Starting a Clothing Line: Chapter One


Let’s start at the beginning, which is a very good place to start!  I decided that I’d start blogging about this process, since it’s what I’m firmly entrenched in (that and toddler raising, which I most definitely chronicle as well as you know!) and also since I’m guessing that some of you reading might actually be interested in the whole “backside” of fashion per say.  You can read about the inspiration behind the line here, if you haven’t been following my ramblings this whole time OR you just have a life and don’t read every word I write!

Okay, so the beginning.  Keep in mind, this is my journey, and other people doing this probably have other experiences and may go about things differently.  I am by NO means an expert, and I’m constantly learning as I’m going!  After I got my “vision” you could say, that’s when things got real, know what I mean?  I’d been talking about this for so long, but it wasn’t until I actually began visualizing some pieces and knew exactly what I wanted to start with that I realized that I needed to do this and it was no longer just a vague potential idea floating in the nether regions of my brain.  Now you guys, I cannot draw.  No, no, I don’t want to hear “Oh I’m SURE you can draw, don’t be so hard on yourself!”  No.  Thank you for your kind words that I just completely put in your mouth, but I cannot draw.  When I “draw” my husband laughs at me and asks in a not so nice way (but I forgive him since he’s a very very nice person) “and what is THAT supposed to be?”  (I don’t play pictionary often as you could imagine).  I also don’t sew.  And when I do “sew”, it’s so ugly and makeshift that I would never DREAM of selling said weird item.  ALL THIS to be said, I knew I needed some help to get these visions out of my brain and onto my body.

Thank goodness I started talking to a few people I trusted about this venture, and one of them introduced me to a local pattern maker.  Yes, these magical people exist and they are just about as amazing as that one dude with the long beard who weaves straw into gold in that one fairy tale.  I have since learned that this is an actual profession and you can find them all over!  She listened to my vision, and helped me understand what it is exactly I was undertaking.  In our communications prior to our first meeting, she instructed me to bring in an article or two of clothing that I could show her to demonstrate what it is I wanted her to make.  I brought in a few kimonos (because that’s what I was starting with) and showed her what I liked about them and what I didn’t like.  She answered my questions about fabric, which are numerous.  I thought I was bringing her a lightweight cotton fabric, she informed me that it was actually rayon (yes, I can read a tag, but silly me I thought I knew what it was by feel alone!) and basically helped direct me in how to choose a fabric and all that.  Phew.  She knows A LOT of stuff.

Once I found an acceptable fabric (that was rough, but my next post will undoubtably be about this topic because I talk about fabric like 70 percent of the time it seems like), I brought her the amount she needed and in a couple of weeks, it was done!  I don’t know if I can describe to you what it felt like to see that completed kimono for the first time.  It truly is a strange and wonderful sensation to see and touch something for the first time that you up to this point have only imagined.  It’s incredible.  I tried it on, and we talked about the completed piece, and there were no tweaks needed, otherwise that would have been the next step.  I had my very first piece, and the pattern to go with it.

She sent me to a local woman who has a small sewing studio with a number of women who produce pieces for various size orders.  I chose to go this route because I so much want to support my community as well as the fact that I got to go see the first completed kimono that she sewed and make a “quality inspection” of sorts.  They came out beautifully.  Twenty four completed kimonos that are all mine.  I had embroidered labels made as well as care tags, and since it was a simple piece, I didn’t have to worry about any other details like hardware or elastic.

Here is the second kimono (made with the same pattern as the first).  This is actually the one I had envisioned all along because I wanted to print a design on the back…but because the printing brought up a whole new set of issues (more on that when we discuss tees), I went with a simpler concept for the first run.  The jeans and necklace were custom made (I envisioned a whole outfit around this kimono of course!) by my good friend @township31 who makes the most insane stuff by hand.

More to come soon on this journey!!  Happy Monday!


Advice in Style: How To Dress Like A “Have”

First of all I want to clear something up.  I don’t like the whole idea of the “haves” and the “have nots”…this post is most definitely not meant to reinforce this concept!  But, if you keep reading, hopefully you’ll get my point (and have some fun too!).

I wrote an article a little while ago about how Vogue attacked fashion bloggers and attempted to minimize their value using some choice words that seemed a bit more like something you’d say to a close friend instead of making them public to the world.  If you want to get my whole take on what they said, please read the post!  This whole thing got me thinking about the fashion industry as a whole.  So, I love fashion.  Obviously.  I want to go to fashion week, see the famous runway shows, and own some couture of my own.  I love it.  However (you can see the big “but” right?) there are some things about the fashion industry that aren’t so nice.  Fashion has always been an indicator, and sometimes dictator of classes.  I mean, it used to be actually illegal for people of certain classes and incomes to wear some styles of clothing.  That way, you could look at a person and determine how much money they make!  Can you believe this?  I mean, talk about a horrible and judgmental world to live in where you could be thrown in jail for wearing a dress that didn’t fit your wallet size.  Yuck.  Maybe things have changed and progressed quite a bit since then.  But we are still not immune from this whole “judge a book by it’s cover” thing.  I think we can often still size someone up based on their outfit pretty darn easily.  But now, since it’s legal to wear anything really, we can pull the wool over people’s eyes much easier!

Years ago there was this old hippie guy who worked at my local Trader Joe’s.  He was super opinionated, kind of funny, and liked to kind of talk at you and spout out his political thoughts and whatever was on his mind while he was ringing up your groceries.  I rather enjoyed it.  I would just listen, nod my head, and bag up my own groceries while he told me all the problems with the world and all that jazz.  After a couple months of this, he stopped talking and asked me a question!  He asked me: “so what do you do?”  I answered him (I was a full time worship pastor at the time at my church) and when I gave my answer, he literally did a double take.  He looked so surprised.  “What?” he said, shocked at my answer “oh wow…I thought you were like one of those super rich San Luis girls who…” (his answer trailed off into a lot of things I don’t remember, but were most definitely not things that describe me.  He then proceeded to tell me that because of my clothing, how I looked when I came into the store, he had made these determinations about me.  Yep.  He thought I was a “have”.  I remember what I was wearing that day.  I wear wearing a Juicy Couture dress I had got second hand and a furry pair of slippers from Target that people would literally stop their cars, roll down their windows, and ask me where I had gotten my “boots”.  I think you can tell where this whole thing is going!

It’s not the point I’m making, but hey, let’s attempt to stop sizing each other up by our clothes, ok?  I do it all the time, and I am working on NOT doing that.  I’ve been falsely judged because of what I wear lots of times.  The point I’m really making, is that we never should feel “less than” or shut out of the fashion industry just because we aren’t a mega celebrity with deep pockets and a trust fund.  You can look like a “have” (and BE a “have” just because, hey, you’ve got what matters right??) without spending a lot of dough.  Here are some tips for ya, in case you need them :)

Second hand stores and thrift stores are always, always worth a look.  I know many of you already know this, but I cannot even tell you some of the stuff I’ve seen at thrift stores for just a few dollars.  I mean, just because something was expensive or designer, doesn’t mean that whoever is selling it there knows that.  You will often see stuff worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars sitting right next to stuff from Old Navy.
Get out of town.  There’s something about going places you don’t normally go to shop that makes you find great stuff.  Don’t be afraid to drive to neighboring towns or go to the “rich” areas to check their thrift stores.  It’s like trick-or- treating in the neighborhoods who give out king size candy bars instead of just staying close by and getting a zillion “fun size” ones.  Fun size, my ass.
Stay off the beaten path. When you’re in a store like Target, steer clear of the women’s section.  This sounds super not intuitive, which is why it works.  If I were to put together a complete outfit from a store like Target (and trust me, I go there enough to know what I’m talking about) and I wanted it to look expensive, here’s what I would do.  Shoes: slipper section (especially around fall…you never KNOW what furry boot-like treasures await you), Top: boys section (graphic tee), men’s undershirt, or women’s pajama section for a button down pj top, Jacket: men’s or boy’s section for a blazer, Jeans: women’s section, but take a pair of scissors and a razor and modify them, Accessories: little girl’s section.  Do you catch my drift?  Part of why this works is that if you have a Target in your town, every woman wears stuff from the women’s section.  Therefore, if you shop around the women’s section, no one will know that what you have on came from Target.  Plus, I’m gonna say this again.  Those furry slippers got me more compliments than almost anything I think I have ever bought.  And they were like $10.
Be true to yourself.  Don’t buy or wear stuff that you don’t love just because it’s a designer name.  This will never get you anywhere in feeling great about yourself because you won’t feel great in your clothes.  Confidence in one’s outfit goes a long way to conveying that you love what you are wearing and who you are.  So if you don’t love it, don’t wear it no matter what the original price tag is.  Plus, sometimes you’ll find stuff that was expensive originally marked down at second hand stores simply because…it’s ugly.  Designers have “misses” too and often those are the things that people buy, regret, then get rid of.  Make sure that it’s a good find and not just a “used to be expensive” find.

And here it is.  Proof that I don’t iron my outfits when I probably should.  (I hate ironing!)  I love this outfit.  My top is a thrifted silk pajama shirt, jeans are old Levi’s I distressed myself, and my shoes cost $5 at H&M.  You could easily find an outfit like this in a magazine for about 32 times what I actually paid for this.  Looks can be deceiving, you guys :)

I don’t care what you have, you are a “have”.  Remember that.  No more keeping up with the Joneses, keeping up with myself is work enough!

Happy Monday