Does Social Networking Help or Hinder Independent Fashion Designers?

Tara St. James of Study

Photo by Graeme Mitchell

I’m not a networker. I don’t use MySpace, I don’t have a Facebook page, and until very recently, I wanted nothing to do with Twitter. Earlier this year, I left the comforts of designing a brand for a larger commercial company. I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do with my career, but I knew that my next venture would be entirely sustainable, somewhat conceptual, but most importantly, it would be all mine. Mistakes and all. When I accepted an invitation to show at The GreenShows during New York Fashion Week, I had only two months before the show and not one sample. One of my largest concerns was how to pay for the show and give a professional presentation that represented my aesthetic. I was then introduced to Kickstarter, an online funding platform for creative projects. I gave myself less than 60 days to raise the $5,000 I guessed the show would cost me, and I immediately started networking.

THAT GIRL

Despite my antipathy to online social networks, I knew that these sites were invaluable to getting my message out to the public. Plus, I didn’t have the luxury of time to do it all through good old-fashioned face to-face-methods. I decided that if I was going to ask people for money to help me put on a show, I should also allow them certain insight into my work methods and my thoughts on the process. So I started a blog.

I’m not a networker. I don’t use MySpace, I don’t have a Facebook page, and until very recently, I wanted nothing to do with Twitter.

All of a sudden I was That Girl. I was blogging and tweeting every day while trying to design a collection. What I found was that telling people about my work was liberating, and the comments I received to some of my posts were not only encouraging but reassuring. It was therapeutic for me to hear from other sustainable designers who were experiencing the same emotions I was, particularly when I wrote about my insecurities about my work.

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One Response to “Does Social Networking Help or Hinder Independent Fashion Designers?”

  1. tarynzychal says:

    hey Tara, loved your article, I run a small green business that is based off of upcycling umbrellas into handcrafted, stylish and most importantly functional softgoods, called Recycling Zychal. I really want to utilize kickstarter to fund more expansion of my company, because I feel like what I do is not only fun for me, but it keeps broken umbrellas out of the landfill, where they certainly do not belong. I was wondering if you have an invite for the site and if yes, can I have it? Let me know! And even if you don’t, you can still help Recycling Zychal by donating your broken umbrellas to us :) just visit
    http://www.recyclingzychal.etsy.com for more details.
    Thanks for this awesome article and potential kickstarter invite :D

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