A Peek Inside
It seemed a handy collection of thoughts to share with someone considering a career in fashion (which almost necessitates entrepreneurship), in bridal retail, or just a fun peek inside for my brides. I ADORE Renegade; I'm literally living my dream. That said, unless you're new here, you know I'm not one to put up with romanticizing a fantasy. Strangers tend to reply, "Oh, that must be fun!" You BET it is! But in case you thought the job description was all sketching and sewing, I'm here to shatter that notion and blow your mind a wee bit.
I know I'm not the only one in this boat, though! When you finish, comment below with what YOU do and maybe your very own list of skills that the general public overlooks. Teach me something! :)
Full disclosure: I couldn't possibly do every one of these steps on my own. There was a point at which I did! That was back when I took on about five brides annually, though. haha. I fully believe it's necessary to understand how to do each step before you could ask it of someone else. There are factories who refuse to work with startup designers, and it's easy to understand why. I'm honored to have built and grown Renegade, and myself along the way, into the picture of what we are today, yet both ever-improving works-in-progress! No woman is an island, but I still do each and every one of these list items, though certainly not every task for every project.
My 38 Bridal Fashion "Micro-careers"
- Brand Research: listening to what brides want and need
- Public Relations
- Event planning: runway, open houses, trunk shows
- Trend Research: textiles, shape, color
- Fabric Sourcing: building relationships with suppliers, attending expos
- Technical Design and Illustration
- Pattern Making
- Samplemaking: a fashion prototype
- Pattern Grading: determining how sizes change, what a size "8" means
- Textile (Surface) Design: creating original prints
- Embellishment design: embroidery and rhinestone elements
- Dye Technician: understand fiber chemistry and artful manipulation
- Logistics and Supply Chain Management
- Creative direction (the actual creative designing! haha)
- Editorial stylist: getting gowns featured while staying on-brand
- Runway producer: choreographer, model casting/fitting
- Project Management: communications with Production team
- Sales & Relationship Building: brides, retailers
- Customer Service
- Networking and supporting industry peers
- Web Design
- Graphic design
- Content creation: sharing advice & expertise, social media
- Creative direction: photography, styling, casting models, hiring photography team
- Fit testing
- Quality control
- Merchandising: store layout, expo booth design, etc
- Pricing: service and product strategy to solve different problems and serve multiple market segments
- Fashion Illustration: communicating ideas with inspired brides and young women
- Digital Marketing: newsletter, site updates
- Store maintenance
- Inventory management: keeping stock gowns clean, in good condition
- Financial planning
- Continuing to be a student of it all with constant, current education to always improve
I feel like it paints a clear picture that wasn't ever really laid out to me in college. The skill to make a gorgeous gown isn't the end of the story. I count my blessings that love led me to Houston. I don't know if I'd have been inspired by bold brides if I stayed in the corn belt. I know plenty of anecdotes of the Manhattan/LA starving artist struggle, too, and recognize the opportunity this city and the Washington Avenue Arts District specifically has afforded me. All my stars aligned to allow me to survive, grow, and keep dreaming, here in the Bayou City, despite every doomsday statistic about fashion design or bridal retail failure rates for entrepreneurs.
Did any of that come as a surprise? Is this peek behind the curtain what you imagine when you watch Project Runway?