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.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The NDSC Conference and The Buddy Walk 2012

July was certainly a busy month for Downs Designs.  We had our booth at the NDSC Conference in Washington, D.C. and also had a booth at the Upside of Downs Buddy Walk at Progressive Field the following weekend.

This year we were able to drive to the conference.  It made a huge difference because we saved hundreds of dollars in shipping costs.  There were three of us, Jillian, Robin and myself.  Robin works for my husband’s medical practice and has been with us for eleven years.  She also helps out at Downs Designs when I need her; so three women and all our “stuff” packed into my SUV made for quite a carload.   The drive was actually not so bad.  It took us about 6.5 hours in all and the weather was picture perfect.

The next morning we were busy setting up our booth.  The doors were opening at noon and we had a lot to do to get ready.  But with all three of us working together, we were all set up with time to spare.  The exhibitor’s hall was huge and there were so many vendors, about 80 in all I believe.  We had one slight problem; there was no internet available in the exhibitor’s area, so our credit card equipment was useless.  But it was only a slight aggravation and we worked around it.

With people in and out of sessions all day long, the traffic was extremely busy during the “break outs”.  We were glad we had two dressing rooms this year and both were in use at our peak times.  We had all our ladies’ and children’s jeans available to try on and order.  We had samples of the sizes of the Large Teen Girl jeans but ordering those will have to wait until they arrive in our shop.  They are due in around the end of August, just in time for school shopping I hope.  We also had a sample of men’s jeans to show as well, and everyone was disappointed that they were not available yet.  They are in production now and will be arriving in our shop about the end of September.  We are also waiting on the samples of the Large Teen Boy jeans.  Once we test the fit on those, we can begin production. 

The last size we are working on is our Large Youth Size.  We have not had a boy and girl model for that size group yet, but we did find some volunteers willing to help us out long distance.  It’s certainly not the best way for Jillian to design a pair of pants, but at the time, it was the best we could do.  So we’ll see how that works out…still not sure.

The event was great exposure for us and we met so many people that were excited about what we are trying to create.  But one of the most important things we get out of these events is that we are able to see how our jeans fit a lot of people, not just the model that Jill uses to design them.  Everyone is shaped so differently and Jill’s designs must be able to fit most people and we also realize that we cannot fit everyone perfectly.  But I must say, she has done a brilliant job!

Sunday afternoon the event was over so we loaded up the car and headed for home.  We were tired and happy to be home, but I must say I enjoyed the entire experience.  I look forward to next year’s event in Denver and Robin will definitely be joining us, she was a great help!

But no rest for the wicked…the Buddy Walk was the very next weekend.  I love the Buddy Walk though…it’s so much fun.  I don’t take dressing rooms or have people trying anything on; I just talk to people, show samples of our jeans and have brochures to hand out.  The energy and excitement at the Buddy Walk cannot be described.  About 4000 people are in attendance and it’s like one big party in the street. 

My favorite part comes after the “walk”.  The disc jockey gets everyone moving and the kids start dancing.  Thanks to the hard work by the staff of The Upside of Downs, this is one of the most fun events of the year.  Even the weather cooperated.  It was not too hot and the sun was shining.  Funny thing though, right after the event was over, it rained like cats and dogs. 

Some really good news too … we found a boy and girl model for the youth sizes.  Their parents are so kind to help us out.   Now Jill will be able to work her magic with this age group.  I can’t wait to see how the Youth sizes will turn out.

So with July coming to an end, I’m satisfied with the results.  Hopefully by the end of this year, we’ll have a pair of jeans for most of the hard-to-fit kids and adults.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

July 2012 Heading to the NDSC Conference

I’ve been so busy this month; I haven’t had time to work on my Blog.  With summer here and being so very hot, the 1000 impatience that I planted have certainly needed some extra TLC.  The extreme heat this year has been so unusual and besides stressing the trees and flowers, sales are showing the strain of this heat as well.  I haven’t had one sale in weeks.  But, in truth, I haven’t had much in sales at all.  Because I haven't had much to offer so far, I really can't expect people to be kicking down my doors to get to me.  But things are going to improve and in the next few months, we're going to start getting in more products.
I have done no marketing whatsoever … I’m waiting until I have more styles.  Not much point in disappointing people when they call looking for a boys pair of jeans and having to tell them I don’t have any…YET! But I’m so encouraged now with our new factory, that our future is looking so much brighter. 
Here’s the status as of mid-July:
Ladies and children’s jeans are in stock and the ladies full-figured, long-sleeved T-shirts are now available in two sleeve lengths.  Not that anyone needs them now, but fall in truly just around the corner and before you know it, the leaves will be falling.
The large size teen girl style jeans will be on a boat July 20th and arrive at our shop around August 22nd.  The factory did us a huge favor and made one of each size for us to take to the conference next week so we’ll be able to take preorders for those.  We have decided to only concentrate on the larger sizes for now.  What we have seen in the smaller girls and boys is that shopping is a little easier for them and being self-funded for this entire business, I’m just focusing now on the hardest to fit sizes.  We’ll get to those smaller sizes later on.
The large men styles jeans will be following shortly behind the large teen girl styles.  We’ll let you know as soon as they are available.  The large teen boy samples are almost complete and when they are, they will send them on so we can test them on our model.  If the fit is good, we’ll start production on those soon too.
We’re headed to the NDSC Conference this week with a whole new look.  We have really pumped up our display area and now have two dressing rooms as well.  We hope to meet lots of new people and visit with some we have met in the past.  Since we have no model for our last size, the youth sizes, Jill has made some muslin samples for both boys and girls.  We hope to have some volunteers stop by our booth and test the sizing.  We’re hoping that it will be a good fit and we won’t need too many changes.  We’ll have to wait and see about this way of testing our sizing.  But with no models here at home, we don’t know what else to do.
I’m keeping this posting short and will make another posting after the conference.