How It's Made - Our Design Process

Moms are the ultimate multitaskers right? Cause I'm writing this while frantically rewatching last season's Game of Thrones...

Ok, onto the post.

I was chatting recently with a childhood friend who is also new to the small shop world (shout out to Vanessa Calligraphy; IG @itspenday!). We talked about where we pull inspiration from and how many iterations a design goes through before we're comfortable sharing it with the world. And so I thought I'd share an example here :)

All mui + kai clothes are "made from scratch". I source the cozy fabrics; I sketch out my vision of styles and fits for all the clothes; I work with a pattern maker to turn those sketches into patterns (if you don't know what a sewing pattern is, it's essentially all the individual puzzle pieces of a clothing item - the body, the sleeves, the back, the neckline, etc.); I work with a production house in Toronto that cuts and sews every single piece. And while all that is happening, I'm working and reworking (and reworking and reworking) the graphics that get printed on our tops.

I start each collection with a long list of ideas. This most recent drop started with nearly 30.

From there I narrow down to a handful of concepts that I think have the best potential.

EXAMPLE:
FUGEES, FU-GEE-LA
OOH LA LA LA, SWEET THING + LOLLIPOP

I take that concept and mock up several different design approaches. From there I pick one and start building on it. And THEN comes the seemingly never-ending process of designing, redesigning, rethinking, adding detail, simplifying, refining, adding something else, simplifying again, trying something else....on and on and on until I'm happy with it. OR I wind up feeling it's not good enough and scrap the whole thing after weeks of work (yes, this has happened and yes I've cried over it cause it's exhausting).

Our new Sweet Thing t-shirt went through 17 design iterations! That's probably too overwhelming to see so I'll show you just 7 of those 17 steps where you can see the biggest differences.

FIRST STEP

Sweet Thing version 1 

IN BETWEEN

 Sweet Thing version 2  Sweet Thing version 3  Sweet Thing version 4  Sweet Thing version 5  Sweet Thing version 6

FINAL

Sweet Thing version 7

And that's an abbreviated glimpse of just one design. All-in-all, from the time I start sketching to when I pick up completed garments from the printer, it takes about 10-12 weeks to create a collection. And this of course doesn't include the added time for packaging, marketing, prepping and doing shows. 

This is probably a common journey for many small shops and mompreneurs that create their products. All without a salary, without any guarantee of sales, and a big investment in time and money. 

That's why every purchase made with a small shop is deeply appreciated and meaningful to the owner. It's validation that the hard work, the lack of sleep, the risk, the vulnerability...it's worth it!

 


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