Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Michael Levine's Halloween Costume Contest for Employees

Last Saturday, October 22nd, we held our annual costume contest in the store for all Michael Levine's employees. Each employee was given a $25 store credit to put towards fabric and supplies for any participating halloween costume or apron. In order to be eligible for a prize, we had to be able to work in our costumes all day, and they had to be completely hand made - no ready mades or store bought costumes!

At 8:45, fifteen minutes before opening on Saturday morning, all of the "contestants" lined up at the front of the store and paraded in front of our judges/store supervisors, fellow employees, and insiders/photographers like myself. They came to the front, stated their names and Halloween personas, and worked the catwalk as much as they could for ten to twenty seconds. By the end of the work day, winners had been selected and were announced and given prizes:

Alex, First Place

This is our First Prize Winner, Gaga Miranda, a.k.a. Alex, from our buttons department. His completely hand made cabana queen costume won him the GRAND PRIZE, and, as you can see, in the background his peers enjoyed the performance! Alex says he "was up until 2 a.m., the morning of the contest," finishing up his costume. He used curled boning and horsehair to accomplish some of the finer details of his headdress, as well as tulle and sequined glitter mesh for the majority of the costume.

Rosie, Second Place

The second place prize went to the Queen of Hearts, a.k.a. Rosie, from our wholesale department. She stormed onto center stage with her commanding glare and dramatic eyebrows, which is honestly so far from the cheerful every day Rosie, that at first I didn't realize it was her! Rosie used red velour, sequined glitter mesh, and a white feather boa, among other things, and completed the look with a fabulous pink dodo bird croquet mallet.

Jose, Third Place

The Third Place prize went to Pinocchio, a.k.a. Jose, one of our floor clerks. His costume was great; he used assorted colors of felt, feathers, and faux suede, and I loved his tree-branch nose with birds and leaves and a nest! He even had Jiminy Cricket on his shoulder!

Happy Birthday Pilar!

And now for some honorable mentions... A shout-out to Pilar. I like to say that she is a 'pil-lar' of our community here because we all enjoy her fun, lively spirit! Saturday happened to be a special day for her. Happy Birthday Pilar from all of your friends and co-workers!

Definitely worth mention and probably a close contender for one of the prizes was Ursula, a.k.a. Raquel from our Home Decor store. She floated into the spotlight in full character, arms raised and wickedly sneering deep sea threats as she twirled her tentacles! She really was scary!

It's always neat to see the creativity that's under the surface amongst our crew. Look what they came up with! Clockwise from top left: Karen as a Hobo, 'La Vuida Negra' Rosa (the black widow), Orange M&M Carlos, Pink Lady Elsa, Tanya as the Goddess Athena, Israel the Zombie, Gangster Alicia, Mariachi Jocelyn, Native American Shelly, and American Soldier Blanca.

And last but certainly not least, the Halloween aprons that the girls in our buttons and notions departments came up with were very crafty and cute!

All in all so many of the employees turned up in costumes, helping bring fun and celebration to the store and inspiring others to let loose and have a good time!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Loft, our across-the-street annex where fabric remnants are just $2.50 per pound!

Many frequenters of Michael Levine's aren't aware that we have a fabric-by-the-pound store right across the street from our main store, and above our home decor store. In the Loft, you will find boxes and boxes of orphaned fabrics that aren't on rolls or boards; they are simply left overs from job lots or other sources, and we bring them here to liquidate. At the Loft, all fabrics are $2.50 per pound, with a minimum purchase of one pound. This on average equates to costing much less than $2.00 a yard!
The Loft boasts high-ceilings, a big open feel, and afternoon sunlight streaming in through its many windows. Fans are blowing, and boxes upon boxes of mixed fabrics invite you to have a dig through. A little time and patience, and a discerning eye, is all one needs to score big at the Loft. Your finds are simply taken to the scales near the Loft's main entrance, weighed, and charged at just $2.50 per pound.
This past Sunday, I was lucky to meet one of the Loft's devoted fans, Kim, from Los Angeles, who had nothing but great things to say about the Loft. "I can ALWAYS find at least one piece of something amazing on any given visit. And Michael is EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT," she says of our friendly staff member, who heads and manages the Loft's daily operations. "He remembers the things I've picked up in the past, and always has recommendations for me based upon those." The dress that Kim is pictured in below is "entirely Loft, straight down to the trim!" she exclaimed.That's right, you can find trims here also...
...as well as large thread cones for $1.00 each!
And larger fabric remnants are folded and hung on racks:Or they might be rolled and stored on shelving at the rear of the store:
Either way, you're sure to score on your next visit, because every day is a good deal day at the Loft! Be our guest, the Loft is inviting you!

Monday, October 17, 2011

80/20 split

So 80% of the time I'm an employyee here at Michael Levine, but 20% of the time I am a shopper, crafter, and have even tried my hand at knitting. Before coming to work here I never would have called myself crafty, but being around all these amazing products day after day I found myself wanting to try my hand at a few things. The first thing I remember making were some really cute place mats out of oil cloth. No sewing required so it was a perfect first project for me. All I needed was pinking shears and the fabric. They turned out so cute and added a punch of color to my table. Once I had a baby around I found my focus shifted to baby items. Baby bibs, baby burp cloths, and baby blankets took me through the next few years. All my friends were so impressed when a one-of-a-kind baby bib or birp cloth was pulled out of my diaper bag. And a few years ago we brought yarn into the store. I love the look of the yarn and just had to give it a go. I will have to pull out the ones I did and post the pics. While I loved the results, I have to admit with 3 little kids and my low level of patience I didn't make that many items. I do have a few great winter scarves and love wearing them.  We have recently got in these collars, some are plane, while some have more embellishing. I was going through my many fashion magazines and saw all these t-shirts with embellished neckline. My radar went up and I thought I can do this. For a few dollars and a nice Michael Star T-shirt I had mysel a really cute, not so everyday T-shirt. Here are a few pics of my personal projects that I really thought were simple and that I really use and wear...

Here is one of my latest projects. I have been into making jewlery. I made this great vintage feeling necklace awhile ago, and still love wearing it. It was so simple. We have chain here and of course a hugh selection of buttons. These are rhinestone balls that hang just perfect.

One day when I was working in the button department I met this shopper who had this amazing necklace on, one that would be perfect fot the "Black & Bling" party I was invited to. When I asked her about it & took a closer look I realized it was all buttons. She had just bought it a one of the big department stores. Again I thought I can make this for 1/2 the price. While we didn't carry the exact button her necklace contained I found something similar that I liked. I love this necklace. While I use it as a special occasion piece I get compliments everytime I wear it.

I hope you feel inspired to try something new. While we may not still carry the exact products show in these pictures, we have so many newer, great options. Remember, even if your a novice like me, have fun and give it a go!