Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Casting call

Henri Bendel open see on Friday. Woke up early, then headed down the 6 flights of stairs with my massively heavy suitcase full of bags. I had spent the previous night figuring out my costing, finalizing my linesheets, and photoshopping the pics so they looked okay. Thankfully I’ve been down this path before and know the drill so I wasn’t too crazed about it.

The App world has discovered that some people don’t actually like math, but need math, ergo the creation of the margin/costing app! It’s this beautiful thing I downloaded onto my Ipad that helps me figure out the cost of goods versus the selling price and what the margins and net margins, and profit and net profit percentages are. It’s such a beautiful app, that even if you don’t care about net margins and profit percentages, you might want to get it. Because it just simplifies everything. (PS: THANKS JC for showing me this on the way to the crappy Starbucks in China!)

So Friday morning, I get all my stuff together jump into a taxi and realize its freezing outside. I didn’t really think it was such a big deal because the last time I went to one of these things there was no line, and I breezed in and out in an hour. Unfortunately, when I got there, there was a line of about 200 people. I did meet some cool people doing cool things though. The couple standing behind me had the most beautiful jewelry collection I have seen in a long time. Wish I had gotten their card so I could post a link! Will try and work that one out.

Long story short, I finally got inside the building and was ushered into another room where we waited by category to meet with the buyers one-on-one. There were all sorts of categories: jewelry, handbags, belts, small leather goods, gifts, beauty (how difficult that must be!). After another 15 minutes and another line to wait on, I finally got to meet with the handbag buyer.

The last time I went to one of these things, the reaction was great, very positive, and we talked about doing a potential trunk show, but I didn’t have any production yet. All I had were samples. This time I was ready, but this time they weren’t so interested. They said they were taking a more structured, ladylike and minimalist approach to their handbags this upcoming season and that my bags were too casual, too slouchy, too unstructured for them at this time.

Massively disappointing, and heart wrenching. But I’m pretty good with rejection. I’ve spent most of my life in dance auditions getting rejected so I know the drill. Eat cupcakes for an afternoon, go to bed early and be really depressed for about 4 hours and then wake up the next morning, forget it ever happened and/or use it as motivation to push farther into the next venture. So, that’s precisely what I did. Without the cupcake bit of course….

The Bendel's thing, while a bit of a letdown, was a real eye opener. They loved my bags last show, but this show they had moved to something else. And that’s cool. Retailers are fickle. Mostly they’re fickle because they have to be. And that’s okay, as a fashion biz, you’ve got to go with the ebbs and flows. And try to survive in the best way you can. I guess I wasn’t the right height or should’ve been brunette. Just the luck of the draw….

xo, ella g

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dinner and drinks---on a pissbroke budget

Had drinks last night with a dear friend of mine who owns and runs his own company. Conversations with him are always enlightening, as we talk about leadership, running companies, being the boss, and how to make things work. It’s always refreshing for me to spend time with him because he’s always so calm, relaxed and in control of everything. And that gives me hope that someday I too will be calm, relaxed and in control of everything. But some days, it feels like that’s at least 20 years away. My highly successful friend said to me, in response to my outrage at the fact that I was now “pissbroke,” “ Nearly every budding entrepreneur, every start up, every person who acts on a dream, always says the same thing in the beginning. Everyone who does this is pissbroke.” I guess that’s why most people don’t do it. The financial risk and payout isn’t always worth it. But that’s why you have to believe it will work. Even if you are just simply pissbroke.

xo, ella g

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Needs...and more needs

I need a trademark lawyer. Need a customs broker. Need a freight forwarder. Need a sales rep. Need a website developer. Need help. Can’t wait until I can pay people to help me out. I hate being a team of one…

But trademarking—trademarking is a pain in the ass. And I didn’t even do it right. I accidentally trademarked my logo with a strange gray square around it. I totally didn’t catch it. Does this mean I have to do it all over again? I think I need a trademark lawyer.

xo, ella g

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Channeling Ben Franklin

I'm guessing only crazy people build businesses. I’m currently reading Ben Franklin’s autobiography. While he was a true pioneer and an entrepreneur, he was also crazy. I think you probably have to be, otherwise you think too much about how your ideas might fail. I guess I’m thinking less and less about how this can fail, because deep down, I know it won’t.

But exhaustion has set in, and I know this ride is just beginning. Spent my Thursday night figuring out my cost- analysis breakdown. God, margin calculations are hard for creative brains. I’m pretty proud of myself though…I have an excel sheet full of numbers and they all actually seem to make sense! Building a business exposes you to things you never knew you could do…

xo, ella g

Monday, March 21, 2011

Big photo shoot!

Loved today. Folding screen + posterboard background + fishing wire + my beautiful bags = one hysterical, fun process. And we got great pics too. 
We rented lights from a nearby electronics/film store, and thank god I have a sister who’s both an incredible photographer, as well as handy with lighting. The last time I did a photo shoot for our first soft launch, the guy asked for 800 bucks, took my bags for 5 days, and made them look nothing like how they did in person.

My goal this time was to make my handbags look real, limit how much it cost and be really involved in the process. I was so involved, that I now have bruises all over my body from climbing, hanging, and dangling. 
That’s the next challenge….make photo shoots easier! I live in a sixth floor walk-up, the lights were heavy, and my living room is only the size of a small minivan. So three giant film lights, the set up, the whole nine yards, was crazy. But I’m thankful it wasn’t summer – those lights get hot!
xo, ella g

Friday, March 11, 2011

Back from China

Just got back from my trip to China. Wow. Soo over it. Good work with the factory though, as they seem to better understand what I’m looking for.

I think I tried about 16 times with different factories in different leathers in different shapes. Finally, after finding a good source for production and a team that is willing to work with me, we have a strong collection of 6 bags. They are cohesive, beautiful and definitively a brand. Now I have to sell them…..

I fell asleep the other night on top of my laptop, which is becoming an all too frequent occurrence. But it’s so sad that my computer was open to sites on financial factoring, how to hire a sales rep, import/export laws… You get the point. I used to want to go to law school. Now I’m really glad I never did. Anxiety clearly setting in…

xo, ella g