Monday, 30 November 2009

Susie believes....

Just a quick one as i'm not going to gloat (too much) but if you have a second take a look at:

Susie of; a legend in the fashion blogging world took the time out of her day today to write a little something about this here label. So just wanted to say a MASSIVE thankyou Susie for taking the risk in writing about a designer who is yet to show anyone her new collection...I WILL NOT let you down. xx

Friday, 27 November 2009

Scout me out

Vauxhall Fashion Scout Salon: Business Development

On wednesday evening I hop on the train up to London and make my way to a pub in Islington where I am meeting Brian in preparation for the 2 hour talk we are about to attend, compliments of Vauxhall Fashion Scout.
Fashion Scout offers this service to all applicants. The seminars run for a year, providing expertise on all aspects of setting up a fashion business, this is the second one (I unfortunately missed the first as I only found out about it an hour before and South West trains just don't provide that kind of service. i.e. they don't fly).
As we settle down, it's a relaxed atmosphere and everyone chit chats away, note pads a ready. Information absorption time. GO.

Speaker number one: CHARLOTTE BLAKEY: KELTIE
Keltie is a leading firm of Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys based in Central London, representing UK and overseas clients, in a range of industries who wish to identify, establish, protect, exploit and enforce their intellectual property rights in the UK, Europe and worldwide.

Charlotte is more than helpful and raises our awareness of the importance of copyrights, trademarks and registering your designs. All expensive business though. Registering one of your designs starts at £370/£400! It goes down after that but still. Ouch.

Emma's no nonsense approach to finance was very popular at last week's Salon. With years of experience working with designers Emma will be advising on financial planning and growing your business.

Emma is lovely and immediately hands out this spreadsheet (a foreign word in the eyes of a creative)...

Emma has provided us with an example of what we should be doing in keeping track of our costs. i.e the bit that no one really wants to talk about or admit that they are slightly behind on.
FORTUNATELY I have Brian and we already have done one of these with a few others 'spreadsheets' to go with it. We give each other a nudge and a wink...I grin and wriggle around in my seat. Brian doesn't. Damn his cool. Must try harder Charlotte.
Then I drop my pen.
I can't find it and I need it. I am disturbing the class. Climbing as quietly as possible under my chair Brian taps me on the shoulder. "What's wrong?". I tell him. He says he has an application on his iPhone for blimey! how can an iPhone find my pen...? I have a quick conversation in my head about how times are a changing and in my day...etc, when Brian passes me his iPhone with an illuminated screen. Aha. I get it. A light. I locate my pen. I apologize to those around me for my bull in a china shop behavior and sit down. Brian grins. I don't.

The Centre for Fashion Enterprise based at the London College of Fashion is a business development programme that works with early stage fashion companies in London. The aim of the Centre is to support the very best of this talent in helping them build successful fashion companies by giving designers access to their network of diverse fashion professionals.

Jason again is lovely and provides no nonsense, unbiased advice for people like myself. He talks mainly this evening on interns, how to get the best out of them and also whether we should pay them (a hot topic it would seem as opinions immediately fly around the room). However it is not until after the salon has finished that we really get somewhere. Brian practically pins Jason up against a corner and questions him like a man on trial. The icing on the cake being when he asks Jason "So, how can we use you?". AMAZING. As if I would ever say that to a lecturer and as Jason laughs he proceeds to tell us all the ways in which he can helps us, gives us email addresses, advice and then asks my name and says to get in touch. Worth the trip just for that. GO TEAM

Monday, 23 November 2009

Shameless Charlottes Roller-coaster Ride

Spreading the word

We all know that cliche of 'it's not what you know, it's who you know" and you gotta give it to them, it's kind of true.

Post Halloween, I donned my fancy pink frock and hit Garrard for the launch of Georgina Chapman's new line. I have never felt comfortable at fashionable parties; maybe it's my northern roots and my fondness of venues sporting illuminated, revolving dancefloors that has set me apart...? However as you become accustomed to such events one tends to relax...a bit. Surrounded by hugely successful people, that I have the upmost respect and admiration for, I remember to remind myself at all times that at the end of the day, they are just people; and you know what, maybe they like revolving dance floors too...?
All these parties however are brilliant opportunities to pin people to dark corners and make them become interested in my new "next big designer" label. So with business cards in tow and a little dutch courage (4 Moscow mules) I start to "network".

Blog Off

People ask me why I started my blog:
Over 60's: "So what is this "blog" thing then...did you come up with that idea all by yourself?, oooh (a bit of cheek pinching), you are a clever girl. In MY day.......
Under 60's just mainly ask why I decided a blog would be a good support to the label etc...
There are a few reasons why to clarify:
1. It is a great way of documenting my progress. I figure this is a pretty big stage in my life and it will be nice to look back and remember everything I went through.
2. I have never been a great self-promoter and I find a blog a nice balance. One that suits me as I can talk about what I am doing without (I think) sounded big headed and full of myself.
3. For others. I know when I was at college we had plenty of lecturers come in to tell us about setting up a new label. They were VERY matter of fact and full of nasty figures and statistics. DEpressing. I guess no-one can ever fully know what to expect when they launch a company but I hoped/ hope that from my ramblings and knowledge gained on the way people might learn a thing or two..? All I know is that I would definitely have been interested to read a blog along a similar direction.
4. It's great PR baby. I needed/need to get the ball rolling before the collection is launched in february and with no clothes to actually send off to magazines, this seemed to me like a good start. I have sent this blog off to many UK publications and online bloggers etc, (Hi there if you're reading) to start spreading the word.
5. It's really therapeutic. Honestly.

Link me up

I am trying to build an online presence for "Charlotte Taylor", the brand and in doing so have also created a Facebook page to support. You may have noticed the Facebook link on the right hand side of the page. This as yet is not functioning as it should, (i'm working on it and grinding my teeth as we speak) so if you want to become a fan of "Charlotte Taylor" and recieve updates on my progress then please go to:

I also have a website, but this is under construction so will keep you posted on that one.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Spot and to dot

2D becomes 3D... patterns and samples start arriving
(Jump in the air and celebratory dance with donkey. Check)

Although I do a large amount of the pattern cutting myself, (i have always enjoyed it and my slightly mathematical brain lends its helping, if a little rusty hand) I have hired the help of a lovely lady called Lara, who specializes in this trade, to assist me in the more complicated and time consuming varieties; and I love her.

Lara is a working mum and turned up to drop the finished patterns off with her 2 young girls - proper little characters who proceed to wrap themselves around me, jump from stool to stool, throw pens on the floor and finish me off with a good bout of flatulence. Mummy, who is "trying to talk business with the nice lady" is as calm as a cucumber and sweetly asks the girls to sit down, stop throwing stuff at me and apologize immediately for said wind. Just my kind of people. Keepin it real folks.

Anyway the patterns are perfect and we have a great thing going where I can give her designs and toiles as and when and she can turn them around pretty quickly and at a reasonable, non-London price. Then after they have been fitted, tweaked and perfected they get shipped off 200m down the road to the seamstress who is also fab and very talented.

All from my little advert in the paper. Who would have thought the Island was such a little treasure trove.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

"When Big colors, he rarely stays within the lines "

(Quote Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City...sorry guys)

The colors of my story

So..AN EXCLUSIVE SNEAK PEEK at the Charlotte Taylor fabric and color ways for AW '10!!!!


Tweeds, Wools and heavy cotton drills

Dresses, trousers, skirts etc
Wool crepes and thick silk satins

Patterned and stretch cottons

Contrasts (inspired by my Penguin friends)
Purple, Orange and Yellow cotton mixes

Silk Satins

Navy Blue, Browns, Creams, Pearl, Orange, Yellow, Purple

There are a few added bonuses, I couldn't give it all away; including an 'exclusive' Charlotte Taylor print so keep you eyes open and your ears to the ground....

Friday, 13 November 2009

"Is she the Frock maker?"

" NO DAD...she's a seamstress, NOT a "Frock maker"

So after my expedition to London to find a production factory, finding one, then finding it to be more expensive than i'd expected or budgeted for, I endeavor to find a sample machinist on the Island. It makes sense because it'll be miles cheaper and I can drop patterns off as and when it suits, they just need to be of a high enough standard.

I put an ad in the local newspaper.

The best £18 I have spent so far. I have been inundated with phone calls and managed to find some highly experience seamstresses, as well as pattern cutters AND interns who had all seen the advert and got in touch. So many that I could potentially produce the whole collection from the Island and not use a factory at all...we shall's exciting though and great to talk to people whose tails wag like mine when they're around pattern pieces, thread, fabric and zips. It makes me feel a little less strange.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

*Get me to the show on time*

Application for LFW research

Sponsors and Shows

BFC Newgen (For more established designers)

Contact- 020 7636 7788.
British Fashion Council, 5 Portland place, London W1B 1PW

- Sponsored by Topshop
- £5,000 - £10,000 towards your costs, exhibition space, usage of BFC catwalk tent and mentoring.
- Application: Email for further details

Fashion Forward (For more established designers)

- Christopher Kane
- Erdem
- Marios Schwab

Fashion Fringe

- 4 x Finalists. 1 x Winner (last yr they did 20 outfits)
- Show TBC
- Application: unsure. Email for further details.
- Application includes - 1 x application form
- 1 x set of 10 – 25 drawings of a capsule collection for womenswear A/W ’10. Including 5 full colour illustrations of finished designs and development of your ideas
- 1 x Equal Opportunities form.

Fashion East

- 3 winners
- £3,500 prize
- Free venue, complete show production, PR support, professional catwalk photos, selling stand at LFW exhibition.
- Application: Around November.
- Application includes - Email images
- Brief biog/ CV
- Supporting materials (digital look books)
- Scanned press cuttings
- Contact: The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick lane, E1 6Ql.
020 7770 6150


Apply online for an interview.

Vauxhall Fashion Scout

- Host nearly all of the off schedule shows (about 100) in London Fashion week
- Cost of show is subsidized by sponsorship programme
- Personalized advice and year long mentoring programme
- Professional front of house and backstage teams
- Show DVD and VIP goody bags

- Application open in November 09. Email
- Good to have begun media awareness/ coverage
- Support team – Sales and PR

Thursday, 5 November 2009

I heart YKK and dodgy east end buildings

Day one (In a Geordie Big Brother style accent)
Production/ Factory/ Underground sweat shop visit

I head over to the East end of London town to meet "E". The owner of a small yet thriving clothes production factory in what appears to be abandoned building, but apparently is not. Down some dodgy 'cup of tea for 50p in the builders cafe' alley I find the old warehouse and it is thriving with small, scurrying individuals...whether their speciality is vintage dolls or electrical appliances the place is heaving by the time I arrive at 9am, a good start non the less.
Straining to interpret E's heavy set Polish accent I hurriedly jot down notes on what the score would be if this production team were to become a part of my 'team'.

The deal was:
- Production of my 20 outfits would start from the 20th 20th Jan! But apparently this is normal and she looked as calm as the proverbial cucumber when assuring me of a definite delivery date before my actual show in Feb. That's good then.
- Samples cost twice as much as what an item would normally cost in production. She showed me examples from a top end designer that she is doing at the moment. So for example a medium difficulty dress would be £60 production, £120 for a sample. A shirt, about £30/ £40 for production, £60/ £80 sample.

I leave feeling reassured in that I know what you can expect to pay for a decent sample. I would like to work with "E", as the samples I saw were beautifully made, and not bad value I feel for production.
I think my solution might be to get my samples made by a top end seamstress on the Island so that I am nearby (and its costs half the price down here), and then move production up to "E" after the show.

Day two
Mr zip man I love you, Mr zip man I do....

Down rather smart road in a rather smart area of town one finds oneself arriving for a meeting at YKK. A Japanese company, the place is like Fort Knox (I needed a security swipe card to use the bathroom) and I felt a little bit out of place.
"M" had agreed to meet with me very kindly considering my minimum orders are below their quota so I would have to go direct to a wholesaler, not them. However I needed info as being on the island I'm a bit isolated and I need to be designing, not going up to London all the time.
To cut to the chase "M" was AWESOME!! He gave me swatch cards of every colour zip available, brochures on zip finishings, zip pulls, revolutionary zips...the zip list goes on and on and on.
What a nice man. He got nothing from that meeting and I got everything.

I heart "M" and YKK

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Excuse me, with whom am I speaking...?

Time to get the ball a rolling...up to London and down to business

Combining a business trip with my love of Halloween, I find myself writing the most random list. Fortunately I was coherent enough to wear my nighty and fake blood combo and David Bowie ensemble at the appropriate times. Tick box.

Fancy dress aside, I arrange a plethora of meetings during my trip.
These included:

Factory visits - To discuss costings, see samples and meet the team

Appointments with agents for fabrics, trimmings and zips - to finalize orders, prices and lead times

Lunches with my part-time PR and Sales team - Planning and organizing strategies, timings and action plans

Magazine appointments - Discussing potential coverage for the Label/ Blog

Monthly meeting with Brian - We discussed sending me on some courses to increase my awareness of internet marketing and one on negotiation techniques.

LONDON ALSO = NETWORKING CENTRAL, what a horrible word...but we all know it's not what you know but WHO you know

I leave north Island on Thursday and will go into more detail about my progress when I return to the studio...

Maybe after i've been for a quick surf ;-D

My Keystones

"A keystone is the architectural piece at the crown of a vault or arch which marks its apex, locking the other pieces into position." Wikipedia

Having a strong support system has been invaluable to me in the early stages of my business. This is not only important on a personal level but also on a professional one. I work amongst boards of well wishes, jokes, photographs and memorabilia and they keep me going when i'm so tired I start sewing my fingers together.

My best buddies also made me a good luck video when I left London and started up the business: