Career

Your fashion startup to-do list

July 20, 2016

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You can search the Internet for business startup tips until your face turns blue and still feel uncertain about where to start. Believe me, I have a stack of business articles that I printed off with every intention to read them and they’re still just a stack of unread articles.

To save you time and to give you maybe that little “baby step” you need to get going, I’m keeping this short and sweet. Here is your e-commerce fashion startup to-do list. It’s not super comprehensive but it’s pretty close. At least, it’s all I needed to keep on track.

I wrote out each task on a piece of paper and taped them to my office wall under their appropriate category in a rough order of importance. As I accomplished a task, I took the paper down. It was the visual motivation I needed to keep going, stay focused and stay on track. I hope it does the same for you. Read More

A Factory45 success story

April 12, 2016

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“I’d be in fittings and I’d pull a pair of jeans on and they’d rip in two pieces. The designer would say that it didn’t matter because they only retailed for $10.99.”

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Giving new designers a leg up

April 10, 2016

shannon whiteheadStarting anything new is intimidating and full of the unknown.

Where do you start? What do you need? How the heck do you find out what you need? Where do you go for help? What’s been done before? Why are you doing this? SHOULD you do this? OMG this is bat-sh*t crazy. Don’t do it. HEEEEEELLLLLPPPP!

I may be generalizing here, but I’m guessing this is what every single entrepreneur who’s ever decided to launch a business thought at any given time during the process of bringing their dream to life. I’m no exception. These kids of fears may be even stronger in those entrepreneurs trying to launch a sustainable business.

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Living minimally: where to begin

March 7, 2016

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Two weeks ago, I had the honour of being a human “book” and giving two fifteen-minute talks about living minimally. The attendees were civil servants, many of them managers, and they were here to “read” about my knowledge of living minimally in the hopes of applying my tips to their personal and professional lives.

In preparing for my talk, I came across some great minimalist tips that helped me show how minimalism can be applied to all facets of life, not just to our closets and pantry.

Minimalism is originally a popular form of art in the 1950s that favoured simple, large shapes

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The Devil is in the detail: picking the perfect storefront

February 28, 2016

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Before I reveal the shop’s landing page, including logo (yes, it’s done!) and before I share with you my criteria for picking the designers that we’ll feature in the shop, I thought I should take you through the process of picking a Shopify template since I just finished this task last week. I can’t wait to reveal the brand to you, but I figured I should post my tips in chronological order, non? Read More

Love + business

February 14, 2016

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Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

I’ve been in Washington, D.C. for a four-day conference and only now have some time to catch up on emails and write a post or two. I’m sorry for the radio silence. Are you keeping warm?

This post is business related, since I’m still working on setting up shop and want to bring you along for the ride, but it’s also inspired by today’s celebrations of love.

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Fashion startup: tackling the business plan

January 17, 2016

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I haven’t given a proper update on the progress of the shop in a while and I figured it was time for one. I’m thrilled to say that I received startup funding from Futurpreneur in November (thank you Futurpreneur). I had to submit a business plan to apply, and my friend Maureen Dickson from Slow Fashion Forward told me that Futurpreneur had a user-friendly online business plan template that she recommended I use.

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What’s the deal with wholesale?

October 30, 2015

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I’ve given you some business plan writing tips, I’ve written about the shop’s design preference, and now comes the fun stuff. What will we sell on Commun?

I’m currently reaching out to designers and I’m feeling more and more optimistic about finding what I want the more I browse their past collections. I’ve been amassing a list of Canadian designers for a year or two now. I found them through Google, referrals, social media posts (Instagram is great for this) and INLAND. Sara Power, founder of INLAND has done an incredible job putting together a popular show to highlight great Canadian design. She’s since become a strong source of designers for the shop and I am forever grateful to her.

The task of going through each designer on my list and picking my favourites is at hand and it’s pretty dang great. Window shopping for clothing is never a chore, but I have to admit, there’s added pressure now that I’m buying for my customers, not just moi.

letter-mail-mailbox-postboxDrop-shipping

In case you were wondering, buying inventory out right at wholesale isn’t the only option for online shops. I explored the concept of drop-shipping, because I had never heard of it before, but I decided it wasn’t right for this type of business.

What is drop-shipping? Instead of buying clothing at wholesale prices and housing inventory in your own home office or warehouse, thereby accruing more costs and taking on more risk, sellers also have the option of having someone else house the inventory and take care of shipping for them. As a seller, you just have to post product images and information, but when a client makes a purchase, the order is processed out and taken care of by a third party.

The benefits are that you don’t have to carry your own inventory, saving you money, space and time. The cons are that you get a smaller percentage of the sale, less money for you, and you don’t have any control over packaging, branding, shipping or customer service. This is why drop-shipping isn’t for Commun. We will have branded packaging, hand-written thank you notes for all of our customers, and we want to be in control should any issues come up. Exceptional, personable customer service is important to us and we just didn’t want to take the risk of losing out on quality.

photo-1445205170230-053b83016050Wholesale

So what is wholesale? Most designers no matter how big or small choose to not only sell their clothing on their own sites but also have sellers offer their product in their stores too. Sellers take on more cost up front, paying about half the sale price (what we call the wholesale price). For example, if you buy a sweater wholesale for $50, you can then sell it for $100. Please note that designers usually have their own suggested retail price and you have to respect that price. Designers wouldn’t appreciate it if you sold their product at a lower price than what they suggested. This means that you would be competing with them with their own product, not cool.

The benefit of buying wholesale instead of drop-shipping is that you, as a seller, make a sizeable profit. The risk is that you don’t sell all of your products and you’re left with thousands of dollars of inventory that you can’t sell.

Thankfully, there is now a great online service called Garmentory. A friend of mine, Jess Hunt from Rose & Fig told me about it a while back but I haven’t looked into it much further. From what I understand, sellers with leftover inventory can sell their stock to Garmentory at a reduced price and Garmentory takes on the responsibility of selling it off for you. The unique aspect of this arrangement is that Garmentory invites potential buyers to offer a price, so there’s room for negotiation. It’s basically an online auction for remaining stock.

When you’re looking to buy wholesale, there are a few basic questions to ask designers:

  1. Do you wholesale? (seems obvious but not every designer does)
  2. Do you have a minimum order? (some designers ask you to order at least $500 worth of product, for example)
  3. What is the deadline for orders?
  4. What is your delivery date?
  5. How quickly can you fulfill second orders? (good to know if you sell out sooner than expected)
  6. Can you send samples before we put in an order? (you may live too far away to visit the designers studio but it isn’t a bad idea to get a sample of the clothing you’re thinking of ordering so that you can approve the look, fit and feel)

In addition to these questions, I like to get a feel for the designer herself (or himself). Commun is only as successful as its relationships and so it’s important for me that we build strong relationships with our designers as well as our customers. We have to be able to vet for our designers before we can properly promote them.

What look are we going for?

  • Classic design
  • Timeless style
  • Minimalist aesthetic
  • Versatility
  • Comfort

Environmental and ethical criteria:

*We understand that not all designers can meet each and everyone of these criteria, aside from ethical manufacturing. We will have a more in-depth description of our official criteria on our site in the coming months.

  • Designed and manufactured in Canada (textiles can be imported, however)
  • Made in an environment that meets Canada’s workplace standards for health and safety;
  • Made by workers who are treated with respect and fairly compensated;
  • Made out of renewable materials;
  • Made out of environmentally friendly materials;
  • Made out of recycled materials;
  • Dyed with environmentally friendly dyes;
  • Made to last;
  • Made out of natural materials.

 

What is shopcommun.com?

October 29, 2015

http://www.malorie.ca/

Malorie Urbanovitch – Fall 2015

Well, right now it’s an empty URL and an idea full of potential, but come August 2016, it’ll be an online shop where you can browse and buy a curated collection of Canadian-made sustainable fashion and accessories for women from a handful of designers, all under one roof. Commun will be a beautiful site, easy to navigate and responsive. We are placing great importance on creating a pleasant customer experience from beginning to end.

Commun will feature contemporary labels that emphasize minimalist design, quality materials, craftsmanship and timelessness. We’re on the hunt for labels that share in our philosophy of less is more, quality over quantity.

I know, more minimalism? It’s definitely a “thing”, a new lifestyle philosophy that a lot of people are trying to incorporate into their lives, but we’re not aiming to offer minimalist design because it’s “trendy”. Minimalism gives you, the wearer, the freedom to mix and match more easily, to make purchases that you know will complement your existing wardrobe. A classic design also guarantees that you’ll never tire of your clothing. It’ll exist beyond trends and always be treasured. This is all about making mindful purchases and making the most of your hard-earned money. A minimalist approach encourages less consumption, an emphasis on quality and function, and taking care to buy things that are not only beautiful but that challenge the current popular ideologies of mass consumption and waste.

What makes Commun stand out from other online shops is that we’ll offer pieces within a capsule collection of less than a dozen pieces, plus accessories. We don’t want to overwhelm you with endless options. Instead, we’ll carefully curate a small collection of beautiful, timeless pieces that you’ll wear for years to come. Each piece will be simple enough in design to fit in with your existing wardrobe and every Commun collection will complement the previous one, so you can rest assured that every Commun purchase will work with the other. We’re inspired by U.S. label Elizabeth Suzann. They only produce around 25 pieces a collection, each piece is one-size-fits-all, and they are simple enough in design to remain timeless.

From a business perspective, Elizabeth Suzann is also unique. They have incorporated “slow” into their business model, making everything by hand in their Nashville studio and making it clear to their customers that pieces are produced in small batches. When one sells out, customers have to wait a few weeks for more. It’s not an easy concept for everyone to accept, but I think it’s wonderful and refreshing. I also think it’s motivating to see that a slow business model is creating success for this brand. It was reported by The New York Times that Elizabeth Suzann made more than $1 million in sales after a little over a year in business. I think this shows that consumers are ready to try on a new approach to shopping.

The idea for the shop came about in my own search for an online store that offered several Canadian designers under one roof, designers that made contemporary, simple, high-quality apparel. I didn’t want to have to browse through endless items, and I didn’t want to have to do my own research to learn about the ethics of each brand. I wanted a site that had done the work for me so that I could browse, shop and check out with the piece of mind that I had made the right purchase from a style perspective as well as an ethical one.

I’m finding the task of picking the right clothing rather daunting, to be honest. It’s a big responsibility. I know that I have the capability and that there are a lot of labels to choose from, but to help make the right choices, we’ll bring you along on our buying trips and window shopping so that you can share your thoughts on possible products. Right now we’re in the research phase but we’ll get our social media accounts up and running during the holiday season so that you can follow along and take part.

Until then, here’s a look at some of the designers we love. I’ll post more from time to time as we make new discoveries.

Mal x

 

I have to write a business plan, SH*%T!

October 23, 2015

How ever many months ago (feels like a lifetime already), I made the decision to start a business. A lot of people have also come to this decision at least once in their life, but acting on it and following it through to the end is the real challenge. It took a few months of my boyfriend and I talking about what kind of a life we wanted, what sort of career-life balance we’d like to have, and how I might parlay my blogging about sustainable fashion into a full-time gig.

At the same time that we were doing some soul searching, I was starting to shop more for clothing online. There were a lot of fantastic online shops that sold sustainable apparel and accessories, but they were mostly based in Europe, Australia or the U.S. I didn’t mind the conversion currency rate that much, until our dollar plummeted more and I couldn’t justify the costs. I reverted back to shopping locally, mostly second-hand too. As you know, I’m also shopping a lot less because of my whole “capsule wardrobe” ah-ha moment I had last year after discovering un-fancy.com.

So to put two and two together, I noticed a gap in the Canadian market for an online store that sold Canadian-made sustainable fashion and accessories. Several months later and I’m thrilled to say that I submitted my business plan just yesterday for some startup funding. Fingers crossed that I get accepted. In the meantime, I thought I’d list some business planning tips that I learnt along the way.

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