Confession time...I’ll just get right to the point rather than try to sugar coat reality: I completely underestimated how long it would take to get my designs developed and production ready.
I was naive to think that my background in sewing and making patterns could somehow be an advantage in this area. So naive! Oh did I learn that designing and being production ready to manufacture are two distinct processes albeit with some overlap like a Venn Diagram and yes, did you know math is involved…haha, so oh boy it's more than a little bit of insanity.
I’m somewhat self conscious to share with you that it’s now been about three years since I officially started HELIADES - if I were to include the unofficial time I’d likely curl up in a ball and never get out of bed again. And throughout this time I have only completed three designs with a fourth almost out of the product development stage.
To paraphrase my mentor Jane, holy shizzle.
Looking back (cause I’m so experienced now), I realize that along the way I didn’t make things easy. First of all, I’m notoriously particular. AND I lack any sort of basic drawing skills. This combination made it difficult to communicate my design ideas - thus, my first professional design iteration of the sol Escape looked just like Dr. Strange’s cape and not sure you’d want to wear that - so I had to take a step back and literally make my ‘sketches’ come to life in form of rough fabric draping and providing a companion pattern made from tissue paper. Yes, I have been through more than a few pattern makers…
There is a whole process of getting a first sample and pattern 'production ready’ which is industry speak for being ready to actually have your design produced by a manufacturer. Each factory you work with to manufacture your garment or accessory has different methods and to some extent machinery, so how the manufacturer will actually construct your design will vary from place to place and you have to be ready to make changes to your pattern and the overall design without sacrificing your original aesthetic. For example, something that seems simple like adding a fastener to my sol Escape design led me on a long, circuitous if/then sequence. To give you an idea, check out my scribbled flow chart below:
Multiply this process by 856 million decision points along the way, and that’s the road I’ve been on.
I am hoping to go in to production soon on two designs for a new line of #UVgauntlets (sun protection arm sleeves and hand gloves for every day streetwear and active life) and here’s Confession #2: I have been working to get these ready for oh, about 9 months now…it got to the point where I stopped estimating when the new product would be ready to launch and for a while I stopped talking about it entirely. I had to get over my disappointment that this line wouldn't be ready in time for the summer season. But the best advice I got was from one of my sources in the form of a question, “Sharone, how long do you want to be in business?” Patience, everything happens for a reason. My son says this must be one of my favorite phrases cause I say it so often.
When you see them you’ll probably wonder because the new UV Gauntlet line looks so deceptively simple. But just know I have probably fifty or more variations of the arm sleeve pattern hanging in my studio - ditto the hand glove - each pattern variation ever so slightly different that only I, not even my pattern maker, could discern the difference in the fit!
Beyond getting the pattern to fit just so…fabric quality is so important to me - there’s a list of specs that might bore you, but first and foremost the fabric we use needs to be tested and certified to be sun protective. The entire UV Gauntlets line will be UPF50+ which means they will block 98% of UV rays when worn. The fabric we choose also has to feel nice against the skin and unlike so many sun shirts I’ve worn, I didn’t want anyone to dread putting these on or feel like a tight sausage casing is squeezing their arms and creating what I call Muffin Top Arm.
As I learned about the fashion industry it became apparent to me, the importance to partner with companies that take care of their people and surroundings as best they can.
It’s another layer of complexity to find companies with these qualities willing to work with a startup.
Fortunately we’ll be partnering with companies that do things like:
Convert reusable fabric scraps into new material to make new fabric.
Use renewable energy sources (sun and wind).
Focus on recycling as much water in their process as possible.
Temporarily shut down to install more solar panels and harness the power of the sun.
Send workers home when it gets too hot to work during a heat wave.
Finding these types of companies to partner with means we’re working towards our Product Environment Footprint (PEF) having a lighter impact.
We’re also poised to work with select local manufacturing companies in California who are proud of their work and treat their employees well and want to partner with us.
So it's pretty cool to share that we’re made locally of materials made conscientiously.
We are an investment in your future self - value in form of aesthetics and durable, luxurious quality meant to fit in to your busy lifestyle and be used on a daily basis.
Thank you for being here!
Founder + CEO of HELIADES