My achievement this year is that I managed to launched my first bridal collection and sold some of them as well as got custom-made order in my first year as a fashion designer. End of last year, I took patternmaking course, I had totally zero experience and knowledge in garment construction before.
I can’t afford fashion school, both the fee and the years. So, I made my own curriculum and research, where I can learn about fashion. I am so lucky that I live in this internet era that saves a lot of education money and bridges people from all over the world. I’m so grateful for people who share amazing free contents on platforms like youtube and online libraries or even cheap online courses like Udemy and Skillshare. Because of them, I can learn the theories and process that they learn in fashion schools as long as I’m willing to put in the dedication and commitment. But still, for some fields, I need professional training, especially when it comes to construction. Even the patternmaking course alone is already expensive for a regular person like me ( I was so lucky that at time I got my bitcoin money went five times higher).
In the beginning, I just wanted to be a designer, any kind of designer, it does not matter. I just wanted to get my designs out and I made it. I think, me not taking a 4-year fashion study is also a benefit for me in terms of getting the realization of how the fashion business works faster than those who do. Many people who had the opportunity to really go to fashion schools are more relaxed and not as ambitious because they enjoyed the status of being students and once they graduated, they didn’t really think it’s gonna be like that and what’s really needed and which one are more sustainable careers in fashion. That’s why fashion design major is much more favorited than product development major.
Unfortunately (and fortunately at the same time), I got to travel a lot this year, like every month, which I am thankful for it but at the same time, it slowed my progress down a lot. Eventhough I was only 2-3 weeks on holiday, it takes at leat 1-2 weeks to really get back in the mood to study and practice again, and then 1 week after that, I traveled again. Anyway, even with that travelling schedule, I still make progress.
I’ve begun to realize what kind of fashion designer that I wanna be and which parts of design jobs that I wanna do, at least for the next 15 years of my life. Being a designer and entrepreneur is indeed fancy, but it’s crazy, I have to admit that at this age, especially as a sarcastic introvert, it’s too hard for me to handle. This one-woman show thing is tougher than it seems, because I have to do the design, cutting, sewing, finishing, marketing, photography, fabrics shopping, etc etc. I ended up doing more non-design works than designing. I tried to employ someone before and it doesn’t fit me because I’m a perfectionist and at the same time I hate being a nagger and depending on others. One thing that bothers me as well is the fact that I had to be location-dependent. I love travelling, I wanna be able to work from anywhere as long as there’s internet.
One thing good about me is that I react to situation fast, if something doesnt work, I need to do something. If I only waited for my gowns to sell, I’m not gonna make it. I can’t wait until I’m famous.
There’s a case that is very common among Indonesian designers. Indonesian designers mostly dont have formal education (which is okay, just like me) but what is not good is that many of them dont have strong will to learn from the basic. Because it’s easier in Indonesia to be a boss and call yourself a designer because the labor cost is not as expensive as in other countries. So, many designers just take exactly the same models from Pinterest, modify a bit (sometimes not even bother to modify), and pay tailors to make it. Hence many designers don’t even have unity in their designs. And they survive by arse-kissing the socialites. They got fame eventually, but it’s temporary. Because if you let your clients dictate you, you wont survive when they have new favorites. I witness this right in front of my eyes especially since I was a runway model before I became a designer. The designers that I used to work for, they’ve disappeared now, outshone by new fashion designers who can get a long better with the new generation of the socialites. So these old folks, they ended up depressed and broke. They’re used to being bosses, their career jumped without learning basic skills, so once they’re out of orders, they have nothing to offer when applying for jobs in fashion companies. That’s why not a few of them turned into fugitive (taking people’s money, selling drugs, prostitution etc).
It’s so easy to be like that if I never evaluate my steps. I dont wanna be like them. I want a sustainable career, I want a skill that allows me to work from anywhere and needed in and by many countries. Just in case Indonesia someday turns into the next Syria, at least I’ve been preparing my escape, or if my future husband wants to move to other countries, one of us does not to worry about starting a new job anymore, because I’ve already started my career in remote freelancing. I may need to hustle more now maybe triple than what I’ve done, but I believe it’ll be worth it. I reached out to and consulted with some technical fashion designers that I found online (because they make content, like podcast etc), the career is really promising. But I have to struggle a lot in the beginning since I lack field (factory) experience.
It started with me learning computer drawing because I was looking for ways to make money beside waiting for my gowns to sell and I am interested in graphic design. So I started with Adobe Illustrator and made garment flats. Then I started to dig more, and it’s sooo challenging, drawing flats is like only 20% of the job of a technical designer. The whole tech packs is another new level. So I started selling my flat sketching online. My skill now is still limited in simple garment, not enough yet to draw flats for more complicated garments, but at least I’m making steps and I have to start somewhere.
Now also I just started my new job that’s not related with fashion at all. I realized that I need to keep a day job instead of just throwing myself to the unknown world of entrepreneurship. It keeps me sane because now at least I know I’m having a stable income every month. I keep the learning and freelancing on the side, so I work from 6 am to 2 pm, after that my day is full with study, practice and yoga until late at night. And repeat. I’m also happy that finally after 10 months of travelling every month, finally I have a peaceful month to work and be committed. I was supposed to travel to Bali this month (I already booked the tickets), but I cancelled because I got scared of flying with Lion Air after the tragic incident.
Next year, I plane to move to Bali. So I’m saving my money for that. I have plans to pitch to apparel manufacturers in Bali that’s managed by foreigners. I’ve stalked them already since last month, I’m gonna pitch for an internship opportunity, because I have to gain field experience if I want to increase my rate. This is gonna be a long process. It’s gonna take me another year probably (lol my boyfriend has to deal with my poverty for another more year! Be patient, hon. I’m working for us too! Hehe) But I have to learn how to crawl before I can jump. I have to start somewhere, and if it means doing small steps, being rejected many times and etc, I’ll take them.