31 Aug 2015

Startup Advice for Fashion Designers by Gretchen Harnick

Are you a startup fashionista but don’t know where to start? Yeah, we’ve all been there, and it’s no fun.

The good news? I have someone I’d like you to meet.

A colleague of mine in the fashion industry reached out recently and asked if she could feature me on her site – oh what an honor! I love everything she is doing with her Pattern to Plan business and how hard she works to support start-up fashion designers, so to receive an inquiry from her like this was truly a compliment.

I won’t reiterate the post for you here because chances are you already know about me and what I do (and if you don’t, just hop on over and read the article on Gretchen’s site) – but instead, I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to her as I know you all could benefit from what she has to offer (she recently inspired me to make some subtle shifts in my marketing angle which has helped get me on a better track!).


If you’re looking to start a fashion business, whether you’re a designer, want to open a showroom, or have a new fashion tech app idea, this is the place you need to begin. Gretchen offers expert advice and real world connection into a fast paced industry. Feeling lost? She’ll help you find your way.

Pattern to Plan Workshops (time sensitive!)

Connect with Gretchen directly in a live Q&A session (free!) to help you wrap your head around market week – hurry, the Q&A session is this Friday, September 4th @ 12pm EST, so get your booty registered stat!!

Can’t make it? Check out her free Creative Business Planning course that you can access on your own schedule.

No matter what you do, do something! Like I said before, a quick 20 minute chat with the right person can change the direction of your business forever – and Gretchen is the right person who will get you on track. Trust me from personal experience.

26 Aug 2015

How to Create a Tech Pack with Tech Packer

I recently was listening to the American Fashion Podcast and discovered a startup company that aims to be the:

“Birth of a New Kind of PDM (Product Data Management)”

Aptly named, Tech Packer “was built to make life easier for both fashion designers and the factories they work with. It neatly categorizes your design information using common industry standards, making your requirements easy to explain and understand.”

Having spent more than my fair share of time creating, editing and managing tech packs in Excel and other PDM / PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) softwares, I’m always excited to see what new solutions are available. I’m the first to admit that Excel is a painful and tedious method to the madness, but often the most accessible for many fashion designers and companies to use for tech pack creation. It’s cheap, has been around forever, and most people know how to use it, so at the end of the day it’s often the most common used solution for many smaller designers and companies.

Many of the PDM / PLM solutions that do exist are often cost prohibitive, so when I saw that Tech Packer is still currently in beta and available for free, I jumped on it. Now read carefully: “still in beta”. I will always proceed cautiously and won’t dive right in nor am I ready to convert all my customers into Tech Packer customers, but I’m happy to give it a spin and see what they’re doing (and keep an eye on their progress so I can decide when to jump on board full time).

Here’s what I discovered…

Clean User Friendly Interface

The site is modern set up in a logical way that is easy to navigate and allows for quick and easy creation of new styles with additional callouts for detail sketches, materials (BOM: Bill of Materials), and Measurements (POM: Point of Measure)
How to Create Tech Packs: Tech Packer Interface

Quick PDF Creation

With the click of just one button, you can easily generate or preview a PDF of your tech pack – very helpful to see how the end user will experience your file and easily go back and to make any changes or edits if you see something that isn’t super clear (all style details, dates and logos are of course automatically added to each page of the PDF).
How to Create a Tech Pack: Tech Packer Interface

Fair Pricing

As I mentioned above, the current beta version is free – but per the FAQ page premium pricing will set you back just $20 bucks a month – that’s a steal if you ask me.

Here’s what I wish I discovered…

Easy Annotation

I was very excited to see the Easy Annotation as advertised in their YouTube video – but upon attempting to use it a few different times, it never worked. Clicking on the image of the design simply launched a file upload menu. This feature is very appealing so hopefully they get it back up and running soon.

Drag & Drop Card Assignment

From what I can see, you create a plethora of “cards” which define various trims, fabrics, POMs, etc, for each style. The YouTube video says you can easily “copy and paste” this info to different styles – I haven’t quite figured out how to do this (other than manually copying and pasting?). I’d love to have an interface with all of my cards on one side that I can then drag and drop to all of my tech packs on the other side. Perhaps this is on the to do list or I maybe missed something?

Track Changes

It’s crucial to keep track of changes in a tech pack – so you and your factory know when and what edits were made – whether it was a POM change or color way drop. I did not see anything of this kind, but from what I can see so far, Tech Packer knows the industry so I am sure they know how essential this is and has intentions of adding it.

The Takeaway?

I’m definitely impressed on many levels and would consider subscribing once they are done with beta testing and add a few more essential features. I am involved in the creation of too many tech packs a year (well over 150) to fully commit right now, but for a budding or small designer whose needs are smaller, I think this is a great solution.

Look forward to watching their growth and one day fully getting on board – I’ll keep you posted as I get new updates on features and releases.

20 Aug 2015

From Humble Beginnings

I was doing some updating on my YouTube channel recently, and I hit play on one of the first videos I ever published. (If you care to watch, it’s this one: Drawing Fashion Illustrations with Illustrator’s Pen Tool) – even the thumbnail hurts my eyes a little:
One of My Earliest YouTube Videos
The embarrassment I felt in watching just the first 20 seconds was palpable and visible – my face got red, my gut started churning and the first thing I thought was:

“I should delete this video.”

This specific tutorial has been my most viewed video to date by quite a bit (closing in on 200K views) – and I know why. I put it up a very long time ago and it’s one of the most searched for topics regarding Illustrator for fashion. But OMG it’s terrible.

I left it up and just buried my feelings about it for a few days.

Later that week I was listening to a podcast, and the interviewee said something that resonated with me:

“If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” – Nathan Chan, @foundrmag

Which was clearly exactly how I felt about the first version of my product. EMBARRASSED. And then I got over it and felt totally ok about the quality of the first version of my product. And it’s staying up there – for good (I still get tons of views and people still comment that it’s helping them). If I don’t have it there as a constant reminder of where I started, I wouldn’t have a reference for how far I’ve come. And if I waited until it was perfect to share it with you – well, I probably would have never released it at all.

So where does that leave us? With a new tutorial and a little bit of inspiration for all of us.

A New Tutorial

I’ve done a major overhaul on this video – it’s a thorough overview of the Pen Tool, shot in HD with high quality audio – no ums or likes – my teaching “voice” has matured quite a bit, and if you’re curious how much – watch both videos and please do let me know what you think about the difference.Make the Pen Tool Your Friend

A Bit of Inspiration (for all of us)

My take away from this is that we’re all really good at making excuses (myself included):
I’m not ready yet / I’m not good enough / I’ll get to it when I have more time

And it’s time we stop thinking this way. We have to start now. Go out there and do it. There’s no better time to get started than right this instant.

Let’s Make a Pact

This week – as in right now as you read this – take something that you’ve always wanted to do for yourself – a project you want to create, a new skill you want to learn, a community you want to be part of, and whether you feel like you’re ready or not – get it done or at least get it started. Choose something small that’s manageable to start with – don’t overwhelm yourself and don’t over commit – the last thing you want to do is set yourself up for failure. So be realistic, but get it done.

Need some inspiration? Here are 3 easy places to start:

  • Create a blog on a topic you’re passionate about or knowledgeable on (you can set one up for free in 5 minutes with WordPress no matter how tech savvy you may or may not be)
  • Find a meetup group that interests you and go alone. It’s scary – I know – but I promise, the people there are nice and I guarantee you’ll meet some cool folks. Not sure what to do when you show up alone? Find someone else who looks like they may be there alone too and ask them, “what brings you here?” (I stole this line from one of my favorite people in the industry – Gretchen with Pattern to Plan – check out the amazing stuff she’s doing). It’s an instant conversation starter (I speak from first hand experience), and I bet you’ll make a new friend.
  • Last but not least: Learn the Pen Tool (or another Illustrator skill that scares you) and draw your first fashion flat sketch (it doesn’t matter if it looks as bad as my first video does – just do it – I promise that each one you do after that one will get better and better).

And what do I promise to do?

I’m going to start talking to you more and letting you inside my head. I’m very good at giving you technical information, but I’ve never really shared too much about myself or my life. I’ve never felt like I’ve been able to find “my voice” – but if I don’t start now and give it a shot, I’ll surely never find it. I’ve been talking to and have been inspired by various family members (Marc & mom – that’s you!), friends, and colleagues (Gretchen – I’m looking at you!) lately about this – and it’s about time I make a change on that level. You can consider this post as my first small step towards that goal. And as I get ready to hit the publish button on this post, you bet I’m a little nervous, but there’s no time like the now to get started, or else we’ll probably never do it…so here we go.

17 Aug 2015

Why I’m Now Offering Pay for Content

For years now, you’re used to all of my educational content being free – which I love doing. I’ve learned so much through my experiences using AI for fashion design, and I’m so happy to share all of my tips and tricks with you.  I still have tons of written and video tutorials available for free – these will always continue to be free and my goal is to continue releasing tid bits here and there.

I’ve recently made a transition to offering longer length fully comprehensive courses that are available for a reasonable price. Why the change? There are a couple reasons, and I’ll outline a few below:

  • I’ve been teaching in person (pay for) workshops for 5 years in both Colorado and NYC*. I continually get requests from these students for an online version, so they can go back and access the material again.  I also know there are a lot of people outside these locations that would like to learn as well, so I’m happy that this content is now available to you!
  • I’ve had a growing demand for private lessons. Due to my current workload, I’ve had to raise my rates (which I know can be cost prohibitive for many people) and sometimes even then have to turn students down due to my schedule. By offering this online course, I can reach all of you on your own schedule, no matter how busy all of us are. And even better? The price for the whole course is just a bit more than I charge for a one hour private lesson. Quite a steal if you ask me.
  • This was a huge undertaking – I’m talking hundreds of hours of the past few months. It’s quite a bit of work to record, edit and manage 9+ hours of material – much more work than a 5 or 10 minute video that I may post on YouTube. This is why I’m offering these as pay for courses. Hey, we all have bills to pay, right?

Thank you for your continued support over the years – I love being part of the community and making your work in Illustrator easier. I’d be thrilled if you’d check out the course list and let me know what you think. Ready to get started? Watch the free Pen Tool tutorial first:
Illustrator for Fashion Designers: The Pen Tool
*If you have taken my course or done private lessons with me in the past, you are eligible to access the entire online course for FREE! I’ve reached out to all of you via email, but if you’re reading this and you didn’t hear from me or it got buried in your inbox, please get in touch and I’ll get you access to the entire course at no cost.

02 Aug 2015

How to Use Brushes in Illustrator

Brushes in Adobe Illustrator are a great option for anything that repeats linearly and this Illustrator tutorial will show you the basics of how to use brushes for beginners.  Some simple examples of brushes for fashion design essentials are stitching and zippers, but they’re great for other fashion design sketches such as studs along a belt, or to emulate ruching and ruffles.

Finding the Brushes

Let’s start by opening the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes).  There might be some default brushes in there, but you also may notice some custom brushes.

Using & Editing Brushes

To use brushes, select a path (or draw a new one) and click on the instance of the brush in the Brushes panel.  That brush will then be applied to the path. The size of the brush can be changed by adjusting the size of the stroke.

Transferring Brushes Between Files

If you have some brushes that you want to transfer between files, the quick and dirty method is via copy and paste. Select an instance of the brush that you want and choose Edit > Copy (cmd/ctrl + C).  Navigate to the file where you want to use the brush, and Edit > Paste (cmd/ctrl + V).  Once the brush is pasted anywhere in the document, you will notice that an instance of it has been added to the Brushes panel.  Even if you delete the brush instance from the artboard, it will remain in the Brushes panel within this particular document unless you manually delete it.

Loading Brushes in Files

Instead of copying and pasting, you can also load brushes into your Illustrator file.  Click the flyout icon on the Brushes panel and choose Open Brush Library > Other Library…  You will then browse out the saved brush file on your computer.

This will create a new panel of brushes for you to use which will include all of the brushes that were in the file you loaded.

Adding Brushes to the Library List

You may notice on the example, 1_FASHION_BRUSHES and 2_EXTRA_STITCHES are loaded at the top of the “Open Brush Library” list.  This makes these brush libraries easy to access at all times from any Illustrator file.  To get your brushes to load on this list, you just need to save them in a certain location on your computer.  Find this location: Applications > Adobe Illustrator CC 2014 (or your current version) > Presets > en_US (or your language) > Brushes and save them there.  Add a number at the front of the file name if you want them to load at the top of the list (since they are listed alphabetically).

Your brushes will then always show up at the top of the Load Brush Library list making them easy and convenient to grab for all of your fashion drawings.

Looking for a more thorough tutorial?

I’ve got an entire course on pattern brushes and repeating patterns in Illustrator.
Seamless Repeating Patterns & Brushes in Illustrator