So often people have an idea for a 'Thing'... this 'Thing' is made from fabric but it is not 'Fashion' or even Clothing. In today's blog you will find out about one of our clients, Megan, and her journey to create a bed cover using an IKEA bed. The Safe Night Net looks like a normal mosquito net, but it's not. It's designed to keep some things out and others in. The mesh used is 100% made in the USA — used for industrial applications. It looks and feels good, but can also survive all kinds of mistreatment without developing tears or holes. See just how strong it is in this video when put to the test against normal mosquito netting.
This specialty product is made by a small family business operating out of Australia, and they are dedicated to producing a quality product for Safe Night Net (plus they will back it up with a 12-month guarantee against tears and holes). We asked Megan some important questions on how she started the process of creating the world's strongest mosquito net
1. What is your label and who is it for?
My brand is the Safe Night Net. It is a very strong net that fully encloses an IKEA bed. It is for parents of children aged 3 and up. It’s a mosquito net, but it can work for children with a variety of issues, including sensory processing disorders.
2. How long ago did you start the process of your own label?
Over two years ago. It’s been a much slower process than I expected. A big part of this was waiting on shipments of materials from overseas. And finding a Patternmaker!
3. What is the biggest thing you have learnt through the process?
That other people’s input is VITAL.
If it wasn’t for other people’s expertise (including Julia’s), I would never have got this far. I’m not really a collaborator by nature – being a bit of a know-it-all and an introvert – and I’ve got away with it on previous projects where I have a lot of expertise, but NOT THIS TIME. Trying to enter a new industry is a massively challenging and complex undertaking. You need a guide.
Also, discussing your project with others – even if they aren’t experts – can throw up very useful ideas. Here’s a recent example: I was telling a close friend I had booked the first photo shoot for my product. She asked how I was styling the product. I said “I’m not styling it – it’s a practical product, not really a décor thing”. My friend was horrified and said I was missing a big opportunity to market my product on social media with cute photos. She was totally right. If I hadn’t (manically) gathered together some quilts, cushions, etc, – and ordered some adorable stickers for the bed – my photos would have looked super dull and medical. Looking back on it, I can’t believe I was so stupid. But there it is – when you’re too close to something you are often the worst person to be guiding a project!
4. What is one thing you would tell another Designer before they started out?
I’m not a designer, but I suspect it would be to try to target a very specific – and under-served – niche. It will make marketing easier and help you grow a loyal following. Also, take Julia’s advice and grow your brand and audience before you launch because it’s actually really hard to rank highly online when you are new.
5. What was your biggest hurdle?
Before I started working with the Sample Room, it was finding someone who would make the thing! I contacted hundreds of factories (here and overseas) with no luck due the fact that my product wasn’t like anything else on the market and that I wanted small production runs. Julia introduced me to a local factory that is perfect for this project.
6. Would you do it all again?
It’s too early to say, really. It’s been a very interesting process and I’m thrilled with the end result. It’s also been a massively expensive process, which I why I’m hesitant to answer this question at this stage. If money were no object I’d definitely do it again.
Because it was such a long process, there were short periods when I lost interest and had push myself to keep going. Towards the end, strangely, I became increasingly detached. I don’t know whether this is normal or not…Ultimately though, it’s very satisfying to finish something that’s so difficult.
7. What is the one thing you would do differently if you had your time again?
Find the Sample Room sooner. If I’d known what I was doing earlier, I would not have wasted a year stuffing around without a proper pattern and contacting factories who were never going to be interested in working with me.
8. How did the Fashion Label Launchpad help you through this process?
[Is this the mentoring program? If so…]
In so many ways:
Moral support: having people around you who understand what you’re going through and are going through it themselves in some cases, makes you feel much less alone.
Education: design, manufacturing, retailing and marketing are all disciplines in themselves, and trying to master all four quickly on your own is virtually impossible. Being taught the basics of each gives you a really good foundation from which to work. Also, it means you can talk to people in the industry without sounding like an idiot, which is important when you’re asking people to take a chance on you as a new player. Working with the Sample Room gives you credibility.
Advice: Julia has given me some really valuable advice. I admit to occasionally ignoring it – to my peril! – but she’s always been available to talk things over and help me find a way forward. She’s a very honest, warm, positive person: I always get a boost from talking to her.
Contacts: The Sample Room has a great network, which is invaluable when you’re starting out. I’m a pretty good Internet researcher, but you can’t navigate this industry from behind your computer. I would never have found my manufacturer, for example, without the Sample Room.