Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Computer Crash! Uuuugh! I feel like I've been down forever but it's only been a few days. So I wake up Monday morning and my husband says he spent until 3 am getting the computer up. With a smile on my face silently commending my husband for his valiant effort, I check email and inform him we don't have it. He gets up out of bed and does his wonders and viola it's running. Then I go check out a file I need and realize I have no access to the drive that has all our files. This puts me out of commission the whole rest of the day as he downloads our database of files onto our computer.

The now funny (but wasn't at the time) story is that at dinner time my husband, for what reason I don't know, asks my 6 year old to check the computer to see if it is still running (downloading the files). This process has taken all day and we are near the end of the download. With only 4 minutes left remaining in the download, our 6 year old darling daughter reaches for a pen from the holder on the shelf and tips the container of pens and all onto the keyboard, hitting the escape button!!!! You don't want to know the words that flew out of our mouths! Not sure what he did but he did retrieve it back anyway. Now he's uploading all the programs all over again. Wondering when I'll get life back as I knew it...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I am so excited! You see earlier this year I wrote into a South African women's magazine called Women's Lifestyle World about Chantel, owner of Bug Zoo, one of the two companies whom we import our clothes from. You see I had the pleasure of meeting Chantel in March and was truly awed by her. She works two jobs. Not only is she the co-owner of Bug Zoo with her husband, but she is also the Director of a rape crisis center in Cape Town. It all fell into place when they took me on a field trip to visit all the different women they employ (working from their homes), and how they are trying to make a difference in their local world, through their business and beyond.

I nominated Chantel for the magazine's "Woman of the Moment" feature (Check it out , she's listed the third person down). I didn't hear anything and actually forgot about it until I got this email from Chantel herself thanking me for my kind words. I quickly checked the feature to check out what I had written all those months ago, relieved I wrote a nice piece. I am so glad it was posted after all and thank you Chantel... you are an inspiration to women around the world and I hope some day to be an inspiration to others as you are.
Part 3 of How Hooligans Differentiates Themselves, Adri gives us her insight behind some of the Safari Range outfits:

"With the Ellie Crawler, the flock of grass had to feel almost real and the Ellie had to be very happy and smug in it's environment. Just like the babies we like to dress in our clothing - happy, cuddled and well looked after."

"Aaah, here Chantel came up with this happy fellow. He is a dancing knobbly kneed Giraffe, clearly in love with life and very happy in Africa. The lime green suited the happy feel and the allover print compliments the happy vibe."

The Knobbly Knees Romper went fast and I need to reorder these.

"Girls living Africa? To me they would be enveloped in flowers and vibrancy. We pushed the envelope quite a bit in steering away from the typical Safari Dress concept we have always made and it has been a huge success."

"Cool layers of fabric in delicate embroidery. This was designed for the 'little lady' in making. Due to the layered effect, I felt a delicate embroidery with lots of swirls would carry through this feel."

And I must say both the Loving Africa Giraffe Dress (left) and the I Love Bloomer Dress Set (right) are hits for the girls.

Now the boys shirts, I can't keep stocked! For moms of boys, you have to check these out:

"These large stories have been a success in all ranges. By incorporating many African animals into one scene - allowing all to interact with each other, creates such a playful theme that all children find appealing. Again, bringing in the bright green, in almost a safari style (with fake lapels on the sleeves) gives little boys a true fun outdoor feeling of play."

"Again, incorporating an animal story into one big print - This time focusing on the actual name of the range - SAFARI. When thinking of safari, we think about 4x4's and animals and African landscapes. Here, we decided to use all three elements, and again bring in the animals having fun into this type of environment."

Adri has a talent of bringing the African way of life to us through her designs of fun animals for our children to enjoy. Thanks Adri!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Part 2 of How Hooligans Differentiates Themselves, Adri gives the following points:

1 - "Unique original designs" (Adri creates them herself)

2 - "Extra detail in the actual pattern, lots of top stitching detail to reinforce seams so they don't rip apart with frequent washing."

(I get a lot of comments from customers on the amount of creativity of the detail.)

3 - Extra detail in the print and embroidery. We pay quite a bit more to have these done locally, even though the East can duplicate at a lessor cost."

(I am glad they support their community and employ locally.)

4 - "Hand dyed garments such as the Lion Scrunch (pic at upper left) or the Dip Dye Dress is done locally in Durban. After the garment is sewed, the entire item is dipped in dye, heated for color fastness and returned to our factory for other embellishments. This is a rather lengthy process and quite costly due the manual nature of dipping and scrunching into a bundle. The scrunch dyed T is tied together with elastic bands before being dyed. It is the pressed before being printed."

(Wow! even I am learning more about their processes every day!)

5 - "The quality pigment used by our printers is sourced within South Africa. The secret to the color fastness of the prints is the amount of heat used to cure the prints and quality of the printing paste. We are satisfied they pass our stringent quality standards. We randomly inspect factories printing for us, and monitor fair labour practices and certificates or origin of raw materials used."

(This is why I am able to import under the AGOA guidelines.)

6 - "Quality control in manufacturing (sewing and finishing) is stringent. Careful attention is paid to secure seams and that embroidery appliqu├ęs don't come apart int he wash. Extra staff are placed before packing items to pull at seams and check for fabric flaws. Fabric slubs do occur with natural fibers but we check that there is no weakness in the weave."

Stay tuned for part 3 where Adri gives us a hint into the inspiration of the new Fall Safari line.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Part 1: I asked designer Adri from Hooligans to describe what sets her designs apart from the rest of the world and here's what she said:

Unique Original Artworks:
"Artworks are original and created by myself, whereas most people in the clothing industry take their inspiration from Europe and the East. An enormous amount of research goes into each artwork. First a style is decided on (actual cut and pattern) and then I think what picture would best suit this style and which animal would compliment it best. Finding animal photos and drawing them in a correct posture is the most difficult because one is taking a realistic picture and then animating it. Animating doesn't mean that a face and body can be completely out of whack. It at least has to look somewhat 'real'."

"Once I have the body standing or sitting in a cute way, the face is the main focus because that is what must be the total fun factor. The animal's expression must excite little kiddies and parents alike. Africa is a fun and vibrant country with plenty of sunshine... plant and animal life is abundant and that excitement flows over in my approach to the designs. I often find myself sit and smile while I draw as the little happy faces come to life."

Adri, you are definitely creating the "fun factor". Your new lines for the Safari Range are exploding off the shelves in the US! Stay tuned for how Adri differentiates their garments and discusses some of the actual designs and how they came to be.

The pic above is one of my favorites for the boys. In fact, quite a few of my shirts for boys are sold out due to the high volume of moms buying Hooligans shirts for their boys. I'll need to put in another order very soon.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I am immersed and overwhelmed with all the marketing that is required. Always looking ahead to the next season and still maintaining this season. I was reading some other blogs and getting some useful information on what was working and what wasn't. "Starting a Baby Boutique & Clothing Line" had a great post on October 30th about whether it's worth doing the big trade shows. She even referred us to another blog JPD Mom who had some insight into that area as well. Some do the big shows and seem to do well while others feel direct marketing is the way to go. I started and continue the direct marketing route and have been second guessing myself but after finding out what a few others are doing, I am feeling content with my decision... making it work is another story.