Small-Town Fashion Designer Launches First Collection
Putting Social Before Profit at TheMakerWorld.com
As the year comes to a close, we're sharing what your purchases made possible. The Maker World's goal of preserving maker trades and promoting sustainable living is becoming a reality, one step at a time. In our commitment to slow fashion and support of makers, we invested in a small-town talent's first fashion-design collection. Leidy Johanna Meneses is a naturally talented, young designer (without formal education), whose fashion design drawings are awe-inspiring and impressive. In fact, she's been working her designs for years, hoping for an opportunity to see a collection of her hand-drawn designs come to life. And it happened, thanks to you!
The dream became reality after this 25-year old, single mother of a toddler, decided to commit to our proposal of making her first clothing design collection ready to launch for the end-of-year holiday season. With her commitment, hard work and The Maker World's financial backing and guidance, she realized her goals. The whole project was as new to her as it was to us. It required both of our commitments in time, money, effort and creativity. After jumping through many hoops, over thirty unique designs were created and brought to market under the label, Wonderfulady Designs.
In Barichara, Colombia, on October 4, 2017 she opened the doors of her shop. A simple few hangers, unique designs, a few flyers and cards distributed, a Facebook page created, tons of passion and gumption... and there you have it, bootstrapping-style fashion-design.
Leidy's collection is youthful, colorful, and made for the everyday woman. From tops to jumpsuits, dresses to gowns and skirts to shorts, she seeks to make sure women of all heights, sizes and shapes have options; it's not runway fashion, but real woman's fashion. She covers a varied customer base and understands women's design needs, intuitively. She is young and most of her first collection caters to a young woman, but she is capable of designing for any age group; and some are already taking advantage of her custom work.
She made her first sale to a big-city tourist visiting the beautiful town of Barichara. After coming across her flyer at the hotel, her first customer made her way to the shop. She very happily left with a beautiful and unique party dress that no one else would be wearing at the shindig she would be attending that night. This customer's father was a life-long tailor who, before passing, would make all his daughter's outfits for social events. Leidy was pleased to know that she would be honored with taking on part of that role in the future, for her new client. An inspiring moment, to say the least.
In another bootstrapping hack, she's opted to share the mom-and-pop-style storefront with another vendor in Barichara, Colombia. From this venture we were able to not only boost Leidy's confidence but worked with her to give her insight into several facets business including product development, pricing, promotion and distribution. All these tools and knowledge have now equipped her with the ability to make her craft and talent an income generating activity, as she chooses.
She was very driven and resourceful despite the real-life hurdles that come from being a single mother, making less than minimum wage earnings, with transportation impediments, unexpected personal expenses, full-time employment commitments and much more. Believe me it was a roller-coaster ride, but she made it through. She sought mentorship from a local fashion designer and teacher; found an excellent referral for a talented seamstress who committed time and advice to making the complete collection; traveled to the city to find fabric suppliers that would work with her budget; set up her supply chain for future custom orders; created her logo and label with local graphic designers and printers; kept track of expenses very accurately; maintained the budget at a manageable level; learned pricing models; and even held her own photoshoot to post on Facebook. She found professionals in all the necessary facets of her business, cheering her on and supporting her efforts. She's made lasting connections to count on as she develops her business, autonomously and at a pace she can manage.
She has a Facebook Page, @WonderfuladyDesigns, with over 100 followers. All of this has happened in a period of only about 5 months. She is hopeful to sell out of her first collection during this holiday season and evolve to a preorder, custom design business the coming year.
The whole project is #slowfashion at its core; small production, mostly national Colombian-made fabrics, unique designs, and locally sourced talent and materials. Each design came to life with care and consideration and hands-on guidance. Customers rave about the designs, the quality, and their exclusivity. In addition to helping Leidy, the process of creating a first collection activates a small business economy where many others benefit; from the logo designers, to label printers, to the landlord of the store, to the seamstress, to the cloth manufacturers, to the photoshoot models, and several other small, local businesses.
Leidy now has a "know-how" with which she can bring to fruition a fashion-design collection at any point she wishes to make her dream a bigger reality. She still works her full-time job, cares for her son, and opens the clothing shop part-time. In addition, she is evolving a niche of custom-order clients that are seeking her exclusive designs and drawing-talent for their dress-needs; and it requires very little up-front investment on her part. The launch of Leidy's "hidden talent" is creating a consciousness among the people of her town to buy better and support a local talent! This business model has it's challenges. For example, small production can cost more and pricing reflects this reality; convincing clients of higher pricing for exclusivity will take some time and effort. But Leidy, will keep pushing forward at her own pace.
The Maker World thanks you for supporting these types of individual "incubator" projects that contribute to preserving maker trades. Your commitment to keeping people working decently, autonomously, and fulfilling their passion, talents and dreams is being realized.
You can further contribute to more of these types of incentives for makers by purchasing masterfully-made products and sharing us with others. Thank you for all that you do toward sowing and harvesting a world of good. Happy Holidays and a Prosperous New Year!