Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Ginger Diaries: Road Trip!!!!!!!

Hello everyone! How is your fall feis season going?

I’ve been working my tail off to master my Oireachtas dances and keep my “old” bones healthy, but before the summer ended, I decided to take a ROAD TRIP!!!

Every year, I try to go to a feis outside my normal region and combine it with a mini vacation.The beauty of Irish Dancing is getting to travel and visit new cities/states, and to make friends who love Irish Dancing as much as I do!

This year, I was able to fly to a feis in Clearwater Beach over Labor Day weekend. This feis kind of fell into my lap. I had pondered going on my own as I had Labor Day off from work and it would be nice to relax at the beach, but it would be no fun without a friend. I got a text 3 days before the feis closed entries saying: “Hey, I’m going to be in Orlando at my family’s timeshare Labor Day weekend and there is a competition in Clearwater; want to come?”

She didn’t have to say another word, as I had a free jetBlue credit waiting in my inbox to be used.

I arrived safe and sound on a somewhat bumpy flight thanks to Hurricane Earl.

Fast forward to the night before the feis…

It was probably the worst night of sleep before a competition in my life, even rivaling the evenings before I dance at the Worlds. Why, you ask? I was nervous about driving a rental car and navigating the Florida expressways for the first time, LOL! I can drive a rental car without having to pay additional fees for being a young driver (I’m showing my age here) but I’m so used to driving my own car that I was TERRIFIED of somehow messing it up. I was also worried because we were warned that parking at the feis hotel would be horrendous due to the long weekend and to arrive extra early.

Me giving the thumbs up at 5:55AM on the way to the feis. Yes, I drove through Central Florida with curlers in my hair like that and it was FUN!!


Even though I was dancing well after lunch, I got up at 5:45 and arrived at the feis at 7AM. It was crazy, but I found a parking spot in the garage so it was worth it.

I loved, loved, loved the feis. LOVED IT. And no, it’s not because I was lucky enough to place; that is just a nice perk :) I'm not affiliated with the dance school either ;)

Here's why this feis gets a major thumbs up:

1. The stages were raised so they had a "major championship feel" and painted with TrebleKote so I was less likely to fall on my toosh

2. Medal presentations for all 3 rounds in Open Champ and 2 rounds in Prelim

3. They ran the Senior girls' championship concurrently with another competition. I cannot express how grateful I am when a feis committee does this. Most senior championships at a feis have less than 10 entrants. Doing 3 rounds in under 15 minutes is extremely difficult at any age, but especially for me as I find my steps to be complex and stamina killing. The chance to catch a drink of water, a puff of the inhaler, to change shoes at a normal pace, and to not be yelled at to "HURRY UP, please" is awesome

4. Wonderful award ceremonies for each competition with a podium and fun modern music, like Cotton Eyed Joe for the little ones and a little Enrique Iglesias for us older girls

5. Thoughtful/fun awards and bonus competitions: These elements are not a "must" for me to attend, but I appreciate the thought that the feis committee put into the day. The medals were adorable and featured a beach umbrella and ghillies motif. Rainbow sashes for top 3 in Open Champs, which I was so pleased to receive! They also offered a a step down the line treble jig/hornpipe competition for Prelim and Open champs. It was great to watch talent of many ages on stage.

6. Friendly, thoughtful volunteers: Hats off to the parents' who ensured that the feis ran smoothly and provided up front communication weeks in advance about all aspects of the competition: weather, parking, vendors, and available shuttles/activities.

Rainbow sash! So fun and different!

Sorry, there are no pictures of me at the feis, as when you go by yourself, (Friend was watching the Opening Notre Dame game back in Orlando) it limits your options and I'm too shy to ask someone else.

Best part of all, after I was done dancing, I was off to the beach, located just outside the hotel doors!

Ahh, now THIS is the life!!

Yes, the white feet and orange legs are all the rage this year. I'm such a fashionista ;) My ankle brace also left some really pretty lines on my right foot.

I also brought the beach to you all and took a wee video! Of course, without realizing it, I'm dancing a bit during the beginning... it looks like part of the my treble jig lead.


video

Thanks to my mom, who found an old Park Hopper pass from when I was still in grade school, I was able to go to Disney World's Magic Kindom the day after the feis. You may be wondering: "Hey, Ging.. weren't you just in Disney World in July for the NAN". You would be correct, but I didn't have time to go into the parks, so it was great to be able to go and not have to worry about competing!

It was 95 degrees out and rained for an hour at one point in the afternoon, but we still ended up having a blast!

Everyone say, "Ooooh, ahhhhh"

I've never been to Disney around the Halloween season, only Christmas and Easter, so it was so great to see the cute fall decorations everywhere:

There was only one sad part in the day for me that was the fact that "It's a Small World", one of my favorite rides was CLOSED for refurbishment :( :(

Expressing my disappointment in the ride being closed:

We finished off the day with Disney's Electrical parade and then it was off to the Orlando airport early the next morning....



Well, I suppose I'd better stop waxing poetic and get to practicing! My Oireachtas is in 55 days and there is plenty of work to be done!

Have a fabulous fall feis season; keep jiggin ;)

Colleen


Friday, September 3, 2010

Whoa!

So I was looking at the calendar the other day, and I realized that I Heart That! Dance is pretty quickly coming up on three years of being in business (our "birthday is in January :) ). If we were a kid, we'd have gone from infancy to being a walking, talking, grown-up food eating, toilet using preschooler. That's a big change, and the changes we've experienced both as a business, and in our personal lives during this time have been pretty darn huge too. 

We've gone from the five items we were selling at our first competition table in March 2008 to a product line-up of over 50 including a wide range of bags, clothing, knitwear, papercrafts, bath & body and mineral makeup.  And while we were developing patterns, researching suppliers and yes, CRAFTING these products (or putting hardworking crafters to work for us in papercrafts, bath & body and makeup) we were also doing the following:
  1. Having two babies (Kaylee, Nicole's daughter, in 2008 and Laura, Ally's daughter, in 2009) and getting ready to welcome yet another Girl@IHTD to the team (Nicole is due with #2 in January). One of us has been pregnant every summer since we started, which confuses our repeat customers no end ("wait, weren't you pregnant last year?") :)
  2. Buying a house (Ally, in July 2008), which of course meant MOVING. That won't happen again at least, because Ally refuses to move ever again.  Ever, ever, ever.
  3. Still training for dancing competitively (well, not when we were pregnant ;) ), and this past summer, STUDYING (Ally passed her BATD Highland Members exam the past July)
Let's just say the dishes don't get done very often.  Anyway, you came here because I promised a post about "big changes" so I'd better get on with it! 

We're Taking A Wee Break

Since Nic's going to be having her next beautiful baby after Christmas, we've decided to go on hiatus for a bit.  This will also give us a chance to review our products and suppliers, something we desperately need to do after such rapid growth, but have had no time for since we've been busy filling orders (not that we don't love being popular, and the wonderful customers who made that true!!). So here's how this will affect ordering in the near future:
  • We will be taking LIMITED custom orders for Christmas delivery. We have a finite number of spots available (the exact number depends on what gets ordered) and we will take orders either until those spots are filled or until November 1st at the latest. 
  • After November 1st, NO custom orders will be taken, but our stock items will still be available. You can always see what we have in stock by visiting http://iheartthatdance.artfire.com/.
We will resume taking custom orders in July 2011...sort of.  This brings me to the next big change:

We're Changing Our Product Line

Believe me when I tell you that from an emotional perspective, we LOVE making all the bags, knitwear and accessories by hand for all you wonderful gorgeous dancers.  It's a total thrill going to a competition and seeing one of our signature goods being used, or hearing from our customers how pleased they are with their purchase. 

But from a financial perspective, the truth is we are simply not charging enough for what we do.  Some recent calculations have shown that on a couple of the bags, we're only making $3 an hour, and that's not enough.  In the past two and a half years, we've reinvested everything we made back into the business because we HAD to -- while we've taken a considerable number of orders the profits are too low and so we haven't seen a single penny make its way into our pockets. As much as we love what we do, we obviously cannot continue this way.

We don't know exactly what the "new" IHTD will look like in July, but there are a couple of things we are pretty sure of:
  • We'll still be selling the screenprinted clothing -- in fact, now we'll be able to focus on making some ideas we're really excited about come to life! And yes, applique will still be available on hoodies and yoga jackets!
  • Most, if not all, of the bags and handmade clothing will no longer be available through IHTD. Some, such as ghillie bags, hardshoe bags, wig bags, PJ pants and possibly the deluxe makeup bags may still be available to wholesalers or for schools looking for school gear or fundraisers.
  • Sew-on and iron-on applique patches of our designs WILL be available! So you might not be able to order one of our bags but you can get a lil IHTD style on one you've already got!
Some of the existing bags will find their way into Ally's new shop, The Piper's Wife, but the materials will be somewhat different and the price will increase.  So, the moral of the story is that if there's something you have been wanting that's on the "hit list" now is the time to get it.

Again, we will be taking custom orders until November 1st or until we run out of spots, whichever comes first.

Did you seriously make it all the way to the end of this? You're awesome :)  Please leave us your feedback in the comments below or via email to thegirls@iheartthatdance.com -- we value your opinions so much and we will try to answer any questions we can without actually being in possession of a crystal ball :)

xoxo TheGirls