My partner Sarah and I made a video in the Darling booth during our buying trip to Magic in Las Vegas. We’re back in the hotel now and the work doesn’t end…going through the linesheets we picked up, totalling orders, and deciding what we want to invest our limited resources in to fill out our store for our customers. It’s very very cool work. It is a career I am definitely enthusiastic about and I love how much I am learning. I feel like I am learning so much more than I have in any other endeavor I’ve embarked on.
The most frustrating thing about starting an independent retail site so far is trying to get inventory exclusively before our competition does. It’s going to be a while until we can work our way up to getting to launch things first from mainstream designers, but our ace in the hole is definitely the relationships we’re continuing to build with small indie designers.
I was talking to my friend Matt Secoske about this frustration tonight and he reminded me why I want to get up every day and work on this project. That answer is easy. Sarah and I couldn’t find clothes we like at prices that worked for us. We were searching too hard to find well-made clothing, quality pieces, versatile things, unique things, things we can WASH, and we think it should be easier. We also want it to be easier to find small designers to support with our money without picking through Etsy all day. We want to buy clothes from approachable brands that we can feel emotionally connected to, and we think we can be that brand for our customers. The best thing about building Hello Holiday–and I really think this is objectively the best thing–is that the project has been touched by so many of our friends in the community who have generously shared their knowledge and talent with us to get this whole thing off the ground. Hello Holiday, the secretly-discussed, “how-could-this-ever-happen” idea Sarah and I shared in February, would never have come to fruition without Cody Peterson who lent his brilliant programming skills for our website. Amy Lynn Straub who is photographing our look book and launch photos. Rebecca Forsyth who is our beauty director. Jonathan Tvrdik who designed our graphics, and Ryan Renner who gave us the equipment to promote our businesses and spread the word about what we’re doing and a whole bunch of SEO consulting. My husband Dave who helped me research all of our ecommerce options, and Shannon Jaxies who has been running around town getting supplies, going to meetings with sponsors, and writing descriptions of our products. Aaron Shaddy and Dusty Davidson and Mark Hasebroock for their advice. Vic Padios for his legal counsel, Lorri Brockman for her guidance and help with taxes and legal formation, David Milligan for his help with our IP and contract questions. Our friends at the Omaha World-Herald and Silicon Prairie News who are excited to promote us. An amazing roster of independent designers who have helped us with our product direction. I know I’m forgetting a ton of people.
Good buying days are mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting. We were at Magic walking for ten hours today and we didn’t even see a quarter of it all. I admit that maybe on some level when we started, I thought trade markets would be something like a long day of shopping at the mall but it requires so much more focus than I ever could have imagined. We have to be “on” all the time. Sometimes aggressive sales reps follow us around the sales floor and try to explain each piece or sell on on things we know our customer doesn’t want, wasting valuable time. Sometimes the corridors are so crowded we can’t walk without being jostled by a rolling suitcase or someone’s armful of bags, and we can’t flip through a rack of new clothing without someone fighting to push us aside. Sometimes it’s so loud that I can’t hear Sarah talking next to me. Most of all, we always have to be careful of the pieces we are picking to be sure we’re going to have enough inventory for each delivery, and not too many jackets in February and enough party dresses for all body types and enough pants for short people and not too many day dresses in November and enough shoes for May. As we plan purchases, we also have to remember what we already have for that season, so we know if we will indeed have the sweater to go with that peplum skirt, or the blouse to go with that jacket, and what we’ll pair that with on the bottom–otherwise it could be sold out from the previous delivery from one of our suppliers, and we’ll have an embarrassingly lopsided offering of inventory and no way to fix it. It’s quite formulaic (with hundreds of specific-to-us formulas to memorize), and there’s a lot of mental math involved. A lot of quick thinking. If we get any of this wrong, we could be out thousands of dollars for inventory we just can’t sell. The risk involved is the perfect 50/50 mix of anxiety and adrenaline that to me is like pure high-octane motivation.
We’re excited about our launch and we want to communicate that and share our enthusiasm as we go through the process of building and launching this business. We want to share it all! We want to talk about it and know what you think and get feedback on our ideas. We are passionate about making high-quality independent design accessible to customers, and part of that must entail making ourselves available too.
So that’s what makes us different. That’s what gets me out of bed to work. That’s what makes me stay up late.