Utterly shameless designers

As the popularity of this blog has grown, I’m getting an increasing number of emails and phone calls from DEs (designer-entrepreneurs) who are utterly shameless. They have not bought my book -and they’re very open about not intending to- but they think it’s my job to answer their questions. I got a call from a girl in CA yesterday who doesn’t feel she needs to buy my book because she bought some of those other books and they were useless. Why is that my fault? My book has 40 five-star reviews on Amazon, those other books don’t come close. Others say they don’t need my book and I get it, I really do but if they don’t need it, then why are they asking me questions? Then, other people think they don’t need it because they read the blog. If that’s you, trust me, this blog does not duplicate information that’s printed in the book. I don’t cannibalize my own sales. Or maybe this will convince you. I got this email from a book buyer yesterday.

I had borrowed a copy of your book from the library and thought it was great. We’ll certainly make good use of it in our business. (see http://www.vomax.com)
Thanks again –
Ron Koester

When I asked for reprint permission, he added this addendum:

By the way, I got a dozen or so books from the library, read, or at least skimmed, all of them, and yours is the only one that I’m buying.

Okay, short and sweet may not impress you but VOmax has been in business for 18 years! With an 18,000 sq ft facility, they’re no small potatoes. This testimonial is particularly impressive because they’ve already read the book but decided they needed their own copy anyway. Similarly, you have to weigh the fact that this company’s been around for 18 years and if it still holds value for them after having been at it for this long, so you can be sure you’ll use it for years to come too. You know, I can commiserate you made a bad buy on another book but it’s not my fault. I’m willing to stand behind mine with an unconditional money back guarantee, do those other authors? Nope, none do; that’s strike one. Do they put out this kind of content every day? Nope, strike two. Will they answer your questions in private email, can you even find their email addresses? Didn’t think so. Do they run a private forum where you can rub elbows with a lot of people just like you? That’s four strikes against them. But then, they charge less so the question becomes a matter of expectations. You do get what you pay for.

If you’re serious about your business, it’s worth the investment. Accept no imitations. Just as you expect to get a higher price for your better than average RTW product, why would my expectations be any different? Other than information, you get a lot more value with mine. Click on that “buy now” button over there in the left side bar. Or get it from Amazon, either way, I’m the one who’s shipping it to you.

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  1. Susan Cassini says:

    Dear Kathleen,
    I did buy your book several years ago and have read it cover to cover. I refer to it often, as it gives me the courage to go on! As a DE I spend a lot of time sewing and have begun to cringe when people label me as a seamstress. While that is a nobel profession (albeit undervalued) I feel I am much more. I can make patterns, markers, grade,draw fashion illustrations and design as well as sew, but since that is the end product I am inevitably labeled a ‘seamstress’. I have my own business with a studio in my house that would blow the average home-sewer out of the water; and yet people still ask me to hem their pants! Am I just being overly sensitive? Does my Certificate in Fashion Merchandising mean nothing? I’m even remotely related to Oleg. What do I tell people when they ask what I do? I’m a Designer-Entrepeneur. “Oh,” they say, “you’re a seamstress.”

  2. kathleen says:

    Susan, not trying to one-up you here but I totally understand. That happens to me too! The worst is from my own family (I’m the underwater basket weaver of the family). My step-mother is very embarrassed for me that I “just make patterns” and am not a designer. She pities me that I’m obviously a no-talent that after all these years of experience and my dedication to the field, “they” haven’t made me a designer yet. I do think she admires my tenacity in that I’ve stuck with it in spite of “not being able” to become a designer. I’ve tried to explain that at this point, becoming a designer would be a step backwards but the effort is wasted on her. And I also get the whole seamstress thing. These days I don’t even tell people I sew unless I have to.

    In apparel -as a writer and working with DEs (who often don’t appreciate me either)- I don’t get any respect because my companies are too small to be “important” so the big boys in the biz either ignore me or treat me like dirt (98% of manufacturers are male so throw that into the mix). And, among manufacturers as a group, it’s worse. Apparel is seen as a bunch of dumb-bunnies too stupid to do something “real” or “important”. The people in lean manufacturing are ALL guys -I’m the only girl that I know of- and gawd, I can’t get any respect there either! –That in spite of the fact that my blog is listed as second among lean blogs!

    It’s a wonder I get out of bed some mornings. I guess all of us second-raters will just have to stick together :)

  3. Tom says:

    “Dumb bunnies” too stupid to do something real or important ? In my world , the apparel industry would grind to a halt if not for the women. I’m not talking just about the sewers, but the floor supervisors, the pattern makers, and even the cutters. I know of many women owned factories as well. Most companies I deal with, about 80 % are women, a majority in senior management positions.
    Some of my best clients are brands owned by women.
    Your comments kind of perplex me. I am a garment manufacturer. Some friends call me a “garmento”.
    I am proud of my profession. As well, our pattern makers are considered an integral part of our business. They are highly skilled craftsmen. And the good ones don’t rely on computers to do the work for them.

  4. Susan, I totally commiserate on the “seamstress” thing. I try my best never to use the word “sew”–Stick to “create,” “produce,” or the like. Also, in my ofice where I meet clients, I purposefully have my husband’s art all over instead of samples of my work. A very subtle hint that they’re dealing with an idea person, not a seamstress, without any pretentious airs on my part.

    “Custom Clothier” gets blank (and sometimes annoyed) stares. I’vc been saying “collaborative clothier” lately, because it seems to invite questions rather than blank stares, which is preferable. I’m thinking of moving to “couturiere” at some point, not because I think I’m all fancy, but because people seem to know what that means. Or they think they do. Of course a French person would just think I’m a seamstress. (and we’re back at the beginning!)

    If anybody has come up with terminology tghat works flawlessly, please let me know!!

    Kathleen, It’s hilarious to me that your folks feel that way! I think my blue-collar family would be really proud if I were a patternmaker (It’s a bit like like engineering or some other respectable field) Being a designer is just too fluffy.

  5. Abi says:

    Hi Kathleen,
    I have ssen your book on Amazon a number of times. It’s ,clear you’ve produced a fabulous tool there, the cheapest I’ve seen it at is $150!!!!
    I’ve come across it again a and again, but I’m In the Uk and I can’t get it for $30…
    So as much as I’d love to have the book, it’s out of my budget. Ironic because it’d probably help me become successful :/
    The wonderful thing is I’ve come across your bogs, here, and you sound like an amazing , inspirational woman.

  6. Kathleen says:

    Abi, even in the US, the price is $60. You could order via the paypal link on my site with no problem. I ship to the UK every week.

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