verbal croquis

i need funding

Posted in my work,personal by verbalcroquis on February 18, 2006

How timely that this week’s Carnivale topic (hosted by the girls over at I Am Fashion) is how you would spend $10million. Gah! We all know what I’d do with that money! Start a fashion empire, of course!

This has been a very very bad week for me. Basically, what’s happening is that I continue to work my day job while I work on design projects of my own at home. Being the ambitious sort, I also bring my work home, doodling, scribbling, making lists, planning and so forth. I try to blog as often as I can manage because it’s important to me to know what’s going on in the fashion news and in the blogosphere, stay current. I think that there’s an audience out there who wants to know what fashion is like for the average(?) designer and I try to write things in that perspective. I cherish the opportunity to connect and network with the fashion community in any way possible. I also try to have a life beyond the work, because the last time I worked 90+ hours a week, I ended up in a hospital bed, with a tiny wrinkly Korean doctor hovering over me asking “do you know how to relax?”.

This leaves me little time or energy to work on my own projects. My most productive hours are 9-4 during the day (which are work hours and then some) and 11-3 at night (which is not compatible to having a day job). But I still sketch. Why? Because I love it. I can’t help it. This is me. That’s not the problem. The problem is I never have time to complete these things in a presentable format before the next round of shows.

When I design, I try to design half on trend and half more avant-garde, looking ahead, trying to be a leader, a forecaster. Consistently I’ve been doing this, and my designs work along the collective trends while still being half a season or so ahead, which means by the time the shows come out, my work will be obsolete by the time I illustrate everything. It will look like I copied the essence of the shows. Being a copier is not an option for me. So I move on to the next collection.

So here’s the routine: I design for season X at work for work, while I design for that season at home for my own designs. Months later, with an unfinished project, I scope out the shows. Feeling happy that I’m on track, I move on. This time was different. This time I felt frustrated beyond belief, miserable. Why am I not out there too? I kept asking myself.

There’s this empty warehouse across the street from my house. It used to be a Copenhagen furniture store. I’m on the 4th floor and from my desk window, I can see into the big windows. Whenever I’d get frustrated, I’d stare into those windows and I could visualize my own business–the cutting tables, the sewing machines, the corkboards, my office, production staff bustling about with proformas and orders, samplemakers in their smocks, a perky receptionist in the lobby, design staff poring over pantone books, swatches and sketchpads.

The problem is money. As in I don’t have any. Fashion designers don’t get paid that well. I’m still recovering from years of family leeching and student loans. I got scholarships, but my school was really expensive. My senior thesis evening gown cost $3000 alone.February 15, 2006. That was the day I decided I was ready. Ready to do my own thing. I’ve waited, working in the industry, learning learning learning. I have design experience, I have both overseas and domestic production experience. I know fabrics (especially silks and leathers), I can illustrate better than most people I know. I know how tradeshows work. I have a business plan. I’m ready now. Someone give me some money, dammit!


8 Responses to 'i need funding'

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  1. Danielle said,

    Making a line is like a full-time job. I myself would not have the energy to do it on top of any other work. You sound way more productive than I am… and I am no slouch, either. My most productive hours are from 6-7am to about 5pm. I can get a little done after dinner too but it’s a lot harder to get motivated late in the day. In your comment on my post I laughed at your hours because that’s what’s happening to me these days too. I’m exhausted early in the evening and very wakeful very early in the morning. It must be a February thing.

    $3000 for a dress? I think that’s probably as much as I’ve spent on my whole line! But I guess, like my line, it constituted your whole thesis?

    That’s the other weird thing. I try not to think of trends and stuff when I design, I think it gets all assimilated into me somehow and I don’t unintentionally want to “copy” anything when I sketch. So for three years I’ve pictured versions of this collection, and now that I’ve designed it, it seems to fit for SS06. The bad thing is that it is for SS07. But if I changed the colours and the fabrics it could be any number of things. But I never wanted it to be of any particular moment, other than the here and now, I wanted them to be interesting clothes that would be simple and useful for as long as they existed. So how do you mean that it seems like you are designing with the current season, is it because you only have time to sketch and not make the clothes?

    I think investing in your business is 10 million that would turn into 100 million, if anyone could do it you could – you’ve got the experience, you’ve got the work ethic, you’ve got the dream… any venture capitalists in the house?

  2. Danielle said,

    woops, what a rambly comment =)… but I guess what I’m interested in is how you go about designing on trend or designing directionally? I’m curious to hear more about how you would design for various future periods in time, how you approach that.

  3. “I’m curious to hear more about how you would design for various future periods in time, how you approach that.”

    There’s not really much of a science to it. I look at what’s going on everywhere else–music, politics, what major museums are showcasing. I think about how things evolved before and put those patterns again to the future. But at the end of the day, you do what feels modern to you. All this fashion stuff? Completely and utterly subjective. That’s why reading all the various bloggers’ reviews on the shows is so important to me.

    As for the $3000 dress, it was one of 3 outfits for my senior thesis. I was dubbed the class masochist cuz I redid a dress 8 times over in my manic perfectionism, redid a mens leather jacket once to make the whole thing fit smaller, and the most complicated evening gown. Bob Mackie was the design critic for that project and even *he* wished me luck on constructing that. sigh. The good ole days…

  4. henri-v said,

    What kind of designer/entrepreneur do you want to emulate? Is there someone who has “made it” with whom you identify (target audience, production strategies, etc.)?

  5. I’m not quite sure if there is a specific person I want to emulate. I’m a versatile designer, but if pressed for a description, I’d say I’m sexy deconstruction, menswear elements, different fabrications and fabric treatments, ironic period references, and playful silhouettes. I’m wearable (not to be confused with commericial or mass-market), but avant-garde. My target audience is the thinking woman who wants to wear something different but not look like a freak. Classic with a twist; sometimes it’s a subtle twist, sometimes it’s a monkey wrench in your tire spokes. Women who want a touch of flair or drama to their clothes. People should look at her twice, but not in a “what the hell?” kind of way. My production strategies are simple and not really strategies–use a mixture of overseas and domestic production. Domestic for the items that require a more rigid quality control, but ultimately go overseas for more expensive things. I want to create a lifestyle brand, with a whole wardrobe collection, not a line of dresses or a line of t-shirts.

  6. henri-v said,

    (On re-reading my first question, it implied more “following in the foot-steps of” rather than “blazing your own trail” than I realized, but you put any misunderstanding to rest with your answer. ; > )

    Is your “thinking woman” already 1 season ahead of the trends herself? It isn’t so much that I, personally, have to wear something before anyone else, but, like you, being caught in the middle of a trend movement is not where I want to be, either. And, I don’t understand the process behind designers simultaneously, collectively establishing trends anyways — e.g., how did this legging thing come about among so many runway shows in NY? Is it the work of stylists consulting for multiple design houses? Do designers share/copy between one another to create an easily-identified thing for the season? I feel completely clueless as to how these things evolve from idea to a force on the marketplace; I can sometimes trace a reference or quote from a high-profile designer as it filters through subsequent layers of the industry (and 3 years later it reaches Middle America in much diluted version), but the machinery that puts the idea in place is what? where? how? Just Anna W.? Who is really pulling the strings?

  7. “Is your “thinking woman? already 1 season ahead of the trends herself? It isn’t so much that I, personally, have to wear something before anyone else, but, like you, being caught in the middle of a trend movement is not where I want to be, either.”

    My customer is one foot in the trends and one foot ahead, different, so I need to design in that way. See the next post for the rest of your questions.

  8. […] at Style Tribe a birthday fantasy. Hope she had fun with it. San Francisco-based fashion designer, Verbal Croquis will not suprisingly start her own fashion line. Maureen at Blog or Not will be buying and invest in […]

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