Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Inventory in the Bedroom

I take comfort form the story Mary Gelhar tells in The Fashion Designer Survival Guide about a young designer who's apartment was so full of inventory, her husband had to take refuge at Starbucks to find a place to sit down. At least we're not that crowded!!

But it can't be denied that we do have Pixyworld inventory stacked in our bedroom. It's neatly stacked, and securely packed, but the fact remains that it's there.

Right where our next baby's crib should be, should there be a next. (Would Freud have something to say about that??)

Doubtless, we will soon move up to the dizzy heights of Having a Seaprate Warehouse. And I'm sure that, then, we will look back with fondness at the gritty days, down in the trenches, when we were sleeping amidst our products.

Also posted at Pixyworld Blog.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Puppy Love

My little girls have never been super into dolls, but they LOVE stuffed animals. (They love real animals too, only we can't have cats or dogs because of allergies.) So it seemed natural to do a Pixyworld collection with a pet animal theme, which I had to call Puppy Love.

The color combination really pops on this one. I did a design with these colors when I was selling customs on eBay, after a customer asked me to do something with puppies and kittens. I got a lot of enthusiastic comments on the colors, so I decided to make it one of Pixyworld's launching collections.

It has turned out to be a favorite with my girls. They pet the animals and even talk to them! It's nice to remember, in the midst of trying to run a viable business with good profits, etc., that it's really about making little girls happy.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

DIY Webmastering

So, I find myself a webmaster (webmistress?? that sounds scandalous -- how about web queen?) by necessity, for my toddler girls' clothing site. Not because I love computers -- on the contrary!! But, because no other volunteers seemed to be materializing.

I've picked up a smattering of HTML along the way, thanks to some great online tutorials, including htmlcodetutorial.com. (Who writes these things, anyway??) And I've also had to enter the mysterious world of Reciprocal Linking and Top Sites Lists.

At one low point, I found myself drawn to sites like www.googlesux.com, after all the inbound links I had so carefully cultivated suddenly disappeared off of my google webmaster dashboard. But they have gradually reappeared, and when all is said and done, I figure we might as well accept our google thralldom and think about more interesting things.

So, for now, here I sit at my computer. I hope to carve out a little studio time amidst all the webmastering, one of these days....

Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's In the Fit (that's where it is...)

There are so many thing that have to go right in garment production, to make a pleasing product. It's no wonder I find myself returning half the clothes I buy from Chadwick's, my cheap online clothing source.

But if I had to pick one detail that is make or break, it's fit. And I'd say that with the childrens' clothes I design, sizing is even more challenging, but just as important.

It's more challenging because children vary tremendously in both height and weight, whereas in standard adult women's sizing the differences are mainly in weight. (Fortunately we now have petites and talls, but even there, there is a relatively slight difference in height.)

I had a stress attack this morning, when looking at counter-samples made by an overseas factory we're working with. It was clear to me that they had done something to my patterns!! I agonize over my patterns, and what they had made was clearly proportioned wrong. Fortunately, having paid nothing yet, I was able to ask for another sample, after getting to the bottom of the problem.

Is overseas production worth this kind of stress?? The jury is still definitely out.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Cluttered Studio, Cluttered Mind??

The classic retort to the aphorism "Cluttered desk, cluttered mind" is, "Well, then what about an empty desk??"

I might say the same for my design studio, the wellspring of Pixyworld children's fashion, should it ever be accused of being... shall we say, less than tidy? I had to admit to finding a large piece of unused marker paper the other day, after having made do without any (thinking I'd run out) for several days of pattern making.

But I like to class myself as "artistic" (as if that somehow explains the tendency to allow one's environment to become progressively less livable.) Or, there's the other great descriptive, "intensely focused." That's why I have to throw my scraps on the floor, rather than in the trash can. I'm just too focused to bother with mundane things like trash cans!

But I do clean up when the mess threatens to get in the way of my work. That's when I have no choice. And it's a great opportunity to rediscover wonderful things like old fabric samples, and get re-inspired by the new possibilities they open up!

At least I keep my creative clutter confined to one room. What more can my tidy husband ask? (Except to be able to see the studio floor so he can vacuum it...)

Also posted at Pixyworld Blog

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A New Look at Wholesale

It seems that with the advent of e-commerce, the rigid dividing lines between apparel wholesalers and retailers is softening, and Pixyworld is ready to step into a newer hybrid role. We have always been open, in theory, to wholesaling, but we seemed to have readier access to the retail market. Not to mention profit margin -- which is miniscule for our wholesale sales at present.

However, we've been getting more and more wholesale inquiries, and it's caused us to take another look at the potential there. I've never forgotten how, awhile back, Baby Gassy Gooma had a sliding scale for smaller wholesale orders. That works for us, and also seems to work well for smaller retailers who can't buy large quantities at first.

The ideal for us could be a happy medium -- retailing for the financial profit and the energizing effect of direct contact with the consumer; wholesaling to boost production quantities and increase brand recognition.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Little Kid/Big Kid -- and in beTween

If I've heard it once, I've heard it 100 times -- Pixyworld needs to add bigger sizes. Moms want it, girls want it. So this season we're adding sizes 6 and 7.

There is an age, though, where kids stop wearing matched sets. Not that all kids wore them before that age -- but they definitely go from cool to uncool somewhere around age 7. Funny, isn't it?

My two boys, 9 and 7, have made the transition. Now they don't just not match -- they usually clash. Boys' athletic clothes are sold as separates, for the most part, but that doesn't stop the manufacturers from putting all kinds of colors and stripes on them, hence the clash effect for boys!

It seems that beyond age 7 there's a need for a new look for girls, too. Limited Too is doing a great job appealing to tweens, but I've heard moms complain that their clothes look too old for their little girls. At any rate, a little more competition wouldn't hurt, right?

So maybe someday we'll have to start a new line for girls 6-12. So much designing to do, so little time!

Also posted at Pixyworld Blog.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Flower Power Colors

When I did my first manufacturing run for Pixyworld last year, I tried to choose colors that would appeal not just to me personally, but to a wide range of customer tastes.

For example, I had learned, through selling custom outfits on eBay, that in toddler girls' clothes, pink just sells. As an Autumn, I can't wear pink at all, so it's not a color I naturally gravitate to. (Though it looks gorgeous on my little Summery 4-year-old!)

At any rate, I had to let myself go on just one collection. For Flower Power I chose chocolate brown and violet -- really a periwinkle blue. For me, a beautiful color combination is a heady cocktail -- I was high on this one for weeks!

With Flower Power, the risk has paid off with great sales. I don't expect to hit it every time, but I sure do enjoy the ride....

Monday, March 23, 2009

Skinny Jeans: What's the Skinny?

When Pixyworld puts out our next jeans collection, what cut will make the cut?? According to MiniHipster.com, the skinny jean is here to stay. I have to say, when a company like BabyGap is selling them at full price, the prognosis does look good.

The tricky part is that right now we seem to be between trends, as evidenced by the plethora of choices available there. There's wide leg, straight, & boot cut; embroidered, whiskered, and appliqued.

Or, one could interpret it differently: perhaps we are actually entering an era of individuality when it comes to jean styles. Could it be??

Also posted at Pixyworld Blog.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Kids' Fashion Photography

cool funky baby & toddler girls' outfitsIt's so difficult with little kids to get everything right in a photo. I'm impressed with Melanie Reyes' work here, in a recent photo shoot for Pixyworld.

boutique baby clothesShe gets the most of the details of the clothing, while still getting a cute smile. I'm a sucker for a twirly dress, and she even got a little twirl into the photo!

Hats off to you photographers -- without you, there would be no online shopping!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Confessions of a Linkoholic

OK, so I may be just a little bit obsessed with Page Rank -- not that I use checkpagerank.net to check my google page rank, link popularity, and those of all the stores around me on every google search. I mean, just some searches -- the important ones!

Pixyworld doesn't exactly have a huge advertising budget these days. It's basically sweat-it-out, knock on zillions of e-doors, and hope somebody puts up my link somewhere.

I do have a very nice reciprocal link directory, by the way, in case you're interested.

Now, someone came up with a clever idea when they invented linkmarket.com. What better way for a starving designer to feel like she is shopping, when she's actually working?? You get a shopping cart and everything -- it almost brings a tear to the eye.

You don't have to understand... just nod and smile. I'll be OK. (Especially when I make it to a 4!!)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Overseas Manufacturing: Pros & Cons

Pixyworld is dipping its toes into the deep waters of overseas manufacturing. We're starting with one collection, as an experiment, this season. Amazingly enough, we found a factory that is willing to come low on minimums and even make one fabric in an extremely small quantity.

But there's more to overcome than high minimums. How about shipping cost -- not just shipping for the product, but back and forth for sample fabric, patterns, samples, & counter-samples!! Using a courrier service like FedEx has its advntages when it comes to speeding up customs delays, but the expense is truly daunting. It's adding dollars to the production cost of each piece, not to mention the dollars that will be added when the final product is shipped!

At this point it looks like it will come out a wash -- anything we save on labor will be made up for in these shipping & import costs. But my hope is that if we can develop a relationship now, as our volumes increase we can start to see some savings. At any rate, I'm excited about the product, which I think is going to be incredible.

Also posted at Pixyworld Blog

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hitting the Runway in Michigan

We may not be LA or NYC, but my little town of Ypsilanti, MI will be hosting an annual fashion event, starting this May 9-10. Dressed on Washington Street will have 4 runway shows over the course of two days, including "Wearable Art" and "Recycled Clothing." Pixyworld will be participating on Sunday afternoon, with our mini-models hitting the runway for the first time. Those who are too tiny to model alone will be accompanied by their proud dads.

Any local mini-models sized 18M to 5T who are interested, please get in touch with me.

There are still spots open for apparel and accessory designers too. You can contact the event coordinator at the What Is That Gallery in Ypsilanti, at 734.485.0113, or email dressed2009@yahoo.com.

Also posted at Pixyworld Blog.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What's Going On With eBay?

So, what's up with eBay??

It's been a disappointment this year as far as Pixyworld sales, compared to Amazon and the Pixyworld website itself.

One thought is that maybe eBay shoppers are just looking for too much of a bargain -- they don't want new boutique kids' clothing, for the most part. Another is that the fixed-price listings eBay has been pushing are not getting the exposure they promised. My husband, who sells discount men's watches in his eBay store, says his traffic is down from last year, even though he has more listings.

Rumor has it that eBay was trying to be too much like Amazon, and lost the excitement that was their greatest strength. Perhaps a mid-course correction can still bring back the eBay magic!

Also posted at Pixyworld Blog

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Idea for Pink Jungle

cool funky baby & toddler girls' outfitsThe popularity of animal print fabrics in women's apparel seemed like an opportunity for Pixyworld to do something trendy and yet fun and kid-friendly for little girls. My daughters love to see character on their clothing, and while I had not considered this look fashionable before, their enthusiasm put it in a new light for me.

Putting monkeys on the lower part of the dress and the jeans legs felt like unique twist, rather than simply slapping them on the chest of a tee-shirt. Then, I searched for a tropical-looking floral to complete the themed patchwork look. Voila: Pink Jungle!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Email, Anyone??

It took me awhile to get used to the fact that the fashion industry still uses fax over email. I don't own a fax machine, and I find myself sending faxes to work with my husband, in order to order stock garment labels and other production supplies. What's up with that??

Strangely enough, these faxing businesses seem to proliferate in the USA, whereas I stay in touch with my overseas contacts via email.

Hey -- whatever it takes!! It's a privilege to work with people who have years of experience in this industry, and if they need to fax, well, maybe Pixyworld will have to be the one to bend!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Garment Labeling for a Boutique Line

Labels can be expensive, and labeling requirements are at times confusing. With all the required information (fiber content, care, size, country of origin) a boutique line can run up against more label versions for a small quantity of clothing than can be produced cost-effectively.

I'm excited about Pixyworld's new labels, being produced by Peace Label USA. After combing through the garment labeling laws, I was able to come up with some creative labeling solutions that will allow for the use of inexpensive stock labels, as well as a woven logo label.

Feels like it's our name in lights!!

Also posted at Pixyworld Blog.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fashion Networking

Fashion networking sites seem to be proliferating. The jury is still out for me on how useful they will turn out to be. I know that Fashion Industry Network is pretty active, and has generated some good contacts for Pixyworld. Now there is also Fashion Indie, with an unfortunately slightly skanky feel, and Sayntly, for fashion bloggers.

Sifting through them can be difficult, especially with my time split so many different ways. But the "online community" is definitely alive and well in the fashion industry!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Press for Pixyworld

cool funky baby & toddler girls' outfitsPress helps. No doubt about it!!

I was contacted recently by Earnshaw's Magazine for permission to use our Paisley Print Tee in an article on Paisley. So, look for Pixyworld in their next issue!

While that is the breaking news, I am so grateful to all the bloggers who have given me a spot. So, I recently created a Press page on my site to highlight their work.

Thank you, my blogging friends!!