A lot of things have changed in the last two years at Colette.
Nearly two years ago, in October of 2014, we moved from our 1100 square foot studio (which I never thought we’d outgrow) into the 2300 square foot studio we now reside in. We’d just hired our second employee, Meg.
As we started moving in, a visitor to our brand new empty studio laughed at the upgrade in size and asked if we were planning to hire 10 more people. I laughed along with him, secretly embarrassed and anxious that I was getting in over my head. I didn’t know what was coming or how we’d grow, but something told me we’d need this space.
Fast forward to today, and we’ve grown to an amazing team of 11 people (including me and Kenn). These are the most creative, dedicated, caring, fun people I’ve ever worked with. I am totally privileged and proud to have them with me every day.
There have also been a lot of adjustments. I’ve had to learn some skills in a hurry. I’ve had to get over some fears. I’ve had to get comfortable with calculated risk, and how it affects others.
And one of the biggest changes I’ve encountered is learning to find a voice and creative a vision as a team, rather than an individual.
In the past, I could follow my own creative whims and preferences, for better or worse; today, I have really smart and talented people around who influence me with their own perspectives and specialties, whether that’s Meg who is so in touch with our customers, Taylor who creates our photo shoots, Anna who designs, Wallis who drafts patterns, or anyone else here. Everyone’s perspective feeds into what we create together.
On the other side of it, there’s my responsibility to find that core of what makes Colette tick, and make sure that’s translated through everyone else’s work. This is where the biggest learning curve has been for me.
At times, we’ve struggled to understand what exactly we were trying to say, where our designs were going, what was most important to our customers. The hardest part was merging these together. People buy beginner patterns like hotcakes, yes. But is that all we want to be? Is that what drives who we are?
This is the problem I’ve been dedicated to for the last several months. We started some initiatives to keep better tabs on what our customers are making and loving. We conducted a massive survey of thousands of people. We talked to lots of indie shop owners about what they see. From all of this information, we created some design tools to really narrow our focus.
Here’s a moodboard I created for Colette in the next year:
A lot of things became clear to me through this process, including:
- Basics are easy to come by these days, and many of them are great. Where Colette has traditionally shined has been in the pretty, the interesting, the special details.
- Classic doesn’t have to be boring. It can also be vibrant and fun.
- Nice wardrobe staples are also great, and that’s where we want Seamwork to shine. But as sewists, we also want to make things that just make us happy when we put them on. (I’ve always called these my “compliment dresses” because they’re the things people stop me and comment on in the grocery store or wherever).
So what does this mean in practical terms?
In the next pattern, you’ll start to see this shift back towards the beautiful and special and fun. You’ll see the vintage inspiration play out in interesting design lines, feminine fit, and pretty details.
These themes are going to carry through all the designs we have planned for the rest of 2016 and 2017 for Colette. I can tell you, we have been having a LOT of fun planning these new patterns, and the whole team is excited to share these beauties we have in the pipeline (and to sew them and make them our own too).
Next week, I’m going to share more specifics of our creative and design process and how it’s changed this year, if you’re interested in the nitty gritty.
In the meantime…
Get the scoop – become a pattern insider!
If you’re interested in seeing more of what we’ve got in the works and being the first to pre-order our fancy new pattern when it launches on September 6, you should definitely sign up to become a pattern insider. This is a totally new thing we’re trying out!
We’ll be sending out some exclusive looks at what’s coming, you’ll get to see and buy our patterns before anyone else, and you’ll even get discounts that aren’t available to anyone else.