Last week I was involved in a mentoring session organised by the girls of Re Dress as part of their annual Fashion Evolution event. I met so many wonderful aspiring creative talents.
Since then I have received quite a few emails asking for further advice, so I thought I'd put a post together focusing on questions of those who are attempting to set up their own label.
I'm pretty sure I'm not the best person to give advise, I don't always practice what I preach.. but that doesn't mean I don't want too...sometimes I need to say it to myself..and the universe.. to be convinced!
So, if you are working on your first collection these are a few tips...
1. Get experience, and I know this might sound like a step back, it will be worth it. It's the only way to learn the knots and blots of the industry. Learn from their success and their mistakes. If you haven't worked for another designer for a few seasons, at least, I would say don't even think of setting up your own label.
2. Once you've gained some experience, research as much as you can in terms of the concept of your creations and who you think your customer will be. I really believe you only have one chance to give a first impression so make sure your designs are up to scratch. I would rather wait for a year or two before putting something out there that I know is not as perfect as can be.
3. Keep your first collection small and concise. A 6 to 10 piece strong collection can be enough to seduce your customers. Don't try to do everything. You can build up the collection in the future, but it will be easier to grab your customer's attention if you have a specific and clear concept.
4. Pricing. Once you've chosen a design concept and the market you think it will be for, be very conscious about costs and pricing. If you are designing for a younger market price point must be adequate to their spending capacity ( this comment is very specific to Ireland..in other countries where there is a bigger population you will find a more diverse customer base with a broad range of budgets)
5. Don't under price your collection. The temptation is to undercut yourself at the beginning trying to get into good shops. It will be hard to charge what you should be charging later on.
6. Capacity. Be very clear what your limitations are, financially and production wise. Say no when you are unable to commit. It's better to say no than to say yes and then letting people down.
6. Stay small for as long as possible. It's the only way to learn without making huge mistakes or taking huge risks.
7. Build up a private customer base as well as nourishing a few shops. Don't step on their toes by selling at discount, this may come back to haunt you.
8. Press are always looking for new stories and great images. Invest in a good shoot, it doesn't have to be overproduced or costly..having great images is priceless. Write a press release. The story is so important now. Everyone from customers to journalists want to know the story behind the label so make sure there is soul in what you're doing.
If there are any other questions I haven't covered or you'd like something more specific let me know!
Next month my 10th collection will be presented. The initial research and inspiration started during Paris Fashion Week, October 2008 on a regular visit to 120 year old Parisian shop Fried Freres.
Their back room is filled from floor to ceiling in old dark wood shelves overflowing with sequins and beads in every colour and shape imaginable. I left an hour later with empty pockets and bags filled with sequins. I immediately started to feed the subconsious with new ideas
A year and half later the concept has turned into reality, and a 10 piece collection to celebrate 10 seasons is in the making.
As with every collection I'm quite nervous and very excited.
Every year Ireland hosts the Jameson Dublin Film Festival. It is such a great opportunity to see films that are very new, very old or that commercially don't make it on to our regular movie screens.
Last week I went to see the Irish film One Houndred Morningsdirected by Conor Hogan, with a wonderful cast including Kelly Campbell, Ciarán McMenamin, Alex Reid, Rory Keenan and Paul Ronan . I left the cinema wanting a career change.....and that doesn't happen to often, but making movies, specially as beautiful and unpretentious as this one, is such a temptation.
Next weekend I will be seeing a film I never thought would make it here but when I saw the festival's schedule I rushed to book tickets.
I'm not sure where or when was the first time I heard about La Danse, but being one of my true 'loves' I spent weeks researching where it was being screened, no where near Ireland until now....this is a unique opportunity to spend 158 minutes in ballet heaven.