Lies designers tell 1

Lies designers (or entrepreneurs) tell just begs to be it’s own series. Also see a previous entry, Top ten lies of designers. I got a really funny one yesterday.

The scenario:
The caller was articulate, well mannered, most likely educated, certainly intelligent; their manner modulated and considerate, upper middle class were I forced to say -which is what makes this all the more striking.

Rapidly, breathlessly, coming out in one mouthful, she wanted to know if I could help her launch at the next MAGIC show. She needed an overseas ‘manufacturer’ who could supply her with goods as soon as the show closed so she could fill all those orders she surely will have taken. She said she had a backer to pay for it all.


On the face of it, she seemed like a good prospect but what do you think I said? Yep, I loused it up. I always do. I said she couldn’t launch at the next MAGIC (you know why). The overseas manufacturer to fill immediate orders was too big a topic to even contemplate so I told her the best thing was to buy my book. I paused. Dead air. After a moment, she said “are you still there”? Responding in the affirmative, she asked “what else?”. I said, “buy the book, that’s the first thing”. She said, “okay, I wrote that down, what else?” I said, “anything I tell you comes from there”. She said she didn’t have time to read it and wanted someone to explain it to her. She said she preferred to fly out somewhere and talk with someone one on one. No, I’m not kidding. This isn’t the first time either.

Pressed -this is when she committed the cardinal sin- she said she couldn’t buy it because she had to confer with her partner. Ouch.

Never say this, the only person who believes it is you. If you really must confer with your partner over something like a book purchase, you won’t be going anywhere because you’ll have to confer over every minor detail. How can you have your partner’s carte-blanche to fly out someplace and pay consulting fees but not have it to buy a book? It’s best to be honest and say you don’t think it’s of value. Otherwise, no one will believe another word that comes out of your mouth. Ethical parties will only continue the discussion to amuse themselves, otherwise, they’ll ring off. Perhaps rudely, and then you can kvetch to your friends about how mean everyone is in the apparel industry. The unethical will become more charming, imbuing trust. You’ve made a new friend, assuming of course, your credit card number is forthcoming. If your partner approves such profligate extravagance, I wouldn’t trust them either.

Resigned and willing to play her game -if only to amuse myself- (she had a nice voice) I said sure, you can fly out somewhere and sit down with somebody and pay them $100-$250 an hour to explain it all. Toying with her, I asked her how that would save any time. It’d take longer to fly out someplace and spend a day with somebody than it’d take to read the book, to say nothing of the expense (we don’t trust clients who blow money). She insisted she had too many books to read as it is. Resigned and having nothing to lose at this point (other than entertainment value), I said she could come and see me. Heck, for an all day consult, I could give her a book for free. Or two books, one for her partner.

She said she’d email but I haven’t heard back from her. Somehow, I don’t think I will. I’m sure she’s already hired another consultant. Dang. Properly milked, I could have bought a new car. Mine’s nearly thirteen years old with a windshield so cracked, it’s a ticketable offense in 35 states. I’ll never get a new one at this rate.

Lessons:

  • Never lie. We’ll know you’ve lied before you do.
  • You can usually trust someone who’s telling you something you don’t want to hear, particularly if said party has more to lose by selling you a less expensive product.

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23 comments

  1. MW says:

    All I can say is wow, too bad for the friend, boyfriend, family member or colleague that is her “backer” (usually real investors won’t pledge money until there is a solid business plan presented). Too many people see short term dollar signs in this industry, not realizing how much time it actually takes to get the ball rolling.

    Kathleen and I joke, all the time, about people who claim to have tons of money to get started, yet either cannot justify the expense of a book, or have to run it by someone else!

    Lastly, this example is why a lot of the readers here have a hard time writing orders at their first show. People always say you have to show a few times to build buyer confidence and it’s true. Buyers get burned, all the time, with fly by night companies trying to get off the ground, with new accounts bearing the brunt of their mistakes. As a buyer, when you see a brand new line, it’s not always easy to differentiate between who is the real deal and who is fly by night, so many new exhibitors get passed over altogether.

  2. Crackers says:

    I’d bet it was her own money. I’d also suggest that you’re having a disconnect that is common with people who come from a particular work environment and the rest of the planet.

    Many of my friends from childhood bill out at several hundred dollars an hour. My wife bills out at $375 an hour. When I do consulting, I generally bill out at $300 an hour. If somebody like that buys a book and then spends 10 hours reading it, that’s $3,000 and I can’t ask the book questions. I have friends who, rather than buying the book, would pay $3,000 and fly out and talk to you.

    They’d have two reasons: questions and defensibility. They’ve been told for years that they are extremely smart and that they ask good questions. They believe that by talking with you over eight hours or two days, they will gather more information than if they’d just read the book, and, most importantly, they will have their questions answered all at once. And they just might be right about this. If you come from a VC ?consulting background, you have been taught that “expert opinion” opens doors, makes approvals easier and assuages the worries of investors. Telling a bunch of investors that your plan is solid because you read some book you got on the internet is significantly different than:

    “The Senior Management Team (SMT) traveled to meet KF, the leading independent consultant in the field(see attached bio & resume:KF). SMT developed a comprehensive plan utilizing industry best practices validated by our independent consultant…”

    Anyway, rather than going on with this, here’s a suggested alternative for you, my dear KF, leading independent consultant: (and I’m glad I knew the troubles I was in when I first found you; it saved me thousands of dollars in consulting fees! ;))

    I’d suggest that the next time this happens, tell the person straight up that you will be glad to help them. Tell them that you charge $300 an hour plus expenses and that the retainer is $1500 per month paypable in advance, no refunds or recourse. Tell them that they will need to hire you for 6 hours mininium, and that they will need to come to you. Of course, we’re talking cashier’s check or other bankable instrument, not personal or corporate checks. After the first day’s consultation, you will develop a scope of work proposal together and they will need to financially commit to the work. (ie, pay the retainer fee for six months. don’t forget that Eric is a required staff, and that his travel expenses should be covered as well.)

    You won’t hear from 3 out of 5. One in ten that call you back will most probably fly out to meet you. That’s at least $1500 every 25 of these calls, or about $60 a call. Maybe it’s too cheap.

    They’ll be more satisfied, you’ll have some spending money, and there will be more decent DE startups around.

  3. Marie-Christine says:

    I’m aghast at the suggestion that it takes 10hrs to read a book ;-). Beside, surely if someone spent an hour reading Kathleen’s book they’d realize any amount of time would be worth reading the rest, even if that’s another 9 hrs for them??

    But apart from that I agree with Crackers, find some outrageous amount of money that would make it worth while reading your book aloud, and practice asking for it with a straight face. Charge $500/hr, you’ve written the only reference. Then, just like they used to recommend closing your eyes and thinking of England, open yours and think of the new car :-).. You waste a lot of time telling people things anyway, you may as well take advantage of the ones too stupid to buy the book, it’s just natural selection.

  4. Kathleen says:

    I can’t ask the book questions. I have friends who, rather than buying the book, would pay $3,000 and fly out and talk to you.

    I don’t think you understand so I’ll try to explain myself. I don’t suggest reading the book instead of consulting, I say do it in addition to the consulting. 95% of the questions I’m asked, are answered in there. They need to read it first and then their sessions are much more productive and resource conserving. Sure, I can sit there and read it to them but I’m not going to respect them. I’m not so desperate for money that I need to work with clients I can’t admire and respect. It’s a commitment for me, I have to care.

    They’d have two reasons: questions and defensibility. They’ve been told for years that they are extremely smart and that they ask good questions.

    No offense to your friends but I don’t care what anybody’s told them. That’s usually most of the problem. They think they’re more with it than they are. If anything, people in this category are the ones who ask the worst questions, only looking at higher level stuff, have no idea what it takes to define and manage the root level integrity of their product. No offense, it’s the MBA types who are the worst. Ask ANYBODY in the business! It’s the young bucks who are the most annoying. People with engineering backgrounds are the best.

    And Cracker, you say all of this, billing out at $300 an hour but it was worse than pulling teeth to get you to buy the book. The only reason you got it was because we switched the forum over to members only and you wouldn’t have had access anymore. Access to forum members btw, who’s knowledge base was in large part, built on the book you’d thus far deigned to buy. You weren’t very nice about it either, sending me one of the most mean spirited messages I’ve ever gotten from a non anonymous source. And I’m sorry to tell you this in a public space but you know, sometimes you hit just a little too hard considering your history. And I have no doubts that you will go much further in life in a way that matters to you (financially), than I ever will and I am truly happy you will realize the goals based on your values. The thing is, my values are different than yours but they’re just as valid. I will proudly say I knew you way back when. I’ll say you were a pill too but I’ll be thrilled about your successes.

    And lastly, I don’t need a new car so it’d be silly to buy one. This one works fine. I’m not so marginal that I couldn’t afford to get one if I needed it, I was making a joke. Or trying to. I really do need to make a priority of replacing the windshield tho.

  5. Crackers says:

    KF: I’ll answer you here since you posted here rather than in the forum. I think I’ll probably cross post it in the forum…

    First though, I think I’ve got to remind you that I bought your book in early June of 2006, six weeks after I first visited this website, and five months before you mentioned making the forum private. As we discussed in Miami, you seem to have me confused with someone else some of the time. The reason I bought the book was that I wanted to support your work in this blog and this forum.

    95% of the questions I’m asked, are answered in there. They need to read it first and then their sessions are much more productive and resource conserving.

    Really? When was the last time you sat down with a neophyte willing to pay $1500 up front and found out what they know and what they don’t know? It’s not going to conserve the buyer’s most important commodity –their time– to spend the week reading the book. Perhaps you could benefit from deciding how much it’s worth to you to babysit them through the book. There are people out there who will pay for it. You’re basically saying, as I read it, that you don’t want customers who want to do things on their own schedule. It seems to me that you’re conflating their perception of their time constraints with your perception of their commitment to the project. What happened to your line that your most stubborn and frustrating customers have been your most rewarding? If you don’t want to be a consultant like that, fine, it’s your life.

    However, I thought your stated goal was to foster a renaissance of domestic production with DEs. If that’s your goal, I’d suggest that you might take some of these consulting gigs and see what happens.

  6. Eric H says:

    You have friends who have been told they’re smart who would rather spend several thousand dollars and waste a day or so traveling than to read a $60 book? You can make a score or two from these people, but in the long term you have no credibility or integrity. Don’t they realize that they only risk $60 if they buy the book, but stand to yield a $thousands education AND still have the option of taking the trip afterwards, whereas if they take the trip they risk thousands for a potentially $60 education? Weren’t they in that bar scene in Good Will Hunting?

    You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library.

    — Will

    Those are the same people who think you get rich by buying expensive houses and cars like they do on MTV Cribs and then mortgaging themselves to the hilt during an economic expansion. Buy high, sell low, make up the losses on volume.

    I worked for a guy in ABQ who dropped out of school in the 6th grade. He drove a 1972 pickup truck (in 1986). He owned a chain of restaurants, the meat packing company that supplied them, and some downtown real estate. There’s no telling how many millions he was worth, but I will never forget the ass-chewing I took for throwing out a can that I hadn’t scraped clean, probably leaving 1% of the contents behind.

    Kathleen is about the sustainability, not the short grift on easy marks, many of whom will then turn around and cut corners in all the wrong places and probably blame her for the results.

  7. MW says:

    My first ever conversation with Kathleen was years ago when I felt fortunate to find her book for sale on Amazon. A little digging got me her phone number and I called her up. I told her it wasn’t about the money but if I bought another book that was rudimentary, I would just be ticked off. At the time Kathleen had two reviews on Amazon and I wanted to make sure that the book would be more than you need to get a business license and a UPS account (like some competing books).

    Kathleen and I spoke on the phone, quite a bit, and she never charged me for that conversation. I don’t think we discussed the particulars of my product, just general concepts to make me feel comfortable that I was buying a book written by somebody who knew a hell of a lot more than I did, providing information that I couldn’t cobble together from reading a few web pages and issues of WWD.

    The benefit of buying the book, quite frankly, is to assure that the client has a certain base level of knowledge. It’s frustrating to get into discussing a line sheet only to have someone ask “what is a line sheet” or “do I put prices on it”. If someone reads and appreciates the book, you can then discuss other matters because you have this general level of information they should have absorbed at that point.

    You can fly out and pay for consulting, but without that base level of knowledge, you might ask great questions, just the wrong ones. This would be the person flying out to ask Kathleen how to get into department stores, when that’s not the thing Kathleen advises for msot DEs.

    If anything, people in this category are the ones who ask the worst questions, only looking at higher level stuff, have no idea what it takes to define and manage the root level integrity of their product. No offense, it’s the MBA types who are the worst. Ask ANYBODY in the business! It’s the young bucks who are the most annoying.

    Being a B-School grad, I’d agree (although I do not have an MBA… yet). We’re the worst because we tend to be obsessed with concepts like branding and market share with no concept of how to get from here to there. We project millions in revenues without calculating exactly how many accounts we would need to open with what average number of pieces per order. We, literally, pull numbers out of nowhere. We produce based on anticipated revenues without ever breaking down exactly how we will achieve those revenues. I’ve seen it too many times. And for the most part, we do this because we’re used to working for large companies within which we are part of a whole, and the other tasks were never our problems to solve. They just got resolved in corporate America and too many of us think they get resolved in entrepreneurship.

    The honest truth is that somebody calling Kathleen NOW to strategize how she can show at MAGIC in FEB and deliver orders immediately is already (likely) too late in the game to pull it off. Think about it. It’s nearly October. There’s harvest (there), a few trade fairs there, Christmas holiday (here) and Chinese New Year, shaving a month off an already short production cycle.

    If she had read the book, she’d already know that.

  8. Lisa NYC says:

    Great post!

    How in the world would someone be able to ask the “right questions” without first reading the book?

    Yes, it’s quite tempting to use money instead of education (reading the book), but honestly, the questions I would ask now are so much different (and better) than those I would have asked prior to reading the book.

    Kathleen…intergity is everything. So glad you’re not a sell-out. The day will soon come when I’ll need to do a formal consulation with you and it’s comforting to know you wouldn’t take me to the cleaners (waste my money).

    With friendship,
    Lisa

  9. EvelynC547 says:

    Kathleen is pure honesty. I just got chewed out for referring to Kathleen’s book as my Bible. Didn’t go over well with some of my Southern family members. I have read this book more than any reference book I’ve ever owned. It would only take reading the intro to know this was a valuable book that could answer tons of questions. Kathleen is as generous as she is truthful and I for one am honored to be apart of this site.

    Just the other day a group of online folk were trying to do a face to face meetup. And in the process one person, who claims to be a “business owner -fashion designer,” asked if anyone knew where she could get a business license. That sealed any participation I would have with them. I spent almost a year reading before finding Kathleen’s book, and since then another year, researching and reading and still I feel lost. I think of myself as “smart,” and that’s why I would love to have a consultation with Kathleen even now that I can almost recite parts of her book by heart. Because if there is one thing I do know, the more informed you are the better you can form your questions. Consider the news media on the lead up to the Iraq invasion.

    Love,
    Evelyn

  10. bethany says:

    Maybe I am reading the posts wrong, but when I read K’s post, I guess I felt that K should have said something like, ‘You want to launch at Magic and have an overseas manufacturer lined up so you can ship asap? Great! First, you have to buy and read my book. Then I would be happy to consult for —–$ an hour. I also have this amazing website that has hundreds of DE’s like yourself who help each other out every day. If you dont like what I have to say, feel free to post questions there.”

    The purpose of the above would be two fold. One- getting the customer to buy (and read) the book. Frankly, after reading the book I can see how the customer might be like, ‘oh my gosh! There is no way I can get it together by Magic. Let me consult with K to see when and how I can launch my company’. The second would be not alienating the customer from K or the blog. Instead of just saying, ‘read my book’, it would be more like ‘come join our amazing club’.

    Not everyone likes to read. I feel there are many people out there who just are not any good at it. Frankly, I love to read! Read K’s book in about 2 days. But I believe what Cracker is saying is there is more than one way to skin a cat. Some people would rather pay K to tell them what is in the book instead of reading it. Another way to learn is to work for a clothing designer- learn hands on. I learned by going to FIDM and getting a degree in manufacturing. I know people scoff at learning in school, but for me it was totally worth the expense to learn everything in one year with knowledgeable teachers and make direct contacts with people I still use in my company. I don’t think Cracker was suggesting in any way that the book is useless. I believe he was saying it is only one mean to an end and maybe K could look at it from a different perspective.

  11. Kathleen says:

    I felt that K should have said something like, ‘You want to launch at Magic and have an overseas manufacturer lined up so you can ship asap? Great! First, you have to buy and read my book. Then I would be happy to consult for —–$ an hour. I also have this amazing website that has hundreds of DE’s like yourself who help each other out every day.

    I DID say that. That’s the point.

    If anyone calls to order the book, I spend some time with them discussing their goals because they’re often not certain if it would help them. Maybe a quarter of them I have to tell that it wouldn’t suit their business goals.

    As far as consulting goes, Cracker, you asked when was the last time I spoke with someone ready to fork out the bucks. That’d be yesterday. It seems dishonest to charge them for what’s in the book. I’d just be repeating myself, double dipping. Look, I have NO PROBLEM consulting to explain it appropriate to *their* situation and limitations. The thing is, once they get the book and read it, they thank me, I’ve saved them loads of money on consulting fees. I feel it is dishonest to charge people if there’s an existing less expensive source or a better one. It is just as common that I refer people to other parties including people like you on the forum. What do I know about packs? If they’re producing something I have little experience with, I don’t feel it’s honest to proceed, I send them to other consultants or service providers.

    Few of the people in this category are looking to produce here in the US -at least at the outset. Most of them want to go offshore. In such case, I can’t help them, I don’t know anything (imo) about it. Well, I know enough to know I don’t want to manage those projects. Those people are looking for more hand holding and I can’t do that. It’s hard enough to do it well here.

    Once people have read it, their questions are so much better, more focused. I don’t have to waste time undoing their many assumptions that just aren’t true. It orients them to the lingo and practices. I could make a lot more money doing as you suggest, but it doesn’t sit well with me. I have to tell people some very hard things sometimes, they must trust me and if my integrity is questionable (if only internally to myself) neither they nor I will have the confidence to make the difficult choices. Too often I don’t have the answers. In such cases I have to lay out the pros and cons and tell them that I CAN’T make this decision for them. I’ve got a woman like this in LA right now. I don’t even know what or if I can help her so I’m going out there on spec (and expenses) which reminds me of something else…

    I think you are right in that my prices are too low and I’ve taken that to heart. I haven’t raised them in twelve years. But still, I want to remain reasonably priced, a good value. I want to be accessible to people with interesting projects but who may not have a lot of money. I don’t know how many of my companies have gone from marginal sales to millions but just on the forum, there’s several of them here. Others don’t have time to participate here or even read the blog but they call me up once in awhile to thank me and share their progress. I can’t tell you how proud I am.

    Cracker, there’s something else, the issue of values. I don’t quarrel with yours and I’d request the same respect for mine. I am a political beast. I’ve been saving bald eagles, fighting for civil rights, clean water etc since I was nine years old! This sustainability crap is not a trend I’ve happily fallen into along with everyone else. This is the defining paradigm of my life! I was heavily involved in the Sanctuary movement. I’ve been arrested several times, spent time in jail (definitely not fun) but have never been convicted :). The overwhelming passion of my life is social and economic justice. Several years ago, I realized I was splintering my efforts. I have the capacity to make change effectively within my milieu, doing something other people can’t, so I decided to focus there. Not everyone is effective in fighting for clean water or voting rights but the disenfranchised, the marginal poorly skilled and poor people need good fairly paid jobs. So that’s what I do. You all think I do this because I care about you. WRONG. The truth comes out, I AM USING YOU. You are the conduit of my real goals. If I help you, you create jobs. That is my goal. Along the way I have to make a living or I can’t do this anymore but I don’t need to make loads of money. If anyone should resent my efforts (and my limited revenues), I think it’s only my husband who could legitimately complain, yet he supports me, my goals and lastly, all of you.

    That’s why I’m not interested in helping these MBA types. Helping them does not further my goals. Maybe one in twenty will consider manufacturing here, the only thing most of them care about is making a pile. And I’m happy for them -really!- but that’s not what motivates me to help them. If they’re not interested in creating jobs here, I have zero interest. I can’t bring it out within myself to change the very fiber of my being. I don’t see why I should be criticized for my social based values anymore than you should be criticized for your monetary based values.

  12. Crackers says:

    That’s why I’m not interested in helping these MBA types. Helping them does not further my goals. Maybe one in twenty will consider manufacturing here, the only thing most of them care about is making a pile. And I’m happy for them -really!- but that’s not what motivates me to help them. If they’re not interested in creating jobs here, I have zero interest.

    So you’re basically saying that, contrary to everything that you write on this website, you can’t make the case that US based production is more economically efficient? To people who ostensibly studied inventory management, accounting and all the rest of an MBA course? I can’t believe that. I manufacture overseas, I have a factory over there and a small but growing facility here, and I am stunned to think that you feel that you can’t successfully make the economic argument for domestic production.

    I didn’t ask you when the last time you talked with somebody casually. I asked when was the last time you gave a neophyte -such as the woman in the blog post- the opportunity to put their money where mouth was, and how that paid consulting gig mirrored your expectations. Those are very different questions.

    Incidentally, I think you have no idea or concept of what my values are, who my friends are, or what their values are, and I would appreciate it if you stopped making sweeping generalizations about me. I haven’t made a single point about your values, your friends or anything like that. I am rather insulted by the way you have harped on me, and I must say that my perception of you has become quite negative.

    Finally, it’s crackerS with an S. Thanks and good bye.

  13. MW says:

    Not everyone likes to read. I feel there are many people out there who just are not any good at it. Frankly, I love to read! Read K’s book in about 2 days. But I believe what Cracker is saying is there is more than one way to skin a cat. Some people would rather pay K to tell them what is in the book instead of reading it.

    The thing is, Kathleen is first and foremost a product and process engineer. She ended up consulting, and writing a book, as part of her product work, because her clients didn’t know all of this information. People like Kathleen who consult, often have different goals than people who are in the business of consulting.

    In a nutshell, she can afford to only take on clients and products that she wants to work with.

    Kathleen does it because she gets a kick out of helping some of the people she has worked with. She does it because sometimes she just feels that a person needs it. She does it because she wants to, not because she has to. Since she doesn’t have take on consulting clients to keep the lights on, she doesn’t have to figure out ways to work with people she doesn’t want to work with.

    And one of the first rules is read the book, first. What’s wrong with that? If someone doesn’t like or want to read the book, then they are not a good fit as a client.

  14. bethany says:

    K- my point is, some people just dont want to read a book. They want to pay for someone to tell them what is in the book. I know you know perfectly well that people learn by different methods. According to your original post you said:

    I told her the best thing was to buy my book. I paused. Dead air. After a moment, she said “are you still there”? Responding in the affirmative, she asked “what else?”. I said, “buy the book, that’s the first thing”. She said, “okay, I wrote that down, what else?” I said, “anything I tell you comes from there”.

    To me that last statement by you would mean end of story, end of phone call. She then continued:

    She said she didn’t have time to read it and wanted someone to explain it to her. She said she preferred to fly out somewhere and talk with someone one on one.

    So according to her it was worth more to her to fly out and pay you to tell her what was in the book. This leads me to believe that she doesnt read. I dont mean she doesnt know how, I just mean she just isnt a reader. Now, I know you are a reader. I am a reader. So I know it seems crazy that someone would rather spend all that money to fly out and talk to someone, but if that person would NEVER read the book, but wanted to obtain the information anyway, it would be worth it to her to talk to you directly.

    What I am also getting from you is it wasn’t worth YOUR time to sit down and tell someone what is in the book. I dont blame you. People like that irritate the hell out of me as well. I can also understand that the fact she wanted to offshore meant you felt you didnt really have anything to offer her. Another reason to get rid of her. But according to your post you didn’t tell her that.

    Look, I agree the woman was jumping without a parachute into something she knew nothing about. But at least she had the where-with-all to find you and call you. Took me two years to find you :). But at least I bought your book ;p.

  15. Carmel Dolcine says:

    I am late to the party, however, I think Kathleen was awfully gracious and patient. How else was Kathleen going to respond? Remember, most successful people are successful because they define their barriers, say no loud and often, and don’t chase “difficult” or “conflicted” consumers or strategic partners.

    The caller did not do her homework. I have friends and relatives who are private equity investors and entrepreneurs. I’ve never heard of a credible person who would blurt out in a preliminary conversation that they have financing from an investor who would pay ALL and ANY expenses.

    You don’t discuss your financing situation with a vendor or consultant on the first or any phone call for that matter.

    If a credit reference was required for some reason to initiate a contract or account, you would provide the documents upon request, however, you would never brag about the deep pockets that back you.

    And you would never pay the exorbitant price of travel and consultant fees, in lieu of a $60 book. The book initiates the relationship with the consultant and educates an inexperienced designer so that valuable time and money is not wasted on strategic discussions and nonsense.

    Rather than hold someone’s hand, most consultants should write a book and if you agree with the book then you should strongly consider hiring the consultant.

  16. Alisa Benay says:

    I get people that write to me asking me for advice on how to start a line, or other design questions. (which cracks me up, why do they think I know anything?) I tell them up front: by the book. I’m dumbfounded that the majority of them don’t. Really, just speechless. It’s 60 bucks. You have 60 bucks. If you don’t, or can’t find a way to obtain it, you’re really not ready to start a clothing company. If you’re really that broke & just hellbent on starting a line, there is always interlibrary loan. I only condone that, b/c once you read it from the library, you’ll be compelled to get your own copy so you can write in it (please don’t write in the library’s copy!)

    What I learned from the book is “I can do this”, which is not something I really believed before I read it. I’ve got a 4 year, probably $100,000 education & somehow I didn’t know some of the basics, like the forms, or how exactly to hire a contractor. But now I do. Because I spent $60 bucks. (well, in all honestly, I remember it being $40 bucks, but I could be wrong).

    Also, Kathleen, I get what you’re saying about finding a cause & stream-lining your efforts to make a difference. Sustainability means nothing if we don’t sustain each other. Kevin & I took a 57% cut in pay & went to spend 8 years in an Appalachian town pretty much feeding people. I’ve never seen poverty like that in my life. It was devastating to watch, but I walked away from those years with a better understanding of how to help & the knowledge that it’s completely inhumane & irresponsible not to. I read a quote one time (can’t remember the source) that said “you can not call yourself compassionate if you have done nothing this week to help the homeless & destitute in your home town.” O.K. off my soap box… I just wanted to say that I do get why you would want to pick & chose clients based on their readiness to be helped instead of their ability to buy you a new car.

    Do keep up the series on lies designers tell, aside from the odd bite in the behind to the integrity to some, I’m sure it will be amusing.

  17. Birgitte Mutrux says:

    It all comes down to personal integrity. Kathleen knows very well who she is and what she’s about, and if you listen when she speaks, you will know as well. I can honestly say our phone conversation is one of the best I’ve ever had with someone I’d never met face to face.

    While spending time in a parallel universe (putting up a musical in Seattle, WA,) I got physically sick from having to deal with people on a daily basis whose standards didn’t meet my own. The good news is it reaffirmed my knowledge about who I am and who I want to ‘hang with’- and now I’m talking about who I actually want to spend time with :-) not clothing! Anyone who’s fortunate enough to be able to choose who to be in business with would be a fool not to do so wisely. Kathleen is no fool. She takes all the lessons that life’s throwing her way, and is putting them to use. She’s absorbing knowledge continually, and, very important; she separates facts from opinions. On top of that she shares a lot of that with us while urging us to do the same. She knows what she cares about, what she’s a passionate about, and to me that represents a very high level of survival indeed.

    Kathleen, I’ll ‘hang with you’ anytime…

  18. Jasmin says:

    All the postings have been very insightful – I just feel the need to add, I work in a consultancy/build type of business, and I cannot imagine anyone credible behaving in this fashion. Only once a relationship of trust is established is budget (in *very* general terms) discussed to ensure we propose an affordable solution, and an open pocketbook is once a very high degree of trust has entered the relationship (very rare!).

    I appreciate Kathleen’s honesty and integrity, and I understand her desire to use resources sustainably (ie make effective use of time and money). If a potential client is demonstrating ineffective and unsustainable behaviours, then the engagement probably is not worth while. If someone won’t invest $60 in a preparatory text (regardless of whether they read it themselves, or get someone else to do so and summarise it for them) then the likelihood of an interaction which will further Kathleens goals (sustainable local production) is low. In addition, a conflict in basic values is highly likely … so go Kathleen for standing by your ethical beliefs!

    Some people don’t like reading, but I would suggest this impairs their ability to be effective in business/change, as the cost for information to them (if they fly around visiting consultants) is far higher than to those prepared to read. I haven’t met many senior managers/business owners who don’t read a lot (reports/ proposals/ budgets/ strategies/ any and all press related to their business)and extract information relatively quickly. For people with literacy or language barriers, this is a real issue.

    Now maybe there is room in this to consider – if you got a certified trainer (ideally with sewn product manufacture practical knowledge) to take say two day courses, maximum 6 participants, cost say $500 at least pp which took prospective DE’s through the book and discussed it, this could achieve several goals – a structured review environment, the opportunity for attendees to build relationships with other prospective DE’s in the same area, and the ability for those who perhaps have literacy/language barriers to participate and engage as well. Any trainers out there? You could licence to Kathleen (assuming you shared similar values!), and set up a reasonable arrangement I’m sure, and it appears to me the demand is there :-)

    Kathleen – you could even use the revenue to sponsor people onto the course who may benefit their communities …..

    I’ll ‘hang’ with you too Kathleen

  19. Babette says:

    This series of posts has been an amazing journey through personal philosphy and motivations. And to think that someone who imagined that they could launch at Magic by February prompted all of this.

  20. Kathleen says:

    Launching at Magic in Feb is (still) very doable IF you had it together (resources, sourcing etc), knew exactly what you were doing, you could do all the product development in two months, then another month to prepare sales stuff for the show itself.

    The reason she couldn’t launch at Magic is because she had never walked the show. You CANNOT show somewhere unless you’ve walked it. Particularly not a top tiered show like that one.

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