Happy Anniversary!

Hey party people!  Hope your celebrations of #murica's birthday were S*P*E*C*T*A*C*U*L*A*R*!  Mine certainly was!  This past week has been chock-full of celebrations for me with my birthday happening last week and Independence Day and all, but this post ain't about none-o-that.. Nope.  It's about another cause for celebration:  KEELEY KRAFT'S ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY! One year ago today, I launched Keeley Kraft.  Woot woot!  This web-baby is one year old!  But as much as this is a birthday for KK, it's an anniversary for me (and so of course, that's what I'm going to focus on... ME! ;).  Pop the champs, y'all! 

Writing this blog has been extremely fulfilling for me on so many unexpected levels and even though I haven't been posting very regularly as a of late, I want to acknowledge the satisfaction I derive each day that I do post something.  It's an awesome feeling to be able to put something together and to be able to tangibly see the result.  But moreover, it's been indescribably invigorating to put something out into the world, on a public scale, for it to be read, judged, cherished and to hopefully inspire, inform, possibly offend and maybe help. 

A side effect of "feeding" the blog has been the confidence I have gained in my writing.  I never thought of myself as a writer before starting this blog and the feedback I've gotten from people who have obtained something from what I've written has been so touching and encouraging.  I've found a voice for myself through writing through this outlet that I didn't know existed and to put it simply, that's a really cool feeling! :).  Furthermore, to be able to go back and read what I've written over the course of a year and have a record of many notable occasions that have occurred since I started, gives me a sense of growth and analysis that is pretty unique.  I've experienced the therapeutic effects of writing through this practice and most importantly, have sold some Keeley Kraft furniture and etched wine glasses as a result :). 

But mostly, I'm just super grateful to this blog for giving that to me and to anyone that ever read any of the posts that I wrote.  It's one of the best feelings EVER when someone "likes" one of my posts or tells me they've read something I've written and it spoke to them or even tells me they feel like they know me more from reading my blog.  Sometimes writing and compiling these posts can take a long time but the joy I get from the confirmation and support of others makes it COMPLETELY WORTH IT!   So... THANK YOU!  All in all, it's been a whirlwind year! 

But srrriously, enough with the sappiness already! 

I've compiled a little round up of lovely "paper" items because the gift for a one year anniversary is: PAPER.  (See what I just did there? :)  A little extrapolation, I know, but some of these paper products are TOTES LEGIT, guys!  Check 'em out:

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A Trailer Palace

Oh hey guys, I'm back!  I just fell off the face of the Earth for a brief time but, after much clawing and clambering, I climbed my way back up onto the face of my world and am trying to get myself re-acquainted and re-calibrated with my life formerly known as my life.  No actually, I've been taking computer programming courses at night and between my day job and this thing I forgot existed when you go to school -> homework, it has been sucking up all of my time for "extra-curriculars." (ie: this blog).  But I carved out a smidgen of time to project my written voice and so, with that being said, I'm going to attempt to write a blog post on here that makes a shred of sense... but, no guarantees.   I'm operating in a rogue brainwave state right now that's clouded with all sorts of new words, definitions, ways of thinking and a bunch of other shit, so if everything you just read (and are about to read) is not "reading" well on your end (we call that a "syntax error" #codinghumor LOL), don't worry because the rest of this post is mostly just going to be a lot of photos (or at least that's the goal).  

... But some context for the photos before I "literarily" sign off:..   Not last weekend but two weekends ago, I went to undeniably the most unique "resort" I have ever stayed at.  "Resort" is a term I use loosely because, it generally implies a sort of retreat from performing one's normal day-to-day functions (ie: cooking, cleaning, keeping house) and this was not quite that.  However, it did encompass the other end of the "resort" definition by being housed in a destination that unequivocally an "escape."  

Literally, this place defines "OFF. THE. GRID."  And as such, I will not be posting its exact location to both add to the mystique of my adventure and to also comply with the rules I agreed to upon staying there: I cannot divulge the exact address or coordinates under any circumstances.  However, I can tell you the general locale was in Joshua Tree, CA - an area near Palm Springs, best known for its ghost-town-like characteristics, its giant weird rock formations and its unique disposition for hosting shroom, acid and peyote trips for people wanting to be one with nature... and their hallucinations.  

Anyhoo, this resort is aptly referred to on their website as a "trailer palace" called: HICKSVILLE.  And I am here to report, that a "trailer palace" was exactly what it was.  My group rented out the entire resort and we had full run of the place, which includes 9 trailers, a pool, a hot tub, a teepee, a grill, a wagon bar, a jukebox, a fire pit, a photobooth, an archery course (did you see my post on archery here??), a BB gun site, a mini-golf course, a library, a ping pong table, an outdoor shower and outhouse (for male optional use), a PBR vending machine, and a sizable plot of astroturf, among a lot of other cool stuff that you'll just have to go and see for yourself.  

The real highlight of the stay though, is the trailers.  Each trailer has its own theme and each theme is both random and strange and perfectly executed.  There is a wig shop trailer, a Cramps trailer (for horror film fans), a 70's style trailer complete with shag carpet and a record player, a caboose style trailer, a "PeeWee" trailer - modeled after PeeWee Herman's love interest's trailer, which looks like a Oregon Trailer trailer on the outside but a Harry Potter train car on the inside.. I can apply to no sense to the inspirations or decorating decisions.  There were other trailers that me trying to explain on here would probably cause more confusion than clarity and so I will not even attempt. But suffice to say, the experience was magical in a the strangest of ways.  And if anyone has a chance to visit this wholly bizarre and special place, I recommend you jump on the opportunity promptly as you will not be disappointed... Mostly from the standpoint of having no rational expectations for what your trip might hold and also because this place took the vision to completion.  The owner of the "palace" said on the website, that he felt the place simply "needed to exist" and so he created it... Now if that doesn't whet your palate to check it out, I'm at a loss.  

But geez Keeley, shut up already!  Below are the photos I promised (and took four paragraphs to deliver):  Devour them, my pretties!

Hicksvile CA.png
Hicksville Trailer Palace 2.png
Hicksville Cramps Trailer.png
Hicksville Bar.png
Hicksville Caboose.png

And one of the raddest photos ever with two of the raddest ladies ever!  

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On that note, go have yourselves a wild and crazy and bizarre and unforgettable weekend! 

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ROOFTOP SHOUTING

Today's post is a tribute post and it's bound to get a little mushy so consider yourselves warned ;).  But before you let that lead you astray, bear in mind that the takeaway is that you'll get to read about someone who is an immeasurable inspiration to me and many others - the embodiment of a role model and really, who couldn't use another role model?! :)  It's occasions like this that make me cherish the fact that I have a blog so that I can broadcast about exceptional people and can shout it from the proverbial rooftops.  Having a forum to express my gratitude towards people that have had such an impact on my life and highlight what makes them so special brings me immense joy.  So thank you to anyone who has read this blog if only even once and thus allowed it to serve as a viable platform so disseminating what I want to express.

Caitlin McCarthy 6.png

Now let's get on with it, shall we?  Today is the anniversary of birth for my favorite person in the entire world: my sister Caitlin.  Her influence is woven throughout my life at every turn and this blog and its contents are no exception.  This post features her stunning loft, just one of her many notable accomplishments.  It has also proven to be one of the favorite posts on this blog, so check it out HERE if you haven't already.  

She is one of the most talented people I know and has a Midas touch when it comes to most aspects of life - anything she touches turns to relative "gold."  She is creative to epic proportions and has the ability to transform anything into something beautiful through both spoken and written words, art, style, graphic and interior design, curating of any kind, fashion, physical appearance, and even just "vibe."  She is wise beyond her years, intelligent beyond that of most, and can pull and weave a variety of experiences, things, conversations and facts together in ways that are beyond the scope of what many people are capable of.  

However, her best traits are the ones that can't be seen but rather felt, which is a shame for people that haven't had the experience of being in her presence.  She brings a light to any situation and is one of the most genuine, selfless people you'll ever meet.  There is something about being around her that makes people feel good and treasure the opportunity to do so.  She has her own sparkle.  She has an innate sense of what people need in order to enjoy the moment and can provide that for them in refreshing and unexpected ways through her humor, generosity and "Caitlin-ness."  

She is an incredible listener and always seems to have the perfect anecdote to show that she has comprehended what you've said, can relate and can add value and insight.  She's someone who just kind of, "get's it" - on a social level, a business level, a logical level, a creative level, a spiritual level and a just an all-around human connection level.  She is one of those unique people who doesn't come along everyday, that is a cut above the rest and is truly pure-hearted.  She exceeds expectations in every relationship she possesses and I am continuously in awe of her.  I feel so lucky to just know her and indescribably grateful to be her kin.  Happy Birthday Caitlin, I wouldn't be who I am without you!  You are my hero!

Boxcar Children 2.0

Did you ever read that book, The Boxcar Children growing up and secretly wish you were them... But only for a minute though, because you still liked your soft warm bed, parents and the joys of a labor-free childhood?  For those of you scratching your heads about what I'm referring to, the books, The Boxcar Children were a series of "young adult" books (aka: chapter books) about a family of orphaned, homeless children, Henry, Jesse, Violet and Benny and their dog, Watch, who found an abandoned train car in the woods where they set up house, scavenged for food and work, cooked, and cared for themselves and each other...  Sounds appealing, right? :)

Look familiar?

Look familiar?

Well, now all of the boxcar wannabes that like their little luxuries, can have their cake and eat it too because boxcar (read: shipping storage container) homes are all the new rage.  ANNNND, they're cheap to boot.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call a win-win. 

These economical abodes are upping the ante on the home front in all facets.  Their creators are getting creative with the outside, inside and everything in between... and more importantly, they're causing my boxcar dweller envy to creep back up from the archives of my brain where I "stored" it a long, long time ago. 

So without further ado, let's peep at some of these innovative endeavors:

Shipping Container Home 2.png

I don't know about you, but I feel like renting a P.O.D., showing up with it on the front yard of some of these homes and settling in.  Guest houses always increase real estate value, right? ;)  

But seriously, wow.  

One Memory Lane

Last week I went to watch one of the co-founders of One Kings Lane, Susan Fallon, speak (or be interviewed, rather) by the founder of DocStoc.  I've posted about One Kings Lane on here more times than I can count, so much so that I've even taken to referring to it as OKL - its commonly referenced acronym within the design world.   This particular event however, was part of a series that is aimed at entrepreneurs and individuals interested in tech companies and their start-up journey.  It was my first time attending one of these DocStoc entrepreneurial series events and frankly, I was shocked by the number of attendees (mostly of the gentlemen variety), who had no idea what One Kings Lane even was!  They took a poll of the room and the numbers were, in my opinion, STAGGERING!  (An outrage if you ask me!).  The audience was comprised of about 70% men and 30% impeccably dressed women LOL.  So for anyone that is reading this, and still has no idea what "OKL" is, it is a flash sale website/email subscription service that sells curated pieces of furniture at "discount" prices (the "discount price" part is debatable :).  And now that we've created an even playing field among my readers on this topic, let's dig in!

One Kings Lane is a huge company and it continues to be on the upward slope in terms of growth.  The company was founded in the Fall of 2008 and they launched in the Spring (April) of 2009 by Susan Feldman and Alison Pincus.  For those of you not familiar with the tech start up timeline, that is fast!  They were given advice by Ali Pincus' husband, Mark Pincus, the founder of Zynga (the online gaming site most known for FarmVille), that they should be the first to market in this niche as it was all about speed in this industry.  So, they took the advice and ran.   Around this time, flash sale sites were just starting to gain popularity and traction, with the godfather, Vente Privee taking the European market by storm and Gilt following shortly behind in the U.S. but the market still lacked a suitable home decor player in this space.  Susan had recently moved from New York to Los Angeles and was struggling yet obsessed (I'm sure any design enthusiast can relate) with finding the perfect pieces to furnish her significantly larger home in LA.  With few options online and frustrated with running all over the city from store to store to shop,  this struggle combined with a newfound passion was what prompted her to create a solution for a larger scale and decide to start a business.  Susan had a longstanding background in retail and merchandising and was intrigued with the flash sale model as it allowed for wholesale discounts which she was accustomed to seeing in retail but she recognized her need for a more technical co-founder.  Shortly after this idea was planted, her husband met Lisa Stone, the co-founder of BlogHer, who put her in contact with Alison Pincus, who lived in San Francisco and had a background in business development, marketing and digital media.  

The two were introduced "electronically" and after going back and forth for a few weeks over email and phone, decided to meet in person.  Ali flew to LA where Susan met her at the airport and the two hit it off immediately.  Susan remarked during the interview that she had had two successful blind dates in her life, one was her husband and the other was Ali.  From that trip on, the two became a powerhouse team, talking on the phone for up eight hours a each day to each other via headset up until launch and even still to this day! They met periodically in San Luis Obispo, which was almost exactly halfway between San Fran and LA and even hired a team of programmers (who managed an outsourced team) to develop their site out of there as well.

The decided on the name One Kings Lane to signify a fictitious home address that felt both worldly and wealthy and was easy to spell.  Plus, the domain name was available.  They tested the name out on a "very famous and successful entrepreneur" (whose name she would not reveal), who said the name was terrible.  He said it needed to be one word, short and not a word that currently existed.  After much deliberation, they shunned this infamous mystery businessman's advice and went forth with their gut based on the feeling that they knew there customers and they wanted to feel like a warm boutique shop.  Ali had just gotten married before they started and had loved the firm that designed her wedding invitations so they reached out to the same designer to see if she would design their logo.  They liked the elephant with the trunk up because it signified good fortune and felt worldly and the plant gave the sense of a home.  I approve, ladies!

At the time of launch they had 10 employees and marketed themselves as being in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York (the three locations where the original people worked from home LOL).  They had a goal to launch their site and first flash sale via email to 5,000 people subscribers.  They sought to reach this goal by contacting 100 of their most influential and well connected friends and asking them to go out to 100 influential people that they knew to spread the word.  They were offering referral credits at the time, so each person who got another person to sign up would get a $25 credit to apply to their first purchase.  At the moment of launch, when the first email was sent out, they had exactly 5,000 subscribers signed up.  Additionally, they set up a giveaway contest for all of the people that had subscribed prior to launch, offering up an Hermes blanket as a prize to one VERY LUCKY winner.  If you don't know (as many of the male attendees at the event did not), an Hermes blanket retails for about $1200 and ahem, is also at the tip-top of my wishlist.  Hint hint :).  Anyway, a winner was chosen from that first sale round and, though I don't know her, I kind of hate her. JK, kinda.  The same day as the first sale, the late email newsletter publication, Daily Candy (R.I.P.) came out with an article on One Kings Lane and within one day, they were up to 25,000 subscribers!  Talk about the power of PR, people!  

Today, they have over 10 million subscribers, generated more than $200 million in revenue in 2012 and they aren't done yet!  Their user statistics reveal that 90% of subscribers are women, down from 95% female users, last year.  Men, what are you doing?  Get with it!  They started the company with their own funds (less than $100K) and ran a very lean operation until launch.  They were profitable within their first year but still needed additional funding to grow and scale to where they are today.  They currently have over 500 employees and still operate out of three separate offices, in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York - with each office handling different, defined aspects of the business.  However, they pride themselves on the fact that no one in the company has an assistant and are keen on maintaining control over their calendars, meetings and workload.   

They are currently in the throes of launching and promoting their new site, Hunters Alley, a peer-to-peer online marketplace where anyone can buy or sell vintage, pre-owned home and lifestyle goods (WHICH..... Keeley Kraft has been featured on in the past ;).  And, are constantly trying to expand their company offerings to grow their business and brand in new and exciting ways.

And now, for all of you budding entrepreneurs, here is some of the parting advice Susan gave at the end of her interview:

  • Focus on your mission.  It's easy to be tempted to try and provide everything to everyone but you will have better success if you keep your eye on your mission and unique proposition.
  • Keep your site simple.  If it's too complicated your customers will not invest the time.
  • Fail fast.
  • Hiring good people is KEY.
  • Always be at the forefront of innovation.  Copycats will pop up and you don't want them eating your lunch!
  • Great photos can make a great difference
  • Seek funding before you need it.
My hardly discernible proof that I was there.

My hardly discernible proof that I was there.

Lots of information I just threw at you, I know, but I always find it interesting to hear how companies that we engage with everyday, went from being nothing to something huge and how, so I wanted to share with you all as well!  Hopefully you are as inspired as I was! 

XOXO

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Wine Down

A few weeks ago, when I was up in Napa for the business retreat, we decided to spend one more night in the area un"wine"ding and carrying out a post-retreat-retreat.  We ended up staying at one of the most serene and comfortable places I've had the luxury of staying at and it proved to be the perfect antidote for the exhaustion that followed the weekend.  

We stayed at The Inn at Carneros in Napa, CA and left the next day feeling refreshed, restored and ready to embark on the 7 hour drive home.  Woot woot!  After our departure, I considered the stay to be more of a recon mission of sorts because I now have serious plans to go back and take full advantage of the array of activities that the resort facilitates, both on property and off.  I would also like to state for the record that Napa is perfection.  

This was my first trip to the Napa area and I maintained a wistful feeling of needing to live there, throughout the entire weekend.  The town of Yountville, located within Napa County, is any consumption connoisseur's Disneyland and everything within the greater Napa County seems to be bursting with life and beauty in a homegrown yet curated kind of way (does that make any sense??).  Some of the world's best restaurants are quaintly tucked into this perfectly picturesque setting and many of these Michelin rated restaurants have their own farm in the back where they grow fresh ingredients and truly embody farm to table in a way like no other!  The whole area felt a bit surreal to me and I was able to indulge my Parent Trap circa LiLo mind wanderings as we cruised down the main drag of town like we had no where to be.  

The resort itself was an extension of this clean, simple, fresh beauty with the infusion of a modern farm feel.  They have constructed the entire property to feel a little town/neighborhood with each guest staying in their own little cottage (with a private backyard!).

The Inn at Carneros Napa Valley Luxury Hotels.png

The end result causing a semi-utopian feel.   There is a general store/market on the premises that will pack any variety of picnic for you.  One of the restaurants, The Boon Fly Cafe is in this bright red farm house and serves up the most delicious donuts for breakfast (speaking from personal experience).  

Boon Fly Cafe Napa Carneros Inn.png

There is another restaurant, the Hilltop Dining Room that is aptly named, as it sits upon a hill overlooking acres of vines.  I did not have the pleasure of dining here but... I will.  Someday.  

However, I can attest, The Farm Restaurant at Carneros is amazing... Spectacularly appointed and scrumptious fare.  We were sat near the fireplace and for some inexplicable reason, were still a bit chilly so the manager brought us these faux fur blankets.  

From that moment on, I was sold.  Actually scratch that, from the minute we checked in and they offered us complimentary wine and chocolates, I was sold.  And then before we went to dinner and they came for turndown service and brought us more chocolate (this time chocolates filled with a salted caramel creme), I was goner.  The blankets were just the "creme de la creme," if you will :).  We also had a fireplace in our room and a shower that was both indoor and outdoor (see below).  The property is teeming with activities which include bocce ball courts, firepits, complimentary bikes, affiliate relationships with several nearby wineries that you can take the bikes to along with a picnic you can get from the market on site.  The pools are spectacular, of course there is a spa and the dining options leave no room for wanting more.  

All in all, I'm classifying it as a "Highly Recommend" and am recommending first and foremost, that I go back ASAP.  Yes, that is my official expert prescription. 

Some People Call Me Maurice

Because it's Friday night and I feel alright...  Oh, hey y'all hey.  I don't know about you but I'm getting pretty sick of staring at the photo of me with the bow on here so I figured I should do something about that.  My solution was to post something new - imagine that?! I know my postings on here as of late have been as spotty as AT&T's cell reception (oh dis!) and trust me, I got a bag o'excuses but quite frankly, it's Friday and who the F cares?!  My only point in bringing it up at all was to set the stage for sharing with you a place I went almost a week and a half ago and am just now getting around to talking about.  But in this case of desperation, "better late than never" is the ever apropo motto.  And so, here goes:

It was on el Cinco de Mayo that I had the opportunity to fulfill as close to a time machine fantasy as I'm probably going to come in my lifetime (although thou shalt not speak too soon and jeopardize jinxing the progress of human advancement - because our technological advancement is totally at risk of being JINXED!).  Anyone who knows me even a smidgen, knows that I would give ANYTHING to be able to have been in my 20's during the 1970's.  The jealousy I have for my parent's is RIFE, y'all.  I've already blogged on here about my obsession with the movie Almost Famous (see here) and that era in general, so when I found out that some gift from God had created a time warp of a bar right in LA, I was beside myself.  My standards were low because any nod to this time period is a treat for me, but after entering this establishment - MIND BLOWN.  They nailed it.  

Enter: Good Times at Davey Wayne's.  Your time travel experience begins immediately after your ID is checked, as you walk through a "garage sale" right off the sidewalk in Hollywood.  You are informed by the bouncer that you have the ability to buy (and haggle for, in true garage sale form) any of the items in the faux garage foyer.  I had heard of this "feature" prior to visiting the bar and was a bit skeptical that this part would be hokey at best.  But in the flesh, it was not.  I almost walked out of there with some records and vintage red plaid thermos to add to my already growing collection of unnecessary red plaid picnic items (read about my hoarding problem here) but I controlled my burning wallet (for once!) and proceeded without purchasing.  No one wants to chat up the bag lady in the bar, and I didn't want to risk anything tarnishing this experience.

Good Times at Davey Waynes Hollywood.png

Once you walk through the secret REFRIGERATOR door at the end of the "faux garage" you walk into a 1970's house party.  Shag carpet, wood paneling, jams churning on the record player... The whole 9 yards.  But what really sends you back in time and sets the mood is the other AMAZING part of the charade: everyone there seems to have gotten the memo that they better arrive dressed the part.  It's trippy, man!  At first you think the most eccentric guests are staff but then you realize, everyone else is just excited to be there as you are and that makes it even more fun!  Costume party haters, beware!  

Good Times at Davey Waynes 3.png

Once you enter the party (calling it a bar just doesn't seem right), you can head outside to the astroturf backyard, replete with hanging chairs, stringed lights and a mini airstream trailer where a long haired, bearded cat (gentleman) is mixing up cocktails and has the classic 70's magazine pinups (a la: Farrah Fawcett style) plastered on the wall behind him. Or you can venture to the back of the "house" to a bar with dim dome lighting and laid back vibes, and you can have your pick from the list of crazy concoctions with throwback song names including - "Some People Call Me Maurice," "Tiny Dancer," and "Smoke on The Water."  I wasn't ballsy enough to try the pistachio libation entitled "The Regal Beagle" but others in our gang did and were delighted with their choice.  

The "living room" area offers striped couches, a faux brick fireplace and an area for a band to perform at the back of the room - nothing special - just exactly what you would expect if you were to have a local high school band perform in your 1970's abode back then.  I also heard a  rumor after I went that there are also roller skaters performing on a glass rooftop although, I somehow missed that while I was there.  Alas! I will just have to go back!

I spent the night reveling in the glory of this righteous place and thereafter decided I needed to let all of the good people of LA know about such a gem.  Good Times at Davey Wayne's.  If you're in the LA area: GO. And have yourself a good time!

It's just GROOVY, baby!

Peace and love and happy Friday!

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