at bags in every store I went in order to learn construction techniques. I will definitely admit that the bags I made for the first few months were quite a joke (well at least compared to my product line now), but I had to start somewhere.

Over time I learned little tricks of the trade and was able to hone my sewing skills. I also began branching out from just bags and started to make headbands, belts, and jewelry. Then in early 2007, after two years of craft shows and direct marketing to boutiques, I decided it was time to test the waters of real trade show.

My first show was at the Dallas Market Center (March 2007, Apparel Market). I figured it was best to start out small with the show closest to where I live. I drove up there and set up my booth for all 4 days.

First Trade Show Booth

At the end of the show I had somewhere between 10-15 new wholesale accounts and I was excited about my prospects of actually being able to quit my day job and be fully employed by my business. Up until this time (starting about three months after I quit my out of college job) I was working as an engineer a the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). This day job at TCEQ had allowed me to continually reinvest my earnings from Kailo Chic back into the business and grow it all the more quickly.

After the trade show was over and I was back at home, I got an email that would change my Kailo Chic into what it is today. I was contacted by the local laptop bag and mobile technology case company Pacific Design. They said that they had seen some of my work at Parts & Labour and where interested in joining forces to create a line of fashionable laptop bags for women. WOW! They wanted me to design the bags and then they would get my designs manufactured and sell them to large big box retailers (Staples and Office Max) as well as to online retailers(,, and I would get royalties for all the bags they sold! Are you kidding me! This was awesome! Of course I said "Yes!".

Well, based on how I did at the trade show and this new opportunity with Pacific Design, I decided it was time to make the leap. I quit my day job and became fully self employed! Ah.... no more boss. It was magical. And still is.

My business continued to grow. I gained more wholesale accounts, I started to get press in magazines (Seventeen, Brides, etc..), and in Fall 2007 my laptop bag line with Pacific Design launched to great reviews and sales. Since then, Pacific Design went out of business (May 2008), but I have continued to create laptop bag designs and joined up with Nuo (started by the head designer at Pacific Design) to create even more mobile tech cases and bags. Laptop bags now account for about half of my business, and it is all thanks to Pacific Design for opening my eyes to the untapped world of fashionable laptop totes for women.

My Laptop Tote Designs

On a more personal note, my husband (Brandon) was able to quit his day job to come help with the business in January of 2008. I really needed his help as I wasn't able to keep up with everything all on my own. In October of last year we had our adorable little girl, Madeline.

I knew having a baby would mean another change to my business and how I operate it, and boy has it been. It really is quite a learning experience trying to run and operate a business while taking care of a little one.

And I am still trying to figure it all out. And this my friends is why I have created this blog. To make public my daily struggles of running a successful handbag and accessory company and raising a baby. Getting everything done I need to while not feeling like I am missing out on Madeline's infancy and growth. So expect posts on everything from new designs to Madeline moments to what I made for dinner. Cause hey, it sure feels good to get your thoughts out, even if they are to an imaginary audience.

Until tomorrow....

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Beginning Of It All....

Well, this being my first post, let me tell you a little about me. I am the owner/designer behind Kailo Chic.

Kailo Chic started a little over 5 years ago. I had just graduated from UT with a degree in Chemical Engineering and was ready to start working. After the first week at my new post college job, I freaked out and quit. Not the smartest thing to do, but I was scared and couldn't imagine myself working in a lab for the next 40 years.

So, there I was fresh out of college, without a job, and without money. As luck would have it, I was also planning my wedding. Why luck you ask? Well, the day I went to the fabric store to find the pattern for my wedding dress (my grandmother was making my dress for me), I ended up finding a cool handbag pattern! So with the few bucks I had left, I purchased the pattern along with a little bit of fabric and went home to sew up some new bags.

Now, I was actively searching for a new job, but in the meantime, I was home all day with no money and needed some hobby to occupy my time. That is were the sewing began. With my little sewing machine I got as a high school graduation present, some scrap fabric, and that little handbag pattern, I started what would eventually become Kailo Chic.

Cut to 5 years later... Kailo Chic is a nation wide brand and I get to do what I love! I work for myself fulltime (3+ years); my husband works with me (2+ years); and we get to spend all day with our new little girl Madeline (7 months old). Life is great! And to think it all started when I quit my first real job on a whim with no idea what I was going to do for a living.

Check in tomorrow for more about how Kailo Chic grew to where it is now and what I hope to accomplish with this little blog you see before you.