Written by April F. Estrada, Co-Founder.
Around the time that we were about to launch our Kickstarter (when we were making samples with Ximena Valero), I came to the realization that I had, in a way, accidentally spent my life preparing for this project. Sounds cheesy, but it's like it was meant to be. Here are a few different ways in which I was able to contribute through my skills and experience. If you are working on a Kickstarter campaign or product launch, I encourage you to think about your own experiences and play to your own strengths!
Creating A Working Prototype From Scratch… At Home!
I grew up helping and watching my mom create garment samples for the various companies she had worked for over the years. Therefore, I had rudimentary knowledge of fabrics, making patterns and sewing. My first job was actually working for my mom as an assistant. She was the head of the sample-making department at her company. I remember helping her cut paper patterns and fabrics a lot. The rotary tool was a familiar albeit tricky friend of mine. That reminds me -- I'm super happy that The Undress was not made out of faux fur (aka "fun fur") because that material is the devil. It does everything in its power to get into your eyes, mouth and throat when you're trying to cut it. Plus, it kills your tools. Not so fun after all! Anyway, my experience from helping my mom really helped prepare me to make the very first prototypes of The Undress.
Another great thing is that I just so happened to have a goldmine of resources needed to create apparel in my house. We have multiple sewing machines and a seemingly endless supply of fabric and trims (from my family collecting a.k.a. hoarding it over the years). So, we had virtually all the supplies we needed to make a garment from scratch, right at home.
Both my mom and my sister were great resources. My sister studied fashion design and possesses skills in pattern making, garment construction and technical garment design. She was able to guide me in making our very first paper patterns and technical pack (which is like a blueprint for constructing a garment). My mother, as I alluded to earlier, has decades of sewing experience and is especially good at making things really well in a hurry. Working in the sample making department, she often had to create garments out of thin air in order to have them ready for last minute shows or executive meetings. My mom is a sewing master, though if you ask her she'll never admit it. She would tell you that she doesn't know how to sew. That's just crazy! All you have to do is take a look at the AMAZING costumes she has made for my sister and me over the years. I'll have to save that for another post but it suffices to say that my mom is truly awesome and super talented. She was (and continues to be) a HUGE help in the creation of The Undress. That very first blue dress that you see in our Kickstarter campaign was made by my mom on her tiny plastic sewing machine. That dress is now lovingly referred to as our "million dollar dress!" Go mama!
Prepping For And Launching Our Campaign
Once we had our finished prototypes, we got to work on our Kickstarter campaign. I was able to put my photography and videography background (I’m a UCSD alum) to good use to creating all the media we would need for our campaign page and marketing content. This definitely was a budget-saver for us and allowed for on-the-spot media creation and editing whenever we needed it.
All that time spent on creative, work-intensive college projects came in handy, too! I once took a class that required me to make a short film—by myself—every week for 9 weeks straight. Just FYI, by "make" I mean create, plan, set-up, shoot, record audio, occasionally act, edit and finalize. That really taught me a lot about how to organize myself in order to get things done quickly and how to come up with ideas fast and get them into motion as soon as possible. When you launch a Kickstarter, it is truly a mad dash to the finish line. Those 40 days went by like lightning, and we had to be quick to get things done in order to make the biggest impact possible.
As Dennis and I began working on the production of The Undress, I realized what a bonus it was that I was raised to speak Spanish fluently. I have my parents to thank for that! The majority of our This definitely came in handy during our meetings with our sample makers and factories (the majority of which are primarily Spanish-speaking). Though I admit I am a little bit rusty, it was good enough to communicate important instructions during the creation of our first samples. So, not too shabby! Or, as you would say in Spanish, "No está nada mal!" :)
Another advantage was the fact that I am a female whose body type comes close enough to that of a typical fit model. Not something that I can take credit for but definitely something that came in handy when making the initial prototypes of The Undress. FYI—a fit model is a person who acts like a living mannequin if you will. Garment makers use them to test the fit of a garment during the initial production stages. Nothing glamorous about it. I actually have a horror story from being a fit model for someone else. All I have to say is that I know from experience that taking off a skin-tight garment with tons of sewing pins holding it together hurts. A lot. Luckily, my experience being the fit model for The Undress was a billion times more pleasant! And definitely convenient--since I always have a fit model ready to try on samples for all of our production meetings :)
When Dennis offered me the opportunity to work alongside him on The Undress I had no idea that I was going to be involved in such a major way and eventually become his business partner. I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to be apart of this amazing adventure AND very grateful that I "happened" to have a magical combination of skills that were very useful in building The Undress into what it is today. No matter what you are looking to do in your own life, I encourage you to call upon whatever unique skills and abilities that you possess—you may be surprised to find out that the things you’ve taken for granted or overlooked can come in handy right when you need them!