I graduated from fashion school in Calgary and then moved to Fernie, B.C, and I planned to start a business. Easy right? Start a fashion business in a small mountain town in British Columbia? An obvious place for fashion. New York, London, Millan and Fernie, that's how it goes right?
I spent hours, days and months in my sewing room working on my designs. I started just making them for myself, and every time I would wear them out people would always stop me and ask me where I got my dress from. I was shocked and not sure what to say. No one says this when I wear my expensive designer stuff.
How can I sell my clothes?
Then my friend paid for me to do a mothers day market in Fernie and told me I had to do it. I was so scared; I was not ready; I need more time; I need to be better. You know the usual negative stuff we all tell ourselves.
My friend was not impressed and said she has three kids, and I can't waste her money. It's not an option I am going, and I have two weeks to get stock made. She is not one to argue with, so I did just that.
My first market
I sewed every hour I was awake for the next two weeks, and I made 20 dresses, all in one style (it was the Hooded Ego without sleeves) and all in size small. I had no idea how to make other sizes haha.
Fashion school was terrific, but we didn't make clothes for other bodies, it was either our own or a models body. So it was a challenge figuring out how to flatter and make pattern pieces for different frames. I was an expert at no boobs, long waist, long arms haha.
Anyway, I sold 5, and the response was tremendous. I was pumped. Yay!
Markets, shows, and festivals is a world I knew nothing about, and it is a strange, unique place. I have met some incredibly talented people at these events throughout the years but also some very odd characters.
You meet so many different people at these shows and can bond quite quickly with them. When you are doing a four or 5-day show standing in the same 10x10 space, you hope that you have good neighbours.
Finding support in the challenging world of running a business
I have been blown away by the talent, dedication and hard work of so many people at these events. Not only the people who organize them but also by the other vendors, who always give me drive and motivation to keep on digging to make my business dream a reality.
Yes, the customers are essential, but for me, my neighbours can make or break it. If you have dull people either side of you, it will be a long five days haha. I love talking to them about the problems and heartache that comes with running a business and how they have overcome them. It's great when you realize that you're not the only one struggling with specific issues and you can feed off other peoples positive vibes.
I have learned so much over the years about markets and which ones to do. At the start, I did them all. I stood in many community halls on a cold winter day and saw three old people, I have been outside under my tent in wind and rain and snow spending most of the day trying to protect my clothes from the elements more than selling.
Markets are challenging; they are long and exhausting. It can take hours to set up and tear down; you have to overcome the weather, the dust, the wind and wifi issues. Oh, Canada I love your every weather in one day.
But they have taught me so much about my clients and running a business. It's fantastic to see people try my designs on and feel so great in them. It gives me the drive to keep on growing.
So, with all events for the year being cancelled, I only did the Invermere Saturday market, which was a great success and the support was amazing.
I hope to see you at a show in the future when this beautiful world we live in gets healthy again. But for now, I will get working on my online business...