ParsonsxTeenVogue

Teen Vogue & Parsons School of Design: Visual Merchandising

Bonjour wonderful people ๐Ÿ™‚ How’s your week going so far? Mine is filled with assignments and work and it’s one of those weeks where I just need some beach therapy!!! Anyway, moving from my beach dreams to the inside world of visual merchandising in retail shops ๐Ÿ™‚ Have you ever wondered why you instantly feel at ease and a sense of pleasure in certain shops more than others? The answer is in the story being told through visual merchandising techniques.

The image in this post belongs to a store here in Canada called Club Monaco. I love the ambiance of that store. Its story always feels like a romantic one to me, with corners that are there for me when I wanna pick a light, delicate outfit for a date night. An outfit that makes you feel like a modern princess with a cute smile on your face that would make your loved one’s heart melt with happiness. The pink, flowery colors in the summer, the folded tops with a dramatic neckline that are full of romance, to the simple yet statement piece accessories that would complement your look. Taking a closer look, you’ll find it’s not just about the outfits, but about the colors, the hanging dresses that you can see yourself flying like a butterfly if you were to wear one of them, to the sense of romance when you go through a folded top and unwrap its story, to the lights, and finally the breezy smell in the background of your shopping experience.

You’ll find other corners that talk to the working woman in you, yeah you know her lol!! The one who is always hustling, but she’s doing it in style. She’s doing her work with passion and elegance. She’s romantic even about her work for she loves being there ๐Ÿ˜‰ Last but not least, every time I visit I find something new which keeps me excited to visit the store every time I’m at the mall for they’re either adding new pieces, changing the layout or pairing their items together to form new amazing looks. This is a gem of a store and it’s certainly affordable luxury!

Now that you know about visual merchandising, what story would you tell with your store, booth or your next pop-up shop? ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m excited to see and know what you guys love!!!

Xoxo,

Dina

 

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ Cheers to them too!! Women or girls who buy fashion prints, planner dashboards, or even mugs are mostlyย 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 ย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). 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!!! ย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ ). 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s gonna be so much fun, and I have a ton of things planned for you โค

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

Love,

Dina

 

ParsonsxTeenVogue

Teen Vogue & Parsons School of Design: Understanding Fashion Production. Part 5

Hello again wonderful people ๐Ÿ™‚ How is your week going so far? Hope it’s been awesome!!! Today we’re going to talk about product mockups! yuppp!!! When I first read the assignment, I was freaking out a bit. I mean I was like ARE YOUR SERIOUS??!!! How can I create a mockup when I haven’t studied fashion before (this also applies to the next assignment of creating an actual product LOL!!!), so let’s see what happened.

Generally, designers create mockups because they act as a communication medium with the manufacturers in addition to helping the designers understand the production process, think and make decisions about suitable fabrics & materials, as well as estimate production costs, etc.

The “Mockup” assignment was as following:

1. Create a mockup of your “signature” bag. This could be a purse, a backpack, a messenger bag, etc.

2. The mockup should represent your visual style that has been established in one of the previously created mood boards.

3. Make use of previously found fabrics to create a production cost grid for the bag. This grid should include your proposed retail price.

So, how to tackle this project? First, I decided to create a mockup for a previously designed bag for one of the certificate modules. The bag design was couture style so it wasn’t easy to come up with a plan. I decided which colors, fabrics, and materials to use. I wanted the base of the bag to be pink leather, and the bag handle to be metal welded with colors. The main branch to be gold color and the flowers to be dark pink, blue and green. The butterflies would be colored as well. These are not the fabrics I chose for a previous mood board, since I was only thinking about dresses when I chose the fabrics and not bags. Another trip to the fabric store was inevitable to get the price for pink leather fabric, but I decided to delay this to the very end.

Next comes a visit to a local craft store. I picked up pink card stock paper with texture similar to the leather I imagined, colored flowers to add on top just to indicate where everything should go and decided to create the butterflies myself. I looked for gold card stock paper for the handle, but couldn’t find any so I decided to use the pink paper for the entire bag since it was just a mockup.

The assignment at this point was gonna take so much time, much more than the suggested 90 minutes so I needed to make decisions. First, I created a mockup of the bag using regular white paper. These pieces of paper would act as my pattern for the nice pink card stock paper and build my experience constructing a bag. I finally created the mockup for the bag using the pink card stock. I added the flowers, but creating the butterflies would have consumed so much time at this point so I stopped.

The final challenge is with the production cost grid. I had two problems; finding the cost of the materials (leather, metal sheets) and estimating the labor hours especially for the people who do metal welding.ย I went to two local fabric stores and they had no leather. ย I researched on Etsy to get a price estimate, but the fabrics weren’t what I had imagined, so I decided to get a production cost price estimate from an overseas designer I know in Egypt. I sent her pictures of my mockup and the materials I had in mind, asked her to give me an estimate if I were to use her workshop for producing my bag. The cost should include: (a) pink leather fabric, (b) stitching, (c) liner if needed, (d) metal sheets, and (e) labor costs. The estimated total production cost in Egypt is USD $450. Adding 20% profit would total to USD $540. The estimated retail price would be USD $600 using these materials.

I hope this sheds some light into what it takes to produce an accessory piece for you ๐Ÿ˜‰

P.S.* There is a tiny detail on the front of the bag design that is not present in the mockup!

Love,

Dina

 

ParsonsxTeenVogue

Teen Vogue & Parsons School of Design: Understanding Fashion Production. Part 4

This is SUCH a cool course in the fashion certificate!!! Not only do you get exposed to new info about fashion production, but you get answers to questions you’ve been thinking of whenever you try on garments. Ok, so how many of you think they know their size in a specific brand, go buy a similar item without trying it on and then figure out that it’s a bit tight or a bit loose?!!! The answer to this mystery is right here in this post ๐Ÿ˜‰

The days where I buy a few items blindly thinking that I’ve figured out my size(s) in pants, blouses, tops or even dresses from a specific brand are long gone. I’ve always wondered why can’t the factories of a brand get it right every time. I mean don’t they have specifications to work with? How hard is it to follow the measurements on paper? The answer is Standard Deviation. Although we’re relying on machinery to stitch garments up, these machines are still operated by humans and humans make errors!! Each designer adds an allowance within certain areas of the garment where an error might occur. These are usually aย deviation of half an inch or one fourth of an inch, or one eighth of an inch. This is acceptable for mass market production, not in couture though as in high end collections, they are made to fit the client’s specific measurements.

In order to experience this, I went to a department store, picked several jeans that I liked from different brands in different sizes. In order to nail down the look and feel that I wanted from each brand, I found out that my size varied up to two inches in the waist for the pants. This variation was not only between different brands, but between different pants for the same brand. Hence, realizing that one of the many challenges faced by brands in the mass market category isย fit and sizing.

Adios amigos, or till the next awesome assignment ๐Ÿ˜‰

xoxo,

Dina

ParsonsxTeenVogue

Teen Vogue & Parsons School of Design: Understanding Fashion Production. Part 3

Hello beautiful people!! As you can see, I’m still doing my assignments for the third course in the certificate and they’re beyond amazing ๐Ÿ™‚ Today’s post (aka course assignment hahaha) is about understandingย Production Costs,ย and how they affect your profit margin when you are designing for a few pieces versus when you’re designing and selling in bulks.

In a previous post, we talked about creating an accessory piece out of unconventional materials. My piece was a pair of paper laminated earrings. I created the illustration myself, printed and laminated it. In my current assignment, I’m calculating the production costs if I were to produce a single pair versus if I would to produce them in bulks. When I started making the calculations, I figured that It doesn’t make financial sense to produce a single earring as the labor cost would be a significant overhead and I wouldn’t be able to sell my earring, so I decided to make the calculations as if the minimum quantity to produce is 30 earrings and then divided the numbers to get the cost per earring (as you can see in this post’s featured image).

What I learnt is that producing in bulks is more economical and efficient. For example, I put 3 hours of labor into making a single design, printing 30 of them on a single sheet of paper, and laminating this sheet and then cutting it off to produce 30 different earrings. This time wouldn’t be much less if I were creating one pair, since I would still be putting the same amount of time in the design, printing and lamination. The only difference would be in cutting the laminated sheet into 30 different parts and attaching the hooks.

I hope this post gave you a good overview on how to set a simple pricing strategy for your products. It’s very similar to what you would do if you’re a small business owner even if not in fashion ๐Ÿ˜‰

xoxo,

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

xoxo,

Dina