I am writing with an update on the Riding Jacket testing. The group that had been adapting the pattern to individual measurements updated their pattern software and made an additional garment to see if they could do better. Though it was much better, it was not good enough to proceed with made-to-measure manufacturing with clients.
Though this is disappointing I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to try this out, and learn what it will take to make it a success next time.
To recap where we’ve been together: I started in January 2015 thinking I was going to design and manufacture clothing for professional women who commute by bike. Fast forward through a failed Kickstarter to the Fall of 2015 and I realize after talking with hundreds of women that lots of women feel their professional clothing is inadequate for the modern world, not just biking women. Then I struggle with the boutique model selling a classic, fitted pair of denim jeans and experimenting with a modern upgrade on the work blazer and here’s what I find: high mark-ups, little left for materials and manufacturing with current pricing expectations, and enormous fit issues.
In 2017 60% of women in the U.S. are above a size 16, not to mention all the other women who don’t “fit” with standard sizing. I learn about manufacturing and all the ghost towns left in the wake of apparel offshoring. And I see an opportunity. Made-to-measure womenswear, every woman fits, and job creation where they are needed, where people were left behind by this economy.
And I find partners in the Southeast to test it out. And it doesn’t work. We are too spread out. The pattern adaptation needs to be in house–it is the most difficult and important part. This is heartbreaking, but it is also life. You try stuff and sometimes it doesn’t work.
So I need to take a pause, earn a living, while nurturing the creative pieces, but the vision has become clearer than ever. Where we are headed is a women’s sewing shop and fit atelier in a community that needs jobs. This dream is achievable, but it is by no means a short-term one. It may take me years, even a decade to get there but I will continue forward.
One of the things I learned over nearly a year of testing and two years of research as that you cannot know enough about something you love. Rather than rely on experts or consultants, I am starting from the basics to learn how patterns have been adapted by hand to people’s measurements from the beginning. Though I am nearly certain that we will need to utilize technology to achieve the efficiencies necessary to supports U.S. sewing jobs and allow for high quality materials (without pricing it in the stratosphere), I want to know everything I can about doing it by hand while I look for the right partners and home for it.
What does this mean for the weekly letter? As you may have gathered from the 100k words I have written so far on this blog, I absolutely love writing. I will keep going with the letter for those of you who want to keep following along as the work evolves again into part-time creative work and all the life lessons to be learned there. Believe it or not, people are now paying me for my writing so let me know if you hear of any opportunities. I have special interest in writing about women and entrepreneurs as you might imagine.
I will be keeping the website as a place for the dream to live, to send potential partners and collaborators, and to sell the remaining Riding Denim inventory that is now limited edition due to the closure of the Cone Denim Mill in Greensboro, North Carolina. I will be gradually updating the site to reflect these changes over the coming months. If you think of a potential collaborator or interesting community or non-VC funding for job creation or women’s businesses etc. please do not hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will need a lot of pieces to come together to make this successful for the next round and will need all the help we can get!
I want to thank you so much for all your support. I want to thank the team at iFundWomen and the gorgeous beta-client women who allowed themselves to be measured (and re-measured) and donated a lot of precious time to this work. Thank you to those who donated to our campaign, to those who loyally followed along, to those who cheered me on through the ups and downs and to all those who believed in me and my dream. Special thank you to my partner, Drew Marticorena and my family for your love and support during a wild couple of years.
We will get there. It will require patience, diligence, collaboration and faith, but we will get there. Thank you so much for your love and support.
Go. Fight. Win.