About the writer

My photo
I have a beautiful granddaughter who was born with Down syndrome. She has enough challenges to face in her life and I want to make sure that finding appropriately fitting clothes will not be one of them.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December Turns Out to be a Great Month!

It’s almost Christmas and I must say that December has been an incredible month for Downs Designs.  I couldn’t be happier these days.  It seems like it’s been awhile since I have felt so good.  We’ve had so many setbacks this year, but I think we’re about to forge ahead now.  Reflecting back on 2011, I feel that it was a year of learning what NOT to do.

December began with a change in our office staff.  Jillian is my only designer again and it will probably remain that way for quite some time.  I want to say that I couldn’t be more proud of her either.  She has blossomed over these last two years and her work has been amazing.   She is truly the creator of our clothing line and I look forward to seeing everything she designs in the future.

Here’s where we stand so far:

Jillian finished designing the little boy and little girl basic jean patterns.  They are both at the factory now in production and I hope to have them in our shop by mid-January if all goes well.  My first order will be a small one, only 35 pairs of each size and there are seven sizes of each (at total of only 490 pairs).  I want to be sure that these are a good fit before I order any larger quantities.  (That’s one mistake I won’t make again.)

I made a major decision about the waistbands.  The waistbands have been our major problem all year.  There is no doubt that all our jeans (and all casual wear) will need to have an elastic waistband, but I want them to look fashionable as well.  I originally started out with the ribbed waistband in our first samples.  They fit well and looked good but I tried to have them designed in denim and it just doesn’t work.  There is too much gathering when you get into the larger sizes for older children and adults and they are not as comfortable.  But when we use a soft, ribbed material instead of the denim, they look and feel SO MUCH better.  This is a picture of how the waistband looks, but the finished product will have belt loops and rivets with a Downs Designs button for looks only.  For the youth boy, teen boy and men pants we will offer two styles; one as pictured and described and the other with a partial elastic waistband which will have a working zipper and button fastener.  

Our clothes are being designed for people with Down syndrome, so we have to make them special.   I have spoken with hundreds of mothers and even teachers who work with children with special needs, and they almost all have requested an elastic waistband.   It’s been a struggle but I’m now at peace with my decision.   Our ribbed waistbands will be standard on all our casual wear.  In this picture you see a sample pair of our "dip downs".  Remember we make our samples in muslin, not denim.

Jillian also finished designing the jeans patterns for our youth and teen sizes and she is now redesigning the men’s jeans pattern.  She made all the muslin samples for both boys and girls in the youth and teen sizes and last week I sent them all off to the factory to have them made into denim prototypes.  We should have them by the end of this year. 

Then the factory will be closed for about three weeks and we have to be patient.  While they are shut down, we will be testing the youth and teen denim samples on our models and hope for a good fit.  Once the factory is back to work, then we can begin again.  I’m hoping that our first denim samples will be good, but there is a big probability that we will need to make a few changes.  If we do, that will mean more samples would have to be made which would take about 3 weeks. So realistically, we probably won’t have the youth and teen sizes until late spring, but I can’t say for sure at this point.  I have learned that things take time and I want to get them right.

Another wonderful thing happened this month.  CNN posted a story on their website about Downs Designs.  I am writing another chapter about that story but the response was amazing.  So I can say with joy in my heart that the year 2011 has ended on a very positive note and I look forward to 2012.  I feel that we are making big strides now and I am confident that there are many more good things to come.