We are on our final day. I feel like the person on NPR during the pledge drive: we can both be relieved that this is the last email asking you for money. We are 95% there with 1 day left in the campaign. It has been a wild ride. In hindsight, I realize that it is not typical and a difficult sell to ask people to support the testing of a production platform to custom-make a product versus pre-purchase an actual product. For that reason it has been mostly my supporters and early fans who have carried this campaign. THAT IS YOU. THANK YOU.
If you would still like to donate, match your donation, or get in touch with that person who you know would love this, there is still time (link to campaign page). While 15k is not much money to test out a solution that could revolutionize womenswear in the 1.7 trillion dollar apparel market, it is a lot of money for me and my supporters. It has not been easy. I could not do this without you. I am extremely grateful for how far you’ve gotten me, even if it is by sending your positive thoughts my way and continuing to root for me during your day.
What will happen once we get the final 1.4k to get us to the finish line? We will finish the testing of our custom-made Riding Jacket. We will share the remaining videos with you so you can see what your money is doing. We will begin selling the Riding Jacket to customers who are signing up on our site and are patiently waiting to be notified that we have completed the testing. (See the below photo of our Harris Tweed delivery to make our first production order of the Riding Jacket after 7 mo of work to bring it home from Costa Rica.) AND we will have our numbers to begin the process of building the bigger dream of a cutting-edge apparel company catered to the needs of women, with the best that apparel innovations have to offer. AND we do this with the intension that custom-making clothing reduces waste in apparel production and provides high-quality, U.S. based apparel jobs. The financial and social incentives are in alignment with this work, not a tradeoff.
Some of you have been reading my weekly letter for 2 years now, watching Reid Miller Apparel evolve from a niche commuter biking line for women to a line that seeks to revolutionize womenswear by using the e-commerce platform to custom-make high-quality garments that are worthy of the modern woman. I’ve promised to bring you along as I’ve taken each step in this journey, sometimes a tedious one for an extremely impatient individual. The challenge with raising this $15k for my business has me thinking a lot about seed funding and women.
While there has been a lot of successes to celebrate in this campaign, reaching our goal, getting half-way through the testing during the campaign, a super successful Launch Party at the Durham Hotel, there remains this overarching problem with a woman with a solution for women, getting resources from the largely male investment community. The result: me and my fellow women entrepreneurs working ourselves to near insanity to keep our businesses alive, while our male counterparts dine out to lunch with well-resourced teams to make an app that makes sense to their male investors.
Last week I had a refreshingly honest conversation with such an investor in the area, who will go unnamed here. I laid out to him my work beta-testing a technology enabled custom-made womenswear model to fill an enormous gap in a 1.7 trillion dollar market. And he very frankly gestured at his clothing and said something to the effect of “I’m a man. Look at what I’m wearing. I don’t care about my clothing. I care about software. The rest of the investor community here (in the Triangle) looks a lot like me.” I thanked him for his time. I am someone who loves directness. I loved this.
And I thought about it. What do we do when the vast majority of resources are in the hands of a group who don’t get our needs, whether it is apparel, child care, birth control that doesn’t screw with our hormones, or actual research into the causes of breast cancer, not just ways to lop off our breasts once we’re sick? What do we do about it? This question plagues me. We have got to get more money in the hands of women with solutions, and that money will likely come from the much smaller slice of pie that women control. I will have strong numbers at the end of the beta-testing to take to investors, but will that be enough if the person across the table from me has no clue that women struggle with their clothing, that it really matters? I will see. I will report back.
A conversation with a very interesting woman last Saturday night at Durham's reusable togo container start-up, GreenTo-Go’s donor thank you cocktail raised a point that I hadn’t thought of: even though there is lots of money circulated among men, staying among men (need I mention once again that women only got 2% of investment dollars in 2016), women may be more inclined to circulate the resources in their much smaller piece of the pie because we are keenly aware of the importance of abundance, spreading the wealth, healthy communities, jobs, and the environment. This is not to say that there are not wonderful men who give generously (there are quite a few among my supporters), but perhaps the scarcity of resources among women may be counterbalanced with how giving we are with those resources. And if we can keep our money moving towards causes that we believe in, leaders we believe in, ideas that deserve attention, then we can create more and more and more, and someday there will be plenty for the woman with a solutions who’s time has come to take unrestrained action to bring her idea to life.
Take my work. When I bring in more money, I have more to give the awesome woman who does the photography (Maria Brubeck), my killer graphic designer (Daria Drake), or collaborate with my friend and local bee-friendly florist (Lee Moore Crawford). I could outsource marketing to a group I believe in. There is more money to pay sustainable suppliers of my fabrics, or put in a bigger order with the woman-owned factory where the Riding Jacket is made. In the scheme of things, it is not that much money, but that money is moving, making more money, increasing the overall pie for women. Women are collaborators. We can use that to our advantage.
Wish me luck in my last few hours with this campaign. This has been a very crucial step for us and I am very grateful for your support to help me make it happen! If you have not already donated or want to add to your donation, please donate here to help us create more abundance for women, make better clothing and contribute to bringing a socially and environmentally minded solution to life!
Please take a moment to share our work with one person you think would benefit from following our journey.
THANK YOU for all your support. Thank you for helping to make this happen!