some thoughts …

This category contains 21 posts

Passion / Mastery / Thinking Things Over

miu vermillion contemplation

“If your heart is not in it, get out of it or change it”
-Sue Bryce

If one’s heart is not in it,
It’s impossible to give one’s all for it . . .
To spend many hours doing it . . .

“Masters are incredibly passionate and emotional people who just love to do things and when they love to do something, they do it all the time.”
-Robert Greene

I suppose, that’s the only way one can master a certain skill . . .

I love what I do

I love making things
I love avant garde fashion
I love taking photographs
I also love playing with image-editing software

There are times when work longer than 16 hours per day.

At the end of such days, I usually flop down in exhaustion. Even so, I couldn’t wait for the next day to begin so I can resume my work(s).

image editing - wacom tablet

Lately, I’ve been doing more and more things that have nothing to do with Angelica Brigade (my handmade business).

And, as some of you might have noticed, I no longer sell my handmade accessories and jewelry via online marketplaces. Mostly, because I don’t have enough time and energy to take more than a small number of bespoke orders per month.

My priority has changed

I’ve been re-thinking some things for quite a while now . . .

Because of the things I’ve experienced in these past two years (ever since I established my handmade business) I’ve been dabbling with photography, image editing, marketing, social media marketing, website designing, accounting, financial planning, and many more to support my independent business.

Many things have happened . . .

I still love making things
I still love avant-garde fashion
But, it looks like I’m heading towards a slightly different direction

I’m still thinking the details through
But I haven’t changed
I’m more experienced and skilled than before, and I’m aiming to become a better version of myself . . .

It won’t be easy, but my love of creating things will carry me through this transition and growing process.

-joyce @ Angelica Brigade // miu vermillion

Any ad that might show up below this line is not endorsed by me &/or Angelica Brigade

Making Mistakes: Learning What Works and Doesn’t Work – It’s a Matter of Perspective

Even so, it can be a little disheartening

Looking at all the materials I can’t re-use but not ready to throw away . . .

I really need to remind myself – time and again – that, at least, I now know what doesn’t work and what I should do next time

That’s how I learn to create every headpiece & jewelry I make . . . through trial and error . . .

True, I graduated from FIDM (Fashion Institute of Designs and Merchandising) . . . but as a merchandise/product development major . . . So, I never got any formal training in millinery and jewelry-making.

But, I have no intention of getting any formal training in hat-making and jewelry-making . . . Because it’s the main reason my designs don’t look exactly like other designers’ . . .  (Which, I believe, is a good thing)


And so, I’ll be making more and more mistakes and try my best to learn from those mistakes.

I hope, next week I can share my new designs . . . This week, unfortunately, I can’t produce anything worth sharing.

I spent the bulk of my time reproducing a few of my designs for Dream Shoot Rentals. (Check the link out to see pictures of amazing designs by various fantastic independent designers).

millinery grossgrain ribbon rose

I’m happy to say that this one looks a lot better than the original.

The original piece was a result of my experiment. It was the very first time I created that type of headpiece. So, it’s only natural that this one looks a lot better than the prototype (below).

headpiece by angelica brigade

I’ll be making a few more headpieces for Dream Shoot Rentals. You can expect to see real-time updates of my progress on Instagram or Facebook.

Till next week (-:

– joyce @ Angelica Brigade

Any ad that might show up below this line is NOT endorsed by me &/or Angelica Brigade

Objectivity, Gratefulness, and Taking Calculated Risks

Each night, before I sleep, I make it my habit to list all the things I can be grateful about. It helps me to see my life in a more objective manner.

It’s too easy for me to focus on the things that went wrong. Although it’s good for me to spend some time finding effective ways to solve my problems . . . if I don’t make it my habit to think about the good things that happen to me each day, I would think my life is “suckier” than it actually is.

This week, though, I have more things I can be grateful about . . . more than usual . . .


(For a better view of the text, please visit http://www.firemountaingems.com/jewelryartists/jewelryartists_bio.asp?docid=KATUARIJ )

The result of Fire Mountain Gems’ 2013 Seed Beads Contest is out! (You can see the complete list of the contest’s winners here)

Hours before I submitted my design (a few hours before the contest’s deadline), I sort of doubted it will pass the contest’s semi-final stage. (Mainly because my beaded headpiece is much smaller than other contestants’ designs . . . and thus less impressive). But, the worst thing that could happen was I wouldn’t pass the semi-final. Which isn’t so bad at all. On the other hand, if I chose not to submit the design, I have zero chance of even passing the semi-final. So, I decided to submit the design anyway.

I remembered saying “here goes nothing” as I clicked the submit button. And, now, I’m glad I did.

angelica brigade avant garde origami headpiece mask

Actually, I say that very same sentence so many times these past few weeks . . . Which means that I decided to ignore my (sometimes) overactive superego and take a huge leap. And, again, I’m glad I did!

Last week, I decided to write to Lindsay Adler, a prominent NYC-based fashion photographer I admire. I showed her some of my designs and my online portfolio. When she said that she’d love to work with me, I was over the moon!!!

Last week, I also submitted some fashion editorials I styled and shot to several magazines . . . I haven’t heard back from them yet. But I’m crossing my fingers.

Till next week, you guys!

In the meantime, follow me on Facebook or Instagram for real-time updates and behind-the-scenes photos.

-joyce @ Angelica Brigade

Any ads that might show up below this line is not endorsed by me &/or Angelica Brigade

New Endeavor: Conceptual Photography


Photographed and styled by Miu Vermillion
PVC top and skirt by Artifice Clothing
Silk Bouquet by Hapitat

To some degree, people are anchored to their past.
But, we should never let our past to define our future.
It won’t be easy.
Old habits, uncertainty, fear of the unknown . . .
But, the struggle forward is worth the effort.


Many people might say
“What the heck?!”
“You are a designer . . . you make jewelry and headpieces . . . Okay, sometimes, you make dresses, too . . .  So, stick on making things”
You are lacking stick-to-itiveness. If you keep on doing this, you’ll never succeed in anything
“Jill of all trades, master of none”
r something similar)

Well, yes  . . . I make things . . . And I will keep on making things.

I will never stop creating demi-couture jewelry, headpieces, and dresses . . . But, from now on, I will make conceptual photographs as well.

I won’t be taking clients. Not anytime soon, if ever. Because, I want to focus on creating images I like, and to tell stories through those images.

angelica brigade

Many people don’t this, but I went to college as a Transmedia Art Major. I took photography and image editing classes . . . and, even after I graduated from college, I took a lot of dark, conceptual self-portraits. Not because I love myself so much, but because I had a hectic schedule (so, the only time I could shoot the photos are sometime after midnight).

So, I’m not a complete novice. A bit rusty, perhaps, but not a total noob. But, with a bit of practice, I’ll get the hang of it (again).

angelicabrigade 005

In order not to confuse anyone . . . and because my conceptual photography projects don’t always intersect with my demi-couture designs, I decided to keep them separate. For my photography projects, I will go by Miu Vermillion.

It’s early days yet, but here are my new Facebook and Instagram accounts:

I promise, more than 80% of the contents will not overlap with Angelica Brigade

Right now, there are many things I still need to figure out . . .
But it’s a part of the process, right?

– joyz k / Miu Vermillion



Photographer: Miu Vermillion
Jewelry & Beaded Accessories: Angelica Brigade

This conceptual photograph is the (almost) perfect reflection of my current state of mind.

I’m giving myself a deadline. By the end of this week, I really should finish defragging my mind.

. . .

Last year, I overcommited myself to too many projects. I spent most of my waking hours (and sleepless nights) working. And so, I had no time to think and evaluate things.

It’s something I can no longer postpone.

It’s easier to keep on doing the same things and let chances, lucks, other people, and other external factors to decide the outcome; but, it sounds hazardous to me. It’s like going through life like a rudderless ship (which, eventually, will get stranded somewhere unpleasant).

Now that all the holiday festivities are over, let’s not waste the new opportunities (and lessons) 2014 has to offer

– joyz k / miu vermillion @ Angelica Brigade

Any ad that might show up below this line is not endorsed by me &/or Angelica Brigade

Looking Back: Going Against the Stream

opi liquid sand stay the night nail polish nails lacquer manicure lacquer

You’ve read about those young successful people who thank their family for their support . . .
Well . . . I’m not one of them.

I’m not old, but I’m no longer very young. I don’t have family members who actively sabotage or stop me from achieving my goals, but they don’t support me either.

I’m not writing this to whine. What I’m trying to say is: Youth and support from family members are great but they are not the prerequisites of success.

The fact that I’m no longer very young is the very reason I should try to reach for my goals right now, before I become too old or to weak to do it.

As I said it in a previous post, I came from a (rather traditional) white-collar family. Most of them never understand why I don’t take the conventional and safe road by getting a steady administrative job. But I like to create things with my own hands [even if it takes me days to create – for example – just one intricately jeweled bracelet].

But, you know what, it makes me happy. And ever since I was a child , I always knew I want to spend the bulk of my time creating beautiful intricate things I can’t otherwise afford . . . And, I also find the act of creating things (instead of just using and consuming things) satisfying.

Angelica Brigade handmade bridal cuff / wedding jewelry / handmade bracelet for brides by joyz*k of angelicabrigade miu vermillion joyce katuari

I know my family members mean well . . . But, a safe yet boring life is not for me. It’s good to be safe, and it’s not like I’m not endangering my life and my future . . . With that in mind, I decided to keep on going . . . I will keep on spending hours to create the things that only exist in my imagination and bring them into reality . . .

If I don’t . . .many years from now, I’m going to regret it.

This is the last blog post I will write this year.

I’ll be back in January 5, 2014. And, by then, I can show you some of my currently-secret projects. It’s not that I’m keeping things mysterious just for the fun of it; but, my collaborators ask me not to share those projects with anyone (yet).

Wishing all of you a fantastic holiday season!

For daily updates, please follow me on Instagram or Tumblr.

Till then,

-joyce at Angelica Brigade


Next topic (January 5, 2014):
Dealing with doubts
Lots of photos

Any ad that might show up below this line is not endorsed by me &/or Angelica Brigade

The Unpredictability of Life … The Importance of Having Back-Up Plans … Networking … and Keeping One’s Words

me2This post might sound a little cryptic . . .
But, it’s my believe that we should never use social media to badmouth anyone.

We can never “unsay” the things we’ve said.

In fact, it’s one of the issues I faced a few weeks ago.
It wasn’t a pleasant one, especially because the person who badmouthed me was a total stranger who’d never met/spoke/written to me (yet?) . . .

But, let’s not dwell on that.

Talking about it will only bring the negative memory (along with all the negative emotions that come with it) into my life.

Nothing good will come of it.
So, I decided to let it go and move on.

Alexis Farmer Photo Shoot Angelica Brigade AngelicaBrigade behind the scenes

Model: Alexis Farmer
Photographer: Efren Beltran

The past few weeks had been chaotic . . . but in spite of everything (and may be because of all the problems I faced) . . . I’d say that it was a successful couple-of-weeks.

Here are the things I learned from all the things that happened:

  1. It’s always better to conduct business/collaboration/negotiation via e-mail. It’s always good to have written records of the things we discuss. It will also come in handy when the people we work with forgot about the things they promised/planned/claimed/etc. Just refer to the relevant e-mails and there you have your valid/irrefutable evidence. Plus: We can also use the written records (a.k.a. e-mails) to refresh our memories.
  2. Never work with people who aren’t good at reading your e-mails carefully.
  3. Never collaborate with someone who isn’t good at returning your e-mails.
  4. Never collaborate with someone whose working ethics are not compatible with yours.
  5. It’s good to be know people who know a lot of people in your industry and the industries that complement your industry.
  6. Anticipate possible problems and be ready for them. e.g. I learned from previous shoots that I should bring wipes, glue gun, jewelry-making tools, and sewing kit to photo shoots.
  7. If you have a niggling feeling that a certain collaboration isn’t going to work, it’s usually true. Malcolm Gladwell can explain it better than I do.
  8. Big companies aren’t the most reliable companies. Especially if they are much bigger than yours.
  9. Smaller businesses that are run by ambitious people are much more reliable. They usually are willing to go the extra mile.

I’m getting ready for two more editorials shoots.

So, I won’t be able to blog on a regular basis. But, I upload pictures that can give you glimpses of my currently insanely busy life. You can see them on Instagram or my Tumblr photo blog :)

-joyce @ Angelica Brigade

Independent Designers + Social Media

Do you want to know that a total stranger is planning to go to a grocery store to buy some paper towels, grab a burger for lunch, clean his or her house, and watch tv?

Well, I don’t.

Do you like reading about things you aren’t interested about?

Of course not, right?! 

I started blogging because many books and articles written for independent designers and handmade artists say that it’s something people like me should do . . . because it’s a good way for our future customers to get to know us, and because it’s important for us to develop an online presence.

The books and articles also say that we should blog about simple, happy, lighthearted stuffs . . . and, for every post we write about our designs, we should write 4 articles about things that aren’t related to our designs . . .

Like most people, I have more than one hobby/interest . . . but; I’m not sure that many people are interested in all of the things I’m interested in. Some people who follow my blog upon reading my posts about 3D printing might not care about the other topics I write about (e.g. beading, chainmaille jewelry-making, or social-media marketing for a handmade sellers).

Those posts can tell you a lot about me and how I handle things; but, if those articles aren’t relevant to you, you wouldn’t want to read it. And I won’t blame you.

A lot of business articles also mention that – to increase the traffic to our blogs &/or websites –  we should:

  • Write thoughtful comments on other people’s blogs
  • Post one picture on Instagram per 3 or 4 hours
  • Write one pithy comment or re-tweet an interesting thing on Twitter per several hours, and
  • Post or share something interesting on our Facebook Page a few times a day as well.

After a while it starts to feel like a the popularity game . . .

Finding interesting things to share on social media, writing thoughtful and interesting comments, and hunting for things we can photograph and share on Instagram might make us so busy that we forget that we aren’t doing of those things just to get more “likes” and “shares” . . . and, lots of “likes” and “shares” do not always lead to more sales . . . and the people who “like” and “share” our photos might never become our customers because the things we offer are not relevant to their lives. Some people might like our pictures and like us as a person, but they might never need the pieces or artwork we create . . .

I’m not saying that we don’t need to develop and maintain our online presences . . .
I’m just saying that we should never forget the main reason we blog and share pictures & links on social media
And, that what we share on social media matter.

I don’t follow very many people on Instagram.
As a matter of fact, I don’t follow my favorite artists’ Instagram feed . . .
The only people I follow on Instagram are my friends and a handful artists whose posts never fail to inspire me.


If I do follow hundreds of people on Instagram, I might never see some Instagram feeds I really want to see because I will need to spot them while scrolling through numerous pictures of food, sky, coffee cups, etc .

I’m not very interested in what my favorite artists have for breakfast/lunch/dinner. However, I’d love to see their working methods/processes, their studios, their current and upcoming projects, the things they do to increase their skills, and may be just a few glimpses of their daily lives.

There are some artists who do not post 4 other things per 1 post they write about their own works . . .
Do I follow their blogs and Instagram feed?

If I’m a big fan of their works, I’d love to learn more about their works . . .
(And see their other works)

How about artists who post numerous pictures of their pets, and random stuffs and just a handful photos of their works?
Usually, I just Google them or visit their Instagram feed every once in a while . . .

How about you?


The Future of Fashion and Accessories Design

Is it the beginning of the end for handmade clothing and accessories designers?

Cubify had launched free-to-download shoes you can print overnight (you can read more about it here)

And . . . this autumn, when Windows 8.1 rolls out to PCs, it will come with 3D printer support (you can read more about it here and here)

Source: PC World

All these are created using digital printers

3d printed necklace 3d printer gerald design shapeways

Stereodiamond Necklace by Gerald Design, $117.65

Shot Glass by Opresco, $91.65

Gothic Style iPhone Case by IgoRRR, $22.35

Te Arawa iPhone Case by IwiLeComte, $51.20

In a few years, “(e)verybody can have their bodies scanned and order clothes that fit perfectly”Iris van Herpen (Fashion Designer and 3D Printing Pioneer)

You can order anything in any color and size you want . . .

And so . . .

With this technological progress in mind . . . I see the need to adapt and grow.

No, I’m not going to order any 3D printer anytime soon . . . Not yet . . .

However . . .

I’ve been working on several new projects I will announce within a few weeks.

There are going to be some significant changes . . . and, I believe . . . for the better.


-joyce @ Angelica Brigade

Realization, Perseverance, Inventiveness, and Progress

Here are a few things I learned (and re-learned/re-discovered) this week . . .

After 3 weeks of low productivity (in terms of coming up with new designs) . . .
I figured out that I should never go against my natural tendencies & preferences.

  • In my efforts to grow my business (by doing market research, and by creating products that might sell well)
  • Because I thought that as a person who custom-design couture accessories & jewelry for my clients; I should be able to create whatever things my clients want
  • In my attempts to challenge myself and to avoid creative rut, (by learning to create pieces that look different from my usual designs)
  • And because I’d been too harried to evaluate things

I got sidetracked

I ended up creating a few pieces I don’t love . . .
What a waste of time, energy. and resources . . .

Finally, when I had no more energy to make more and more things (which I might not like anyway) . . .
I got that badly needed chance to evaluate my performance & (lack of) progress . . .

I love sleek, minimalistic, well-constructed, geometric, and textured designs . . .
(things with clean, non-fussy lines) . . . and thus, should focus on designing such pieces.
Forcing myself to create ornate, colorful things with organic lines will only lead me to failures and disappointments.

I’m happy to say that I finally heard from some of the modelling agencies I contacted.
I’m organizing 3 different editorial shoots and it had not been easy (you can read more about it here).

Here are some of the principles I live by:

  • Be inventive. If necessary, use (legal) unorthodox method.
    If you can’t enter through the door, try to enter from the roof (Mark 2: 1-5) . . . or dig a tunnel . . . or whatever legal method you think might work.
  • Be persistent. Read this story and you might know what I’m talking about >>> Luke 18:1-5

I’m not a Bible thumper,
And, some people might think I don’t interpret those passages carefully/methodically/etc.
But, I can’t ignore the wisdom of what those men and that widow did . . .

Have an awesome weekend!!!

-joyce @ Angelica Brigade

Purpose, Reasons, and Doubts … My Life as an Independent Designer

The world isn’t very kind to most newcomers
Especially new independent designers with no extraordinarily important friends …

Am I sounding a little morose?

Well, I’m not my usual peppy self this week

angelica brigade joyce angelicabrigade beadwork hair accessory independent designer handmade artisan hair fascinator headpiece

Me and one of my recent works

I’ve been trying to organize this other collaborative high-fashion photo shoot …

Apparently, hiring fashion models (even the “new faces” ) is not an easy feat.

Well, I do want to hire models who can pose well, can pull off avant garde outfits, and make the pieces look great …

The way I see it … 75% of the success of a high-fashion photo shoot depends on the models we work with.

High-fashion shoot is much more than looking pretty. It’s also much more than convincing people to buy things.

High-fashion models need to convey the concept / story / theme of a photo shoot. They also need to do poses most people don’t consider conventionally beautiful.

And since I’m going to spend hundreds of hours creating the accessories and jewelry for the shoot, borrowing designer clothes, and working with this amazing hair stylist I’m a big fan of … I don’t want to botch things by hiring the people who are not able to present the results of all of those hard work.

(An excellent example of a successful high-fashion photo shoot)
Photographer: Amberly Valentine

All in all, it’s been a busy but not so productive week …

I believe in my ability to design and create couture jewelry and accessories …

But, those are the things most people don’t consider to purchase in this kind of economy …

There are times when I ask myself whether I should consider another career …

But, I’m not the type to give up easily. I will have to work smarter, get to know more people, and things like that …

But, again, there are times when I wonder whether my refusal to give up is not a wise decision …

angelica brigade work in progress angelicabrigade beadwork jewelry accessories jewellery joyce katuari

My current work-in-progress

I’ve never said this in any social media before … may be because it sounds like a lofty goal … but, this, is one of the main reasons I refuse to give up:

Do you know that Angelica Brigade is an acronym for AvaNt GardE Luxurious Inventions by Collaborative Artists Brigade?

From the get go, I always want Angelica Brigade to become a launchpad for talented new artists, musicians, and designers.

I’ve seen so many talents gone to waste … It makes me sad.

There are numerous stories behind it, but I’m going to have to share some of those stories some other time.

But, can you imagine how much more beautiful the world can be if more talented people can get enough chances to share their gifts with the rest of the world?

Have a wonderful weekend, you guys!!!


Self-Audit, the Need to Re-focus, and Changes of Plans

I rarely do any non-cerebral labor intensive things (such as cleaning, beading, and chainmailling) without listening to a good audiobook.

But . . . a few days ago, I did . . .

And, it’s something I should’ve done more often!!!

So . . . as I was working on a very labor intensive beading project (I’ll write more about it in the weekend) . . . I let my mind to roam . . .


And . . . as a result . . . I realized how off-tracked I’ve been . . .

I’ve been so busy doing many, many, many, MANY things . . . meeting work deadlines, creating custom headpieces, fulfilling my obligations, accomplishing my personal goals . . . that . . . I didn’t notice that I’ve been off the mark.

I decided to blog regularly so my clients, prospective clients, and fellow designers can get to know me better. (I wouldn’t trust any random independent designer I don’t know and neither should anyone).

While the things I’ve been posting week after week are the results of my musings . . . they don’t tell anyone much things about me a person or as a designer. And so . . . I think, it’s the right time for me to write different kinds of blog posts.

So, I decided to cancel this weekend’s scheduled post and replace it with something more relevant . . . . .

I need to go back to work now . . . I need to finish this piece within 24 hours. I’m o excited about this new design and will write more about it this Saturday.


Till then~

(In the meantime, if you want to, you can track my progress by looking me up on Instagram ( my user name is, predictably, AngelicaBrigade ) or my Tumblr photo blog.


Important Keys to Success – Part 2


Knowing – and in good terms with – the people who matter

Some people might not acknowledge this fact, but being friends with many important people in your industry and the industries that are related to your industry can help you to achieve your goal faster and with less pain or trouble.

Sounds unfair?

How about the people who aren’t lucky enough to grow up with or became friends with those important people years ago when they weren’t very important (and thus, much more approachable), etc?

This is the very reason I said that the most important key to success is one’s likeability (as in exuding trustworthiness, reliability, thoughtfulness, and such … and less about sparky personality). Read more about it here.

Good business networks aren’t built overnight.

You can’t just approach random important people and act as if you are friends.

Start small.

Build a good reputation.

Know – and be real friends to – a lot of people in your industry and the industries that are related to your industry.

And, don’t be an opportunistic boot licker as untrustworthiness can instantly ruin your creditability.

Instead, be known as someone who is competent, trustworthy, considerate, and easy-to-work with.

One of them might end up working with a more important person in your industry and if s/he likes and trust you enough, and s/he might introduce and/or recommend you to this person.

S/he might need your expertise and ask for your help. This can give you a chance to shine and demonstrate that you are awesome to work with. People will notice.

People tend to hire someone (e.g. hair stylist, gardener, wedding photographer, etc) who is recommended by the people they trust.

Likewise, companies tend to hire individuals who are recommended by their current trusted employees.

And here’s something some people might overlook … if you work for someone, impressing your customers and other business owners (especially your boss’ rival) can get you far. They might mention you to your boss. They might prefer to do business with you. They might want to hire you. All these will increase your value in your boss’ eyes.

There’s no shortcut.

And, you need to be proactive. You need to get to know more people and constantly strive to become a better version of your self. Become the kind of person they’ll want to know.

Presenting a glowing – but false – front facade isn’t good enough. The moment someone fails to deliver what s/he promised … or, the moment someone’s considered as an untrustworthy person … that’s the beginning of his/her fall.


Next Saturday: Important Keys to Success, Part 3


For AngelicaBrigade-related Updates, please visit my Tumblr Photo Blog &/or Instagram

But, here’s something I’ve never done before … hand-painting the edges of fabric strips. But, I welcome all kinds of bespoke orders, as long as the skills needed to complete the order fall within the areas of my expertise.



Have a wonderful weekend.

Till next week, you guys!!!

-joyce of Angelica Brigade

Important Keys to Success You Might Overlook, Part 1


No, I’m not talking about the importance of having a sparkling & lively personality …

Having a lively personality won’t hurt; but, the kind of likeability I’m talking about has more to do with thoughtfulness, pleasantness, reliability, trustworthiness, and generosity.

… Someone most prospective employers & collaborators consider as a good fit
… Someone who is considerate
… Someone who notices (and remembers) and cares about the people s/he interacts & works with
… Someone who keeps (and delivers) his/her promises
… Someone who treats other people as individuals

Someone who makes you feel at ease
Someone you trust
The person you want to be around
Someone who don’t laugh out loud and force you to be peppy when you are feeling low
Someone who can tell you the truth in a tactful & non-offensive way
Someone who who’ll never deceive you, steal from you, or sabotage your work


… Someone you love to work or team up with (and when this person gets promoted, you would definitely think that s/he deserves it)
… The kind of salesperson you prefer to buy things from (honest, not pushy, and remembers your preferences, sizes, etc)
… The trustworthy & reliable electrician/plumber/mechanic you prefer to hire
… etc etc


Next Saturday: Important Keys to Success You Might Overlook, Part 2
Can you guess what might the second one be?


Some AngelicaBrigade-related Updates

Next week is going to be Angelica Brigade’s product development week … I’m going to focus on making chainmaille jewelry that will go together with this Avant Garde Knotted piece

For more complete updates and tons of behind the scene pictures, please visit my Tumblr Photo Blog &/or Instagram

Have a fantastic weekend, you guys!!!

-joyce of Angelica Brigade

Common Sense is a Trap (Part 1)

How so?
Things that used to be considered “the facts of life” many years ago might no longer be true. Technological advances never stop altering people’s living conditions and lifestyles. And so, things that used to be considered impossibilities might no longer be impossible to achieve. Likewise, some commonly held beliefs might not be in sync with reality.

Don’t let common sense limit you. All it takes s just a simple reality check.

. . . . .

Many years ago, no one will consider social media as a crime-fighting tool. But, a recent tragedy (Boston Marathon bombing) proofs otherwise. Just because it’s not a commonly used method, it doesn’t mean that it’s not effective.

Just think about it, and the next time you are required to make a big decision, be sure to evaluate your believes … A simple reality check will do.


P.S. I’m going to be on a short blogging hiatus til the 2nd week of May. There’s a huge project I need to tackle & I’m gonna need to work without much stoppng till the first week of May (2013)

More details on it later(on my Instagram)

Till then


How to Make the Best of Out Skills & Maximizing Our Happiness

The seemingly simple (and trite, and unhelpful) answer is:
We should spend the bulk of our times doing the things we love to do.

I’m not saying that we should spend the bulk of our times doing some things that are related to the fields or activities we are interested in. Instead, we should take that principle one step further.

First, ask yourself this seemingly unimaginative question: If you can do anything you want & make a good living out of it, what would you choose to do?

Next, this is the more important question: Why? What do you like about like it?

Many of us will never become Olympic Athletes / famous writers / pop stars / leading actors / international models / etc. But, it doesn’t mean that we have to get stuck doing the things we don’t like so we can pay our bills.

Someone who loves to play tennis might never become a world class tennis player. Some people might encourage her to become a coach or work for a sporting goods company. But, those solutions might not be the best ones for her. She might love tennis because she loves being active.  She might also love the challenge and the adrenaline rush she gets when she faces her opponent. So, if (after giving her best shot) she’s not able to become a pro tennis player; then, it’s in her best interest to find a challenging job that can give her plenty adrenaline rush. There are a wide range of options she can choose from, such as:

  • Emergency Medical Technician
  • War zone photographer
  • Wedding planner
  • Bail bond agent
  • ADHD kids’ babysitter
  • etc.

Besides, she still can play tennis on her spare time . . .

Someone who wants to become a famous rock star, on the other hand, might want to become a rock star because he loves being in the spotlight . . . they love the fame, the money, the booze, the girls . . . Booze and girls are not on a rock star’s job description . . . so, if those are the kinds of things he wants, he might fare better if he:

  • DJ on the weekends (girls, booze, some degree of fame)
  • Opens a nightclub
  • Becomes an Alcohol Promoter, or
  • Becomes an Auto Show Organizer
  • etc.

Or, he can use his skills to get rich in some other ways . . . Gold diggers & alcohol can be a part of the deal

There’s a solution for everyone. Just focus on your real wish and find the best way for you to achieve it

  • What does it (doing the things we love) to do with finding finding happiness?
  • People should not define themselves by their jobs. A job should be a mean to an end.
  • If someone wants to stay at home with their children she should feel free to do it.

Well …

Most people spend the bulk of their times at work (or school). People who hate their jobs (or studies) aren’t very happy, are they?

Besides, I’d never said that we should find a job that fulfill us did I? I merely said that we should spend most of our times doing the things we like . . . if raising & supervising a child if something someone loves to do; then, by any means she should do it . . .

angelicabrigade angelicabrigade bead embroidery beading handmade accessories beadwork seed beads handmade jewelry headpiece beaded 1920s inspired demi couture

I on the other hand, love to create things with my hands. There are times when I work 15 hour days to meet some deadlines; but, I welcome such long days anytime. In fact, I’ve been working long hours these days because I’m getting some pieces ready for an upcoming photo shoot (8 different outfits for 2 different models).

When we enjoy what we are doing, more is just more.


So, that’s it?! If we do the things we love then we’ll definitely be happy?

No … You can read more about it here


Next Saturday:  Common Sense is a Trap


Have a great weekend :)

Changing Our Future

Most people – even the most successful people in the world – are unhappy about at least one aspect of themselves &/or their lives.

But, there’s no reason for anyone to stay feel that way for the rest of their lives.

Instead of turning green with envy, wallowing in self pity, or becoming nasty and embittered, we should focus on finding some ways – that will work for us – to get what we want / achieve our goals / becoming a better version of ourselves.

Unhappy about your weight? Find the most effective way for you to shed those extra pounds.
Want to be your own boss? Find the most effective way for you to make it happen.
You wish you are better at something? Find the most effective way for you to accomplish that goal.

Sounds so simple?

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as it sounds.

First of all, we need to get rid of our self-limiting beliefs
If – from the very beginning – you think that you’ll never achieve your goals, you never will.

But,  are you completely sure that – with thorough planning,  and if you give it your best shot – 2 years from now,  you aren’t going to achieve your goal?

Worried that you won’t be able to persevere or stick to your resolves?
I mentioned in my previous blog post, as long as we know (& obtain) the thing(s) that can fuel us, you are going to have enough resilience & patience  to get you through rough patches.

The methods other people find effective might not work so well for you.

Here are some of the possible reasons:

  • Different starting point (e.g. different skill levels, different amount of available resources, etc)
  • Different amount of free time &/or energy we can dedicate achieve our goals
  • Different learning styles
  • Having different obstacles/problems/bad habits to overcome
  • Etc, etc.

So, what can we do about it?

  1. Don’t think outside of the box. Get rid of the box.
  2. Commonly held beliefs can be wrong. Remember, many people used to believe that the earth was flat.
  3. Find and attain the things that can get you through rough patches.
  4. Improvise. Be willing to experiment. Try new methods and go though numerous trials-and-errors
  5. Expect difficulties & failures. The first few attempts are always the hardest.


Next Saturday: Making the best of Out Skills & Maximizing Our Happiness


Have a great weekend :)

P.S. I still make handmade demi-couture jewelry and accessories. Too see my current work in progress, please visit my Tumblr Photo Blog.

The Pursuit of Fulfillment

Happiness is fleeting

It’s a mere emotion, and just like every other emotion, it won’t last very long.

All it takes is just one unpleasant thing, and pfft! … there goes that happiness~


ab logo growth

Happiness can’t you through a rough patch

By the time we realize that we are in a bit of a jam, happiness is usually gone without a trace.

Completely inaccessible. Unattainable.

Why? Because in the back of our minds, no matter how hard we try to ignore our problems, we know that those problems are still there, silently haunting us. And, those problems will continue to haunt us until we do something about them.

Focus on knowing (and getting) the things that can fuel us instead.

Because they are the only things that can get us through difficult times …

Because they are the things that fulfill our needs and make us feel more complete

What do you need? In your heart of hearts, what do you desire?

I feel the need to create tangible things, the things I can hold in my hands. And, I want to feel that I make the world – at least – a slightly better place. I also need the companionship of my closest friends …

(But, people come & go . . . people change . . . They have their own problems to solve, their own needs to meet, and their own wishes to pursue. It’s not wise for anyone to rely or put their hopes solely on other people)

How about you?

It doesn’t matter what other people say.

What do you need to get you through the less pleasant moments in your life?

Not the things your friend/family/spouse need.

What do YOU need?

Not sure?

Step out of your (dis)comfort / familiar zone. Try new things, and keep on trying till you find your “fuel”.

And, always try to honest to yourself


Next Saturday: Changing our future


How do you like this blog’s new weekly column?

Creativity & Failure : A Stepping Stone to Success, A Part of the Process, etc, etc.

“Every act of creation
is first an act of destruction. ”

-Pablo Picasso

No one can create something out of nothing. And so, to come up with magnificent things, inventors & designers (re-)mix, (re-)arrange & present some pre-existing things in some new ways.

That’s pretty much what I do …

My design process is always lead by series of “what-ifs” . . .  such as:

  • I made this one using 14 gauge jump rings, what if I use 16 gauge jump rings instead?
  • I made the original piece using Swarovski crystals, what if I use the much shinier, multicolored, & multifaceted Czech fire-polished beads instead?
  • What if I make the bracelet an inch wider?
  • What if I create some star-shaped focal points and bead the rest of the bracelet using smaller beads instead? And so on … )

But, there are times when things don’t work out so well. I’ve been trying to make this bracelet to look better by adding more & more beads … but, it doesn’t seem to work. It still looks like a chunk of charred jewelry instead. And, I don’t like it.

[ Me no Likey ] I've been spending many hours trying to make this bracelet to look better by adding different kinds of beads onto it

[ Me no Likey ] I’ve been spending many hours trying to make this bracelet to look better by adding different kinds of beads onto it

The piece does not look friggin’ ugly; but, it’s not up to my standard. I really want to come up with a better design than this one; and so, with a heavy heart, I decided to start over.

Angelica Brigade Starting Over Destroy to create

So, I picked my scissors up and remove all the beads from its chainmaille bracelet.

The good news is, during the process of chopping all the beading wires off & destroying my previous work , I came up with a new design (^____^)


And now, I’m ready to re-build this bracelet . . .

To be honest, I dismantle my works quite regularly.

I don’t want to waste the perfectly good materials by dumping all the pieces I don’t like so much into a box At the very least, I can re-use these beads to create design samples. I can also use them to test my new design ideas (the experimental kinds, the ones I can’t tell whether they’re going to work).

So yes, I destroy my own works; but, it’s not an act of desperation.

This week, though, I’ve been dismantling many more pieces than I usually do. This week have been all about constructing —> deconstructing —> re-constructing —> deconstrucing —>re-constructing —> [and so on]. In fact, I’ve been deconstructing & reconstructing one same piece more than 3 times a day and a few days in a row. It’s been a little exhausting. And so, I need to make sure that the end result will justify this tons of effort.


Anyway . . .
I’ve been thinking about discontinuing the weekly finds section . . . Why?

  • First of all, I’m not the kind of person who shops for fun.
  • I don’t browse the internet to find new cool items to buy either . . .
  • I also noticed that the weekly finds section is filled with a bunch of random items ranging from weird/interesting gadgets, accessories, tutorials, discount coupons, free iPhone apps, and what not … In other words, the list is filled with a jumble of unrelated things …

Ah, well . . .

Again, to me, time goes by much too quickly . . . and all I can manage is write one blog post a week.

But . . . I’ve been posting new things on my photo blog regularly. I post most of them on Instagram and share some of those contents on my Tumblr. So, if you want to see some behind-the-scenes photos, some cool or funny things I find, inspiring images (taken by other artists/photographers), and pictures of cute animals, yummy food, and things like that, come and visit my Instagram or Tumblr photo blog :)

Have a fantastic weekend~

-joyce of Angelica Brigade

Relevance is the Key


Welcome to my geeky blog post~
It contains no pictures beautiful / cute / amusing stuff
What it contains is this epiphany that struck me yesterday night, that:
Relevancy is the thing that can make or break your business.

All best selling products, books, music albums, movies, etc. sell so well because they are relevant to the purchasers’ lives. Likewise, all popular celebrities, writers, athletes, etc . . . gain their popularity because they are also relevant to the their fans’ wishes, interests, and (psychological and sometimes also social) needs.

  • Some novels sell so well because they pander to their readers’ fantasies.
  • Some notorious celebrities gain their fame because they are the kind of persons some groups of people love to hate
  • Some pop artists gain their popularity because their lyrics resonate with their fans.
  • Some products (gadgets, cars, and even laundry detergents) sell so well because they function so well.
  • Some other products sell so well because they promise to help people to loose weight / look smarter / etc.
  • Some snacks/candies/gourmet chocolate sell so well because their customers see them as comfort food, or things they can treat themselves with for jobs well done.

I can go and on, but I’m sure that you’ve got the gist, that:

  • People buy something that fulfills their (physical, psychological, and -sometimes – even social) needs & make their lives easier.
  • People admire celebrities whose lifestyle/fashion style/attributes they admire/fantasize about/and aspire to have.
    • Celebrities gain popularity and more money (through product endorsements) by staying relevant to their fan bases (who might purchase the items those celebrities own &/or endorse.

Relevance . . . you see  . . . depends on what other people are looking for . . . If your work is what they are looking for, then you are relevant. Otherwise, you aren’t.

Source: Lifehack

Source: Lifehack

So, how do this affect small businesses?
How can small businesses gain relevancy?
It depends on the kinds of business we run, the kinds of products we offer, and the kinds of people we consider our ideal customers . . .
But . . . it always starts with knowing:

  1. The kinds of people who might be need the kinds of products/services we offer
    1. Starting with identifying our ideal clients wouldn’t work so well if we are not able to offer anything they might want.
    2. It’s almost like forming a new friendship . . . we can’t be friends with people we have nothing in common with, especially the ones who do not like us, aren’t interested in what we do, and do not want to have anything to do with us).
  2. Next: We need to find out the specific things things they need . . .and, we need to find ways to fulfill their needs.
  3. And . . . the (maximum) amount of money they are willing to spend for the kinds of stuff we are able to offer.

In other words, self-centered (small) businesses & (independent) designers who focus on nothing but what they want to achieve/create/sell might never make it.

  • Someone who designs a super awesome (and pricey) piece of non-precious jewelry some people might want/covet but have no occasion to wear it to might never make it; especially if the piece isn’t precious enough for the kinds of people who are able to afford it.
  • Someone who designs super awesome dresses that most people find not-very-wearable might never make it, especially if s/he isn’t very connected with entertainment industry people, have a lot of money to pay celebrities to wear his/her design, or unbelievably lucky.

None of these might sound new to some people; but, for me  . . . it’s a much needed wake-up call.

And now, I have to find ways to apply this principle on my merchandising & product development strategy.

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