Stepping outside the forest

It’s been a little while since I wrote about the label. That’s in part because, while a lot has happened, I’ve experienced a bit of a setback.

Recently the designer that has been working on the project became unavailable due to other work commitments. While we’ve made significant progress on the designs, there is still a lot to do – selecting fabrics and finalising the patterns among them.

My initial response was one of disappointment. This possibly (probably?) means that I won’t have a range ready for the Summer 09/10 selling season in February.

Although it’s a fair way away, the combination of this being the label’s first collection, ethical manufacturing lead times, and just generally the fact that I’m not on the project full time, mean that the delay in finding and engaging a new designer, and pattern maker (as the pattern maker was of close relation to Susan) means that we just won’t be ready in time.

However, after that initial sense of disappointment, I’ve come to realise that perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise.

In stepping back, outside the forest as it were, and re-assessing things I’ve realised that, in my rush to meet a deadline, I’ve lost sight of some of the initial vision that I had for the business.

I was, to an extent, falling into the trap of doing things because “it’s the way it’s done” rather than being true to my original vision for the label. I was also trying, I think, to force some things, rather than letting them unfold in a more authentic and organic way.

So I’ve decided to “ship when it’s ready” rather than trying to meet some arbitrary deadline. Of course, I’ll still need to take into consideration the realities of selling into a wholesale market, but I want to do things differently, and I’ll need to learn to be patient (not one of my strong points, I must admit) and let it unfold, rather than pushing things through for the sake of it.

Anyways… I’m currently working on doing a merchandising project for Mars Hill Cafe, and I’m catching up with Timo Rissanen, a PhD candidate at UTS who’s sustainable menswear exhibition “Bad Dogs” I caught last week, to see if there’s some way we might be able to work together.

So, in other words, keeping busy and keeping moving things along 🙂

Research project


Ever since I first worked with Digital Eskimo (while I was working on the Future is man made site re-launch for WWF) I’ve really admired their approach to using qualitative research methods to underpin their work.

The research we did for the FiMM site was really valuable and useful – giving us a much clearer picture of where sustainability fits in people’s lives and what sort of site/support people would find most benefit in.

So, in starting down the path of launching a new business, I felt strongly about embarking on a research project to underpin the brand and product development.

Keep reading over the jump for more information about the research process.

Update: I was remiss in not mentioning that I was first introduced to the idea of ethnographic style research for business and the web by Stephen Cox, who is now doing great work at News Limited.

Continue reading

Work/life update

I’ve been a bit quiet around blog-land of late due to general busy-ness in life and work (including a presentation I did for the Investor Weekly Branding conference last week.)

Consulting biz: Zumio

Preparations for my consulting biz are going well – the name is Zumio, and I’ve started a blog (of course!) covering work related stuff – esp. posts on social media and networking, with a bit of emphasis on non-profit/social change.

I was waiting until I’d created the site design etc. that reflects the Zumio visual ID etc., but it might be a couple of weeks before that’s done, so worth making mention of it now…

I’ve got a few bookings already post my departure from working as an employee at Digital Eskimo. (Happily I’ll be continuing working with the eskimos as a freelancer on some projects into the future.)

Menswear label: Soko Loko

The menswear label has a “working title”: Soko Loko – I call it “working title” because I’m still working on sourcing a designer and developing the business plan, so I’m not 100% sure the name will stick.

I’ve been busy attending another series of courses at Sydney Community College covering a lot of the practicalities of starting your own label in NSW. Susan Goodwin, who designs and runs street-wear label Rocket Fuel, as well as freelancing for some more well known labels, is running the courses. She’s been an invaluable source of hard-won information about the industry, how it ticks, and how we can make our own label succeed. (Further courses are planned in May – keep an eye on the college’s site if you’re interested.)

Over the next month or two I should have a bit more to talk about in that regard (as much of my time has been focused on establishing the consulting gigs). Suffice to say that so far things have been progressing well.


My band Fuzu have been on a little bit of a self-imposed hiatus as we search for a keyboardist (we’d been jamming with someone who’s unfortunately moving to Melbourne) and finalise the artwork. Toby has come up with some promising photos that may become the cover art, so hopefully it won’t be too much longer…

In related news, we’re no longer the only Fuzu in town – seems a certain gorilla at Toronga Zoo liked the name, which apparently means “to graduate”.

Strange, but true…