In the back of my head, I’d wanted to start my own organic clothing “brand” for some time now. But it took repeated loss of some of our best selling items for me to finally take the plunge. I have to say, my initial trepidation was not wholly unfounded. Designing and manufacturing are a completely different animal than retailing. There has been so much to learn, including a whole new vocabulary that I was completely unfamiliar with. Not unexpectedly, spending nearly 3 months focused on learning something entirely new and thus not spending that time on marketing, press releases, creative newsletters, web updates and other normal business tasks has had its effect on sales.
While it looks like my goal of having the first organic cotton panties for sale before the holidays is definitely not going to happen, we’re now far enough along that I can provide some details of what’s coming. Here’s what we’ve got so far…
There are still some vagaries in the schedule that could cause even more delays, but if all goes well, the initial launch of our new brand, Green Tree Organic Clothing, will be in early 2014. The roll-out of products will be in 3 phases spanning the entire year.
Phase 1: Five panty designs derived from previous best-sellers and a little inspiration, launching in January or February 2014
Phase 2: The addition of panties with lace trims, probably a thong style and possibly our first sports bra and/or cami – some time in Summer
Phase 3: Men’s underwear and whatever else on our list people have been asking for – maybe a simple unisex tee in more color options – hopefully in early Fall
Phases 2 and 3 are *very* vague still and could change. Phase 1 however, is really coming together. Here’s what to expect.
A Classic Bikini and a Hi Cut Brief in 5 colors (black, sweet pink, deep plum [bordeaux], white and undyed natural). Taking heed of feedback we’ve had on these styles, we’ve kept the same basic shape, but are using a slightly heavier fabric that will not only make these softer, but should also make them last longer. I’ve heard and experienced that the versions we currently carry get threadbare faster than some of the other styles. The new fabric has more cotton per square inch, and while it’s a tad more expensive, it should alleviate that issue. We’ve kept the same fold-over elastic styling that does touch the skin, but are using a latex-free version making them accessible to more customers.
|Hi Cut Brief|
For those with more acute sensitivities, we’ll have a Hipster style with completely covered elastic in black and undyed natural and have changed the design to include flat seam stitching for more comfort.
The last 2 are really fun styles and my personal favorites. We’re recreating the printed Eat Organic bikini from years ago and also adding a new printed style called Hearts A Flutter, which will be fun all year round and make a particularly awesome Valentine’s gift. The body is a bikini/hipster hybrid similar to the Contrast Trim Bikini.
|Printed Panty Body|
I wanted to do the whole process right here in Oregon to keep it local and have more control over the quality. I mostly succeeded. The designs and pattern making were done in Portland. Tags are being produced in Portland as well. The cutting and sewing are being done about an hour away in Stanton, Oregon by a family-run shop that’s been in business for more than 20 years. Both the Pattern maker and cut and sew house are very small, home-based businesses just like Faerie’s Dance. I had to outsource the elastics and after a ridiculous amount of research and time, decided to have our organic cotton fabrics custom made in India.
While I had hoped to find a US-based fabric manufacturer, I found that the minimum orders for each color were substantially higher in the USA. More importantly, even though they were knitting here, all of the certified organic cotton was coming from Turkey or India anyway. (The USA does not grow enough organic cotton to meet its own usage.) By having it knit at the source I was able to get original documentation of the GOTS certification, work directly with a family-owned fabric maker who also does herbal dyeing (a good resource for future projects), and have the fabric made at a reduced price with substantially lower minimum quantities. In the USA, only 2 colors would have been feasible on the same upfront investment.
So that’s where we are so far. I hope some of you find this useful. I’ve heard a lot of suggestions already for Phases 2 and 3, but please keep them coming. The point is to design and manufacture what you are looking for, so please let us know.