The story of how our lovingly handmade goods became marked down to mere pennies!
A week ago our Instagram account (@impishlee) was tagged in an image. This image showed a turquoise lace, highwaisted panty we had made for Urban Outfitters a few years back. It was like seeing an old friend and reminded us of how far we’ve come over these past few years. After reading the description, we were shocked to learn just how little this customer paid for our handmade work, and felt compelled to comment and reach out to the owner of the image and of our long lost panty friend…
We did a short stint of wholesale orders a few years back with Urban Outfitters and a few other small boutiques before taking the leap into our current mass customization business model. One thing that we were not thrilled with while pursuing wholesale business was that our work and our product felt of lesser value. Although we still handmade all of our garments, in New York, and carefully designed them to sell well in each store we worked with, once they left our hands, they were still just inventory taking up space on shelves somewhere. They had no personal connection nor specific destination. They were just place holders for the next big thing to hit the racks.
This was so different for us because prior to these wholesale orders, we were designing unique one-of-a-kind pieces specifically for an individual customer. We would learn the names of our customers, write them personalized notes, and feel a sense of pride when we shipped our goods off with love and appreciation.
Wholesaling was more of a blizzard; rushing through our careful handwork, hoping we followed all the correct guidelines, pushing our product out the door, and waiting with no guarantee of reorder or feedback whatsoever. How un-rewarding is that?
Upon further research of wholesale pricing structures, we learned quite a bit about the markdown process. Why? We asked ourselves. Why do we have to work so hard to make the same as our retail partners? Well, there is no guarantee on their end either. Retail stores take a huge risk each time in purchasing large orders. They stock their racks, try to sell products at full price, sell a bunch, maybe only a few, mark them down 20%, try to sell some more, put them on the 50% off clearance rack, hopefully sell some more, put them in the $10 bin, maybe sell some more, and when all else fails they become the wholesaler and sell to discount stores where the retail/markdown process begins again…
We learned of this concept and couldn’t fathom our hand-made-with-love underpinnings no longer having value, not the item itself, but our hard work and care and pride, no longer of value, no longer of worth.
This was just a concept or a loose idea that we had no solid proof of until last week when one Maxxinista posted this photo of our lovely, handmade, highwaisted panty:
These panties were originally sold at Urban Outfitters for $90 and now, apparently sold at TJMaxx for $1.99! This was both appalling and hilarious to us at the same time. It seems that even though we put in all the work and Urban Outfitters got an “easy sale”, we actually got the better end of the stick. Urban Outfitters clearly couldn’t sell all of these in the time allotted and so they ended up marking them down so far that it made more sense to sell them, likely in bulk with all the other goods they couldn’t sell, to good ol’ TJMaxx…
Now, I can’t knock TJMaxx, they’re the one solution to this wholesale nightmare, and I can’t really knock Urban Outfitters because they’re just stuck in the system, but we can ambush the process all together, which is clearly what we intend to do!
We want to make lingerie specifically on a body by body basis. We want to create value not watch it deflate! We want to create undergarments that have a place in this world, a known final destination, and a body to fit on and hold and love. I’m glad this turquoise panty finally has a home but I just hope the owner will value it and know it’s worth!