Wednesday is June 1. June 1 was supposed to be the first day of our Kickstarter campaign. June 1 will not, however, be the first day of our Kickstarter campaign. June 1 will be another day of hard work and planning for our Kickstarter campaign which is now scheduled for September 1. Here’s what happened.
Other than a general familiarity with Kickstarter, I had never really thought about launching a campaign on the website prior to Threads by Nomad. I knew very little regarding the ins and outs of crowdfunding but wanted to explore it as an option since Mom and I both dislike the idea of owing a lot of money to a bank, and are unsure they would even loan us the money in the first place. As I began working on our campaign page, however, it quickly became clear I had no idea what I was doing.
One evening last week, I sent a draft of our Kickstarter text to a few dozen people whose opinion I respect. Overnight, the responses flooded in. Change this. Move that. Edit this. Remove that. Consider this. Rethink that. You see, it turns out I have very brilliant, thoughtful and generous friends who actually took the time to critique my work. For that, I am grateful. I was also freaking out. Their feedback, while appreciated, plainly indicated we were unprepared; we weren’t ready to ask for twenty thousand dollars.
Still, I held my tongue. So much had already been set in motion to make this happen. We had teased the start date to our followers. A photo shoot was in place and a launch date put on the calendar. If we didn’t raise the money now, we’d never have it in time to launch a collection in the fall. We had to move forward.
A couple of days later, I admitted to our photographer I was nervous about the shoot. Not about the photo shoot itself–I have full confidence in her talent and ability. No, I was nervous about the clothes. They were prototypes, made only to test our designs in fabric we purchased only because it was affordable. A couple of the pieces needed some serious reworking and one piece, the dress, was missing entirely. But we had to move forward. This was the timeline to which we had agreed. I couldn’t let everyone down.
The photo shoot was awkward. I modeled, and I was awkward. I knew the clothes weren’t translating the way I wanted them to–the colors were off, the fit wasn’t right, it wasn’t a cohesive collection. But it was happening. We had to move forward.
It wasn’t until I saw the photographs–the ones published in this blog post–that I knew I had to make a different call. These photographs are beautiful and I did my very best to style our prototypes, but these photos do not represent our collection, they do not represent our brand. They are photographs of prototypes, not pieces. I knew instantly upon seeing them I could not ask our supporters to invest twenty thousand dollars in our company using these photos. I knew the average person would not be able to look at these photos and see our vision. The garments we intend to sell are too far from what we have produced to this point. We weren’t ready. We could not move forward.
We have one chance to get this right, and I refuse to squander it. Our collection is going to have broad appeal without resorting to designs and fabrics commonly seen. Our customers will wear our garments over and over again; each piece will feel special while never fussy. I have complete confidence our business will be successful and our products will sell. I just know. But I also know the importance of quality marketing and sending the right message. This wasn’t the right message. We could not move forward.
I texted Mom, hesitantly. I knew she was excited and I didn’t want to disappoint her. I devised a Plan B and shared it with her. We will take the rest of the summer to develop samples, not just prototypes. (Samples are finished pieces that represent exactly what will be sold to the customer.) We only need one sample of each piece for the Kickstarter campaign, but each sample has to be near-perfect. We will pay our tailor, Hayder, to make them so he has income between now and the launch of the collection. We will start the Kickstarter campaign in September and set it to run for thirty days. Instead of assigning random rewards to random amounts as we had done previously, we will let our customers and investors pre-order the pieces they want. We will know at this point how much to charge for each piece because we will have made a sample. Once we have the funds to continue, we will take the remainder of the fall and early winter to design and launch the website, beef up our social media, pay Hayder to make all pre-orders and prepare for a high quality launch that is worthy of our brand.
This edited timeline, however, requires we launch a spring collection in February instead of a fall collection in September. While this is a minor setback, we are easily able to translate the fall pieces I had designed to a spring wardrobe. In designing, I was cognizant of the fact that we will likely have customers from all over the world which dictates a more flexible approach to seasonal wear. Yes, this means we had to regroup. Yes, this means Mom and I will have to invest our own funds into the business to keep it going this summer. Yes, it means we are postponing our ability to bring income into the company. But this is not a hobby; this is a business. We know we will make mistakes along the way; but when our gut tells us we have to make a change, must listen.
We are once again excited for the steps ahead. We spent a couple of hours Saturday with our tailor discussing what is needed to make the samples, and have even decided to incorporate a number of his design ideas into our collection. This is real. This is happening. Just a little more slowly than we thought it would. Plan B is a better plan, a stronger plan. We can now move forward.