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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.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Downs Designs Launches Kickstarter

(August 27, 2014) I’m heading back to the factory today and I've been sitting on this plane for 13 hours.  I have tried to sleep – can’t, tried to watch movies – boring, and spoken with some very nice people (in Chinese…yes …the best part).  So now I thought I would take a little time to get back to working on my blog that I have been neglecting lately.

Well, the buzz at Downs Designs is “Kickstarter”.  On August 15, we launched our first Kickstarter project.  Kickstarter can be a great opportunity for a business like mine to raise money.  I've been in business for 4 ½ years already and the business is not out of the red yet.  I've been using money from every resource we have and now I’m using our 401K. 

I first got the idea about trying a crowd funding program from a guy who wanted to make jeans for men and women who have large thighs from lifting weights.  He raised $735,000 on his Kickstarter program and I felt I could even do better than that (being that I have over 70,000 followers on my Downs Designs Facebook page).  I thought this would be so easy.

So we spent about 6 weeks preparing the Kickstarter website.  Chrissy and Jillian worked diligently to make the most professional and well-done site I've seen in a long time.  When it launched I really thought the donations would just start pouring in.

Boy was I wrong!  After about 2 weeks we only had 90 backers and raised about $9,000.00.  I was surprised at the little support from our followers, my friends, all my business associates and my customers.  So many people said they were going to donate, but as of this date, had not.  I think this is a life lesson I am supposed to be learning.

In the meantime, Chrissy had been sending out press releases everyday and doing a lot of Tweets on Twitter.  August 25 ago I got a call from Kiddnation radio and they asked if I would do an interview with them.  Of course I said yes.  So we taped an interview and it was to air the next morning…the morning I’m leaving for China.

I was driving to the airport at 6:30 Wednesday morning (August 27, 2014) when the interview aired and I never got to hear it.  When I arrived at the airport and got through security I hurried to my gate so I could check my laptop.  To my surprise the donations were pouring in.  I literally started to cry.  I couldn't believe that the ten minute segment was able to reach so many people who were all donating.  I am so humbled by the support of all those total strangers.  Then it was time to board the plane to Chicago.  When I got to Chicago my flight to Hong Kong was delayed for 3 more hours so my wait was now 7 hours.  I was actually excited that I would be able to keep an eye on our progress even longer.
Finally it was time to board the plane for Hong Kong and I wouldn't be back online until Thursday night. I was so excited when we finally boarded, I think I could have flown there without the plane.  So this flight has been particularly hard for me because I just want to get to my hotel room and get hooked up on Wi-Fi.  I have no idea what to expect.  The anticipation is killing me.

I can’t thank Kiddnation Radio enough for having me on their show.  They may have changed the course of Down Designs.  I’ll continue writing later when I have more information about our Kickstarter.

“It's now later” - Well, finally I checked into my room, hooked my computer and saw the new number.  The total was over 17,000 and rising.  So in the morning before the show aired, we had raised about $9,000 in two weeks and after just a few hours that number had almost doubled.  All the money that had just been donated was all from people I didn't even know.   My faith in mankind had certainly been restored!

I’m now back from China and have been home for three days.  The enthusiasm stopped by the time I left and not much has changed since I've been home.  When I left China, the total raised was $20,239.00.  That was September 3, 2014.  Today is September 6 and the total is now $21,150.00 as of this writing.  I’m sure not complaining about raising over twenty thousand dollars, but I had expected to raise a million.  I’m not sure what I was thinking, but we still have about 7 days left.  Who knows what will happen.  I’ll end this entry and leave you all hanging till I write next.

Monday, August 25, 2014

A New Beginning

Well, I haven’t written in about six months and I’m not sure why.  I've had writer’s block I guess.  Every time I sat down to write another entry…nothing came out.

So I've decided to face the beast and get back at it.  So much has happened since my last entry I don’t think I can get it all in one message so it may take several entries to get caught up.

So where did I leave off? 

Maggie Jeans were actually
being sewn at the factory
while I was there to see it!
Maggie in her first
photo shoot!
My favorite announcement is the arrival of our youth girl jeans, the Maggie Dip Down and the Bridget.  After two and half years of trial and error, they are finally finished.  They should be arriving sometime this week.  While I was at the factory on my last trip in May, I got to see them actually being sewn.  It was by far, the most emotional experience I've had to date.  My granddaughter’s jeans have finally been shipped and I can’t wait to get them in stock.  So many people are waiting for this size group.  It’s the last of all our sizes and this completes our line of jeans for all ages about two and up.  After four and half years, we've completed an incredible journey. 

Dan, showing off
his new NBZ Jeans
Well, our sister company, NBZ Jeans has launched and sales are finally beginning to pick up, but very slowly.  More work has to be done to figure out how we can market this new brand of jeans for men.  Amazon has been a complete waste of money and time.  Google AdWords has been my only source of marketing and that’s been almost a waste as well.  So, we decided to use the last two months of our Staples prize money on ads on Facebook for NBZ Jeans.  We started at 350 followers two months ago and now we have over 8,000 followers.  I think Facebook is where I need to focus our marketing dollars.  Sales have definitely improved since our Facebook advertising began.

My grandson, Patrick
is modeling our NBZ Jeans
for  boys, he looks fantastic!
When I was back at the factory in May, I was working on the boy’s line of NBZ Jeans.  The samples came in a few weeks ago and we have been testing them.  A few tweaks and I think they are ready to get into production; wow, are they fantastic.  I’m actually headed back to the factory in two days to approve the final samples and get them into production.  I also will be working on some new products while I’m there.

I’m not going to write any more tonight.  I have so much more to write about, but I’ll save it for another entry.  

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The New Year Is Off With A Bang!

How did the time get away from me since my last post?  I can’t believe I've missed December and January especially since there have been so many wonderful things happening.   I’ll have to try to squeeze it all in somehow without writing a novel!

December was a very busy month for us.  Sales were much improved because of Christmas.  So I expected January’s sales to be very minimal and to my surprise they were much better than I expected.  The Staples prize has allowed us to advertise on Facebook and our number of new likes during January was about 200 per day which has given us so much exposure to new people that the sales during the month of January were up more than I would have thought.  The best part was that almost all the sales were new customers, so I’m so happy to welcome many new customers to our Downs Designs’ family!

January gave me a little bad news, we didn't win the Chase $250,000 grant.  I was so hoping we could have landed the grant but it wasn't in the cards.  But something else happened by the end of January that took away the disappointment.  Huffington Post did a story on Down Designs!  OMG it was more valuable than money.

They posted the story on Friday, January 24 and by Saturday out website crashed.  Our site couldn't handle all the traffic.  By Sunday morning Eric had successfully moved our site to a bigger server and new orders started coming in.  We posted a sale on February 2 and that week we topped our best month in just eleven days.  I’m still digging my way out of the stacks of orders.    

That weekend our Facebook page “likes” jumped up 4,000 people and the emails and comments on Facebook and Twitter were nearly impossible to keep up with.  News stories and Blogs were writing all about Downs Designs.  Fox 8 came out and did a great story and ran it 5 or 6 times.  Radio stations called me and I was interviewed on several.  I've had a few Skype interviews and even an online paper in London, England interviewed me and did a story.  What an exciting time at Downs Designs.

The next really exciting news is my NBZ Jeans.  They are being delivered to us right now.  I expect our first order to arrive in about 2 weeks.  We got a sample of the finished pants and I’m amazed!  They look and feel fantastic.  So far they fit everyone I've been able to put them on.  I only got two pair as samples, a size 38 waist and 40 waist.  I’d post pictures but I want to wait until we launch them.   

I am seeking outside funding for this new brand and preparing to find investors.  NBZ has a potential market of millions and millions of men who may need help with dressing due to one disability or another or there may be men who just want a comfortable, stylish pair of jeans … which will open up the market to so many more. 

We've also decided to market them on Amazon as well.  We’ll market them as elastic waist jeans with no buttons or zippers and there is not much else available so I think Amazon may be an awesome outlet for us. 

Well, I think I managed to cover all the updates without writing a novel.   I’ll be writing again much sooner!  There will much more news to share once the new jeans arrive!