Paloma and Porkchop
Wife to the thin man, mom to Paloma and Porkchop. Born with cystic hygroma in Chicago. Former art student & garment industry drone. Geraly O'Day tries to exercise her creative process whenever possible. Inspired by childhood adversities, road trips, favorite books, vintage toys, random nerdistry and geekishness…
How'd you get your start? Any advice for others?
"My grandmother used to sew my clothing when I was younger and she taught me how to sew afterschool and on weekends. After studying fashion design in college, I worked in the garment industry for small couture designers and multinational manufacturers for over a decade. I started sewing children's clothing for my own children in 2003 when I couldn't find clothing for my kids that both my kids and I liked. I like making unique clothes for unique kids - clothing as multifaceted, whimsical, thoughtful and silly as their wearers. Although my design and fabric choices are largely based on my own 70s and 80s 1st generation childhood mostly, I like to challenge the ideas of traditional childhood design as well. The only advice I have for anyone starting a creative enterprise is to be patient and open to making lots of mistakes and learning new things.I try not to let what is popular in kids trends affect how I design. I think it's important to remember that there's something for everyone. Although I have a part time office job, I spend about 20 hours a week on my small handmade business. I hope to grow my business to sell to more local shops and with more local staff."
"I like making unique clothes for unique kids - clothing as multifaceted, whimsical, thoughtful and silly as their wearers."
What do you do when you are out and about locally?
"My favorite local outdoor activity is biking on the beach bike path. I'm from Chicago and I biked everywhere - even with my kids when they were tiny and fit in a trailer... They are taller than me now! I was worried that I wouldn't bike much here in So Cal. I was so happy to find that LB is a bike friendly city. I literally stumbled into a Pow Wow Long Beach exhibit at LBMOA in 2015 when we were visiting LB and looking at apartment rentals. I couldn't believe my luck at seeing an Audrey Kawasaki mural up close and personal! My favorite mural in LB is probably the Sarah Joncas' mural outside of Toxic Toast records. I have followed Audrey and Sarah online for years, I love their style and technique so it was incredible for me to get to see and study them in person. Other LB sites I enjoy visiting are usually kid friendly ones - LBMOA, the LB libraries, Aquarium of the Pacific, Queen Mary, LB Antique Market, local farmers markets and the Patchwork Show in the Spring and Fall in Marine Stadium. My favorite eateries in LB usually have to be kid friendly - we can usually be found stuffing our faces at LB Pizza Company on Broadway, Manaow on Broadway or Honeybee's on Loma. I do try to shop consciously and locally - LB has some great thrift stores and vintage shops. When I need something a little offbeat or unique - I visit Songbird Boutique on 4th, Fern's Garden on 2nd and Babcock and Cooke on Broadway. LB is also a great place for booklovers - Gatsby Books, Planet Books, Bel Canto Books, Page Against the Machine Books and Pulp Fiction for Comics and Graphic Novels. I also love my local fabric store Sew Vac Ltd. - they almost closed this year but miraculously they got a new lease on a smaller place and are staging a comeback!"
Describe a day in your home workspace
"A day in my workspace is partially online work, keeping up with social media but also researching materials and tracking to ensure my items are CPSC compliant. And then there's a lot of cutting, sewing and packaging... Although I still cut fabric on my dining room table, the brunt of my work is in my workspace - a small sunroom that gets really hot... (so, I don't get too much done during heat waves... ) The workspace vacillates between super messy and organized. It depends on what I'm working on, when I am deep in the construction phase it looks super messy, but I have a method to what looks like madness. When I am shipping and packaging, I have to be more organized to ensure labeling of items is correct and compliant. Inspiration for me comes from anything - nostalgia, local landmarks, food, reading, music. My favorite podcasts to listen to while working - Levar Burton Reads, Lore, The Moth and The Vanished. Although I love interacting on social media, I would also love to be able to delegate item photography, creating content and updating social media to someone else - I don't find this to be my strong suit."
What holds more value for you: creativity or knowledge?
"I feel that creativity and knowledge go hand in hand, I don't think I value one over another - all the knowledge and experiences I have feed my creativity and when I feel my creativity is challenged, my automatic response is to gain knowledge.... The biggest thing that I attribute to my success is challenging my comfort zone. I am very much a dedicated introvert, so reaching out to ask questions about small business practices or to speak to a new shop owner is really really challenging. I hope my work marches us to a better future in that if I (a Fil-Am woman, not a native Californian, Gen X, mom and wife, born monocular and with visible facial difference) can do this, anyone can do this... Anyone can make a garment, but I do believe that formal training in garment construction is necessary if you want to make a first quality and safe garment."
If you could move to any other place in this or any universe where would you go?
"I really love living in Long Beach. I love how pedestrian friendly it is since I can't drive. We were so impressed by Long Beach, we decided to put down some roots and bought a house last year. And then at the beginning of this year, my husband was diagnosed with cancer.... and our lives just stopped. I wasn't sure how we were going to handle our new normal... I couldn't believe the generosity and kindness of our neighbors and new friends we had made in LB. The comfort and care that were showered on us made us feel like we were not only part of a community, but a larger family. Thankfully, my husband is a cancer survivor and even now, in the middle of this pandemic, our neighbors and friends have stayed kind and supportive. But If I could travel anywhere in the universe, I would travel into my favorite SFF books settings and locations - Narnia, Florin, Ingary, Pern, Earthsea, and Stormhold."
"I hope my work marches us to a better future in that if I (a Fil-Am woman, not a native Californian, Gen X, mom and wife, born monocular and with visible facial difference) can do this, anyone can do this"