Sunday, July 22, 2012

End of Entrepreneur class

Yesterday we finished our Fashion Entrepreneurship class at Canada College, Redwood City. We had 6-7 groups present their full blown business plans for various types of businesses related to fashion.

It always amazes me how multiple people with the same assignment can come up with so many drastically different results. The teams did a terrific job and I learned something new from every one of them.

One item I had never heard before is that there is a program in Chowchilla state women's prison that allows inmates to learn industrial sewing.  One of the groups had received a quote as part of their business plan preparation and was considering actually starting a business and working with women in the program run through the California Joint Venture Program. I went and looked at the website and did not find the information about the sewing program - probably need to call or look harder.

As a class we had a discussion about the reputation of using prison inmate labor. It has a historically bad connotation for most people.  One of the stated goals of this program is that inmates have a chance to gain marketable skills and the ability to earn money and create savings for when they leave the prison.  We could all relate to that as a good thing.  We also thought it might relieve the tedium of being locked up.

I found the class extremely valuable.  I now know how to write a business plan and how to plan for the first few years of a business. I noticed this morning as I read the paper that my thinking has changed - noticing things I wouldn't have previously.

Kudos to our teacher, Dr. Connie Ulasewicz, who brought a richness and unexpected (for me) depth to the course content.  She is among the best teachers I have ever had.  We were all amazed at how much we learned in a 6 day course.  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

speaking of handkerchiefs...

Once something is on your mind (hankies) they show up everywhere.  

I was in Thai Silk a.k.a. Exotic Silk in Los Altos, CA Thursday and they are having a sale.  In addition, if you spend over $30 you get a free embroidered cotton women's hanky.  The sales lady turned to my husband, who said "Don't I get one too?", and told him they did not carry men's hankies but did get frequent requests for them.  So - people are using them!

Then, yesterday I was at the Boudin Bakery museum on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco and ran across this plaque:

Go figure, a career criminal caught because of a hankie.  heh, heh

Thursday, July 12, 2012


I've been wondering, is using a hankerchief going to come back?

My husband and I use them.  My Dad uses them.  When I was little somehow I associated having a hankie with being a grown man or lady. 

I was in a vintage store the other day and they had stacks of beautiful ladies hankies ranging in price from $5 - $12. That is one of the things that got me thinking about comeback or not.  Another is the green factor.  Will that be enough to inspire new users?

If you've never used one it is much nicer than a tissue.  I wouldn't recommend them for a heavy cold, but for general sneezes they are great (I have hay fever) and wash up very well.

What do you think?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Riochet Wearable Art

Monday I had the opportunity to interview Jill Pillot, the owner of Ricochet Wearable Art as a homework assignment for my Entrepreneur class.

Jill is remarkable.  She is a talented designer specializing in transforming existing clothing into wonderful creations. She has had her shop at 1610 S. El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA 94402 for 16 years and it is full of her and other artist's creations. She teaches adults and an after school program. She is also a partner in a shop in Noe Valley in San Francisco. In addition, Jill sells at a number of local shows and will have a booth at the Canada Designer Sale on Saturday Sept. 29.

Jill shared what she loves about being a fiber artist and running a business - everything but the computer stuff.  She thinks success comes from desire, passion, and dedication to the success of the business. She works 12 – 15 days, sometimes less. and doesn’t spend time watching TV or on the computer for entertainment. She says "If your only focus is making money, you are probably not in the right business, since it is not an easy business to grow, and it requires lots of dedication prior to seeing results."

Clearly Jill loves what she does. She puts me in mind of the saying "Do what you love and you will never work another day in your life."

Jill gives back to the community in a number of ways.  She works with at-risk youth teaching them to sew and giving them the ability to create and have their creations be a public expression, building self confidence. Jill also takes interns from a number of local colleges and takes them under her wing providing a welcoming introduction to the fashion industry. 

Jill has a lifelong vision she would like to fulfill of creating a school or camp for foster children where they would have an opportunity to explore and create, and in the process build self-esteem. I think this powerhouse of a woman will make that vision a reality.

Please stop by and visit Jill's shop, check first to make sure she's open and not at a show.

Categories: Children's Clothing, Women's Clothing  
1610 S El Camino Real
San Mateo, CA 94402
(650) 345-8740

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Adventure in Oakland - Temescal street fair

Today I'm headed to Oakland for the Temescal Street Fair, 12 to 6, in North Oakland, Telegraph Ave between 42nd, and 51st.

We had a speaker in class on Friday, Harlan Simon, a very talented glass bead maker, who will be showing in booth 113 or 117, next to Oaklandish.  He offered that students who want to come help in his booth today can so I will!  Come visit and buy beads.

Fundraising through Kickstarter - paper for class

Paper 1: Fundraising through Kickstarter
Fashion Entrepreneurship Class Summer 2012
Michelle Paganini

I recently learned of a novel way to fund a creative project through an online company called Kickstarter by receiving a request to consider donating to a project run by a blogger I follow, Ari Seth Cohen.  His site is, and profiles ladies 60+ years old with marvelous style.  Intrigued, I followed the link to see the details of Ari’s request and his project.  What I found was this profile for his project, which was not fully funded at the time. 

With another click I was able to view a more detailed description of the project, a short video, and what he was offering as a “reward” to donors for varying levels of contribution:

I realized what Ari was doing was essentially preselling his project in return for funding – brilliant!  I funded him for $25 and look forward to receiving the video he is producing as my donation reward.

I explored the site and discovered that ideas are posted with a funding goal and a deadline by which the project must be fully funded. Ari’s goal was $35,000.  There is a caveat, if a project is not fully funded by the deadline then none of the money pledged up to that point is actually collected or distributed. It is all-or-nothing funding.  Not only did Ari meet his goal, with the help of 866 backers his project was 158% funded. 

According the Kickstarter website “At this very second, thousands of people are checking out projects on Kickstarter. They're rallying around their friends' ideas, backing projects from people they've long admired, and discovering things that make them laugh and smile. Every project is independently crafted, put to all-or-nothing funding, and supported by friends, fans, and the public in return for rewards. Source: 7/5/12

The basic steps for launching a Kickstarter project are to:
·      Have a finite (deliverable) well defined project you are ready to act on
·      Brainstorm what to offer as rewards, such as product, limited editions, or a custom experience related to the project. The intention is not that everything is ready to ship on receipt of funding - rather you use the funding to generate the rewards (I call it preselling.)  When will you promise to deliver it by? What will you actually be able deliver within a reasonable timeframe? Your reputation will be established with this first offering
·      Determine the funding goal and deadline
·      Make your own video
·      Build your own project page
·      Determine how you will rally friends, family, potential customers and strangers to your site to fully fund your project by the deadline. Then get in action!

There is a detailed tutorial on how to start a project:
I want to launch a business making and selling one-of-a-kind bags crafted from recycled jeans.  I don’t need a lot in terms of funding and I see Kickstarter as a fabulous way to let people know what I am up to, test the market, and presell product.

In summary, 24,000 creative projects have been successfully funded through Kickstarter, with backing provided by 2 million donors, and $250,000,000 pledged to projects since the company started in April 2009. TIME magazine picked Kickstarter twice: Best Inventions of 2010, Best Websites of 2011. What an awesome idea!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

sharing some homework

I've been doing homework for my Fashion Entrepreneurship class at Canada college.   Here is one of the papers I just drafted:

Fashion Entrepreneurship Class Summer 2012
Michelle Paganini

Early last year The Observer put together a team of experts with 20 predictions of how the world will change in the next 25 years, including some predictions about fashion.  
As I read this article I was struck by one prediction of major import that seems to have come true in the last several days – scientists seem to think they have located the Higgs bosun.
The Higgs bosun, is described in a July 4th, 2012, New York Times article, Physicists Find Elusive Particle Seen as Key to Universe: “According to the Standard Model, the Higgs boson is the only manifestation of an invisible force field, a cosmic molasses that permeates space and imbues elementary particles with mass. Particles wading through the field gain heft the way a bill going through Congress attracts riders and amendments, becoming ever more ponderous.”
Hmmm… could the fashion predictions be on the mark too?  Fast forward to section 12, authored by Ms. Dilys Williams, designer and the director for sustainable fashion at the London College of Fashion.

Ms. Williams contends that we will reach beyond the traditional role of clothing - communicating our identity to each other - instead the coming decades will have “…much more emphasis on other manifestations of fashion and different ways of communicating with each other, different ways of creating a sense of belonging and of making us feel great about ourselves.”  Not certain what that meant I plowed on.

She mentions that much social interaction is shaped outside of face-to-face meetings and done online instead, for instance through avatars. She goes on to say that for actual clothing she sees a potential divide between “things that are very practical and those that are very much about display” and that perhaps those display items might be rented or borrowed rather than owned. 

I am aware of a company, bagborroworsteal, which rents out very expensive designer handbags and jewelry by the week.  This is an interesting concept because it takes clothing back to a time when articles of clothing were highly valued rather than considered disposable (as many are today).  Considering that we love and demand variety in fashion, the concept of sharing higher quality goods between multiple people is far more sustainable than individually worn cheap disposables.

Ms. Williams sees the possibility of technology / consumer demand / legislation intersecting with the result of requiring clothing tags which define the history of how the garment was sourced, made, and the water and carbon footprints.  This reminds me of the legislated requirements for including useful information about calories and nutritional requirements on food labeling, which has changed the way I buy food. 

There are certainly more resources today for diligent persons to buy “green and ethical” clothing than there have been in the past, but these buyers must make a concentrated effort to do so. 
There isn’t any mention of “reconstructed” or “up-cycled” clothing, which is where I think there is an opportunity now to bridge the current gap in that up-cycled clothing is immediately recognizable as greener than new clothing.  This is a niche where my product idea fits in, bags made from recycled jeans.

Ms. Williams seems to hint at designers’ desires to move away from disposable fashion and “work back into their designs an element of emotional content”.

I hope this also indicates a desire to move the public towards well-made long-lasting clothing.  It seems to me now is an ideal time to move in that direction as what is or is not “fashionable” is not as rigidly dictated (or accepted) as it had been for hundreds of years.  I watched the movie Independence Day, made in 1996, on this July 4th and was surprised at how many of the clothes did not look dated.

Ms. Williams wraps with “I think there's definitely a place for technology in creating a dialogue with you through your clothes.” I was a bit surprised and disappointed that there was no mention of concepts I’ve been exposed to over the last several years:
·      Up-cycled clothing.
·      Zero-waste pattern design
·      Cleaner technology (soy based dyes)
·      Advances in textile manufacturing (as our guest speaker mentioned last session)
·      Print on demand fabrics
·      The drive to recycle rather than place garments in the landfills

This means there is still opportunity to make a difference by simply spreading the word. It was already on my agenda to do so: