Behind the Seams: Insight Into the Life of an Apparel Start-Up
In starting this venture, I’ve been asked a lot of questions as to what goes into creating an apparel brand, so, I’m here to tell you a bit about what I’ve been up to...
Step 1: Finalizing your designs
If you’re creating clothing, or any physical object really, it’s a huge help to have reference sketches of what you want to create. you don’t have to be an artist to do this either, you can even print out fashion illustration croquis from good ole google and draw on them, as long as you can explain your design throughly to a pattern maker or seamstress, your garment should be able to come to life as you envisioned it. (Remember to remain open to suggestions your pattern maker has too - chances are they've been doing this much longer than you have, and their expertise is priceless and will most likely save you major headaches down the road once you get to production.)
Step 2: Textile sourcing
Admittedly I was taken aback when an acquaintance asked me about this project and said “I bet you spend a lot of time at Joann fabrics” to which I explained that it’s a bit more complex than that. Sourcing textiles on a larger production scale involves hours of emails, phone calls, going to textile shows, waiting patiently at the door for the mailman to deliver swatches, touching and testing the swatches for what seems like hundreds of times until you find the perfect one for that particular garment. Textile sourcing is the most time consuming part of the process, you may have envisioned your garment in one type of textile, when it turns out there's something much better you could use instead.
Step 3: Find a manufacturing partner
Unless you already have a studio and the space and time to do this all yourself, chances are you’ll probably need the help of a skilled team to help you make samples of your garments, finalize tech packs and produce your garments. Once you find the right production partner, they become an invaluable asset to your company. I’m in final talks with one now, and I have to say, when you have a (good) gut feeling about them and click well with the team they give you there will be a lot of great things to come.
Step 4: Learn how to use social media
This is my least favorite, because when you’re trying to develop a brand a reach a certain target market, you can’t just post a photo and a sarcastic comment under it (my personal forte). You have to think about things like “How would I talk to my avatar (the person you make up in your head who is your target customer) and tell them about this photo?” or what kind of content you want to curate to attract that customer. It gets easier, but until you have a solid plan and find apps that do postings for you (bless all you creators at Later) it takes a lot to stay on top of.
Step 5: Take care of yourself.
Despite all this other work you need to be doing on an almost constant basis you need to take time for you. Because if you start to burnout so will everything you’ve worked so hard for! Every week I carve out at least 10-20 minutes to do a face-mask during the week, then Sunday is my designated self care day. It’s my day to get caught up on housework, plan out my weekly strategy, reflect, binge watch Netflix and take a bubble bath. Everyone needs one of these days, so my challenge to you is to schedule this in asap!
Now that you know the 5 main steps of what goes on behind the seams, sign up for more info and our free guide to zero waste travel by subscribing to our newsletter!