Meet the Maker : Anne Marie Strohbeck from Notch + Fletch

Our first Meet the Maker is the beautiful Anne Marie from Notch + Fletch custom and small batch handmade jewelry brand. Our aim with this site was and is to bring more ladies who are doers and makers to the spotlight, so all of you can love them as we do. Or more like wish our bank accounts would have no limits and we could use all of our money to their products ;) ! I, Mirka, for sure wish I could do just that when it comes to Anne Marie's pieces, not only are they insanely amazing and well made, her way of doing business is something of a joy that warms your heart to the fullest! I've been lucky to own one custom ring of hers, which unfortunately got lost at the Copenhagen airport when I was rushing to get to my flight, yes tears are still running down as I type that. That ring, and all Anne Marie does, have this certain kind of powerpiece effect to your life. So let's get more familiar with the amazing lady that is the master mind behind Notch + Fletch!

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Name: Anne Marie Strohbeck

Location: Buffalo, New York

Age: 32

What's your occupation? If you're not lucky enough to to be working it now, what is your dream job?

I'm incredibly fortunate to be a full-time metalsmith and jewelry designer for Notch + Fletch. Running this company and managing every aspect of it has been incredibly fulfilling and exhausting, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I've made meaningful connections with so many amazing individuals and makers because of this venture; I'm so grateful for it. I still have so much to learn and this brand has a lot of growing left to do, but I look forward to waking up every morning to work on new projects, which is eons away from how I felt about work a few years ago! 2018 is the first year I've gone without a side job to supplement my metal work, which has been as challenging as it's been rewarding. I hope to continue on this journey for quite some time.

How did you find your personal style?

My style has always revolved around comfort. Growing up in San Diego and then spending many years in San Francisco heavily influenced how that comfort manifested. Moving from an easy-going, beach area, where I was driving everywhere, to having no car in the hilly, always-60ish-degree-weather of SF meant there were a lot of changes to my wardrobe. Almost immediately, that meant my flip-flops and heels were out, and replaced by boots and shoes that were comfortable to walk in daily. The move also placed me in vintage and thrift store heaven. I'd always been attracted to bold prints and colors, and the fit of vintage clothing. SF being the amazing city that is it, I felt a sense of freedom in being able to wear whatever I wanted, without feeling judged or "too out there". I also went years only wearing black high-waisted jeans because it meant I could ride my bike and work as a barista without ruining my clothes with bike grease and coffee stains. Only recently have I begun to introduce light colors and light denim (gasp!) back into my wardrobe, thanks to crazy humidity and heat of summer in Buffalo, New York, where I currently live. My personal style is ever-evolving but has been, and will likely always be, defined by comfort and my inability to keep coffee from landing on clothes!

What is playing in your radio/ headphones right now?

I'm a huge fan of true crime podcasts, I listen to them non-stop when I work, so it's likely My Favorite Murder, or Case File. 

As for music, the David Bowie spotify radio, Ryan Adams, and Sugar Candy Mountain have been on heavy rotation lately.

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If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

My mom's chicken adobo and rice!

What's your favorite way to spend your free time?

Hanging outside of a coffee shop on a nice day with friends just chatting about life, people watching, and petting passing dogs.

I also enjoy going to smaller live music shows when good bands roll into town.

Tell us one thing that makes you "you"? :)

The ability to see the good in things, even in really terrible situations. 

Where did you get the idea to start your own brand? Your "why" behind the brand?

I've had an interest in jewelry and making it for as long as I can remember. Growing up, my grandma had encouraged my love of arts and crafts, and eventually I started making my own purses (poorly, I might add), modifying/making my own clothing and making my own jewelry from beads, shells and metal components. In college, I took a metalsmithing class to fulfill an art requirement and was hooked! I'd always had an idea that I wanted to start my own business or at the very least, work in a creative field, but it wasn't until years after college that I had an idea of what I wanted that to be.

Starting Notch + Fletch began as a way to distract myself from the stressful desk job I'd had at the time. It was my creative outlet and didn't take up much space, which was important, since I was living in a small room in a flat with 5 other people. As with my other creative hobbies, it started out with me needing to channel my creativity and also to make something that I wanted, but couldn't find or afford. Slowly, it morphed into an obsession and something I needed to do.

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How did you come up with the name?

This is something I've struggled to put into words for some time! For brevity's sake, I was making jewelry for a few months, and getting a lot of encouragement from coworkers and friends to start selling it, but I couldn't decide on a name. Eventually, I decided I just needed to choose one; if I needed to pick a new name in the future, so be it, but choosing a name was the first step to setting up an Etsy shop, getting business cards, etc. 

"Notch" and "Fletch" are both nouns and verbs. "Notch" was me making the first step of choosing a name - "notching" this task off a long list of things to do to get this business off the ground. A "Fletch" is the stabilization device at end of an arrow, typically made of feathers or thin plastic. By adopting the name of Notch + Fletch, I was accomplishing the first step of committing to a name and now my arrow was fit with the fletching of a business name and work I stood behind; I just needed to pull back and let the arrow fly. 

What are your goals when it comes to your brand?

Bringing happiness to others has, and will always be, a driving force behind my work and my brand. 

I want my customers to be smiling ear-to-ear when they open their packages.

I want them to feel beautiful and powerful when they're wearing their pieces.

I want the work to outlive the wearer and be worn by many generations down the road.

The idea of someone treating themselves to a piece of my work as a gift for an accomplishment or in celebration of a life event, means everything to me, and I aim to accomplish these things with every piece I create!

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Who is your brand made for, who you see wearing your pieces?

Notch + Fletch is for anyone who appreciates the amazing material that the earth gives us to work with. Whether you work in an office or spend all day working with your hands, my work is for anyone who needs/wants a reminder of the love and beauty that exists in the world, even when things get difficult.

Thank you so much for letting us share your awesomeness Anne Marie! <3 

Now all of you, go follow her on Instagram @notchandfletch and obviously buy all of the pieces! Or check her site https://www.notchandfletch.com/

Fit Check: Railcar Donna

Hey, everyone! I’m here today with a highlight on a great pair of women’s denim: the Railcar Fine Goods Donna fit.

Donnas, pictured here in a special brown selvedge offered earlier this year.  

Donnas, pictured here in a special brown selvedge offered earlier this year.  

A good amount of stretch, and a narrow leg opening create a nice skinny jean.  

A good amount of stretch, and a narrow leg opening create a nice skinny jean.  

This is a fit that is almost universally flattering. The high waist tapers in and helps excentuate the smallest part of your waist. The pockets are wide set and placed in a way that makes even the flattest of butts look nice ;)

 

This is a true pair of “skinny” jeans. They are very slim throughout and have a great amount of stretch that helps the fabric form to your body. 

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The Donnas are now offered in a few different options: a light blue red-line selvedge, a non-selvedge raw, and a dark indigo red-line selvedge. All of the fabrics that the Donnas are available in have a good amount of stretch, and I personally recommend sizing down a full size in order to maintain the tight/ skinny fit. 

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Did I mention that they make your butt look great? 

If you are interested in the Donnas, or any of the other fits, but don’t have a chance to try them on locally, give them a shout! They are the nicest people and always so willing to help!  

 

Railcarfinegoods.com

@railcarfinegoods  

@taylorofrailcar

 

 

Thanks for reading!  

-Bryce

Video Tutorial! Spot Soaking Your Jeans

Hey, everyone! I’m here today to share one of the most embarrassing things I’ve ever done: a video tutorial I made about spot soaking your jeans!

 

We've all got “problem areas” that we encounter when finding a pair of pants that fit. I happen to wear mostly men’s jeans, so my lady curves often have a hard time agreeing with the cut of whatever pair I’m trying to squeeze them into. That’s where the good old cold soak comes in! 

 

Soaking just the areas that you need to stretch out will help you dial in your fit so that your new pair of jeans become your new FAVORITE pair of jeans!   Don't be afraid to really get in there and soak those babies down either! Trust me, you can’t ruin them! And remember (dirty joke incoming alert), if no one is around getting your crotch wet for you, do it yourself, girl! 

Thanks for reading, and thanks for watching!

Let Us Introduce : Melodee Malazarte and Her Brand Home Pacifico

One of our goals with this site was to introduce amazing women in this field of denim and heritage. Makers or ladies we find to be amazing. So, here's our first power woman! Let us introduce Melodee, super rad lady from Australia with pretty amazing brand too. Read all about her and her brand Home Pacifico below and go give her a follow. And let us just let you know that at least half of BB is lusting hard after few pieces from Home Pacifico! :D

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Name: Melodee Malazarte

Location: Melbourne, Australia

What's your occupation? 

Designer and owner of HOME Pacifico label. You’ll also catch me at ‘Heffernan & Haire’ and ‘Pickings & Parry’ stores and DJing in Melbourne.   

If you're not lucky enough to to be working it now, what is your dream job? 

I’m working on my dream lifestyle! Running my own business and being able to create my own schedule is really important to me. Managing all areas of HOME Pacifico is a challenging and rewarding work in progress, as any small business owner will attest to, and the design and production process and exploring different ways of making things is always fun.  

I’ve also been a retail professional for 15 years - working on the shop floor, to corporate and multi-store management. I love setting up retail spaces, and meeting new people everyday. H&H and P&P to me are the epitome of the ideal retail experience, from quality product, environment to vibe - it’s all there. The team is like a family, and I know that is really rare. And as a DJ, getting to play music and travel for music is pretty special. That’s a few dreams jobs right there!        

How did you find your personal style?

Originally through bgirling and hip hop culture, for sure. I collected sneakers for a long time, and always had to have the fresh fits to match. I was lucky to come up at a time when streetwear was actually an authentic subculture. During that time I got into selvedge and raw denim, and working at brands like Vans and Carhartt WIP were solid introductions to appreciating the importance of heritage, history and brand integrity. 

I think of style in terms of it being a personal uniform. I keep my wardrobe minimal so I wear a few key pieces daily. Good denim or chinos and a fitted crew neck tee is my daily uniform. Most of my clothes are tailored to some degree. I was spending as much money on alterations as the actual garments, so I learnt to sew, and made friends with tailors so I could stand over their shoulder and watch as they worked and then customise my own clothes.

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I also travel to Indonesia a bit and over the years have built relationships with tailors, who make a lot of my clothes. Some of the pieces I’ve had made also act as samples for Home, so not only have I been able to have these one-off pieces made but I’m able to then field test fabric and construction at the same time.

What is playing in your radio/headphones right now?

Last 3 tracks:

Kaiit - OG Luv Kush Pt 2

Mojo Juju - Native Tongue 

Teyana Taylor - Rose in Harlem

If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Anything made with love and shared with friends. But y’know, I wouldn’t be mad at lifetime tacos.     

What's your favorite way to spend your free time?

Doing anything that benefits my health and happiness… chilling with my girls, going for a ride about town on our motorbikes, running my dog, a boxing session or having a bbq with the crew.   

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Tell us one thing that makes you “you”?

All of the things. 

Where did you get the idea to start your own brand? Your "why" behind the brand?

Home came from a lack of available clothing to suit my own needs. I started planning the label a few years ago when I was traveling a lot, mostly to go to bboy/bigrl jams in Australia and internationally. Being amongst bgirls (breakdancers), it was so common for us to have trouble finding clothing that fit us right, that looked fresh and could withstand so much physical movement. 

Hanging out with girls who ride fixed gear bikes, skateboarders, motorbike babes, artists and women who work in heavy duty industries, I’ve always heard the same thing - we want clothing that fits and looks good. We often buy menswear for the heavier fabric and better construction, knowing that it’s not going to fit right. The idea of Home is to create long lasting utilitarian clothing for women who don’t always suit the model of seasonal fast fashion consumers. The exciting bi-product of that is that we also get to connect with and learn these amazing stories of women who have similar interests.

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How did you come up with the name?

Home represents something that everyone can relate to and is deeply personal. It can refer to a place, a community, a feeling or a sense of belonging. My background is Filipino-Australian and I have close ties to a lot of areas in and around the Pacific Ocean. ‘Pacifico' is in reference to my connection to this region of the world. The products I make are proudly made within the region. For the past year I’ve been working with a few small workshops in Indonesia who specialise in traditional crafts - for example the team of women in Gianyar, Bali who use wooden looms to weave our cotton bandanas and dye by hand with organic indigo. It’s easy to think that these processes only happen in places like Japan but they’ve existed all throughout this region for a long time and that’s something I want to communicate! So in naming the brand - Home is about personal style, and Pacifico is about representing the region that it comes from.  

What are your goals when it comes to your brand?

To be a go-to for quality womenswear. It’s in its infant stages right now, operating online and with upcoming releases certainly looking to expand and get into some great retailers in Australia and internationally.  

Who is your brand made for, who you see wearing your pieces?

Women doing rad things who need reliable, versatile and well made clothing. Denim babes will be happy to know the first cut of our 14oz Japanese selvedge denim will be ready later this year!  

Be sure to give her a follow, here's all the links you need to be informed!

IG @melolani / @homepacifico

Website https://homepacifico.com/

 

What is raw denim and why the hell do I care?

That’s such a great question! The short answer is: non-washed denim fabric and you really don’t have to. If I left it at that, this would be a very short and very boring article. So I’ll assume that you are here to learn and that you really want to care. Thank you for indulging me.

Let’s start with what makes denim, well, denim. I’m not going to get super technical, because frankly, I’d just be copying from some of the other great articles that have taught me. Folks like Heddles and @Denimhound have taught me the ropes, and if you are interested in more than the basics of the fabric, I really do suggest looking into their already beautifully written pieces.  

Dark blue thread is the warp. White "underside" is the weft. Shown here with red line selvedge.&nbsp;

Dark blue thread is the warp. White "underside" is the weft. Shown here with red line selvedge. 

Denim is a woven fabric consisting of two directions of sturdy cotton weave, the warp and the weft. When talking blue jeans, the weft remains white and passes under the indigo dyed warp threads. What makes each individual material unique, is the pattern and method in which the weft and warp threads are woven. When talking other colored denim… well, you get the idea. No matter the color of the threads, think of the weft as the bottom or inside of the jeans, and the warp as the top or outside.

Denim material is most often categorized by weight. Weight of fabric is determined  by weighing one square yard of the finished woven material. There are all kinds of weights; from some of the lightest (mostly women's stretch denim) 8oz, to the heaviest 32oz.

Let’s get to the nitty-gritty folks! What makes raw denim raw? Simply that it hasn’t touched water. It’s that simple. Raw denim is denim in its most natural state. It also comes in two states of being beyond that, sanforized and un-sanforized. The cotton yarn of sanforized denim has been steamed to pre-shrink the yarn before it’s woven in order to eliminate shrink when you *eventually* wash them. Un-Sanforized has not been pre-shrunk or treated in anyway and will shrink when they touch water (think Levis 501 Shrink-to-fit).

The jeans I am wearing are Railcar Spikes X001 (men's jean's). They are a bit tight, but I like them that way, sue me.&nbsp;

The jeans I am wearing are Railcar Spikes X001 (men's jean's). They are a bit tight, but I like them that way, sue me. 

If you’re in need of a some stretch in your jeans, and I don’t blame you although I will eventually try to convince you that 100% cotton jeans are the master jean, then consider how much stretch you want for the fit you are trying to obtain. 1% provides enough stretch to give some flexibility without being too body-hugging. 2% will form to your body and be much more fitted. 3-4% stretch jeans are VERY form fitting and are often give moderate body contouring.

All of this information won’t do much for you trying to buy a pair of jeans unless you also consider the construction, fit, and placement of all the parts of the jeans. The best thing I can tell you is to first find a pair that you really love as a basis for measurements going forward. Once you dive in to the denim world, your wants, needs, and requirements for fit are likely to change, I know mine sure did, but starting with your current favorite pair is perfect.

Pockets are high enough and placed wide enough to create a flattering fit. Considering these are made for men, I feel lucky.&nbsp;

Pockets are high enough and placed wide enough to create a flattering fit. Considering these are made for men, I feel lucky. 

What I find most important for fit is rise, waist, thigh, hip, and leg opening measurements. This is going to insure that the pants even fit your body! So duh, most important for sure! Also to consider knee width measurement (too wide would look baggy, too narrow and you now stand forever) and my personal most important, back pocket size and placement. Pocket placement can seriously make or break a pair for me. I tend to mostly wear jeans made for men, so I am very conscious of making sure I don’t look like I’m wearing a diaper underneath my jeans!

My biggest suggestion for getting into raw denim is take chances! If you can get into a store in person, do that. Go in and ask questions and try things on. You may be surprised at what you like and what fits you.  If you can’t go in person, get real up close and personal with your measurements, and find a store that has a good return policy!

I believe in you all! Happy shopping and I hope you learned anything at all.

                                         

-Bryce

Blue Birds of Denim is here!

What the heck is Blue Birds of Denim? It's two buddies, who found themselves in the midst of Instagram while following the same brands and people. The thing in this world is that you are able to find a friend who loves and shares your views and passions. That is what happened to us, us being Mirka Markkula and Bryce Pizano. We've never met face to face, but that has not ever been a factor to not have this friendship that blossomed in one way to creating Blue Birds. The other lives in Finland and the other in Usa. We are from completely different backgrounds but could not be more like the same dork we are. So sharing is caring! 

One evening we were talking about what have you nonsense and our frustration towards the denim industry and the lack of actual quality models for ladies. After talking and moaning and bitching about it, we threw the idea out in the air that why not we start a site for ladies who are interested in the same style as we are, there was nothing like that yet! So this happened! Out of pure frustration of not getting those jeans on because the cut was not for curvier ladies or the sizing was insane and had nothing to do with majority of ladies around the world. 

We'll be learning and searching as we go, embracing this denim journey the same way as our friendship. So be prepared for some denim and heritage culture in the form of two women who love it hard! Here's little about our own journeys to this all. :)

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Mirka Markkula

I've always been leaning towards the classics when it comes to my style, obviously trying my feet in styles that I thought that could work for me, while always going back to what felt best. It took years of I guess self discovery to find what felt the best for me, school of life in a way. Living in other countries outside of my home, Finland, has definitely made an impact too.

Tomboy at heart, but with a little bit of curvy body, it has never been the easiest finding what works best for me. Like my partner in crime, Bryce, I've gone from one to another in the search. Few years ago while wanting to be more mindful about my life, I decided that I want to only wear good quality clothes and shoes, I wanted to know where they come from and if they actually could last for a long time. Especially as being one who had loads of sporting gear mixed with my regular style, I got tired that things changed in a pace that made no sense and the "need" for new all the time. I'm a quality over quantity and less is more in my heart, so wanting to rather put a bit more on quality goods made all the sense. 

My wardrobe staples have been a white tee and jeans for years, so in a way nothing has changed in that aspect. Those are still my absolute favorites, though now there's boots added in. Nothing makes me feel more me and sexy too, than white tee, great pair of jeans and proper boots! And with my love for classics, what could be more classic than those three?! I'm that who's forever searching for that perfect white tee, never ending search. I'm definitely a minimalist, with a countryside flair thrown in. 

My first boots were Red Wing Moctoes, in Oro leather, so classics again, what a surprise! But those really made me find my footing in many ways and I got a lot braver with how I truly want to look like, and what makes me feel most me. These days it's pretty nice to be able to not care what others think and just be you. 

Denim for me means a struggle I love, even though it sometimes makes me feel like what the hell is wrong with designers who make up sizing for ladies haha! I love how denim starts like and how it changes over time with the one who wears it. But still, it's the material I love the most, so on my part there will be forever struggle to find that perfect pair of jeans for curvier ladies, hope you enjoy my struggle and I can make your life easier with our site!

 

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Bryce Pizano

As with all stories, the story of how I’ve found myself in the here and now is a long one, full of twists, turns, wrong directions, and red herrings. Luckily, everything that I’ve done so far has made me the person I am today, and I’m pretty proud of that! Throughout the years, I’ve clad myself in all kinds of fashion choices. Dr. Martens with band t-shirts and babydoll dresses. A-line skirts with 60’s collars and vintage shoes. I was always the tomboy though, even while dabbling in ultra femme fashion I would spend most days in trousers and button up shirts. Nothing ever stuck because I was on the hunt for something I could identify with, a style that I could mold to me and would protect me against the changing world. Then I got my first pair of Red Wings.

I knew only a bit about raw denim and the world of heritage clothing when I bought my first pair of boots. It was a short fall into that world once I started though. I was living in Nashville, Tennessee when a friend from Minnesota told me about the super great, super durable, lifetime lasting boots he wore to work everyday. He also told me about the sweet new pair of Imogene and Willie jeans he was getting. Almost a year later, I finally got myself a pair of I+W Elizabeths. They were incredible, but my mind wasn’t fully made up. Soon after, I bought a pair of Iron Rangers. Once I held them in my hands, saw the construction, could feel the care that went into making them, and could sense the history in them, I was hooked.

I started researching women’s raw denim jeans, looking for fits and styles that would fit both my personal style and , more difficult, my body. There wasn’t a whole lot of options out there at the time and there still aren’t when you compare to the options available for men. By the time I found Railcar I was living in Southern California, and was able to go in and shop in person. Talk about a game changer! With my trusty boots and a new pair of raw denim, I was on my way to full heritage obsession.

I was lucky, I knew people who knew where to start, and I was local to shops that were front runners in providing products to women. For all of the ladies who aren’t so lucky? That’s where Blue Birds is looking to step in. We want to provide a resource for women who are interested in heritage clothing and the brands that are focused on high quality, lasting products. Women are out there looking for needles in a haystack, and we hope to help you find it!

We’ll also be highlighting awesome women from around the world who are taking charge, being their own boss, and generally inspiring us. So hang around, it’s about to get good!