It’s not too often you get to meet the people behind a brand and hear about their story and struggles to get to where they are. As we begin our first year of bringing PARC to market, I thought it would be a good time to share my journey with you in the hope that you can take a little something away from this and use it in your own story.
Please feel free to leave any comments, connect with me about any questions or anything else. PARC is all about brining women together so know that I am always an open book and connecting with you is really what this is all about!
Me in a nutshell: I’m 29. I’m launching a swimwear line this year. I have had two previous businesses. I have no formal training in business or fashion. I love the outdoors. I have a 1 year old baby girl, a wonderful fiancé and a Mojo (he’s his own being). I’ve always done my own thing and if I lived somewhere warm I would never wear shoes again.
So how does all of this end up at PARC? Take Nicaragua in January (totally daydreaming about that sunshine right now), cold water surfer meets warm water (no more wetsuit) and your typical triangle and string bikini. That my friends is a combination for frustration, sunburn and lots of flashing.
I had decided to sell my first business a few months prior as it just wasn’t something I was passionate about doing any longer. Not wanting to go into the same field, and having no direction of where to go next, I was just enjoying the unknown and seeing where the year would lead. So after a week of frustrating water frolicking - because let’s be honest there wasn’t much actual surfing happening - I started to Google. I couldn’t find much at the time on the market that was more of a substantial bathing suit. I was looking for something between “sport” and “fashion” and what I had in my mind I didn’t really see out there. So the idea for PARC was born. I wanted a bikini that looked good but that I didn’t have to adjust every 20 seconds.
I really had no idea how to make it actually happen, what it would cost or what I was in for. I sketched up some REALLY rough ideas and had a vision of how I wanted our branding to look and what our message should be. Obviously when you’re not sure what to do you turn to Google (honestly before Google I would be lost). So I did lots of research and tried to learn what I could about how to turn your idea into a physical product. I basically discovered that you can hire anyone to do anything if you have the money! However funds are one thing I lacked. Finding someone local to do the kind of work I was looking for was a huge challenge. I had lots of success in the states, but I felt that this was something I wanted to be there for in person and to go through step by step in developing the designs, fabric and fits. Then the universe set two wonderful ladies in my path who had just the skills I needed and just like that PARC was on it’s way. I felt like all things were in the right place at the right time and this was meant to be.
After spending the year of 2015 developing all the ideas, branding and putting together the business plan, the next step was funding. I worked my butt off on putting together a business plan. This was totally new for me as well but I have to say that if you have a new business or are starting one this is so crucial and definitely worth your time to do. I applied through Futurpreneur for a small amount which basically covered my costs of getting everything we needed to get us to the pre-production stage. I felt that I could be successful at crowdfunding for the production costs, and that taking a loan out for that amount (if I could even get one) would be too risky. I managed to get the initial loan and again in my head all the stars are aligning and things have been smooth sailing so it’s obviously all meant to be! I had my mini team of ladies work their butts off (you’re amazing) from January through March all in time to get this crowd fund launched. Which also was a TON of work putting that together. In the middle of this madness I gave birth to our first - and probably only (sorry mom) - baby girl. That’s a whole blog post on it’s own but it was messy, incredibly challenging and I had a long and rough recovery. But this new little being and the thought that my other baby PARC was just about to get off the ground kept me motivated. It was wild though. I was answering e-mails at 2am, trying to decide if stripes were the right width apart all while experiencing the huge learning curve that is being a new mother. Looking back now I laugh at how crazy it was but I don’t think I would change anything about it. I’m sure my fiancé thought I was completely bonkers (which I am obviously haha!)
So March comes, we finally have all the pieces in place and the crowd fund goes live! I had previously done some research on other successful campaigns and in comparing them with us I had zero doubts that we would be successful and hoped we'd be this huge overnight success, raise way more then our goal and my dream would be real! Well that turned out not to be the case in a BIG BIG way. The campaign didn’t get any traction or any outside coverage, it was just mostly friends (or friends of friends) who had contributed. I don’t think we even reached half of our funding goal. I was devastated. I had the initial loan that I was personally responsible to pay back and we had put in a decent chunk of our own money as well. Rather then lie down and take the failure I researched about why our campaign may have not succeeded and decided to launch another one on a different platform. In hindsight I would have not wasted the time and I would have made a back-up plan in the first place if the crowd fund didn’t meet it’s goal. The second one was mildly more successful, but again not anywhere near the funds I needed to purchase bulk amounts of fabric and pay for a small production run of suits. By now we are into early summer and I’ve basically missed our window on getting into the market in 2016.
After the second failed crowd fund I thought to myself basically I have two options. I can either say that’s it, obviously it wasn’t meant to be and try and get a job to pay back the money and essentially give up on PARC or I can exhaust every funding option. Since I was already invested in making it happen I decided to go all in. I tried a few funding options but either they wanted huge amount of collateral (which I did not have) or they were not interested in funding me all together. I found VanCity offered a great variety of programs tailored to entrepreneurs and I thought if I had a chance at getting funding it would be through a program like this. It look me about three months to gather everything they required and completely rewrite and revise the business plan and financial projections I had previously made. This was a HUGE project just in itself. But I submitted all my paperwork and interviewed with them and I got the loan. Though it meant really cutting back on what I initially thought we could produce. It also meant loosing one print and one style and really cutting down the amount we were to make. There was NO room for error here because this was it. This was ALL the money I was going to get and it needed to work.
I found my production partner (after lots of searching) and off we went. As we speak they are working on the pre-production samples and we should have our full run to us in early February. This whole process is another post in itself so if you’re curious about the more technical side of things and the production process please feel free to reach out to me and I’ll do my best to help and share my experiences.
We’ve got some great pop-up shops lined up for this year and some really amazing retail shops that have supported and made this a possibility. I know this will still be an incredibly challenging project especially in the world of fast and inexpensive fashion. Not to mention juggling a full-time baby, relationships and life! It is not cheap to produce a quality product locally, use quality materials and try not to price yourself out of the market. Along with our financial start-up commitments it will be a real challenge for us to stay competitive and make this work during our first few years. I try not to focus too much on the ways in which this could fail, but rather remember why I started it in the first place and know that I have the determination and commitment to make this work. Your support, feedback and comments are what keep me going and know that I’m on to something here. Not to mention my amazingly supportive family and friends. Having no background in this industry can be a curse sometimes but also a blessing. I do things my way and the way that I think we should be striving towards, not becuase it’s something that everyone does or something that you “need” to do because it’s always been done that way.
PARC really started with the idea for functional swimwear but after looking at swimwear imagery constantly I got SO tired at looking at (what feels like) the same person in the same bikini, in the same pose, doing the same thing. If you’ve looked at any main stream swimwear media I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. That became the second part of my mission, and really the soul for PARC. I wanted to feature real women, to connect all of us, and to have an open platform and community available. When I stared to share my idea with others, I really realized the mental barriers that exist because of women not wanting to get out in the water because of the way the feel they look. I definitely feel that a large part of this IS becuase of the main stream media and how women are portrayed in this industry. I think most of the women that I know (myself included) are exposed to this so much that it’s so engrained to think that if your body doesn’t look that way something is wrong. So we don’t want to go to the beach, or put on that bikini, or try surfing becuase we’re self conscious of the way we feel we look. Guess what ladies. Most of us don’t look like those bikini models (and if you do I’m certainly not saying anything is wrong with that). We have hips and boobs and probably not a six pack….(I enjoy Pure Bread what can I say!) . But NOTHING is wrong with that! We need to embrace where we are in our lives and with our bodies. We are constantly changing and regardless of where you are in your journey I want you to feel confident and enjoy life! Get out there and try paddle boarding or kayaking or sign up for a surf camp! But don’t let your insecurity stand in your way. PARC is made for all women and ALL women deserve to enjoy their lives and their bodies in whatever way that means for them. My goal is to be just a small part in making you get out there and enjoy what this beautiful world has to offer.
Run wild ladies!
Comments will be approved before showing up.