Welcome! Why Am I Writing This Blog?

I’ve been urged to write this blog by those who are curious about where my design and color inspiration springs from and how I look at form and color and then manage to visualize a final piece of art, an article of clothing or a print design.

I’ve been thinking for about how to organize my blog. It has become apparent that if I am to write about what truly inspires me I’ll have to write about what is closest to me, what I encounter day to day and season to season, because this is how my creative mind flows. I can’t predict what I will be writing about in the coming months, though I tend to think that I will be musing about what stimulates my senses when I ski or travel, visit an art gallery or bookstore, plant my garden, window shop or listen to music.

Skiing and being in the mountains fuels my creative spirit (photo courtesy Pennie Rand)

Skiing and being in the mountains fuels my creative spirit (photo courtesy Pennie Rand)

Many of you know me as the co-founder of Isis. I recently left the company after eleven years of intense daily devotion.  It was an incredible experience and I have grown and prospered in ways that I never imagined when I launched it. Because of Isis I have learned a lot about a lot of things that I thought I’d never be interested in, met and worked with wonderful people and traveled to amazing places. I am now embarking on a journey as an independent, full service design studio specializing in apparel, knit and textile design. www.PoppyGall.com. I am excited about a life filled with the richness of new friendships, creative collaboration and the freedom and pleasure to be fully engaged with my work.

For those who don’t know me here is a little bit of my story… I live on a dirt road in Vermont, in a house that I designed myself. It is surrounded by apple trees, perennial and vegetable gardens.

A secluded garden behind my house. My studio is the building beyond the fence.

A secluded garden behind my house. My studio is the building beyond the fence.

My husband is an historical restoration carpenter and creates beautiful furniture, windows and doors using antique hand tools. He can turn a block of wood into a functional object of grace and beauty. My studio is on our property. It is a sweet little timber frame barn with great windows that we designed together. He did all the hard stuff like cutting the frame and insulating it. I banged nails, made lunches for him and chose the paint colors.

My studio undergoing construction

My studio undergoing construction

We live 15 minutes from groomed Nordic ski tracks and an alpine ski area. I ski almost every day that there is snow on the ground and dream about skiing the rest of the year. My husband and I met at a bicycle race. I was racing and he was the motorcycle escort. I thought his BMW was cool and he thought bike racing was cool. He started racing and now I have two Beemers of my own.

Having fun on the track on a vintage 1976 BMW R60/7

Having fun on the track on a vintage 1976 BMW R60/7 (click on photo)

Since I was a girl I’ve made things with my hands to give as gifts; knit hats and baby sweaters made from yarns I’ve spun or dyed, books stitched and glued together with paper made from mulberry pulp, colorfully painted wooden boxes, greeting cards, fruit jams with illustrated labels, teddy bears sewn from vintage wool coats, clay tiles glazed with folkloric motifs and sparkly Christmas ornaments.

One of my hand painted wooden clocks

One of my hand painted wooden clocks

The entrepreneurial bug first bit me the summer I was in the 7th grade. I was earning money to buy a new pair of Rossignol skis. I set up a table at our annual town wide sidewalk sale and sold my own creations; tie-dyed tee shirts, sand candles and pom poms made from gaudy yarns. That fall I had my new skis waxed and ready when the lifts opened.clock

Knitting has played an important part in my life though I’m sure that the babysitter who taught me to knit had no idea where I would go with it. I knit in college lectures to stay awake. I supplemented my income as a ski instructor by knitting custom hats. After a while I realized that I could make a living by marketing my knit designs and having other knitters make them. Mountain Ladies & Ewe, a knit hat and sweater company was born.

Mountain Ladies & Ewe introduced earflap hats to the ski industry

Mountain Ladies & Ewe introduced earflap hats to the ski industry

At the time, commercially made ski hats were offered in basic colors with stripes or simple two-color snowflake designs. I introduced the earflap hat to the Ski industry (this was a LONG time ago), infusing them with original multi-colored motifs such as leaping tigers and gypsy dancers and playful tassels.  Pretty soon all the other established hat companies were doing the same. It was fun being a trendsetter and keeping ahead of the game. Ten years later I was itchy to do something new so I sold Mountain Ladies & Ewe to a bigger company and went skiing.

Skiing in pre-Isis clothing 1995

Skiing in pre-Isis clothing 1995

In 1998 I co-founded Isis, the first women-only outdoor clothing brand in the U.S. Isis was born out of personal frustration at not being able to find apparel suited for my outdoor endeavors. When the Isis line was first introduced it made an immediate impact on the male-centric outdoor industry with its bright and feminine colors and non-unisex sizing. Isis changed the attitude of manufacturers and retailers within the industry toward women customers and their needs. It was a hard sell at first but now women specific products are the norm and outdoorswomen have a lot of great choices when looking for gear and apparel.

My first design for Isis was the best selling Niobe Jacket

My first design for Isis was the best selling Niobe Jacket

As Chief Design Officer my role encompassed developing color palettes and designing everything from technical outerwear to seamless body layer and all categories in between. My unique color selections and sense of functional style are important Isis differentiators and are often emulated by other brands. I hope this blog will become a forum for sharing thoughts with others interested in the intersection of color, art, design, fashion, skiing and the world that surrounds us. I look forward to your comments and please pass this along to those who might be interested. For more about me visit  www.PoppyGall.com.

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11 comments on “Welcome! Why Am I Writing This Blog?

  1. Hi Caren, Thanks for your nice note. Your Mountain Ladies & Ewe hat is a collectors item now! Poppy

  2. I still wear my Mountain Ladies & Ewe hat every single day in the winter. It is the only hat I have never lost. I get compliments on it daily. It is so comfortable and so warm, and hold up wonderfully to handwashing. I just wanted to let you know… I love it. I want more more more. It is difficult to find a fun and functional hat that is not in a children’s size.

  3. caroline marston’s avatarcaroline marston on said:

    Hi Poppy,
    I’ve been reading your blog since Karen F. sent it to me after you and I met at her party in February. It’s a source of wonder and delight for my eyes and soul. But because I don’t check it daily, I can spend LOTS of time “catching up,” as I did today. I have to tell you, I almost wept when I read your posting about Frost Line Kits. It brought a rush of sweet memories to me (too many to roll out here). I made quite a few FL products way-back-then, but my favorite, by far, was the red “down sweater” I wore for decades. I now realize that the orange Isis jacket I bought a couple years ago was, subconsciously, a sort of reincarnation of that beloved coat. So thank you…on many levels!

  4. Janice (Montague)’s avatarJanice (Montague) on said:

    Keep going girl! This is a wonderful venue to try and keep up with you!

  5. Thanks for your encouragement!

  6. Mary McKhann’s avatarMary McKhann on said:

    What a great blog and what an inspiration you are to women of all ages. Congratulations on striking out on your own. I know you will have great success!

  7. Hi Poppy,

    Tis the season to read about your endeavors! What a great blog, quite enjoyed reading the back history intro to your blog. Looking forward to your posts.

    All the best to you for a great ski season!

    Julie Hand

  8. Meghan’s avatarMeghan on said:

    Great start to your blog!! I can’t wait to read more.


  9. Yes, my inspiration definitely came from beautiful hand knit earflap hats from the Andes though they were never marketed to the ski industry. In 1980, machine knit earflap hats like the ones I was producing were a “new” phenomenon in the ski industry.

  10. Lightning’s avatarLightning on said:

    I would assert that South American lluchus and chullos introduced earflap hats to the ski industry!

  11. Heidemarie’s avatarHeidemarie on said:

    Hi Poppy!
    It is so exciting to learn about your creative and entrepreneurial development over the years. You are using your experiences from gardening, the mountains, rivers, and bikes, and being in nature; and you are translating these mementos into color palettes, designs, beautiful apparels as in your woman’s outdoor clothing. Never did I wear ski pants and parkas that made me feel more feminine and at the same time they were comfortable, practical, and soft.
    Your artistic inspirations are ongoing. What ideas, thoughts, or dreams are you carrying forward?
    Thank you so much for sharing,

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