Wednesday, January 20, 2010

From Tom Ford's interview of Nicolas Ghesquiere

FORD: I think loneliness comes with being creative, because you are obsessed with creation. And it is so satisfying that sometimes, I have noticed, I completely neglect my friends and my family, and they fall away. That has happened now. I have worked so hard on my film and my business that I need to take the next six months and spend time with Richard [Buckley, Ford’s partner] and friends. Most of them have just sort of forgotten about me, because I have not been there for them. If you are creative, sometimes you give up a lot of things that other people have.

(to read the whole interview, click on the title of this post.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Switching Gears

In my last post related to the development of my line, I had discussed selling my knits on consignment. Through the process, I came to a couple of conclusions:

1. Producing the knits in New York at relatively small quantities meant that I was making a very small margin -- I had to sell the pieces at a certain price to make back what I had spent, and it was hard to sell the pieces at too high a price since my label was unknown and there was nothing obviously special about the pieces. What I mean is that my design details were on the subtle side, whereas most people who buy something "designer" expect the garments to have something flashy or different about them.

2. The pieces that I was most excited about weren't always the ones that sold the best -- i.e. people reacted most to the more accessible items. I needed to think more about what my target customer wanted.

3. I wasn't that excited about designing these types of knits. If I was going to continue tees, they either had to be even more "high-end" with more intricate embellishments, or --

I decided to change directions with my line and go a little more dressy. I decided to do a small collection of silk dresses. At first, I was going to try to have it ready for Spring/Summer 2009, but I felt rushed. After meeting with my friend's cousin, Keryn Dizon, the designer of the line, Elijah, and asking her for advice, I decided to take my time in developing the next collection.

In the meantime, my friend Michelle introduced me to her friend, Noelle Stout and Emily Benson, who had started a production company on the side called House of Noem. Noelle worked in real estate advertising for TimeOut New York and Emily worked as a merchant for Henri Bendel. They wanted to help an emerging designer stage a fashion show so we met up in October 2008 to get the ball rolling.

We decided to do a presentation as opposed to a show. The difference is that whereas a show tends to be a one-time deal, usually around 15 minutes long, a presentation tends to have a longer window, and instead of the models coming down the runway, they tend to be standing around like mannequins. We aimed for the beginning of Fall 2009 fashion week in February 0f 2009, to try to maximize attendance. Noelle would find us a location through her real estate contacts, and the rest of us would work on different production aspects.

In the meantime, my friend Ferris and I shot what would be the Fall 2009 collection on our friend, Summer. Another friend, Emem, designed a lookbook for me.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year!

I'll admit that I'm a bit in denial about it already being a new year. I think what makes it more unnerving is that now we're in the double digits of this millenium.

Before I go into some of my resolutions for 2010, I wanted to reflect on things that I was proud of accomplishing in 2009:

1. Fall 2009 presentation last February -- I can't believe it's only been about a year, it seems like so much longer. In addition to getting press in WWD, it was also exciting to work with models from agencies like Trump and get sponsorship from Barefoot Wine.

2. Building up freelance work in different areas --
- web design: In addition to getting more clients (through Craigslist and word of mouth), the scale of the projects have been gradually getting larger
- violin: I played a few weddings along with a proposal (with my friend Mich, which was kind of hilarious)

While unpredictable, it's been exciting to be getting a fairly steady stream of work, especially in the web stuff, often unsolicited.

3. Getting requests for custom work --
I've mentioned that I've been starting to get requests for custom clothing, which has been exciting. I've already made a couple of pieces for my old violin teacher (I have to finish another project for her). I'm also about to start working on a non-traditional wedding dress for a friend -- I am hoping to document the process, from sketch to completion.

4. Selling at boutiques -- I've been thrilled to work with boutiques including Albertine, Sucre, and Item here in New York, along with online boutique, Sunday Brunch.

5. Writing and performing my own song -- I've been playing violin with bands and singer/songwriters for about a decade now, but I've only begun learning the guitar and writing my own songs. My family used to tell me I had a horrible singing voice, so I'm a bit shy about singing in public, but I had a great time singing at the show we did in December, and I'm looking forward to singing (more songs) in February.

6. Learning to rock climb -- I've never been into sports, but I've really been enjoying learning how to rock climb!

7. Making a music video to publicize the Spring 2010 collection.

Now for resolutions. I've never been big on those, but I figured if I made some of my goals for the year public, it would help motivate me to achieve them.

1. Get in better shape -- sometimes I am amazed at the fact that I ran 6x a week when I was in high school. I can't even imagine doing that now. I don't have ambitious goals -- I'd like to try to get to the point where I am taking 30 min walks at least a few times a week, and doing more situps and pushups.

2. Write more songs and get better at the guitar -- I did some songwriting over the holidays. Music has been a fun creative outlet for me, so I don't want to push myself to the point that it's not fun any more, but I'd like to write and perform more of my own songs.

3. Open a boutique --
today I walked into D.L. Cerney, a boutique on E 7th St, next to McSorley's. Next to it is a workshop where they make the clothes, which are made from vintage fabrics in mid-20th century styles. It was my first time inside and I managed to catch one of the owners and we had a nice chat about his store, which looks like the kind of store I'd like to own. I don't know if this is something that can happen in 2010, but I'd like to figure out a way to open my own brick and mortar store eventually. He's had his store for 25 years and he said he was able to make it because he was tenacious and had his blinders on, focused on his goal.

4. Expand my custom business -- this may be tied to the goal of opening a boutique/workshop.

5. Get better at rock climbing -- I want to be less frightened when I am outdoors, and work on my technique so I am able to do more of the tricky climbs (involving overhangs).

6. Wake up earlier -- I've always been more of a night owl, but I'm convinced that waking up earlier is key to being more successful. Often when I read about successful people, they wake up early and get a slew of things done before most other people are out of bed.

I read a blog entry by a dude who trained himself to wake up at 5:30 every morning by simulating a wakeup routine for a few weeks. I haven't bothered to try it, but I have been trying to go to sleep earlier, and doing things like setting up morning meetings with friends for coffee or taking a walk or doing yoga. The bad thing about setting your own schedule is that sometimes it's really hard to get yourself out of bed, even if you have a bajillion things to do.

7. Build up my wholesale business -- I want to take a more structured approach to selling the line, although I haven't decided whether this would mean getting into a showroom or doing a tradeshow or both.

I think that's it for now. Feel free to comment if you have any suggestions, particularly about the waking up bit.