I was commuting to work from Los Angeles County to Huntington Beach in Orange County, always at the gym, working, attending professional events, all the while, being stuck in traffic. Because of this, I was forced to pack multiple outfits in the trunk of my car to change into for different social and professional events. As you may have guessed, many of these skirts, dresses and blouses wrinkled immediately and were also tough and too hefty to pack.
Initially I had $10k in savings and I knew I wanted to take a leap of faith on my paper sketch idea.
It was definitely a lightbulb moment and a paper napkin sketch. When you’re in traffic, your mind wanders and ideas are formed! I had a problem which I knew many other women had as well, and I needed to create a viable solution, Origamei.
This is my first very first venture and I’m ecstatic about every part of it!
How did you get your first three customers?
I decided to make my first 100 dresses and test the sales at a local outdoor market: Jackelope Arts Market in Pasadena. I figured I'd try it at least, what’s the worst that could happen? I also thought that I could also bring surveys to collect an e-mail list prior to my Kickstarter launch, if they didn’t buy. To my surprise, I sold to 20 customers and collected many data!
It was profitable overall. It helped me raise enough funding to make a large order of dresses and import them over. I learned a lot and continue to learn everyday. And there’s no price tag on experience.
So far in total, we raised $165k in Kickstarter and Indiegogo Indemand!
How much revenue does indiegogo provide on an ongoing basis?
Indiegogo Indemand was able to take the revenue made in the time-frame of Kickstarter and continue raising funding until all the inventory was made! Definitely a great tool for campaigners to get more publicity and take it to the next level.
I also validated the idea by selling dresses at the Jackelope Art Market in Pasadena and collected qualitative data from many women interested!
Did you have any experience/expertise in the area?
I actually majored in industrial design at CSULB. I was naturally hard wired to solve problems. Fashion was definitely a passion I’ve always had but, No, I was no fashion designer. So I was able to hire on a team to help me create my vision. Every step of the way was a learning experience. From concept to patterns, to samples, to rounds of samples, to final samples, to fittings on models, to manufacturing. Everything was so enlightening and I enjoyed the difficulties and faced many challenges along the way but wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Where did you meet your cofounder/founding team?
I actually knew my designer when I was a student in the industrial design program. I was connected to her because I wanted to build a motorcycle backpack for my senior thesis and I needed her help.
What sells best?
All 3 dresses sell equally well, It really depends on the style and fit more people like. I made sure I was able to design 3 minimal styles for multiple occasions. MOMO T-shirt Dress is more for the everyday casual. KIKU Tent Dress was a hybrid of both casual and classy. YURI layered dress was designed to be work appropriate and classy at the same time. There 3 are the staple 3 dresses for the perfect weekend getaway.
Did you run any companies prior?
What motivated you to start your own business? I always enjoyed the process of design from start to finish for other brands/companies at the firm I worked at. I loved hearing their process and loved learning from them. I was very open minded and knew I wanted to do more and inspire women to do the same!
What were your family and friends first thoughts on your company?
I was always an oddball thinker out of my all my family and friends. When they heard I wanted to start this, they thought I was crazy at first but always knew I was going to do something unconventional some day. They were extremely supportive and even offered to connect me to the right people!
When things go wrong, I learned to take it as a challenge and how much stronger I will be after the storm hits. I’ve had my fair share of bad luck and challenges on the manufacturing side. The best thing is to stay true and communicate with your supporters!
Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?
If you’re just starting, You just have to do it! You’ll learn very quickly that you will need to put yourself out there and ask as many questions as you can and keep an open mind to learn and grow. This journey is an ongoing journey and it only gets tougher. You have to be able to switch your mindset and surround yourself with like-minded people. It really helps to feed your drive when you feel down or defeated.
Facebook has driven the most sales. Facebook marketing is a beast and so intelligent if executed the right way.
What is stopping you being 3x the size you are now?
Perfecting marketing and targeting the correct people after crowdfunding has ended and Origamei is transitioning to the e-commerce side.
Where do you see the company in 5 years?
I’m currently working on new styles for Foldwear- The art of folding clothing to pack for everyday travel. I see Origamei as the hub for Foldwear - Which is travel packable wear for modern day people. Starting with women but eventually for everyone!
Would you ever sell?
Not until I’m ready to let someone else take the wheel. I don’t see it for some time until my vision is fulfilled.