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Competing on a reality television series is surreal to say the least, and I do not want my blog
to focus on Project Runway, or the participants, or the creators, but I will say that the show changed
me and looking back I am very thankful for the experience.



To demystify the situation a bit I
admit that it was not very fun to tape the show, but at the same time I am not saying that it
isn’t an incredible opportunity to expose your work, ideas & design aesthetic to millions of
viewers across the globe.



It was challenging to be stripped down to the bare essentials and quite
a task to be creative in an environment full of producers manipulating what you want to be
talking about, sleeping only 4-5 hours a night and literally being under lock & key for 6 weeks.
And being an amazing designer, personality & think tank at the same time.



One thing that still has me in awe is the impact the show has had on my life. I had absolutely
no idea how, as soon as the show aired, I would be bombarded with situations, people, fans,
opportunities, hard-ships, glorified moments, horrified moments & stress. For a normal person,
like myself, the exposure is scary & wonderful. All of a sudden magazines you have read your
entire life want to hear from you; but the catch is, they want gossip, they don’t necessarily
want to praise you for your design ideas & talent. And that part became tricky.



I decided I wanted to focus solely upon re-branding my line and create a wholesale label that
would be attainable to my fans but also to women who wanted something new with an edge.



Shortly after the show aired I made a deal with the popular online designer boutique Shopbop.com,
to create an exclusive collection of dresses & tops. I also collaborated with an old high school
friend on a complimentary line of jewelry. I had absolutely no idea how I was going to finance
this collection on my own so I decided to create a capsule collection for a boutique in SoHo. I
was having all of my production made in New York city’s garment district and my factory had
too much work on hand to take up my production so I went to a new factory upon recommendation
from some industry friends.



I went to pick up my dresses one day from the new factory and I realized the door was locked.
I peered inside the window and to my disbelief, I saw the entire factory was empty. They had
moved out in the middle of the night (they were unfortunately an illegal operation and 6 months
behind on rent as I later discovered) and nearly fainted. They had left with all of my patterns, many
bolts of fabric & all of my production.
Lesson number 1. Check.

I want to recommend a book to anyone who is eager to look into becoming a fashion designer
on their own:
The Fashion Designer Survival Guide, Revised and Expanded Edition: Start and Run Your Own Fashion Business

8 Comments

  • Avatar_large

    Sep 16, 2008, 10.11 AMby benedikta

    Sabine, If you have additional questions feel free to ask. Alison may be covering those in future posts, but, I am sure she is happy to answer any questions you may have.

  • Bb7bc6555a1df61c55a7119ce8698738d2488c2e_large

    Sep 12, 2008, 04.47 AMby alysonisneat

    That is definitely a hard lesson to learn. I think that there should be a better form of checks and balances not just with finding manufacturers but also with stores as well. The company I worked for definitely had some mishaps similar to this. We had most of our layette collection produced in china, beautiful embroideries and white pique monogramables. When we received it, over 90% of it was stained with grease, dirt, pen marks, and old water. And they had already taken all of the money! Also, a prominent store placed an order for over $30,000 worth of merchandise for a spring collection in April, and has only paid back $10,000. So rough!

  • Cc70b9fbdade3e83318a66551dbff7f825f48286_large

    Sep 10, 2008, 06.47 AMby sabine

    I think it’s great to get another blog post from you, Alison. It feels a bit cut short, how are you doing now, is your business thriving? stereoette: To check a business’ legitimacy, you have to go to the public institutions, like finances, business register etc.

  • Emilykate_large

    Sep 9, 2008, 06.46 PMby emilykate

    I think many designers/manufacturers have a story just like this! My friend’s involves the Phillipines, some ‘friends’, all his blocks, his whole collection, and his deposit disappearing into the ether. Thing is, you’ll only make this mistake the once :o)

  • Photoge01_large

    Sep 9, 2008, 05.46 PMby gedwoods

    I think you were very savvy to turn your experience with “fame and glory” into leverage for a long term investment which will pay dividends for your development as a designer for years. The other is a trap we could all fall into rather too easily – I know I’m rather too trusting myself. Doesn’t take away from the rest of your actions, although it was probably a very humbling experience.

  • 386139_2527631587025_1140480052_32964655_68721663_n_large

    Sep 9, 2008, 04.32 PMby schickchick

    wow! that totally stinks about the factory! i’m guessing you ended up finding one you can trust, though?

  • 60611835_6862cfe87d_o_large

    Sep 9, 2008, 12.36 PMby stereoette

    wow, that is incredibly horrible. Have you any suggestions for how to check into service provider’s background beyond asking friends/ others in the industry? I feel like most people do rely on word of mouth, which just doesn’t sound safe after what you went through.

  • 6db0829c2f2fbbe428cfb6f7dfd31d7c26630f1a_large

    Sep 9, 2008, 11.58 AMby cat

    This is a sad story & a hard way to learn a lesson :( sorry for your loss

    • This is a question
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