Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What a difference a photo makes

OK, so I definitely already knew this, but it has just been underlined, put into bold typeface and neon lights.

A good photograph can make or break a sale.

You need to be able to trust your retailer, especially in an online situation where a photograph and honest description are what you have to rely on.

As I have a particular look that I want for the website, I very often can’t use the suppliers’ photographs and have to reshoot the clothes myself. This has been an interesting learning curve… tricksy, slippery, creasing, moving fabric!

I have been fortunate though that the stock that I have ordered in has been of the quality that I wanted. Ordering online isn’t just a risk for the general public… imagine ordering 6 copies of the same thing, not knowing what the quality and fabric was going to be like… I guess I’ll have this joyful experience every time I find a new supplier too! :0)

I have started some clothing boards on Pinterest and whilst flitting around the interwebs, looking at STUNNING vintage couture (seriously, you need to click on that link!), I found the perfect example of the difference good and meh photography can make.

Example One:

Looks… OK… I might have a closer look if I saw it jammed into a rack of vintage clothing but it doesn’t exactly leap out. It’s obviously see-through so there’s the matter of finding an appropriate slip. It looks a bit yellowed, a bit dingy, the flowers a bit crushed. The right side looks like its pooched out a bit on the hip, and who needs extra pooching there?

However, I would be so completely wrong to not take this dress seriously and jump on it and sprint to the cash register.

Example Two:


This is actually a dress from the House Of Lanvin, designed and made in France in 1937 of silk and cotton.

What a difference!

I don’t think this is a case of the photography being deceptive either. Example two simply shows the dress to its best advantage. It shows you what it can be. Example one leaves that all to your imagination, and whilst I take my hat off to those that can see that straight away, I need a little help.

So, that’s what I’ve had underlined to me this week. The learning continues. :0)


PS. Seriously… check out my Pinterest boards. The prettiest dresses and suits and shoes you ever will see.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

One week in

So one week after launching the Crimson Gardenia website and a bit has happened. :0)  Thank goodness!!

I won’t bore you with the details but in a nutshell (I just can’t hear that phrase without thinking of Austin Powers)… I started the website, did up a Crimson Gardenia Facebook page, invited all my Aussie lady friends… I omitted most of the gents as it felt a bit odd to invite them to look at lady clothes, however, I should remember that jewellery has no sizing and everyone needs to buy presents, right?

I received my first order and did a happy happy joy joy dance around my room.


I also received an overseas enquiry, which was awesome.

One of the other things that made me go “awwwww!!” was my friend Laura writing about my business venture on her blog, Lindy Shopper. A completely lovely surprise as Laura is such an inspiring woman. She dances, she sings, she plays music, she started her own band, she writes about her vintage clothing passions on the blog, she DJs, she bakes and she holds down a very grown up serious job!

There hasn’t been a lot of movement on the website front this week in terms of new products, but there is plenty going on behind the scenes.

I am planning on releasing a few of my own vintage dresses back into the wild, partly to help fund the business but, honestly, it is mainly because I feel bad that they aren’t being worn! Some of them no longer fit me so there is no point in me hoarding them. I would much rather they be out there, being used for the purpose that they were made for. Granted, they are more fragile than a new garment but with careful handling they can definitely still be worn and hopefully be around for many more years to come.

As part of the shedding process, I have also decided to sell my wedding dress. I just love this dress. It holds such wonderful memories for me but, again, I would much prefer that someone else benefit from its beauty, rather than it sitting in a box under my bed.

So I have put it up on a wedding dress sales site called Still White and throw it out to the universe to find her her new owner.

In the meantime though, since the photo shoot she is hanging about on my mannequin, staring moodily out the window and I can’t help but think of Miss Havisham.


It’s starting to feel like I have a weird, reclusive roommate… kind of like having a cat I suppose.

Anyway, that’s it for now – please feel free to mention my little ol’ business on your blogs, on Facebook, to your friends and families… you know. If you feel like it. :0)


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A new chapter!

Hi folks!

Yep… it’s been a long time, I know, but I have a pretty good reason.

Unfortunately the reason may actually mean that a number of you may no longer follow my blog as it, like my life, is about to take a major change in direction.

I know that many of you have come to my blog from Sew Retro and are therefore interested in seeing sewing adventures, but – well, to be honest that hasn’t happened a lot in my life lately anyway – there isn’t going to be a lot of that here in the future.

Due to a series of events that the universe has put in my life over the last 12 months, I have decided to bite the bullet and go for it… I’ve started my own business!!

Really, you only get one go around in this life and wishing for something doesn’t make it happen. Nothing ventured, nothing gained… how many more clich├ęs can I come up with here? Smile

Late last year I had an epiphany and realised that I am entirely capable of running a business and it was time to stop making excuses as to why I couldn’t. Yes, money is going to be an issue for quite some time but it is amazing what you can get used to.

Curbing my casual shoe collection and buying things on a whim – even small things like a takeaway latte – isn’t a massive problem but saying no to outings with friends because I really cannot afford it has been harder… and as for weekends away and holidays… wow, they are so far off my radar that it isn’t funny.

So what am I doing, you ask?

I heard of an amazing Australian government programme called NEIS – New Enterprise Incentive Scheme – around Christmas last year and knew it was for me.

Basically, you apply with a new business idea – you can’t already be running the business, you can’t buy an established business and you can’t buy a franchise – and if accepted, you go through a 7 week Small Business Management course (which is normally done as a 9 month course!), then, (presuming you pass the course), you are officially employed by the government to run your business for 12 months, which includes financial support (not huge, but enough to cover your rent and food and take that little bit of pressure off the new business), a business mentor and quarterly check-ins to make sure the ship is sailing smoothly.

How amazing is that?! The best start any small business could ask for. Being a government plan that has been running since the 1980s, you can bet it is a successful venture or it would have been canned long ago.

So, I finished the course and learned a tonne of things, made some great new friends, came out with a fantastic business plan… but it wasn’t the same idea that I went in with.

I mean, the basic outline is the same – I am selling vintage-style women’s clothing and accessories – but instead of the bricks and mortar shopfront that I envisaged (and, by the way, still definitely want!) I am in the online realm!

Crimson Gardenia

Yep! I have the biggest grin on my face as I type this post. I have finally done it!

It is not exactly what I planned, but I have made a start and that is the main thing. All things going well, I hope to open a bricks and mortar store sooner rather than later, but in the meantime I’m exploring the digital world and getting Crimson Gardenia out there.

I am only shipping to Australian addresses to start with, but I hope that the pictures and conversations on this blog will still have some relevance to your interests.

I am, of course, always interested in hearing your feedback and suggestions. I am starting out with a small range but any suggestions for other suppliers or products are very, very welcome. I would definitely love to have more Australian content on my website, so if you know of any manufacturers… please send them my way Smile

Henrietta front

I’m sure that more than one of you will recognise this lovely lady! Bernie Dexter designs and manufactures her own clothing range and I’m very pleased to be one of her stockists.

She truly cares about her customers and as excellent customer service and quality products are my priorities, I think we make a good fit. It also doesn’t hurt that she is a strong, independent woman who is doing her own thing – and is as nice as pie!

So, that’s what I’ve been up to. I’m pretty excited about it – and why wouldn’t I be? I’m finally following my dream!

Denise xx