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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Designer Q&A: Cara Veeder

Meet Cara, the designer behind accessories line Little Pretties. Her cute earrings, necklaces, and bracelets can be found in the shop. Read on to find out more about how she got started, her favorite trends and what she has next for her Little Pretties line!

Introduce yourself
My name is Cara Veeder. I'm 33 years old and was born and raised here in Des Moines. I studied Graphic Design at Minneapolis College of Art and Design from 1998-2000, and I got a BA in Graphic Design from Drake University in 2003. I'm a self-proclaimed design addict and jack-of-many-trades. Aside from making jewelry and accessories for my "Little Pretties" line (and designing all related branding, packaging, and displays), I also love to explore other artistic avenues by creating illustrations, hand-lettered alphabets, graphic design (both for print and web), writing short fiction, crafting with papers and fabrics, knitting, photography, and sewing. I'm also obsessed with researching trends and innovations, mainly in the design and fashion worlds. I love finding new ideas and inspirations for color palettes, materials, shapes, and other artistic elements. I keep countless journals and sketchbooks full of various project ideas and new things I'd like to try!

How did you get started?
From early childhood, I loved to draw, and as I grew older, my drawings grew smaller and smaller, full of almost tediously ornate, complex patterns and lines. I began to form a love for the tiniest details and for adding in little unexpected "surprise" elements that might not be noticed at first glance (like my own little secret message!) By my early teens, I decided to experiment with a new medium, to see if my attention to detail and interest in working on a small scale would translate well to making jewelry. In middle school, I started making simple beaded jewelry for myself, my family, and a few close friends. Then, in 8th grade, my school held an Art Fair and allowed students to display and sell their artwork. I jumped at the chance to market my earrings, bracelets, and necklaces, and they were a hit! I had found my niche! Over the years, I continued to hone my jewelry-making skills and perfect my techniques, getting plenty of practice by working at Bead Creative, a local bead store, for several years. This long and winding road ultimately led to the birth of Little Pretties, my line of one-of-a-kind jewelry and accessories, in early 2008. My jewelry has evolved immensely since those early days of bead-stringing, and my pieces will continue to change as I learn new techniques, discover new inspirations and influences, and experiment with new ideas.

What are you up to now?
2008-2011 was an extremely busy and prolific time for Little Pretties. The "classic" Little Pretties jewelry line (predominantly bohemian-influenced, mixing semi-precious stones, leather, wood, pearls, feathers, and other elements from nature with delicate chains, ornamental filigrees, and various metal embellishments) became an instant success at Vitae Design Collective, inspiring the vintage-inspired off-shoot line of jewelry and hair accessories, "Retromantic" (influenced by the bright colors and shapes of the 60s/70s, featuring candy-colored Czech glass beads, retro resin cabochons of flowers and birds, vintage and up-cycled fabrics, ribbons, lace, and trims, vintage costume jewelry and rhinestone elements, ultrasuede in a spectrum of colors, antique childrens' alphabet blocks, vintage book/magazine illustrations and clippings, and little hand-drawn illustrations). After a successful (though hectic) few years, I decided that 2012 would be a much-needed time for decompressing, slowing down a bit, and concentrating on new ideas and designs for the Little Pretties brand. If all goes as planned, however, 2013 will see the rebirth of a "new-and-improved" Little Pretties, with the grand re-opening of my Etsy shop and the creation of tons of new products and designs! The future is bright for Little Pretties, and the possibilities are endless! :)

What statement is a person making when wearing your (clothes/) jewelry/accessories?
Since my designs span a wide range of fashion sensibilities, from delicate and demure and feminine to bold and edgy and androgynous, it's difficult to come up with a single statement to reflect the entire spectrum of Little Pretties' wearers! If I had to declare a single statement to reflect the person that wears Little Pretties, I suppose it would be the same statement I'd use to reflect the brand itself: A unique, one-of-a-kind expression of individuality...ever-evolving, constantly-changing, sometimes unpredictable, but always true at heart.

How do you define style? What is your personal fashion/style philosophy?
Though I love to research trends and innovations in fashion/style/beauty/design/etc. and I'm somewhat obsessed with seeking out new, cutting-edge, avant-garde, and experimental ideas and inspirations, I don't believe in choosing one's personal style based on the opinions of someone else. A "what's hot" list or celebrity endorsement shouldn't dictate what we wear. Personal style is just that....PERSONAL!! To me, style is all about confidence...choosing to surround yourself with things that make you feel good....things that enhance your assets and reflect your unique personality instead of things that safely let you blend into the crowd. Style is indefinable until each person defines it for themselves.

Your top style essentials are...?
In my opinion, the best style elements are the ones that are the most versatile and can easily transition from day to night or casual to dressy. My fashion/style staples that I love to wear during my favorite season are: a pair of well-worn wide-leg trouser jeans, a wide suede belt with large burnished-gold buckle, a fitted cowl-neck sweater, a tunic-length black silk/jersey undershirt, a knee-length A-line skirt, cable-knit tights, retro fitted cardigan sweater, tall leather boots, basic leggings in both dark brown and black, leather button-up driving gloves, a long hand-knit chunky striped scarf, a slouchy knit hat, a fitted denim jacket, a cropped leather pleated jacket, a fitted velvet blazer, a knee-length navy wool military-inspired coat, a mid-thigh-length retro flared-skirt buttoned double-breasted belted coat, elbow-length chunky-knit fingerless gloves, vintage fabric-covered button stud earrings, retro resin flower stud earrings, retro resin sparrow bobby pin, suede "feather" cut-out headband, chunky faceted bangle bracelet, chunky beaded necklace.

What's in and what's out?
Oh, man....trends are so hard to keep up with...and I've never been able to figure out who gets to decide these things and why! It's kind of a chicken/egg designers dictate the trends with their runway looks or do the trends influence what the designers create? I don't think I have the street cred (yet) to tell other people what's hot and what's not....I just know what catches MY eye and what appeals to ME and I use the things I like to inspire my personal style, whether they're on-trend or not. I think trends are too fleeting to pay much attention to...why buy a bunch of new stuff based on someone's opinions when the coolness factor will likely disappear before the credit card bill arrives! (One "trend" that has been gaining popularity over the years, thankfully, is handmade and local art/craft/fashion/accessories/etc...THAT is definitely an "in" thing that I support (for obvious reasons)!!

Where do you see your line in 5 years?
Since my design ideas verge in so many directions, it's tough to say what will become of Little Pretties in the next few years. I hope that the brand continues to grow and evolve with new projects and designs consistently being added to its repertoire. I also hope to increase exposure of the brand (through its web presence and in shops), and eventually reach a wider national and international audience. I'd love to find more ways to incorporate my love of graphic design into Little Pretties, as well as experiment with other fashion elements (such as apparel, handbags, and other accessories). I would even like to explore the possibility of working with one or more of my fellow local artists/crafters/designers on a collaborative project. Regardless of what the future holds for Little Pretties, I'm sure I will never stop dreaming up ideas for new projects to try!

Favorite current trend?
I'm totally loving the increasing popularity of everything handmade! Over the last few years, the word "craft" has become cool, instead of a term that conjures images of granny's crocheted doilies and poorly-glued macaroni art! May handmade goods forever stay in the spotlight!!

Trend you are sick of/could do without/over-exposed?
The only things that come to mind aren't really fashion/style-related, but they need to go away nevertheless: Bad grammar/spelling/punctuation (like when full-grown adults don't know the difference between "your" and "you're"), drivers who never use their turn signals, and the song "Call Me Maybe".

Your collection/brand in 3 words?
"Something for everyone".

Vitae is...?
An awesome little shop (in Des Moines' East Village) with an amazing, constantly-changing selection of both vintage and handmade apparel, jewelry, and accessories. Vitae features the work of local, independent artists and crafters, and is where my jewelry/accessories brand Little Pretties first became available to the public.

Des Moines is...?
Slowly but surely becoming AWESOME! The local art and music scenes are growing constantly and are starting to make the world take notice! The continuing rejuvenation of the downtown and East Village areas and their independent boutiques and locally-owned shops have brought business back from the malls and chain-stores that have been sprawling westward for years to central Des Moines. It's exciting to see what's next for the city I call home! 

What's next for you?
On my immediate agenda: the return of a new-and-improved Little Pretties and the grand re-opening of my Etsy shop. No matter what happens in the future, whether with Little Pretties or in my personal life, I can only hope to continue to find inspiration in everything around me and to never stop coming up with new ideas and ways to improve both my brand and myself!

How can readers contact you?
Until I get my Etsy shop up and running again, folks can email me directly with any inquiries/questions: or leave me a message on Etsy: They can sign up on Etsy to be notified by email when the shop re-opens! Fans can currently find Little Pretties goods at Vitae Design Collective (400 E. Locust, Des Moines, 50309) in the East Village.

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