This week was all about building a good team.
One of the things that I have learnt through my years of running my own brand, is that it is impossible to do everything myself ! I learnt that the hard way. Through making lots of mistakes.
When I first launched Jake & Maya in 2008, I literally did everything myself because I just didn’t know how to delegate or have the confidence and knowledge to tell people what I needed. Besides, with the small budget that I had, I thought that I could save some money by doing everything myself.
In the first few years, I spent a lot of time learning new skills and implementing them as I went along but looking at it now, I can see that it wasn’t the most time (or cost) efficient way to run a business. It took me hours to complete the simplest tasks because I had to first learn how to do it and as the business started to grow, it became unmanageable. I got burnt-out and exhausted. My passion for the brand was starting to disappear.
This was part of the reason, that I decide to just scale back the business a couple of years ago, give myself a break and just focus on raising my young twins.
This time around, after spending a long time getting inspired again, I know better. I need to create a good team, in order to survive and make sure that I can run the business properly.
I will still have to do a lot of things myself but time-consuming tasks that anyone can do and things that I honestly know that someone else can do better than I can, I will try to pay someone to help me with. This will allow me to just focus on what I am good at and on what tasks that only I can do at this time.
First of all, I wanted to find a good graphic designer to help me create some visuals for the re-brand. I had a couple of meetings with some very talented people but unfortunately, my budget doesn’t allow me to hire them to do the work required. There are other things that are more critical at this point , like creating the collection itself and a website.
So, I have to compromise and do most of the branding concepts myself. I will pass on my ideas and sketches on to a graphic designer on People Per Hour to help me digitise everything and to put together a full branding package, based on my designs.
I find, if you know what you want, People Per Hour is a great place to get help without having to break the bank. However, be careful with who you choose to work with and be very clear with instructions, in order to avoid disappointments and waste your money. I have been there and done that. My advice is, start with giving them a small job and see how they work and only if you feel that he/she is excellent, commit to bigger projects. Because, in my opinion, it doesn’t matter how good their portfolio or reviews are, if they can’t produce the work that you need, they aren’t good enough for you.
Now, with graphics hopefully sorted, we have to get all our brand statements, press releases and website copy organised. All communication through the various channels need to be cohesive and have the same language, in order to deliver a strong brand image. Otherwise your customer may get confused with what you are trying to tell them.
I met with a brilliant copy writer that I have been in touch with for a different project but not yet had a chance to work with. There are just too many ideas in my head, for me to be able to properly formulate into clear and concise sentences. I have pages and pages of scribbles in my notebook …
Apart from the fact that I think an outside person would be better at writing the copy because she would be more subjective, her vocabulary and grammar would probably be much better than mine too, as after all, English isn’t my 1st or even 2nd language.
We had a fantastic meeting. This lady really gets me and completely agrees with my vision. This, to me is very important, that everyone in the team has the same or at least a similar vision.
Of course, building a brand isn’t all about branding and communication. For a long-lasting brand, we also need to have an amazing product. It is time to find a production partner. Playing time or what we call product development time is over, it is time to focus, start narrowing down our options and start getting the collection samples made.
I set up a meeting with a small production unit in London that I have worked with previously. We have a good relationship and they have been very helpful with our previous collections but turns out our new concept may prove to be a bit too much to them. Our zero waste cutting techniques would require them to invest a lot of time to re-think their production process and they are just not sure if they can afford that time.
Fingers crossed they are up for the challenge because I like working with them and their quality is very good. Otherwise, we will have to re-think our options. Getting people to do something that is not ordinary or standard is never easy. People generally like doing things that they are used to but we will see.
Next on the agenda, a stylist. Good styling is where your brand image and your products merge and portray a clear vision or message to your customers.
Similar to copywriting, sometimes it is better to let someone else do it because they can add a fresh view to your vision. I already have someone in mind, so a quick meeting to go through the requirements was all we needed, in order for her to be able to provide me with a rough quote.
I should, by the end of this week, know who will be part of my dream team. So exciting !
If you have a skill or service that you would like to put forward. Please do drop me a line.
Ps. To find out more about how to build a sustainable fashion business and British manufacturing, have a look at Ethical Fashion Forum and Made in Britain and skillshare has quite a lot of useful tutorials about fashion design and brand building too.
Take care, I’ll be back with more updates next week. x