As I've written before, I've been told, "Do one thing and do it well". My one thing is sewing. All sewing. For me, for others, hand sewing, quilting, teaching, you get the picture. I'm all over the place.
A little over a year ago I rented shop space. Its been a super choice. It gives me the opportunity to get back to sewing after all of my former sewing spaces at home were filled up with my 4 children. They are the joy of my life, but I'm only human. I needed this time for me badly.
Along with reestablishing sewing work from a couple customers from before kids, I've gained some great new customers. One in particular has pushed me creatively in a way that is new. I've done a lot of work for artists who are using clothing as a way to display their artwork. There have been weavers, fabric painters, dyers, embellishers, etc. Even though I'm back in the sewing chair, I have to be careful that I don't take on more work than I can do. After all I do still have 4 lovely children to care for. A way to add quality sewing is to pursue my own creativity.
Enter denim. I've been playing with denim since about 2007. I started with yardage, but quickly realized how much waste there was in denim blue jeans that no one wanted to wear anymore.
I'm having tons of fun sewing, but I'm not focused. I've been listening to free youtube videos like Renae Christine and Jane Hamill. A lot of it is a peptalk and things I know are my weaknesses. But, I learned that I'm doing "hope marketing" and need to focus on developing a line. It is really difficult. I write a bunch of stuff down, following rules that I've heard and suddenly I'm thinking about pillows, Tshirt skirts and menswear.
So back to the focus. I'm different in the sense that I'm going to sew. I'm not looking for a manufacturer. I also can't work full time or hire anyone until I personally get my ducks in a row. Its a life changing experience in discipline. Myself, my time, learning and applying new things to what I know and actually listening to the advice I'm getting. Marketing is WAY out of my comfort zone. I'm a happy girl just sitting in my sewing chair.
I'm also purchasing and perusing marketing and organizational materials. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk! (affiliate link!) is one that I have found useful. It talks about making your perceived weakness your selling point. This can definitely work in my case. I started making the seams on my denim clothing on the outside because no one could tell by looking at it that it was recycled/upcycled jeans reconstructed into an entirely new garment. This can be an exceptionally positive selling point if I just say it out loud.
I was born in the Seventies. Upcycled wasn't a word. Spell check still doesn't like it! So What am I doing? I want to say Recycled Denim Clothing. Where is the line between recycled and upcycled?
I feel like upcycled started with adding elements to an existing garment, I've done this successfully and don't have a problem with the label in this instance.
But, what about the other garments I make? I like neat and finished garments, I've already adjusted this by putting the seams on the outside so it can be better determined that something is recycled. I like it, it was a good choice brought about by listening to what my customers were looking for in their clothing.
I completely deconstruct the jeans, make fabric, and then cut out and make new garments.
I am (now and for the past couple years) so very inspired by Natalie Chanin. I first found out about her work when I was looking for hand sewing books to share with a co op class. Its kinda ironic, because she is dedicated to preserving hand sewing techniques and I'm sewing by machine, as fast as I can. I sometimes think I'm going to sew something by hand, but I get impatient and it never happens.
I've been looking for and found some information online to move my business to a more professional level. It is all stuff I know. I guess I'm really gonna have to listen now. No more hope marketing.
I'm getting off topic! Recycled is what I think I'm doing, but what do my potential customers think I'm doing? If they are going to find me, I need to use the proper terms. Its something that I'm working on. Things take time around here. Four little boys take up a lot of my time. It will happen a little slower than it should. I'm getting ready to write down a business plan.