Designing Quarterly Collections

Manic Trout F/W 2013 Collection image

I am asked so often about how I started designing quarterly collections, that I thought it would be fun to share about what the behind-the-scenes of a collection release is really like.

First, let me give you a quick background about why I design quarterly collections and what that means. I design according to the editorial calendar set in stone by major print publications. This ensures that I get jewelry relevant to the upcoming issues in the hands of my publicist in time for it to be pitched to magazines. The general rule of thumb is that national submissions are made 3 months prior to when that issue will appear on newsstands, except for the holiday issues with gift guides, those are closed by the end of August, and usually need to be submitted around the first week of July.

I decided to shape my designing around this schedule as from the start, my work has attracted the attention of print publications. I also polled my customers when I rebranded a few years ago and discovered that when given the option of seeing new designs on a weekly/daily basis, every few months or twice a year, the response was almost entirely for every few months. These two factors determined that what works best for my line is a quarterly schedule.

This basically means that for 3 out of 4 seasons, I am sending samples for the next season to the PR firm the same week I am launching the current season on the website. The exception being this week, as I already sent off the Holiday 6 weeks ago (btw, this is the main reason I chose to move across the country in August, it’s the only month where there is a lull in every aspect of the studio). When I design a new collection, I produce only the first round of samples three months ahead, which means that I send them out of the studio and start working on the next collection. Then when the launch comes around, I make more samples for the showroom and reps and stock for the studio.

I typically order only enough materials to make the first round of samples, mainly because if after I make a sample, I realize it doesn’t work (both overall or just in that collection) then I have not overbought materials that I have to return or that I can forget to return and have become a waste of money. 

1. Just about every season I seem to forget (even though I have post it notes, calendar entries, to-do soft ware reminders and a brain) that I have to order materials to produce the first round of jewelry for the launch. Which means I have to work like a lunatic to catch up on production as I normally realize this at the same time as I sit down to produce pieces I am low on.

2. I also seem to forget that if I share on social media all the fun behind the scenes tidbits when designing the collection, that by the time it actually comes out and people can buy it, I already posted all that stuff and have nothing to share.

3. If by some form of divine intervention, I stop myself from posting all of the tidbits while designing, by the time the collection comes out, I am designing pieces that will come out in 6 months and forgot what all the tidbits were about anyway.

4. Go back and read #2 and #3 and swap the word tidbits with the word enthusiasm.

5. I have been known to remember something I really wanted to be part of a collection…a month after the samples have been sent off.

6. By waiting to make the second run of samples until right before the launch (because as you recall, I am working on the next collection and apparently remember nothing) this means that once I send the first set off, I have nothing to photograph for social media purposes or to WEAR. This is why I am still wearing jewelry from 6 collections ago and all the photos I share are the product shots I took for the website or back when I was making the samples.

7. Even though I know that #6 could easily be avoided by either making 2 sets of samples immediately or making a set sooner than the launch, neither happens. Ever.

8. I always have typos in the first run of new line sheets and will only and always notice them immediately following they’re being sent to a VIP.

9. I leave the hardest and most dreaded tasks until the last possible moments every time…scarves that I need to sew, I’m looking at you.

10. The best part though about designing quarterly collections is that its always fun when I get to the launch date to be reminded what the collection looks like!

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