STARTING A TALL FASHION BRAND : ONE STEP FORWARD, THREE STEPS BACK

Introduction:

The last time I wrote about my journey in starting a tall fashion brand was back in January 2018 which I was about four months into the process. If you missed my last blog, make sure you check it out by clicking here. During this time, I was still in the very beginning stages and while I had some hesitation here and there for the most part everything seemed to be running smoothly. A couple of months later, all chaos broke out.

At least once a day, I question myself for making this decision. I keep asking myself, “What did I get myself into?” When I started this journey, I knew it was going to be a challenge but I wasn’t even prepared for all the various steps and processes that have to be done simultaneously. Constantly, it feels overwhelming and as a take one step forward, I feel as though I am taking at least three steps back.

There are so many things that go into starting a fashion brand. After writing about everything I am currently working on, my blog became 11 pages long — ouch! To spare you from an 11 page blog, I am just going to write about the product development that I am currently working on.

Product Development:

Currently, I am working with an agency to help me with the technical design, pattern making and sample making. They were also doing the fabric sourcing at first.

Sourcing:

The problem that I started to have was that the fabric that they were showing me was mostly the basic colors — grays, black, beige, navy blue and white. Originally, I thought that would be fine because it would be better just to play it safe with those colors.

One afternoon, I had lunch with a tall friend. As I was telling her about the colors and playing it safe, she quickly reminded me that it is so much easier finding jackets in those colors. She said “we need more bold, bright and fun colors to choose from!” I quickly began to think about my own wardrobe and how I had so many of the bland colors because I had no other options. She was so right about that, we need more color!

Furthermore, I was scared that I wasn’t learning anything with them doing the sourcing and would have to continue to rely on them or someone else to do it in the future. Therefore, it became a no brainer to take it over!

Working with Suppliers:

Honestly, I never would have thought how time consuming and difficult the sourcing would be. It isn’t just fabric that I need to source it is all the trim which includes the zippers, buttons, even thread and so forth.

Wow ! I had no idea there would there are so many frustrations with fabric sourcing alone! In the beginning of the design process, you have in your mind what your design will look like, how it will feel, and the color/pattern you plan on using. Unless you have the money start out buying 500 to 1,000 yards of fabric, finding the right supplier will require much research.

Beware of suppliers’ websites! Even if a supplier shows fabric on their website it may only be a limited supply and you must ask if they will keep stocking it. Around in March, I had ordered a few swatches of Italian Melton Wool. One swatch was this beautiful purplish/plum color and another that was a gorgeous royal blue color. As soon as I received them, I fell in love with both! I couldn’t decide which one I liked better so I ran a poll through social media and my newsletter. I was excited that the purple color won. As soon as my polling was done, I placed a sample order of the purple wool — woo hoo!

Shortly, after I placed my order the supplier called me to let me know they only had a little over two yards left and they wouldn’t be restocking it. Immediately, I asked about the blue wool and there wasn’t much of it left either. I was absolutely devastated! After weeks of searching I couldn’t find anything similar to the purple wool but I did find a similar blue though. It was through a completely different supplier but they will continue to restock it…phew.

I had to start tweaking my designs so that they can work with the fabric that I found. Don’t get me wrong, I am able to still find good quality it is just not exactly what I had envisioned at the beginning of the design.

Number of Styles:

When I first started this process, I decided to start with ten different styles. Truly, I thought this was very small at first. Oh man was I wrong! It is so hard for me to focus on more than one style at a time and give it the attention that it needed. Therefore, I had to scale back and I decided to only start with five different styles. Suddenly, I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.

Unfortunately, I paid for this design package up front for ten styles. Luckily, the agency that I am working with have been great and very patient. They agreed to put the other five on hold until I can get the first five completed and launched. I wish I could go back in time and start really small with maybe one or two styles. I will always recommend anyone that is looking to try to start a fashion apparel business is to start small!

Sometimes you have to take steps back in order to make sure you are moving forward in the right direction. I have no regrets for changing my mind on the fabric sourcing. It might take longer than expected but I know it will be worth it!

Stay tuned for my next blogs on the fitting process and managing my life with a full-time job and family.

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