Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On The Search: Spring Attire.

As the temperature warms up, I'm on the search for new spring outfits that are appropriate for meetings with business partners and clients. However, as a mom on the go my number one priority is comfort! I'm looking to create wardrobe staples that incorporate a trendy twist.

I would describe my style as minimal, edgy with a boyish twist. I tend to gravitate towards a dark pallet, and love camouflage, gold accents, and leather. Take a look at some of the pieces I'm currently eyeing for spring, which look is your favorite?

Visit our Pinterest for more "On the Search."

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Re-cap: Opening Day at DC MEETMarket!

This past Saturday was the Opening Day of the DC MEETMarket – an outdoor community market held in the heart of Logan Circle on the first Saturday of every month beginning in April through November. In addition to our other creative projects, my husband, Kelly Towles, and I manage this market in pursuit of engaging the local community by showcasing and supporting local small businesses, artists, and designers. 

Welcome to the DC MEETMarket!

As small business owners and DC-residents ourselves, we value collaboration with community-oriented supporters and vendors. Additionally, we are passionate about providing an engaging community experience for attendees through shopping, food, family activities, art, and live music. 

My husband Kelly and I.

We had an extremely successful opening day with market-goers perusing a variety of 40 local vendors. No Kings Collective and Kelly Towles created live art at the scene, which was later raffled off to two lucky guests. Live music provided by Rock-n-Romp! featured DJ vANNIEty Kills, America Hearts, and LightArms. Despite the wind, I was extremely grateful for the beautiful 60 degree weather, which resulted in a great turn out. 

One of our awesome vendors, Kicheko.
Brandon Hill (of No Kings Collective) and Kelly Towles with their finished live art pieces.

DJ vANNIEty Kills spinning some tunes.

I want to give a sincere thank you to everyone who came out to support the market. Additionally, the market wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our fantastic sponsors and partners: Relay Foods, Honest Tea, Think Local First, Zip Car, Rock-n-Romp!, and No Kings Collective

America Hearts jamming out!

Our market guests enjoying great food by Peruvian Brothers food truck.
If you missed the first DC MEETMarket, don’t worry! Our May market is only a few weeks away, taking place on Saturday, May 3rd from 11 am – 5 pm in the parking lot of St. Luke's Church (15th and P Street). Join us as we have an early Cinco de Mayo celebration with a live Mariachi band, craft projects & a photo booth by Topaz + Arrow, and as always, an awesome array of local vendors selling their goods. 

I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Look Inside DeNada's Showroom.

For years, I've displayed my collections at markets and shopping events all around DC, and one of the main questions I always get asked are, "Do you have a store front?" and "Do you make everything yourself?" Today, I thought I'd take the opportunity to answer these questions, and give you a behind the scenes look at DeNada and our showroom.

I started DeNada in 2009, working out of my apartment I shared with my husband. And with the growth of my business in 2012, I was able to acquire a studio space at O Street Studios in Washington, D.C. The showroom is open by appointment only. Guests of our showroom have the privilege of seeing where my staff and I work. In addition, guests can peruse and shop firsthand our most recent collection, as well as additional styles not available online. Our showroom is where the design process begins and houses our entire stock and collections. Although our collections are handmade in Peru, South America, all designs and prototypes are created here in our DC-based studio.

When I first started DeNada, I made all of the product myself. As production and demand increased, I decided to partner with artisans in Peru, which happens to be where my family is from. Working with artisans in Peru is a great way to connect with my heritage, and learn knitting techniques passed down from generation to generation.

Although this studio loft operates as DeNada's showroom during the week, it is also utilized as a rental space I call, The Ulysses Room. The Ulysses Room is a rental space dedicated to support small businesses, start-ups, artists, and other creative individuals - something that is important to me and that I am passionate about in an effort to support the local creative & small business community.

I am proud to have a space where I can work and showcase my collections, as well as support a community I hold close to my heart. This studio has become my "woman cave" and a place of serenity, where I can work in peace and bring my creativity to life.

Take a look below for a brief tour of the DeNada Showroom, as well as some of my favorite spots in our space!

The outside of our building, 52 O Street. 
My favorite part of our showroom -- the skylight. 
Our minimalist bar. 
The storage room. 
A rack hung from the ceiling, full of DeNada knits. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Guest Blog: Our Intern's Art-Filled Trip to Colombia.

Hi everyone! Vinisha here - one of DeNada's spring interns! I recently took a trip to Cartegena, Colombia where I had the opportunity to experience the International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Cartagena de Indias, taking place from February 7, 2014 - April 7, 2014. The Biennal highlights international contemporary artists in order to enhance the arts scene in Cartagena for the purpose of cultural enrichment of the community. 

As I walked through each exhibit, certain pieces caught my attention. And since I started interning at DeNada, I have learned to appreciate textural and fiber techniques in fashion and art as a whole.  

Below are works of art that I felt made a huge statement and utilized interesting techniques.

La Trama (2013) Copper

137.5° II (2008) Crocheted wool and tacks

Lares and Penates (1990–2013) Found materials

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Favorite Spots in DC to Eat, Drink, & Shop!

I'm so lucky to call DC my home of 12 years. Having moved here in 2002, I've collected my fair share of experiences in regards to dining and shopping. And with the exponential growth of DC's independent business and restaurant scene, I thought I'd share my personal favorite places to go. Enjoy!

Where I Like to Eat...

1. SUNdeVICHfor sandwiches

SUNdeVICH is an independent sandwich shop run out of a converted garage in Shaw, DC. The small shop prides itself on sourcing ingredients from local businesses and farmers. SUNdeVICH's menu contains sandwiches named after and containing flavors from cities around the world. My go-to sandwich? The Paris.

2. Toki Underground - for ramen

Toki Underground is DC's first Taiwanese Ramen and Dumpling House located in the H Street Corridor. In addition to ramen and dumplings, Toki Underground also serves specialty Asian-themed cocktails. My favorite ramen? The Toki Classic.  

3. Ted's Bulletin -  for dessert

Ted's Bulletin is a 30's-style restaurant with two locations in DC - Capitol Hill and U Street. The menu features an all American breakfast, lunch and supper; but I'm a big fan of the house made pop-tarts and adult shakes. My go-to item on the menu? The cinnamon sugar. And my husband, Kelly's, favorite dish? Drew's Peanut Butter Bacon Burger. 

4. Le Diplomate - for French cuisine

Le Diplomate encompasses French café culture by providing a destination for everything from a celebratory dinner to a quick coffee and pastry stop. The menu includes French brunch, hors d'oeuvres desserts, and a wide array of wines. This is also one of my favorite places to go for date night with Kelly. My favorite meal? The Foie Gras Parfait and Moules Frites.

5. Kushi Izakaya & Sushi -  for sushi 

Kushi is a modern Japanese Izakaya and Sushi Bar located in Mt. Vernon Triangle. The menu consists of pre-fixed and a la carte options for tapas, sushi rolls, salads, soups, sake, beers and more. My go-to sushi? The Grilled Kushi and Spicy Tuna Rolls.

6. The Red Hen - for Italian cuisine 

The Red Hen is an Italian-inspired American restaurant located in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The menu features an interpretation of Italian dishes made from Mid-Atlantic ingredients. This family friendly restaurant also has high chairs compatible for bar seating, which as a parent with a toddler, I greatly appreciate and makes it incredibly convenient when reservations are full! My favorite meal? The Tuscan Chicken Liver Crostini and Mezze Rigatoni (which my son, Atticus', absolute loves).

Where I Like to Drink...

1. Big Bear Cafe -  for coffee

The Big Bear Cafe is an independent coffeehouse located in the Bloomingdale neighborhood - just a few blocks away from DeNada's showroom. In addition to a great selection of coffees and teas, Big Bear also serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  My go-to coffee? The Red Eye. 

2. Right Proper Brewing Company -  for craft beer

The Right Proper Brewing Company is a new locally-owned brew pub in the heart of the Shaw neighborhood. The beer list is constantly changing and offers both traditional and unique beers. My current beer of choice? The Raised by Wolves. 

3. Two Birds One Stone - for a creative cocktail experience

Two Birds One Stone is a basement cocktail bar located in the U Street Neighborhood. A great date night bar, Two Birds One Stone is a 60 seat restaurant including intimate alcoves, booths, and an ever-changing weekly menu. My favorite cocktail? The Vieux Carre. 

Where I Like to Shop...

1. REDEEM - for finding new fashion

Redeem is an independent boutique located in the U Street Corridor. It specializes in both men's and women's apparel, shoes and accessories from up and coming designers. I love finding interesting pieces here that are fashion-forward and represent my aesthetic. 

2. Union Market - for a little bit of everything

Union market is a year-round indoor market featuring over 40 local vendors. Here, you can find everything from flowers to cheese to linens. As a mom, I love going to Union Market with my family to shop, eat and explore. 

3. Salt & Sundry -  for home and lifestyle products

Salt & Sundry is a featured shop in Union Market that specializes in a tasteful selection of linens, tableware, gifts, and vintage goods. I always look to Salt & Sundry when I'm in the market for stylish lifestyle products.

With tons of new restaurants and shops popping up in DC, I've started a "bucket list" of places to visit. Next venture on my list? Definitely Izakaya Seki - a Japanese Izakaya located in the U Street Corridor - and Iron Gate - a Greek and Italian inspired restaurant located in Dupont Circle. 

If you have any other suggestions, let me know!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Happy Birthday to My Role Model.

On my wedding day with my lovely parents.
Today, I want to wish a very special person in my life a Happy Birthday!

Everyone has their role models growing up; whether it be their parents or another adult figure in their life. For me, my mother is my ultimate role model (along with my dad), and I thank her for shaping the person I am today. I owe all of my values, morals, and philosophies to her, and am appreciative of all that she has instilled in me while I was growing up. She taught me to be independent, strong, and to never give up. When life gets hard, my mother would always remind me to "sigue adelante" which means, always move forward.

Throughout the years, I've adopted this saying as my ultimate motivation and a way of life. I learned that somethings may happen out of my control, but I must always push and strive to not let those things get in the way of pursuing my dreams and supporting my family. 

With four kids, my mother made motherhood look so easy. And now as a parent, I understand how hard it is - and I only have one!! She inspires me daily to be a better person and a better mother. To be responsible for another human being's upbringing and values is one of the hardest things I've encountered, and makes me appreciate my mother that much more. 

Happy Birthday mom! Love you, and thank you again for everything you've taught me and the values you've instilled in me. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Re-Cap of March in Action!

March has been an exciting and action packed month for me; I had my first talk in front of a live audience, my husband Kelly's solo art exhibition, new press, and the most recent Topaz+Arrow workshop! Here is a re-cap of this eventful month.

On March 13th, I was included in "Locals Unplugged: Females in Fashion," a discussion - held at the Ulysses Room - hosted by Think Local First featuring Theresa Watts of Lettie Gooch, and my good friend Lori Parkerson of REDEEM, and myself. I've done numerous one-on-one interviews, but this was my first talk in front of a live audience. Though the thought of speaking in front of an audience was a bit nerve wrecking, I enjoyed this opportunity to discuss and share my views on fashion, business, and my philosophies with a group of enthused ladies interested in entering this industry.

I want to sincerely thank Think Local First for including me in this discussion. It was an honor to take part in this event, and hope that what I had to say made an impact.

The set up at the Ulysses Room.

The discussion in action with my friends Theresa and Lori.

The following day, my husband and local artist, Kelly Towles celebrated the opening day of his first solo exhibition in eight years - "The Death of Ulysses" at Hierarchy.  The opening show gathered a great crowd, and I want to thank everyone who came out to support him. I can't say enough how proud I am of him, and how impressed I constantly am by his creativity and his carefully cultivated creations.

Photo by: Priscilla Ledesma of BYT

Photo by: Priscilla Ledesma of BYT

Photo by: Priscilla Ledesma of BYT

Photo by: Priscilla Ledesma of BYT

On another note, Kelly and I were featured in Brightest Young Things' series At Home With: Virginia Arrisueño and Kelly Towles. Thank you to BYT for including us, and a big thank you to the writer  Ashley Wright, and the photographer Jeff Martin for visiting our studio to write this wonderful article.

Photo by: Jeff Martin of BYT

Last but not least, this past Sunday was Morgan and my third Topaz + Arrow event of this year entitled, Leather, Branches, and Hooks. With a sold out class held at The Ulysses Room, we provided our guests with sturdy wood branches, a variety of leather, metallic paint, and hooks to create one-of-a-kind jewelry organizers.

The natural materials that our students used allowed the finished products to have an earthy, yet sleek look to them. Many of our crafty guests used different metallic paints as well as colored strings to add unique touches to their pieces.

I had a great time instructing and observing our guests creativity at work. I appreciate the enthusiasm of our guests, and value the experience to work and share my creations with people who share the same appreciate for the handmade that Morgan and I do.

I want to give a big thank you to everyone who came out to support this event, and most of all to our wonderful sponsors Honest Tea, Boulevard Brewing Company, KIND, Teeny Pies and Crème Yvette for providing us with delicious treats and refreshments throughout the workshop.

Below, are some photos from our workshop!

The place setting at each of the tables.

Our guests hard at work on their jewelry hangers.

One of the finished jewelry organizers.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

On The Search: Watches.

Working on all of my projects has made me realize that a new watch is a necessity for me right now - Yes, I do not own a watch! I need the perfect accessory that will take me where I need to go, and get me there on time! Lately, I love the look of large, masculine watches that still have a trendy and feminine feel to them. Since I generally wear neutral colors in my everyday attire, a black or gold watch would be the perfect color to accessorize my wardrobe with.

Here are some of the watches that I'm lusting over, which one is your favorite?

Until next time,

Virginia Blanca Arrisueño

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bundled: A Look Back at A/W13.

With DeNada's A/W13 Season coming to an end, I wanted to take a moment to look back at one of the most memorable seasons for me. From my first time using a different fiber, to DeNada's first launch party, it's hard to believe how far my brand has grown. I'm always so grateful for the opportunity I have  to work with such wonderful artisans in Peru, and hope to continue this growing relationship I have with them.

I want to give a big thank you to everyone involved in the success of DeNada's A/W13 Collection; the talented artisans in Lima, Peru, my husband - Kelly Towles, lookbook photographer - Luis Aragon, makeup/hair stylist - Kathy Aragon, my dear friend and set designer/stylist - Morgan Hungerford-West, video director - Raul Zahir De Leon, sales manager - Sue, and all of our lovely interns in 2013 - Grant, Niana, Modupeh, Grace, and Katie.

With the first day of spring upon us, I am getting ready to transition into our A/W 2014 Collection, and I can't wait to share with everyone the new designs I've been working on due to debut later this year!

Here's a look back at a few of my favorite images from DeNada's A/W13 lookbook.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

At the Intersection of Fashion, Art and Photography: Mate Moro and Nora Gyenge.

The realm of fashion design is not limited to fashion itself. Rather, it is influenced by a network of music, literature, theatre, and the list goes on. This network thrives on the constant sharing of artistic ideas. As the lead fashion designer for DeNada, I am constantly inspired by everything around me. I recently stumbled upon the works of Mate Moro and Nora Gyenge- two individuals who have found a way to blend their artistic specialties in order to create breathtaking campaigns for fashion designers and magazines.  

While Moro acts as the photographer and Gyenge the stylist for the majority of their projects, it is clear that the collaboration of the duo on the creative concepts is what works. Moro and Gyenge conceptualize photographic masterpieces by honing in on the relationship between the subject and the geometry of surrounding space.  

Check out my favorite photos below.

Filled Field

Filled Field

Yayoi Kusama & Louis Vuitton Collection for The Room Magazine

Yayoi Kusama & Louis Vuitton Collection for The Room Magazine

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Busy Life = The Greatest Life!

If you follow DeNada's blog, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you may have noticed that I sometimes mention other projects that I'm involved in. Today, I want to take the opportunity to explain and give you a better idea of what each project I am working on, and what it means to me. Feel free to check out these other amazing endeavors that I've been hard at work on lately!

1. DC MEETMarket
DC MEETMarket is a project I've been co-managing with my husband, Kelly Towles, for the second year. The mission of the Market is to engage the local DC community by showcasing and supporting local business owners, artists, designers, and musicians. I started DeNada at Eastern Market, and as a small business owner and designer, I felt it was a great opportunity to gain exposure of my company. With the DC MEETMarket, it feels wonderful knowing that I am giving the opportunity to connect with the community as well as support talented artisans and small business owners. The market will start up again on April 5th, and I'm looking forward to seeing all of the familiar faces from last season's markets, as well as some new ones!

2. Ulysses Room
Ulysses Room - also DeNada's showroom - is a multi-purpose studio loft and event space located in the Truxton Circle - Washington, DC. The mission of Ulysses Room is to support emerging artists, visual creatives, and small brands by providing a space to celebrate their work. Ulysses Room hosts events based on this mission and rents the space to people and organizations who are like-minded in promoting the arts through education, inspiration and collaboration.

3. Topaz+Arrow
Topaz+Arrow is a monthly DIY, art, and design workshop, founded by myself and my friend, Morgan Hungerford-West. As a designer and artist, I am naturally a DIY enthusiast. Through communal craft sessions with members of the DC community, Topaz+Arrow strives to showcase the art of DIY and has become a lifestyle resource for the art and design driven community. Crafts learned through our monthly workshops incorporate the art of DIY into a lifestyle from home decor to dinner parties to personal style! Workshops are held at the Ulysses Room, as well as Wild Hand Workspace, a studio in the Brookland neighborhood of DC.

4. DeNada
Last, but not least, my pride and joy! As my first business endeavor, DeNada has become my central focus over the past few years. I started DeNada in 2005 designing and selling handbags and t-shirts. With a passion for knits and fibers, in 2009, I made the decision to focus and specialize in handmade knits for women and men. DeNada was the perfect opportunity to connect my art and design background with the culture I hold close to my heart. My goal with DeNada is to offer stylish, contemporary pieces which incorporate ethnic elements from my Peruvian heritage. DeNada is my vision and passion, and I am so excited to begin preparing the launch of our new collection in a few months!

I absolutely love working on all of these projects. I've lived in DC for over 10 years now, and hope that with all of my projects, I am contributing to the growing creative and small business community in this city. The busy life = the greatest life!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

On The Search: iPad Cases.

On The Search is a blog series of my most coveted items. When I'm looking for new staple items, I like to add them into a collage to visualize the possibilities of what I might buy.

My old iPad case, though very useful, has been through A LOT. From meeting to meeting, to daycare, and just being out and about, my case is definitely due for an upgrade. Lately I've been eying some that are durable enough for my everyday life, but also stylish and properly represents my aesthetic. For me, an iPad case isn't something I want, it's a big necessity for me.

Below are some of the ones I found - What do you think?

To see other items that I have been loving, check out my Pinterest board / On The Search today!

Until next time,

Virginia Blanca Arrisueño