Designing ‘Custom’ Garters…

Designing Garters - DiamondGirl

This is a huge step for me, one that I feel I’ve made very early on in my business career. Maybe this is what sets me apart? Honestly though… I haven’t really thought too deeply about it…I just wanted to see if I could do it. There is nothing like setting yourself a challenge with no idea of the outcome…so anyway I have jumped in with both feet.

It really is a challenge to translate someone elses ideas into an item that they will hopefully love and cherish… I design and make garters for brides, it is a new venture for me to be selling them but I have made quite a few for family and friends…when I set up my etsy shop I saw the option to offer custom designs and added it to my shop without hesistation. I guess I didn’t think about the time and effort and the stress and worry of getting the design right for the client.

So for my first paid custom order I have a brief of ‘Gatsby Glamour, including peacock colours with pearls and gold’.  I started doing some research into 1920’s fashion and art deco.  Previously I would of spent hours scouring magazines and library books… photocopying the things I found inspiring, saving pictures from google to my harddrive never to see the light of day again!

Now I just save everything to a pin board in half the time. So after 48 hours and a very selective 148 pins later I started designing some garters. Now some would consider the time speant researching could have been used more wisely. Although I probably did procrastinate a little and pinned to other boards too I felt like I needed that much time to really get a feel for the theme.

Why not go have a look at my 1920’s inspiration board on pinterest here.

So with a few ideas to present to the client I will continue to design, the problem is that I didn’t want to spend hours making a garter  I feel would be perfect, then for the client to say they don’t think it is right! There it is again…the fear. The fear that nothing will be right after spending an inordinate amount of time on research and materials on samples and ideas.

Getting the balance between Ideas and samples to a final product is a hard one…I’m sure with more time and more custom orders I will find what works for me, but so far I have discovered…

5 Points to consider with custom products.

1. COMMUNICATION – This has to be effective, whether it is face to face, email etc… ideas need to be understood by both the client and the designer. Ask questions, try to narrow down their vision if it seems very broad, pinpoint what they like the most and be honest if it doesn’t translate well to the medium you use.

2. IDEAS – This comes from good communication. How are you going to get your ideas across to the client? I love Pinterest, but my recent client didn’t use it. Can you spend time getting a moodboard together to present to the client? What about sketches, would you be happy to present your idea in a very raw format or would you prefer to show a more poliched product? Can they give you images, ideas or links to what has inspired them? Not all clients think creatively, and a theme may be a collection of images, or just words or even a vague idea that they like a theme, but don’t know what details they like or what drew them to it in the first place.

3. TIME – Give yourself a set amount of time to spend on research and development, this way you won’t procrastinate. Spend each minute dedicated to the task at hand, if you need to go back to this stage later then account for the time spent.

4. PRICE/COST – How much is the client wanting to spend? What is their budget? How much do you charge for your time? Include cost for Overheads. Materials and dare I say it…How much profit do you want to make? Do you need to take a deposit for the time spent on initial ideas and samples?

5. THE CLIENT IS ALWAYS RIGHT – Well almost always…When it comes to their vision they are always right. It is ok for them to say they don’t like what you have designed, ask them for what they like and didn’t like be very specific and go back and adjust it add to it, change it but don’t feel down, what the client likes may be very different to what you feel fits the brief.

I’m off to send some ideas to a client…butterflies of excitment and worry, will they like my ideas?

How do you handle custom orders, what have you discovered?


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