Reset: Looking Inward


Dear Friends-

So how are you doing with those resolutions?

Earlier this month, I wrote about how I’ve learned that taking action without looking inward first doesn’t necessarily end well for me. And last week I wrote about going inward to design my Spring 2017 collection. But what does “looking inward” mean?

Remember our blog theme for the month — Pause. Assess. Reset.

Well, it is all about pausing to taking a brief time-out to assess the situation and emotions. Ask yourself a few questions like:  Is this endeavor in line with my values? What is my intuition telling me about the endeavor? What am I feeling and why? Am I feeling a nagging, lingering resistance or a strong whole-hearted belief to move forward. Now, reset.

This may sound like some serious over-thinking, a luxurious waste of time even, but it’s not about hours on end of naval-gazing. It is a brief clarity break and much more about feeling than thinking. You will be amazed at what happens when you turn off the device, tame the monkey mind and sit quietly, even for a few minutes.

So, if you resolved anything earlier in the month and it is falling by the wayside I encourage you to dig deeper. Here are some tools from around the web to help with the journey.

First, get quiet. Why are we so afraid of silence? Silence is golden! Mindfulness is a welcomed backlash against the many distractions of modern life. One way to embrace silence is to be a better listener, as I wrote about here. And in this article, Kurt Smith writes about silence as a communication tool. Join me as we collectively shut our pie-holes and become better listeners! 

Audio ecologist Gordon Hempton says real silence is presence and the absence of noise. Put your earbuds in and enjoy the auditory feast that he’s collected from the rainforest in this interview with Krista Tippet of On Being.

Taking silence a little further, in this piece, Nicole Kosanke suggests making space for quiet reflection and notes that you might be surprised at what you find when you allow it. Still not convinced? Andy Puddicombe talks about the benefits of taking 10 minutes to be mindful in this Ted Talk. It’s all about the right amount of focus, awareness, acceptance, calm and clarity.

Now that you are quiet, go inward. Deepak Chopra offers advice to reinvigorate your inner self for the new year with the ultimate goal of uniting the inner and outer self. Begin by practicing appreciation, acceptance and/or non-resistance, he offers.

Values and beliefs lie at the heart of the inner self because they determine what’s meaningful to you, and ultimately drive what presents outwardly as YOU. In this Psychology Today article,  Jim Taylor, Ph.D. talks about living your values and the importance of reframing success. What do you value and are you living your beliefs every day? For example, if good health is a value yet you find yourself frequently in the fast food drive-thru, something’s up. And podcaster Jess Lively talks about values based intention, and stresses the importance of aligning before taking action here.

Don’t be afraid to poke around inside. The best version of yourself is the one that has gone deep, explored and is living in alignment with values and beliefs, because ultimately that’s the true you.


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Sneak Peek Spring 2017: Modern Havana


Dear Friends —

In keeping with our monthly theme of PAUSE, ASSESS, RESET, January brings the new year and a time to step back and reassess where we have been and where we want to go. During this symbolic time, we naturally open ourselves up to new ideas, new beginnings and new perspectives. Also, this time of year brings a shift of seasons on the fashion calendar. Just as we start to break in our favorite pair of winter boots, we start talking to you about kaftans and color!

I know you are thinking: Give me a break, Elaine. Spring has most definitely NOT sprung! With the frigid temperatures and shorter days, it always feels a bit odd talking to you about the new season, but bare with me here, people, it’s my job to keep you looking ahead! My hope is to open you up to a new beginning, maybe even possibly give you a new lens to peek through as we enter the new year.

As each year comes it inevitably brings the dreaded internal conflict of being not quite ready for Spring. Yet, as the Spring collection starts to hit stores it brings a much needed sense of optimism and excitement. Sometimes as the new seasons arrive, our initial inclination is to jump head first into the idea of changing the way we look externally, and as a result we hope our inner selves will benefit from it.

However, we must engage in looking inside before anything of value can happen on the outside. In my humble opinion, fashion is our own visual language with the outside world. It’s a vital form of self expression for many of us. In essence, it allows us to communicate our own uniqueness with the world — our different moods, inspirations and emotions.

My time spent designing and conceptualizing our spring 2017 collection was a practice in going inward before I could effectively manifest my outward vision. We usually start brainstorming new collections about ten months before they deliver in stores. As we sat down for our initial concept meeting in March of 2016 to discuss trends, inspiration and ideas,  I realized I would need to go deep inside to find a new lens to see through. During this time, we were experiencing tough times both globally and domestically: there were frequent and sporadic terrorist attacks occurring all across across the globe, a looming election which was becoming more and more contentious by the day, and our local economy was taking a huge hit with dropping oil and gas prices. To say the least, it felt a little doom and gloom.

My design team began showing me the key trends and messages of the season and as I flipped through the beautiful document they created, I began to feel something that I hadn’t in years. coverspring2017On one hand, I felt a deep sense of nostalgia for the past while also experiencing an overwhelming sense of hope and optimism for the future. As I flipped through each page, I was seeing vivid, saturated jewel tone hues, dramatic raffia weave and rattan textures, modern tropical undertones, unexpected material combinations and organic, one of a kind ornamentation.

I was smitten.
I was inspired.
I was emotional.

ET’s early designs were inspired by tropical textures, shapes and imagery.

I got sort of quiet and just sat there staring at my team. They seemed puzzled. I said, “This wasn’t what I was expecting to see today. I haven’t been this inspired by a season in a long time. This document brings me back to my roots and why I do what I do.” I looked up and saw several young, beautiful smiles wash over their faces as they nodded in agreement. These positive emotions resulted in us going deeper into who we are as a brand and why we do what we do. I was fulfilled. It was what I like to call an “in the flow” moment. We were all in design heaven.

After the meeting, I realized it was time — time to dig deep. I needed to be courageous. I needed to follow my heart and go against what my practical, left brain was telling me to do. I needed to stay the course, not deviate from the norm of the recent fashion climate filled with seasonless product, practical designs and stores filled with neutral tones. As much as I enjoy these qualities, I knew it was time to color outside the lines, to play it a little less safe, to harken back to who we are as brand and capture the heart.

I got back to my desk and was on a natural high after our meeting. I was in a reflective mood. I began thinking about the long journey I have been on with my company — the ups, the downs, the successes, the mistakes, the growth, the evolution. It’s been a journey of learning and a clear reminder of the idea that “life is a journey, not a destination.” As I pondered my past, I began to flip through the document again. I briefly looked up at my computer screen and there it was. A breaking news headline that read, “Obama, Castro: Lift the Trade Embargo.” I knew right then and there that Havana, Cuba would be our seasonal inspiration.

There are the more obvious reasons for choosing Havana, like it being known for its stunning crystal clear, Caribbean beaches and rich, lush, tropical landscape, and as many of you know, these themes are at the heart of my brand history. (Watch the video below for some insight into my backstory and inspiration.) 

Yet it was really for much deeper reasons that I chose it. In some ways, I see Havana as a metaphor for what I was experiencing. Havana was in the process of rediscovering itself and finding it’s new role in a modern world. Embarking on a vulnerable journey, attempting to preserve its rich history and traditions, while also becoming anew, reborn, and modernized. Just like Havana, we were thrust into embracing our past, our roots, or DNA, yet finding a new, modern version of ourselves. Our mission: to reignite the soul of our brand that is timely for today. I guess it’s all about walking confidently into the future without ever forgetting who you are.

Please enjoy a sneak peek from our Spring photo shoot and stay tuned for our Spring 2017 look book and trend guide.

We are honored to take this journey with you.


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Collage credits: Birds, pink & blue apparel shots courtesy Maggie Eyster.