Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Surprised By Simplicity

Sarah's post yesterday about her Urban Fashion Adventure gone wrong got me thinking about Zelma Rose and what designs have been full of surprises.  There have been a few over the years, but one in particular has been a bit of a tug of war for me.  Let me introduce you to the Infinity Scarf. 

Zelma Rose Infinity Scarves

First, let me say that I really do love making every single thing I design.  This is one of the reasons I make a bunch of prototypes.  Before something leaves my studio, I make sure I not only love it, but want to have an ongoing relationship with making it.  Yeah, we are going steady, moving in together, getting married.  It's fast! The infinity Scarf was a design I worked on two years ago.  I was looking for a fun way to incorporate some of the beautiful plaids I was seeing on the runway into an everyday winter look.  Living in San Francisco, the scarf is pretty much king.  We wear scarves all year round, so combing the two seemed like a no brainer.  I sketched out a few designs, made a few prototypes and ended up with a circular scarf with a gathered button detail.  The design works. It's simple, flattering on men and women, and highlights the season's color and pattern trends.  I posted a few designs on Etsy to test out the market.  Whoa.  Yeah there was a market.  I put the first few designs up the week before my daughter was born and ended up making sales and sending emails during my labor. They were selling out. It was clear I had a hot product.

The question quickly became, why not make them year round?  I could choose lightweight fabrics for the warmer months, maybe even start designing my own fabrics.  It is still an idea I am playing around with.  Currently, I only roll out the line once a year.  From September through January.  Each scarf is a limited edition, I only make a few and when they sell out, that's it.  I sell them on the Zelma Rose website, Etsy and exclusively at Rare Device in SF. When they are gone, they are gone. Ugh, I struggle with even writing about it.  Yes, I should roll out a line of scarves year round and see what happens.  Maybe this is the year.  It doesn't sound like an issue, right?  So what's the big deal?

The big deal is that the infinity scarf, compared to the rest of my designs is relatively simple.  There are no tiny stitches, little hand sewing, and each one is exactly the same in terms of pattern and process.  Again, this seems like an even better reason to sell them year round.  If it sounds like I am making a case for myself here, then yes, I am.  I hear ya.

In the end, the answer becomes about what kind of maker I want to be. I like working on new designs all the time.  ALL THE TIME. The confines of the scarf are pretty tight.  It is what it is.  The fabrics change, but in the end, the design is one thing, and one thing only.  With my cross stitch necklaces, bow ties, and pocket squares, I have a lot more room to breathe. More fabrics work for the bow ties and pocket squares than for scarves.  The scale has to be just right for the scarf.  And as for the cross stitch, the sky is the limit. So here I sit with a design that works, is popular, and I only roll it out once a year.  Some would say my whole business should be based around the scarf.  Yeah, you might be right, but for now,  I like having it be the yearly surprise starlet that burns bright and then fades away.  In the end it is a handshake between the businesswoman and the maker.

What has surprised you about your business lately?



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