Wednesday, June 25, 2014

FiSF Diary - All the Little Pieces

Even though I'm on-schedule with my collection (finished all my samples, thank you very much!), it's hard to sit back to admire one's handiwork when there's so much going on all at once. Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining. My collection is done, I'm headlining a fashion show at Supperclub tonight and my lookbook shoot is this Friday. But a finished collection is only a tiny fraction of the work in running a fashion business as any designer will quickly tell you.

In apparel design, the percentage of design to non-design work that comes up time and time again is about 10 to 90. So when you consider that the creative side is what most apparel designers prefer to do, 90% of the time spent on the nitty gritty of a small business seems like an awful lot of not-so-fun. That said to even have a shot to survive in a highly competitive industry, none of those tasks can be ignored. Even though I'm hardly what I would call business-minded, in that aforementioned not-so-fun, there are pretty awesome things. Like seeing your website or branding come to life, or making an unexpected online sale. Each little piece of the business is part of something at once immeasurably complicated and immeasurably awesome.

I have tunnel vision this week since my shoot is on Friday - it's all I can think about at the moment! Photographer Kelly Puleio is the brains behind the project and I'm really excited to work with her. Fittings with my model went so incredibly well - I can't express how illuminating it is to see a completed collection on a human and not a dress form! With photo shoots, there are so many minor things to consider, more little pieces that can make or break a project. My internal checklist goes on and on: get shoes, steam lingerie, choose jewelry, bring extra nail polish, locate props, stockings or no stockings?, grab a palette from Elizabeth Street Cosmetics for the makeup artist, update Pinterest inspiration board, decide on flowers with John James Designs, etc etc. Lingerie walks a fine line when it comes to styling which is definitely on my mind right now - there IS a such thing as too sexy and since lingerie is implicitly so, the model has to be made up just right. Too much and you enter vamp territory. I love to over-style, so I'm grateful to have Kelly on board. She's very much about measured styling and classic simplicity and she'll have no qualms editing my sometimes over-the-top sensibility.

I can't wait to share completed shots! For now, I'm looking forward to Friday and will be ready to kick back with a big glass of wine once it's all done.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Burlesque and Lingerie - Honey Cooler Handmade at Supperclub

Burlesque and lingerie make an obvious pair! Join Honey Cooler Handmade and Hunny Bunny Burlesque for a night of silk and lace, and a bunch of shimmying and shaking at Supperclub SF.

Red Hots in Bed with Supperclub is extra special this month. Red Hots Burlesque performs at 8pm, followed by a fashion show of Honey Cooler Handmade lingerie presented by Hunny Bunny Burlesque with music by DJ Jocelyn.

RSVP here!

Friday, June 6, 2014

FiSF Diary - Really, I Know What I'm Doing… Right?

It's been quite a while since I really took the time to sit down and write a blog post that's not just about upcoming events and new products. While I love writing those posts, there's much more going on in the world of HCH right now and I think it warrants a spotlight on the blog, so my plan is to update my readers once a month on what's going on for me at FiSF.

My acceptance to the Fashion Incubator Program at Macy's still shocks me to my core, even after my third month in residency. When I first got my acceptance letter, I called my husband and sobbed through the phone "I can't be ready for this. Doesn't the board realize that?" Being a perfectionist has the unfortunate downside of me seeing flaws in every step I take. After almost 3 years in business, I didn't feel like I was far enough along for an opportunity like the Fashion Incubator, even though I was the one who pursued it. But the truth is, I WAS ready. I AM ready. Among my stockists, I'm selling in two of San Francisco's most famous lingerie boutiques. My pieces are in a boutique in Bern, Switzerland and they're selling so well that the proprietress has decided to hold onto them longer than originally planned. I've sent my lingerie to Dita Von Teese and have been invited to headline a fashion show at Supperclub this month. I've been mentioned in blogs, magazines and all sorts of publications the world over. So why the crippling doubt? I don't know about you, but for me, doubt is my safety net - if I fail, I can say "I saw it coming". But more than that, doubt is the ultimate editor. It can lead to beautifully realized, perfectly edited design, and I see it every day from the designers in residence at FiSF. This bizarre thought process is the one that helps to make the tough design decisions and create a truly beautiful collection that tells a cohesive, engrossing story.

My doubts were still in high gear when I got my fabric last month for my Spring/Summer 2015 collection, but the second I saw my first new Deco Cami sewn up, I was hooked on it. At the moment, the Designers in Residence are working on assembling our physical collection samples and doing our fittings. It's funny - no matter how much those aforementioned pesky doubts creep in, every time I start a new pattern I think "This is going to be a slam dunk and I'll nail the pattern on the first try." Wrong. My poor fit model will have had to come in three times for one piece - a romper that is proving to be more of a pain than I expected. I've gone through six samples of it so far and I'm hoping that my third fitting on Thursday goes well so I can move forward with final fabrications. With each fitting, though, this piece becomes more and more adorable, more and more realized, and I am so glad I'm putting the extra time and effort into it.

Collections aside, we've spent a lot of time working on bookkeeping, branding and business plans here - the nitty gritty, if you will. These are the parts of business I don't do well by nature, but they must be dealt with. Bit by bit, my business plan is beginning to take shape and my branding will see a totally new direction come August, so stay tuned for more.

What's more, it's been so enlightening to talk to previous years' Designers in Residence as well. Michelle Byrnes has been a wonderful mentor to us, helping us wade through our social media plans, and always with a smile on her face and a positive mindset. Master tailor Jake Wall of The Artful Gentleman came in to offer a critique and class covering elevator pitches. His energy and enthusiasm paired with an honest and very real look at the fashion industry made for an empowering conversation. His business has grown by leaps and bounds since his residency last year, and we all look up to him here. The other previous Designers in Residence have been so supportive and wonderful - I feel grateful for such a close-knit community.

Every time my friends and family ask me how my experience with the Incubator is going, I don't think I can adequately answer. I'm overjoyed, humbled and validated to be here. Empowered, overwhelmed by the camaraderie of the community and excited about the huge leaps that I've already begun to take. That said, frankly… I'm also tired, working more than I ever have in my life. I'm juggling what feels like a thousand tasks, writing constant lists and running a ten-woman show with a one-woman staff. I thought I worked hard before, but that was nothing. My time here feels more real than ever - a year I want and need to make count, and I am more grateful than I can say, more excited than I can express.