Etsy · ParsonsxTeenVogue

Your Audience…

Bonsoir personnes adorables!!! Yupp, I’m trying to learn french so I’m kinda practicing it a bit everywhere I go πŸ™‚ Let’s talk about you, my beloved audience, or your audience for your blog, instagram, facebook, or really any other social media outlet.

Whether you’re trying to build a fashion blog or a personal style one, or maybe even your own lifestyle Instagram account, you’re probably curious about your audience. When you start a small business, you do your market and customer research to get to know your target audience. This helps you cater your products or services to their needs and values. As you go with your business, you wanna make sure you’re attracting your target audience and maybe even have a lovely surprise of being able to attract an unexpected type of customers or readers.

When I first started my Etsy store, I knew that Etsy customers, in general. were people who appreciated handmade items and supported sellers who continuously work on improving their craft. For fashion illustrations, in specific, 90% or even more of your clients are females. The males, however, come to buy gifts for the special women in their lives πŸ˜‰ Cheers to them too!! Women or girls who buy fashion prints, planner dashboards, or even mugs are mostlyΒ in the age range of 18-36. This is when they look for self reflection in their piece of art or something to motivate them as they go with their work tasks or daily routine. A piece of art adds a little bit of beauty to their day and puts a smile on their face. A year and half into my business, I realized that the 18-36 Β age range applies more to women who like and follow my art on social media channels such as Instagram and Facebook, however, women whose age ranges between 22-38 are the ones with more buying power. Having a source of income is most likely the reason for their ability to buy artwork for themselves.

North America, France and the United Kingdom are the countries where most of my sales, favorites and followers are from. This is probably because so far I’ve been targeting the western lifestyle within my illustrations and not that many cultures (Something I’m working on right now to expand my reach). A lot of customers are also travel and lifestyle bloggers or women entrepreneurs who are looking to open their own business and need personalized custom illustrations for them. The featured image for this post is for an awesome travel blogger to whom I created this illustration as her logo and part of her website banner πŸ™‚

Knowing my customers more and more each day with every illustration, purchase, and like helps me decide what type of products I should offer, at what price point, with which quality, and in what themes. These are all extremely important decisions for running your business whether it’s an Etsy store, a blog, or any small startup. Pay attention to your customers’ preferences, attitudes, needs and values for that’s your ultimate success; a loyal ecstatic client who feel like they got a little piece of magic when they purchase your product or spend time read your article!

Love,

Dina

Etsy · ParsonsxTeenVogue

My Journey Towards My First Craft Show: Craftadian; Etsy – Made in Canada 2017

Hello again πŸ™‚ It’s been a hectic few weeks and an awesome long weekend filled with dancing, shopping, and fireworks celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday (more on that in another post πŸ˜‰ ). Today, however, I wanna talk to you about a huge step for me, something that is totally new to try and that is out of my comfort zone; Attending Local Craft Shows as a Seller.

As most of you know, if you’re following my blog or Instagram, that I have an Etsy store where I sell fashion prints, note cards, planner dashboards, and expecting coffee mugs in less than a week (wohoooo!! super excited LOL). When I first opened the store, I thought Etsy’s customer base was huge and that would be enough in terms of sales and marketing, but man was I wrong!!! Β It’s been a year and a half now, and most of my sales come through Instagram or by random coincidences.

I’ve known for a while that I needed to invest in marketing, and I wanted direct interactions with my clients so that they could not only put a face behind the maker, but also a personality and a story. Yes, I did add some info and photos on my store’s page, but I didn’t think that was enough. I needed marketing on social media platforms and I needed to attend event shows that would allow direct interactions with my clients. I took a few online classes, attended Etsy and other events to take notes about the general expectations, the types of clients, the overall table or booth setup, etc. which should be great in helping me attend those events myself, right??!! Nop, not so much LOL! I realized that my biggest obstacle was still me!! Was it fear? Maybe!

In the past year and a half, I’ve been trying different techniques to establish my own style with my illustrations and designs. I’m not yet perfect, but I’m on my way! This is also much harder to attain than I thought. That was one of the main reasons that kept me from attempting to go big with my store. I’m a perfectionist and I wanted everything to be perfect before I started marketing my products or attending local events, but wait a minute, is that ever gonna change??!!!!! Are you ever gonna look at your products and say “yes, now they are perfect”? A year ago, my response was “wait until you have a good stock of items”, or “wait until Christmas”, etc. Fear, your worst possible enemy for trying something you love!

So, what changed my mind? The answer is exciting, it was fashion designers πŸ™‚ Looking at my most favorite haute couture designers, especially those who are self-taught like me with illustrations, I realized that their early collections are not nearly half as good as their later magical ones! They learn, they improve, and they put everything they create out there as long as it’s made with passion and love. And so, the hunt for ways to increase my sales and market my products began.

Hearing some #etsysellers talk on #parsonsxteenvogue certificate videos, I realized that most of their sales on Etsy actually comes from loyal returning customers that they’ve met at local or international craft shows, and then from marketing. I decided to apply for Etsy: Made in Canada, and for my area, the awesome #craftadian team was responsible. I’m superrrr happy to announce that I got accepted, like jumping up and down happy and doing “my chocolate dance” LOL!! (more on that later also πŸ™‚ ). I’m gonna be attending the Etsy: Made in Canada show in Mississauga, Ontario on September 23rd, 2017. Those of you who can make it, please do πŸ™‚ It’s gonna be so much fun, and I have a ton of things planned for you ❀

Sorry if the post was long, I really did wanna share as soon as I applied, but I decided to wait till I got the response. Was it fear again? Maybe! Man, it seems like I’m gonna be fighting it for a while πŸ˜‰

Love,

Dina

 

Etsy · ParsonsxTeenVogue

Teen Vogue & Parsons School of Design: Understanding Fashion Production. Part 2

How can you bring a collection to life? This is a topic I knew nothing about before I started this course, and I’m way toooo excited to know every single detail about the brain of the fashion industry; ” The Production & Sales of Clothing and Accessories”. In order to get hands on experience with this knowledge, I decided to apply everything I learn from this course into starting a small fashion line of my own.

As most of you know, if you’re following my blog, I want to apply to a fashion school to study fashion within the next two years and all sorts of experiences related to fashion would be of great value on my resume and later towards my career in starting my own fashion label. Since I’m already creating illustrations for my Etsy store, I thought printing my illustrations on T-shirts and Sweatshirts would be an awesome introduction for me to the production process in the fashion world. Let’s go through this experience together and see what challenges will occur on the way πŸ˜‰

Since we already talked about the business, financial and marketing plans in the previous post, I’ll focus on the actual production aspects in this one. First, I created a mood board that had the following: (a) a few of my illustrations, (b) fabric swatches, (c) T-shirt/sweatshirt designs, and (d) images of different T-shirt colors. I filtered all of these and finalized a list that contains the illustrations I want to print, the final T-shirt and sweatshirt designs, the fabric used to be cotton, and the colors I want to offer are: white, beige, and pink.

The second step is creating a sample. Generally, in mass market were hundreds and thousands of pieces are produced, the factory has a “perfect finished sample” of each design piece to work from in order to avoid costly mistakes. Big fashion houses usually create these samples in-house, while small brands tend to send the design to the factories they work with to create a sample before production. In my case, I can’t print the illustration myself on the T-shirts so I had to look for a garment supplier to do that for me. Luckily, finding local garment suppliers was one of my assignments.. LOL!! I created a list of the best local garment suppliers in Toronto, ON to contact. I also created this digital mock up of one of my illustrations printed on a sweatshirt to act as a medium for us to discuss and build on.

The benefits of having a local garment supplier for me are huge. First, it builds on my brand identity of #madeinCanada which resonates with a lot of my clients who shop at local craft shows to support goods made locally. Second, it allows me to be environmentally conscious about topics such as labor issues and the environmental cost of shipping since I don’t currently have the capacity to dig deep into the conditions of suppliers abroad. Third, it allows for faster shipping times and lower minimum quantity demanded by the supplier(s). Now, I’m in the process of contacting these suppliers and I’m sooooo excited πŸ™‚

Generally, after agreeing on the sample garment you create a Tech Pack. These are the detailed instructions on how they should produce the samples in bulk. In my case, I’m looking to get the T-shirts and sweatshirts ready made from cotton fabric and just print the illustrations on them (not sure if this is gonna be how it actually works though hahahaha)!!! Once your sample(s) are perfectly made, you create line sheets. A line sheet is like an excel version of your garment details on paper that are used to make the sale to buyer(s) at a department store or at trade shows. They have images of your garment followed by details such as sizing, pricing, available colors and quantity.

I’ll keep you posted of what happens with my line πŸ˜‰

xoxo,

Dina

Etsy · ParsonsxTeenVogue

Teen Vogue & Parsons School of Design: Understanding Fashion Production. Part 1

Hello lovelies πŸ™‚ THANK GOD It’s FRIDAY!!!! It’s been such a long week and the happiest ending to it is going back to my fashion certificate classes and talking to you about it πŸ˜‰ Today, we’re going to scratch the surface of what happens on the business side of the fashion world. What kind of decisions are made and what impact do these decisions have on the profitability of a company.

At the end of the day, fashion is a business just like any other. In order to run a successful one, you should start by figuring out which area your passion lies in. My passion is in design so the next question for me was what type of clothing I’m interested in designing? Since I’m still doing fashion illustrations at this point, I’m free to explore designing for couture, ready-to-wear, or even mass market. Love couture the most though πŸ˜‰

In order to run a successful business based on my illustrations, First, IΒ created a simple business plan. I wanted to know more about myΒ target clients, who they were? where do they live? what do they value? and what their expectations are from my products at this price point? This is more of an iterative process, based on my experience, as you keep learning more and more about your clients the more you interact with them.

Now that you’ve known enough about your clients and what products you want to create, the second step is figuring out FUNDING!! Your financial plan will determine your initial cost and the amount of funds you need for your day-to-day operations. Whether you’re funding your business out of pocket or seeking external funds (kickstarter.com as an example), a financial plan is a crucial part for sustaining your business and monitoring your expenses.

The final two plans you need are your marketing, and management plans. Your marketing plan will determine the channels through which you’ll reach your target customers (online social media channels, direct marketing, events, shows, etc). A management plan is necessary if you’re planning on hiring people to help you with your business either from the beginning or down the road.

These principles are common in running any successful business in fashion or any other field. In the next post, we’re gonna explore some aspects that are mostly related to a business in the fashion world.

xoxo,

Dina

Etsy · ParsonsxTeenVogue

Teen Vogue & Parsons School of Design: Thinking Like a Designer… Part 2/5

Every good step in your career starts with an “Ahaaaa” moment as Oprah would say πŸ˜€ One of these happened to me as I was planning this post. This post is about what it takes to be a designer, and what factors do designers consider when they’re planning a collection. Reading through my notes made me realize that everything I’m about to write applies to me too as a fashion illustrator. Although my end products are not currently garments or accessories, having a business based on fashion illustrations sold as stationary products makes me go through the same product life-cycle. So, I decided to make this post a practical application of what I learnt from the lessons in this course.

Any collection is made up of products that have a central theme. In fashion design, this theme determines the cuts, fabric choices, colors and other traits combined to create looks. In illustrations, this theme determines the setting, the clothing type, the girl’s character & pose, and the colors of the illustration. We can also have several illustrations as part of Β a collection. For example, we can have a few illustrations with a beach theme where one girl is reading on the beach, a girl having a coconut drink with a flamingo, and another illustration where it’s a group of friends on the beach. Each illustration would have a mood, different swimwear designs, and a different setting as if you are having a photography session with them.

Although these two worlds might differ in several aspects, a common and extremely important one is understanding your market, in other words, “market research”. In both fields you’re designing for an audience and in order to be successful, you need to understand your customers’ lifestyle, values, attitudes, and what it is they’re aspiring to so that your designs can connect and resonate with them. In the end, what your clients value the most is what they’re going to base their buying decisions on. For example, many of my clients appreciate hand-made goods especially those made locally. For some of them, supporting small local business(es) adds to their sense of giving back to their community and for others, they are being more environmentally friendly as there is less carbon foot-print than if they purchase from abroad and for that I’m grateful πŸ™‚ In this case, the more events and craft shows I attend, the higher the chance I have to engage with this customer base and the better chance for them to get to know the maker behind the products and their manufacturing process.

Understanding your customers also helps you with deciding on themes relevant to their lifestyle for your collection(s). For example, looking through my store, I realize I need to add a section for “Wedding”, “Motherhood”, “Graduation”, “Birthdays” and “Work” inspired illustrations. This understanding also helps you with your economic aspects of your business such as with setting pricing strategies, which are in turn reflected in your choice of materials, suppliers, and level of details within an illustration. For example, I used to go to a local scanning studio to scan my artwork which added extra overhead to the cost per print. I did a lot of research until I purchased a scanner that gives me even better scanning quality from the comforts of my own studio πŸ™‚

Being a designer in the fashion world requires confidence in your visual style, personal taste and your skill as a designer. It requires humility that makes you understand your clients’ needs, and self-awareness of what you’re best at doing and what you better leave to the professionals if you can, such as marketing and photography. It’s a lot of effort, but it’s always magical when you succeed.

xoxo,

Dina