I've been at it for 9 collections... the 10th is just about to launch. In no way has my mission to create brightly printed pieces of Lycra been an easy journey... if it was, everyone would be doing it (which seems like the case on Instagram today!?)
Here's the top 5 F*#k ups in my 4 years and 9 collections of being KOKOH bikini!
1 - Smuggling anything into another country does not feel good...
Most Countries charge heavy import taxes. So what do you do when you're a freshly established label (ie. broke AF) and need to take 30kgs of printed Lycra into one of those Countries? You call your best friend, invite her as a mule and pull out the vacuum sealed zip bags... On arrival, we sweated our way through the final X-Ray... and got every single one of our bags searched. I'm pretty sure the guys on duty weren't a fan of paperwork, so luckily, they let us off. Lesson learnt... the high anxiety isn't worth it. You won't see me travelling with 18 sets of headphones.
2 - Being Plagiarised SUCKS!
Ok, I am the first to admit I've taken inspiration from another label... who blocked me on Instagram (AWKWARD). Being new to the game I never thought they'd even see my account with a measly 600 followers - but they did. A year on, and my very own artwork (artwork is owned by the creator, the shape/cut of a bikini cannot be owned) was used as a part of another labels collection... Kick in the guts. It was that day I wrote to the label who'd inspired me and apologised. The feeling of being copied isn't flattery - as most people say it is... It's taking a part of someones livelihood and it happens far too much. Starting a line and calling yourself a designer can be done by anyone... designing and creating original prints takes a creative - this is a gift that cannot be found in a YouTube tutorial.
3 - Speak up, you have a voice
I don't do this enough, its scary... writing this blog is scary. I have nothing more to say about speaking up.
4 - ... and then, he stole all my money.
Yep. $13,000. Being 2 years in, steady growth, steady sales, and BOOM... cop that. I had a guy in Bali who'd oversee everything for me there... He'd met my mum, my husband, my best friends, my sisters. He was my friend. We'd worked well together for quite a long time. Long complicated story cut short. I'd paid for a production as normal, and he went AWOL. No phone calls, no emails, no Facebook. He was gone, and at that point, gone with everything that I'd had. Sometimes I lay awake at night thinking about it, and it still guts me, 2 years later.
5 - Everybody has the answers
But actually they don't. ERRRYYYBODYYY is going to tell you how to run your business and offer you precious advice. For quite awhile I used to listen and believe/implement/take onboard what they'd say. Now I just listen. If anything makes sense, yeh I'll look into it.
Natasha Oakley in my 2013 Mermaid Scale Bikini... This fabric was a part of the 30kgs, and has also been inspiration to many other labels.