Thursday, May 31, 2007

So If Any of You Have Particularly Dexterous Children With Time On Their Little Hands

The other day I wore this skirt that I made. I dyed the fabric a delicious, sunny, orangy-red with fuchsia circles. I cut it on the bias, so it has lots of swish when I walk. It's fun.

For a while I was selling my bags. Sometimes people would see me wearing a bag I made and say they loved it and ask where I got it, and I would do a little yippee! dance and jump up and down and say "I made it!"

Some people asked if I made them to sell and if so, if they could buy one, and I was so flattered! I was making the fabric for fun anyway, trying new techniques, playing with color and pattern, and so Betty and I just took a bunch of my fabric and made bags and sold them. We had friends patiently waiting to buy them.

But here's what I've figured out. That in order to be at all compensated for time, I'd need to sell them for eleventy hundred dollars. Each. Which I wasn't doing. It made it just not worth the time.

It's one thing to just buy fabric and sew it. But when you start by dyeing your own fabric, that in itself takes hours. And then the cutting and stitching takes a long damn time and a ton of effort on top of that.

Now, part of the time investment is that Betty does everything perfectly. Her seams are amazing. She measured my cell phone and iPod and then sewed pockets to fit them. The things she sews are so well constructed that you could seriously carry 100 pounds of rocks in these bags.

And me, it turns out I'm selectively anal. When I'm really interested in something I'm doing, I'm very precise.

All this precision and anality, it's time consuming. So admittedly, these could take a little less time. If we weren't us. But we are.

So we stopped making them. We decided to keep and use the ones we have. We both really like all of them. Each one is totally unique. And they're perfect for summer. Light, and you can sling them across your body like a messenger bag, so they don't pull one shoulder down.

Friends suggested that I just design the patterns and have other people make them. But I love working with fabric and I wouldn't know where to begin a production process. So then they suggested that I outsource the sewing, since that's not the part I love anyway.

So I asked one of my dearest friends, Sam, who is a big proponent of me turning this into a business, if he'd give me some help. He has tons of family. Doesn't he have any relatives with young children that I could exploit?

Because child labor, that would really be the way to go in terms of cost savings. Plus I'm sure their fingers are much more nimble. I don't have any kids and my nephew is only one. It'll be years before he learns to sew, or is really of much practical use at all.

Don't you think?


  1. Thinking like a true Indian! :-P

  2. I have the same problem with selling my photography. If you figure out a good way to be in business for yourself in the arts, please let me know. :(

  3. VVK - Ha! My friend Sam is Indian, and so I'd actually asked him about his relatives in India. At which point I think he rolled his eyes and gave me the finger. I didn't want to put that in my post, though, for fear of people thinking I am really and truly horrible.

    JN - Ah, I know. And you're so talented!

  4. Hey! My kids need summer jobs, and they're used to the slave wages I pay.

  5. My cousin, the shoe designer, regularly visits the sweatshops in China, India and Brazil that her company outsources to. She's claims that adults do the work, but I'm sure they put the children back on the sewing machines after she leaves.

  6. Shannon - This is fantastic! Send them over! :)

    HIN - I am totally envious of your shoe designing cousin - what a super cool job. I am sure the realities of production are pretty grim, though.


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