I have been thinking about this quite a bit recently after a good friend recommended the book Start With Why by Simon Sinek. It is a good book and if you have the chance read or listen to it like I did.
So I started thinking, yes it hurt quite a bit and I have been round in circles a few times thinking about why we wanted to create Distinctly Individual, and importantly why should our customers shop with us.
It is very easy to answer what we do, we make clothes, pretty bang on awesome clothes for children and occasionally adults. We like to be nice to our customers and let them choose fabrics, we offer a range of designs and we can custom make to an individuals size. But that really doesn't answer why we are doing this.
I started thinking what it was that interests me specifically about fashion and clothing? I thought back to when I was young and the clothes I really remember, I often remembered the excitement of getting to wear a new dress or leggings and matching t-shirt (It was the 90's ok!) I often remember what I was doing and the outfit I was wearing together, they are all part of the memory. There are quite a few pics of me posing, looking happy, confident and pleased to be different, I am not sure if this was mine or my mothers fashion sense or choices. Below are a couple of pictures of me posing, I remember the shoes from the top picture, I loved them so much I wanted to sleep in them.
The bottom picture we were on a family holiday and going out for an evening meal, I loved this dress, the buttons had little anchors on, I felt very grown up in this outfit, hence the catalogue pose.
I think I have always carried that feeling with me when you get something new or get to wear something you love, especially if it was handmade or really unique. That buzz of confidence in who you are and what you are doing and you go about your day a little differently, for me it is usually trying not to spill my coffee on my new dress or top, but you might walk a little taller, or when I was little be spinning around to see how twirly the skirt was.
As Bill Cunningham has said "Fashion is the armour to survive everyday life", if you feel great in your clothes your confidence will shine through.
I find walking round shops today, you see the same thing over and over again, cutesy tops or dresses, the same slogans, the same styles, colours and prints, nothing really inspiring or exciting to wear. BLAND, UNINSPIRING, or IMPRACTICAL. I saw children all turning up to places wearing the same clothes. The big chains all producing pretty much identical clothes to make children into clones instead of celebrating their differences. Yes children may all have a penchant for minions or marvel, but as soon as the next big thing comes out these are discarded the fashion is gone and poor Mr Spiderman T-shirt is heading for landfill as your child looks for the latest outfit. So we avoid all character fabrics, we might have some nods to the current trends (unicorns, foxes etc.) but these won't just last until the next big film comes out.
When I became a teenager I liked going shopping in independent stores, finding things no one else would have, I went through phases of style trying to find where I fit in, trying too hard to be like other people around me instead of being confident in who I was and who I wanted to be.
I also like knowing that my clothes are made responsibly, fast fashion has a hidden price and it is the adults and children who make the garments. This was a subject I became very passionate about at University, I read into Ethical Fashion, I became President of the Society, I worked on campaigns against fast fashion which ends it's life in landfill and exploits all sorts of people on the way. Distinctly Individual is a small company, you know who is making your items, you know children are not sewing your clothes, I try and source beautiful, quality fabrics that will last.
Time and effort goes into every order, if it is a custom order, I chat with you about the event, I make recommendations on what will suit our customers, I make matching accessories to go with your item, need a hair bow to go with the dress, a bow tie to go with your waistcoat, it is all part of what we do. Are you going to a themed event, I do some research, I send you some ideas, these might even be hand drawn, and then we discuss what fabrics you would like and I go off and find them and present you with some options, it is then we talk about price and payment before the order is placed. We cannot source prints or fabrics containing characters from marvel or Disney films or any licensed prints, however helps us to make sure that you are getting something truly Distinctly Individual and we find your individual passions even if that is elephants, giraffes or race cars to create something special.
So thinking back to why are we Distinctly Individual and why are we here! I want people to celebrate what they love through their clothing, for them to show off their individuality, we want children to have items of clothing they will love, that they will make great memories in. In short we exist to offer you a friendly alternative to faceless companies, we are passionate about clothes, design, quality and individuality, we want to make the clothes you and your family will make memories in.
We believe in helping people to celebrate their differences so they can be happy and confident in who they are.