Passion in what you are doing is the key to success.
The story of our today´s #heroine_of_the_week is a proof, that even in a very niche market, having a clear vision, believing in your product and not being afraid of mastering the challenges on the way to success you can create a great and prosperous business.
Tatiana, the founder and designer behind @dressy_talk, conquered the hearts of sewing community not only with beautiful and unique modern designs, but also with very well thought through patterns, that make even a begginer feel confident and the result look stunning.
If you are looking for inspiration, have doubts wether your passion can become a business, or if you ever wondered how Instagram or Pinterest can become great channels of sales - this Interview is a "must-read".
Tatiana, can you tell us how your Dressy Talk project was born?
I wanted to share the information and my personal experience which I gained over 12 years studying and working in fashion industry. First, I launched a blog where I posted various fashion related articles: from fashion design, development and production for aspiring designers to tips for consumers of how to buy a good quality clothes. After a while I started focusing more on handmade clothing and realised, that there is a market for professionally made modern digital sewing patterns, which people can use to make their own clothes. I did some research and created a 10 pieces collection. For each design I’ve developed a sewing pattern with an illustrated sewing tutorial. So anyone, even a beginner could easily make a garment following the instructions. I was writing my Master thesis in fashion management at that time and wasn’t really sure what I was going to do next. So I just decided to give this project a try.
Have you always dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur or was it a matter of chance?
I always had a thought to try something on my own. However, I wasn’t confident enough to start anything without getting sufficient knowledge and practice. I got my first degree in Saint-Petersburg (Russia) and started working in the industry. Before I moved to Germany to study fashion management, I was working for one of the Russian fashion companies for almost 5 years. It was an amazing creative job with lots of business trips to Asian and European countries. I was planning to continue my corporate career after I would get my master degree, but Dressy Talk turned out to be quite succesfull and became my day job. I really love what I do no matter how I do it - being self employed or working for someone else.
Do you manage the project completely alone, or do you have help? If you are still a solopreneur, how do you arrange your working day being a mom to a three month old baby boy?
I’ve created the very first collection almost all by myself: I designed all the items, created sewing patterns for them, sewed the samples, made illustrated tutorials, and even took on the role of the model during the final photoshoot. I’ve got some help in sewing and fitting and also hired professional stylist and photographer. Shortly after I realised that I need more help to make my business grow, so I hired a pattern designer and a professional model. Being a mom of a three months old made me manage my time even more carefully. That’s why at the moment I’m hiring another pattern designer and a graphic designer. Most of the beginner solopreneours don’t have budget to outsource tasks. I’ve been there too and worked till late night everyday including weekends, trying to save some money. However, outsourcing most of the tasks still makes the business profitable and my life so much easier!
Where do you get ideas for all these amazing modern designs?
I watch the latest runway shows regularly and talk to my clients of course. Sometimes street fashion inspires me more than anything else. That’s why I love traveling to Berlin, for me it’s one of the most inspiring cities in terms of fashion. When teh ideas come, I try to sketch them right away and then look for a perfect fabrics for them. However, sometimes it’s the other way around: fabrics can inspire me to create a specific design or even the whole capsule collection (what exactly happened with the first Dressy Talk collection).
Etsy was a great start, because the customers were already there. However, even if your Etsy shop is perfectly optimised for search engines, you still need to promote your store outside this marketplace. Instagram and Pinterest work best for my business. I didn’t have a huge budget for promotion (I didn’t have any to be honest), so I made social media accounts grow organically. I knew, that the sewing community is quite big on Instagram, so I was just patiently working on it and waiting until it took off. Dressy Talk account has about 24K followers and a lot of my clients on Etsy mention that they have found me on Instagram. The next step is to launch a stand alone e-commerce website so I can link it to all Dressy Talk social media accounts.
What would you advice to a woman, who wants to start her own business project but doesn’t know where to start?
Just start with something small, utilising the resources you have. We often think that it’s impossible to launch a business without massive initial investments. Yes, it’s easier when you have money, because you can hire people and get your business work faster (it doesn’t guarantee a success though). On the other hand, starting lean business as a solopreneur, you don’t risk to loose a lot of money and find yourself in debt. You will of course need to outsource some of your tasks at some point, just make sure you’ll be able to cover it with your profit. And one more thing - it doesn’t have to be perfect from the very first day.
You sell beautiful patterns in your shop! And yet we have a question: what do you think motivates your clients to sew their own clothes in the modern society of fast fashion and superfetation?
That’s a great question, I’m glad you asked about that. I have to admit, fast fashion is so very convenient and therefore popular. I am myself guilty in buying wardrobe basics from popular retailing chains, and it’s significantly cheaper then handmade clothes. But when it comes to something unique and really good quality (in terms of fitting, fabric and sewing quality) cheap fast fashion clothes can’t satisfy customers anymore. Sewing your own clothes is not for everyone. It’s time consuming and requires some special skills and lots of practice. However, those who make their own clothes really enjoy the process. Sewing patterns are very niche products and they are often associated with vintage designs from magazines, which our moms and grandmas used to buy. Things have changed, and online commerce made it possible for many independent sewing pattern designers to start their own online business, and they regularly come up with stunning modern collections.
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