People often think I live among chaos when I tell them I live in NYC. Actually, I’m in one of the five boroughs, Staten Island. It’s total suburbia on my side of the water. No tall buildings, every house has a lawn and kids ride bikes up and down the street. But just across the water is Manhattan.
I usually drive my car into the city, but Lady M™ and I decided to act like tourists this past week…LOL! In less than 20 minutes, we were in the city. It’s definitely much faster than driving (and sitting in traffic for an hour).
On Monday and Tuesday, we went to the ENK Children’s Club trade show. We visited old friends and made new ones. We hung out with boys’ clothing designer friends, Kim of Moonfly Kids and Bethany of George World. Both shared great trade show and sales tips. Thanks girls!
Next, we made friends with fellow NYers, Ann and Jennifer of Ooh! La La Couture. I’d seen them on my local television news about a NYC boutique trying to scam them out of merchandise and not paying. Well, I had to smile when they had the news reporter put pressure on the retailer and get them their merchandise back. Way to go, girls! Not to mention, they make some of the cutest tutu dresses on the market. Check them out.
I met Danielle, the co-owner of Myself Belts and am going to carry two of their leather boys’ belts, but have “NYC” or a graphic embroidered on them for my Downtown Joey line. It just makes no sense to reinvent the wheel when they’ve nailed it so well, KWIM?
I finally got to meet Mary Jane of Christie Helene. Mary Jane is the only clothing manufacturer on Staten Island–her factory is a mere 3 blocks from my home. She’s been in the business for more than 20 years. Mary Jane manufactures some of the most beautiful girls’ special occasion dresses on the market. She is truly an inspiration! She’s invited me down to the factory–I’m so looking forward to getting to know her! What I liked about her is she is a serious business woman…not a “fashion designer” per se. Fashion design will only get you so far in this business. If your books don’t add up at the end of the day, it’s all in vain.
Since Lady M™ helped me complete my embroidered totes order on Wednesday and Thursday, I made two for her girls. Speaking of embroidery, a friend who attended the BBQ (and joined up with us at ENK) owns a digitizing, embroidery and transfer business. Another problem solved. She’ll be doing all the embroidery and transfers for my new clothing line. And the best thing is she lives less than 40 minutes from me, so sampling will be quick! No shipping necessary. But best of all, she’s a trusted friend and I have full confidence that she’ll be a major asset to the success of my line.
On Friday, Lady M™ and I met with my patternmaker who in Manhattan for a few days. Let me just start by saying, my patternmaker ROCKS! Not only is she cute (actually stunning), but she came up with several suggestions to improve my patterns and cut costs. When designing a clothing line, your patterns are probably one of the most important elements of your business. Whatever you do, don’t skimp on patterns.
I remember the days when I used to go to Joann’s Fabrics for a few yards of elastic. Soon I was buying 50 yard rolls in the NYC Garment District. But now, I’ve upgraded to boxes of elastic. The other day I had 1,500 yards of rust buttonhole elastic shipped to me…that’s 4,500 feet…WOW! Wonder how many pair of pants I’ll have to sell to use it all up.
Now you’re probably thinking I’m nuts to order this much elastic…but I can explain. The prices I was getting from US wholesalers were high, so I actually found one of the major manufacturers. And boy, what a cost-savings! The downside is you need to meet their minimums (in this case, it was 1,500 – 1,800 yards depending on color). Well, even if I only use 400 yards, I’m still ahead. The extra 1,100 yards came out to the same price from the wholesalers. What I mean is 1,500 yards from the manufacturer costs the same as 400 yards from the wholesaler. SCORE! Sometimes it just pays to do your homework!
Seems lots of “indie” designers are against traditional manufacturing. See, manufacturing has gotten a bad rap over the last few years. Truth is manufacturing is consistent–something that is hard to achieve at home on your sewing machine. In manufacturing, you have industrial machines that do one specific job and do it well. Check out this one that does flaps, collars and cuffs. Drool!
On another note, I finally listed a job opening on Craigslist. I need someone to put together a database and mailing list of children’s boutiques that might be interested in carrying Downtown Joey. After reviewing more than 50 applicants’ resumes, I think I’ve found the perfect candidate. I’ll be meeting her tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed!
Sadly, my daughter’s health continues to decline. Doctors are having a hard time controlling her blood pressure and her kidneys have less than 10% function at this point. She is getting weaker everyday. It’s heartbreaking to watch her struggle to do simple things–things most of us take for granted. Please continue to keep her in your prayers. Let’s hope a kidney is found soon.
Back to work…because launching a children’s clothing line takes some serious multi-tasking!