I have survived LondonEdge! And it was a huge success! I never anticipated that many reactions and actual orders! I drove home dizzy with excitement (and of lack of sleep) We won 'Best menswear' award on top of it all. It was my third time at Edge and it is true what they say. It takes three times. We, I say, I had great help of Willem-Jan and Elsje. Willem-Jan as brand ambassador dressed in his tweed suit I made for him last summer turned a lot of heads. Now back home I have used my time to follow up orders and interest. I made calls with Arnhem Fashion Factory who helps me to set up my brand, with the factory because it looks like I need more stock and soon! Tomorrow emails will be sent out to all the addresses I have gathered. And perhaps I have time to unpack? So much to do now: new samples and patterns to be send out to the factory, source new fabrics, ship the closed orders and get ready for the next show in Rosmalen. This has really given me a boost, and faith in what I am doing.
The last couple of days were quite tough. Only three more days to go before Leaving for the LondonEdge trade show. And because things don't always go as planned a lot comes down to the last minute. Including receiving my sales samples.. Besides the delay we had because the transport of the fabrics (note to self: this will not happen again) we had delay because of the care labels. How much I am pro EU, the 20 pages rules and regulations for care labels appears to be a bit much. It didn't stop me to go over them and compose my labels as they should: In three European languages, with all the fabrics in the official terms, and of course the laundry symbols. And my personal add, a written explanation. Who reads an knows the care labels right?? As it turned out, and don't ask why, the text caused another delay of a few days, meaning my samples were ready for shipping Tuesday at 11. And that leaves me one or two days to get them here from Romania, one day to inspect, photograph, put them on my website and a lot of praying nothing goes wrong with the transport.. (note to self no2: send care label instructions sooner)
As it turned out the package will be delivered today. So I can start breathing again. Well, a bit. There is still a bit of uncertainty of how it all turned out. Despite all the communications.
The process in short: I send my sample I made as an example of what it should look like. I send a detailed description per item with everything in it regarding pattern matching, button placement, seam allowance every detail you can think of. Then they make for me the first samples. They were send to me, I look over them and we communicate adjustments. Modern communications such as Skype make it quite easy to make quick decisions with pictures or video calls.
Today is about having faith. With everything you do for the first time in your life, it is normal to encounter difficulties. It's important not to be afraid of the hurdles, and just simply start taking them.
It has been a long time since I posted something. Because I have been busy. So busy in fact that the last year I noticed I had to let possible orders go because I was making trousers. And more trousers. And then some more.. So after making my 50th pair I was sure some things had to change. Besides I was working for next to nothing giving the hours that go into one pair (yes, I am picky on the details) So for months I have been walking around with the idea of heaving them made for me. The next couple of posts will be about my journey towards running a lable instead of a single sewing machine. It will give you insight about what happens before a garment is in a shop. I will write when it is successful and when it’s not. Sometimes it will take courage to share the failures. And now at this moment I can’t really tell which way this will go.. I have hope, and a dream, and my goal is to achieve these.
Where to start? Obviously I had to find somebody to help me with starting. Somebody who knows the industry and can help me with the how to’s. I found that person soon and the next obvious step is making business models, lots of counting and numbers and other stuff I never wanted to know about. So I got myself through that. Had a small fund to start, mostly saved from the 50 trousers I had made so far. My coach found me a small factory in Romania that would be suitable for my products and is willing to produce small amounts. So gar so good.. But this is just the start.. I made all the patterns, sent them my samples and things got rolling.
It got ‘exciting ‘ when life got in the way. Because that is what life does. Since September last year I had more and more trouble walking. I always had some pain for the last 15/20 years, sometimes bad, sometimes none. No doctor really could find what was wrong for years. Now it got so bad something had to be done, and in December I had hip replacement surgery. Not something you’d expect at 44. Apparently something had been wrong with that hip since I was a child, so that explains.
Not convenient when you are in the middle of an adventure! Somehow I managed to get things started in Romania with the first sample pieces before my surgery. Have been sourcing materials, so I was ready for it! What I didn’t expect is I was how weak and dizzy I was afterwards. For weeks! Living in a mist, not being able to think was probably the worst. (Though some people received two or three Christmas cards last year 😂)
Finaly in January I could decide to book a stand on LondonEdge in February. The one and only lifestyle trade show in Europe. So the deadline was set. I needed my sales samples in time for the show. We made a time table with the factory and decided when and how to ship the fabrics.
So there we were. In Amsterdam at a small shipping company that drives to Romania twice a week. With thousends of Euro’s worth of fabric, packed and wrapped in separate packages. The guy responsible for taking in the packages mumbled something.. “problem.. zwanzich.. twenty.. mumble.. problem..”
As it turned out when his English speaking wife came down, the individual packages couldn’t weigh more twenty kilograms for the shipping on Saturday they were supposed to be on.. OK.. now what. “Can I get them back and repack them?” I could go to a DIY shop, get plastic and make smaller packages. “No, problem.. “
He had already made the shipping lables for transport on Thursday so he couldn’t give them back. I tried everything. Standing on my head, do a dance, sing a song, nothing helped. The fabrics would arrive at the factory a week later than planned, which meant they couldn’t start production in time!!
Nothing I could do could change the situation. Only except it and hope for the best. Light an extra candle, hope and try not to think about all the things that can go wrong is the best strategy in that situation..
So fingers crossed.. The stand is booked, money has been spent, no turning back. Just hope.
(And take calming drops to be able to sleep)
Sunny van Zijst
I am maker of vintage inspired couture. I was trained as a designer for theater costumes. Now I enjoy making vintage inspired clothing for men and women.