It’s been a while since my last update in the Life & Times Of A Fearless Entrepreneur. 6 months to be exact. And I must say that there have been lots of highs and lows since then.
During my last post, I talked mostly about everything that I was going through in creating designs for the annual SPIRIT Fashion Show in Pittsburgh, PA. I’m happy to say that the show went off without a hitch. Well, maybe there was a hitch or two or three but we got through it. The clothes fit the models, they walked down the runway, the music was great, and the reception I received was overwhelming. That’s really all a new designer could ask for. I have participated in the show for the past 3 or 4 years. This was the only the second time that I presented my own clothing line, Fashion Not Fear. Plus it was the first time, we actually flew into Pittsburgh. In the past, we drove there and taking a 18 hour road trip for the weekend only, never really left much time to take in some of the great things that Pittsburgh had to offer. The quick flight gave us time to eat great food, take in the sights, spend time at Carnegie Mellon University and enjoy moments with the students. It was a great time.
Within the last 6 months, many opportunities have presented themselves. Firstly, I have went so hard on trying to perfect my line. I’ve learned so many ways to improve my designing and business skills. Which I feel has reflected in the styles that I have been putting out lately. The dresses and matching sets have been stepped up to a whole ‘nother level. My first collection, although still fabulous, leaned more on the trendy side. Not that there is anything wrong with a good trend. I, for one, love trends. However, my goal for Fashion Not Fear is to make classic, timeless pieces that you can wear year after year, season after season. Without wondering if it should end up in the Goodwill giveaway pile. I hope I able to convey that with each piece that is released from now on. Check out BlueLabelsBoutique.com and let me know your thoughts.
You might have noticed that I haven’t made mentioned of any pop ups that I am participated in. And there is reason for that. In the past, I have jumped at the chance to sell and network at any pop up shop that I can get my hands on. But there are some things that I’ve learned about it. Like the saying goes, all money isn’t good money. Well, all pop ups aren’t good pop ups. Let me start by saying that being in a pop up isn’t free. There are fees associated with it. The company that is facilitating that pop up charges a fee to be a vendor. And it’s not a few dollars. Some have been as low as $30 but the price can go WAY up, I mean $200-$500, and even more depending on the event. The fee is not the only cost. There’s also gas, the need for tables, racks, table clothes, signs, snacks for those visiting my booth, and the list goes on and on. Initially, I thought that spending the money would be worth it because it is a great way to introduce the brand to new people, network, and make money (of course.). I know that you have to spend money to make money. But what happens when you spend money and make no money?? Because it happens. Some of these companies throw pop up events and they can’t even draw a crowd of 50 people. This tells me that they were just taking the vendor fees and putting the money in their pocket. None of it was applied to marketing, publicity, or anything that would help the businesses that are participating to make money. And in my opinion, some of that money needed to be applied to that. Not all of it, but a marketing budget should be in place. This made me feel like my money helped someone else bank account grow. Not mine! And I can’t blame them. I have to blame myself. With all of this happening, I decided it was time for me to be careful, and do some serious research because I can’t just give anyone else a dime of my hard-earned money. Rest assured, any pop ups that I get involved in moving forward will be to help the brand move forward. Stay on the lookout for updates!
So once, I was given the chance to put my clothes in a major department store for 2 months, I immediately said, “Yes!!” Saying, yes, before being sure is something that I’m working on. It wasn’t until after, I accepted, that I started doing research on whether or not this would be beneficial to my brand. The department store is nothing to sneeze at. They opened originally in the late 1800s. They have stores all over the map. I’m pretty sure that there name is recognized by every single human in America. They have made their stamp on the world. Don’t get me wrong. But does that mean that they are a good fit for my brand? They offered about 100 square feet of space, with a staff to handle my purchases, and the opportunity to be seen in their store. With the marketing that they already have in place, it seemed like a great idea in the beginning. Part of the research, I performed was staking out the store to see how many women shopped at that location. For one week, I went to the store at various times, to check out what their crowd was like. Let’s just say that I didn’t see my brands demographics there. I considered that to be a huge issue. It could be the city and maybe other cities have more of my demo BUT, that certainly wasn’t the case for me. That was my biggest concern. I was restless thinking about it the entire week. The following week, I started to receive the contracts by email. Seeing the thousands of dollars worth of fees that I would be responsible for make be break into a sweat. I know I agreed to it. But would I be able to at least break even?? Department store shopping has been on life support for quite some time. And I needed this to be a surefire way to put FNF on a bigger scale. Without that, what was the point? I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t willing to potentially lose that type of money simply because of the name. The risk just didn’t seem to reap the rewards that I wanted. Regretfully, I contacted them and told them that I’d changed my mind. Needless to say, their response was…straight to the point. “Good luck in your future.” Basically. I felt no regrets, I have to do what’s best for me and mine. Ya’ feel me??
An opportunity that I did agree to was at an offer to make a dress for a museum. In September, I was contacted by the curator for the exhibit entitled: Destined By Design; A Celebration Of African American Fashion & Design. The exhibit was created to celebrate black designers in Texas. I’m all about doing whatever I can to help shine a spotlight on black designers, since it feels like we don’t receive the credit we deserve. The dress that I made was the first time that I made a dressy dress that I was so proud of. Of course, at the opening, I thought of 50 ways I would change it but nevertheless, it turned out great! It was also the first time, I spoke on a panel in front of a crowd. I was super nervous but since I have no problem talking, I found it to be much easier than I thought. The event was AMAZING and I was so happy that I decided to do it. The exhibit will be on display until February 29, 2020 at the UTSA Institute Of Texan Cultures. The address is 801 E. Cesar Chavez BLVD in San Antonio, Texas. Go see it if you get a chance!
A day or so before I attended the museum event, I broke out in a horrible rash. After applying creams and driving myself insane, I decided to go to the doctor to find out what was going on. The diagnosis was ringworm. How the heck could I get a ringworm? I am the biggest germaphobe that I know. In my mind, everything is dirty. Come to find out, my immune system was comprised. The reason that it was comprised floored me. I’m expecting my first baby!!! Never ever in a million years did I think I’d be blessed to be a Mommy!
The first few weeks were spent gagging, throwing up, and sleeping. But it doesn’t matter to me because I will go through whatever I need to in order to make sure the baby is okay. But I’ll admit that there wasn’t much work being done. But now that I’m feeling more like myself. I’m back at it, like I never left!
These past 6 months have taught me a lot. Patience is truly a virtue. Work hard and watch how you move because making moves doesn’t mean you’re moving in the right direction. Always be willing to learn something new. Don’t be afraid to say no. Family over everything. Never give up on whatever it is you want. I hope that something said of done has inspired you!
Thanks for reading, shopping, commenting, and just being here through all of the ups and downs. Would you like to continue to receive updates like this?? Let me know in the comments.