From Fashion Plates to Ciao BellaPosted by Gina Cornell on
When I was little, one Christmas I got a set of Fashion Plates. You know those plastic templates that you could change up the tops, bottoms and model and create your own "designs." I was enthralled with them and loved coming up will all kinds of creations. I had always loved designing clothes. The trouble is, I wasn't very good at patterns and I was mediocre at sewing so I eventually gave it up as a hobby.
That all changed when I moved to Mexico in the 90's. I soon found out that in Mexico tailors and dress makers abound. I would take some of my paycheck and pick out fabric and take my sketches to visit my sastre, Sergio. He had a little book with all my measurements inside and would make me custom outfits to fit me. It was so fun. But, I never thought it was something I could do for a career or living.
Through many series of fortunate events, I have found myself creating my own triathlon and cycling brand. It hasn't been easy and I have a lot to learn yet. I am finding out the process of starting a business and the entire world of apparel is full of many new and exciting opportunities as well as surprises.
As luck would have it, I stumbled upon a wonderful manufacturer. They use state-of-the-art gorgeous fabrics from Europe and top-notch fabrication. They have helped put together a magnificent brand line-up for me. Working with them has been an incredible experience - like taking a master class in design and athletic apparel. I also was able to sign up for apparel and clothing manufacturing lessons (The Apparel Academy) through Clothier Design Source.
What I am super excited about with this brand is the newly designed gancio (it means hook in Italian) system that attaches the kit tops to the kit shorts. I worked on coming up with something simple that had some play to it, yet stayed hidden and was easy to put on and get out of easily. I would say it's almost magical.
I have had a lot of help along (thanks to many friends and my family) the way and some wonderful state and local resources to make this all come to fruition. And, I also couldn't have done this with the great teamwork and heavy lifting of my manufacturer. They have been behind me on ALL the design changes and modifications and offered up great recommendations as I went.
There may be some hiccups as I go and I've had some doubts I could do this along the way, but I truly can say the little 5 year old girl playing with the Fashion Plates on her living room floor would have been pretty proud of what she's accomplished so far.