WOAH – What is Pleatherette?

It’s just us (Emma + Merin) but a little more legit looking. This site won’t be going anywhere, since roughly 16 people a day are looking for how they can make a tulle bustle (shocking statistic, I know). But we won’t be updating Birds and we’ll be doing more actual *work* and less, you know, blogging. Such is life.

check us out: www.pleatherette.com

 

 

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Free Legal Advice (Really)

Lawyers are almost never free. Except for in February, when the DC Bar Pro Bono program is giving you  chance to chat with a lawyer one-on-one about your growing/good idea for a/business plan-stage company!

Saturday, February 11 @ 9:30am – the DC Women’s Business Center (727 15th Street NW, 10th Floor)

Email Lauren Paley (lpaley@dcbar.org) for more info

 

Market Research: where there’s smoke…

One of the things that really great businesses do a lot of is market research. You know, identifying who their customer is and what that customer wants/likes/needs. There are a handful of people and brands who famously brag about not doing market research. Don’t listen to them – they are silly and potentially foolish (albeit really lucky). You need to do market research.

In the vein of classic market research, check out this brief Vanity Profile that Living Social commissioned as part of the market research they do for all of their cities. While fabulous in its brief underlying smirk about DC, it’s useful.

I say where “where there is smoke…” because it generally leads to the fire that we all guessed was there. In this case, it is the duality between the District ranking first in beautiful women (yay!) and fourth in the category of dressing badly (boo!). Now, if you have lived in DC for more than a moment, you know this to be true. So designers, stylists, bloggers, style entrepreneurs out there: we need you.

And don’t get discouraged. If they did this five years ago, DC would have surely ranked first for dressing badly. Behold… Progress!

24 Hours Later: Aidah Fontenot of Aidah Collection

(This November we brought together 9 panelists who are catalysts for a bigger and better DC fashion community (read more about The Future of DC Fashion panel). We’ve asked our panelists to give us their post-panel thoughts on where the industry is going and what we can do to help grow it.)

Aidah Fontenot creates unique eco-chic handmade designs for her label Aidah Collection. Aidah’s timeless style unites urban flair with coastal cool in unique, comfortable designs.

Let me start by saying how excited I was to participate! I love what Washington DC has to offer, we house so much local talent and wealthiest counties in the nation. So why aren’t we a fashion capitol? I didn’t know exactly what to expect from the other panelists, but knew I wanted make the voice of local designers heard as best I could.

My perspective: I love the glamour of fashion. The shows, photo shoots and press coverage are all so much fun and fulfilling. It is a completely image driven (and somewhat vain) industry in which aesthetics are most important. So, I understandably put great effort into building an image for my brand.

But ultimately there will be no brand if there’s not enough sales to fund it. A panelist mentioned that designers tend to get stuck in a creative bubble and lose site of business. I agree, however, that  bubble is necessary, we have to be inspired and focused in order to create. So how do I find balance?

Reality check, head out of the clouds, bubble burst, etc…

I wear many hats, as do all entrepreneurs, and it can be hard to accept that some things slip between the cracks. It took a certain amount of humility to publicly air my weaknesses, but I decided to “get real” and take advantage of the resources present. So on behalf of local designers, I shared some of my frustrations, like  manufacturing and sales support.

Briefly I became discouraged at the reminder of just how hard this business is (sigh). But was uplifted by Christine Brooks-Cropper’s (of the GWFCC) recognition that what we need most is the infrastructure to support an industry and great programs like the Fashion Incubator is making that happen. (Yay!)

It was nice to put faces to familiar names and I learned so much from each of the panelists. There was a genuine sense of camaraderie, we all had suggestions on how to keep our network connected. I left feeling motivated, but keeping in mind that in order to continue our forward motion we must stay connected and in the collaborative spirit.

24 Hours Later: Holly E. Thomas of Refinery29

 

(Last week we brought together 9 panelists who are catalysts for a bigger and better DC fashion community (read more about The Future of DC Fashion panel). We’ve asked our panelists to give us their post-panel thoughts on where the industry is going and what we can do to help grow it.)

Holly E. Thomas is the Editor for the brand new DC contingent of the national style blog Refinery29. Holly is also a co-founder of the DC retail and design collective Butler + Claypool.

 There are two key points that I think independent designers in D.C. have to realize in order to be successful: First, that it’s not enough to design a collection — you have to actually produce it, which is a major impediment here because of the scarcity of resources and the high cost of supplies. Networking with other designers is a good way to share resources, supplies, and ideas, and networking with bloggers and store owners will help get your products in front of a wide audience. It’s so easy to get comfortable in a creative bubble, but you really have to be your own advocate if you want to succeed. And second, every designer needs a business plan — and to that end, a business partner. Even if it’s just a savvy friend/family member, a designer needs someone who can constructively criticize his/her ideas and provide sound advice about their viability. And it’s my personal wish that the city would make an effort to utilize more of the empty storefronts that are so plentiful in D.C. — there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be a “temporium” of some sort every weekend, and I can’t understand why building owners should be allowed to neglect buildings and contribute to urban blight just because properties are expensive to maintain. There’s an angle here that the city can use to get involved and create an incentive for building owners to collaborate with artists and contribute to cultural and creative growth in the District.”

Teaser: Introduction to the Future of DC Fashion Panelists

Meet the panelists from the Future of DC Fashion Panel we put on at The Big Board at H Street NE as part of DCWEEK. Full video to come soon.

Thanks Nigel Lyons for putting together the video!

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