I finally feel ready to start making concrete goals toward starting my own business, and I think I’ve secured a trusted team to help me along the way: me, myself, and I. In a few years I might be ready to spill the story of how I came to this conclusion. It’s too fresh to share at the moment. I need to wait, to see what happens before I divulge. It begins with a motorcycle ride and ends with a spider bite. Three, actually, in the shape of a triangle, on my left foot. The rest of the story is none of your business.
On Wednesday I took a concrete step towards my goals by signing up for Renaissance Entrepreneur Center’s course on starting one’s own fashion business. I was so excited and nervous to enter their space to share my story with everyone. I even showed off and went first when we started introductions.
As the class progressed and the teacher told us to keep certain concepts in mind I realized that I am a natural business woman (in terms of thinking about and envisioning…not in terms of making money…yet). The questions our instructor, who is amazing, asked us were ones that I’d already thought of and have thouroughly documented on this blog. My natural curiosity and interest in the world and things around me means I constantly innovate. It comes easily to me. I have the added benefit of already knowing how to produce garments, and I have a product to sell that is more than a commodity – it’s fashion.
I want to explore this more, commodity clothing versus fashion, because it hasn’t been a distinction I’ve consciously made until now. I entered a Master’s program in fashion and feared finishing it because I swore the debt incurred from the degree would force me to take a job with Walmart, designing Muumuus. I was afraid of designing commodities, because really there is nothing to them. There is no art, no emotional content that goes into producing a white undershirt, or a pair of gym socks, or most of the clothing that the majority of us wear. Commodities are interchangeable, although they sometimes reference real fashion, which is by contrast, very deep (at least to the person who creates it).
Fashion is our emotions imprinted onto our bodies. Fashion elevates clothing to an expressive art form. It’s where the drama lives, where joy explodes, where we tip toe around death and decay, where we imagine the future, where we sexually signal, where we confuse, where we explore, where reveal and conceal.
The way I, as a designer, relate to my emotions is present in my clothing design and construction. So as I start to create my business I have to remember that I am making a brand of me. It’s not just some clothing line, it’s me and all my love, me and all my insecurities, me and all of my stuff. It’s how I relate and feel about my body, and your body; my mind, and your mind; my soul, and your soul. Just as the mind and body operate together, I don’t see the business and the personal as being separate. The personal affects the business, and the business affects the personal. I have worked for too many people not to know this truth.
So what are my desires, intentions, and values when it comes to creating my own apparel business? Lets find out.
We got a series of handouts in class on Wednesday, so the following content will be coming from those prompts.
Your Name: Leslie Marie Channel
Business Name: Article Brand Clothing
The problem you wish to solve: I find most fashions available to me both boring and meaningless, the quality of most garments is also questionable. There are no garments that tell my story, that I relate to, that make me feel safe and comfortable. The cloth goods landscape is blighted.
Your business concept: Fashion on the edge of art. Conceptual fashion.
Your end-user: Women (Possibly men since a lot of men ask me for menswear. Let me tell you, it’s be ages since I’ve been around a man’s body. I hardly remember what they look like. ) ages 20-50, who go for adventurous style/style that they can have adventures in.
Function/End Use (how it will enrich their lives): It will make them feel special and unique, the garments can be worn many ways giving them endless styling options, they will get more for their money, they can travel with smaller suitcases.
Where you are in your business development process:
Have samples of product (that I wear)
Have business license
What do you think your greatest challenge is in starting your fashion business:
Also time. But time is money… or something like that….these things are entangled for me. I give away my time to make money right now, and that takes away from time I could be spending to make better money for myself. It’s time for me to leave my full-time gig behind (I am notoriously slow to change, especially when I’m enjoying or feel peaceful. Had to be forcibly made to leave the womb and breastfed until I was two and a half. What can I say. I appreciate a good thing when I have it. Don’t hate.)
How will you produce your product:
-Artisan crafted goods and small scale mass-production
Where do you want to produce your product?
-Locally made when possible
-Made in USA at the very least
How will you sell your product?
-Some boutique wholesale
How will you market your product:
-Face to Face to boutiques, sales reps
-Self-made web-based social media
How will you measure your success
-Achieving sustainability, able to pay myself a living wage. Additionally, I will consider myself successful when I have stable living and working spaces, and when I can afford to take yearly trips to help fuel my creativity. Also important to me is the ability to stay flexible and nimble as a business, the ability to practice my craft with who I want when I want, and the ability to take creative breaks as needed. One of the things that worries me about mainstream fashion is the breakneck pace (fall/winter, resort, spring/summer, pre fall). I am not naturally a fast paced girl. I tried to be all fasty fast once and my life exploded! I like to take my time, experience things, think about what’s going on and then produce something amazing! I can’t be expected to work at someone else’s pace. Unfortunate maybe, but true.
And here are some statements we were asked to create -
Problem: Fashion needs to be meaningful to our lives and our struggles, our successes and our triumphs, it needs to be relevant to what we’re experiencing and represent how we are transforming as a world society. People no longer understand the sacred traditions – the craftsmanship, the dedication, and the training – that is required to make high quality garments.
Mission: To create a line of clothing, produced biannually, that is both artistically expressive, innovative and high quality in construction, and culturally relevant/referential.
Vision: To inspire and change the way people consume and interact with clothing by creating unique pieces that encourage thoughtful and individualized self-expression.
Values: Artistic, Radical, Truthful, Inspirational, Cool, Loving Expression through clothing.
That’s my business.
Love and Enjoy!