We’re running a 50% off sale sitewide on both vintage and JF styles now through Dec. 1st. I wanted to share with you why we’re having such a significant sale.
I should point out that we don’t normally run any sales. Our philosophy is to offer the fairest price possible. This also means our profit margin is low, which makes running a sale difficult without losing money on each item we sell.
Many fashion brands have significant mark-up on retail prices which allows them to offer deep discounts while still making a profit. Our choice on pricing is not typical for a fashion brand, especially considering our extremely high quality, fair-trade, and environmental standards - but I’ll explain more about that later.It's been quite a journey over the last 3 years, from first defining the idea of what Jean Franklin should offer the fashion world to watching it grow with the support of wonderful customers.
JF is a clothing line dedicated to making you feel great about what you wear. That means paying a fair wage to the people who make the clothes and doing less harm to the environment by sourcing eco-friendly and recycled materials.
Nothing about this process has been easy, although it's been extremely rewarding to meet so many great people trying to change the fashion industry for the better. This includes people who work in fashion or those who help support this movement with purchases and by spreading the word.
This journey has also been disappointing and painful at times. As an entrepreneur I've learned that you don't always succeed the first time you try something new. I've been taking some time away from Jean Franklin the last few months to think about the future and to reflect.
While I don't yet know how Jean Franklin will evolve in the coming months, I do want to share with you some areas I've struggled with as a designer and business owner. I do not believe I’m alone in facing these issues.
From the beginning, I wanted to try and overhaul the bad practices of traditional fashion companies that persist to this day:
- I wanted to ensure that all the people we worked with - pattern-makers, sample-makers, production cutters, and sewers - were paid fairly.
- I wanted to tackle the environmental issues associated with manufacturing new clothing. This included solving style and quality issues that often times lead people to wear an article of clothing only a few times and then throw it out.
- On top of these challenges, I wanted to create an inclusive line for people of all sizes, ages, and incomes (which is why we made the business decision to buck the trend of fashion industry pricing and keep our margins as low as possible).
As I got deeper into the process of designing clothes, I quickly realized that there was no way to achieve all of these goals at the same time with the tiny budget for the business that I was self-funding. So I set out first to tackle the challenge of making made-to-order clothing. This was to cut down on the waste associated with fashion labels placing large orders for styles in multiple sizes vs. making each piece as a customer placed the order. This alone meant the price per piece would be more expensive. Plus, my goal was to pay at least $15 per hour for cutting and sewing. We’re not talking about a very generous annual salary at $31,000 per year even though it is slightly higher than minimum wage.
I also found that even offering five sizes to start (XS-XL) was a daunting task to ensure each size was graded correctly. As I'm sure anyone who understands grading will tell you, this is a process that doesn't stop. You're constantly trying to get a better fit for most people in the size range you offer and it's not as easy as adding an inch to every measurement and moving on.
It also quickly became clear that the price tag of each item was not going to be affordable for many people. I've tried to justify this by saying what many other brands and people say - "Buy quality, not quantity," "Shop for items that really speak to your heart, that you want to wear forever," "Support local businesses,” "Buy fewer, better things," etc.
But at the end of the day, the majority of people cannot afford to buy our clothing. If we truly want there to be change in the fashion industry, we need to empower more shoppers and consumers to vote with their wallet.
For this reason, I’ve started to explore how I can achieve the goals of Jean Franklin while offering products at a lower price. Recently we’ve been trying out recycling scraps and unused fabric into new home goods - you can find these one of a kind pieces we've experimented with in the Home Goods section of the site. I'm also contemplating focusing more on vintage clothing again, as I did in a past life on Etsy. I'm also looking into creating useful content around mending and altering pieces you already own to extend the life of clothing you already love.
At this time, I am offering a 50% off sale on all existing JF pieces (while we were mainly made-to-order, we did produce a few pieces for events in the past, which is why we have some inventory available for sale now) and vintage clothing. This discount will appear automatically when you checkout. All sales will be final.
I'm not saying that we won't ever produce new styles again, but for now, I'm taking a beat to consider these bigger challenges and opportunities that we face as a business.
Thank you all for your support, it means the world to me.