Tell us about yourself! What do you do every day, and what are you passionate about?
I’m just a person who likes to draw and paint. Sometimes, a lot of my art is focused on clothing and shoe designs which is how I initially connected with Betabrand. I just do a lot of art and creative stuff whenever I can.
How did your product idea come about?
One night, I was drifting off to sleep and I had an idea for a fish scale shirt. I’ve always been inspired by Japanese textiles… As I turned the idea over and over in my head, I dreamt up the Koi Hoodie. When I woke up, I drew the initial sketch which is still shown on the website. After that, I pitched the idea around to a few producers and then ended up sewing my own prototype.
How did you feel when we developed your idea into a prototype?
I developed the first prototype and brought it to Chris at Betabrand to see if he was interested in producing it. I brought a few different hoodies I had sewn by a sew shop in SF and showed them to Chris and the rest of the Production Team. I was trying to get the Koi Hoodie produced on my own for a long time with little success. Chris saw an opportunity for a good story and to help me out, so we decided that I would intern at Betabrand and work to produce my design there alongside the team.
When I saw the first finished Koi Hoodie sample, I was delighted. It looked better than I could have imagined. I worked a very long time with a graphic designer to get the screens right for printing and was very worried things wouldn’t come together well. The screen printing and the sewing were done fantastically.
More than anything, I felt very lucky and very grateful to Lana Hogue for pushing the project through and ensuring that it was produced flawlessly, without compromising my vision too much. She is truly a master in the industry.
What do you think made your product a success?
What made the product a success was everyone on the Betabrand team doing their individual jobs really well.
The Production Team executed the production of the hoodie really well, so there was an appealing product to buy. The Photo and Web Production teams put up some beautiful photos of the hoodie which got everyone interested in buying one. The Engineering Team made it possible for people on the Internet to push their big dollars through the tiny Internet wires and pull a cool sweatshirt out of the other end – I still have no idea how they do that.
How did you promote your idea?
I didn’t really promote my idea too much. I just walked into Betabrand with the prototype I had made and we went from there. I got lucky in that way. If I sent in my idea through the present-day Think Tank pipeline, I wonder if it’d even get enough votes; the ideas and designs people are submitting are over-the-top cool – way cooler than a Japanese fish print on a sweatshirt!
What about the process of working with Betabrand sticks out as most positive?
Aside from having your very own creative vision realized, the best thing about working with Betabrand is that everyone takes their individual job very seriously and executes it very well. There are so many incredibly different jobs under the Betabrand umbrella and they all have to be done well for the company to work.
Another great thing about working at Betabrand was that everyone working there was really supportive of the project I was working on. The Production Team was fantastic, super talented and very professional. The Photo / Web Production teams were so supportive of my project and all of the other projects Betabrand was working on. They really worked on making every product look good, getting it the best exposure for the world to see on the Betabrand website.
It was sort of like if I had a little sweatshirt baby; there is a dynamite team of doctors, nurses and scientists who help make the whole process, from prenatal to birthing, to postpartum success in sales, go smoothly. I felt like they were there every step of the way to help my little sweatshirt grow up to be big, and strong and healthy. Even in the prenatal stages, they were there to help and when the sweatshirt finally went for sale, they treated it like it was a really special, one of a kind, beautiful sweatshirt.
I would totally have a sweatshirt baby with Betabrand again, any time.
Would you recommend the Betabrand ThinkTank to other aspiring designers?
There is a whole lot of hard work and a lot of magic that goes into design and production. It is also a great way to see how many people are involved in making a single garment, from the designers, to all of the hardworking people in the sew shops. It is a great thing to learn about, so you don’t take your clothes for granted.
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