OK that was a lot and let me back up bay saying I am a postive thinker and a postive person. I am business minded and always have new ideas. I have some great successes under my belt that I am thankful for. But my sunny disposition seems to be a bit clouded lately. I have been working on pushing ahead and in that I have not had enough time to execute the design ideas floating in my head because I have been bogged down with the tasks of running my business.
All of this has made me feel stifled as a designer and a stifled designer is an angry designer! So it's time to analyze how I got here. I think it will help you too, especially if like me you had no background in this industry before taking the plunge.
When I started out as a designer I made my first collection with some beautiful Michael Miller prints. I made my own patterns and took the time to really put together my small collection. I really loved the process and result. Here is a peek at a few pieces...
In January of 2011 I posted a picture of a Valetine dress I made. I also made ruffle leggings to go under it but I wasn't that excited about them. I was more focused on the dress at the time. But I posted this photo in my shop and everyone asked. Where can I get the leggings and what other colors? My first thought was, "what about my cute dress?" LOL My second thought was, "good thing I had the photog take a picture of the leggings on their own". Quickly I had a listing for leggings with a color card for several colors and the orders came in so fast I couldn't believe it!
I learned everything as I went. I have had more than my fair share of sew shop woes and having to hunt down fabric because my suppliers discontinued it. It wasn't for a lack of planning that I hit these road bumps but a lack of capital. It is expensive to start and run a fashion business. There are so many investments in materials and labor before you ever get paid and so I have had to be creative. I had to find fabric suppliers that keep fabrics in stock long term so I can buy closer to production/my getting paid window. I had to also find sewing contracors that would take small runs and turn them out quickly. Again for the same reason. I have made and hand graded all of my own patterns to avoid the cost of hiring someone to do it for me. I have had to find cut shops that also make markers from my hand graded patterns. I have had to learn to hustle to sell off merchandise when stores don't take their orders. I have had to learn how to grow a business with no investment money and support my household and the business at the same time when my husband lost his job.
I learned a lot from being so hands on with the process of running the business but I must say life would be much easier with a sourcer, production manager, and investor. Easier and it would give me time to do what I should be doing. Design.
So now I am angry. I am angry at my sewing machine when I get a lot of custom orders on Etsy. I am mad at my seamstress when I am preparing a new wholesale lot for her to sew. I am mad at my Etsy shop when I have to take the time to enter a new season of products. I get mad at my sales reps for not bringing in more orders so I can afford to hire more help. I am mad at my fabric suppliers for not giving me a better price point. But in reality, I am not angry at any of those things, those all come with running a business. I am angry I have not had time to design because I can't afford to hire more help to do all the other business tasks I am responsible for.
It seems my business is now running me and trampling on my goals. I know there is a certain amount of grunt work you have to put in before you can really relax into a business but I am getting impatient. I want a chance to apply the new design techniques I have learned and dreamed up. I want to go through my vintage patterns and sew them to learn more. I want to spend a day in a fabric shop day dreaming. I want to make some of the home goods and acessories I have swimming in my head. I want to forge ahead with the mommy and me outfits I have planned on for years. I want to do it all.
Right now I am missing the days of selling retail and only selling to a handful of shops. Mostly because then I was able to be more creative. I am realy contemplating going back to that. Or perhaps finding a partner to help me manage the wholesale side while I focus on expanding the retail side. Time will tell what comes for kangacoo's wholesale division, for now I am working on not being angry while I work it all out.
You can learn more about kangacoo designs and me the designer at www.kangacoo.com.
You can also shop the line at www.kangacoo.etsy.com
You can email The Fashion Business Mentor comments and questions at email@example.com
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