Summer 2011 Sneak Peek #1


Ok, it's like sneak peek overload this week, but I am trying to be ahead of the game a little bit, as well as stave off stress from all the hours working on 'big' Marmalade (I PROMISE photos soon!) but I have been in the studio nights and it has been really productive!

This is a little homage to my undying love for the flapjack. I know, food again's cake. For breakfast. I can't think of a better way to start a fresh new day. For that matter, I don't mind having them at the end of a day or right smack in the middle. Coach occasionally worry/jokes outloud that I love food more than I love anything else. While he is wrong, I can understand his concern.

So this is me, constructively, expressing myself. Now, pass the syrup.



By Leigh 03.31.2011 – 12:30 pm


A little freshen up - Sneak Peek #2


Holy Cow this week is going fast! I feel like I blink and it is tomorrow! Just wanted to share the other refresh I did for summer 2011 (I know! SUCH a tease!) I really have enjoyed taking some of my older pieces and re-designing them for either a different application, or just an update in design.

This time, my goal was to take a sentiment that I used originally for a specific occasion, and make it available to a wider audience by making the artwork less specific. I love this saying. It is one of my core-truths and every time I read it (even though I wrote it) I think to myself: "YES!!"

I originally wrote it 10 years ago for dear family friends who after many many years in love were able to finally get married (well, in 2001 it was still called a 'civil union', but now are married.). They met through a friend's weekly "take-out & wine night" and have lived happily ever after. I wanted to write about love in general, but make it secretly specific to them so played on the fortune cookie. I really loved how it turned out, and it has been in our line ever since:

However, because it has so many details in it specific to the occasion, it is not as 'universal' as I would like. Also, I wanted to make the color scheme a little brighter to reflect the brightness of the statement. At Curly Girl, we like to pride ourselves on making "cards for people, not occasions", and even though we do have some that are more appropriate for occasions, like this one, I really want people to stand in front of a rack of my cards and say: "Ooooh!! That is SO me!" or "Ooooh! It's perfect for my sister/friend/love of my life!" I find that so much more exciting than picking up a birthday card to put with a birthday present (though, that is important too!!).

I love when I am out and see something that reminds me of someone I hold dear, and it causes me to reach out to them and connect, or re-connect, or just say: "I thought of you" and mean it in the best way possible. That's ultimately, what I hope my work does out there in the world.

People, not occasions. Know what I mean?

Anyhow. I am going on. Just wanted to share, I really love how this one turned out (especially the cookies! they were fun!) and would love to hear your thoughts!


By Leigh 03.30.2011 – 9:35 am


A little freshen up - Sneak Peek


Hello! Happy Monday! I spent the weekend in my newly (slightly) re-organized studio (thanks Coach, for assembling IKEA things!). My mission was to take a few older pieces in my line and give them a little freshen up to see how they can find a new space in the world. It was really fun to take a look back and see how my style and color pallet and eye has changed in 10 years, but how my voice has not that much. I still really mean what I say, and said, and I look at these older pieces, and think of whose story they were telling then, and what they mean to me now, and they seem new again.

This piece was originally made (9 years ago) for a friend's sister who was going through a massive life change. She was a very important psychotherapist and had loads of clients, made great money and had more education than you could shake a stick at, but after a stint moonlighting as a make-up artist for (I think) a theater company, she was hooked! She decided to leave her job, her title and her professional life as she knew it and start the process of becoming a make-up artist.

I was so bowled over by this at the time. This risk. This adventure, this concept that you could what you loved. Even though I was in the middle of doing it myself (little did I know), I was simultaneously terrified by her choice and completely impressed. This woman had you-know-whats! And here was her sister, cheering her on. That was just as impressive.

When you are doing something totally nuts, you need someone who knows that but believes in you enough to never let you believe it.

Here is the original piece (still available in our line as a card):

When I re-approached this one, I thought about what it meant to me now. How our minds are so much more available for this type of thinking, but still many of us don't trust the process. This is not to say that we should all quit our day jobs to stay home and craft, or bake or write or juggle. But we should definitely operate in our full space. Take up our full 360 degrees. We should absolutely make time in our lives for the pursuit and execution of the things we love to do. The things we need to do, the activities or service or energy that we need to put into the world. And that is how we should talk about what we "do".

We are not our jobs, but we are what we do. And what we do, matters.

What do you think? Before? After? Somewhere in between??

More tomorrow...Oh, and P.S.: 'big' Marmalade opens in 3 days!!! I am freaking out!


By Leigh 03.28.2011 – 6:25 pm


Photos © 2011 Curly Girl Design, Inc./Leigh Standley. all rights reserved.

Studio Tour - Michelle Allen

Studio Tours

Hello! and Happy Friday! Spring is upon us (supposedly, it snowed here yesterday...) and that means it's time for packing away the turtlenecks, mittens and gloves, tidying up the garden, dusting off the lawn mower and polishing up your ice cream spoon. What? You don't have a dedicated ice cream spoon? Rookie. Among our other day-to-day tasks we must add a little spring cleaning. For me, this will mean re-organizing my studio. (I actually laughed a little when I typed 're')

But no matter. It's time. I always love seeing other people's creative spaces and how they organize and display their inspiration, tools and supplies. It is so inspiring and motivating! That, plus a good re-watch of "Mary Poppins" and I am ready to or-gan-ize!! Spit Spot!!

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the studio of Michelle Allen (of Allen Design Studio) and one of my teachers from last year's Artfest. Michelle has an out-building on her property that serves as her art studio and is just steps away from her home in Battle Ground, WA. The room is spacious, warm, and filled with cozy couches and colorful art. The centerpiece is a huge worktable that you just want to pull up a stool to and get your paint on! The details of Michelle's studio are what captured my heart though. She has such a wonderful style that mixes vintage, industrial, bright and goofy. Everything is so organized in unique and visually beautiful ways that you can see how it translates into her artwork. You can actually see how her environment influences her artwork. I love that.

So enjoy these photos, hopefully they will spark something new for spring! Have you seen a beautiful studio we should know about?? Something clever and creative to organize all the tiny things? Share them!


By Leigh 03.25.2011 – 10:35 am


Something Fresh - Sneak Peek for Spring!


We decided that it was time for some new Curly Girl Design thank you note packs and I was craving something fresh! I am having the most fun creating these patterns and florals... it feels like something new, a darling bud of May...

I know it is a slight departure, but it is me following my heart in an instant of my life where that feels a little bit challenged. I made a huge mess (you don't even want to know) and worked and re-worked these, and came out with something that I actually can't wait to send!

Would love to know your thoughts!


By Leigh 03.23.2011 – 2:10 pm


Shop Tour - Coco & Toulouse, Portland

Brick & Mortar

I'm not sure if it is the shop owner in me, or the time in my life or the fact that I feel like more and more or cities and towns are starting to look exactly the same. But I have become obsessed with unique, beautiful and well-crafted retail and dining experiences.

Main Streets and neighborhood shops have increasingly given way to the big box chains or have been forced to close in such a tough economy. Uniqueness is harder and harder to come by. This, of course, is an I'm-getting-older-and-things-just-aren't-the-same-as-they-were-when-I-was-a-kid rant even if it is largely true. Things are changing, as they must. But I crave something different.

The good news is that there are an increasing number of people and towns and small business owners trying hard to slow homogenization. To swing it back. To pepper the increasingly predictable landscape with sparks of uniqueness. In this fragile economy we have seen a tiny shift. People are digging back in to their communities. Shopping local. Creating beautiful, delicious, unique things right where they live. Some, have been doing it all along. Some have been doing it since before it was cool.

Jo Ellen Newton has been in the business a long time. She has seen it's ups and downs and through it all has managed to create a delightful, inspired and completely beautiful specialty retail experience in her shop Coco & Toulouse in the Sellwood neighborhood of Portland, OR. Now in it's new location (next to her equally lovely clothing boutique Coco Gets Dressed) It is an absolute vision in pink...and turquoise...and chartreuse.....never one to be accused of lack of character, this sparkly shop is full of everything you need to fancy things up a bit. From French perfume, to yards of silk ribbons to beautiful cards and gifts (yes, Curly Girl too!) you will find everything you need and surely something you didn't know you needed!

Make a day of it and stop by to say hello to Jo Ellen and her lovely lovely shops. While you are there, thank her for being a sparkle on the landscape!

View more photos of her shop here. (some in this set are from her previous location)

Do you have a favorite unique shop, cafe or restaurant that is bringing local back??! Share it! Shout it from the rooftops! Shoot! I am on a mission here!


By Leigh 03.22.2011 – 9:54 am


photos courtesy of Lacy Young & Michelle Allen

Year of Creative Development Part 1 - Artfest 2.0

Gypsy Soul and Inspired

About this time last year, I was packing and getting ready to leave for the first part of my self-declared 'Year of Creative Development'. My first stop was Teesha Moore's Artfest . If you are just joining this journey with me you can see the beginnings of it here, here, here and here. My goal is to share my experiences with you all and chronicle it for myself in the process. It was a ground breaking year for me and a really good excersise in getting my creative mojo back- a much needed supplement for those who are 'creative for a living', I think.

My experience at Artfest was a great one and in no small part due to the classes I chose and the teachers who taught them. My class this time was "Getcha Paint On" with Michelle Allen. Michelle and I have known each other for a while through the tradeshow circuit and over the years have become good friends. I love her work, and admire her vast creativity and apparent creative abandon in her work. So, needless to say I jumped at the chance to take a class with her! If nothing else, I knew it would be entertaining!

Her class, while indeed entertaining, was so much more! The focus was to try new materials to achieve new textures in our painting. We were given a small canvas, a linoleum printmaking block and some collage materials. We all had paints, brushes and other materials that we were free to use and Michelle had brought black acrylic latex caulk (yes, like from Home Depot!) for us to play around with. Oh what fun!!

The caulk acts as a fast-drying paste that you can either paint over or paint with! I, of course being graphically inclined, had to try to make lines with it (which was less creative abandon and more creative control-freak, but whatever.) and I used my linoleum block to make a statement at the center of my canvas which I had caulked and painted.

I spent an inordinat amount of time carving the letters out of that block, but I really liked the result. The caulk as paint and as texture was such a revelation and really added depth to my painting! I also used some old book pages, and maps to collage a platform for my little quote (affixed with gel matte medium) and finally used some random finials as compass points and attached them to the sides of my canvas for some three-dimensionality.

I have no idea what I will do with my masterpiece, but I had the most fun making it. I felt relaxed (except for when I was carving my linoleum half the day) and had a blast just making something. I loved learning about new materials and having a loose direction and just going with it! Michelle's teaching style is fun, creative and loose. She is so approachable and flexible that you want to just spend days making a mess and creating things with her. Her creativity seems to be endless. If you get the chance to take a class or workshop with her, it is worth your while. She will be teaching several classes at this year's Artfest....if you are going, please pop in on her and say 'hello'!

For more info on Michelle, check out her website and her blog. I will also be posting a tour of her fabulous studio here in a couple of days so stay tuned!

Next Stop: Mary Engelbriet's Home Companion Workshop in St. Louis!!


Have a great Monday!! xoxo

By Leigh 03.21.2011 – 12:14 pm


Photos © 2011 Curly Girl Design, Inc./Leigh Standley. all rights reserved.

Hotel Tour - Hotel Monaco, Portland, OR

Photos and Gypsy Soul

It turns out, my job involves a lot of travel. Whether it be traveling for tradeshows, art events, signings or meetings, I end up out-of-town nearly 25 weekends a year, sometimes more! Now, I love to travel, I love exploring new places, chatting with new people, trying interesting restaurants, and yes, I have a penchant (and quite a collection) for those tiny hotel soaps and shampoos. I do not love being away from my home and family so much, being out of my excersise routine, eating in airports and just the general 'catch up' that being out of my routine requires. After awhile, no matter how much you love to travel, travel for work starts to take a little toll and your inner homebody starts to crave some attention. Instead of daydreams of leisurely weeks at sunny exotic beaches with cabana service, you find yourself concocting fantasies of sleeping in your own bed, with a full-sized pot of coffee waiting for you, quality time with your washer and dryer and full afternoons of working in the garden and organizing closets. Sexy right?

So it is a delight when every now and again you find something really special during routine travel. Now, I do not often do hotel tours, but could probably fill a whole blog with them alone. I love fancy hotels. I love regular hotels with fancy details. I love it when my needs in a situation are cleverly anticipated. I think it's because I love customer service and how very simple and lovely it can be to work hard to make people feel welcome, and hotels are the perfect storm for that opportunity. The Hotel Monaco (a Kimpton Hotel) is the perfect example of how very lovely the experience can be.

Not long ago, I began going out of my way to stay at Kimpton hotels, because in my experience, they 'get it'. For the most part, I have been totally happy with my decision thus far. When she heard I was going to Portland, Amy, our production manager, suggested I try the Hotel Monaco. "You'll love the lobby." she smiled.  So I booked it, and for $106/night, I thought it was worth a try!

When I walked in, very late at night after a trans-continental flight to an absolute oasis of fuchsia and gold with as many Moroccan-inspired details as one could pack into a room I smiled from ear to ear. She was right. It was breathtaking! Opulent and approachable (it's dog-friendly!), cozy and cosmopolitan... I could have just curled up on the divan and stayed right there!

But wait! There was more. The visual delight did not end in the lobby. Oh no! They had (it seemed) designed one of their guest rooms specifically for me! Moi!? Oui.

I. Mean. Seriously. Two kinds of striped wallpaper, pattern everywhere, a headboard fit for a maharaja...Oh! There was more "happy" packed into this one little room than I could shake a stick at!! I was in hog heaven. And I stayed there until I checked out 4 days later. The service was excellent, the coffee? top-notch, location was not to be beat and please, if you stay here, under no circumstances should you miss the complimentary wine & cheese hour in the lobby from 5-6pm. It is a blast!! Thanks Amy for the rec!!

By Leigh 03.19.2011 – 10:56 am


A Fresh Look - Style Board

Style File

Oh my gosh!! So sorry to have left you for so long! I took a little trip to Portland, OR for a signing at a lovely "Curly Girl Outfitter" (details to follow) and took a day or two for some much needed R&R.

You know when you have been going and going and going and then you finally stop to regroup and give yourself a break, the getting back to the pace that you were going and going at is really hard?!! That along with the time change and I am peeling myself out of bed in the mornings! Oh how I miss Portland's coffee now! Ah well. The reinforcements have arrived! My mom is here to help me get big Marmalade ready, even though it is her spring break from school and she should be sipping margaritas on a beach somewhere. Thanks Mom!!

So, While I was out I got to do a little poking around in boutiques, and what better time to freshen up a wardrobe than spring! By now I all but shudder at the thought of the same sweaters and tights I have been wearing for months and the thought of something a little lighter makes my heart skip a little.

I always love floral prints, but am pretty selective about them. I am loving this year's crop of muted florals. Kind of a modern prairie look that keeps things looking sweet. I like my florals on the smaller side, which makes them easy to pair with other patterns or stand-by solids or tweeds in spring. A great pair of boots is still essential in spring, but for me is becoming a year-round affair. And it's nice to finally pull out the flats!

Here are some of the things I am most excited about mixing in!

1.) Printed Tote ~ American Eagle

2.) Long Spring Cardigan ~ AE

3.) Kensie Sketchy Floral Print Tank ~ Piperlime

4.) New England Stripe Belt ~ Madewell

5.) Floral Mabelle Print Mini Suitcase ~ Liberty

6.) Miz Mooz Dorato Boot ~ Bluefly

7.) Lula Ballet Flat ~ J.Crew

8.) Premium Shrunken Blazer ~ Topshop

9.) Vanessa Bruno Athé Floral Print Dress ~ Net-a-Porter

10.) Hunter Huntress Tall Welly ~ Nordstrom

11.) Ditsy Floral Jersey Scarf ~ Old Navy

Hope you this brings you a little bit of spring today! Would love to know what you think!


By Leigh 03.17.2011 – 8:57 am


Our first Curly Girl Baby!

The Biz

Oh Happy Day!! The much anticipated arrival of our first 'Curly Boy' has finally come!! On March 9th 2011 at 6:46pm our darling staffer Erin gave birth to darling Cameron Matthew Riccio. Weighing in at 8lbs and 7oz, measuring 20.5 inches this little dude is lighting the world up already! Congratulations Erin & John!! We love you guys and we love Cam already!!

By Leigh 03.11.2011 – 5:53 pm


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