The Island Designer
Updated: Jan 10, 2019
I knew from the get-go that starting a brand from a small 9 by 5 island was going to be a hard task. I was never put off by it, I love a challenge but-oh-my-God do I sometimes think why did I bother!?
Here are some issues that I face that maybe other designers from cities might not. . .
A massive problem for me (and you). A reel of 100m of elastic currently costs £45 pounds to get from the UK to Jersey and this obviously gets absorbed into my costs. I really, really want to buy my materials in the UK or at least western Europe as it's important to me to keep everything as close as possible. This principle means I can't be as competitive as other brands who get things made in places like China, but I don't have the budget to mass produce nor do I want to. There's something wrong when your lunch costs more than an item of clothing but I digress. Another shipping related cost I have is postage, the UK isn't so bad (apart from VAT) but the rest of the world is at least a tenner and is climbing. To keep costs down I sub a couple of quid on each order which really hurts my margins but again I'm competing with big branded high-street brands but I hope that as the company grows things will start to level out.
Not just the actual fabric but the haberdashery items such as fastenings and sliders, the little details that can make a design - I have no access to these things. I order mostly online from companies that I've tried and tested but if I ever want to broaden my design offerings it's a bigger effort then most. I either travel to the UK or do a lot of online research and order samples. I can't really pass all this R and D onto the customer as each item would end up costing hundreds. I can't justify such a high cost for a bralette. I'm not using the finest silks it's just cotton at the end of the day (but it's really good cotton!)
I can't really. Apart from local creatives or linkedIn. Instagram is helpful but I'm talking about events and pop ups that happen in cities like London and New York, although it is easy to hop on a plane and get to the UK it's not something I can do every weekend and just personally, I'm not the best at relationship cultivation. So out of sight is really out of mind. I feel like I have to work that little bit harder to get the buyers and editors attention.
I'm sure there are more smaller hurdles that I have to face (cash flow!) and it's really easy to feel pessimistic about my predicament, but I do know what I signed up to and being cut-off from everything has it's benefits, like being able to focus on my brand and what I stand for.
So, I have a lot against me but I love what I do and I don't think I can do anything else and even if I never get to the top it's all about the climb right?!
Of course, how could I forget my access to models! Coming from a place with a localized population and where everyone up to a point knows each other makes finding a model tricky. It's hard to find a girl or boy who is comfortable enough to be photographed in their pants because obviously, there is a likely hood that all your friends and their families are going to see you. Also, Jersey's population isn't very diverse which again is another limitation. Recently I've been looking at agency models but I'm looking at a minimum of £600 for a day plus air fare, which is a bit of gamble for me at this stage. It really does make a difference using someone who knows their body and is full of confidence. Any professional model that comes from Jersey will not live here full time. So yeah, it's just another hurdel I have to jump.