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
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