Listening, learning, absorbing, implementing, developing and growing from advice, tips, errors made and knowledge learned from season 1.
So you work day in day out, sweating and dribbling over sewing machines into the depths of the moonlit hours putting every ounce of effort and creative "flair" you possess into your collection and business. How are you ever going to be able to accept criticism on your "baby" when every stitch tells a story and every zip, button and press stud has a name...each jab feels like a personal vendetta.. how can they be so rude?
"What do you mean they don't like Penguins!! who doesn't like Penguins? eh?! what?! humph..."
So as an adult (technically) this "rejection" thing is something that I have to deal with and take it on the chin. It is also important that I take whatever criticisms that have been thrown my way on board and see if by developing the label in a different way or removing certain aspects I can use the comments in a constructive way and improve as a result of them.
I am always actively asking people their opinions and it's tough to get honest opinions as no one who is remotely nice is going to turn around and say "Charlotte, seriously, don't know why you bothered..." Well, lets hope not, hey.
Here are a few honest feedback sources I have found:
- I have a few friends who I know I can always rely on for an honest opinion. They're the ones that tell me I look rough when I clearly do, would NEVER tell me I look good unless I did and frankly just say it like it is. Us Northern lasses do NOT beat around the bush.
- My dad. Although not into his fashion will always give me an honest opinion, sometimes too honest. Last season I came down in one of my creations and he was beside himself he hated it so much. "errrrrggggghhhh that's DISgusting Charlotte - yuck, really don't like that one...no no...horrible. Take it off Charlotte...now"..."ok dad I GET THE PICTURE!" Honest but harsh.
- You guys. It has been really useful to see feedback from the collection on the blog and on other blogs and websites. I am definitely going to get an honest post from someone else's article on a blog and it is instant, priceless feedback.
- Other designers. You can get a good idea from other designers as they won't approach you and say they like your stuff unless they REALLY mean it.
- Vauxhall Fashion Scout (or the like) Once you build up a relationship with organizations like this it is useful to know their honest feedback on what they thought went well and how they think you could grow in seasons to come. They should be honest with you as they'd be shooting themselves in the foot if they told you it was wonderful and fabulous and were secretly cringing in the corner.
- Clients and potential clients. When people are looking at you collection they are usually in a team and will discuss with their colleague what they think. Try and get them to elaborate and ask them what they would change and how they would improve it from a buyers perspective.
Key comments and feedback I got were:
1. More pockets. Everyone loves a pocket.
2. Less selection. I had too many pieces for a premiere collection (30 ish items) but this has been debated.
3. Good use of zips. Clients have liked that I use expensive, quality zips and finishings as it gives a polished look.
4. Unusual mix of fabrics.
5. Great print. A strong part of the collection. Maybe look to develop more prints in the future.
- Press. Obviously. If they want to shoot your stuff and write about it then it has to be a good sign, right? If they don't, not so much.
- Mentors, business advisers etc. They can give you advice on your products effectiveness in terms of business, development and profitability.
So moving forward, designing SS'11 has become an even more considered practice. I have always designed for a customer in mind, but its the insider tips and criticism that can set you apart. Buyers know what their customers want so rinse their knowledge and rack their brains and listen, learn and move forward.