What It's Really Like to Own a Clothing Line, and What I've Learned Along the Way, Part 1
Owning & designing a clothing line was never something I pictured myself doing. I've always been artsy, but never considered an artistic career. As a child I always wanted to be a veterinarian, and as I got older I found a passion teaching riding lessons. While I was in college, I started dating my now husband, who owns a screen printing and graphic design firm, New York Ink & Thread. After being around the shop, watching and helping him print t-shirt jobs, and teaching tons of lessons, we realized that there could be a perfect way to blend the two. After some discussion, we decided to try coming up with a couple of designs, and set up a booth at a local show that spring.
Fast forward 8 years, I know way more than I ever expected about styles, fabrics, different inks and how they react to those types of fabrics, the actual process of screen printing, etc. I've also had my own fair share of 'on the job training' in marketing, business, and design, specifically using programs that at one point may as well have been a foreign language to me. In the early stages of Horseplay, I would sketch designs on paper, and Eric would 'translate' them onto the computer. When Eric started to get too busy to do the translation portion of my design phase, I started teaching myself and he started giving me little Illustrator and Photoshop lessons to fill in the gaps.
In the world we live in now, social media presence definitely comes into play, and with that, visual marketing. I've learned a lot about creating content, photography, timing, and I've learned that I love the way social media connects people from around the world and makes it seem like they're right next door. I've met some great friends from a bunch of different countries through the Horseplay Apparel accounts, specifically Instagram. I also love being able to tell stories about our brand through pictures and little snippets of text.
In addition to our regular tasks of processing orders, packaging and shipping them, we also make time each week to keep learning and honing our craft of printing t-shirts and doing graphic design. We are constantly continuing our education, researching new types of inks, printing techniques, equipment, as well as shirts themselves. The industry itself is constantly changing, which is exciting. We get to attend trade shows and see new styles, fabrics, and colors (I love collecting all of the catalogs, hauling them back to the hotel room and going through them. This annoys Eric because they weight approximately a combined weight of one million pounds).
When we first started the brand, it was more of a hobby, so we originally weren't putting out regular lines, just releasing items as we created them. I've learned a bit more about the fashion industry, the timing of releasing lines, creating cohesive lines, and I've also learned that the hardest part of the whole business for me is keeping all of my new designs/ideas secret until it's time for that season's launch.
To Be Continued..