My first four months of starting a business
While I have been steadily "working on" my business for a couple years now (by that I mostly mean I was making a patterns on my kitchen floor while listening to Last Podcast on the Left), I didn't really buckle down and get serious about starting Vesta until I joined Factory45 in June. Since then, I've accomplished a lot (though it doesn't always feel that way!) and I thought today it would be fun to share all I've done over the last 4 months, for anyone who might be wondering what initially goes into starting small sustainable clothing line. Here's what I've been up to:
-Making detailed sketches of my garments. This is the fun part for me. I love drawing and dreaming and have notebooks full of ideas. Once the program started, I had to really think through each garment in vivid detail so that a patternmaker would be able to understand what I wanted to create.
-Reaching out to fabric suppliers for fabric swatches. I started out initially looking for organic cotton poplin or cotton twill for wide leg ankle pants and a button down shirt dress that was going to be my main piece... It's funny though--as I started to receive the swatches and hold them in my hand, I found that the capsule collection and the fabrics I was planning to use weren't really gelling for me. At one point I was sent some Cupro randomly, and once I felt it I knew I had to use that gorgeous vegan faux silk somehow. Because of that one swatch, 60% of my collection changed, and I think it's much better than before.
-Translating my sketches into spec sheets with actual measurements. I had to think through the measurements of my garments so that a patternmaker could have an exact guideline of what to make.
-Deciding on a name for my business. Surprisingly, one of the hardest things I've done so far!
-Buying the domain name, email account, and signing up for the social media accounts.
-Realizing after a more thorough search in the trademark database that the name I had chosen was already taken for a womenswear line. That was fun! If you want to waste $70 on a domain name and email account, be sure to not thoroughly check the trademark database. Lesson learned!
-Coming up with another name that wasn't trademarked. Again, more torture.
-Buying another domain name, email account, and switching my social media accounts.
-Determining my target market niche and creating a brand identity. This part was fun for me since I did a lot of branding for my previous job at Vaute and really love branding. But of course, there's a lot more pressure when it's your own company. While I'd love to hire a graphic designer someday (to have an outside point of view), to save money so far I've done all the branding myself and kept things minimal.
-Setting up my landing page and blog. I'm pretty proud of myself for this one since I usually hate anything tech-related!
-Choosing fabric and continuing to reach out to suppliers. Reaching out to suppliers is a continual process, unless you find your dream fabric right away (which I don't think anyone does). After I got my first swatch of Cupro, I went on a massive search to find an even heavier, more drapey version of it. I was finally successful, but it took a lot of time. I'm still, however, on the hunt for the perfect thick ribbed organic cotton for the tops I'm planning to make. It's never-ending.
-Deciding whether to make the patterns myself, or find a patternmaker. I do have patternmaking experience from my time at Parsons, but wanted this first collection to be absolutely perfect, so I decided to use a patternmaker, at least for now. It costs money, but it saves me a ton of time that I really need to be spending on all of the other things you see on this list. I'd like to be more involved in the patternmaking in the future, but for now I feel really happy that I have a set of expert eyes on this first set of patterns.
-Researching patternmakers and samplemakers. I did a ton of research and found someone in the Bay Area that I decided to try out.
-Visiting a patternmaker and signing off to make 3 of my 5 patterns. Meeting with her was the first time this line felt really "real"! (Probably because I was handing over loads of money) I can't wait to see the patterns she makes.
-Ordering my sample fabric. Once my patterns have been finished, I'll bring the sample fabric to my pattern and sample maker and she'll have factory samples made out of the actual Cupro fabric I'll be using, so we can see how it fits and drapes.
And that's where I am right now...
I still have a long way to go before I launch on Kickstarter in early Spring. It's been a fun and sometimes overwhelming and scary process, but so far I've never regretted for one second starting it. I hope to share more with you over the next few months!