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!

 

 

 

 

 

3 Comments

Aug

17

What Makes Entrepreneurship Hard

The ups and downs…

As an entrepreneur there are days when the wins are big and the losses feel even more devastating. I know that this is just the beginning but to tell you the honest truth I’m scared sh*tless. I’m scared of failing. I’m scared of the losses that can happen. I’m scared I will make a mistake that might affect many lives. I’m scared I will be laughed at when I’m left penniless and bankrupt. Today was one of those days where I felt utterly discouraged. Mainly because we didn’t get into the accelerator program that I so wished we would have.

Yes there are so many factors at hand that bring success to a business. Some say it’s luck, some say it’s blood, sweat and tears. I would say it’s probably a combination of both. I don’t necessarily believe in luck, I believe in faith. Each day I wake up, I need to believe in faith that God will carry me through to the next step. I need to believe in faith that what I’m doing will bring about change. I need to believe in faith that there is a reason and a purpose for what I’m trying to do.

Then my lovely husband reminds me of the wins that I have had. It’s a win that I have a home and a bed that I sleep in every night (there are thousands out there without one). It’s a win that my husband comes home everyday (there are wives who’s husbands are on duty somewhere and don’t have that privilege). It’s a win that I have friends and family that love me. The list goes on. Every little thing I take for granted is a big win.

Then there are the little wins I DO need to document. For example we’ve been praying for mentors, people that have traveled this road before us to give us guidance. Just two days ago we got an invitation from Freeset to go and visit and learn from their social enterprise in Kolkatta. There’s also a boutique in the D.C. area that’s interested in our blanket designs. These small wins are reminding me that God is slowly opening some doors and closing others. I need to remind myself that I’m at his mercy. He’s in the driver’s seat. Not me.

 

4 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!

10 Comments