How It All Started - Part One
I started Gold a year ago. It’s hard to believe as it feels like I’ve been working on it since forever, and yet at the same time it has gone so fast I can’t believe it’s been over three months.
A few people messaged me on instagram recently asking about how hard it really is to start a clothing brand. It reminded me that a couple of friends tried to convince me to start a Youtube channel where I would show whoever is interested the steps of starting Gold; picking manufacturers, visiting factories, finding a pattern maker, looking at fabrics, designing over and over and over again, creating moodboard, looking at the budget, pretending you can make a whole website on your own, being amazed that you actually managed to make the whole website on your own, waiting for the clothes, missing the delivery, spending a ton of useless money…the good, the bad, and the unnecessary.
Anyway, I was way too self conscious to ever seriously contemplate filming myself and posting it on the internet so I dropped the idea completely. I started to work without really documenting any of it, only bits written on my laptop when I had a minute and felt like putting my journalism degree to good use.
While chatting with people recently about the messages I was receiving and the interest people have in what’s happening behind the scenes, and in an attempt to be as transparent as I wish every brand I love and buy from would be, I decided to publish these notes.
I understand they won’t be of interest for everyone, but if even the smallest percentage of you guys can have a clearer idea of what it’s like, whether you think it’s worth getting into or not, and more importantly, learn from my (many) mistakes, then I’ve at least done one thing right.
So here goes the first one, straight out of my disorganized desktop (except I’ve changed it a bit to make it understandable so more like straight out of my disorganized desktop with a detour through Word);
July - October 2017
I thought I’d weirdly enjoy my last day of waiting tables and serving pop corn and cleaning screens in a way, considering it was the last ever, but that feeling quickly went away when I had to clean what seemed to be a billion dirty Kleenex off a seat. Actually I was so unsentimental about the whole thing that if I could’ve left early, I would’ve (I couldn’t).
I made my first mistake as soon as I started the brand; I thought working on the winter collection in July was a good idea. I really wish I had known that it was the worst idea ever. I’m finally at a place now where I can catch up and work two collections in advance; but doing that from the beginning would have saved me so much anxiety. The fact is, no matter how quick you think it will be to find the perfect people to produce the clothes, triple it. And the time it’ll take to actually make the clothes? You can triple that too. You might as well triple the amount of money you think it’ll cost you to start the brand right now as well.
Apart from that I was actually off to an incredibly good start; I met my pattern maker straight away (before I even was done working at my other job), and have been lucky to find someone who was not only good at their job but also reliable (which in this industry might be the hardest thing to find. Ever).
The first seamstress I met was nice and seemed like she’d be good, but she couldn’t make the clothes I wanted in the right time scale and she didn’t want me to get fabrics delivered to her (doesn’t seem like a big deal until you realise how big and heavy the fabric rolls are and you don’t have a car). I asked her to make some neckerchieves instead- they have a classic French aesthetic and I have a suitcase full of them from my grand parents and great-grand parents, so I always wanted to include them in the brand. I bought some fabric that was 100% cotton as I was very set on not using anything polyestery (almost as much as I was set on making everything in England). She made about 50 neckerchieves and gave them all to me. I was beyond excited and couldn’t wait to wear them around my neck in the winter and around my hair in the summer and around my bag handles when it’s not raining and around my waist when my trousers are too big. I opened the bag. They all looked like tea towels. These weren’t the classic French neckerchieves I’d inherited. These were bandanas at best. The floral print was good, it was colourful and summery; but the fabric was all wrong. I had paid for 50 of them, the bag was sitting in my living room, taing a considerable amount of space, and there was no way I would ever sell them. I didn’t even want to try and sell them. I considered my options; I could give them as a present for orders over a certain amount, I could sell them as hair accessories, I could sew them all together and create a giant tent under which I could hide and relive the embarassement that my first ever venture as a business owner had failed miserably.
I used the rest of the fabric roll on scrunchies, which are cute you know, as far as scrunchies go. The seamstress and I met for her to give them to me; I gave her in exchange a couple of metres of a new fabric for her to try the neckerchieves with. She said we’d meet on the following Thursday but that she would confirm. She never confirmed. I called and texted and whatsapped and emailed and I stopped trying right when I started feeling like a stalker. I might be the only person in the world to be ghosted by their seamstress. I never accidentally ran into her, never got the metres of fabric I gave her back, but at least I found a use for my neckerchieves (they’re our Summer bag lining fabric if you must know).
I also slowly started to realise using only organic fabrics was just impossible for me at that time. I simply didn’t have the money to afford it, so I unfortuately had to compromise on something- and since I was never going to produce in Bangladesh, I decided to momentarily give in with polyester.
So that was July to October. Quite a waste of time on the seamstress unfortunately, and the patterns just take a while to be made.
The rest of the time I was taking business classes to at least pretend like I knew what I was doing. Turns out starting a fashion brand is 80% admin work, 10% social media, 10% designing clothes. Not quite what I expected, and definitely not what I was ready for (even after 12 hours spent learning about taxes, legal facts and budgeting, these concepts still seem pretty distant and confusing to me.
It did help me to try and organise the very important albeit very boring aspects though.
I think I’ve bored you enough for today- second part will come soon!