Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Subject: Stuffed Animals

Just because it's Christmas and everyone loves a good office party story....

I was forwarded this message this morning from a distressed boss to her workforce:

The venue from Friday night (who have been VERY understanding considering the mess and devastation we caused) have emailed me this morning to say 3 of their stuffed animals have disappeared.

If you know anything about these please let me know – if you took one RETURN it to me immediately or if you moved one and can help us find them please say.

If we do not return / help them locate the items, they will charge us for replacements.

Thanks for your help.


Apparently no one could help...

According to reliable sources the stuffed animals have actually been on a their holidays...

We have also been informed that the said stuffed ferrets are now on their way 1st Class (couriered in box) back home (to weird event venue that keeps stuffed animals...?!?!) along with framed printouts of the above photos from their holidays (time spent on culprits desk whilst culprit time wastes as a Snappy Snaps for Ferrets wannabe).

Arrrrrr...happy endings at Christmas.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Gangsters Paradise

Haberdashery visits in the 'hood'

So i'm up in London town again to get the final bits and bobs for the collection. This included a trip to the depths of the city to a haberdashery and lets just say I was glad to be wearing my Michelin style puffer on this occasion. As the sun sets I SOS a pal to give me exact directions to the shop, i'm flapping a bit having never been a fan of the youth gang culture that appears to be rife in this particular area, but eventually find the desired location. Phew.
Knock Knock.
"Ello darlin, come on up, 1st floor"
What a nice man. I instantly hit it off with "N" and it's banter central. As I have said before, most wholesalers are not over the moon about dealing with small companies, "N" however seems to be the exception. I have lucked out.
I pick my zips, fusing, press studs etc, some I take away with me, some get ordered. Done.

The meeting ends on an unusual note, one however I will remember.
"N" is very complementary, saying I seem like a lovely girl and that I must come from good stock. "Do I have a boyfriend...(No)...Do I want one...(hmmm)." He apparently knows of a rather fine young gentleman who he wants to introduce me to. A gentleman who has apparently been described as a mix between Leonardo Dicaprio and Tom Cruise. Not bad. He has a photo and proceeds to tell me that this gentleman is extra special because he is actually his son. Bless. My hopes however sink a little... with a dad this proud this kid could look like a hobbit and he would be blind to it.
Never the less I leave with the same amount of contacts in my phone as when I entered. Can't win them all.
Hood on, look mean Charlotte, now walk.

I always have my Ninja move after all, don't know how helpful it would be...? Probably more than my friends though...she should stay well clear of the 'hood' that's fo sho.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Do I have a problem...?

My weird obsession with Grannies...

So back in July I began my research. Friends would call up, asking what I was up to and where I was...."Oh. i'm Granny hunting today. I've just found some great ones on the pier, i'm really excited!"
My exclamation of joy at having found said grannies usually followed with an awkward pause then "Oh Charlotte, not again".
Why is it that I find Grannies so very inspiring? To the extent that I hop in my little car (regularly) to search the lovely Isle in hope of capturing that "special" moment...?

Maybe it's their inhibitions..? I love the way that old pieces from the past are combined with modern day versions. Things are quite often the wrong size or they just simply don't match and I love it. It fascinates me.

Trashy grannies has been a third of the fuel in my AW'10 inspiration fire this season. It will always however be backed up by the elderly population on a whole. The two clippings above and below are two of my favorites and found in the same paper on the same day. You can imagine my excitement..

It is an obsession I am trying to come to terms with and am considering help. I must say I do feel a little bit of an odd ball when I am hiding behind lamp posts, camera ready to try and get the optimum shot without being caught.
The Isle of Wight Paparazzi I guess...
Shush now.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Haberdash me up baby

Ordering in the final bits and bobs

So I have the majority of my fabrics, I unfortunately was not home to hug the delivery man but I am assured that my pop did a grand job.

The final preparations are ordering the extras. These include:
- Press Studs and buttons
- Zips
- Fusing/Interfacing
- Shoulder pads
- Thread
- Lining

Press Studs
I am using http://www.jagdberg-shop.de
They have a massive selection at a really good price and not huge minimums. Its about £20 for 100.

Zips and the rest
Lovely Mr Zip man put me in touch with two London wholesalers.
- London Trimmings
26/28 Cambridge Heath Rd, E1 5QH
- Europa Trimmings
13/15 Lever Street, EC1V 3QV

They are not mad keen on dealing with small companies but have been great to me so far. You can order via email if you know what you want or just pop into the shop Monday to Friday and pick out what you want. They are haberdasheries so sell all of the above. I will most probably get the majority of the list above at one of these as i'm not a fan of ordering on-line for such things. Bit too risky.


I have ordered some great, not expensive lining from Biddle Sawyer Silks in Manchester.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Vauxhall Fashion Scout Salon

The Salon part Deux

It's round two at Vauxhall Fashion Scout, a sales orientated evening with:

Eastern Block is a seasonal sales showroom dedicated to working with design labels on the up.

Mark has a huge amount of experience in selling designer fashion online

Unfortunately Dylan can't make it so Mark has our undivided attention for the eve. We are also entertained by a power cut affecting the whole block, leaving candles and Brians iPhone for guidance. It feels very Christmasy and there's a happy hum of merry voices chattering away in the darkness.

Mark starts off by giving us the low-down on what he does (he is the creative director of on-line fashion store www.coggles.com) and what they're about (womens and mens fashion, not couture, not high street. They also have an increasing budget for taking on young designers, about 45%).
The main topics that are then discussed are:
Q. How to make a product work online?
A. Get bloggers to discuss your product on their sites (many retailers pay bloggers to promote their product), also link your web pages/ blogs etc to your e-commerce site.
n.b Customers are spending more on-line now-a-days. Sites like ASOS have helped break the mold, rubbishing speculation about late deliveries, bad quality etc, reassuring customers in their potential purchases.
Q. How do we as young designers get retailers attention and get them to buy our product?
A. Be innovative. Don't just send an email and a swanky look-book, it'll go straight to the bottom of the pile. Personalize your application and be persistent.

Mark then goes on to answer questions from the floor. To sum up here is what he said:
- Don't run before you can walk. Try to sell to a few select retailers and build relationships with them
- Advise retailers of your RRP. It doesn't look great on you if they're all trying to undercut each other.
- Give your collection a theme, a story.

Mark finished by saying no matter what, if he didn't like a designer/ brand he would not work for them. So the last bit of advice was, be a charmer (at this point the whole room smiled and charged for Mark, with that 45% budget they're no surprise that each and every person was handing Mark business cards, look-books etc. Poor man should have been petrified but astonishingly, like Brian he was totally cool. I need to bottle that 'cool', I'd be a millionaire.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Vauxhall Fashion Scout...Judgement Day

It's 6.15am, my alarm bell starts a ringing...INCOMING. I bolt upright with the realization of what lays ahead in the Charlotte Taylor world today. It's the day I hand in my bid to show at Vauxhall Fashion Scout, AKA judgement day.

In a hop, skip and a jump i'm up in London town heaving my bag through streets and tube stations to VFS headquarters. I arrive at 11am, locate the office and knock.
"Come in".
Bag is unpacked, clothes placed on the rail and I get chatting to one of the directors, John. We talk about the label, Pr options, whether living on the Isle of Wight is a help or a hindrance etc... I flap around a bit when asked direct questions, my memory seems to vanish and I wonder if he asks me my name will I remember it...? The situation isn't helped by choice of attire. An over sized Michelin style puffer that is causing a slow but sure suffocation. My body temperature gage is creeping up to the "caution, dangerously hot, might explode indicator" with every question asked. Not smooth Taylor.

I ask questions about how many i'm up against (about 40) and when ill find out if i'm in or not (wouldn't say) and then pack up my bits and bobs, say my goodbyes and leave.

Coming out of the building I feel slightly flustered but happy. I have done all I possibly could have and it's now in their hands. I stop in the street, say a little prayer, do a big cheesy grin, then hop off down the road off to my next meeting.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

"So where abouts in Vauxhall is this 'Scout' thing anyway...?

"Actually Dad it's not called that because...oh never mind"

A manic five days of no sleep, food or human contact has culminated in:
- 5 x Garment bags: Containing my AW '08 collection, beautifully ironed and de-fluffed (thanks Stephanie!)
- 1 x AW '08 Portfolio
- 1 x Business, Marketing and Pr folder
- 1 x Sales folder
- 1 x AW '10 Concept and Design Folder

So i'm on the first ferry, then train up to London town, tubing it straight to VFS (not in Vauxhall BTW) to drop off the goods. We have been told to drop off between 10am and 6pm tomorrow and collect between the same times on Friday. We are not allowed to be present during judgement day (Thursday) so hopefully my pre-prepared package will speak volumes and do the talking for me.

Fingers, toes, legs and arms crossed!

Also I wanted to say thanks to everyone who emailed with their support for my little campaign, it meant so much and lets hope it works!

I am off to the Vauxhall Fashion Scout Salon round 2 tomorrow evening so will have some more juicy advice shortly so watch this space.

Right bed time...im looking forward to some more spreadsheet dreams...

Sunday, 6 December 2009

"Geek Chic"

No i'm afraid I haven't turned into Alexa Cheung...this weekend I have mostly been doing.... spreadsheets TADA!!

In eager anticipation for round two of VFS I have been geeking it up on the Isle this weekend, taking snippets of time out to calm down my irate father and his huffing and puffing during the X Factor semi-finals (Daniel going out tonight nearly sent him over the edge). Oh what a glamourous life I lead.

My preparations have included:
- Spreadsheets on everything imaginable
- Perfecting the business plan/ strategies
- Prepping my previous collection for the panel
- Compiling press books, marketing folders
The list goes on but I don't want to give it all away before I actually present. It is a competition after all!

Sometimes I need to put on my "COOL" glasses to remind myself that possibly one day I could be...oh come on you know you want some.

I am also going to introduce you to a few members of the team of people who are helping me build this multi-million pound empire!


Brenda is my main seamstress. On her CV she describes one of her skills:
"Working under pressure whilst maintaining a high degree of accuracy along with a sense of humour"
This for me describes her perfectly, apart from including how supportive she is towards me and my little venture. I feel really lucky to have found her as although I have not known her long, I know she's got my back.


Stephanie is the first intern to join the company. She is an aspiring pattern cutter and a hard worker and has been an integral part of the team so far.

There are more guys and gals that I will introduce along the way but that's it for now folks.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

You gotta fight..for your right

Dear readers I write today asking for your help...

I have been selected to go through to the next stage of Vauxhall Fashion Scout (Yay!) and I come to you to ask for a little help in getting the "Charlotte Taylor" label selected to show with this prestigious organization in February 2010.

I want to go fully prepared to stage two and would like to be able to demonstrate the remarkable interest and support I had received from you guys over the past few months.

The show of course is yet to be confirmed, but if you could write an email (charlotte@charlottetaylorltd.com) requesting to attend the potential event; therefore showing your interest in the brand, it would enable me to prove to the panel of judges that this label is in demand and people really want to see it out there strutting its stuff down the VFS catwalk!

Depending on the outcome I will of course try my hardest to make sure that everyone who emails is able to attend.

It would only take a minute of your time and would really help the label to progress to the next stage.

If you know of any other people who might be interested in attending please also pass on the link.

I thank you for your continued support in advance.

Your faithful designing Isle of Wight gal,

Charlotte x

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Anyone for a game of Sardines...?

Time to have a reshuffle as the 'Charlotte Taylor' team expands...

Jason Caine spoke at the last Vauxhall Fashion Scout Salon on interns and the integral part they play in any fashion business, especially a small up and coming one. Having interned myself I understand the mutual gain that both sides get from the arrangement. It is a tricky topic though and comes under fierce criticism when the issue of 'do we pay them, do we not?' is approached.

At the moment I have one intern who works with me two days a week. I pay her expenses and give her lunch which I feel is adequate considering she is (hopefully) learning from me. For sure as an intern you get the good jobs and the bad ones, but I guess this is all part of the learning curve.

From a business' perspective Jason could not emphasize enough the importance of delegation. I have found that setting up a clothes label is about 10% designing, the rest is organizing, marketing, Pr, sales, budget...the list goes on and it is vital to pass on some of the load.

Hence I am taking on helpers to lighten my work load, so I can concentrate on what i'm here for, designing the collection. (If any readers are interested in an internship then please email me and bear in mind that the studio is based on the Isle of Wight!)

I also have a friend who works in fashion pr who is in between jobs and coming to help me out for the whole of January. (You know who you are and I LOVE YOU!)

So to make room for the new team a reshuffle was in order.

All my vintage archive which once lived on the landing (as seen in previous photos) has been rudely wheeled into the bathroom to make way for desk space for my new fabulous team.

Because I am working on a budget my work space is tiny and I have to make the most of it whilst keeping it fresh and inspiring at the same time. Having worked in an office with no windows staring into a computer screen all day I am a big believer in making them as friendly, fun and habitable as possible (the windowless office got a miniature golf course made with fake grass samples, adorned with figurines holding paper clip golf clubs to add some flavour...)

I also play Westlife when it's raining and have already started on the Christmas tunage. No trendy fashion house I have ever worked in before has let me play Westlife. This is what is great about working for yourself. I can play whatever I want, whenever I want so there.

Drapers believe....

My first printed bit of Pr hits the shelves....

Although small, (It took my London flatmate James a seriously long time to find it (we don't get Drapers on the island)...maybe it had something to do with the article sharing a page with a bikini model James???) it is perfectly formed as far as i'm concerned and it's a start and a good one considering I haven't even shown the collection yet. Thankyou Drapers.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

A day in the life of...

Just because I seem to be flying around today, bouncing off walls and falling down stairs I thought i'd share with you a typical mad day

Whilst munching my breakfast I write myself a to do list. I LOVE lists. They're great as long as you don't lose them.

I check my emails.
- This morning I woke up to one of the most complimentary emails I am yet to receive about my blog. It was from a fellow designer (much more established than I) commenting on how useful he thought the blog would be to other designers and also helping me out with a few further links/ recommendations. I was overwhelmed at his kind words and thoughtful advice.
He mentioned to me this blog: http://www.businessoffashion.com/category/basics
and also a book called:
'The Fashion Designer's Survival Guide' (http://www.amazon.com/Fashion-Designer-Survival-Guide-Insiders/dp/0793198992).
So a massive thankyou from all of us!
- I also send off a few emails arranging meetings in London next week when I am up, forwarding to Brian to see if he can also attend.

I start making calls to:
- My accountant to arrange him sending me a parcel with all my company info in it.
- One of my fabric suppliers in Germany to pay for some goods. I find out I have to go into the bank to do this and it's a pain and costs me £15. The cheek!
- The fabric printing company to confirm my order and delivery date.
- Another fabric company to confirm the order and arrange payment.

I head into town
- To the bank
- I drop by Tescos (The Isle of Wight mecca... this place is enormous and it's filled by half the Island population at any one given time) to pick up some stationary for the studio. I feel like a woman on a organizing mission today and i'm gonna roll with it.

Organization GO

I try to keep on top of the business side of things, doing something everyday. Today I bought new files, including box files for fabrics and plastic tubs for patterns, fabrics etc.
Every time I find a contact in any field I log it and file it. Obvious I know but I find it helps me keep on top of things. I usually plan my day with:
Am - Emails then 'admin'
Lunch - Eat, crossword with Dad and emails
Pm - Designing and pattern cutting etc
Eve - Designing and blog

- Lunch
- Checked my emails
- Called a couple of interns who are coming to help me to arrange dates etc.

- I get in the studio designing. I'm excited and buzzing ready to go.
- Finish off the pattern for a skirt
- Work on the pattern for a waistcoat/ jacket which I pretty much finish and love love love!!

- Do some research on custom woven labels to go in the clothes. I have got 3 companies to send me samples in the post which should arrive within a couple of days.

- Dinner
- Assemble a desk (harder than you think)

- Sit down with the dog and write my blog.

- Put up a curtain
- Have a bath
- Go to bed

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Guten Morgen, avez vous un...?

Fabric ordering...testing out my non-existent German and French skills in a very dodgy Lancashire accent.

So after facing my indecisive demons head-on I finally decided on my fabric selection...happy sigh. But how much do I need, how long will they take to arrive, do I need a VAT number....argh questions?!?!?! Fortunately the answers are out there folks and my sponge head is ripe and ready for information overload. So here goes.

1. Plan.
On the recommendation of my fashion production pals I made this chart. The point of it is to gage how much fabric you are going to need. It was a great way for me to organize my thought process and map the collection in my mind.

2. Ordering fabrics.
So when I went to Paris to Premiere Vision I ordered samples from tons of fabric companies. Some of them sent them through, some didn't (Small designers are not a priority apparently). From these I select my choices and ring up to find out the scope. The questions that need to be asked are:
a) Do they do orders for small amounts?
Yes - What is the surcharge for ordering small amounts?
- If it is a stock item, will they always have more available? (As you will need to reorder for production).
- How long is delivery for sample orders?
- How long is delivery for production orders? (These vary).
- How do they want payment and when? (Most want it before shipment of your order I have found).
- Order fabric, usually via email. Follow them up religiously by phone and email. Ordering such small amounts seems to coincide with severe memory loss on their behalf, strange that?
Also they will sometimes ask for a VAT number (I don't have one as I am not yet VAT registered. You can do this but not usually done till you start earning over a certain amount).
No - Do they have anything else in stock that is similar? (i.e rolls that are left over from previous seasons).

3. Pay.
Has so far been via bank transfer or card payment over the phone.
n.b When paying directly into foreign accounts it can prove tricky. You have to go into a bank as they won't allow you to do it over the phone or online. They then charge you for the privilege. I paid £15 for the slowest transaction (about 4 working days). It was £40 for the fastest. It varies from bank to bank and I asked the bank staff what alternatives there are?
- You can set up a direct debit type account with the company. They will need to send you forms to fill in and sign etc (can be quite a lengthy process coming from abroad).
- Try different establishments, banks etc to see who has the best rates. I have been advised that the Post Office and Western Union are good ones.
- There MUST be other options so if you know of any please share and write below. It seems rather archaic for the noughties non....?

4. Make notes on prices, delivery times etc
- You will need to do this so you can work out the lead time on garments and when you need to get everything ordered by to make deadlines and to work out prices for the retailers you sell to.

n.b You will need to do this with everything from the cost of the label to the trimmings and zips etc..

5. Hug the Fed Ex man when he delivers.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Susie believes....

Just a quick one as i'm not going to gloat (too much) but if you have a second take a look at:


Susie of www.stylebubble.co.uk; a legend in the fashion blogging world took the time out of her day today to write a little something about this here label. So just wanted to say a MASSIVE thankyou Susie for taking the risk in writing about a designer who is yet to show anyone her new collection...I WILL NOT let you down. xx

Friday, 27 November 2009

Scout me out

Vauxhall Fashion Scout Salon: Business Development

On wednesday evening I hop on the train up to London and make my way to a pub in Islington where I am meeting Brian in preparation for the 2 hour talk we are about to attend, compliments of Vauxhall Fashion Scout.
Fashion Scout offers this service to all applicants. The seminars run for a year, providing expertise on all aspects of setting up a fashion business, this is the second one (I unfortunately missed the first as I only found out about it an hour before and South West trains just don't provide that kind of service. i.e. they don't fly).
As we settle down, it's a relaxed atmosphere and everyone chit chats away, note pads a ready. Information absorption time. GO.

Speaker number one: CHARLOTTE BLAKEY: KELTIE
Keltie is a leading firm of Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys based in Central London, representing UK and overseas clients, in a range of industries who wish to identify, establish, protect, exploit and enforce their intellectual property rights in the UK, Europe and worldwide.

Charlotte is more than helpful and raises our awareness of the importance of copyrights, trademarks and registering your designs. All expensive business though. Registering one of your designs starts at £370/£400! It goes down after that but still. Ouch.

Emma's no nonsense approach to finance was very popular at last week's Salon. With years of experience working with designers Emma will be advising on financial planning and growing your business.

Emma is lovely and immediately hands out this spreadsheet (a foreign word in the eyes of a creative)...

Emma has provided us with an example of what we should be doing in keeping track of our costs. i.e the bit that no one really wants to talk about or admit that they are slightly behind on.
FORTUNATELY I have Brian and we already have done one of these with a few others 'spreadsheets' to go with it. We give each other a nudge and a wink...I grin and wriggle around in my seat. Brian doesn't. Damn his cool. Must try harder Charlotte.
Then I drop my pen.
I can't find it and I need it. I am disturbing the class. Climbing as quietly as possible under my chair Brian taps me on the shoulder. "What's wrong?". I tell him. He says he has an application on his iPhone for that...eh? blimey! how can an iPhone find my pen...? I have a quick conversation in my head about how times are a changing and in my day...etc, when Brian passes me his iPhone with an illuminated screen. Aha. I get it. A light. I locate my pen. I apologize to those around me for my bull in a china shop behavior and sit down. Brian grins. I don't.

The Centre for Fashion Enterprise based at the London College of Fashion is a business development programme that works with early stage fashion companies in London. The aim of the Centre is to support the very best of this talent in helping them build successful fashion companies by giving designers access to their network of diverse fashion professionals.

Jason again is lovely and provides no nonsense, unbiased advice for people like myself. He talks mainly this evening on interns, how to get the best out of them and also whether we should pay them (a hot topic it would seem as opinions immediately fly around the room). However it is not until after the salon has finished that we really get somewhere. Brian practically pins Jason up against a corner and questions him like a man on trial. The icing on the cake being when he asks Jason "So, how can we use you?". AMAZING. As if I would ever say that to a lecturer and as Jason laughs he proceeds to tell us all the ways in which he can helps us, gives us email addresses, advice and then asks my name and says to get in touch. Worth the trip just for that. GO TEAM

Monday, 23 November 2009

Shameless Charlottes Roller-coaster Ride

Spreading the word

We all know that cliche of 'it's not what you know, it's who you know" and you gotta give it to them, it's kind of true.

Post Halloween, I donned my fancy pink frock and hit Garrard for the launch of Georgina Chapman's new line. I have never felt comfortable at fashionable parties; maybe it's my northern roots and my fondness of venues sporting illuminated, revolving dancefloors that has set me apart...? However as you become accustomed to such events one tends to relax...a bit. Surrounded by hugely successful people, that I have the upmost respect and admiration for, I remember to remind myself at all times that at the end of the day, they are just people; and you know what, maybe they like revolving dance floors too...?
All these parties however are brilliant opportunities to pin people to dark corners and make them become interested in my new "next big designer" label. So with business cards in tow and a little dutch courage (4 Moscow mules) I start to "network".

Blog Off

People ask me why I started my blog:
Over 60's: "So what is this "blog" thing then...did you come up with that idea all by yourself?, oooh (a bit of cheek pinching), you are a clever girl. In MY day.......
Under 60's just mainly ask why I decided a blog would be a good support to the label etc...
There are a few reasons why to clarify:
1. It is a great way of documenting my progress. I figure this is a pretty big stage in my life and it will be nice to look back and remember everything I went through.
2. I have never been a great self-promoter and I find a blog a nice balance. One that suits me as I can talk about what I am doing without (I think) sounded big headed and full of myself.
3. For others. I know when I was at college we had plenty of lecturers come in to tell us about setting up a new label. They were VERY matter of fact and full of nasty figures and statistics. DEpressing. I guess no-one can ever fully know what to expect when they launch a company but I hoped/ hope that from my ramblings and knowledge gained on the way people might learn a thing or two..? All I know is that I would definitely have been interested to read a blog along a similar direction.
4. It's great PR baby. I needed/need to get the ball rolling before the collection is launched in february and with no clothes to actually send off to magazines, this seemed to me like a good start. I have sent this blog off to many UK publications and online bloggers etc, (Hi there if you're reading) to start spreading the word.
5. It's really therapeutic. Honestly.

Link me up

I am trying to build an online presence for "Charlotte Taylor", the brand and in doing so have also created a Facebook page to support. You may have noticed the Facebook link on the right hand side of the page. This as yet is not functioning as it should, (i'm working on it and grinding my teeth as we speak) so if you want to become a fan of "Charlotte Taylor" and recieve updates on my progress then please go to:


I also have a website, but this is under construction so will keep you posted on that one.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Spot and Cross...dot to dot

2D becomes 3D... patterns and samples start arriving
(Jump in the air and celebratory dance with donkey. Check)

Although I do a large amount of the pattern cutting myself, (i have always enjoyed it and my slightly mathematical brain lends its helping, if a little rusty hand) I have hired the help of a lovely lady called Lara, who specializes in this trade, to assist me in the more complicated and time consuming varieties; and I love her.

Lara is a working mum and turned up to drop the finished patterns off with her 2 young girls - proper little characters who proceed to wrap themselves around me, jump from stool to stool, throw pens on the floor and finish me off with a good bout of flatulence. Mummy, who is "trying to talk business with the nice lady" is as calm as a cucumber and sweetly asks the girls to sit down, stop throwing stuff at me and apologize immediately for said wind. Just my kind of people. Keepin it real folks.

Anyway the patterns are perfect and we have a great thing going where I can give her designs and toiles as and when and she can turn them around pretty quickly and at a reasonable, non-London price. Then after they have been fitted, tweaked and perfected they get shipped off 200m down the road to the seamstress who is also fab and very talented.

All from my little advert in the paper. Who would have thought the Island was such a little treasure trove.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

"When Big colors, he rarely stays within the lines "

(Quote Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City...sorry guys)

The colors of my story

So..AN EXCLUSIVE SNEAK PEEK at the Charlotte Taylor fabric and color ways for AW '10!!!!


Tweeds, Wools and heavy cotton drills

Dresses, trousers, skirts etc
Wool crepes and thick silk satins

Patterned and stretch cottons

Contrasts (inspired by my Penguin friends)
Purple, Orange and Yellow cotton mixes

Silk Satins

Navy Blue, Browns, Creams, Pearl, Orange, Yellow, Purple

There are a few added bonuses, I couldn't give it all away; including an 'exclusive' Charlotte Taylor print so keep you eyes open and your ears to the ground....

Friday, 13 November 2009

"Is she the Frock maker?"

" NO DAD...she's a seamstress, NOT a "Frock maker"

So after my expedition to London to find a production factory, finding one, then finding it to be more expensive than i'd expected or budgeted for, I endeavor to find a sample machinist on the Island. It makes sense because it'll be miles cheaper and I can drop patterns off as and when it suits, they just need to be of a high enough standard.

I put an ad in the local newspaper.

The best £18 I have spent so far. I have been inundated with phone calls and managed to find some highly experience seamstresses, as well as pattern cutters AND interns who had all seen the advert and got in touch. So many that I could potentially produce the whole collection from the Island and not use a factory at all...we shall see...it's exciting though and great to talk to people whose tails wag like mine when they're around pattern pieces, thread, fabric and zips. It makes me feel a little less strange.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

*Get me to the show on time*

Application for LFW shows...my research

Sponsors and Shows

BFC Newgen (For more established designers)

Contact- Katie.bain@britishfashioncouncil.com. 020 7636 7788.
British Fashion Council, 5 Portland place, London W1B 1PW

- Sponsored by Topshop
- £5,000 - £10,000 towards your costs, exhibition space, usage of BFC catwalk tent and mentoring.
- Application: Email for further details

Fashion Forward (For more established designers)

- Christopher Kane
- Erdem
- Marios Schwab

Fashion Fringe

- 4 x Finalists. 1 x Winner (last yr they did 20 outfits)
- Show TBC
- Application: unsure. Email for further details.
- Application includes - 1 x application form
- 1 x set of 10 – 25 drawings of a capsule collection for womenswear A/W ’10. Including 5 full colour illustrations of finished designs and development of your ideas
- 1 x Equal Opportunities form.

Fashion East

- 3 winners
- £3,500 prize
- Free venue, complete show production, PR support, professional catwalk photos, selling stand at LFW exhibition.
- Application: Around November.
- Application includes - Email images
- Brief biog/ CV
- Supporting materials (digital look books)
- Scanned press cuttings
- Contact: lulu@fashioneast.co.uk. The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick lane, E1 6Ql.
020 7770 6150


Apply online for an interview.

Vauxhall Fashion Scout

Blog: www.thefashionscout.com

- Host nearly all of the off schedule shows (about 100) in London Fashion week
- Cost of show is subsidized by sponsorship programme
- Personalized advice and year long mentoring programme
- Professional front of house and backstage teams
- Show DVD and VIP goody bags

- Application open in November 09. Email info@vauxhallfashionscout.com
- Good to have begun media awareness/ coverage
- Support team – Sales and PR

Thursday, 5 November 2009

I heart YKK and dodgy east end buildings

Day one (In a Geordie Big Brother style accent)
Production/ Factory/ Underground sweat shop visit

I head over to the East end of London town to meet "E". The owner of a small yet thriving clothes production factory in what appears to be abandoned building, but apparently is not. Down some dodgy 'cup of tea for 50p in the builders cafe' alley I find the old warehouse and it is thriving with small, scurrying individuals...whether their speciality is vintage dolls or electrical appliances the place is heaving by the time I arrive at 9am, a good start non the less.
Straining to interpret E's heavy set Polish accent I hurriedly jot down notes on what the score would be if this production team were to become a part of my 'team'.

The deal was:
- Production of my 20 outfits would start from the 20th Jan..eh? 20th Jan! But apparently this is normal and she looked as calm as the proverbial cucumber when assuring me of a definite delivery date before my actual show in Feb. That's good then.
- Samples cost twice as much as what an item would normally cost in production. She showed me examples from a top end designer that she is doing at the moment. So for example a medium difficulty dress would be £60 production, £120 for a sample. A shirt, about £30/ £40 for production, £60/ £80 sample.

I leave feeling reassured in that I know what you can expect to pay for a decent sample. I would like to work with "E", as the samples I saw were beautifully made, and not bad value I feel for production.
I think my solution might be to get my samples made by a top end seamstress on the Island so that I am nearby (and its costs half the price down here), and then move production up to "E" after the show.

Day two
Mr zip man I love you, Mr zip man I do....

Down rather smart road in a rather smart area of town one finds oneself arriving for a meeting at YKK. A Japanese company, the place is like Fort Knox (I needed a security swipe card to use the bathroom) and I felt a little bit out of place.
"M" had agreed to meet with me very kindly considering my minimum orders are below their quota so I would have to go direct to a wholesaler, not them. However I needed info as being on the island I'm a bit isolated and I need to be designing, not going up to London all the time.
To cut to the chase "M" was AWESOME!! He gave me swatch cards of every colour zip available, brochures on zip finishings, zip pulls, revolutionary zips...the zip list goes on and on and on.
What a nice man. He got nothing from that meeting and I got everything.

I heart "M" and YKK

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Excuse me, with whom am I speaking...?

Time to get the ball a rolling...up to London and down to business

Combining a business trip with my love of Halloween, I find myself writing the most random list. Fortunately I was coherent enough to wear my nighty and fake blood combo and David Bowie ensemble at the appropriate times. Tick box.

Fancy dress aside, I arrange a plethora of meetings during my trip.
These included:

Factory visits - To discuss costings, see samples and meet the team

Appointments with agents for fabrics, trimmings and zips - to finalize orders, prices and lead times

Lunches with my part-time PR and Sales team - Planning and organizing strategies, timings and action plans

Magazine appointments - Discussing potential coverage for the Label/ Blog

Monthly meeting with Brian - We discussed sending me on some courses to increase my awareness of internet marketing and one on negotiation techniques.

LONDON ALSO = NETWORKING CENTRAL, what a horrible word...but we all know it's not what you know but WHO you know

I leave north Island on Thursday and will go into more detail about my progress when I return to the studio...

Maybe after i've been for a quick surf ;-D