Already a while ago Ihave started on my latest dress collection. It was always my plan to move from the t-shirts back to dresses and other womens' wear. Because I am not the best pattern maker, I have paid someone to help with with that, unfortunatelly none of the patterns matched my designs. Getting the needed changes I have to pay her again and again,until the pattern matches my design. And while I can understand what she was explaining, I do not lke, that this was not discussed with me prior to starting the collaboration. For example, I understand that one of my dress ideas had a very complicated design that would break up some of the seams and it wouldbe difficult to make this dress fitting to a person. But rather than telling me that and asking if I therefore like to change the design or remove the design from the collection, it was just altered. So, now I am back with the old crew. yes that is right! I have reached out to my irish manufacturer. While they are rather expensive, with them I know, I show them a drawing and they make not only the pattern but the sample garment and it will match 90% to the discussed drawing, which is really all I need. For some reason this manufacturer seems to be the only one willing to work this rather unusual way. I have reached out to other manufactures in Germany as well as Poland, but they will only make patterns if I provide them with a full specification pack (it is various technical drawings with all sorts of measurements, inside and out). I understand they want this to cover their butts, as they can always point at the drawing and say: but this is what you wanted. However, it is work that I find to be rather difficult without having the actual garment... which makes me running in circles.
You probably have guessed it but the prints I usually have on my dresses (see pictures) are designed by myself. And I find that those prints with the organic material are a unique selling point to my collections and therefore I will focus more on creating new fabric prints rather than dress patterns. Longterm I will have certain dress types that do not change as much, but the prints will.
Tomorrow I have my consultation and I will get the final price on the 9 sample garments I want to get done. It will probably turn out to be 200 Euro per garment + the material that I will still need to source. To reduce my costs the samples will be done with plain organic cotton fabric as this will cost in those low quantities 10€/yard rather than 40€/yard for my prints - yes this is how expensive it is to get my prints on organic material. I am aware that usually in large quantities I should not pay more than 5-10€/yard but then I cannot guarantee the qualitiy of the product anymore. So, as long as I am not in a position to order 1000 yard per print I will have to go with the expensive option. :)
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.
My shirts arrived and my shop is online. Woohoo...
Because the fotoshoot is not happening as fast as I had hoped I went online with step-in mannequin pictures. Naturally most of the shirts don't look as great as they are supposed to be. That'll push away some customers.
Then I learned that pin is not as fast as I thought because outside of Berlin/Brandenburg they working with third parties delaying the delivery more than necessary. Now I have to make the decision to pay more for shipping and use Deutsche Post or stick with pin. Both are climate neutral.
Another issue I am facing is the tracking. For expensive items I definitely will need proper tracking to have seller protection on PayPal... Talking about PayPal, as expected they have frozen some of my incoming funds. Not that I mind.
I also learned something about Facebook and friends.
Before I started the business I relied and calculated with word of mouth advertising. I had hoped that a lot of my friends would share my site. Instead I got good luck messages and congratulations on all ends. Well that's nice...Not how I can keep my shop running though. Having said that, I have a few friends that not only shared my page but actually bought a shirt. On that note, I want to point out how much I love my family. My mother was the first to buy 3 Shirts though I don't think she will wear them because of the fitted design. My brother bought a special edition music shirt, which I never expected because he is into heavy metal not heavy crystals. So thank you to both of them.
Now that the online advertising wasn't as fruitful as I'd hoped, I had two events where I want to promote my designs. Unfortunately one of them already turned out to be a big bust. The event was too good to be true and as it turns out it wasn't true. The organizers have defrauded eurovision fans, leaving a lot of them with travel and accommodation costs they are not getting back. Because I was suspicious and asked around in the OGAE community and I got more go aheads than cautious warnings. I booked everything with no money back policy two days before the cancellation announcement. I suppose it's partially my fault to be stuck with the cost of the hotel and so on, being a cheapskate and looking for the cheapest available offers.
Well, this is now done and dusted and I focus on the future. There is a monthly gathering called pulse of Europe. Some of you probably know it already. It is basically an event happening all over Europe where people get together to demonstrate pro Europe. So you see, the perfect location for "my heart beats for Europe/unity"
And we're open for business. My new webshop is now open! At the moment the selection is limited with 3 shirts for men and 5 for women. I think it is a good start though and I am hoping for your help: Please spread the word!
Why should you buy a shirt?
Buy a shirt, will you?
What can you do when you have so many plans and so little time ? Well, time is actually not the problem itself, it is the efficiency to use the time that you have. After all the day has about 17 hours... So even when I take 3h of break every day that leaves 14h.... That sounds like plenty of time, doesn't it? In a week that is 98hours. 98 hours to work, exercise, network ( the fancy word for meeting with friends, family or just people) and what do I do? Procrastinate. If I want to be self-employed I need to be more efficient.
Not that the stuff I am doing isn't important. It is just not on the top of the priority list.
But so many things are currently happening and I want to be everywhere at once- dancing on multiple weddings at the same time so to speak.
My doctor prescribed physiotherapy and a lot of exercise. Combine that with a 20-30h work week and my business- suddenly a social life is non existing again. So much so, I haven't even taken the time to read all my Facebook messages....to everyone waiting on a response: it's not you, it's me :) I will get back to you eventually - I hope.
Talking about business- if you actually checked my shop out, you'll see that I added a countdown because it's finally happening.
I decided to use a service to write my terms and conditions and boy am I happy that I did. Turns out I had to change a few things-mainly links to social networks because most of them are not up to legal standards for data protection.
With most of the changes done and my shirts arriving next week I am hoping to get pictures taken within the week to go online Monday in 2 weeks.
Am I excited? Well, hell yeah... Am I scared? Sure as fudge!
So keep counting down with me and hope i won't end up in jail or bankrupt because I forgot something.... I don't think I did though... After all, it took me 6 month to get here!
Why is it that every time you spend an obscene amount of money one one thing something else pops up requiring even more?
Last week I was the stupid moron that I am and dropped my phone once more. This time however, even my sweet little Samsung Mini couldn't survive the fall. It did just drop, it was pullend down to the ground and after two meters collided with the unforgiving ground, scattering into pieces. And while I could put it back together and actually get it running again (oh sweet miracle), the screen was broken so much it is now hazardous to swipe.
With that a new phone was in order. And I have to report: phones still get bigger. I don't understand it. the 4.5" screen was perfekt and fitted perfectly in my pockets. Now the smallest smartphone the shop assistant was able to offer it a 5" screen huawei from 2015. I bought it. I am still getting used to the size. Bigger is not always better. My next pocket designs definitely need to be bigger... But the mobile itself is easy and nice to handle. A few things to get used to after having a Samsung for almost 8 years.
On the business front I am now facing more costs... For the terms and conditions to be legally bullet proof because there are people making money on suing poor small business owners who only wanted to sell their stuff.
Upgrading my shopping cart system. The free version only allows ten items....
I have already purchased labels for my shirts -obviously on organic cotton; packaging for shipping-naturally recycled; and the pre- labels from pin, the carbon footprint low shipping company. Missing are some stickers to fix the packages. Ideally I would have hang tags but I cannot be bothered at the moment.
On the design front we had to skip the pattern meeting but my colleague briefly looked through the designs and stated that they were doable... That's something.
My homework for now: decide what sizes I want to be selling and what measurement are behind each size.
In the meantime I finally received the fabric samples I ordered six weeks ago.... Some of the prints look really nice and probably end up in one of my next garments. The rest count as experience... On how not to do it. In anyway the cloth is so soft and I am looking forward to ordering more for a dress or shirt....
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.
Feeling gutted. my landlord denied the right to use my flat as the address for my business. They claim that with the use of my private accomodation, the risk of fire (due to storage of material) increases as well as potential visitors from dissatisfied customers and delivery of parcels. Therefore they feel like they cannot allow me to use my appartment.
I have no idea how I am going to continue at this stage. I cannot afford to rent a commercial location to register my business there. I wonder if other small businesses have just registered their business under their home address until they became big enough to get a proper location.
If anyone is living in an appartment they can use for commercial purposes and is willing to register my business with their address, please feel free to let me know...
Once I have an update, I will let you know.
pennyless fashion designer working towards London