Just got off the phone with my godfather. What are godfathers for but to wish you happy birthday every year, take you out to dinner on holiday breaks at home, and give you sound business advice with an entrepreneurial slant. I recently called my parents with my first "money call," where I was trying to ask for money to buy fabric for my jewelry pouches. I've been in a fabric slump, and Mood hasn't had anything that works. I need a small pattern on high-quality fabric. Last Saturday, while looking for a pretty cotton print for burp cloths, a possible new katie james product at the suggestion of a friend who says there is a shortage of pretty burp cloths, I scored. I not only found a print I really like, but I found three that can work together, and a beautiful brown eyelet with a white floral embroidery for the jewelry pouches. But as we know, I have nomoney.com. So I made the money call. And they wanted a business plan. A reasonable request. So I unloaded all of my intensions into a word document with a pretty katie james graphic in the header and footer, and emailed it. I had a week to buy the fabric, which was on hold at Mood.
The response? My godfather was with them, and is a successful business owner, so he looked at it. It was missing financials, my profit margin was too low, costs were too high. It's not at the point where it needs financials, so I didn't include it. I just needed fabric. Here's where the delusion part comes in. Am I living in a dream, or am I living a dream with katie james. Certainly not the latter. I go along and make strategic purchases, but at the end of the day, I am nowhere close to making my rent with katie james, let alone a large production run. The thought of taking katie james to a kate spade level is just silly. To make a profit, and a living, I'd basically need to produce in China or Viet Nam (the next, unsophisticated China as China gains sophistication). I'd have to find a fabric source and buy hundreds or thousands of yards of fabric (not Mood where I'm paying at least 3x as much as I could if I was buying straight from a factory).
We discussed types of financing, where you could propose to a high-risk venture firm that invests in high-risk start-ups. The company would lose money for maybe 2 years while trying to get started, then start turning a profit by manufacturing overseas (aka a lot of product). They'd be an investor and get paid back forever until you bought back their shares of stock in the company. We talked about other plans, some which sounded good, but all just daunting. It's hard to picture myself going from 0-2000 pouches in a year, you know? We also talked about me working in the industry to learn the process as an assistant designer or buyer or something. This is a fine idea, but first of all, I don't know anyone in the industry that could be an 'in' for me to even land such a coveted job. Second of all, the people I do know, or have heard of, say it's a really stressful job and don't like it. Right now, designing and running my little delusional business is an outlet, it's different than what I do all day at the day job. Do I want to keep it an outlet? No! But would I enjoy the stresses, or deal with them better? Yes.
So I'm sad. I'm still going to live in my delusional place by thinking somehow katie james can turn a profit and into a popular brand and start paying for itself (not to mention my rent and Gerdy and Dinah's food). As my godfather advised, I'm going to keep track of my plan so that I can look at it later and see if components of it are still good ideas as I learn more about this industry; I'm still going to keep my crazy excel sheets of my costs and sales; I'm going to recognize my weaknesses, which are knowledge in fabric sources, manufacturing, and overall knowledge of types of business plans and types of investors; and I'm going to do something about it.
FIT business class
I'm going to go back to FIT and hopefully take the credited course in Starting a Small Business, if I haven't missed registration.
I'm going to peruse The Switchboards and see if there aren't women (or men) in a similar situation that has ideas, or has learned from mistakes. I'm also going to make more answer-type posts so that I don't feel like I'm asking questions all the time and not participating in helping other people.
Fashion Designer Survival Guide
I'm going to re-read that damn book, as depressing/daunting as it is, just to get more familiar with the process and pick up on things I missed due to lack of experience at the time.
And that's what I'm going to do. I bought the darn fabric, because I couldn't not. I took a hit on the DebtOMeter, so no glittery supernova for me this week. And I'm going to open and American Express Gold business card (yay!) because I finally got the letter in the mail, where they've offered to waive the yearly fee for the first year. This card requirs that you pay your balance at the end of each pay period, so there's no debt accumulation. The goal is to earn points that can be used for things, and they offer a nice discount program with FedEx, etc. if you pay with that card. Off topic, but thought I'd mention.
And here's Dinah, trying to participate in this post:
And here's a new FashionMista called BrownBerry, available at katie-james.com
We can't all be on Project Runway. But we can make it happen for ourselves. I think.
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