If 2020 has taught me something as a business owner and a designer, it is to stay nimble and resilient. In 2019, majority of my sales were in person at fairs across the US, from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, Seattle, Chicago, to New York City. I was constantly traveling with two suitcases full of shirts and a booth, ready to be assembled. It gave me an opportunity to meet my customers directly, many of you who are reading this might have met me at one of these fairs. Know that I have missed you guys very much.
2020 offers a stark contrast to that. it has put all of those markets and fairs on pause and left my business vulnerable. But would that stop me? No. I picked up my pen and actually designed a mask. I pulled my craftsmanship out of my toolkit and got to work. I converted my apartment's entryway into my sewing studio and the rest is history. More than 2,000 masks later and as we wrap up 2020, I want to show you some of the pictures I took along the way.
April 2020, this is how the studio started off. A costco bought table pulled from storage with a home sewing machine and the first prototype mask.
3 months later, the table has been upgraded. Home machine becomes a flatbed, saving my wrist from repetitive injury. I'm in for the long haul. :)
Prepping and Cutting
I wanted to make sure people know how to orient the masks (which side is for the nose/mouth), so I used my tag to help identify that. I used my leftover label that were meant for shirts and neatly ironed the sides to make it a decent size for the masks. Once I ran out of the shirt labels, I made smaller labels just for the masks.
Britex Fabrics is where I get all my sewing supplies. And they got an adorable looking sign.
At some point, you make your own box and compartment to stay organized.
I also got these wonderful Fall fabrics from Britex as well, way to support fellow small business locally. The owner Sharman is awesome.
Well, I do love New York and a good cup of coffee every morning. I assure you this is not the last cup of the day.
And the sewing begins...
In June, I launched a limited edition masks with a touch of pride ribbon.
Yes this is me and my current hair state, I have learned to live with it and not yet succumbed to a Flowbee.
Fun Fact: How tall is a stack of 2000 masks?
Answer: 40 ft.
Don't we all have our favorite snack? Well, mine is Fage 5% Fat Greek Yoghurt, topped with berries, peanut, and splash of maple syrup.
Tiniest mask I have ever made. :)
My spirit animal is taking a bath in my second coffee this afternoon.
The key to successful production? Consistent Quality Control. In this case, I'm making sure that the plaid pattern is matching and continuous between the two panels.
Packing and Shipping
Some snacks for the postal workers. :)
And ACCOUNTING, yes.
So how was that for a day of work at Cotton the First home studio? Where everything needs to be done by 5pm in time for Charles to personally run each package to the post office. Again, thank you for your support and appreciation in my many hats that I wear. It's endlessly challenging but it makes it worth it. Know that whatever 2021 has in store for us, we will manage it with resilience and grace.
Now it's time to give yourself a little pat on the back, a toast, and... We got this!
Happy New Year,
PS. What do you want to see me make next? Shoot me an email, I'm all ears.