I’ll never forget the oscillating shock through my body when I received my first wholesale order. Excitement and then a shred of sheer panic, One hundred pieces. I had to come up with one hundred pieces of my new collection in 4 weeks. To most established brands this wouldn’t come as much as a shock. Except when you’re a small company you know that unless you’re headed over seas or southeast, production minimums in the United States is a far cry from what you can afford. I made several calls to a handful of Los Angeles manufacturing companies but each call became more disheartening. Fifty to one hundred piece minimums per style and colorway. My production cost numbers just kept rising, I couldn’t justify even filling this wholesale order. I look back now and find it odd that I didn’t even skip a beat. I placed my fabric orders to my home address, locked in my send outs and trims, rolled up my sleeves and started cutting and sewing. I wont stand here now and say it was easy. It was hands down probably one of the harder things I’ve had to do in my twenty nine years, but my hands have healed and now it doesn’t seem so bad. To this day my old roommates and closest friends will tell you I was a miserable, drunken heathen that would leave the house at 6 am and return home at 6 pm with bloody pin pricked fingers, slightly drunk, and a little weepy.
I’m here today to tell you, I survived all one hundred swimwear pieces. Each one sewn by, yes, muah. One day most likely too close if not over my deadline I came home to all my roommates smoking a joint in the living room streaming Worldstar on the TV. There I stood with a box of one hundred bikinis, hang tags and SKU labels in my hand and proceeded to promptly hand out their own packaging project thus forming a small production line, in the living room. Roommate labor has not yet been frowned upon. Some people say, “damn, that’s dedication, you are a real entrepreneur”. Some might say that was sheer stupidity and poor business management. Why would you start a business without capital and investors? Why would you seek out wholesale orders without existing inventory? The answer is, I don’t know. Personally, when I look back it perhaps was not the wisest decision but it was what was available to me at the time. It was a way to get started, so I began. I knew I loved to design and create, I knew that I could sew, I knew that I’d spent the better half of my life in a bikini and none of them fucking fit me the way I wanted them to. That’s what we do as small business owners or creative’s, we take unrealistic leaps to either succeed or fail, to then learn and progress. At the end of the day the order was relatively on time as most wholesale orders are, and the customer was satisfied.
Do I still sew unrealistic amounts of swimwear to ship to retailers? No. Since then I’ve found a smaller female run manufacturing company that operates out of San Diego, specializes in swimwear, and wait for it… doesn’t bankrupt you. Managing within you’re means, what a concept. When I get online orders they are sewn by me unless I already have it in inventory from a wholesale order. For a long time I’ve felt inadequate as a company because I wasn’t doing things the way I assumed more established swimwear brands were doing, and then I started realizing the positives. I’m proud to say that I don’t outsource over seas. While every garment you wear on your body is “handmade” often they are made in less than desirable conditions at a fraction of what you pay for it. Sewing the same garment again and again is hard, hard work and I’m happy to say that I personally know the people that sew mine.
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