Yesterday the Founder’s Circle letters went out. It was a monumental task making the photo sample, styling it, commissioning photographs from the talented, Charleston, WV-based fashion photographer, Rafael Barker (@raphaelbarker on Instagram), designing and printing the packet of items in Charlottesville and assembling them and packing them up over the weekend. Fueled by Thanksgiving leftovers I cut out swatches and assembled the RSVP cards. While time consuming, I got to spend time relishing in the fact that we are crossing a new threshold as a company: we are inviting the first clients into our work – super supporters who will purchase our first 10 custom fitted blouses and provide feedback to help us make it a success. With the Founder’s Circle letters we are establishing what we are: old school, gritty, small town people building a lovely and innovative product.
I fell in love with the idea of a Founder’s Circle a few months back, when my talented business advisor and bottomless source of business ideas, Lauren Lizardo, suggested the concept when I was talking with her about how to make the leap with our custom fit Boss Blouse. The first custom fit client blouses and the process that goes along with it will be no doubt a challenge. We needed a supportive group of women who believe in what we are doing that can contribute the time and funding to help us build it. And in a very interesting way – we are asking the people we serve – women – to help us build it. In this way we create something very different – a supportive community that births a business concept hand in hand – which is a foundation I believe will get us to a business that creates value for our customers, for the sewers, for the community, and the supply chain that supports us.
Also during the Thanksgiving holiday, I began cutting out the muslin blouse for my super talented artist and pattern making friend, Anne Tilly to continue to refine our custom pattern work in advance of the Founder’s Circle. It is remarkable how much work we have put in up to this point and yet it was so easy to be so focused on the next step that I lose sight of the bigger picture: it is AWESOME making a blouse for someone that is not me. To really think about that person and value them as I sew up pieces of fabric to fit their form. Like the packing of envelopes, cutting up and sewing that fabric was such a small thing and yet such a huge step for our work.
Also taking place in Princeton is our apprenticeship program which is in its 5th week. Our apprentices are practicing shirtmaking: the art of making a collar, a cuff, a flat felled seam. They meet each week with their sewing machines, providing feedback on the pattern to make it easier to work with. It is such a blessing working with them and the trainer, Lisa Lambert on our custom fit womenswear concept.
AND the beautiful and sustainable cotton hemp blend fabric for the 100 Blouses is on its way! Industrial sewing machines: nowhere in sight. Perhaps they are floating on the ocean somewhere. But we can feel it coming together. It is coming together. We will succeed.
Thank you for supporting us! Send us well wishes and abundant energy as the first Founder’s Circle letters arrive at their destinations.
Go, fight, win.