This is the Halloween Picture I promised. Hopefully my friend, Becca (who is Lady Loki) won't mind being in it with me. I, of course, am the Lumpy Space Princess from Adventure Time, the cartoon which has changed my life recently.
This post is to make sure that all of my customers who actually take the time to read this will understand a little bit more about our annual Black Friday Sale. By the end, I hope you'll understand that I do this sale for several reasons, all of which are of pure intent and love for my customers.
So, think about why companies even HAVE sales....ever. In the business world, we would all love to imagine that all of the products we order, manufacture, dream up, produce and invent would always sell at full price to adoring customers are always 100% satisfied with every part of the transaction, product, and company. Obviously, this can't be the case, because we're all human beings, ESPECIALLY me. As business owners and managers, we can never EVER imagine or predict what things will be popular, what will sell, how much it will sell for, and how long the customer will continue to buy from us. I have made MANY mistakes as the owner and creator of this company for the last 8 years. I've over-produced, under-sold, over-thought, poorly planned, and have been way too optimistic AND pessimistic for my own good.
A good example would be my adventures in the quest for the perfect bloomers pattern. I know all of you won't agree with me on this, and I expect that. It's just that I've ALWAYS wanted to add bloomers to the costume line that we offer. I LOVE the idea of wearing them with corsets, wearing them with t-shirts....wearing them to the gym (just did that the other day.) Thus, I took a pair of my favorite jeans in the whole world , laid them out on the cutting table, and carefully made a pattern around them. Now, I DO understand that bloomers aren't supposed to fit like jeans, so I made sure to add some allowances for that. I wanted to have them plenty high in the back, so that plumber's crack wasn't even an option, but I wanted to contour the waistband as it moved forward so they didn't end up being either "mom jeans" or super saggy crotch pants (oh my gosh, I'm so sorry that you had to read that. Those words together make me dry heave.).
I felt like I had an even BETTER stroke of genius when I offered to have some "test" models for the bloomers. I figured that if I begged some curvier girls to send me their measurements, with the promise that they would give me good productive feedback, then I could venture into the "no-man's land" of helping women from size 14 on up to feel beautiful. Heaven knows there's hardly a company that gives a dang about these sizes feeling attractive and feminine.....for that matter, the whole clothing industry hates us female humans. I've heard it from every size, shape, and type of woman who has come into my booth and tried on corsets. Anyhow, I sold the "test bloomers" for super cheap, and I think that what I hadn't anticipated was the fact that EVEN when someone carefully explains to you what they would like to change about the fit, this is still slippery ground, full of holes, and very volatile.
Every woman is shaped completely and vastly different from one to the next, and the reason I have had such success with my corsets is because I take the classic hourglass shape, give it a profuse amount of structure and a sturdy foundation, and then I beat your body into submission! Well...not really. You just gently lace, pull, tug, and adjust and you've pretty much got the body that you KNOW is in there...and a corset helps you to find it. If I was making knitwear, I might be screwed. With ALL other types of clothing, the clothing has to be cut, fit, draped, and tailored so that your body can do the shaping, and you'll still look good. With my product, the actual garment does the shaping, and the body just sits down and shuts up.
These bloomers broke my brain repeatedly because they had to look flattering on thighs, bums, and hips, and this wasn't a realm in which I had any experience. Women have extremely different ideas on where they like the crotch to hit, how long they want the inseam, where they want the waistband, how tight they would like the fabric around their thighs, how much ease they want through the bum, and so on and so forth. This is actually an issue where most women feel very strongly, and they also feel that they are right..and they ARE. How you want something to fit your unique shape is up to you. I think this is why so many women feel like they go to the store and are completely screwed. The clothing company may have made something that looked gorgeous on a mannequin, but with how you want it to fit, what size the dang tag says, and what you actually see in the mirror (whether that is a lie or the truth...most women lie to themselves about what they see in there, trust me, I've seen it a million times. So many gorgeous women look into the mirror and can only see flaws, mistakes, and discrepancies that is just breaks my whole soul.), the clothing from the store doesn't ever seem to be just quite right for you.
Holy LOVE! This is turning into a novel. Sorry, ladies, this is NEVER my intention! It's just that when you get me onto a subject for which I have a bleeding passion, I cannot be silenced! So, back to the bloomers, it's not that I gave up on them, I just realized that pants are a whole different animal, and not every woman will be happy with the fit. I only came to this conclusion AFTER I had made about 60 pairs to take to festivals.
Normally, I don't cast a dark shadow on my company or my products, because talking negatively about your work is foolhardy. I hope that by sharing this secret failure with you ladies, you will be compassionate and it will help you gain an appreciation of "behind-the-scenes" incidents that happen in my brain and in my company. Ahem. When buying the fabric for these bloomers, I had some SERIOUS requirements. I wanted it to be a sturdy suiting for longevity. I wanted it to have a spandex count, so that the fabric could hug the bum and compliment the thighs. I also wanted the fabrics to be very neutral, elegant, and with a touch of menswear appeal to them. I purchased a great deal of beautiful houndstooth, pinstripe, tweed, and plaid suitings in blacks, browns, tans, grays, and golds. Then, I cracked the whip on myself and my other two seamstresses (I believe this was my pregnant sister and my beautiful neighbor.) We busted out a HUGE pile of the type of bloomers you see above.
And then??? Well.....you see.....when women walk into my booth at festivals, they see rich, luxurious colors, patterns, textures, and designs. I believe they see my company, and think, "Corset=Skinny with big Chest. Yes, please." I've had customers who have been coming to me for years, and only just this last year, they noticed that we actually sells skirts and blouses along side the corsetry. I understand. Corsets are exciting. They promise something, and they DELIVER on that solemn vow. To this day, I still feel 100% transformed when I put on one of my corsets. I'm thinking that what happened with the bloomers is that people were coming in for corsets, then the next logical step would be a blouse to go underneath, and then if they didn't have a skirt, they would get one to match their outfit. The bloomers, in these unassuming and studious neutral suitings just didn't stand a chance. Even with the growing popularity of the steampunk genre, I believe that there is a LONG way to go before women gain the confidence to boldly put together their costumes with corsets and bloomers. I believe it can be done, but there will have to be a LOT more pictures, movies, and photoshoots to help us along.
So about that surplus of bloomers. They followed me, like a menacing wraith, whispering unkind little daggers of failure. I hauled the bloomers all across the country, to about 6 different shows before I finally decided to sell them in our grab bag sale. The happy end to the story is that lots of women were able to snap them up for something like $10 a piece *sigh*. But here's the deal. The money lost is nowhere near equal to the price of the experience I gained. I learned about myself, my customers, and my company on many levels and facets. This doesn't mean that I won't ever venture into the land of bloomers again, but it does mean that when I do it again, I will be much wiser and cognizant of my limitations and my strengths. Oh, failures and successes!
The great part about this is that I have built a company that I'm quite proud of, and I can assure you that I truly strive every day for a sense of integrity for the product, compassion for my small team and my customers, and wisdom in my business dealings in present and future. From all of the mistakes come a deeper knowledge of how to create a quality garment, how to hopefully create a win-win scenario with the customers and the company, what to make, how to make it, and when to make it.
The blessing of having an event like our GRAB BAG SALE on Black Friday is that my customers can get products that are truly marvelous for an incredible price, and it helps me to clear out stock, make new things, create, innovate, and dream. Speaking of which, I will be giving more and more details on the specifics of our sale as this next week goes on. I just wanted to give you ladies an insight into why things end up on such a freaking good sale. It's not that there is anything wrong with the actual product at all....in fact, in lots of cases, the product is some of the best stuff the company has to offer. (think along the lines of the over-optimism, and over-production type of mistake.) I can assure you that this will be a great event, and you'll be amazed at what you get!