Dresses like Ferrari's

Guess what, it doesn't take a genius to be busy, quite the opposite in fact. Being so "busy" seems to be the disease of our time. The symptoms are easy to recognise, excuses, followed by lies and exhaustion. To top it off, it leaves you looking like a fool, unrespected and a big red scar on your forehead saying INCOMPETENT, probably spelt wrong too.

With being so busy, we need things to happen instantly, when in fact everything that was ever worth while to make or buy, take time, and cost money.

If you are buying, you want to pay less and if you are selling you want to charge more. Let's not forget that group of people who always want things for free. The latter I will firmly address by saying this. If you aren't willing to pay for it, you do not really want it, and it's called abusing kind people. And when you do get something for free, be grateful, very very grateful because chances are you do not deserve it and so please have respect. If it's borrowed, return it on time and in perfect condition, Having to ask for it back more than once is embarrassing. And the validity of the same excuse expires after a while. 

If you are buying and paying the asking price you expect service and quality. You want to feel good about where your money is going. That's fair. If you are selling you better ask enough for your service or else, you will regret taking the job. You will hate every moment spent on it because soon you will realise you are working for free. If you do get your asking price, pour your talent time and love into it. It's simple enough, respect ;)

I had a light bulb moment a few years ago in Italy. We visited a small town, home to Enzo Ferrari. Let me just say that I have no interest in cars. I will drive my little mobile until the wheels fall off. It's just not important. So yes shiny red Ferraris were not going to impress me. But the man did! He started with nothing and built an empire that will last until earth meets its final days. Even though he did not have money to start this venture, he did have an uncompromisable urge for prestige, which resulted into perfection and excellence. If the design wasn't the best, it was not ready. Prestige was part of his core, he lived and breathed it. I was so impressed with this man, I swore right then and there, I too will make Ferrari dresses. Just the best will do, and it starts with proper planning.

However, I've been suffering from the disease of being busy for more than ten years. My life was made up of days rushing from one thing to another, exhausted, angry and unfulfilled. I took on way more than I needed to. I said yes when I really wanted to say no.

So at the start of 2017, I said enough. SIMPLIFY!!! It did not happen overnight. It takes a while to get rid of the build up we collect over time. But realising how much value I can add to my life and especially my passion for design is what kept me fighting to create time for myself. I've also realised that I am willing to pay more for quality and I don't want quantity. I don't need to take in every job that comes my way. I reach a point where I have enough. I pay myself not only with money but also with time, and I spend both very wisely on things and people that matter.  I still have leaps and bounds to go, but I am making progress, and I am very proud of what I've accomplished so far. I wish the same for everyone. My heart breaks every time I hear someone say; I'm so busy, I don't have time, when actually time is all we have until we don't.

Posted on September 14, 2017 .

Kryptonite

Let me say it this way; I am a walking allergic reaction. I'm triggered by everything everyone else gets to enjoy. Cats and dogs, the sun, the wind, fumes, and dust ( the last two you shouldn't enjoy) I'm content with lurking in dark spaces, and when I can't do that, I have to wear sunglasses that cover most of my face. I blink more times a minute than I can count and it even happens with my eyes closed.  But my eyes are as sharp as a hawk. I see you coming for miles, and when I enter a room or a shop, I scan everything down to the detail in just a quarter of a second. Some say I have great taste, but I think it's just a good eye or two. I pick out the best item before anyone else. A super power of sorts, and with great power comes great sensitivity!

Recently I decided to take a road trip to a magical place. A town with a little goldmine, yes here you find one of the largest fabric stores in the country! But let me tell you, as a human with a super power, it's easy to know when there is Kryptonite around and in this mystical place, there is definitely that! The previous time I went, I got chicken pocks at age 29, and this time I am sure I was hallucinating, but let me rather start from the beginning.

Seeing that I am going on a big fabric adventure, you must just know that my body is shaking with excitement, a speedometer filled with kilometers will gift me with hours of fabric daydreams, high spirits, and anticipation! 

Finally, I am there, and I enter paradise! It took a moment for me to take it all in and then it happened, Kryptonite got its grip on me. The last clear thing I remember is that people take a trolley as they enter and proceed. I didn't do that because I have a good eye, and will get what I need in a second. I look left, and instead of a button section, I see a button department! I try to scan for the shell buttons, but all the buttons are swimming around my head like tropical fish in a big blue ocean. " I will come back later," I say with confidence!

I walk from one department to the other, not knowing where I am heading. It's never ending. It feels like those dreams where you climb stairs that are going nowhere or when you are walking in a maze that is always turning left. You later wake up tired and upset at the pointless dream and unnecessary exhaustion.

I get to a garden of silk flowers, mesmerized I spent some time here. Days could have gone by, I'm not sure, but I decided to leave at some point only to enter the set of Master Chef. Next is a castle made out of everything that comes in plastic shapes, and then the world of cats and dogs. Department after department after department I go.

 Where's the fabric? And where am I? After what feels like weeks of dwelling around, in the far distance I can see it, an oasis!

As I approach the gateway to fabric heaven, I have to walk through an alley of a thousand pigeon holes stuffed with different prints of viscose lycra stacked from the floor to the ceiling on both sides and in between are more shelves full of it. Every print under the sun, in every color imaginable, and if that's not enough, they also have every print in three different sizes!

I immediately walk towards the beaded lace section but realize even if I find the most beautiful lace on earth, I could never narrow it down to only one color,  so I backtrack to the mesh. Before I get to it, I change direction towards the knits, and soon it 's the dance I do when I hear Jack Parrow play...  and I start to cry... I want everything, but I didn't get a trolley.

I pull myself together and decide only to get what I came for. My arms are carrying more than they should. A cold sweat is happening on my face, and I start to panic. Out of nowhere a little man appears and asks if he can help me, and he offers me his empty shopping donkey.

 So now that I have my trolley, instead of relaxing I am fabric possessed, pulling out prints when I suddenly hear a voice behind me say " You have beautiful blue eyes, can I borrow them for the weekend? I promise I will give them back. How does it feel to have blue eyes? Please lend them to me" Horrified I am trying to act like it's normal, but all I can think about is that I must be in Miss Peregrines time loop now. My trolly is full anyway, so I make a run for it! Pushing my overloaded fabric vehicle through the narrow aisles saying to myself, is this real? Is this real? 

Next thing I know, I am standing in a queue, patiently waiting. The slowest moving human I have ever seen is measuring out the ladies fabric in from of me. When she gets to about 10 meters, she loses count and has to start again.  And then it all became a slur and a slush. 

I only regained my right mind when I entered Kempton Park on the R21 North, not knowing if it was a dream or not. My eyes start blinking, blinking, blinking, charging my super power back to normal and in the rear view mirror I see it, black bags stacked to the roof of my little car, filled with soft woven treasure! 
It was real!

Posted on August 1, 2017 .

Spreading our wings and shifting our focus

This may come as a big shock, but there is no better way than to just fall with the door in the house, and announce that we will no longer offer a dress hiring service.  This created an incredible platform for me to share my work and soul. I will be forever grateful for all the support from every amazing vendor, and all the lovely people I had the privilege to meet, during this season of my business, but the time has come to shift my focus to something that's been calling me on the name.
Yes, it's scary, but it's exciting to think that the time I will be freeing will allow me to be more productive and creative. Best of all, it will allow me to follow my passion, which is art through dress design, I am moving one hundred percent into bridal and formal design, that will capture all the elements of my previous work with more focus and precision. There are a lot of exciting news and work I can't wait to share so watch this space!
Every dress booked and an appointment made, up until now will be honored of course. I will also continue to work with some of my closest vendors until the end of this year with regards to dress hire, but appointments for fittings will no longer be possible. I am also selling my collection of almost 80 "one of print" dresses. If you are interested, please contact me via email, jana@silverswallow.co.za with a picture of the dress you are inquiring about.  

Posted on July 23, 2017 .

Travel much?

The first travel memory that comes up is an air hostess waking me up from a very deep ( two painkiller induced) sleep, because of the enormous sticker on my shoulder that says: "Wake me up for food" She asks: "fish or beef mam?," chicken I say. She repeats the question, and me,  my answer. I can see her face turning red with frustration, and I am frustrated too. I mean to say fish but the chicken word keeps falling out of my mouth. "MAM!" she shouts," FISH OR BEEF?!" Great, we now have an audience, and I am not one for the spotlight... I was timid back then. I blocked out everything that happened after that, so how we resolved our miscommunication is a mystery, but I do remember me giggling all the way to Thailand uncontrollably.

I've come a long way since. Travelling is my jam! It's my creative fuel, and it's my passion to discover things that my brain didn't know was there. Just like me, my dresses travel too. They've been photographed in Dubai numerous times, Marocco, Mozambique, New York, Mauritius, Turkey, Singapore, Italy, to name the few I can remember now. Each time I am just as excited about the dress traveling, as I am when I get on the plane. This European summer is especially a big season for Silver Swallow. Some of the most amazing shoots are starting to find their way into my Dropbox and here's one of them. 

For those of you who has not yet been to Turkey, you are in for a treat, and for those of you who has, this might bring back some nostalgic memories:)

For those of you who has not yet been to Turkey, you are in for a treat, and for those of you who has, this might bring back some nostalgic memories:)

These photos were created by Dust and Dreams Photography in Istanbul and Mardin. I am smitten by the detail and time that is clearly visible in every shot! I hope that we will do more of this in the future together! ūüíē

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Posted on June 17, 2017 .

BECAUSE I AM A SWALLOW

Some of my favorite childhood memories are those spent on my grandparent's farm during the winter holidays. I would wake up to the chatter of birds in the majestic lemon tree next to my room and invited by the smell of coffee on the stove I would walk all the way through the house down the long corridor like a zombie with my hands forward saying "caffffff√©√©√©√©√©√© con leche, caffff√©√©√©√©√©√© con leche." I'm sure I only said coffee, but caff√© con leche sounds fancier, and I prefer that the younger me rather had said that. 

In the sunroom, I would sit wrapped in a cozy blanket that smells like fabric softener and hugs. Coffee in hand l would look through the large window and watch the farm slowly waking up under a winter sky, and as the icy wind was playing in the trees, I would have precious chats with my Granny.

 My Grandma was obsessed with birds, she knew everything about every little feather wing and would tell me facts about them as they sat on window pane eating intentionally placed crumbs.  I, however, was only interested in the swallow and why it was not here in winter. It was their funny looking tails that intrigued me most. It looked like when I would part my fingers so that it creates a V. This was interesting to me because even though I wasn't the only one of my friends that could do it with my hands, I was the only one of my friends that could do it with my toes. 

I was born with really long fingers, longer than anyone else my age. Not only are my fingers long, but they are also busy rascals. I can type fast and play on a piano; these fingers train themselves. I can sew 100 crystals in less than 10 minutes and braid in record time!  They want to paint, they want to draw, they want to sew, they want to style. I call them spider fingers. Spider fingers that can mimic the swallowtail that is! 

And so all of this leads to one moment. The moment I first saw a dressmakers doll...The vision in front of me followed by a warm caf√© con leche feeling that washed over my body. My mind was suddenly at peace. I found my purpose.  I had no idea why I felt like that or what I was going to do about the doll; it wasn't even mine. 
But when my fingers started moving, slowly at first and then faster and faster until their long busy legs were out of control, I knew that instinct had kicked in.

 And so I began my journey as the Silver Swallow,  unstoppable with my spider fingers and soaring soul.

Posted on March 25, 2017 .

Because I am a swallow

Some of my favorite childhood memories are those spent on my grandparent's farm during the winter holidays. I would wake up to the chatter of birds in the majestic lemon tree next to my room and invited by the smell of coffee on the stove I would walk all the way through the house down the long corridor like a zombie with my hands forward saying "caffffff√©√©√©√©√©√© con leche, caffff√©√©√©√©√©√© con leche." I'm sure I only said coffee, but caff√© con leche sounds fancier, and I prefer that the younger me rather had said that. 

In the sunroom, I would sit wrapped in a cozy blanket that smells like fabric softener and hugs. Coffee in hand l would look through the large window and watch the farm slowly waking up under a winter sky, and as the icy wind was playing in the trees, I would have precious chats with my Granny.

 My Grandma was obsessed with birds, she knew everything about every little feather wing and would tell me facts about them as they sat on window pane eating intentionally placed crumbs.  I, however, was only interested in the swallow and why it was not here in winter. It was their funny looking tails that intrigued me most. It looked like when I would part my fingers so that it creates a V. This was interesting to me because even though I wasn't the only one of my friends that could do it with my hands, I was the only one of my friends that could do it with my toes. 

I was born with really long fingers, longer than anyone else my age. Not only are my fingers long, but they are also busy rascals. I can type fast and play on a piano; these fingers train themselves. I can sew 100 crystals in less than 10 minutes and braid in record time!  They want to paint, they want to draw, they want to sew, they want to style. I call them spider fingers. Spider fingers that can mimic the swallowtail that is! 

And so all of this leads to one moment. The moment I first saw a dressmakers doll...The vision in front of me followed by a warm caf√© con leche feeling that washed over my body. My mind was suddenly at peace. I found my purpose.  I had no idea why I felt like that or what I was going to do about the doll; it wasn't even mine. 
But when my fingers started moving, slowly at first and then faster and faster until their long busy legs were out of control, I knew that instinct had kicked in.

 And so I began my journey as the Silver Swallow,  unstoppable with my spider fingers and soaring soul.

Posted on March 25, 2017 .

The truth about prints and I

Prints and I go way back; we met when I first opened my eyes. They were everywhere, and they were alive! At night they came to my room and danced and jumped om my bed. They scared me so much; I would close my eyes and hope they leave... But no they stayed. I started listening to them night after night, and as the years went by, I became less terrified, we were all children then, and as we grew up, they also calmed down, and later matured in a way.

We are all well acquainted now. When the day is done, and the sun is gone, they pitch up one by one, as guests to a party almost. Some are shy, peeking around the corner to see if they are first, others are comfortable and loud! They are self-invited, but they don't care! 

First to arrive is Stripe, always early but he remembered the wine. You can hear Leopard and hibiscus around the corner; they make big noise where ever they go! Floral ever so high-spirited is dancing through the doorway. The music is not even playing yet, but the swoosh-whoosh sounds that come from her smooth turns create a beat, and the happy laughter of the other prints are infectious. Before we know it, we all join in. Abstract-shapes brought Deezer, and Agness Obel is turned loud! This results in weird dance moves I cannot even describe, all I can say is that it's wonderful, and it's messy, but it's stylish. Leopard is twirling floral, and floral grabs stripe for a two-step.  Polka dot only nods her spots bashful to the music, but soon they are bouncing everywhere like the reflections of a disco ball. Every print on the planet showed up. Some are chatting; Paisley is telling Grey something deep. Tartan is chilling with Ombre, and you just know somethings up, are they together?!  Leopard is so full of himself because he is going to Mauritius with Tropical-print next week... The night is in full swing; it's a party! 

I don't know what time it ended; I went to bed. I could later hear some prints drape themselves over the rail, some slept in a cupboard, and others stayed right there on the dance floor.

In the morning I have my first appointment. The lady asks in amazement, how on earth did you think to put floral with these crazy stripes? It's magnificent! I smile and say, "it's just a trick," and wink and the prints, remembering last nights two-step :)

Posted on March 4, 2017 .

A Real Artist Salutes Another!

When I feel like a fun morning, I go to Stanley 44. Here I have lunch and browse through the fascinating little shops, I love to visit Black Coffee and Lunar, and I will buy beautiful designer items here because their authenticity inspires me and I wear it proud. I don't feel the urge to copy their work, I draw energy from it, and it makes me intensely happy. I and feel lucky that I can just walk in here anytime and always be welcome. A real artist salutes another! 

 The dark side of fashion or even being a creative for that matter is that we give birth to an idea. Water it. We love and nurture. We take it out for walks and make sure it is well socialized. We have faith that one day it will move mountains. We will sing lullaby's until it's all grown up and we are proud, we have invested so much!

 And there it is! The parasites attach, they come out of nowhere, jumps on the train and start copying; Something that took the all that time to grow are now hostage, enslaved, and force to work for them without rest. Seeing this is like cancer eating your heart. You can't cure it, change or get rid of it. The best you can do is to cut it out and let the life sucking scrounger suck it dry until they've destroyed something beautiful. I don't know what is worse, the fact that these opportunists believe they can pass it as their own or the fact that they are putting it into the world for everyone to see, almost as if they want recognition for being deceiving, misleading and disrespectful. If you want a pat on the back, you're not getting it from me. 

I can accept it and move on, happily knowing my head is full of ideas and like a trailing plant, it will move forward, extending vines and branches that keeps blooming...

Posted on February 20, 2017 .

The question about pricing

I get questions like "Why does it cost more to have a dress made than to buy it off the rail? " And "What is your minimum cost for labor, so that I know what to expect and if I can afford you." also  "Can you break it down for me? I will buy the fabric if that helps?" or Client: "I want to have this dress made but in white for a function"  Me: "Is it a wedding dress? " Client: "Yes, are you going to charge me more now? 

The reason you are paying more to have a dress made is that you are getting a unique and custom design. This design may come from an image on Pinterest or just something that you dreamed up over the years or perhaps you wanted me to get creative because you know and trust my work. But to make a dress even from a picture is the same as to design something from scratch. Once we've established the shape, style, and silhouette of the dress, a process I call pattern development needs to happen. This process takes more time than all the consultations, buying fabric, answering your emails, cutting, and sewing the dress. 

This is not easy for anyone to do! A lot of technicalities goes into this process, and without this process, you cannot make the dress. Pattern development is where style lines and measurements come into play,  creating something from nothing. This is the most important part of the design; this is the design! Everything you want and all your dreams for this dress relies on how good this pattern is and it takes time, a lot of it. 

Calculations, knowledge and years of experience are all mixed.  What will be created is a very specific kind of recipe to an acquired taste. Thinking hard about what it should taste like, the formula is created. I add the ingredients and make sure the heat is just right. First, some steam appears, and with confidence, and perseverance I am now cooking up a storm. By stirring often, I create a balanced consistency that finally comes to a boil. My trained hand takes it off the warm plate just in time and put aside to cool down. All my hard work paid off, and I am left with a concentrated mix of genius ready for sampling. 

How long does it take to cook you might ask. Well, it depends on what your cooking!

The sample is not yet perfect, so the pattern needs to change here, and something else needs to fall away there. Let's make the changes and then cut a new sample but...  oh no now that the new sample is done it's still not perfect, so I repeat the process, patience being your best friend and worst enemy.

 Finally, I have something that I am proud of,  it's been refined, and I am happy to take it can to the fitting. At the fitting the waist needs to move up, the shoulder must be thinner and the neckline lower. Ok so repeat the process one more time :)

Every material has a different recipe; therefore it is very important to know what kind of fabric you want. Good quality fabrics make the design process much more fun and give me the margin to be more creative and produce a high quality work. ( good and bad quality, by the way, takes the same time to produce) So yes, trying to save by bringing your own fabric will cost you more in the end.

Posted on February 13, 2017 and filed under Silver Swallow.

The dress that became famous on the internet

I will never forget the day! I was doing some random fabric shopping, browsing to see what's new. Buying little bits and pieces of fabrics that caught my eye. Just materials I hoped could become something. So many times I go fabric wandering as I call it,  usually needing nothing, I just have the urge for material. Like a craving for chocolate. 

The times I do find that very rare gem, are far and few between, I can only recall two times that it happened this year, once beeing in the smallest little material shop in Budapest opposite my hotel, had it not been there, I would never have found it. But this is a story for another time.

 As I entered an old favorite shop of mine, one of those jaw dropping moments, no word, my heart made a summersault, and my stomach felt unsettled as saw it there... I was scared someone was going to run past me and grab it away! It was hanging right there in broad daylight, in the market for anyone to buy it and walk out! And why haven't they?  Was I the first one to come across it? Was it my luckiest day? If I hadn't been there at that very moment would it be as if it were never there? It could've gone anywhere! It could've fallen into the hands of someone who just buys fabric when they get the urge to go and buy material they don't need to make something nice but perhaps never does, or ended up being fabric scraps that fill the bin as result of a bad sewing day! 
NOOOOOOOOO Jana what are you waiting for grab it now!

And so it was mine! I kept feeling little nausea even after it was safe with me. The pressure is on. It was expensive and what do I make with this now? I had buyers remorse and that after everywhere my mind had just gone. Will anyone even like it, should I make some tops? I hope they sell...

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floral dress 0
floral beach session
floral portrait
floral engagement
floral
floral maternity
floral delight

 

 

                                                                   Thank goodness I didn't!

Posted on November 29, 2016 .