Design with the Fabric in Mind

Design in mind. Being a newer designer and not being a designer that had gone to school I did not know that I was supposed to be thinking of the fabric first. I merely design. I draw out what I like then think about the fabric later. As I have grown into my design business I have learned that this is not the way the professionals do it and also that many times this is not the way it CAN be done. I have had many great designs that could not come to fruition because the fabric I had intended on would not work with the design I had intended for it. There are just some fabric that just won’t do what a designer wants it do to do. You then either have to change your design or change your fabric. I do not know about you but I hate having to compromise my vision either way.

Think before you design.

Know your fabrics.

Know your design.

Design with the Fabric in Mind. Only then are you able to create the most loving, wonderful garment that could and will be cherished a lifetime over.

Know Thy Customer As Thy Know Thy Brand

Know Thy Customer As Thy Know Thy Brand

You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can not please all of the people all of the time.

I have learned this year while trying to design my dream, my fashions and my likes and desires that no matter how much I think it is great and  super fab, not everyone is going to agree with me.

There are things I needed to learn and scripts for my perfect customer that I need to write. Stephanie St. Claire talks a lot about future scripting and in her Entrepreneurship sessions I have had with her she has said this to me and groups many many time.

Write out who your perfect customer would be?

  • Is it a male or female or both?
  • How old is he/she?
  • Where do they live?
  • How much money do they earn?
  • How do they make a living?
  • What is their profession or career?
  • Where do they shop?
  • What types of stores do they like to shop at at? Small stores? Online? Big Stores? None, All, Some of the above?
  • What do they wear now?
  • What are they not finding when shopping?
  • What are their Goals and Dreams?
  • What is their Personality?
  • What type of music do they like?

For me, I need to push those questions even further

  • Do they like Retro, Vintage?
  • Do they buy for others or only themselves?
  • Do they like wearing Aprons?
  • What is their mindset about an Apron?
  • Do I desire to change that viewpoint?
  • To what extent do I desire to change that point?
  • Do they have a favorite Era they like?
  • Do they have a specific Vintage style they prefer?
  • How often to they dress Retro/Vintage?
  • Are they into Pin Up?
  • What is their perception of Pin Up?

and so on…

If your client, public or customer is not easy to define, then define all the opposite of these questions. You will get to know who your target audience is and who it is not. The benefit I learned from this is that, as I said before, not everyone is going to be my perfect customer.

I then have to decide some of those other questions I mentioned like whether or not I want to try to change their mind. If I care about their perception. or I want to try to change it for themselves or who they are buying for. Sometimes, I have learned that is honestly not worth it. I am not trying to be mean here, but some people do not get the PinUp Style. They think it is naughty and wrong. They associate it with Burlesque, which is a whole other element and style. They don’t see it like I do.

Some people do not understand why I would want to make Aprons. Many and I do mean many people assume apron equals Kitchen. That is not the case. This , however, is my passion to try to change the minds of the general population about what an apron is for, why you would wear one and what varying styles of aprons there are.  I want to show others how different and unique my aprons are. I want to show them that a Trisha Trixie apron is so fabulous that is could go from Home to Happy Hour. In addition to that, I desire to help others see their potential and uses in all aspects of their life. Lastly, I want others to see that Aprons are and can be very sexy, which is why I came out with my Lingerie Apron line.

Asking yourself these questions, answering them honestly and wholeheartedly can and will improve your business, your brand and yourself as a designer. Once you have clear cut answers to these it will also help you stand strong against the naysayers and those who actually think they are helping by telling you all teh other things you should, could and “if you were smart” would design.

This is where you smile sweetly and say  “Thank you for that input and insight. I will take that into consideration” Do you as you say and think about it. If it does not however meet with the brand, then don’t do it.

As I designer I have noticed that once people see that you can draw, sew and create something, they assume you would want to do all these other things. You have to develop one Mantra I have if nothing else…

STAY TRUE TO THE BRAND

If you have answered these and have it clear in your mind what the brand is, you will be able to do that.

You will know your customer and who the perfect one is.

You will know how to deal with those who are not your customer because you have already laid the foundation in your mind of who it is and who it is not.

I like to make aprons that look like suits for Men and Dresses for women. How many times a day do you think I hear and see people say and send me pictures of the way THEY think I should do something? Far too much to mention, let us just leave it at that.

I hear I should make dresses. I hear I should design children’s wear. I hear I should make my aprons this way or that way. People post pictures on my wall, in my email and other social media of aprons they like and tell me how I should make one like my competitors. I hear I should go on reality TV shows. I hear a vast amount of ideas from others. This always has a two fold effect on me. I am thankful that my friends are offering such things as these to me in an effort to show they care about me. However, they do not understand MY business and MY brand so it can be frustrating. I do not allow this to bother me, instead take it as a compliment that my friends are so open with me a find it as a blessing.

I do take into consideration a lot of what my pals say as well. There are some things even they do not know however, that I do know. I DO plan to make dresses one day. I plan to hopefully one day make Red Carpet Couture Gowns.

I HAVE though about making children’s clothes, but don’t know that I care enough to make it for everyone, yet thinking about making it as gifts for my pals that have young children that I know and love.

I have NO desire to make menswear. Me and pants do not get along.

I have no desire to do Project Runway. too many crazy things I would have to make and I want to make what I want.

I DO desire to go on Shark Tank. I am currently prepping and coming up with a plan of attack to hopefully be able to do this.

I DO desire to go n talk shows and other TV shows and work the entertainment circuit to help bring aprons back and to show the world how fabulous they can be!!

So you see, your friends, your customers and others who you may come across may or may not know you or your brand. That is ok. As time goes on, you will feel more solid in your brand and as you feel solid others will start to know your brand as well.

If you do not have answers to these questions about your brand, take the time to start answering them for yourself. In the long run, you will learn just as I have, what a vast difference in your brand it will make!

You Don’t Need a Fashion Degree to be a Fashion Designer

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For years, and I do means years I keep myself from living a dream I wanted for years. Why, would someone like me who had their own business, who went for every other goal in life, keep her from a dream she has always wanted?

Miscommunicated ideas, thoughts and perception based on the views and ideas of others. Mostly that I needed to have a Fashion Degree to do what I love. Instead I let thoughts like these get in my way.

  • I didn’t really know a lot of sewing skills, tips and tricks
  • I never went to Fashion School, I went to Design School. (Design school is all encompassing, like a Liberal Arts Degree)
  • I am an artist at heart, but because I did not go to Fashion School thee are just things I do not know like fabric, design and other artistic elements I might need to incorporate in my designs
  • I only modeled when I was younger so I wasn’t sure if I would be able to go back into both worlds and the knowledge to merge them together
  • I could not be a fashion designer because I lacked these and many other things

What did I learn out of listening to other people?

Do not let other people determine your future!!

Late last year I decided to get back into the modeling business (I used to model years and moons ago) but this time I wanted to do it in my own style=Vintage. So if I was going to go back into vintage, retro etc with my modeling why not go back to vintage with the rest of the fashion world I wanted to delve into?

I started modeling at the end of 2012 getting new prints done and getting a new portfolio put together for a more retro look. I met with photographers and started getting to know hair designers and makeup artists in my area. I died my hair back to a White Platinum Blonde and went for broke.

In January of 2013 I dove back into my Fashion Website I had since 2009 and started moving forward.  I had an intern helping me write a blog on a regular basis and I was making creations from RePurposed items. I thought at that time keeping with older items that I remade into something else was the direction I needed to go.

Hidden underneath all that however was the desire I had to create an apron line that looked unique, fabulous, retro, but not like your normal apron. Though because I did not know how to sew very well and was more of a designer I kept holding myself back because of all those excuses I mentioned earlier as well as more negative thoughts and doubts that would enter my mind.

Then I found two amazing someones. One was a gal I already knew , Stephanie St. Claire from Blissbombed.com , that I had done sessions and business with before but for someone reason I had felt with her current courses that I didn’t need them, that I was exempt from them all. Her current course was called 7 Miracles a Month and though I heard about it 2 months before I joined, I had thought in my mind that I didn’t need it because I had done her courses before and I was fine on my own. HA! Then I saw she was having a sale and in that moment I was struggling with my business and felt moved to join the course and group. Boy am I glad I did. Reaching out and not only seeing those miracles but learning that I did not have to wait for them to come to me but I could manifest them and create them myself meant more than anything to me that four years of schooling could have taught me.

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The other woman I happened upon was Susan Baroncini-Moe   who wrote Business in Blue Jeans and has a group for those who have read her book or coached with her.  She was giving away a thirty minute free session to have a bit of coaching with her and I was so happy to be able to have that with her. I felt like in that 30 minutes of time I gained an amazing amount of knowledge and ideas and business coaching about the direction my business should be, again, as I said before, than any amount of college learning I could have done!! I did take a few other coaching sessions with her and we have had a follow up phone calls as well. The guidance and instruction and ideas and thoughts she gave me was phenomenal and made such a vast difference in my company and made a HUGE impact on my life AND my business! I not only highly recommend her book, but if you get a chance to take her Group Coaching to do so because I guarantee that if you listen, it will change your life!!

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My business has grown, improved, changed and my orders are constant and ongoing. I have a business presence in my town and am started to get known more and more, I am happy doing what I love and I am active, busy and doing trade shows, events and anything I can to keep leaping and going after that dream.

Moral of the story here and my lesson I learned is not to let anything stop you. School or no school, money or no money. If you have a dream. Go for it!

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Interns and Assistants

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As a business owner in a fashion business, Interns and Assistants are a staple of the biz. If you are lucky the road in your business with interns and assistants is smooth sailing. But it appears to me that nine times out of ten that is not the case. I have heard horror stories near and far from assistants and interns who have really messed up.  I thought it might be fun to share some of those horror stories with you.

Click Here to find out some interesting Intern stories for a good laugh.

I am noticing that so far the interns and assistant I have had really do not understand the fashion world. They do not understand because they are just people who want some extra money or someone who is a stay at home mom or a dad or grandpas who just wants to fill time.  They evidently have never seen The Devil Wears Prada or seen reality TV Shows like The Hills or others of this kind. The fashion business is brutal. It takes a lot of hard work and persistence and many long , hard hours. Interns and assistant are supposed to be there to make the job easier for a designer.

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Here is another little story segment about what happens with unpaid Interns in the real fashion world

As one designer pointed out to British Elle, younger, less established designers are in a particularly difficult position because they may not even be able to pay themselves, let alone their interns. And on the other side of it, major designers have tons of people dying to give them free labor just to have the name on their resumés.

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My first intern issues was earlier this year. After changing my business around from showcasing ALL fashions to just fashions about my niche and desire I had issue number one. The intern no longer wanted to be a part of the business I was changing it into and fell off within one day stating the dream and vision of the company I was going in was not something she felt comfortable with.  I learned head first and head on that not everyone is going to see your vision and on top of that they may not be willing to wait to see it yoru way and see what you see further down the line.  Not only was this frustrating to me because I had professional guidance from a Business Coah to go in the new direction but with the coach’s inspiration I was able to see a vision that the intern could not see.

The second issue with an intern was regarding payment of work provided. She felt that the amount I was paying was not worth the amount of work I was requesting. However, I did tell her to do things in her spare time and I also told her that she needed to be open and honest with me about the workload.

In my business there has been such a big controversy from my interns and assistants about paid versus unpaid interns, how much I pay them or how little. What I realized in all this is that is this may always be the case for one thing. Second, I need to align myself with those who are familiar with this in the fashion industry and we actually desire to be a part of a growing and young business such as mine.  To add to more stories for you to read check out this story on the Fashionista website all about this issue.

The good news: According to our better-educated colleagues at Above the Law, interns who are unpaid but receive college credit are fine. As are interns who are being mentored and educated by their superiors

This Intern horror story talks of a business that it appears never paid anyone anything. Read on

“I was hired as an intern to work in the fashion closet at an independent fashion/entertainment magazine. This was when the recession had just hit and all magazines were cutting their budgets. On my first day working the fashion closet I was introduced to my boss who ran the complete fashion closet, working weekends and often into the night. Except…he was an unpaid intern. He had been there for six months, and would even miss school to work in the closet. In addition to this guy, there were, I’d say, around 20 interns whose sole job it was was to organize the closet and act as messenger service for the magazine and they usually worked until 9am to 9pm every day. Again, unpaid. We found out later that the magazine had to cut their messenger service budget and instead decided to hire a huge roster of interns. My whole time there, I think I interacted with about one person who was actually an employee. After I quit, I saw job listings that they were hiring interns to work their mailroom as well and selling it as a ‘way to learn about the magazine business.’ I swear they probably hired interns to work as janitors as well.”

I may not always pay my interns the best but at least I TRY to pay them. I feel as adults it is their responsibility to alert me if they feel they need more pay or less responsibility. Most of my interns work from home, so often I don’t see how many hours a day they put into doing things. Perhaps this is another Lessons Learned for me that either I need to hire a studio intern to work where I can see them or at least ask them to fill out time cards to let me know where they are putting their work hours.

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Which brings me back to my second intern. She was angry and frustrated at me stating no one could live up to my expectations and said that I demanded way too much. She stated that I was a hard ass and rude and I did not know how to ask for the assistance I needed and that I required far more than the job could have paid. Funny enough, she knew going into this it was a low paying job. It was not meant to be the bread and butter of her life. she wanted to help and I needed the help. I didn’t properly interview her, taking others word as a reference and sadly learned the hard way that after her not to hire anyone who did not understand fashion, never hire anyone without an in person interview or at least Skype or video interview at least and never never hire a teacher because they will always want to teach you and not be open to learning themselves. Lastly, had to she told me as the workload got harder and harder that she was unable to do as much as I was asking I would have lessened the load. Interns and Assistants I have figured out, expect you to a be  mind reader. They think because you own the business and are the designer that you should just know it all. Well, I am here to say to al and any interns or assistants who might be reading this, “We don’t!” We don’t know it all. We know what we know. We cannot read minds and as adults we , the owners, expect you to be forthright in communicating with us.  I also do feel, and I will say however, that all was well and fine with this woman until her mother got involved into the mix. Her mother had a business and sewed more than the intern so once the mother had a toe dipped in she decided to dip her nose in all the way and up my arse. I promptly removed her mother out there and informed her that if she was going to sub contract for me under her daughter she had to sign non disclosures and non competes. Well, of course that set her mother off so they both bailed and sent me nasty emails.

Their cousin wrote maybe four blogs for me and never signed any documents and then demanded to be paid. Payment was said over and over that it was conditional upon receiving this information. The mother of the daughter tried to come after me and berate me some more of which I informed her that the persons in question needed to be big boys and girls and contact me directly. Funny how I never heard from them again.

Since these two I tried my hand at having a couple of male friends help me which to my dismay one did not end so well an the other, well, let’s just say I also need to start having “Can you tie a ribbon” test because what I needed help on was bows and fascinators and small things and a man with larger hands just isn’t capable of those things. It was great he wanted to help, but if you can’t do the job at hand (literally) then it doesn’t really help me. The other male was a friend and though he was a tad overbearing at times , meaning always telling me how I should do something, I liked his personality. But what I learned actually had nothing to do with him but had to do with those around him. There is real knowledge in the friends you keep. I can’t always know these things up front, but in this case I did know how dramatic and crazy his friends were and hired him anyway. Mostly because as I said, he was a friend and I liked him. But he took info and drama home with him and sadly brought their words and drama back to the workplace. I just couldn’t do it anymore so I had to let him go. Luckily I think we are still friends but one never knows when there is drama invovled.

My last two assistant have been the most unique to me.

My assistant seamstress is a former college student. Again I didn’t really research  what a Certificate Design student means.Holding a degree in Fashion and having a Certificate are two very different things. As a business owner it is essential to know the difference and for me this had been a hard lesson.

Earning a Certificate of Fashion enables you to pursue a rewarding career in the thriving world of fashion. 

A Fashion Design Degree is about more than sketches and runway shows. It’s a field that requires an in-depth understanding of essential details such as apparel conceptualization, illustration, construction and marketing. Successful fashion design professionals must also develop skills in predicting consumer behavior and trend forecasting

Though on the up side of that she has been a great help in both of my fashion shows. She has helped me sew things when I didn’t have the time. she taught me some things from school courses I didn’t know (because I never went to Fashion School there are things I am still learning how to do). She has been a great help and I do truly feel though I would not have been able to get through the fashions shows and many other things with out her.

I also have a head seamstress who I call my assistant but really at present she is the head seamstress. I know without a shadow of a doubt I could not have moved this business as far as it has. He mad sewing skills have helped unveil my line of Couture Aprons that look like dresses.  She is understanding and patient and doesn’t mind that I have high expectations and high demands. She helped me with things for the fashion show and fully takes care of me as far as sewing work goes, but I would really like to get her more involved into other day to day things of the business. Many people, even her I think, don’t really understand how much goes into running a business. Plus I am honestly just not sure yet how much of the decision making I want to let go yet either.

I have often told my interns as they are storming out the door that they should be glad that my name is not Kelly Cutrone. Don’t get me wrong. I love Kelly. I adore her and admire her in fact which I am sure if she heard that she would probably care less either way. That is the charm of her that I love. Kelly is know for her bitter, hardcore essence and hard nature about her. She released her memoir, If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You, and published a second book, Normal Gets You Nowhere. She is known to be hard, very hard on Interns and Assistants and believe me, I have nothing on Kelly Cutrone!

I aspire to be as thick skinned and rough and rugged as her with a career in fashion and if I am ever compared to her I will greatly say “Thank you. that is a HUGE compliment!”

Relative Fashion Terminology

I have learned while being a business owner that there are relative terms that do not necessary mean the same thing to all.I do not mean your relatives.. Sometimes those are bad enough but what I am talking about here are those words that mean one thing to you and can have a WHOLE other meaning to someone else. Watch out! Here is a little more definition on what I am talking about…

A relative word is a word that does not have an exact definition, and can change depending on the context and is very subjective

This list will grow and grow as I go along so I know this post will row and change and I might start making a page of these as a joke, but here are a just a few issues I have had with :

  • ALL: When someone tells you they are going to give you ALL of something you need, make sure you know what their definition of all is and what is yours
  • Help: When someone says they will HELP you make sure you know in what form and what style and how much of their time. Be very clear on expectations for both of you or one of you (I mean you) will be very disappointed. (also goes with volunteer)
  • Carry your line: When someone says they want to carry your line, make sure you know completely what that means to them. One piece? The whole line? One portion of that line?
  • Read :When someone tells you they have read the rules, instructions or directions for something, make sure they truly have because “read” can mean skim, glance, read enough to take a test on it, etc, it does NOT necessarily mean they truly read it
  • Late: Late to you could mean 5 minutes. Late to them means the end of your event
  • Consignment: Consignment can mean 60/40 60 to you 4 to them or 60 to them 40 to you. It can mean 70/30 either way. It can mean you have a side of the boutique or a side of the wall. Make sure you really know the details and get it all in writing
  • Trust: There is no trust. Get that in your head now. The person who is your best friend will and could steal your idea, forget to pay you, not think they should pay you and so on. I am not trying to be cynical, but real.
  • Guarantee: I have heard models tell me the “guarantee” they will be there for a fashion show. Photographers “guarantee” their images, their time, etc. I am learning this means nothing. There is no Guarantee. I have now lumped this into the same as Trust. You can’t trust anyone and there are no guarantees in fashion
  • Wholesale: Lots of stores want wholesale pricing. This has a been a hard lesson for me to learn. I of course feel like I would love to get my items out there in the stores, but learning pricing can be difficult. Some stores mean they want 50% off your MSRP and some stores are willing to go with 25% discount. Make sure you know up front what you are willing to sell your items are wholesale too and keep with that. Store owners do talk to each other and if you give one percentage to one and then change it to another be ready for drama.
  • MSRP: Manufactured Suggested Retail Price. There has been a controversy on what that actually means. Make sure you are clear on this and then when you are marking things down, you are getting your value and profit back
  • Tradeshows: I call everything I do as a show a Tradeshows. To some people a Tradeshow is only a huge big event with high priced tables. Craft shows, trade fairs, hobby shows, and art shows all have many different labels. I am very concerned with changing up what I call these mostly, because the viewpoint of others for selling my items at Craft Shows versus TradeShows. Also on Shark Tank Mr. Wonderful often downgrades and demeans others by telling them they don’t have a  business, they have a hobby or a craft. Be prepared for a variety of shows and call them what you will, just be warned your version of that and others might be two different things.

So there are the words I have for you today. As I said, I am sure I will add to these as I go along. Enjoy these terms. Just be warned and make sure any of those words you are unsure about it get clear definitions and means for what both of you might mean.

 

Being a Fashionista

Some of you might be wondering first and foremost what being a fashionista really means. What gives me the right to speak on these things and share these insights with you.

Fashionista Terms and Meanings

Fashion is the English word for style. and “ista” derived from the latin word “manista” which means the exalted one.

A person devoted to fashion clothing, particularly unique or high fashion.
A person NOT to be called a fashionista would be someone who obsessively follows trends. REAL  fashionistas do not believe in trends. (Which btw I don’t believe in trends)
A term used to define a woman with a penchant for shopping and a natural flair for combining both current and vintage fashionable trends.

In today’s Urban society, “fashionista” is not by any means a negative term.
Thanks to television shows like “Sex and the City” rather more specifically, thanks to actresses such as Sarah Jessica Parker, the image of a “fashionista” has been modernized into a much more positive, powerful and successful feminine role.

Forget the shallow, bitchy, materialistic image so many people are quick to describe.
The truth is, it’s the new millenium and the hottest trend right now, is that it’s okay to be a woman again. The “fashionista” doesn’t look at her femininity as a gender flaw.
Where some may be quick to label her a bitch, others actually take the time to get to know her eccentricities.
“Fashionista’s” simply look at Fashion as an Art, their own bodies as the canvas, and the sense of style they develope along the way is simply the masterpiece.
True fashion (“true fashion” as in the clothes and not the stereotypically thin supermodels that wear them) is simply an expression of identity and the people who feel the need to argue that are usually the same people who rarely see the positive in anything.
“Fashionista’s” are extremely realistic when it comes to the world of fashion, they’re also very knowledgeable about the Fashion Arts.
Info derived and cut from http://www.urbandictionary.com
Now that I have given you all the terms and descriptions and definitions from the Urban World let me tell you what Being a Fashionista means to me.
Since I can remember I have had to make my own style. My father passed when I was young and after moving to a new school, a new town and making new friends I had a chance to create a new me. We didn’t have a lot of money and led a very interesting life (Read Days of Corn Tortillas to find out more) so I had to make due with thrift and handed down clothes from cousins, aunts, sisters and friends of my mother.
I took this opportunity to think outside the box and make my own unique clothing style and fashion even then. From that point, my unique style and fashion sense just keep changing and evolving.
I took Design classes at Brooks College and learned more and more the older I got about Fashion, putting pieces together and learning the trade. But then of course, I know I have my own uniqueness to everything I do.
Being a Trixie Fashionista means taking all I have learned and pairing it with all I know then adding a twist of my own Trixie flair.  Being a Fashionista means seeing things in fashion no one else sees. It means taking what is out there in fashion and making it better.
Being a Fashionista to me means recognizing the fabulous in fashion and then making it my own in my own design, my own design and my own wardrobe through a Vintage flair and Couture quality.