Becky: When I was a freshman in high school, I went to a summer sewing school taught by my Great Aunt. We learned the basics and made our own clothes and had a fashion show to show off our creations. Honestly, mine was bad! haha. I remember thinking, I will not use this again, and I kind of put it away. I think I have always had a "style" that I leaned towards, the clean and simple lines of Jcrew, etc, but I have never considered myself a fashionista. Fast forward to 8 years ago, I had the first of 2 daughters and knew that I wanted to dress them differently than what I could find locally. I wanted them dressed in my clean simple style, so I borrowed a neighbor's sewing machine to try a few patterns that I liked online and was confident I could make. I almost hung it up though when I couldn't even thread the machine, I had to bring it to my day job to a co worker to show me how to thread the machine. Its been going ever since!
TFBM: How long did you retail online before you decided to wholesale?
Becky: Honestly, not long, about a year and a half. One reason for going into wholesale is because I do work a full time job and it was becoming too much to work, stay up all night making custom clothing, and keep up with my family. I knew I wanted to do this full time, so I decided to explore the option of designing my own garments, hire someone to make them, and to sell to stores. I am not at the point where I can leave my day time job yet. It was been a slow pace, but I will get there one day and I feel like I am on the right track.
TFBM: How did you decide wholesale was the right next step for your business?
Becky: I am still figuring this out! But so far(I am really in the beginning of this journey) it has been an awesome, humbling experience. I have learned so much about my goals and where I ultimately want my line to go. If I hadn't gone this direction, I don't think I would have stayed in business at least at the time.
Becky: Thank you!! My reason for not hiring a rep and doing it myself is that I am so new, I wanted to learn all of the process and go through several production runs with my sewing contractor before taking on hopefully large orders. And I was able to see for myself what the buyers were buying! It is such an invaluable experience to interact with them and to get feedback on your line. I do hope to one day hire a rep, I just don't feel that I am quite ready for one yet.
1. Find a smaller show where you don't pay tooo much and sign up if you can, just to get a feel of the market and to learn how it all works. Walk the floors and learn as much as you can about the market you are attending before going. I had read this several times and I can't stress how important it is to know where you are going.
2. Pay attention to what the more experienced reps/designers are doing! Network and try to meet as many people as you can! See how the reps/exhibitors interact with the buyers, how they show the coordinating lines, take orders etc. I also met the coolest people! I made invaluable friendships and contacts. The networking is just tremendous and has opened the doors for possible collaborations in the future. Also, pay attention to the setup of the other vendors! Almost NO one saw my little
booth or my romper displayed on a mannequin on the front table. Everyone's eyes went over my setup to the top of the booth where the signs were. Most vendors had items hanging there for buyers to get a quick view of what they had. I didn't know this!
3. Try to make appointments if you can before you go! The busy reps had appointments already booked for most of the time they were there. Ask for a buyer's guide if you aren't given one. I think the larger shows, you can purchase labels with
their buyers' addresses on them. At the smaller show, we were given a buyer's guide with all of the registered buyers' contact info, very valuable!!!
TFBM: How did you find out about the markets you wanted to attend?
Becky: I had spoken to a local children's boutique consultant who had recommended going to a small local market as my first market. She said it was a good one because even though it was a smaller market, however reps and buyers from the bigger markets in Dallas and Atlanta were all there. It also cost a fraction of what the bigger markets cost to exhibit. Since
then, I have tried to research market calendars to see when/where they were going to be and tried to plan from there. Also, I checked out the sites of popular children's lines and saw which markets they would be represented. I knew that I wanted to be at the bigger markets, but I wanted to have market experience before I ventured there.
Becky: My next market is my first big market. I will be debuting my Spring 2014 line in Atlanta in Aug. I prepared by attending the market back in June and walking the floor. I am in the process of taking pictures to make a postcard to send/email out to boutiques to let them know that I will be at the Market and trying to book appointments before I go. Also, I have several samples of each style to show where as in my first market, I had a TOTAL of 7 items. This way it will look like I am offering more. And my line is more diverse. In my first market, my 7 items were styles that I totally loved and thought so chic, but they were all gray, black and white. One thing I learned at the very end of market (literally right before the close), typically,
their buyers don't buy black or gray! So I am offering a more diverse color/pattern selection that will accommodate most. I will also better prepare my booth!
TFBM: What's next for Hucklebuckles?
Becky: I am still trying to decide, haha. Its been a slow journey, but a fascinating one. My goal is to build my line into a sustainable business and to provide an example for my daughters that any dream is possible with hard work. I am adding boys garments to my line and an addition of Men's button down shirts specifically for Mardi Gras in collaboration with my cousin that
will branch out to Saints, LSU etc, but all with the same Hucklebuckles styling. I am really excited about this! Really, I am just working hard to get my line noticed and in stores and to boost web sales. I do want to venture into the New York markets in the next couple of years. Also, I have applied for the Etsy Wholesale Beta program. I am still waiting on that, but thought it would be a useful venue.
TFBM: And to close. Give me 3 words to describe a successful designer.
Becky: hmmm, a learner, flexible, persistent
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