LEARNING CURVES

LEARNING CURVES

When I started Laila Goddess, in 2014 when I took on this brand new mid life adventure, I had no idea the demands that lay ahead of me. My ambition to design and manufacture my fabrics brought a whole new dimension to creating a clothing collection.

Sure it was fun and the artist in me got to play with colours and shapes, patterns and borders. And it complicated the manufacturing process exponentially.

This summer, based on the huge initial success of my new fabrics, and because my minimum sewing orders were raised, I started to coordinate my largest order to place in time for the busy fall show season. 

And to sneak in some pattern adjustments after I saw you try on the new dresses and jackets in order to perfect the fit. 

I agonized for weeks over which colours to retire because after experimenting with all sorts of variations to test the market, I simply could not keep carrying 15 fabric options in 4 sizes for some styles. Listening to you at my shows, it became clear which were the winners and loved by most. So I put together my order.

First I had to figure out how many meters were required for the new minimums per colour. Then do the math for the printing order. And the math for the raw fabric rolls required to print on. And exactly what type of fabric since expanding my line- with lycra, crepe finish, or krinkle.... Then I had to do the money math and forecast summer sales to support this leap of faith!

When I was ready and had emailed the print and sewing order files, it was then that my raw fabric supplier dropped the totally unexpected news. They were out of inventory of most of what I needed. I was going to miss the printing window I'd carefully planned to follow the Ramadan holiday closure of the printing factory. I could get a minimum amount of fabric to get started on, but there would be delays.

So I had to rewrite those carefully created orders. Then a week later, fabrics arrived early-which was good news, and I had to rewrite the files again. Not a little bit confusing for all involved. 

When I started to follow up on the printing, which I was told had begun 2 weeks before, and which I had arranged for my sewing team to begin, I was informed that there had been unprecedented rain in this the dry season. I called my printer and couldn't hear him as the rain thundered overhead on the roof...no joke about the weather.

Colour printing requires sunny days for best results, that's why I started to design fabrics with black only motifs to print.  I wanted to avoid this type of delay by being clever. Ha!  I encouraged them to start on the black pattern part of production and let go of any hope of getting more Spiral motif in before September.

It didn't occur to me that the heartbreaking tragedy of the Lombok earthquake in early August would directly impact my business. Between Mount Agung volcano activity and the earthquake on the neighbouring island, Bali weather had changed even more, with thick cloud cover arriving each afternoon.

Nothing with colour was getting printed. The backlog from designers all over the world wanting their fabric was getting intense. My texts weren't getting answered.

My sewing team was stalled and this huge order I'd dared invest in and decide on, was getting adjusted and prioritized each week of delays. The order got split into what could be achieved, like the solid blacks and other colour fabrics that didn't require printing and what colour printing had to wait for September shipping.

For added pressure an amazing opportunity knocked and my initiation into wholesale shows was decided at end of June. 

That meant I needed samples by end of August to show to Boutiques coming from across Canada to order their Spring 2019 inventory. This moved up production/shipping dates by 10 days. That's a lot under any circumstances let alone this maddness.

The success of my summer sales left me with few samples to show in the most popular styles. Selling out is wonderful! Thank you! However this show is important, and the learning curves for it alone are enormous. To have a fussy, unpredictable, ever shifting production going on overseas, at opposite time zones that demand communication between 9pm-12am each evening as they start their day, at the same time I'm preparing for the wholesale show was not in my summer plans to say the least...

Then I realized a file I'd prepared carefully and sent early July for new fabric colour printing had not saved properly and that order was never received. First time ever. At that point I started to laugh out loud at the folly of thinking way back in June that I'd be so careful and detail specific to make this order a very smooth experience for all involved.

Had to let go of my ambition to show new wholesale buyers even more fabric options to choose from for 2019...

Finally, this week just days before they needed to be shipped, my tailor got the printed fabrics necessary for my samples because they were finally dry enough, and went into full sewing gear.

When printing black, the fabric needs to sit for 3-4 days, then get set and washed and hang to dry. Tough when the rain keeps falling...

We arranged to ship on Friday, so I could, with luck, receive everything in good time a few days before setting up for the wholesale show.

Then after I thought it was all arranged, a text came saying Friday is a national holiday, Independance Day for Indonesia. Fedex was closed. The Good news was my tailor was going to work overtime to get as much complete as possible. So we had to push shipping till Saturday morning. Again I laughed out loud!

And braced again to sort through a last minute shipment before a trade show set up...something I truly wanted to avoid because it's such an added stress under time pressure.

My plan B all along ( which ultimately allowed me to sleep at night) was to ask a favour of one of my dear friends who also happens to have most of my collection in her closet. I'd get any samples I needed from her to show prospective boutiques... but that's really not what I wanted.

Between all this activity, every weekend I've been out of town participating in outdoor events, setting up, showing and selling my collection to ever increasing audiences, encouraging me through this extraordinary experience.

Go with the Flow. That's the only option really.

Changing weather patterns, tragic earthquakes, volcano eruptions, national holidays, inventory problems, surprise delay after delay, these are all part of what it is to create and grow Laila Goddess this year.

It's literally awesome to watch all these independently moving pieces and try to hang on when I'm not spinning.

I couldn't face any of this if YOU didn't love Laila Goddess so much.

Thank you for participating in the amazing growth spurt of this true labour of LOVE.

 LG