Something that I’ve been doing for the last few years before setting goals for the new year is to look back and reflect on how the previous year has been. Needless to say, this year has been out of the ordinary for all of us in so many ways. And for me personally, it’s also a year I decided to start my own small business - a slow fashion brand for petite women called LOVANIE. Just like any entrepreneurial story, there have been twists and turns along the way so I thought I’d document this first 6 months journey in a blog post. Many of you reading this newsletter have been with us from the very beginning, so I hope that you enjoy looking back at our journey together and are excited for what’s to come!
So here goes…
June was the month that I remembered sitting on my studio floor contemplating what I should - scratch that - want to be doing. That’s when I finally made the decision to pursue my dream of starting my own sustainable fashion label. I had wanted to do this for over a year, but I didn’t really know where to start and didn’t have a community of other entrepreneurs who were also doing the same thing that I could connect with. But with COVID and spending more time at home, I decided that it’s time to finally give this dream a chance and invest in myself by enrolling in Factory45. Earlier in 2020, I was selling secondhand clothes and while I still fully support that and hope to bring that aspect as part of LOVANIE in the future, I knew in my heart that I enjoy creating and making things more (than taking photos & reselling). And if the point of starting your own business outside of your full-time job is to be able to do something that you love, then why shouldn’t we start with that as a minimum?
Month 1 July
This first month was all about coming up with the brand concept, color palette and mood board. The overall aesthetics for LOVANIE are very much inspired by bohemian deco, romance, and vintage looks in exotic destinations. I found myself pinning a bunch of Byron Bay beach photos and minimal architecture. LOVANIE is created for the hopeless romantics with a feminine style who love to wander the world. By the end of the month, I had multiple Pinterest boards and had a pretty good image of a woman who I can picture wearing LOVANIE pieces. I am also a major Swiftie and Taylor Swift’s surprising album drop, Folklore, at the end of July, also played a role to infuse some cottage core inspirations in some of the original designs I had too.
Month 2 August
Based on the moodboards, I then worked with an illustrator to create 8 different sketches of the styles that could be included as part of LOVANIE’s first collection. These sketches were shared with all of you and the styles with the top 3 votes were chosen: (1) bell sleeve top (2) wrap dress and (3) puff sleeve top. The longest part of the process - fabric sourcing - began back in July. I initially wanted to launch the collection with printed deadstock rayon or Tencel or Ecovero rayon fabric with custom prints. But I just couldn’t find the perfect fabric that would work with this collection just yet. I also looked at organic cotton but it also didn’t come in the right color shades that I was looking for. By this point, the fabric choice was still up in the air…
Month 3 September
After we got our designs picked out based on the top votes, I began my search for the pattern/sample maker to bring our sketches to life. All of my communications with the patternmaker are done remotely on Zoom calls, with a lot of emails and detailed sketches with notes in between. Because of the pandemic, it would be difficult to coordinate in-person meetings with fit models so I decided to create the sample in my size with me as the first fit model instead.
At the same time, this is when I narrowed down on using linen as the main fabric for the collection. From a sustainability perspective, linen flax grows naturally and requires no water in addition to rainwater making it one of the most eco-friendly natural fibers. It’s also really durable and gets softer over time with each use. Having said that, linen can be a bit difficult to work with as there are certain styles that fit linen more than others and it has a natural wrinkly finish. But I think that for our spring/summer styles in this launch collection, linen is a wonderful option.
Month 4 October
With the collection pattern making process in full swing, the brand’s size range has been a question on my mind since the beginning — should LOVANIE offer regular sizing or petite sizing? As a 5’2” petite woman myself, I know how hard it can be to find clothes that fit our petite frames and proportions, let alone find sustainable ones. Almost half of women in the US are 5’4” or under, so this problem exists for many of us. Choosing to niche down can be a scary decision to make as a small business owner at the time when I made the announcement. But ultimately I think it was the right choice to make because I have been really able to hone in on the specific issues and needs of petite women. And more importantly, with the right measurements during the pattern making process, we can make sure that we create clothes that fit well on petite women’s bodies and make you look good and feel confident wearing our pieces.
Month 5 November
During this year, I’ve also picked up sewing during the quarantine period and started to make my own me made wardrobe. Sewing really made me understand the process that goes into making each and every piece of garment. And I’d say there are many manual steps involved than people would think! This is why it’s so important for us to look for and support brands with ethical production process with workers in fair working conditions and earning fair wages. By November, I thought that I could spread a little holiday cheer by making handmade scrunchies, packaged in little gift boxes. So LOVANIE scrunchies were launched and they are available on the website in deadstock cotton and silk charmeuse. Check them out if you haven’t already!
I started to also think about how I would be launching the first collection next Spring. And I decided that I will be launching the line as a crowdfunding campaign in April 2021, because I believe that made-to-order is the future of the fashion industry, where garments are only made after they are sold. This eliminates unnecessary inventory and unwanted clothes that would go into landfills. It also asks consumers to be more intentional about they purchases because they would have to wait a little while before receiving the clothes. Not impulse purchases just because you want/need things to be there within a day or two.
Month 6 December
The majority of the time this month has been spent working on the second set of samples and the new linen pants style (added on last minute with popular votes on IG stories haha). Another thing to make sure that the fabric is wash tested and the samples fit well on petites 5’4” and under across body shapes and sizes. We’ve received an overwhelming response to sign up to be our fit models and give feedback on the sample prototypes. This feedback will be incorporated before we finalize the designs in the 3rd samples (hopefully!) It’s exciting to see what used to be only sketches, slowly coming together in something that you can finally touch and feel — and wear around the house all day.
There were also changes in some designs that I decided to make this month to simplify and make the collection more cohesive. As of now, the 4 designs that we are launching are shown in the sketches below. All will be made from 100% linen.
The unexpectedness continues as I found out earlier this month that the made-on-demand factory based in Alabama that I was planning to work with for our first collection has unfortunately shut down. So I’m currently looking into other options to produce our first collection, including in Seattle (where we’re based) which would be the ideal scenario. Fingers crossed this all works out soon!
As I look forward to the new year in 2021, my goal is to be able to launch LOVANIE’s first collection in the spring with the crowdfunding campaign funded to get the production complete for the summer delivery. I’d love to also be able to release new styles as well around the fall & winter timeframe and use more prints and deadstock fabric (as I originally hoped to do).
Do you like this type of behind-the-scene blog posts? Should I share these more frequently, like on a monthly basis? Let me know in the comments below.
Thank you so much for going along on this whirlwind journey with me. I appreciate it more than you know and I’m so grateful for all the love and support you’ve shown so far for this brand and our mission, despite the many twists and turns. Here’s to an amazing 2021!