It has been a while since an update on my fashion world. So quick re-cap: I sent in my designs for sampling in November 2017 and due to various issues, I was only able to pick them up in April 2018.
Now that I did, I was hugely disappointed as the samples did not resemble my designs at all. I was crushed because I already envisioned my business going down the toilet before I have even mass produced my first collection (the t-shirts don't count - they were a failed means to an end). One my tantrum was finished I reached out to them, explaining how I was unhappy with the samples and to my surprise, they did acknowledge some of the errors and some of the changes are infact free of charge.
Unfortunatelly, that also means that my samples are now back in Ireland and the collection will not be ready for this summer as I had hoped.
On the plus side, I have now reached out to a manufacturer in turkey who is doing GOTS certified fabric printing for half the price that I am currently paying. that means I might actually be able to sell an organic dress for less than 350€ as I kind of want to be affordable.
2018 has started at it seems to continue just as 2017 had ended. I wrote an entry about 3 weeks ago. This post was somewhat never saved, except for the headline.
Trying to figure out what I wanted to write about, I can only come up with the 2nd week of january.
As it contains everything involving travel, fashion and Eurovision :)
Now a month ago I flew to Manchester. But if you now ask me what I think of the city, I cannot say. I did not see anything of Manchester really. How is that possible you might wonder? I arrived rather late on a monday and planned to leave early tuesday. Why was my trip only that short? I went there to help out a friend. He has a chat how about eurovision and in the beginning he had asked me if I would be willing to be a guest on his show. Naturally I would. Firstly because I will always try andhelp friends when I can and secondly we are talking Eurovision. Unfortunatelly the trip did not go as smoothly as anticipated. It was raining cats and dogs, my friend made me feel like I was not really welcome afterall and that I basically invited myself and the recording reveals how my English has made a turnfor the worse. From my Irish accent with a bit of German, living a year in Berlin I now sound like full on German with a bit of Irish influence. I will see if I can link at least one of the audio sets at the end of this post.
The best part of the trip, however, was us having to pass by the BBC Radio city where they have Daleks and a proper Tardis on display and I got to take a picture with both - whoop whoop!
While I left for the airport at 10am, due to Ryanair delay, I did not arrive home before 6pm. The next two days I went to the Ethical Fashion Show, Premium as well as the Panorama here in Berlin. Most beneficial was the Ethical Fashion Show. I attended two presentations, one about alternatives to leather and the other about the care lable in clothing.
Did you know that we overwash our clothing? As it turns out, most of the care lables in todays garments are still on the standard of the 60s and 70s but washing machines and detergent have had huge improvments over the last few years. And most importantly: instead of putting your garments into the washing machine after every use (we are not talking underwear), hang them out into the fresh air. this is just as cleansing as a wash but more friendly not only to the environment but for the garment itself.
And did you know, you can make leather substitutes from plants as well as bacteria? Well, I think the idea of growing a garment out of bacteria is somewhat disgusting, but I have seen and touched it and it is a really nice fabric. Now, I still prefer the vegan options that use the by-product of the Olive Oil and Wine production. At this stage the alternatives are quite expensive but definetely something to consider, especially for embellishment on my garments. Let's wait 2-5 years and see how this develops. Especially waiting on the environmental impact of those alternatives.
It is really time for 2017 to be over. While I looove the christmas season (christmas markets, my christmas decorations and sweet christmas music nonstop), I am happy when we say bye to 17 and hello to 18.
In my last post I wrote about getting dresses produced in Ireland. Well, everything could already be done would it not be for stoffe.de. Now, usually I love stoffe.de because they have a great selection at an affordable price and offer organic fabrics too. So when they had a 20% deal going, I ordered all what was needed for my new collection. However, their payment provider messed up and my order had to be completed manually. This was done rather quickly. Unfortunatelly, the customer service screwed up the order details. Instead of using my Irish delivery address, they send the whole lot to my German invoice address. When I got the shipping confirmation, I saw the error and contacted the Customer Serivce again. I was advised to refuse to take the delivery and send an email confiming the correct shipping address. But a few days later I got an confirmation that my funds have been transfered back into my account as I returned the ordered items. Despite reachingout to them again I have not received a decent solution as I am not willing to place the order again without the 20%discount given. Afterall, it is not my fault that they messed up the shipping details and I did exactly as I had been told - at this stage Iam wondering, if I should have just accepted the parcels upon delivery and send them onwards myself. It would have been less hassle, thefabrics would already be in Ireland and the manufacturer could have finished my garments before their christmas break. What do you think about that?
And then there is the whole Eurovision ticket thing... yes, it is time for eurovision again... Honestly, it seems like it is Eurovision time all year around but I don't mind one bit :)
So the first wave of tickets was released on 30/11/2017. In anticipation I had created an account prior to the event and had agreed with 2 other fans that whoever got in first would buy tickets for all of us. While I was the first on the website, I was queued in by the system at 20685 as it had not let me enter the queue for about 20 seconds into the sale. yes, you read that right.... in total about 23000 queued to get a ticket. How is that fair? And what worries me the most is that the arena only has a capacity of 20000 people. With that there is a realistic chance I will not get a ticket for the live final at all. All of that because everyone is hyped about Lisbon and people that are generally not even that much into Eurovision are now trying to get tickets. It is truely annoying, especially after missing out on the fan package by just a few points) But what am I supposed to do but try till the end?
My main failure from the t-shirt collection is advertising. As of yet, nobody has told me that my shirts are crap and I have enough people around me, that would tell me if the shirts were in fact bad. On the contrary, people that have bought my shirts have given me feedback that they are surprised about the good quality. As if organic, fairtrade shirts for about 30 Euro cannot be that good. Well, my costing is quite tight and my margin low. In any way, mouth to mouth advertising does not work as good as I had hoped. Now, it is not the time for t-shrts anymore (baby, it's cold outside). With that I need to come up with a good advertising campaign. And the first step was a fotoshooting. And let me tell you, getting the pictures done the way I wanted was more difficult as I would have thought.
With these pictures I am now working on a flyer to distribute in organic shops. I also am looking into various means online marketing. I have started on pinterest, have to be more active on facebook and instagram and then there is google ads... We will see how that works...
But here the link to pinterest, if you want to pins some :) https://www.pinterest.de/keleven9653/organic-fashion-k-eleven/
It has been quite some time since my last entry... what can I say, I did not want to rant and it seems like the universe was against me, so I kept quiet. Now, some time has past and I can laugh most of it off.
So far my business is a massive failure. This is hard to admit and you do not want to know agout the frustrated tears I have cried about it. I will, however, not give up yet. You should always know when to best give up and count your losses, but this is not the time right now. There is still some fight left. Imagine all those great artists, intenventers and business owners would have given up the after the first failure - let me tell you we wouldn't have a lot of beautiful and wonderful things in our life.
With that thought I am currently working on two business directions (see previous posts from today). Naturally I am hoping that both will pay off.
In the meantime I am organizing a networking meet-up here in Berlin. So far only 2 other designers have agreed to come, but I want this to become a regular thing as I can use a bigger network.
I have just registered my business in Berlin. After such a long time I finally was able to register as a sole proprietor. I have already updated the legal notice and opened a PayPal business account.
I ordered the t-shirts and expect delivery in 3-4weeks. On Wednesday I am meeting with my designer colleague to discuss some of my designs for selling them online.
So what happens next?
I wanted to register my brand, now that I have a business registration and guess what... It costs 300euro. Money I will definitely need to spend. However, it will only secure my brand within the EU from what I gathered.
But the quintessence is: I am finally getting somewhere!
I have a solution. It is not ideal but it keeps me going. The keyword is virtual office. Basically you pay an office company so that they will put your name on the mail box. These companies do a bit more too. Usually they offer shared offices and actually receive post for you and even forward it to your address. Depending on the monthly price the services are endless. I found a few in Berlin. One of them is actually just 20min away from my home. I've asked them for a pricing as they did not have an offer on the website. From the other companies I gathered that it will cost me about 120euro a month. Holy bimbam! With this extra cost my liquidity will be next to nought by February next year unless my shirts sell successfully.
It is amazing how inactive I've become since ESC ended. So let me give you an update on my business.
Firstly I still don't have a registered business. Why? Because I am still waiting on a response from my landlord. It should only be a courtesy information but without the agreement I could later get into trouble. Now, I am on my way home and I will try to persuade my parents to let me register my company in solingen. It's not what I wanted as I won't be a Berlin company but at least I have one.
I suppose I will need proof that the house will not be seized by the authorities if I go bankrupt.
In the meantime I am four steps further to selling in my own shop.
1. my boss gave his okay on my designs- no violation of my contact
2. I have found a suitable shopping cart provider. Now i can easily sell my designs online
3. In addition I have finalized my shirt designs. I had to reduce the amount of designs to 3. So the first batch of shirts is limited but it is a start. Also because of the low quantity of shirts the per-shirt-price is quite high. I will still be able to sell them as I initially planned but I will have a very small profit margin. Hopefully the tax office will let me keep at least some of it.
4. Lastly I have found someone to do the professional pattern drafting. In the past weeks I realized that pattern drafting is not my strong suit and all the manufacturing companies I have contacted need at least the patterns. The good news is, once I have the pattern the order of assembly is easily created.
Now, as soon as the registration madness is sorted I can order the T-shirts. I can also order garment labels, packaging, stamps (I am strongly considering Pin instead of the German Post, Hermes and similar), and also order new fabrics.
On that note, I am sure I told you that my team in PayPal had given me a voucher for one of my fabric sources. I have ordered some test swatches on new designs I have been working on. Some might be really disgusting as I used injuries and hair as inspiration. If they turn out to be nice I will get more and incorporate them in my new collection. Otherwise nobody will ever see the .
Two weeks since my last day at PayPal. I miss the team greatly. Luckily I get updated almost on a daily basis by my former coworker and now neighbor-friend. I am glad I'm still in touch with some teammates.
After a few "recreational" days I have now worked for about a week in my new part-time job. And the first thing that stands out are once again the people. I think they are all crazy- and we all know how much I love crazy... I have a feeling I will fit right in. Hardest part for me remains the standing. So far I was only "booked" for 4 to 6 hour shifts and I worry a bit about the day I get an 11h shift. In the meantime I learn all sorts of new things about the retail business: from folding shirts to handling customers (which is in fact quite different to the call handling at PayPal) to the bookkeeping in the stores.
I am also learning as much as I can about the brand and fall in love with new shirts every day. My current favorite is naturally a 399€ piece. And I want this. Really! Now, as you can guess, with my new salary I am not really in a spending mood. On top of that, I understandably want the shirt to look not only stunning on the hanger but on me. So here is the deal: I will have to loose some inches. I was already on a loosing mission before but now I mean it. The goal is to loose about 30pounds. That makes about 13€ per pound I am loosing. I am hoping to find myself some sponsors who will donate 1€ per pound I am loosing. Maybe my parents are a good place to start...
Regardless, because of my mission I have not started on designing dresses for myself at Eurovision. This brings me to the way more important topic than my dietary plans: Was quitting PayPal the right choice- or have i actually started in my fashion label.
At this stage I have mainly looked into the options I have for a start up. And really I came to this conclusion: for the first period where the main focus is the design I will not register a company as my goal is not the revenue generation right away. I noticed during the creation of my business plan that a lot of topics in the plan are not really applicable at the moment. I will however need to look into registering my trademark on the German market. While I had already registered the brand k-eleven in Ireland I need to do so in Germany too.
At the same time I have - as indicated above- not started designing for myself, however I have completed the German ESC heart design dress for my the friend I am going to Kiev with.
My current ideas circle around the Irish dress. This one will be for myself, but I just don't know that I want the dress to look like. Maybe Ireland is giving me some inspiration.
That is right. I am on my way to Dublin right now. Last year I had already booked the tickets for the country2country concert in Dublin. I am really looking forward to see Reba live in action and meet up with crazy Karin. I am also looking forward to having dinner with my "vegan group", to going to the movies with my former photographer and friend Lotte and staying at my favorite models' family home. Having to many great meet ups planned I have high expectations for this weekend back home in Dublin.
This will probably be my last visit to Ireland in a long time.. Unless Ireland wins Eurovision- then I will be back in May 2018 the latest. Talking about Ireland and Eurovision: I'm dying to try is Brendan's song for this year. My first reaction was not too positive. I thought he sounds like a child (reminding me of Heintje, a Dutch child star in the 60s/70s). And while I did not actively like it at first listen, I wanted to hear it again. And again. And again. In fact I have probably listened to it 50times by now and I like it. I really do. I can already hear my ESC fan-friends disagreeing with me but this is a beautiful song, that is simple at first and gains power later. It has what I call the "idol factor": most winners' songs from singing competitions over the last years have this climax in the song where the music breaks and then a full power restart. I cannot really describe it, but when you listen to it, you'll know what I am talking about. Will it win? I would hope so, but I don't think so. Will it have chances to at least qualify to the final? I need to check what songs are in the second semi with Brendan to say for sure. But I can see him getting to the final or only miss it by one or two places. I will give a better prognosis way closer to the day. It is always fun to see how wrong I am.
Instagram followers already know, I had sent one application for a job and it was slightly different to what I usually would send. Screenshots below show you what I mean. Funny and bold , matching the feel I got from the company I send my application and got a call for an interview the next day. Now the job itself is not what you'd expect me to do as it is a shop assistance role. However for me I know that I will way more than half me current hourly salary and because I am not looking for fulfillment but means to pay my rent at least.
The interview however, especially that short notice really took me by surprise and while moving an appointment and having a cold on top of a bad hair day, it went quite well.
So good in fact, that I had a test day. With that I was standing in the shop two days later, learning the ins and outs of selling a high end product with t-shirts ranging from 39.90 up to 399.90
I learned that this job also required cleaning skills and standing stamina. Having worked in office jobs for the past 10 years this was probably the most challenging part. After the in store experience I was brought back to the manufacturing facilities. Here I learned how crystals get attached to the garments and why these applications can be really cheap but also why they can be extreemly expensive. Even with a lot of automatization with a high end product a lot of manual steps are taken to ensure quality.
Well, and a day later I signed my contract for a 20h work week.
It is devastating to actually see the impact on my salary especially moving from a tenured full time job into a field where I am a complete newbi. And while we never talk salary I can say that I will earn about 30% of my last paycheck. I have a feeling I will cry on the day I get my first payslip.
In any case, please check out my new employer look54.de and when you are in Berlin ensure to buy something while I am working so get commission ;)
pennyless fashion designer working towards London