181: The Secret to Get New Clients on Autopilot for Your Freelance Fashion Design Business

Listen to the new podcast episode!

Here’s what you’ll find in today’s episode:

Get ready to unlock your potential as a fashion design freelancer with expert tips on getting clients on autopilot, offering valuable solutions, and becoming a trusted partner in your clients’ journey toward success!

Working remotely in the fashion industry can have its challenges.  Like confusing language barriers, knowledge gaps, and even plackets! You’re not alone and our guest today, Ted Griffith, tells all about his journey as a self-proclaimed accidental fashion entrepreneur.

From starting his own athletic wear brand, Sexy Ted, to navigating the intricacies of working with freelancers and factories, Ted shares valuable insights and practical tips that will leave you itching to hear more! Dive into the world of fashion design with us and discover how to turn your passion into profit, all while embracing the joys and pitfalls of remote collaboration.

Connect with Ted:

Ted is an entrepreneur who loves to play squash and other racquet sports. He decided to start a clothing line because he didn’t like the fit, quality, and look of existing products, particularly items that are predominantly white to meet dress codes at certain places. His goal is for people to have fun and not take themselves too seriously when they wear his clothes.

Heidi [00:00:00]:

In this episode, I’m chatting with Ted Griffith, who started his fashion brand, Sexy Ted as a one person show. After getting burned by a factory, he realized he needed help, so he hired a freelance fashion designer. Massive shout out to my fast grad, Krystal Lewis, who is the freelancer that Ted raves about throughout this whole episode. He hired a freelance pattern maker and more. Ted shares his experience working with freelancers, both the good and the bad. And there were two things that he highlighted as essential for any good freelancer. First is communication and second is presenting yourself as a problem solver, a solution. As we talked about in depth, you’re not just providing a tech pack with specs and construction calls and fabric details, you’re providing a solution to the brand, helping them make sure that the idea in their head is what they actually get from the factory. Ted also explained how he connected with his freelance fashion designer, Krystal, through the freight forwarder company Silk. Dear listener, this is a great strategy that you can use to connect with other companies in the industry who can essentially funnel clients to you. You’re going to love this episode. Let’s get to it. Ted, welcome. Please let everybody know who you are and what you do in fashion.

Ted [00:01:12]:

Sure. Well, thanks, first of all for having me. I really appreciate it. So I am, I guess, an accidental fashion entrepreneur. My prior experience before starting a clothing line was wearing clothes. So that was a very broad, deep background that really didn’t help me a whole lot starting off. Hence why I had to end up hiring freelancers. My brand is really around athletic wear, predominantly for people who play racket sports. My background is playing squash, and I travel around the country doing that. And a lot of the clubs that I play at have somewhat restrictive dress codes. It’s usually predominantly white or all white or some variation thereof of that kind of old school clubs. And a lot of the stuff was kind of a, well, we had a blue shirt with a pattern, let’s just make it white and there you go. And that’s kind of all you got. And so I was like, we can do a little better. And I had sold my previous business in the environmental space and I was like, you know what, I want to do something that makes me happy and at least have a new challenge. And so I decided to start the brand sexy Ted. And so the nickname is something that I’d already had for it’s coming up now on a decade.

Heidi [00:02:24]:

Yeah, I read the backstory on your site.

Ted [00:02:27]:

Yeah, people have been calling me that for a long time and I already naturally travel and people seem to like me. So I was like, well, if I can just make this stuff, maybe there’s a market. And I figured at worst, you know what? I will be my own best customer because I need this stuff anyways. Yeah, so that is kind of how we got started. That was the end of 2021.

Heidi [00:02:48]:

Okay, I was going to ask so we’re recording now in middle of 2023. So it’s been like a year and a half only. Okay.

Ted [00:02:56]:

Absolutely. And so it’s something where I’m personally funding and backing it and so it’s definitely a bootstrapped affair. This is not a millions of dollars of VC money behind it. And so it’s been a learning curve and trying to sort of dip my toe in and find people who are willing to work with a smaller entrepreneur. You’re looking at the entire company and then some. So it’s been a godsend to find people like Krystal and others who have been able to help augment my team and really teach and help me grow from my very limited knowledge base.

Heidi [00:03:36]:

Yeah. Okay. So you work with Krystal Lewis who’s one of my students in my freelance accelerator program. She’s phenomenal. As I said earlier, she’s spoken very highly of you. Talk to us a little bit about that whole process of finding those first freelancers or getting things off the ground to begin with. What did that look like? Where were you at?

Ted [00:03:55]:

Yeah, so kind of like I didn’t know what I was doing. Some could argue I’m less blind but still sort of know a lot of it was kind of luck initially. So before I even got to Krystal, I was having a chat with a friend about hey, I’m launching this clothing line. And so he actually connected me with a factory owner who happened to live in Atlanta, factory in Mexico. And so that’s where I initially started. It’s a little bit different. She would basically help me kind of design stuff but there weren’t really tech packs. It’s kind of like hey bring in this shirt, tell me what you want. And they would go make that. And so initially that worked for me but eventually there were issues around some of the timing and quantity and scale that broke down. So then fast forward to a different friend. At another time I was talking to them about well I have this and I’m trying to figure out how to get different products. And they mentioned a company called Silk and for those who aren’t familiar so Silk is a group of people out of the company flexport a big freight forwarder. And so they do two really valuable things for me which I think for those listening would probably be valuable for you and or your clients. So one, they handle all the logistics of getting stuff from one side of the world to the other side of the world. And that certainly is important. That is a little bit more of a commodity. But what they also do is they do factory inspections so pre inline and post inspections and in a way that’s affordable through them. Initially they were going to offer a service around doing product design and they were the ones who actually introduced me to Krystal to begin with. So it’s kind of a convoluted way of getting there. They’ve since decided they don’t want to do product design so they send a lot of people to Krystal or other people like her. So I guess one takeaway for those listening would be it’s not just about trying to find the mes of the world, it’s who else might refer you to me because they don’t want to do this work or they’re not capable, it’s not their business. But they need people. Swift doesn’t want me to have no idea and talk to a factory they work with and waste their time. They want Krystal or whoever to go and shepherd that process and make it less painful for love.

Heidi [00:06:20]:

Yeah. I love this insight so much. I talk frequently about where can you create a funnel. Right. Again not just looking directly for you the individual brand but connecting with factories, connecting with freight forwarders. That’s a great one. I hadn’t thought of that. Are then they’re the kind of the middleman right. With talking to all these brand owners and then they can funnel you those clients. That’s brilliant. I love it.

Ted [00:06:47]:

Well and I think it also is easier because if someone comes directly to me, I don’t know them, I can try to research them but I may not be looking for anybody, maybe I’m not. Whereas if you find someone who can refer you now someone’s already said something good about you and I’m probably going to be a lot more receptive to talking and hearing about what you can offer. And I think from at my heart I’m a salesperson and so how do you sell yourself? Well it’s even better if someone else does the work for you and then you just got to close the deal.

Heidi [00:07:19]:

Yeah. And you’re in a position like you said, instead of someone reaching out blindly to you which people do and does work but working with Silk, the freight forwarder they then are introducing you to the freelancer in a time when you actually need it. So not only is the freelancer then validated by that introduction the timing is right, which is a challenge when you’re trying to find the work. Right. Okay. So you met Krystal through that connection. Have you gotten other freelancers through them as well?

Ted [00:07:50]:

So not directly through Silk but through Krrystal. There’s a couple of other folks she works with who like a pattern maker know who’s also in. So you know from time to time we’ll get samples shipped to Dallas, I’ll fly out there, we’ll get Krystal the pattern maker together and go review know I have gone and used Maker Row before.

Heidi [00:08:14]:

Oh, maker’s Row. Yeah. Okay.

Ted [00:08:15]:

[08:32] Importance of Communication and Problem-Solving Skills for Freelancers

And I’ve had kind of limited success and maybe that’s because I was going about it the wrong way. I think for someone who doesn’t understand fashion and has never been in that world at all. Just kind of has an idea and wants to figure it out. Like what is a tech pack? Why is a tech pack important? And if you start trying to look for factories as an entrepreneur, that logically makes sense. They’re going to make it. But you’re really skipping the step of finding these freelancers who can help actually make sure what you want is what you get. And I deliberately wore the shirt that I’m wearing not because it’s just part of my brand and part of my style, but it’s an illustration of that. So I tried to work with a factory that was actually local here in Atlanta and they make athletic shirts and stuff and so I figured this isn’t really hard, let’s change the jacket, let’s change the collar stand. I guess it’s flipped on here. But they didn’t have a tech pack. Again they make these shirts. It should be simple, right.

Heidi [00:09:18]:

We’re not looking at like a really complex draped garment or something.

Ted [00:09:21]:

Yeah, no, I am a guy. This is a women’s going the wrong direction. It’s backwards. The fabric is inside out.

Heidi [00:09:33]:


Ted [00:09:34]:

Yeah, that one. Is there any common sense? Apparently not.

Heidi [00:09:38]:

Oh my gosh, that’s wild to me.

Ted [00:09:42]:


Heidi [00:09:42]:

I mean it is and it isn’t but it’s gosh that’s tough.

Ted [00:09:46]:

But I think it was a combination of me having that experience. But then another, I guess compliment to Krystal and tip to others is that for those like me who don’t have any experience right. Or very limited experience or maybe they were just a buyer they were never producing. I think you need to be able to educate your own customer to the value that you’re bringing. I 100% now get why Krystal is a rock star in these tech packs and they’re super detailed and there’s no confusion. I’m not going to say it’s impossible, knock on wood to misinterpret, but it’d be pretty darn hard to do that. But I didn’t know that I thought it’s a shirt. Right? It can’t be that hard.

Heidi [00:10:33]:


Ted [00:10:34]:

And so I think when she kind of walked me through the process and explained it to me that made worlds more sense and also made it easier for me to know, okay, here’s the information you need out of me so that Krystal can be successful.

Heidi [00:10:47]:

Yeah, I love that because a lot of freelancers who are kind of first starting out they’re like, oh, why would somebody pay me like x dollars for a tech pack, let’s say. And if you approach a brand like yourself who’s new, doesn’t you’re like, I’ve heard tech pack but what does it actually entail? And they just kind of come at you blindly with the price. You’re like, why am I paying x dollars for that? Right. But the educational component is so valuable to not only convey what it is that you’re getting but also why it’s important and you had had the experience of things going wrong already. Like you kind of felt that firsthand, which is unfortunate, but like a hard lesson learned. So yeah, that educational component is really valuable. I appreciate you pointing that out. Okay, so it sounds like you’ve worked almost exclusively with Krystal and then freelancers that you’ve gotten connected through her.

Ted [00:11:42]:

Correct. And some of my other resources are less fashion specific. They are freelancers.

Heidi [00:11:48]:

Sure. Yeah.

Ted [00:11:48]:

You can share about design. Yeah. So there’s a woman who I’ve known for gosh, over a decade and her name is Katie Di Giovana. She does wonderful work. She’s a one woman shop and she’s just super talented. She came up with the Rhino logo.

Heidi [00:12:05]:


Ted [00:12:05]:


Heidi [00:12:06]:

Did she do like all the comic art on your site too?

Ted [00:12:10]:

She did a good bit of that and then the other part that wasn’t her. There’s a web design company up in Louisville called Honeywick, a buddy of mine Jeff, runs and they have been awesome. And in theory, again, shopify is a simple thing. Right. But getting it actually set up correctly is maybe a slightly different thing. And they have resources on graphic design and illustration and then just doing the layout. So it definitely takes a village. And in theory I might be able to do a good bit of this. But the reason why I want to pay someone back, why would someone pay me to do a tech pack is because it’s not my value add. It’s not what I’m going to be good at. I know what it should look like, but I don’t know how to format whatever if it’s in Excel or whatever.

Heidi [00:13:02]:


Ted [00:13:02]:

And I need to be going and making connections with country clubs that I might be selling to. I don’t need to be trying to figure out, okay, where exactly should this logo go? Or trying to even communicating with the factory even, because I’m probably going to confuse them more than I am clarify anything.

Heidi [00:13:21]:

Yeah, it’s sort of like I hear people talking all the time about what’s your zone of genius and focus there because that’s where you can have the most impact. You have limited mental bandwidth, you have limited physical time. So focus on your zone of genius and outsource the rest.

Ted [00:13:36]:

Absolutely. Yeah.

Heidi [00:13:38]:

[13:45] Connecting with Other Companies in the Industry

So you’ve been smart about doing that. Okay. I would love to talk about just general experiences with freelancers. In some of these stories you can name names or not names, depending on maybe it’s the example for people out there listening. You’re essentially a one man show right. Other than these freelancers and consultants that you might be working with. So from that perspective, I’d love to hear some of the really good things that freelancers are doing. Like maybe stuff that’s surprising and delighting you or just maybe simple things that are making your life so much easier that someone might not really think about. Right. Those little nuances and then also maybe some things that you’re like, this is kind of frustrating, or gosh it would have been easier if you did this. And again that’s where you’ve mentioned a lot of the people. So we could be sensitive about maybe some of the negative things. But just like your perspective of hiring and working with these people, what’s that experience like?

Ted [00:14:39]:

Yeah, so as you alluded to, I’ve been lucky in the current folks that I work with to have a great team. And I think one of the common threads amongst all of them, whether they’re purely fashion or not, is communication. Just little things keeping me updated. For example with Crystal we just do like a 15 minutes check in every week. It’s just partially a sanity check. Like we’ve got a bunch of things going on. This is not just my only business, I have other things. It’s just easier to do that. Or with Katie for instance, on the graphic design, okay, here’s what I’m going to have it. Let’s say things get delayed. Just tell me it’s not necessarily a big deal. Usually isn’t a big deal, but it is when you’re expecting to get something and you don’t get it. So I’d say over communicate and have a strategy around that really from a client side is extremely helpful to have. I mentioned earlier with Crystal the education process, showing me tech packs that she had done before and walking me through like, here are all the little details and that was helpful for me in terms of, okay, here are all the things that I’ve got to think about. It’s not just, well, I make the collar stand and the placket a pattern and I put a rhino on the back. Right. There’s a lot of other things to think about. And again, this may not be true of every client that every freelancer has. It may be, I know exactly what I want and I just need you to execute it. But certainly doing that and then I think if you’re the freelancer think how am I solving the client’s problem? Right? At the end of the day you’re really a solution provider. Right? So what is the solution? No one necessarily just wants a tech pack. They want to get something made, right? So yeah, I could have the coolest tech packs in the world and if I can’t get it to the factory or they don’t understand it or I can’t, who cares? It’s like having a great car with no tires. So understanding that. So for instance, initially I was like, well maybe I should communicate with the factory or be looped in. Then I realized that is A, not a good use of my time and B I’m just going to muddy the water, not make it any clearer. Let Crystal do that. And that wasn’t her trying to be pushy or say, hey, let me upsell you on the service. Just like I think this would make your life easier. I was like, yeah, I 100% agree.

Heidi [00:16:59]:


Ted [00:17:00]:

I think if you figure out what are the pain points for your client and then offer solutions to them, it’s usually never just as simple as like, I just need a tech pack or it’s not. It may be make a pattern. Okay. But try to understand, well, what are you going to do with the pattern? Right?

Heidi [00:17:19]:


Ted [00:17:19]:

Just go further than just doing what’s instructed and kind of think through what is the end result.

Heidi [00:17:25]:

Yeah. Oh, no, I was just going to say I love that so much. I talk a lot about focusing on problem solving results, benefits. Right. It’s not just a fashion flat. It’s not just a tech pack. It’s not just a pattern. Like, what problem are you solving? What benefit is that going to give to the client? How do you make their life easier? Right? Just even sometimes something as simple as peace of mind, knowing that okay, you know, actually I trust Crystal. She can do all the factory communication. I’m going to just back out of that and I have the peace of mind. Like, I can sleep at night and not think, is it getting done right? Or like freaking out? Right? Those are really stressful moments. So I appreciate all that. I also really want to emphasize the comment on Crystal bringing you the example tech pack initially and walking you through that. I think there’s a lot of freelancers out there who, when they’re first getting started, they get very fearful because sometimes this is how the fashion industry can know. People go in for interviews and they’re asked to do like trial projects or something, and they do these projects, they don’t get the job. And then the brand actually winds up making their designs and they see them in the market like six months later. So it can be a little shady. Right? So I think people get really sensitive to like, oh gosh, well, I can’t show them my amazing proprietary tech pack format because then Ted’s just going to take it and he’s going to record the video or take screenshots and then he’s just going to do it himself and like, okay. While you could, most brand owners and most people are not here to do that.

Ted [00:18:59]:

Correct. Well, and also it’s unfortunate that people act that way, but were they ever going to hire you in the first place? I know, maybe. No, I think you could be a little bit whimsical with it. Right. So it doesn’t have to be necessarily a truly real object. I mean, I think we’re about to go into the summer of Barbie, create an outfit from there. Right. It doesn’t need to be everyone’s already doing it. So it’s not like you’re creating something that’s infinitely new. But you can focus on the details or take like one item, right. And you can showcase all the little bits and pieces without it being something.

Heidi [00:19:34]:

You’Re worried about if they’re stealing.

Ted [00:19:37]:

Yeah, you’re almost basically just showing, like, to make that Barbie jacket or whatever, this is what it’s going to take. And here are all the details.

Heidi [00:19:43]:


Ted [00:19:45]:

And I will say you asked about some of the negatives, right. The biggest one that comes to mind for me, and I think it can be really hard, is telling. I’d like to think I’m exciting and charismatic and smart and all these great things, but telling me either my expectations are unrealistic or that’s really not how I think you got to have a bit of a backbone with your clients not to say, well, we’ll try to make this work. Like, no, you really need a tech pack. And I think with both of the first two factories I worked with, if I may have been a little bit annoyed, but I would have had a much better outcome from it if they had just said, no, you really need to do it this way to do it right. So, yes, it might feel like you just have to get every client and you have to do whatever they ask you to do because the client’s always right, which I don’t always agree with you’re doing them a disservice by kind of halvesy doing it. And that was probably the hardest part for me. It’s not that I don’t value a tech pack, it’s just that I didn’t even know. It seems so simple. Why would I need to do this? And as a freelancer, they need to say, no, here are really the steps you need to do and be willing not to take a customer, which again, is probably really hard when you’re starting out and you’re totally get anybody. Like, I don’t even care, I don’t even do this kind of drawing, but I’ll figure it out.

Heidi [00:21:01]:

Yeah, that’s interesting. You bring up almost like the factory, in a way, they’re a service provider, right? So they’re not like a freelancer per se, but at the end of the day, it’s the same type of relationship. You’re paying them to solve a problem, to do some type of service for you to deliver some value or benefit. In this case at the factory, right, it was manufacturing these garments and they were just like, yeah, let’s go full steam ahead. And that leaves a really bad taste in your mouth. So having that backbone, that confidence, to stand up to the client and say, actually, no, this is the way we need to do it. And here’s why. If we don’t do it this way, like painting the scenarios, right, if we don’t do it this way, these are the things that can and likely will happen if we do do it this way. Yeah, maybe it’s going to cost a little more money up front because you got to pay for the tech pack. But here’s why you need it. Again, that educational component I imagine you didn’t continue working with that factory. Yeah.

Ted [00:21:53]:

[22:15] The Challenges of Managing Client Expectations and Receiving Feedback

No, I did not. And the other thing, too, is that one factory was in Mexico, one was in the US. I talked to other people in Asia, kind of. So sometimes it’s, you know, there’s a language and, you know, in the case of the one in I mean, I went there, I sat across the desk, and still it wasn’t even a little sideways. It was a lot of sideways. And so it’s having having something, a source of truth to go off of. And I think also for these freelancers, document what you’re doing and make sure you take good notes. It’s not completely CYA, but it does help, god forbid a relationship goes sour or someone’s not quite as happy with it. Well, here’s the input that I heard from you. Did I not understand you? Right, yeah, you can kind of triage that versus well, no, I thought you said that. And then it becomes a defensive verbal.

Heidi [00:22:51]:

Battle that nobody yeah, so it sounds like that was some of what happened with the factory in Atlanta. Yeah, it’s painful. Perhaps. Perhaps we’re not pointing fingers. So that’s interesting. I mean, I’m still kind of stuck on the whole placket thing because that’s just so fundamental for men’s versus women’s. And as soon as a guy or a girl puts something on, you wouldn’t even think of it initially, but you feel it. You’re like, wait, this feels weird. Why does this feel backwards? Like doing a zipper or buttons? Like the placket right on the opposite directionality. So talk a little bit about like okay, so that’s interesting. Right? You’re first. Like, oh, well, there’s no language barrier. And they’re like, that sounds like it’s going to be great. And that’s not always everything that you need. So on that same sort of vein, Crystal lives in Dallas, you live in Atlanta. Talk a little bit about that. Remote is the pattern maker also in Dallas that’s working with you guys. Okay. And so all the fittings and everything is kind of happening over there and maybe jointly. But I’d love to hear you talk a little bit about the process because people really get a little hung up in fashion. There’s such a tangible component. It’s not like building a website about the logistics of working remote and how that works for the freelancer as well as the brand. What does that whole scenario look like?

Ted [00:24:05]:

Yeah, that’s a great question. I’m a little bit lucky in that I deliberately not just out of necessity, go to visit Crystal. My brother happens to also live in Dallas, so it’s kind of a two for one combo. But let’s just pretend that he’s not there for a you know, there’s definitely parts. A lot of it we can do remotely and get on a zoom, and it’s normal, it’s easy. It makes sense to your point, like the fittings and stuff. We did one virtual fitting. It sort of works, but it’s just really hard. Right. It’s hard to get dimension and scale and is the video flipped or there’s just different variables that get introduced and you can’t really see how was that shirt pulling, or is the sleeve really the right length and measuring? So I think being willing to meet in person, whether that’s the client comes to you, you go to the client is important. It doesn’t have to happen all the like I don’t think most of the time you need to be in the same place as them. But there are times when it absolutely matters and there’s some stuff know with fabric it’ll get sent to crystal she’ll check it out and then send on the ones to me that she thinks I should go check out. I don’t need to fly out and go necessarily steal fabrics, but when it’s a sample, that’s a whole different ballgame. The other way to get around that. Right. So, again, if it’s all about me at the end of the day, bless my heart, I’m sampling off of myself, which is probably a dangerous not good.

Heidi [00:25:38]:

I was going to ask if you’re the fit model. Okay. Yeah.

Ted [00:25:40]:

Which is a great way, but I.

Heidi [00:25:41]:

Know part of your whole thing is like building these clothes for men of a certain build.

Ted [00:25:49]:

Yeah. It doesn’t matter whether you’re small, big, wide, or tall, trying to make things that are, I guess, just more inclusive. It’s a little bit easier for guys. I feel like, just from a body shape standpoint yeah. But one thing that I could let’s just say that Crystal was in Bangkok. I don’t know. Just to make up. Sure.

Heidi [00:26:11]:


Ted [00:26:11]:

The other thing you could do is there are fit models and you can hire them in that city, and then me as the brand owner doesn’t need to be there. So I think from a freelancer standpoint, have other resources available. Again, you’re solving the problem. My problem is I am not in Dallas. Okay. So what are the ways to change that? Either I fly to Dallas or you find a fit model in Dallas for whatever sizes I’m going to make. And then, hey, I can do the zoom since I’m not doing the tech pack and I’m not trying to check and make sure that this is within a quarter inch spec of my tolerance. I don’t even know exactly where to measure.

Heidi [00:26:47]:

You know your terms.

Ted [00:26:48]:

Yeah. Well, I know just enough to be dangerous. Don’t let me fool anybody listening.

Heidi [00:26:52]:


Ted [00:26:54]:

It’s less important. So that’s a way where, again, you can solve a problem that it may not be obvious, but hey, go find a fit model. We don’t need you to come out here. It doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t ever want to go out there, but that’s another way to solve it. If that’s the case.

Heidi [00:27:07]:

Yeah. I always talk about too, because people get really. Hung up on the technical design component, doing that remotely. And like you said, the fabric swatches, which is not necessarily a technical component, but she’ll send on to you what you can look at or you’ve gone to Dallas. But another option, it really just kind of depends on the client at the end of the day, is just having the factory cut and sew two samples and send one to each. Right. So at least you’re kind of like, all right, we’re looking at the same thing. We might not be in the same room. And you put it on your body, and she puts it on a fit model body out there. And obviously your bodies are going to be different, but in a way, it’s almost like, okay, great. Well, now we’re fitting it on, like, two different bodies to see how this works, and you, the client, are having the peace of mind that you’re like, okay, I’m seeing this in real life. It feel good. Not just on the zoom and it’s reverse and stuff. So that’s an easy way to get around it. Right. I always say it’s a little extra sampling cost, but if you can’t absorb that as a brand, then maybe different issues. Yeah, maybe bigger issues. Yeah.

Ted [00:28:03]:

Right. Well, and that’s a good point, too. Whenever I go sample stuff, I try to do at least two, so I do one for me. So traditionally, people will call it Double X. I don’t like the size label. So a rhino is Double X in my terminology.

Heidi [00:28:19]:

Oh, I love you guys. Did that. That’s really fun.

Ted [00:28:21]:

Yeah. And so a rabbit is medium, starfish is small, so on and so forth. A rhino and a rabbit. And so then I have someone else who’s that medium size. Okay. So they can go try it and see that because sometimes it’s not just like it’s one thing to get the size right for you, but then you got to grade the stuff.

Heidi [00:28:42]:

You had to make sure yeah, totally. Once you’re ready to go into production, you got to do a whole size run and make sure it gets smaller and larger accordingly. She always say people don’t get taller just because they get wider. You don’t just globally enlarge the whole thing.

Ted [00:28:59]:


Heidi [00:29:00]:

Yeah. Okay, so you guys have totally made it work, and you’ve gone out there to visit her, which is great, and meet the pattern maker. So that’s fantastic. Any last closing tips or advice or ideas or strategies you could share with people out there who are interested in working with brands like yours? A lot of people in Freelancing are really all about the small, independent startup, like getting these really cool grassroots ideas off the ground. What else might you offer them?

Ted [00:29:28]:

[29:58] The Significance of Tech Packs and Providing Guidance to Clients

Let’s think. I don’t think I’ve been wildly helpful on how do you go and find your client. But like I said, I think sure, you can go out on Instagram and follow a brand that you might like, and you can offer up your services, or you can post. Hey, here are things that I’m designing or working on as kind of a way to entice people. But I guess I’d go back to what I said earlier. Think of yourself as a solution provider, right? Usually what is the end goal? I want to make a product and I want to make it successfully. And some of that’s also, too. Like, Crystal has been very helpful with what price point do I really need to hit? Like, if I’m going to retail it at this, where do I need to get it delivered, duty, paid in order for that to even make sense and what’s even possible? And so as a freelancer, I wouldn’t be afraid, I wouldn’t assume that your client knows everything and just say, hey, I would suggest this to you. You may already have in your head this, and just be willing to justify it. And, hey, I may overrule you, I may not, but I may not think about it. And then for someone else, just ask questions. If they’ve been in the industry, they give you kind of a bullet point of, here’s what we want. Just confirm, okay, what’s the price point? What are you doing? And maybe, hey, have you thought about this? To add value again, you don’t want to ever be a commodity. And a tech pack can certainly seem like it.

Heidi [00:30:50]:

Sure it can, for sure.

Ted [00:30:52]:

But a tech pack is as much about, I guess, translating ideas and vision into reality as anything else beyond just simply measurements. And it’s this kind of cotton poly blend or whatever the case may be. So, yeah, it’s a very interesting, exciting world. I enjoy working with freelancers. It’s fun to get to know the people. Right. It’s not just some big company. It’s more real. And one other thing that I’ve done with Crystal before, my background is sales and business. And Crystal is really great at the fashion stuff, but she doesn’t have as much of the business background. So at times we’ve actually said, listen, why don’t we just swap hours for hours? We basically barter. Hey, I can help you with your business because, again, who knows what your client might be able to help you with, right? We all have our blind spots, and if you don’t, you’re just naive. So how can you help each other? And I wouldn’t be afraid to ask people that, particularly if they’re a smaller brand and they’re doing a lot of this themselves. Budgets are this is not Ralph Lauren with $20 million ad budget, right? Sexy Ted’s ad budget is just a little bit smaller than that. Right? So how do I maximize how do I trade? Okay, hey, listen, can you work a deal and then I’ll make these shirts for, say, the web design company, right? Be creative and offer solutions. Trading hours isn’t going to pay childcare bills. I get that.

Heidi [00:32:22]:

No, right.

Ted [00:32:23]:

But you can use it at times to enhance the value for both parties.

Heidi [00:32:28]:

Totally. If you can’t share, that’s fine. But I would be really curious, is it like business tips around growing her freelance business and that sort of thing? Like consulting on that? You don’t if you’re not comfortable sharing that’s too?

Ted [00:32:48]:

No, not at you know, I came to Crystal having a need, right. And then I discovered she’s like the greatest person I’ve met, full of energy, and she’s like tigger. She just like exuding energy and you feel better talking to, you know, I have a business, I just can’t shut it. So, you know, I went out to Dallas and met with her for a day and then I started talking, well, what do you do with other clients? And she’s like, well, I’m doing this and that. And she was trying to figure it out. I said, well, hey, listen, I like thinking about what’s the business model and how do you structure it and how do you show your value? Which she has tons of massive yeah, but it’s just as I like, yes, I have a master’s in finance. I know how to use Excel, and most tech packs we set out to enter in Excel. Does that mean I can do a tech? No, of course not. Right.

Heidi [00:33:41]:

Does that mean fashion designers can balance.

Ted [00:33:43]:

A not you know, maybe you never but but for more. I think it’s really hard when you’re by yourself. And this is true for me, it’s true for Crystal, it’s true for a lot of people that you get so focused on your own little thing, just having someone else to a nothing else share in the misery of being a solo entrepreneur or a small business. Right. And two, they’re just going to see it differently because they aren’t you. Right. And I think that’s helpful. And so that’s where it was like, hey, why don’t I help you talk through your business problems? Because not problems, but how do you keep growing and doing this awesome thing where I also understand it because I am your client and I can see the value, but I can also help you figure out how do you want to grow and how do you want to scale and what do you want to do? What do you want to be when you grow up? Kind of thing.

Heidi [00:34:35]:

Yeah, I love that. So I love these unstructured conversations because we never know. I mean, I never in my head would have thought, oh well, and then how are you consulting her? But it’s so true, right? Like, everybody has their own expertise, their own experience, their own perspective and value to offer. And again, sometimes it is just like seeing it from the outside. We can get especially working independently, as many freelancers do. We’re in vacuums and it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. Is that the saying? I think that would kind of be.

Ted [00:35:09]:

The right that’s absolutely just, you know, make sure you have a network of people to balance yourself out. Even the woman, Katie, she lives here in Atlanta. We go catch up for lunch. She does work for me. We’re also just friends. It’s just good to hear. Hey, how are you doing? Even if we have nothing that’s going on. And so keep your mental sanity, because it’s very valuable, and once you lose it, it’s hard to get it back.

Heidi [00:35:33]:

Yeah, for sure.

Ted [00:35:34]:

And just keep people around you because it’s easy to get just sucked into your own little world and grinding away and not looking up and talking to people.

Heidi [00:35:44]:

Yeah. And you get your blinders on. You have no idea what you’re missing. I love it. All right, well, dear listener, go follow sexy. Sexy.com. Right. That’s where everyone can connect with you. Okay. And then I’ll end the interview with the question I ask everybody at the end. No pressure, but what is one thing people never ask you about working in the fashion industry, which now you do, that you wish they would?

Ted [00:36:07]:

That is a good question. They don’t ask me. I think you might have stumped me here. I don’t of when I say that I’m a fashion designer, people first of all, kind of look at me sideways and say, did I mishear you? It’s really loud in here.

Heidi [00:36:23]:

Yes, I’m a fashion designer. I’m sexy, Ted. And they’re like, wait, I got to talk to this guy.

Ted [00:36:27]:

He’s interesting, right? I’d say it’s less what they don’t ask and just more I enjoy explaining to them kind of all the different little steps that it takes to get from an idea to a test back to the factory to shipping. It over to dealing with customs and multiple vendors and understanding different areas and how it’s really I don’t think, as a consumer, people appreciate how much goes into the supply chain of making anything, let alone clothes. And so I enjoy explaining that. And I guess people don’t ask as much. They usually ask, where do you make stuff? Or have you thought about trying to make in the you know, and it’s not to say that it couldn’t work. Also, my scale is just really small, and maybe I can bring it back on shore when I’m bigger, but that’s just not a reality right now. Yeah, I’d say I enjoy talking about that whole, like, it’s kind of amazing that we can actually get the stuff done. Person can go and get 100 run shirt of polos made in India and shipped across the world and into an online store country club near you.

Heidi [00:37:42]:

Yeah, that’s definitely one of my angles with the whole industry, and I always kind of rewrote the question because people do get stuck on it, but I like it because it solicits good answers. But if you’re sitting down to have drinks or coffee with somebody. What would you love to share with them about working in the fashion industry? That maybe they don’t ever ask. And so that was kind of what it was, right? Like, the nuances and the logistics of how do you actually get from this idea or napkin sketch right to this garment? And it’s not like nobody ever thinks about every teeny tiny step and all the hands that are involved. It’s a lot. It’s a lot.

Ted [00:38:17]:

It’s a lot. And then you got to make a whole business case around it that’s just get it manufactured.

Heidi [00:38:22]:


Ted [00:38:23]:

I thought this was supposed to be fun and easy. Right.

Heidi [00:38:26]:

You know, if it weren’t a challenge, would it really be that fun?

Ted [00:38:31]:

I’m willing to try it at least once to see and then answer that question.

Heidi [00:38:35]:

All right. Well, it was lovely chatting and getting to know you, ted. Thank you so much for all the insights you shared with the listeners, and I’m excited to watch you and sexy ted, your business grow.

Ted [00:38:46]:

Awesome. Well, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

©2008-2023 SuccessfulFashionDesigner.com

Heads Up: We use cookies to customize your experience and track how you interact with our site to serve you better.    OK     more info