These are strange times to celebrate Camimade first year anniversary, but it is important to mark the occasion… So what is Camimade after one year?
A lot of work, moments of joy, achievements, failures, good times and bad times, victories and doubts, all kind of learnings, beautiful surprises…
A sewing pattern brand of course !
In a year time, there has been 3 pattern collections with not less than 7 patterns!
The first collection was Desert, with the Dune cami top, the Mirage wrap trousers and the Dust cross back apron.
Then I launched the Forêt collection, with the Feuillage blouse and dress and the Écorce trousers. It was the first one shot with a professional team in a studio.
Finally, I made The Lodge collection, with the Audrey dress and the Donna blouse and dress. It was the most stressful collection, with lots of samples to sew, and the first time I had other models than me for the pictures. A pattern of this collection did not see the light because it didn’t fit well enough in my opinion, a failure which made me doubt about my skills.
Lots of learnings
Working in a field I had never worked in before was a real challenge, but it came with a lot of learnings. I have learnt so much this past year, I am very grateful for that!
Dealing with the unknown
For instance, I learnt how to deal with the pattern grading. Where to begin when you don’t know anything about how this works? I talked to a few pattern designers in shows and online to ask them how they were dealing with this aspect and many of them gave me tips. I thank them so much for their open-mindedness! Now, I have my own way of dealing with this question and I think I am confident with it!
The power of image
When preparing the second collection, I decided to work with a professional photographer and make-up artist, which resulted in professional pictures.
From one collection to the other, I learnt to be more precise regarding the shots I wanted, the make-up I wanted, etc. I learnt how important it was to prepare a photoshooting well in advance in order to avoid bad surprises. An inspiration picture for make-up can be interpretated differently, and for my first photoshooting I almost ended up with a burlesque lipstick…
Now that I have got this experience, I have a more critical eye on what I did and I know where I want to go next.
Biting more than I could chew
For the last collection, The Lodge, I have been clearly too ambitious. Too many samples to sew in too little time. It resulted in back ache, and quite some stress. When everything has to be ready for a photo shooting date, you push as hard as you can! Well, on the photoshooting day, I was literally knocked out. Following this experience, I have decided to do differently, i.e. have a better and more reasonable organisation!
On all fronts
Having your own business means you have to be on all fronts. I am now quite proficient at managing my website, at using Illustrator, a software which I use a lot for my patterns, I can do “self assessment” with my eyes closed, and of course I am now more and more confident at pattern making and sewing!
However I still have a lot to learn: on communication, social media, blogging, brand image, etc. I hope to have other anniversaries to tell you about my progresses on this side of the business!
This is the coolest part of the adventure, the beautiful surprises and encounters I met on my way…
I have been very lucky to (virtually) meet more than 30 pattern testers from all over the world: Canada, United States, Australia, France, UK, Sweden, etc. It led to very rich discussions with dressmakers from all levels: some very advanced who shared tips openly, and some beginners whose questions made me improve my patterns so much!
The first sale… and the next!
The surprise of the sale notification email never received before (except during the test), I remember it, it made me feel goooood! And then each new sale, it is like an extra shot of motivation. When I think about it, all these first customers were not scared: buying from an unknown pattern brand, not yet referenced on pattern websites, with a very thin Instagram account. Genuine EARLY ADOPTERS! I am so impressed by these people because I am not an early adopter myself!
It was also a surprise to discover where my customers came from. Most of my customers are from the US and Australia! Who could predict?
Finally, I have been extremely lucky to have a lot of mentions in paper and web magazines covering the US, the UK and France. I am so proud of this!
A big thank you
After this first year, I would like to give a special thank to all of you for your support, kindness and trust: my family and friend supporters, my testers, my customers, my press contacts, the pattern designers who have replied to my questions, and my readers and followers !
I hope to see you next year to celebrate one more time!