As requested by VC reader Simon.
I don’t have a new job yet. There aren’t a lot of design jobs available in the Bay Area, so it’s not as depressing as sending out my resume to a million places and getting rejected everywhere. I’ve only sent off my resume to a few places, and things are all up in the air. It’s too early to really say. None of this makes me particularly happy, to say the least. Did I mention I hate being unemployed?
As for the new group I’m working on for the portfolio overhaul:
Everything is designed, the figure composition is set, the flats are half done, it’s mainly a matter of just doing the final illustrations/flats/fabric board. My goal is to have it finished by the time New York Fashion Week hits next weekend.
I’ve challenged myself considerably with this project, something I’ll get into later. Anyway, back to work.
It’s 11pm on a Friday night and I’m at home in track pants doing flats, only partially paying attention to the movie the husband is watching next to me, eating wine gums.
Ah, the glamorous life of a fashion designer…
resignation: the moment you realize your favorite dress just doesn’t go with the rest of your collection and needs to be chucked.
colorblindness: the state of mind where you’ve been poring over color groups for so long they all start looking equally sucky.
night vision: when you come up with the most brilliant solution to Question X in the dead of the night but you’re too groggy to write/sketch it down, sleepily promising yourself you’ll remember in the morning but to no avail.
pure joy: the late night moment (12:22am by my watch) when you realize it’s all coming together and now all you have to do is draw out the final illustrations.
The Bargain Queen’s post on sample sales prompted me to write a post of my own on the subject, from a designer’s point of view. In fact, Her Royal Majesty emailed me and Kathleen, asking if her post had any glaring errors. I didn’t find any, but was in general amused by how shoppers view sample sales.
I am a veteran of the battlefield otherwise known as the sample sale and I have to say, in short, they suck. For us working the sales, anyway. I’ve never shopped one as I try to avoid them at all costs.
The main reason I despise sample sales is how we choose what to sell. Every approach has its pros and cons, and they’re discussed more exhaustively than you can imagine. Either that or I’ve worked for incredibly indecisive people.
1. You have your photoshoot samples, the tiny samples from last season that you no longer need. Or do you? Should you have an ongoing archive of your collections? What if we want to repeat some of these styles/silhouettes/etc next season because it was so wildly popular?
2. You have not perfect samples. Do you really want to sell these imperfect goods so people see the crap armhole and think that’s indicative of our tailoring? The too-loose elastic? The embroidery with the wrong colors? But what else do we do with it? Throw it away so it can sit in a landfill for a million years because of our market strategy?
3. You have excess inventory from last season that didn’t sell, not even on sale. Ouch. That just hurts. You can only chant “learn and move on, learn and move on” so many times before you start feeling sick to your stomach.
4. Some celebrity borrowed something and it was returned in less than perfect condition. (I’m sorry–I guess the last part of that sentence was rather redundant.) Who really wants something with Flavor-of-the-Week’s pit stains? (Ugh, don’t answer that.)
The point is, inventory is money and if it’s just sitting on a rack in storage, that’s money you put in a sock under your bed. It gains no interest, the value depreciates over time, and is of no use to you.
Okay, so we’ve spent the entirely-too-many-hours picking what goes on sale. Next you pick the date. Definitely not during blow-out sale season in the stores–too much competition. And not after a major holiday like, for example, the entire month of January when everyone’s wallets are recovering. Of course, not during tradeshow season–we’re too busy. Not that date–half the girls working the sale observe the Jewish holidays, not that date–billion dollar bobbleheads are having their sale, not that date–I want the sale money to file for this quarter.
Now the major details have been sorted, on to picking a venue, deciding whether you’ll go solo or invite other companies (the smaller you are, the wiser the latter choice is), setting the hours, finalizing who’s working the sale, putting together a lovely poster and mailing everybody in time (not too soon, lest they forget, and not too late, lest they already have plans).
Man, I’m exhausted just typing all this stuff out.
Alright, now we’re at the day of the sale. So much fun I can’t even tell ya. Let’s just go over some things that have run through my head during these sales, as outwardly I smile and nod:
“Please stop tugging on my shirt to get my attention…no, seriously, stop pulling on my clothes…gaahhh!!!! STOP TUGGING AT MY CLOTHES!”
“The size 0 is too big for you? I’m sorry–I just don’t have much sympathy for you. Please take your loud nasal whine elsewhere, thanks.”
“Why exactly did we put all the effort in putting up “CASH ONLY” signs everywhere if apparently no one in this room knows how to read except me?”
“This blouse is $45 to make, and by selling it for $50, we’re making a grand $5 off of it, and you know this thing sells for $200+ retail and now you’re asking for a discount because it doesn’t have the cute extra button in a plastic baggie on a hangtag? I will find you that cute extra button and shove it down your throat, you (*^&%*!%&#*(%(@!”
And then the sale is over. Sometimes you blow out everything and there’s enough cash for you to go to New York for a much needed sourcing trip. Sometimes you don’t make much money at all.
Honestly, the only version of complaining I like to do is when I can express aloud what I don’t like. Once I’ve figured out what it is that’s bugging me, I can try to fix it. But this whole sample sale monster is just something I don’t know how to sort through and tame. If there’s any way to make better, faster choices for the sample selection would probably make it all go a whole lot faster and smoother.
Finals to the left, discarded designs to the right. Each page has several pinholes in it from moving back and forth. Each page also has several designs on it, so the pages have been folded, opened, refolded, etc. Throat dry from explaining to the husband why designing a 9-outfit collection is way way harder than designing a 90-outfit collection. G’night.
Oh, who are we kidding. I’ll be up giving myself pinpricks and papercuts all night.
Here’s how it works:
1. someone tags you,
2. you post five things about yourself that you haven’t already mentioned on your blog,
3. you tag people you’d like to know more about
This is more difficult than it looks, folks. I try to keep this blog mainly professional with some personal touches here and there. The very reason I don’t blog more frequently is because I run out of stuff to say. Well, about the industry and anything related. I can just hear my friends shrieking with laughter right now because I’m usually the one they can’t get to shut up.
1. I have weird obsessions with food. I’ll fixate on something and eat it constantly for a few weeks or months and then let it go. Currently, it’s spinach. I’ve been putting spinach in everything I possibly can. My favorite right now is to toss ravioli with some baked chicken and spinach in olive oil, some spices and garlic. The husband hasn’t complained yet…
2. I gain strength and energy by having conversations with people I like. I’ll be sick as a dog (which I was over the weekend) and if I can muster enough stamina to call someone and maintain a steady conversation, I can hang up feeling much less sick.
3. I used to practically be a Luddite. I sketched by hand unless forced by employers to use Illustrator or Photoshop, didn’t watch TV, checked my email once a week or so, shared a computer, had a camera that required film. No blogging, no googling, I even had a cord that ran from my computer to my printer. Music off the interwebs??? I had a tape deck in my not-that-old car! I read books and magazines. I handwrote everything. This was just 2-3 years ago. I blame the husband. I move in with him and all of a sudden I’m in a tech gadget warehouse with 6 computers, 3 digital cameras (not including the phones), 2 iPods, and an airport express in a sea of CD towers, plugs, cords, antennae, USB thingamajiggers, and and and. We weren’t even dating a year before he “decided” that I would be “a brilliant fashion blogger” and started sending me links to fashion blogs as inspiration.
3a. I have this running joke with my friends: before I got married, I was Girlfriend #4. I compared my life with A and all his laptops to a futuristic Raise the Red Lantern. G1 was his main laptop, a Vaio that ran Linux. G2 was his little 12″ Mac that he got on a whim while I was out of town. (How shady! heh.) G3 was his other, slightly (like 6 months) older Vaio that ran Windows. I was G4. My own laptop was G5. The joke was G5 was for threesomes only, therefore her low status. (Threesomes=the boy fixing something while I hovered.) And then there was the Big Wife–the server. If she got cranky, none of us got any play. Now, Peter (my new iMac) is Boyfriend #1, mine and some of the husband’s oldest laptops are retired, but Wife #1 is still the server, lording over us all. No pun intended.
4. I have a younger sister, C, and a younger brother, J. Along with my husband, they are the loves of my life. C is an Environmental Science, Policy, and Management major, minoring in Applied Economics and Political Science at the University of Minnesota. She regularly makes me laugh like a crazyperson. She used to chase me around the house if I was drinking a soda, waiting for me to hurry up and finish it so she could recycle the can. J is a straight-A freshman in high school who turned it all around after almost flunking out of junior high. He’s 15, and spends equal amounts of time playing his XBox and reading George Orwell. He also keeps me in steady stock of super soft fluffy socks.
5. I haven’t done laundry in 3 years. Did I mention I love my husband?
Left to right (sorta):
Breakfast of Champions: water and cigarettes, corkboard #1: coupons for vitamins for the husband, notes to self in Korean and English (whatever came to my head at the moment), a rough draft of the figure composition for the latest project (notice some don’t have arms yet)*, the big beautiful 24″ iMac the husband bought me for an anniversary gift last year, featuring the morning news: International Herald Tribune’s Style & Design section, and corkboard #2: sketches and doodles for the latest project.
*tip of the day: when working out figures, I like to draw them on tracing paper. Then I flip over the drawing and look at it “backwards”. You can pick out flaws easier this way. That’s why the figures are in 2 different colors. The layout is currently posted “backwards” on the board right now.