If I had a dollar for every time I was asked this or a version of this very question, I’d be answering it from a beach or resort (because I’d have so many extra dollars to spend to get me there). What I do for a living/loving (cheeesey) is often a pretty confusing thing and now that blogging and social media are a part of it, it’s litres more confusing. My elevator pitch could also use some brushing up, because it would probably be much less confusing if I was just better at explaining it. So that’s basically what I thought I would do here and now, answer that most frequently asked question and explain what I actually do (consulting for what?).
I think probably the least confusing (or most, we will see) way to start is to just start at the beginning (of time…kidding), and move along the path to explain what I do currently. Not the best or most time efficient elevator pitch, but it’ll be a work in progress.
[my kitchen table office.]
TO START: I graduated from studying Fashion Design in college and went straight to working in Product Development and Design departments of big and medium-sized Canadian retailers/wholesalers. The “Fashion” or “Apparel” (I personally prefer to call what I do “apparel design” over fashion, that’s a whole other tangent though) industry, always seems to be a confusing and mysterious one — I was also confused before I studied it, so I totally get it.
What is “Product Development” anyways?
Good question. It’s loosely a little different at every company you go to (as these things tend to be), but generally my role includes (in no particular order): design and development of seasonal clothing lines (and all the tasks that come with that, there is a lot), trend direction and research, creation of specifications and perfecting fit of garments, working with manufactures to ensure product comes out as envisioned when finished.
How is “Product Development” different from “Design”?
You probably didn’t ask, but let’s go there anyways. Design is creating something from scratch, usually using alll your creative juices to put something really unique and special out there into the world. Product Development, is sorta the same (depending on who you talk to I guess) but it’s doing all that plus keeping in mind what will be marketable, wearable, sell-able, and cohesive with a brand and seasonal line. It’s like a very business-y design.
[from death to stock, but it kinda looks like me with my notebook, which I bring everywhere to keep me on track.]
THEN: After working for a few years with different brands, commodities and companies, focusing mainly on Product Development I started having babies (pew pew, IDK why gun noses just felt right but they did) and ended up deciding that staying home to raise them and not going back to work at said companies was the best plan for our family. So that’s about when I started blogging, 2010 to be exact and over the years I fell into this world of professional blogging. For the record I would never ever call myself a professional blogger (except maybe on my linkedin profile), but what else would you call it? I’m not a “writer”, my explosion of grammar mistakes and zero writing accolades on the wall make that very clear. But I blog here and make a living and I blog on hellobee and get paid for it — so I’m basically a professional, right?
When and how did you begin to make a living from blogging?
When I started making money from my blog it was at a time when requests for buying sidebar ads started rolling in on their own (and it was far from a living), when my traffic reached a point where the people reading were a few thousand more than just my mom and my friends back home. It took many years before I started making an actual living from my blog, many years and a few content changes. Now a days, this might look much different, since sidebar ads aren’t really the best way to make an income from a blog.
How do you make a living from blogging?
There are so many ways, so many in fact that if enough of you are looking for this answer (let me know if you are) I will write about it in much more detail in a separate post. Sorry to be so vague, it’s just a really long answer — but one I don’t mind sharing about.
[my little helper, trying on fit samples helping me perfect fit of products.]
NOW: There was a point in my stay at home career and blogging life that my previous (apparel) skills and experience started to cross over. I started blogging more about style, not just kids style (I blogged a lot about that when the kids were young) and a couple of clients happened upon my blog or linkedin profile and reached out to see if I would work with them to help them to either build a clothing brand, design a seasonal line, or streamline their processes. I also have had the amazing opportunity (and still continue to have that great opp) to design a collaborative capsule collection (or 5) with brands I totally love. Since clients were coming to me, I basically started consulting and bringing back my ‘Fashion Design’ skills as well as blogging, pretty organically — so I decided to put it out there more and add it to my Work With offerings here, rather than wait for continued chances.
What do you actually do, now?
On top of blogging, the short-ish version is I work with select clients — big, medium and just trying to start-up types mostly. Some clients I help set up or streamline the development process for them, some I help to take all their ideas that are stuck in their head and help them design items or a line that makes sense for their target customers and the market, some I help perfect the fit of their products and some I help take the work I did with them and help them get the word out via different social media outlets — really it differs pretty widely between clients and what they need.
So I really don’t think this was helpful in me trying to perfect my elevator pitch (a tad wordy), unless I hand a link over each time someone asks me (a tad strange). But hopefully it clarified to you a bit to all those questions of what I do, even my about page was a little vague on the topic of what I do.
Many of you have also asked to see more of my finished projects, I do share my capsule collections with mini mioche every season (a collection I design with them that falls under both our labels, a collaboration), but I will try my best to share more of my consulting efforts when I can. Clothing design/development is tricky, I work on something now and it’s often ready to be sold for 3-9 months later depending on where it is manufactured (and what it is). So the point where I can share is often when it arrives in stores and often at that point it’s not really mine to share, but I will try to do better at sharing when things do roll out.
If you are thinking of starting a clothing line but are totally lost on where to start, or maybe you have a brand that you want to grow or organize and streamline, maybe looking for someone to handle the product development/design/trend direction for your brand, or you need to take everything you do really well and scream it out loud over social media and you don’t know quite where to start? That’s when we should chat. Or maybe you know someone who needs help in one or a few of these areas?
And fun product design collaboration’s, I do those (and pretty successfully I might humbly add), you can always check out my, work with me page which outlines a bunch of cool ways we can work together on a bunch of different levels.
How did I do, did I answer your questions? If I missed any about what I do, ask away and I can add to this post.