The month that was May... Where to start?! It was simply incredible. One of my absolute favourite months in business to date.
A little background story to K Coulst Designs (KCD) for those who are new to my brand or those who may not know the snapshot that brought us to this moment.
KCD commenced trading in February 2015. A solely handmade business. After a year of sewing handmade pieces, the demand outgrew my capacity. I had one daughter Khloe and was expecting my second daughter any day. It was during the first few weeks of the newborn bubble, I made the ultimate decision to commence manufacturing offshore.
KCD's first designer line was released in August 2016 and it was a sell out. My Signature Bow Skirts in Peony Pink, Lavender, Hydrangea Blue and Sunflower Yellow were a hit and I was gob smacked by the support. From this first release until our latest Winter collection: The Everly Collection, I have worked with my manufacturer for over three years.
It was late last year, after many invitations to visit my Manufacturer, I accepted. There were a number of reasons it finally fell into place and I was able to make the journey. I since had my third daughter and she was at an age I could leave her be looked after by family. It was also at the end of late last year the decision to introduce a Little Gent's line was made. I knew visiting my Manufacturer in person, designing in house with them and visiting the fabric market to find specific materials would hopefully lead to a successful new venture.
Fast forward to May 2019. My husband and I, arrived in Guangzhou and was greeted by my Manufacturer and my Sales Representative of the company. It all felt surreal. We were driven to the factory and were warmly welcomed. I felt a huge sense of overwhelming thankfulness and appreciation for the people who had helped bring every piece of KCD to life and I could finally show them my sincerity in person.
I gave them gifts from Australia, drawings my eldest Khloe had done for them and I got to see first hand my Winter pieces in production. I was shown all the work stations in the factory. From the Pattern Master's offices, Sample Stations, Cutting Stations, Sewing Stations, Quality Control Stations, Pressing Stations and lastly the Packing Stations.
Brands can claim their pieces are ethically made but not having once visited and inspected first hand, how can they be 100% sure? KCD can!! It is this one statement I vouch and will firmly support since inspecting the factory myself. I was welcomed to take as many photos as I pleased. Watch garments being created. Sit with the Pattern Masters and watch them work. No word of a lie, these men and women are some of the most incredibly talented people I've met.
It was time to get down to business. I spent the next few hours finalising the Little Gent's Winter pieces in the factory's boardroom. The boardroom was so kindly presented with every single sample ever created for KCD on a stand for me to walk down memory lane with them. Wow, how far KCD has come!
My Manufacturer and Sales Representative then took my husband and I out for a very traditional Chinese lunch. When I think of the Chinese food we have come to know in our Western culture, how different it is. Safe to say, there isn't anything like trying a homeland's cuisine and relishing in its ethnicity.
The next day, became one of the most ingrained memories for me during this trip. The fabric market. It was ginormous. I don't even know how to explain just how intense, mind boggling and overwhelming it was. The easiest way I can compare/describe the two is: Spotlight is a fly and the market is a blue whale. Not even sure that does it justice. A day spent walking. Endlessly. Swatch book hunting. Swatch book gathering. I ended up with a bag full of goodness.
You would assume, 'Wow! Imagine all the amazing fabrics you'd find then'. But it wasn't that easy. It was a rabbit's warren. There was no set directory. It wasn't laid out in sections, ie. leather, linen, suede etc. Thousands upon thousands of little stores, all offering multiple fabric swatch charts for what they stocked. Yes, I found some fabrics that I'm thrilled to have in my swatch collection now, but I could easily spend a week, trying to navigate more. Need I also mention the amount of bikes that are fabric couriers. It wasn't hard to nearly be side swiped or taken out in what felt like a rat race. The beep beep I swear I still hear at night haha.
The next day was spent at the factory commencing work on the samples. In hopes to complete them and bring home with us. Unfortunately, that didn't prevail but it allowed me to spend more time with the workers, watch them intently and also discuss upcoming future lines.
This was my first time in China. My first time visiting my Manufacture and the fabric market. It was an unbelievable experience and journey. Never in those early months of business, sewing pom pom trim to little shorts in my sewing room, would the thought have crossed my mind in four years I'd be witnessing mass production of pieces I designed.
So when's the next trip? Right now, I don't know. I want to focus on my Little Gent's release next month. I want to make sure the direction I envision for my label comes to fruition. And in a couple of years time, who knows, round 2, may be on the cards.
I sincerely want to thank my Manufacturer, the team he leads, the ladies who are my eyes and ears helping bring my ideas/designs to life. Their hospitality and warmth was second to none. I also want to thank my husband for coming on this journey with me. Keeping us safe in a foreign country, walking tirelessly through fabric alleys upon fabric alleys, not a complaint or whinge slipped his mouth. Lastly, my Mum. Who did an amazing job, looking after our three daughters, doing the school run and giving me peace of mind while I did this for my business. I got to experience something in this chapter of my life, thanks to her.
If you would like to see or learn more of my journey in China. Please head to my Instagram page and watch the story highlight labeled 'Manufacturer'. Otherwise feel free to reach out to me. I hope if you did watch as my China journey unfolded you enjoyed the 'behind the scenes' I brought to life.
Until next time