Founder Series: From an idea to a physical product

As someone who has always been incredibly interested by other entrepreneurs journeys and how they went about building their brands and businesses. I wanted to invite you on my own start up journey giving insight into the good & bad days, the wrong & right decisions, the happy & sad tears and everything in between with the hopes that you can learn more about SOS and be a part of it’s journey with me.

So how did I go from idea to product?

I say product as opposed to reality because I am still yet to really feel like any of this is real! As someone who has always wanted to run my own business it is actually really hard to take a step back and appreciate how far I have come. . . from the image above it’s actually fairly far! (My little cleavage drawing will always entertain)

I can’t stress enough that I do not come from a fashion background professionally nor do I have any close friends in the industry or family. I quite literally dived into Google and I think the first few Google searches were similar to ‘How to start a clothing line?’ ‘How to start an activewear brand'?’ ‘First steps when starting a fashion brand’ etc etc and I just read every article with numerous terminology searches in between and made notes as to what the first few steps look that when it comes to starting a brand.

I already knew what my niche was going to be and so I honed in on this and pulled out what I wanted the brand to encompass beyond just sustainability. I didn’t want to JUST be a sustainable activewear brand, I wanted SOS to have a purpose throughout, and to create a community of likeminded people, a premium, chic and fun feel and ultimately something people could rely on, engage with and feel passionate about in the same way that I feel so passionate about our planet and fitness.

How did I get my first sample?

Sampling is essentially where your sketches and mock ups go from just that to an actual functioning product and your vision becomes a reality. This part of the process stumped me a little bit as there are just so many terms in the fashion and production industry that I was not familiar with and so once again. . . Google was my friend.

Now to let you in on a secret, I initially started the brand with a focus on making sustainable, flattering, functioning and supportive sports bras that were stylish for all different bust sizes. Too frequently I hear from friends with larger boobs saying that they can never find a sports bra that is cute and stylish but that also offers them the support they need and instead have to opt for a bulky M&S number. It wasn’t until I spoke to various lingerie manufactures did I understand the true complexity and science that would need to go into designing such a product not forgetting the huge costs involved and so for this reason my idea of creating such a product is on the back burner until I can afford it!

Going back to the sample process, I again dived into Google and after some crazy quotes from sampling manufacturers in London I found a lovely lady called Sophie based in Plymouth who runs a studio called Makers HQ. Sophie was incredibly helpful on the phone as I talked her through my idea and she agreed for me to come in to meet with the team and talk through my ideas in person. I booked a day off work, agreed to stay with my auntie in Exeter and booked a train to Plymouth with absolutely no idea what I was truly doing and riddled with nerves and just a bag full of fabric samples and terrible sketches to accompany me.

My meeting with Sophie went incredibly well, minus the 30 minute walk from the station with such heavy bags and arriving in a hot mess, Sophie quickly put me at ease, she was incredibly understanding and completely understood my idea and visions. I arrived at the studio with my sketches, a print out of inspiration i’d found online and my fabric samples with nothing else and no clue if the fabric was even the right type and I left empowered, motivated and excited to be starting this journey with a professional onboard who was really willing to answer all of my questions both big and small!

My first sample arriving

Following from my meeting with Sophie, it was roughly 3 - 4 weeks of ordering fabrics, chatting with Sophie about the functionality of the bra and hearing her recommendations for the fit before they began to work on my first sample. I remember sitting at my desk when the delivery arrived, I kept it by my feet and didn’t peek at it until I got home! I wanted to keep normal work and SOS as separate as possible and for all my SOS memories to be disassociated with my normal day to day job. Once home I remember pouring myself a glass of wine, opening the package ever so slowly and being filled with compete joy to see my first design as a real life product. It was such an incredible feeling and really was the first time I truly believed I could do this!

So with my first product in my hands and a real vision for what was to come, I needed to start building my brand image and that for me meant a logo, Social Media and a fully functioning Website!

Please follow my journey at SOS where I will next be sharing what happened next and how I went from an idea to a reality,

October 09, 2020 — Bronte Simm