Oct

18

How to go shopping…and be responsible.

image from Vaguely Artistic

 

Hello Ellie Fun Day Friends,

Thank you so much for the love on our new teasers and blankets. We are in the process of working on our production so please be patient with us. We are in the learning process and trying to bring the best possible blanket with our resources and time.

Throughout this whole process I’ve really learned ALOT! I just got back from New York City (my second home) and boy is it a tough tough market out there. I braved myself and did some cold calls to some high-end boutiques in Soho and the Meatpacking district. Surprisingly all of the owners were happy to give me feedback. General consensus from my learnings? To be myself. All of the owners gravitated towards the designs that I felt like were more me. I don’t know if NYC is just a microcosm of taste, I have yet to test the midwest and the other parts of the country.

Some other learnings:

1.) What sells isn’t necessarily good taste. I just came back from a kids trade show. Elton and I noticed that one booth in particular was totally buzzing. What I noticed first was the sad photography. It wasn’t sharp at all and the model was situated at this one place in front of the Brooklyn Bridge with trash all around her. Go figure…was that the look they were going for?

2.) Being a designer isn’t necessarily about just making pretty things. the goal is to produce a product for profit so that I can sustain and therefore help the community of women that I am trying to empower.

3.) You REALLY pay for what you get: the more I’m in this business the more I examine clothes and products closely. So to my final point and learnings…

HOW TO GO SHOPPING…and be responsible:

1.) Cost: this is a big one. I know that we all like deals and cheap things. (I do too!) But analyze the cost of the product that you’re buying, then divide that by 4 (if not 7 ideal). Then that is really the cost of goods plus labor. i.e. Forever 21 sells a blouse for $21, so divide that by 4 = $5.25. Now think about the labor and the material…how much did that person get paid to make that blouse? How did that fabric get to that price point?

The other thing to consider is how much wear will you get out of this item. Think about cost per wear. If it’s just a trendy item, will you wear it next season? If it’s something like a well-made coat, you will more likely keep this for a longer duration of time and wear it more often through it’s lifespan. Think about those investments.

2.) Content: fiber content matters. Natural fibers (Cotton, wool, silk) will cost more. Synthetics less (polyester, nylon, modal, rayon) etc. I’m not saying one is better than the other. But do consider this, natural fibers biodegrade much faster than synthetics. Synthetics help in durability but both may use toxic chemicals during processing and production. In the end, it’s how the manufacturer handles the disposal of these chemicals. The more responsible ones will most likely cost more. See where cost comes in?

3.) Care: sometimes manufacturers will do something called low-labeling. This means that if they don’t have time to test their garment/product they will just put the lowest common denominator for care i.e. dry clean only. I’ve seen a dry clean label on a cotton shirt that I had. It was a woven and I was asking myself, “why is this dry clean only?” I proceeded to wash it with cold water and hung dried it. There was some significant shrinkage but the shirt was still ok after the washing. The manufacturer most likely didn’t want me to be upset with the shrinkage…hence the low-labeling. Watch out for care labels like that.

Via ffffound

4.) Fit: why do movie starts look so awesome in their clothes? yes, designers give them nice threads, but in the end they have all of their clothes tailored to their body. Most clothes that are off the rack are sized in a way where it fits a larger demographic. As you move towards the higher end designer lines, the fit will get better because they have worked on the pattern extensively to get it just right. (that is where their costs are built in..see? costs!)

Finding a good tailor is like finding a best friend…you want to keep him/her FOREVER. They make you look good and will tell you what is wrong and try to fix it. ;)

Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty via Liz Chan

5.) Function: as you shop, ask yourself, “Where will I wear this? With what will I wear this with? Do I feel FABULOUS in it?” (this is key…I don’t by anything that I don’t love.) After my purchase I try on my new piece of clothing with other things in my wardrobe. If I can’t pair it with 3 or more items then it’s a return.

FINAL MANTRA >>>>

Your closet is an exclusive club.

The secret code to get in is CCCFF = Cost, Content, Care, Fit, Function.

How do you go shopping? Love to hear your tips!

 

 

 

 

 

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Jul

11

The Process: being a social entrepreneur

As a social entrepreneur I get asked the the question often, “So when are you going to launch your product?” I’ve gotten enormous support from friends, family and even strangers that I haven’t met that are ready to jump at the chance of buying an Ellie Fun Day blanket. I would love to get them into the hands of every single mom and baby down the street today! (I hear Natalie Portman just had Baby Aleph, and another mini-Kardashian is on the way?!) But all good things come to those who wait.

Starting a successful business is a challenge in itself, I know the statistics so we’re taking calculated steps in trying to assure success for the long-term duration. IF anyone asks what does it take, I’m still learning, but I hope to discuss our process here so that others that are paving this path into the jungle of social entrepreneurism can learn from our findings, mistakes and successes.

Next Steps:

1.) Business mentors: people with expertise in baby/children’s market, import/export, entrepreneurs etc.
2.) Fabric resources: organic cottons and silks is our preferred choice
3.) Business Models: do we do direct sales (online?) or wholesale (stores and boutiques)

Then there are the gazillion other things that we’re learning through this process: from SEO, to trade regulation quotas, organic certifications, FTC regulations on children’s wear etc etc. But in the end we realize we need to take it one step at a time or else will be biting off more than we can handle.

Right now we’re in the process of testing our organic blankies with babies in the real world. They’ve been asked to spit-up, poop, pee and love them as they would. As simple as it sounds we want these blankies to stand the test of time, be functional and also be well-loved for babies and kids. We may be looking for mommies and daddies that are interested in our tester blankies, so look out for another post coming soon!

Meanwhile here’s a little post of Baby Nguyen’s blankie. My friends and I threw Lisa and Billy an amazing airplane themed baby shower. Check it out!

1 Comments

Mar

04

Farewell and Hello

Yes, I’ve taken the plunge. I’ve finally decided to live my dream. I’ve left my high-paying, stable design job at Larsen and Ellie Fun Day is now in full swing.

I’ve always dreamed of creating a product that would make the world a better place, even if it’s just one person at a time.

What is this product you ask? Organic baby blankets.

Why? I’ve always loved my baby blanket as a kid. I called mine “elephant-pei” (pei = blanket in Chinese). Ellie Fun Day is an alliteration in honor of it. It had a Dumbo print on it and it traveled EVERYWHERE with me. When my mom needed to wash it after being dragged through the dirt one too many times, I would stand outside at the clothesline, hold onto it and wait for it to dry.

There was something magical about my blankie. The familiar smell, the soft corners brought me comfort and security in a world that was often strange and scary.

I want my blankets to give that same comfort and magic that I once felt to all the babies in the world.

Not only do I want our blanket to be sustainable and organic but I also have a burden for under-resourced women in disadvantaged countries. God has opened up a door for us to create these blankets with a group of Dalit (untouchable) caste women in southern India.

The next season of this blog will be dedicated to this new venture. Documenting my ups and downs, the victories and challenges of starting my own business in a dog-eat-dog world. I hope you can join me on my journey. I will be needing all the help and prayers that I can get!

Here’s a little preview of Baby Luke’s blankie…more to come!

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