Thursday, January 28, 2016

Clothing Line Launches Amid Procrastination, Anxiety, and Ever-Neglected Household Chores

I sorta love this picture. It really captures me in a candid state -- having fun but probably not sure what I'm doing, haha. 

There is one thing that I do know how to do, and do well, that is make clothing. But trudging through the process of building a website, taking professional photographs (do I have to wear makeup??), learning the ins-and-outs of credit card processing, NOT TO MENTION how do I get my product to customers in the first place??

I'm slowly finding answers to these questions, in my own way. This whole clothing line is me doing it all in my own way, with the help of uber-talented friends that have brought me guidance and a helping hand. I didn't realize how badly I'd need that helping hand. 

The anxiety and procrastination I've developed over the past couplea weeks has surprised me. That's not me, why do I feel this way? I ain't scared if that's what you're thinking ... or am I? I've double-checked everything so why can't I just pull the trigger on this bitch? I don't have anything to fear cause I don't even know what I'm getting myself into!

I'm just gonna say to myself that feeling all these feelings must mean I'm stepping outside of my comfort zone and I've heard that it's good to do once in a while.

So without further delay, I'd like to announce that my clothing line is officially open for business, with the first garment being released TODAY! Wahoo!! Take a look at the new site!

I've got some thank you's I need to get out there.

Seth Tice-Lewis, you're tha bomb, your photography skills made it easy create a great-looking site.
Skram Furniture Co., for letting us use your space and hog the radio even though I didn't ask.
Brittney O'Brien, you made me feel so confident with a great new hair-do before the shoot, and for showing me what makeup is even though I hardly put any on.
Chris Martz and Benjamin Reed, for advising me in the ways of HTML script.
Anna Daigneault, for proof-reading, trouble-shooting, and giving lots of hi-fives.
The Tilley/Thornton families, Haley Harned and Jenny Ellis for giving me your honest opinions about my clothes and telling me my ideas are good.
Adam Joyce, for orchestrating the wonderfully-instructional measuring video, for srsly holding my hand through this process, and for continually wiping sawdust off my ass.

And for all of YOU, who have been excited about my ideas, who have shared your clothes and fit stories with me, who have followed me through my career journeys, hell, I wouldn't have started this thing if it wasn't for Instagram and the feedback I got there. THANK YOU FOR PUSHING ME TO THIS POINT.

And this is only the beginning. Once I start to work through these first 3 garments, and get a chance to tweak and troubleshoot, I'm hoping this clothing line can become a well-oiled machine that can last through the year, if not longer. My initial goal was to release at least 1 garment a month for the whole year. I don't know where I'll go from there but I'm excited to see where I find myself this time next year!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Clothing Line!

SO, I know some a y'all be thinking that I'm fully-focused on my art career right now ... I was thinking the same thing too. Well, I can't explain it but I got this bug (or rather a really good idea) to play with making clothes for others. I have been having a fabulous time these past 2 years making my own garments and honing my pattern-making skills. It's like a super-practical 3-D puzzle that engages my brain in wonderful ways. After my peanut shorts experiment earlier this year, I started to seriously consider developing a clothing line. And I finally got fed up working with clients on their ideas and decided to find an income with my own ideas.

Starting January 2016, I will be officially launching Ann Tilley Handmade clothing!

Here's how it works:
Ann Tilley Handmade is a small-batch, made-to-order clothing line focused on everyday, easy-wear-easy-care garments. We will release one look each month via social media and other online marketing tools, with particular emphasis on direct e-mail. Customers will place their order on a first-come-first-served basis online, and will be prompted to provide their body measurements. The garment will be cut and sewn to fit their specified dimensions and mailed out to them. As soon as all the fabric is gone for each garment, the product will come to an end. We're striving to exist between $30-$100 price range per garment.

To be the first to know about new products, make sure you are signed up to my email list! Those on the list will get a 24-hour heads up to make a purchase before I post publicly on social media. There's only going to be 8-20 garments offered for each look so you gotta move quick!

Here's my mission statement because, yes, I wrote a business plan so you have to read it now :)

Ann Tilley Handmade strives to provide the general public with ethically-made clothing that are unique, stylish, and comfortable, with an option for custom fitting.  ATH is for those who otherwise can’t afford to shop ethically or don’t know how.  ATH is for the person who has a unique body shape and is unable to fit in clothing off the rack.  ATH is for the person who wants to dress like a true individual!
In lieu of photos of the actual clothing I will be offering (the photoshoot is January 9th!) here are some shots over the last year of clothing I have made for myself and loved ones.

One of my biggest regrets about pursuing a fashion career is that a lot of times it does not fall in line with my moral and environmental values. I see all these wonderful people around me are following careers that contribute to the greater good and I'm making clothes? And when you hear about all the tragedies surrounding cheap, overseas labor (watch The True Cost documentary on Netflix) or the fact that the fashion industry is the 2nd largest waste-producing industry, second only to the coal industry, it makes one feel sorta sick to their stomach walking through a Target or a TJ Maxx.

I can't change the industry -- one little girl in rural NC -- but I can choose to not support it with my money. I haven't really shopped for new clothing in 2 years, occasionally I crumble but less and less frequently. I'm lucky because I can make clothes for myself but my friends don't have that option, and me reprimanding them for shopping at Old Navy doesn't really change anything. We need some clothing and we want other clothing because it's fun, it makes you feel good, like yourself, it's a fundamental way that humans present themselves to each other.

I'll be sewing all purchased garments by myself in the lil 9 ft x 15 ft home studio barn behind my house. The fabrics are being sourced based on their uniqueness, comfort, and price, and each product will be available until I run out of its allocated fabric. Then that keeps me from getting burnt out on the same thing and a chance to try out new designs and fabrics. I guess it's the artist in me bleeding over to the fashion side. I don't have a ton of control (for now) about how ethically the fabric is being produced, especially if I am considering cost, but usually that aspect of manufacturing is less reliant on human labor. And as this project moves along, hopefully I can educate myself more on this aspect of the business and make thoughtful changes.

So... LET ME KNOW WHAT Y'ALL WANNA SEE! What garment are you missing from your wardrobe that you just can't find?

I'm ready to take your orders!