Biggest Prop Order to Date! WCB for SAP

The reason I started WCB (the blog & Etsy shop) was because working for a software company in Corporate America was not very conducive to me expressing my creativity, and I needed an outlet. Even after leaving SAP, I’m still in touch with my colleagues and every so often, they reach out for a craft project, corporate style. I love when my worlds collide like this 🙂

This time, the order was my biggest to date! SAP Latin America & Caribbean has a sales kick-off event at the beginning of the year, and they were going to do an activity involving a skit based on technology evolving through the decades. They reached out to me to create jumbo sized, extremely sturdy props for the attendees to use for the skits they created. The props would be in a box, which I decorated to look like space (to give the idea of time-travel), and there would be a corresponding small box with a “token” showing which decade the groups would get.

I had a couple of months to work on this, and I truly needed every second. Because I’d never done something this big, there was a lot of trial and error and a lot of winging it which thankfully worked out. Between doing the research of the technology of each decade, figuring out where to get high resolution stock images, finding the right images of the right equipment for each decade, figuring out which medium to use to make them sturdy, and if it was something thick, how to cut it… etc. Not to mention, this was going to be my biggest investment in materials as well, and I needed to make sure I’d break even – even though the good thing about working with a big company is that the budget is more flexible than for standard orders. So, in case this helps anyone else, these are the materials I went with:

  • 32 x 40 inch Styrofoam boards, purchased at Hobby Lobby
  • 16 x 20 inch pictures, printed at the Costco Photo Center (fastest printing for the best price!)
  • Spray adhesive glue
  • X-acto brand exacto knife
  • Self-healing mat
  • Large boxes
  • Spray paint
  • Small boxes
  • Laminated prints (for tokens and logos to decorate boxes)
  • New fingers, after cutting 40 props with an exacto knife…

And here are some pictures of the whole process! Keep in mind, I worked on these at night so the lighting for the photos was terrible –

First, this was part of the trial and error process. I tested out different papers and different glues, and they would crease and cause the styrofoam to curve and look terrible. This is why you have to do things with time, especially when you don’t have much experience with what you’re making.

Once I figured out the materials, I moved on to the sets of boxes. These are the big boxes that were painted like a trip to outer space, as well as the small boxes with the decade token inside and the event logo so that the groups would choose their decades at random.

And now onto the good stuff! I laid out all the pictures in columns for each decade. I pre-cut each 32×40 board into four mini boards, that came out to 16×20, aka, the same size as the pictures (#genius)! Then glued the pictures to the boards with the spray adhesive so they wouldn’t crease/bunch, and got to work with the exacto knife.

I also became highly delirious through the cutting process, and decided to have a photo shoot with the props. Don’t they look crazy realistic?! That Super 8 from the 70s was my favorite!

Also, if you think I was kidding about my fingers… But it was worth it ❤

20180104_082229667_iOS

I heard the props were a hit at the event, and everyone had a blast doing the skits with them. I’m so happy my old colleagues support my crafty endeavors, and that I get to mix together different areas of my life 🙂

Do you have a similar situation where your worlds collide? If so, share your story in the comments, I’d love to hear it!

Advertisements

Carlos’ 60th Birthday Cuban Musical Props

My best friend’s father-in-law to be just turned 60 years old this past weekend! What a milestone, and such a beautiful number. I am very fond of the 60th birthday because while doing some research when I was planning my mom’s 60th turn around the sun (shh, please don’t tell her I mentioned that number, anyone who puts her over 35 goes on a kill list! haha!) I found out that in Chinese culture, the 60th birthday is sort of a re-birth. 12 x 5 = 60, and that means that by the time you turn 60, you’ve done a full life cycle around all the signs (and sub-types) in the Chinese Zodiac, so it’s a new beginning. Anyway, I digress…

For Carlos, one of the things he has most fun doing is dancing, and since he’s Cuban, salsa is probably at the top of his favorite genres. His birthday was a perfect moment to go all out, celebrate his Cuban heritage and the music he enjoys so much. Check out the props & banner I was asked to make for the occasion!

20171104_212436018_iOS

Some bongos, maracas and musical notes represented the hobby and genre he loves so much! The fedoras & cigar were a nod to his Cuban heritage and style!

20171104_212547009_iOS

Rhymes and banners, nothing is… smarter? 😉

The birthday boy danced the night away and all the guests took turns posing with the props. Cheers to Carlos’ 60 Years!

Liana’s Fabulous #BubblyForBubsie NYC Bachelorette Props

What do you do when you’re going on a bachelorette with your group of closest friends? Lots of things, but if you’re me… You. Make. Props!

One of my really close friends, Liana, is tying the knot at the end of the month and so we’re going all out with the “last fling before the ring,” all the way to one of her favorite places: New York City. Her sister and Maid of Honor, Katrina, very kindly requested I made some props for the big weekend, and of course I was very excited to make this set, being for such an amazing friend and what was promising to be a super fun weekend. The color scheme of some of the bach items was pink and gold, so I knew I’d stick to that for the props. Without further ado, some pics of the set (I forgot to do my semi professional set-up before leaving, so the pictures aren’t that great. Also, we barely got to use the props because of the back-to-back schedule we committed to haha! #BachLife

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The props were a surprise for Liana, and when she saw them she said she may be biased, but this was her favorite set I’ve ever made! I’ll take that type of bias any day 😉 Happy wedding my dear friend!

#MyBestFriendsWedding, Chapter 2: The Engagement Party

Now that my best friend got engaged, I am the happiest crafter alive, and I’m ready to make ALL of the things. First stop: engagement party central!

My biff (that’s what we call each other :P) Michelle, like most women, has had an idea of what she wants her wedding to look like, so her mom Marta and I are going with a similar feel for the engagement party. The rustic vibe is very in right now and she likes it a lot, so let’s get to it!

Michelle’s parents have a beautiful home with a great backyard where they’ve hosted lots and lots of parties, so we know the space pretty well and have an idea of how to set things up to maximize each area. This Pinterest board has a lot of the inspiration for the stuff I made for the party, so let’s dive right in to the final products!

  • The decor: I’ll wrap a few of the items into this category so this doesn’t end up the long testament my blogs usually are hehe… Our color palette for the party was Blush Pink, Taupe, Ivory & Rose Gold. Lots of burlap, lace, and a vintage classic vibe made everything really pretty and Pinterest-y!
  • The photo booth & props: Brian (Michelle’s fiance) is very handy, so Marta and I asked him to build a rustic-looking frame that we could drape and place in the garden to create a photo booth area. Brian did such an amazing job that I almost didn’t even want to dress the frame, but at the same time I’ve been loving the mixture of delicate with rustic/industrial so with his part done, it was time to make it pop. The fabric Marta found for the frame was shiny, shimmery & splendid. I also did a “she said yaaasss” banner, and added some vintage bulbs and baby’s breath to make it all come together. To finish the look, we hung a bunch of mismatched lamps from the tree, and it all looked beautiful both during the day and at night! For the props, I wanted to do something different from what I always do, since after all, props are kind of my niche… I actually started to design a completely different idea from what it ended up being, but I’m super happy with the end result. I used burlap paper, designed the props on PowerPoint, printed them out, cut & glued them to cardstock for hold and voila! Awesome props to complement an already great photo booth area!
  • The favors: I didn’t get any good pictures of the final product here, but long story short: plastic bags, burlap strips, circle “Brian POPPED the question, Michelle said yes!” tags, popcorn. You get the idea!
  • The calligraphy: boy oh boy do I hate my handwriting/penmanship. I’ve always wanted to have pretty handwriting, but it’s just not in my skill set. I can pull off a few tries but I hate writing slowly and when I go fast, there’s no way to control the strokes… So when Marta showed me the boards and table tent signs, I kind of swallowed hard and said ok… I got this! I did those the night before the party, and I was so stressed the entire time. If I’m honest, the first tent signs didn’t come out as good as the last ones. It’s true what they say, calligraphy is a practice thing. Although some people are just born with those magically beautiful calligraphy skills!
  • Some close-ups: making this cake topper gave me so much life! I couldn’t stop staring at my Cricut cutting the rose gold card stock stuff! And I had a full blown photo shoot with the mason jars when I finished dressing them… O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D. Have I mentioned I don’t typically like burlap?! I know…
  • The edgy fun part: when it comes to Michelle’s family, there’s always something fun/edgy/borderline inappropriate thing happening, and I’m all too happy to oblige and do my part for it. This time around, Marta bought an apron for Michelle’s uncle as he’d be cooking the dinner during the party, and again, thank you Pinterest for this awesomely hilarious idea 🙂

After about a month of prep, I’m truly so happy with how everything turned out and now I can focus on the bachelorette, bridal shower and whatever Michelle asks me to make for the wedding! (please biff, let me make it allllllllllllllllllllllllll! haha kidding! no, not really…)

 

PS: Oh and one last thing – this was something new I decided to try: window cling! I wanted to make something for the bar area, so I went with some string lights, a “cheers to michelle & brian,” and that’s all she wrote! For real this time!

I added a heart with a “to” afterwards but this picture is where the window cling shows the best!

DPhiE Turns 100! #DPHIE100

And for that, the C in WCB stands for Centennial today 😀

I can’t recall if I’ve written much about DPhiE (Delta Phi Epsilon, my sorority) on the blog, but I can summarize it with the following:

  • 100 years ago, five women who were shunned from joining other sororities due to their religious beliefs, banded together to create a non-sectarian organization, welcoming women from all walks of life who were looking to uphold the values of dedication, pride, excellence, justice, sisterhood and love. In 2007, that organization welcomed me to their Alpha Gamma chapter at FIU, and today my career and my circle of friends has been shaped almost exclusively by that experience.

I have so much to thank DPhiE for – giving me confidence in myself to reach for high opportunities, exposing me to people from all kinds of backgrounds, improving and cultivating my skills (something I’d realize the value of once in Corporate America), and just an overall exponential growth that would’ve otherwise been unlikely to happen without my immersive experience in it.

As my sisters all over the world get ready to celebrate 100 years of sisterhood and all that it means to each of us, headquarters is hosting a couple of events, for which they reached out to me to create a set of custom, jumbo and glittery props to liven up pictures. I also made some of these for the bi-annual convention, so behold, a purple and gold parade of your dreams!

I had a blast designing these, and I do have a special attachment to them because of what DPhiE means to me. The pictures honestly don’t do the shine of the glitter justice, but trust me when I tell you that coupled with the camera flash, they’re BLINDING! My favorites to make were the DPhiE 100 with the centennial written in cursive in front (cursive font is Magnolia Sky for anyone interested), and the white iridescent circle with the 100 in the middle of the dot triangle. That was the new DPhiE logo, and I got to bring it to life with endless glitter. #Obsessed.

I also got some shots of sisters enjoying the props during the event:

The “throw what you know” hand sign in perspective (bottom right picture) is EVERYTHING! Love seeing the props in action by real unicorns ❤

Hope you guys liked these props and to my sisters all over: Happy Centennial! YITS!

#DiliaCumple80 – My Grandma’s Mexitastic Eightieth Birthday

Some NSFW content ahead. You’ve been warned!

What do you do when you have three themes that could be standalone concepts for a party, but you can’t decide which one to go with? You go with all three, of course.

My grandma, Dilia, is a very special lady. She’s the only grandparent I grew up knowing, with all others passing away before I was born or when I was very little, so she’s extra special to me. If you know me, you know a bit of her as well – she’s colorful, scandalous, loud, funny, loves music and loves to party, and she’s unruly like no other. So when her 80th birthday was coming up, we knew we had to do something as special as she is.

Dilia – or Yiya, as all of us have lovingly called her since babyhood – is very simple when it comes to things she likes: she loves Mexican actors/singers and music from the golden age: Tony Aguilar (whom she named her son after!), Pedro Infante, Juan Gabriel, Javier Solis and a few others can count themselves among the lucky chosen ones that my grandma considers her “husbands.” She also loves, LOVES flowers and plants of all kinds. Gardening and growing nature are one of her favorite past times and I swear she loves her trees as much as she loves her kids. Last, but definitely not least, she loves penises. Yes, you read that right. My grandma has a hilarious obsession with all kinds of penile paraphernalia, and everyone that knows her knows it, and loves that about her. My grandma’s 60th birthday was actually COMPLETELY penis-themed, and since I was 6 at the time, I asked her why her cake and her pinata were a letter “T” if her name started with a D… oh, little Kathy, if you only knew!

So with all three themes in mind, and knowing she had some aspect of each incorporated into a previous birthday, I decided to throw all the ideas together and have a theme on steroids. Here are all of the things I put together for the party:

  • Digital Designs & Memes: my grandma is a breast cancer survivor, but she had to have a mastectomy and it was obviously very hard on her not to have her breast reconstructed. Since my cousin is an artist, she has jokingly asked him many times to do a nude portrait of her, but with a young body and both boobs. Since I knew my cousin was busy, I put my digiskills to the test, got carried away, and created six nude portraits using different paintings I found online. Here’s the least offensive (but still NSFW) one:
DNP 1

My grandma LOVEDDDD these portraits! Right up her alley!

Meme Compilation

Dilia has a myriad of expressions that we all know her by, so I made some memes that were used as photo props throughout the party

Fave Artist Compilation

Since my grandma found love in the musicians of her generation, I photoshopped her into images with them, so she could live out a bit of her fantasy and imagine herself with them. I put these all over the walls of the party hall.

  • Photo Booth Props: of course, my bread and butter had to be a part of the party, but these are no standard set of props. There are many custom designs with sayings that only those close to her understand, as well as some, ahem, inappropriate ones:

DSC_0376

  • Decor, in general: we hosted the birthday at an event venue in Santa Marta, Colombia (where my grandma and a big chunk of my family lives). We asked for colorful linens for the tables and chairs, and we brought all the accent decor items with us from the US. I made two standing 3D numbers (the 8 and 0 for 80th birthday) out of poster board and pictures, and created a backdrop for the photo booth station out of a dollar-store shower curtain, a Party City fiesta kit and some folkloric posters from on Amazon.
  • The clothes: we asked everyone to come dressed in colorful outfits for the party, but my grandma’s clothes had to be extra special. I found her this folkloric dress on Amazon, and I made my nephew David a “Charro” (mariachi) outfit.

My mom and my brother helped me with the logistics, music, drinks, food, etc. and my grandma had THE TIME OF HER LIFE during the party. She was in her element, and all of her friends came up to me saying they’d never been to a party like that. A group of her friends also decided to do a sort of poem/acronym with her name, and she totally loved it. But why tell you, when I can show you? Enjoy!

What do you think of the theme mix and the party in general? I had so much fun planning this and it’s something I hope my grandma will never forget. Here are my favorite pictures from the party: my grandma walking in and seeing the papel picado banner that said “Dilia Cumple 80” which I designed, me showing her the memes I made of her, and her hugging me to say thank you for everything I had done ❤

Copyright Infringement, Plagiarism, and ‘Imitation is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery’

Creating something brand new or finding truly original content/products is very hard these days. For example, think about current TV executive board meetings… In my head, they go a little something like this:

  • TV Guy 1: Hey guys, let’s talk about ideas for a new show for next fall
  • TV Guy 2: How about we remake/reunite Friends/Full House/Charmed/Sabrina the Teenage Witch/Gilmore Girls/literally any 90s show ever made?
  • All the TV Guys in unison: SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN!

Whatever happened to predictability? Ha, had to! No, but seriously, they really need to stop bringing back everyone and everything, especially when the shows had perfect closures – except Friends. They can bring back Friends forever until every cast member dies.

Anywho… The point is, a lot of times it can feel like everything has already been created/thought of, and it’s hard to think about something from scratch. After all, we have Pinterest!

I completely understand the struggle. As an Etsy seller, it’s my ultimate goal to have fresh and new items that my customers can only find at my shop, that keep them coming back, and that provide me with a stable income. I’ve tried from day 1 to make things people want, and because I’ve taken enough business classes, I know the key is to look for a market void and try to fill it.

The whole “photo booth props” niche was a very happy accident, but an accident nonetheless. I know there are plenty of providers of photo booth props in both digital and physical format, and I know they’ll continue to come up. I for one have tried very hard to create designs that are 100% authentic, different from what’s already out there, of good quality, and fun. Even though the bulk of my items are inspired by Disney, every single prop has been hand drawn, cut and put together by me – just like I make 4th of July, graduation, or wedding sets. The ideas/events/institutions have been around forever, but the designs themselves are mine.

So you can imagine, it’s disheartening/frustrating (to say the least) when you find that your designs have been copied by other sellers, right under your nose. And that’s what inspired this blog post. Is imitation REALLY the most sincere form of flattery? I’m not sure.

Yesterday, I was doing my routine SEO self-check, where I search random keywords associated with my items and I see in which pages they land, so I can make sure I’m staying relevant and top-sided in Etsy’s algorithms. As I start scanning for my props, on the very first page my eyes pick up on some familiar shapes, and I’m confused for a moment. Wait… Is that… Did I… No that’s not… Who… Woah. That’s my design, but that’s NOT my picture, or my shop.

As you all should know by now, I’m obsessed with everything Disney. So when the Descendants Movie came out, I was front row (to my TV) ready to watch it and fall in love with yet another new classic. It worked. I did. I died. And then, a customer saw my standard set of Villain-inspired props, and asked if I could make her some Descendants villain props. I already had 3 out of the 4 parents (Evil Queen, Jafar & Maleficent) designed from prior sets, so I got to work and drew out the last parent (Cruella), plus the 4 children: Evie, Jay, Mal & Carlos. I’m pretty proud of how they turned out, and I’ve already received a few orders for the set. So you can imagine, that when I see someone copied my design to the T, I’m a little bit flabbergasted. Let me show you what I mean:

I’ve checked for Descendants props on Etsy before, but there were none. Mine were the very first set of Villain parents and children on the marketplace. Until, quite literally, last week. On March 14th, another shop posted a set of Descendants props that looks like this:

Quite honestly, I couldn’t believe it! So eerie to notice the ends of the hair on the girls, Carlos’ (black and white hair) spikes, Jay’s hairstyle… They literally copied my design inch by inch. On the side of the parents, I think most of those props had been done before, but again, I hand drew my designs based off of the original cartoons, not other people’s interpretation of them.

Do you know what I did when I saw this? Wild guess? I laughed. I was in shock, but I try to avoid going crazy over things I cannot change, because ultimately, it only affects me. So I just laughed and, tried to figure out what I should do next. These were my options:

  1. Let it go (whaddup Frozen reference?! Whaddup iiSuperwomanii reference within the reference? #inception): be the bigger person, not care that my work was copied, move on…
  2. Report the listing: Etsy has an option to report listings. I’ve never done this before so I’m not sure under what grounds you may report something (probably over graphic or offensive content?). But, I really don’t want to start drama with another shop. I’ve been on the receiving side of crazy before, and it’s not fun.
  3. Send the shop a direct message: should I let them know I know? I would crap my pants if another shop messaged me telling me I plagiarized their item. I would for sure take it down, possibly apologize, but that’s just me. I’m not sure how the other shop will react.
  4. Write a blog about it to open up a dialogue and hear different perspectives on the matter? Sounds like a plan 🙂

I won’t do anything other than #4 right now. I really just wanted to put this out there for two reasons:

  1. For aspiring or existing Etsy owners – I know of one owner in particular who went through this recently. She was devastated that her design was plagiarized and I believe she reported it, but I’m not sure how much she could do about it or how the case turned out. I just know that it tortured her and stole her peace for weeks. We all work hard to make our shops stand out, hoping for stable sales and happy customers eager to leave reviews. It’s not an easy process trying to make a shop grow and go from hobby or side gig to a business, and this is potentially a roadblock. It’s not a “fair” competition. It’s a dirty play. It sucks but it’s not a make or break situation, so I really just wanted to showcase the story and hopefully have it serve as a “everything will be alright” reassurance, which I’ll need to confirm in the future. But I really think it will.
  2. Trying to honor my #WCBBloggingTuesdays commitment, and always #KeepingItReal (also, please help #KeepInstagramChronological)

In any case, as shocked and surprised as I was, this hasn’t really affected me the way other events have (I’m an ultra sensitive person), so I’m proud of myself for that. At the same time, I know social media makes it seem like everything is peachy 100% of the time, and I don’t tend to share the down moments, but I think it’s an important part of my journey, and in every moment, there’s a lesson to be learned.

Please share your thoughts below, and any personal stories of dealing with plagiarism or copycats are a plus!!