So I had the opportunity to work with a good friend whom has started her own clothing line. We shot both her line sheet and look book in a deserted parking garage. The grunginess of the garage against the outstanding femninity of the clothing made for quite the lustrous photo. Since designing clothing seems to be every girls’ dream (ok maybe just mine) I’ve decided to pick the designer’s brain for some answers we all want.
MEET THE DESIGNER:
Kara Nelson, colleague and foe left our former job in retail to create her own clothing line called RAKA Design Co.
Q&A WITH KARA
Q: What’s the story behind RAKA?
A: “From the start, the intention of Raka was to couple quality fabrics with exquisite design, and create a bad ass clothing line, made here in the USA, that people would love. Although this still holds true, Raka has blossomed into so much more. While what Raka creates is still paramount, equally important is, who we are as a company. We are big believers in optimization for impact, not profit. By staying true to our core ideology, we attract harmonious energies, creating an authentic community that benefits all involved.”
Q: When did you take a legitimate step towards making it happen?
A: “Funny enough, Raka actually started as a graphic tee company, and while the tees sold well, I knew I wanted to branch out into a contemporary women’s line, I just didn’t really know HOW to go about doing it. But I figured it had to be something along the lines of design the clothes, pick the fabric, and have the clothes made. My first trip to the LA Textile show was where I really got to learn about how the industry really works. Not only was I no where near ready to buy fabric, but I had skipped some crucial steps of the design process. After listening to a seminar targeting start-up designers, I decided to scrap my line and enroll in a 12 week designer launch intensive course. It was the best decision I could have made for the company, as it provided me with a strong foundation and allowed me to move forward in an industry that was relatively new to me, with confidence.”
Q: Why did you choose real leather vs. vegan?
A: “I actually intended to have both a real and vegan leather option for the buyers to choose between, but I was very set on having a good quality, smooth grain, cognac colored leather for this collection. You only have so many weeks to find your perfect fabric, and I was unsuccessful in finding a vegan leather that was up to my standards. I wasn’t willing to compromise the quality of the line, so my search for the perfect vegan leather was put on hold.”
Q: In future seasons would you consider vegan?
A: “Absolutely. With each line, different expectations need to be met, and I can see vegan leather playing a role in future lines.”
Q: Was starting your own clothing brand really as hard as everyone thinks?
A: “Yes and no. There will always be challenging aspects of this industry because it’s time sensitive and you are always working against the clock. And no matter how thorough your planning is, something always goes awry and that’s something you have to learn to accept without letting it defeat you, which is easier said than done. You have to be persistent, you have to be tough, and you have to learn how to celebrate your failures instead of criticize them. You are going to hear no a lot, but when you finally hear the words yes, you’ll know that every pain in the ass struggle you endured was worth it. With enough passion, anything is possible.”
Q: What’s your favorite piece in the collection?
A: “D…all of the above! When I was designing the garments on paper, the structured bodice top was definitely my favorite. But when I actually got to try my line on for the first time, I fell in love with the fit of the exaggerated shoulders dress. It hugs the body in all the right places and has looked amazing on everyone who’s tried it on so far.”
The brand can only be bought via retailers, however it is being sold for wholesale! Check the link to get the full experience.
It’s always a pleasure working with these lovely babes!