Here is a follow up to the first article by current student, Beth Liebert and the creation of her Rally her apparel line. These are Beth’s take aways from her experiences thus far, once again in her own words.
- Making mistakes is a given the first time around, so set yourself up so that they don’t ruin you.
- Start small. You can learn the whole production process end to end with just one garment style, and will probably make the same mistakes with an order of 100 as you would with an order of 1000, so you might as well fail cheaply for this first time around. Be happy (really!) if you break even.
- Contract locally. It gives you the chance to interact with the factory, ask for help, address problems in person, and also gives you the option of small production runs and quick turnaround compared to overseas. For this first line, going this route will probably save you money, as you eliminate travel and freight costs and minimize the impact of your sloppy mistakes.
- People really want you to succeed
- Ask them to help, whether it’s tips on patternmaking or fabric sourcing, promoting your campaign to friends, or having patience while you need another two months to make their item. Pay them back with appreciation and respect–and special discounts don’t hurt either.
- Ask for referrals to find the resources you need for production. Don’t bother trying to find it on the internet- this industry is very old-school.
- Sell to friends and family first. I highly recommend doing a crowdfunding campaign on indiegogo or kickstarter for so many reasons–you get your orders and your funding before spending any money, you will focus your brand message, and you will probably sell mostly to friends and family, who will love and admire you even when you are 6 mo late and deliver something less than perfect. Not so with a retailer. Also, it commits you to getting through it–you can’t just drop it when it gets seemingly impossible to complete- so you find a way to figure out the inevitable barriers.
- And of course, invest in your education so you’ll be that much more prepared! Check out the Cañada College Fashion Department. Remember there will be a Fashion Entrepreneurship class this summer on Tuesdays and Thursdays evenings from 6-10pm on June 17 through July 24.
I’m brewing up some new ideas for my next line, and can’t wait to do it all over again with that much more experience and education to build on.
Thanks again, Beth! This is fantastic advice for other students working on their fashion lines.