On Sunday, I Write.

The personal blog of Picture This Clothing Co-founder + CEO, Jaimee Newberry. Posts/Thoughts written in 45 minutes or less.

Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back

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Building a new company is fun. That is not a sarcastic statement, I genuinely love it. It’s also painful, scary, frustrating, and soul-crushing sometimes.

At Picture This Clothing we’ve been working for MONTHS on new product development of one — yes ONE — product, specifically. We got to the point where we were just about ready to launch when we got some size/fit feedback from one of our awesome product testers that two of the kids sizes didn’t fit well. We tested them with a couple more kids and determined that the patterns were just not usable. We tried again, and again, unusable which meant we had to start over from the beginning of what had thus far been a 4-month process. Ugh.

But so goes business, right? And life.

We learned a few things from the first go-around. And learned much sooner (just under 1 month in this time) that our second go-around wasn’t going to work out, either. At this moment of realization I laid on the floor pretty dramatically and stared up at the ceiling wondering if we really will ever overcome this obstacle. Developing new products for Picture This Clothing is not as simple as picking out some patterns from Joanne’s and deciding to make them. It’s also not buying a bunch of inexpensive blank products from overseas mass-manufacturers. It is a much, much more complex challenge to solve to do it the way we believe is the RIGHT way, which is developing patterns that meet our technical specifications, then printing, sublimating, cutting, and sewing in-house in our little Las Vegas shop. Quality matters. Doing it right matters. But damn, it sure can be frustrating sometimes.

We learned a few more things from takes two and three. And we’ve started again. Our new product launch is delayed indefinitely and it kills my soul a lot.

It’s easy to be caught up in what isn’t working when you’re in the thick of it. On the contrast, one of my favorite quotes:

“Success hides problems” -Ed Catmull

This contrast is what makes me grateful for the ups and downs both in life and in business. The “ups” keep us going and offer fuel to get us through the down times. The “downs” highlight what is broken and needs to be fixed so the next “up” matches the previous, if not taking us even higher.

It’s important to stop and look back at how far you’ve come once in a while. Then keep going.

Year one was overwhelming in its own way. We launched with a proof-of-concept and when it went viral the same day, it was like a thunderstorm of learning as fast as we could. We’re so grateful for such an electrifying start and we know we wouldn’t be where we are now without that, but WOW. It really did take us that first year just to get our bearings.

Last year (year two) when we decided to take on manufacturing it was daunting. None of us had manufacturing experience but every manufacturing shop we visited, learned about, or studied came with its own challenges and shortcomings. But none seemed to meet our needs in a way way we felt matched our core values and priorities.

When we stop and think about what our little team has accomplished it’s a pretty darn good track record in our not-quite three years as a company. Here’s a recap of some things we’re super proud to have done so far:

  • Launched our “idea-baby” our own way, it went viral the day it launched

  • Received “buzz” from the likes of TechCrunch, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, FastCompany, BoredPanda, ScaryMommy, Disney’s Babble.com and a whole bunch more

  • Not one single dime of outside investment

  • $1.2mm in sales in our first 18 months

  • Built our own proprietary order mgmt software and developed our own tools for image processing

  • Brought manufacturing 100% in-house in Las Vegas, NV:

    • found a warehouse

    • bought all our equipment with no loans

    • we print, sublimate, hand cut, sew, and pack every single piece in our shop

  • Built/launched our own custom Affiliate program

  • Earned a strong foundation of very positive customer reviews

  • Cultivated a Facebook community from 0 to +86k and Instagram from 0 to +14k, full of names we’ve come to know and genuinely love talking to through behind-the-scenes live streams

Each bullet-point came with an enormous amount of work and I have to acknowledge that’s not too shabby for a team of 6 in less than 3 years. I’m proud of us.

So, I guess as we enter our third year it’d be crazy to think everything should run beautifully perfect with no big challenges. The thought of things running perfectly makes me laugh out loud. I don’t know what “running perfectly” really means, all I know is that I like what we’re working on. It’s hard and it’s worth it.

I’m grateful for this team I get to work with every day. I’m grateful for how much I’ve learned and continue to learn. I’m grateful that the thing we make is something that brings a lot of imagination, color, and joy to a small pocket of the world.

The struggle is real, and we’ll never know how much we really can accomplish without new challenges arising. We keep moving forward as hard as we can until we cannot. We’ll take a minute to look back every once in a while, and have enormous gratitude for the opportunity to do things our own way for however long that may be.

<3
Jaimee

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Ed Catmull quote via http://www.creativityincbook.com/catmull/

Little Kids Wearing Makeup

When we launched Picture This Clothing in August of 2016, things blew up virally on the internet before we had a chance to even process what was happening. The internet being what it is, I got to hear lots of rage about what a really horrible, horrible person I was, and message I was sending, to feature little girls wearing makeup on our website. For the record, I didn’t put makeup on the kids on our website.

Here’s the story.

We launched Picture This Clothing as a proof-of-concept back in August of 2016. For proofs-of-concept you do as many things as swiftly and on the cheap as possible just to get the idea out into the world. We still did it with care for quality and detail, but one of the things we did as swiftly and inexpensively as we could was take our own website/product photos. We didn’t hire models or a photographer. I had an iPhone 6 and two seven-year-olds eager to help out.

When we first launched, we only offered dresses. T-shirts are far more complex garments to make (all of our garments are cut & sew, we don’t use pre-assembled clothing), so we figured we’d test the dresses first and see how it went, if things went well we’d add t-shirts, and so-on. Additionally, this concept was born out of a dress I’d made for my youngest daughter Zia from a drawing she’d done, so dresses just seemed to make sense as a starting point.

Zia’s best friend Gigi had spent the night, her parents had given permission for her to participate with Zia in a photoshoot for our little idea. The girls knew it was “picture day”, so after breakfast I asked them to go get picture-ready. In my mind, this meant brushing their hair and teeth. Gigi and Zia interpreted it differently. They vanished for a good hour, I was sidetracked getting the space ready for photo-taking but eventually they emerged “ready” for their big photoshoot…

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Please don’t focus on the creepy butter-knives, we don’t make habit of playing with kitchen cutlery in our home. They asked if they could use them specifically to take “scary photos”, I said yes since they’d done all this fine work on their faces and costumes. Gigi and Zia have been best friends since they met at day-care when they were two-and-a-half years old. This, to me, (sans butter-knives) is a totally normal morning with these two. They play. They dress up. They imagine. They giggle. They dream.

But ya, I had some face scrubbing to do to get them to the point where we could take the photos that were used on the website. I really thought I’d done a pretty good job considering where we started. But there’s always stuff no one sees.

Zia and Gigi were seven in these photos. They use makeup for play, not for self-esteem. I think it’s great.

I welcome all thoughts on kids and makeup!


Jaimee Newberry

Zia on the Picture This Clothing home page on launch day, August 17, 2016

Zia on the Picture This Clothing home page on launch day, August 17, 2016

Gigi on the Picture This Clothing “Dress” landing page on launch day, August 17, 2016

Gigi on the Picture This Clothing “Dress” landing page on launch day, August 17, 2016