Click on the above video to view step 2 in the custom-made womenswear beta-testing

Click on the above video to view step 2 in the custom-made womenswear beta-testing

We’re on the last stretch. We have raised 50% and need to raise the remainder in 8 DAYS! It is a lot, but it is doable. Asking for money is not something that comes naturally to me, but I need your help. If you have not already donated and would like to, please do so today. Right away. Here’s where you can donate. Let’s close in on the finish line.  If you have donated, and would still like to help please remember to talk to that person who you think would love it. Connect with them in real life. Social media doesn’t really do it. We want to hear from the people we love, talk to them, share with them. Please tell one special person in your life about our work in real life over the next week and that our campaign ends Wednesday October 25th. Follow up with the iFundWomen link! THANK YOU!
 
Over the course of the last week, the mid-point in our campaign, I have begun to get big, bold answers to two questions that have lingered over our custom-made womenswear work: 1) Does it work? 2) Is there a demand for it? From all the research I’ve done over the past year, these are the two questions that I come across, the reason for which plenty of other apparel groups have opted not to invest in custom-making womenswear: the assumption that it is harder to pull off then menswear because women’s bodies are more complicated AND that women are not willing to invest in single, high quality pieces the way men do.
 
As for the first question, last week we went to Apparel Prototyping and Pattern Making Solutions in Pelzer, South Carolina to film the pattern digitization. We got to see the process of making a digital representation of the pattern so that it that can be adapted to individual women’s measurements. We got to talk with them about the measurements we took from our beta-clients and problem solve on making sure we have what we need to make a beautifully fitting jacket to account for all the variety that exists in the female form. At one point, Darlene, the expert pattern maker responsible for digitizing the pattern, directly spoke to the first question stating that the reason apparel companies aren’t custom-making womenswear as they do menswear, is because they think it is more difficult. So I ask, “Is it?” To which she responds that she has been working with women’s patterns for decades–that’s what she’s used to–so no, it’s not any more or less difficult. Indeed she has now finished digitizing the Riding Jacket for women.


Click on the above video to view step 1 in the custom-made womenswear beta-testing

Click on the above video to view step 1 in the custom-made womenswear beta-testing

OK, so it’s doable, but do women want it? That answer I got to see Saturday at our Launch Party event at the Durham Hotel. I collaborated with Lee Moore Crawford (farmer florist at Hana Lee and beta-client for our work) to create a vision of abundance for women with gorgeous bouquets, one weaving through a bike rim surrounded by the Riding Denim, over a rich yellow carpet, a scent of local, bee-friendly fall flowers hanging in the air. Women came from all over the Triangle and met other amazing women. Women tried on all different sized samples of the Riding Jacket. I got to watch ladies modeling the Riding Denim, showing off their behinds. We projected the films to date from the beta-testing that our videographer, Colleen Pesci, put together. We sipped on sparkling rose. In all this beauty and with a full house of awesome women, I spoke to woman after woman who shared my dream for high quality clothing that fits them and supports their everyday needs. They wanted the Riding Jacket right now. They share my love for the Riding Denim and they wait for the day when there is a whole line of beautiful fitting wardrobe staples that take them seriously. And so I got an answer to the second question, a question that has kept other apparel companies from investing in custom-made womenswear: Is there a demand for it? Do women want investment pieces? Yes, they do. It is real.


Photo of Hana Lee bike wheel display by Fillaree @The Durham Hotel Launch Party

Photo of Hana Lee bike wheel display by Fillaree @The Durham Hotel Launch Party

And so two sides of the triangle are taking shape, the testing is working, and women are waiting patiently for the custom-made womenswear, and yet still the fundraising is something that remains really challenging for me and is the third and vital leg of our triangle. We are not pre-selling the Riding Jacket. Our “ask” is rather unusual: Help us test out a solution we have.  Be a part of it. Feel empowered. Create abundance in women’s business, where there is an enormous need for more resources.
 
Over the course of this campaign I have struggled with a huge number of conflicting emotions. When I struggle to raise money for something for which there is a demand, that works, and I learn that in 2016 women only got 2% of investment dollars, I get mad and frustrated not just for my work, but for the implications of this problem for women everywhere. 
 
I realize that donating to my campaign will not solve this problem. But my promise to you is this: if you help me see our beta-testing for custom-made womenswear through, I will charge forward with the numbers to the frontier of raising investment dollars for my business, I will share how I do this with you here on the Weekly Letter and then I will help other women get there. I will contribute to a more abundant world for women.  And one day a whole army of us will be equipped with the tools and resources to make this world a better place.

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