This launch feels like a rebirth of sorts. Not only are the garments significantly different, but my role as a designer and CEO have shifted. I mentioned several months ago that I’m not paying myself a salary. A lot of you responded that it isn’t a sustainable business model. Up until this point, I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants. Going into this business, I had a vague idea of product costing, but I never took into consideration our growth. Scaling this business was a distant notion for me. Don’t get me wrong, I always believed in Sotela and my role in this space, but I grew complacent. I was happy as long as the business was paying for itself, which meant zero room for growth.
The Sand Collection was the catalyst for change. I finally understood who we were and where we stood in the fashion industry. There was significant growth this summer that made me believe Sotela can and will be much bigger. I found myself wanting more structure and defined goals, which if you know me, isn’t my strong suit. Some of our goals include renting a studio for Sotela’s Headquarters, expanding our sizing, and paying myself a salary.
In order to figure out just how we were going to achieve that, I reached out to a financial whiz (aka my sister-in-law) who helped me create a detailed spreadsheet with those goals and what our pricing needs to be to achieve that.
If you take a look at the collection, you’ll see our prices are higher than before. We had to take into account all of our fixed and variable costs to arrive at prices that will help us reach our goals. We were barely scathing by with our previous prices, which is the reason why I never had the ability to pay myself a salary. The things you learn as you go 😉
Another reason for the higher prices is our made-to-order model. In the past, we had a professional cutter cut all of our garments at once. I had to guess the amount I needed per size because everything was only cut once. Most clothing brands work this way because it’s difficult to find a factory who will make to order. Cutting one piece at a time takes more time, which means higher labor costs. I decided to make the switch with this collection because the conventional model just wasn’t working for me. We have extra inventory in random sizes that just sit there until I can sell them. You can see how this is a waste of money and resources.
Since we are now made-to-order, we also updated our order and returns policies. Unfortunately, we are no longer able to offer refunds when you return an item. The reason for this is because the time spent creating that piece can’t be refunded. My seamstress gets paid for her time regardless if you keep that item or not. Instead, we are offering store credit for returns. I apologize if this causes any inconveniences, but it was something we had to do if we want to truly grow.
All that to say I’m excited in the direction we are going. It feels like Sotela is finally becoming who we were meant to be.
Thank you for following along this journey with us. Nothing would be possible without you.