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Trot, Canter & Gallop: Building MerriMane Entry #3

December 21, 2018

Welcome back!  I hope you have enjoyed the first two installments of my journal on starting MerriMane.

The next two installments are all about the details. This part of the process takes considerable focus and patience. You no longer can make a rough sketch or talk big picture. In creating a product the difference is in the details and this part is what took 8 months to perfect.

Before I dive into Step 6 I wanted to take a moment and introduce you all to my incredible support system. Yes, I am technically building MerriMane on my own, but we all know how important love and support is. My support system includes so many friends and of course my family. My husband Teddy is my rock and both of our families are very present in our lives. This photo was taken of our immediate families in late 2015 - getting a photo of everyone together is nearly impossible! 

STEP 6: Prototype Development

This was one of the most exciting stages of the process for me. To see my idea and design come to life was like a dream. I still had a lot of anxiety around building a brand, sales & marketing and production but the foundation of the brand would be in a quality product. If I could nail the product the rest would come with time.

Journaling this part of the process was overwhelming so I will try to not overwhelm you!

STEP 6a: Choosing your fabric for sampling

Choosing the right materials is so incredibly important. Without the right materials your vision cannot be realized and your end product will not meet your quality standards.

In choosing my Velveteen Fleece I first considered the following:

  • Which fabrics could be used to create the desired look? They would need to have weight sufficient to make a tailored outerwear style.
  • How will my customer wear the product?
  • What are my durability preferences? Is this something people will throw away after a few wears or something they will hold on to and pass down to siblings?
  • How does my customer wish to wash and care for the product?

Knowing who my customers are and identifying what is most important to them enabled me to develop my must-haves:

  • Durable - withstand significant wear and tear maintaining the same look and feel
  • Machine washable
  • Ultra-soft and cozy
  • Reasonable cost

Dry cleaning for children’s clothing exists – I really can’t tell you why. My children just don’t operate in that type of environment. They aren’t wired to be so worried about every marker, paintbrush or bite of a strawberry the way I am. And in all honesty, I don’t want them to be. If I was creating something that I wanted them to wear every day then they needed to be able to really wear it every day.

If you don’t know where to start regarding fabrics I would recommend you do the following:

  • Go shopping! You can learn a lot by looking at how other clothes are made.
  • Visit a fabric store. Ask questions!! I asked so many questions about how fabrics would behave when washed, when paired together, if they were brushed. I began to understand different fabrics and why I should use one over the other for our styles.

 

I took the time to do my research and be clear about what I wanted. This was so important as I could have easily been swayed to go in different directions as I met with different industry professionals. I met with a respected fabric wholesaler to discuss fabrics. He reviewed my sketches and recommended I consider French Terry instead of my Velveteen Fleece. French Terry is a great fabric and he has significant experience in the industry. Should I take his recommendation? Should I source fabric and make samples with his team?

This gentleman could not source the velveteen fleece I was searching for, so this was an important turning point for me. I really wanted to take the next step and start making my samples, but French  Terry is very different fabric than what I initially set out to find. Sometimes you have to be flexible and make changes, but this time in particular I am so happy that I trusted my own vision and walked away. I was going to delay getting my samples started which was incredibly upsetting - but I knew I was making the right decision.

STEP 6b: Sourcing Your Fabric

To better understand the fabric sourcing process I read this article very early on and found it outlined the different roles and processes quite nicely. It doesn’t give you actual sources but it does provide a great general overview:
https://makersrow.com/blog/2015/03/fabric-sourcing-strategy-3-tips-for-new-designers/

The sourcing process can go in so many different directions, and I certainly don’t have all the answers. After my experience I would recommend working with the factory, pattern maker or consultant you have chosen to source fabric. I know the article above talks about going directly to the manufacturer but when you are brand new to the industry and in the development stage, you certainly didn’t want to purchase 200 yards of a fabric or 500 buttons. You may pay a bit of a premium but as you are developing your design you don’t want to pay for more than you need.

If you are unsure of your fabric and the process of sourcing it then I would recommend attending a textile show. It is a great way to meet suppliers, attend educational seminars, touch and feel new fabrics and understand what they are being used for today. Texworld is a great event held in NYC. You need to set up your business (a sole proprietorship is fine) and have a business card, as it is for industry professionals only, but then there is no cost to attend. https://texworld-usa.us.messefrankfurt.com/new-york/en.html

As I mentioned previously I chose to work with Stateless for development. They walked me through each option for fabric sourcing and production and I chose to source fabric and then ultimately manufacture overseas as I was able to source the fabric I needed.

Step 6c: Making the prototype

I hope you found a resource to help you make your garment from my last journal entry. If not, jump back to #2 and review. Your relationship with your sample maker is critical as development can take months. Rarely does a designer get a it right Day 1 so the tech pack, fabric choices and patterns are edited numerous times as you work through design changes and then eventually fittings (more on this in Step 8).

I can only speak from personal experience but this stage required a tremendous amount of patience and trust. I don’t sew so I was unable to always articulate exactly what I wanted to change or what wasn’t working right. Google was my best friend as I learned more technical terms each day.

I have stated this previously I know, but you really can’t be scared of what you don’t know or afraid to ask questions.  I need to thank my parents for teaching me that 30+ years ago and I hope I am teaching my daughters to do that now. Doing all of this from home with two little ones was challenging to say the least! I had many days where I questioned if I could really pull it off. Self-doubt is always waiting just around the corner.

Getting my prototype made was a huge milestone! TIME TO CELEBRATE!!🎉

Next installment is all about testing and fitting. Did you realize a standard size chart for childrenswear doesn't exist? Neither did I! So much to learn at each step. Until next time...






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Sizing Guide

The MerriMane Fit runs on the larger size so I highly recommend ordering your current size.  Our wider armholes and shoulders, jacket hem and sleeve length all provide plenty of room to cover growth spurts while ensuring the look is tailored. 

To confirm your current size please refer to the measurements below.  

SIZE
CHEST (IN)
WAIST (IN)
HEIGHT (IN)
WEIGHT (LBS)
SLEEVE LENGTH* (IN)
3-6M
17-18
17.5-18.5
24-27
12-17
12-13
6-12M
18-19
18.5-19.5
27-30
17-25
13-14.5
12-18M
19-19.75
19.5-20.25
30-33
25-27
14.5-15.75
18-24M
19.75-20.5
20.25-21
33-35
27-30
15.75-17.5
2
20.5
21
34-37
29-31
17.5
3
21
21.5
37-39
31-35
18.75
4
22
22
39-43
36-40
19.75
5
23
22.5
43-45
40-44
21
6
24.5
23
45-49
44-48
22
7
26
23.5
48-52
48-53
23
* sleeve length is measured from center back neck to the wrist

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