I was not sure how to title this post and then the phrase “I Got the Blues” came to me. Not sure if it is from a song or what, but I found it befitting. After church, my friend and I went to have brunch: Chicken and Waffles. It was good but I knew pictures of my outfit will make the day even better 🙂
Another post, another custom skirt. The PVC part in the skirt was inspired by a Cameroonian brand Eloli. They make very cool pieces and I love how they mix various fabrics and prints. Check them out.
Hair: My fro did not come to play 🙂
Sunglasses: Derek Lam “Juliette”
Top: Young Fabulous & Broke Off the Shoulder Faux Suede
African streetwear is very laidback but cool at the same time. You can create pieces that you mix with other prints or more solid Western cuts. For the V&VI brand, customizing t-shirts is part of our DNA. To be able to achieve those seamless t-shirts our customers love, it is important to shop well and design smart.
I am going to walk you through some of the options you have when you decide to create a business based on an Afritude model.
CHOOSING YOUR FABRIC: Taking into consideration that you will be mixing different fabrics, take the time to ensure your wax fabric is the kind that does not bleed. Creating genuine wax prints involves a lot of dyeing, that is why you are not supposed to wash your garments so often. Taking this into consideration, for our t-shirts, we usually use blended wax, the kind that has a little bit of polyester. This serves two purposes:
When you end up washing your t-shirt, the wax will not bleed and stain the main fabric, thus ruining your garment. Blended wax employs a different technique where the prints are not handmade, using less dye in the process. We strive to ensure the integrity of our t-shirts and produce long lasting garments.
Using blended wax ensures that the fabric will not shrink later and ruin the t-shirt. The saying goes “do not put new wine into old wineskins” and “do not sew a piece of unshrunk cloth onto a new garment.” Doing so will only cause damage. Imagine using a fabric that alters after one wash; your t-shirt will become worthless.
CHOOSING YOUR T-SHIRT: Depending on the purpose you want to achieve different fabrics will produce various results. Cotton is very natural and breathable, and easy to alter, but more expensive. If you decide to work with it, the final cost of your t-shirt will be more expensive than the average cost. If you work with blended fabrics, pay attention to what the blend is. Fabrics with elastane or any kind of stretch will be more difficult to alter as you need to not only take into account the nuance of the stretch, but also the non-stretch wax fabric that will be added to it. Doing this requires a little more skill. Our t-shirts are usually a cotton-poly blend, which mimics the wax fabric we use. With careful attention, we are able to customize them and create various seamless designs.
DESIGNING YOUR PRODUCT: This is a particularly important step. Make sure to draw or envision what the final product will look like before you go about cutting. If you are working with a team, bounce off ideas before you conclude. The t-shirt, wax fabric and design have to complement each other; everything needs to work together. Once you have created your designs and you are ready to customize, make sure you are pinning to know exactly where everything sits. This is necessary whether you are going to use Technique 1 or Technique 2 to create your Afritude t-shirt.
Now, you can go ahead and sew. Focus, pay attention and I am sure you will be proud of your final results and so will your customers. Let me know what your thoughts are….
I am une NanaBenz, and it is only normal that I try to incorporate wax material into many of the clothes I make. With V&VI, the journey so far has been creating cool t-shirts, sweaters, bombers, and jackets to infuse into your everyday style. The vision right now is unisex, and with every new collection, we strive to improve the technique used in combining different materials. I will talk about two techniques here, and in my next post, we will go the basics and learn how to shop for an Afritude t-shirt.
The easiest method will be to place the wax design directly over the t-shirt. If you do not want to go through the fuss of cutting out your t-shirts and resewing, you can just cut out your design and sew it on top of the t shirt. However, you still need to worry about producing a good-looking product because with this technique, you can end up with bulky bits (puffed out designs that were not intentional).
For example, imagine you want to add a heart on the middle of your shirt. You place the cut-out design on your shirt and start sewing, without paying attention to adjusting the fabric every 2 inches. Once you are done, you will realize things are not flat and seamless. It will not look neat; more like something done by an amateur that is not representative of your brand.
You are working with more bulkiness here since the original fabric is still part of the game; so even though this is the easiest method, it could end up a disaster if not well heeded to.
2. The method I prefer is to integrate the wax with the t-shirt. This method is definitely more work and takes attention and time, but the results are cleaner and more professional. Start off by designing how you want your t-shirt to look. Cut out all relevant pieces. Then cut out the corresponding sections on the t-shirt. Carefully sew everything together.
The keyword is careful because you do not want to end up with fabric that has been pulled tight, thus creating unevenness. Or you do not want gaps either.
This method definitely requires more professional expertise, but when done right, your finished product is so beautiful and seamless. It will not look like a customized product. It will look like the t-shirt was manufactured that way.
Now, you go ahead and choose which method makes the most sense to you. Both require lots of attention and dexterity. Let me know in the comment section what finished products you created.
I am not sure how to define my style. I do not shop according to the events I want to attend. I do not shop according to what is in fashion. I just buy what I like and when it comes time to put together an outfit, I find inspiration in what I already have. I definitely like to be daring and mix stuff that you will not necessary think of. Not that this outfit is daring but I am in love with the skirt. So many people asked me where I got the skirt from and if only you could see the look of disappointment on their face when I said it is a custom made skirt, designed by Yours Truly 🙂
I picked up both pieces of material alongside others in one of the popular open markets in Yaounde and I was not sure what to do with them. I thought about making a custom denim jacket, but then i was like “nahh.. not visionary enough.” So the pieces sat at home for a full year and it was during my next trip home that I came up with the idea to create this skirt, and Voila! you have the finished product as you see it. I always say my seamstress is my fairy queen. She brings to life all of my designs. She is so so good!!!!
Hat: purchased from Nordstrom Rack
Sunglasses: Derek Lam “Juliette”
T-shirt: purchased from TJ Maxx
Skirt: une NanaBenz production
Booties: Rag & Bone “Ellis” Patent Leather
Backpack: Rag & Bone Mini “Pilot”
Let me know know how differently you would have paired this skirt.
8. EQUALITY: TREAT EVERYONE EQUALLY. Every customer is important whether they are spending $3 or $100. The $3 customer who was treated well can become a repeat customer who buys constantly and that works in your favor even better. A repeat customer is a good way to measure your impact. So yes, always remember to think Long Term.
9. KEEPING TRACK: Make sure to keep track of your sales as they happen. Whether that means you have to jot them down on a piece of paper and transfer to your Excel sheet later, do that. Doing this will help you spot missing things at the end of the event. Tracking also makes sure that inventory and sales add up.
10. ADVERTIZE!!!! Do not mind that this is the last point. It is in my opinion the most important. If people do not know of the event or that you will be a vendor at an event, they are not going to show up and all your time will be wasted. All you can do is all you can do. So make sure you do all you can do to advertise especially since this is an indoors event and you do not necessarily have the luxury to catch the attention of passersby.
Post event do not forget to tally up those sales. You made it to the other side. You see that it was not as scary as you thought. One experience under your belt and cheers to many more to come! You Got This!!!
Thank you for sticking through for the 3-part series. Share in the comments what your experience has been or what important points I left out. Looking forward to hearing from you.
4. RISE N SHINE: Wake up early. Give yourself enough time to get in the right spirit because today is going to be an awesome day. Waking up early lets you envision your day and set the pace for how you want things to go. You will also have enough time to get ready and be at your Pop Up venue long before your customers.
5. EAT: Make sure you are not stepping out of the house on an empty stomach. Having full energy is one less thing to worry about during the day when you are trying to be a BOSS LADY or BOSS GENT. Also make sure to carry snacks for the day in case you are not able to take a real break to eat.
6. 1 HOUR BEFORE: Reach the venue an hour before the official start time of the event. You want to have enough time to set up and relax before your customers show up. In case there are things you forgot, you have time to figure out alternatives. It also gives you time to familiarize yourself with the environment. Talking about that…
7. ETIQUETTES: Get comfortable with the other vendors. Walk around to see what they are selling; ask questions. This is not jungle competition; it is Coopetition. Contribute to making the environment healthy for everyone.
Stay smiling. It always goes a long way. Make a mental note to stay smiling the whole event no matter what happens. People always gravitate to smiles.
And on that note my friends, keep it smiling and I will see you in my next post.
So you are looking forward to your next opportunity to make some sales and make your brand a little more known. What should you do to ensure lots of sales on the day of as well as continuing sales later? Continue reading, and from my experience, I will point you out to TEN things you should consider to make your day pop!
BEFORE THE EVENT
INVENTORY: Make sure to take inventory of your stock. You want to make sure you know exactly everything that you will be selling on the day of. I advise you create an Excel sheet to keep track or use another computer tool. This is especially important if you are selling smaller things like cosmetics that come in lots of colors, or if you just have a big stock of merchandise in general. Plus, it will come in very handy later when you have to calculate your sales, profit, etc.…
ASSEMBLE PROPS: If you need to bring your own display material, I recommend that you assemble everything beforehand. If possible, test your products in them so that you can envision how things will present themselves on the day of. Assembling your props also helps to ensure that you do not forget any necessities.
Depending on the location you might be able to set up the day before. If this is your case, make sure to take opportunity of it as you will be less stressed on the D-day.
3. SALES STRATEGY: Brief your team, even if it just your mom and yourself. Setting goals for the day of, establishing rules to follow, will help you be more efficient and less tired. Make sure you are setting SMART goals based on the audience and other factors. At the end, you will have a measure to determine if you met your targets or not.
For now, let us stop here. I will save some of the more juicy information for the next post.