Rules to Design By: Lessons Learned from Creating My Own Clothing Line

As a high school student in Flagstaff, Arizona, I was immediately drawn to the fashion design and merchandising classes that Flagstaff High had to offer. One teacher in particular, Ms. Schweitzer, introduced me to all of the different avenues of fashion that I could explore and potentially make a career pursuing in the fashion industry. After touring the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) with my high school class, it quickly became clear that I needed to attend.  I was granted early admission to my dream school during my junior year of high school.

Two weeks after my high school graduation, I made the move to LA to begin my degree in Apparel Industry Management at FIDM.  While I was in school, my friends were enjoying their last summer together back home before everyone moved away to college in the fall. Initially I was upset by the fact that I had decided to start college so early, and as a consequence, missed spending time with my friends and family. At the same time, I was very intrigued by the West Coast lifestyle that was so foreign to my small hometown. I realized getting an early start was in my best interest.

Creating My Own Clothing Line

After completing my first quarter at FIDM, I decided that it was time for me to start my own clothing line. Ever since high school I knew that I wanted to be a designer, but I didn’t know what kind of clothing I wanted to create. One thing stood prominent in my mind – I was so inspired by the LA lifestyle and vibe– luxury, ambition, comfort, health and style. I wanted to create a clothing line that embodied all things Los Angeles through my eyes, which is exactly how Levitation Activewear came to be.

Levitation Activewear is a luxury motivational line of menswear. I created the brand to represent the LA lifestyle that I became so obsessed with and was so motivated by. With clean tailored lines, exciting color palettes and motivation to live an active lifestyle invested into each garment, this one-of-a-kind brand keeps men looking put-together in any situation from the gym to everyday encounters. Levitation Activewear is manufactured in downtown Los Angeles and is a part of the American Made movement, something that is very important to me. I’m proud to know that Levitation Activewear is playing its part in keeping jobs in America.

My story may give off the impression that creating this clothing line was something I was able to accomplish overnight. However, this was hardly the case. Creating any kind of business from the ground up is not only a livelihood, but a full time job. On top of being a student in the fashion school, I have had to learn many lessons through firsthand experiences. These are the rules that have made all the difference in the development of Levitation Activewear:

Rule number one, make a game plan.

Don’t start a business without creating at least an outline of what you need to do and how you’re going to do it. You need to know everything there is to know about the market you’re trying to entire before you start. You wouldn’t jump into the ocean without at least dipping your toes first. It’s the same in business. My mom told me that before I start anything, I need to create a business plan, and I’m glad I did. Of course you can’t predict the future, but having a plan of action to help guide you is helpful especially if something goes wrong. Side note: something always goes wrong. It’s the inconvenient truth, there’s no logical reason behind it, it just happens, so always plan for it.

Rule number two, outsource work to experts.

In my major, we’re taught to be experts in every aspect of the fashion industry. When you start a business it will be impossible for you to do every task on your own. If you try to do that, you’ll never be able to finish one task successfully and move onto the next. If you are not 100% confident that you can successfully and accurately complete a task you must contract out the work to an expert. Trying to do it all may result in a sub par product, and in the end, you’ll have to go back and redo whatever it is that didn’t turn out right resulting in wasted time and money. Contracting out work is not lazy; it’s smart, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Go to friends and family members that are experts in the field you need assistance with before paying a stranger. If friends and family aren’t an option, be sure to do your research before trusting someone with your money, time, and product. For example, I “know” how to create a shirt pattern, but it takes me hours, and usually doesn’t come out right the first time, so I went out and found a pattern maker that can efficiently create patterns for me and within my budget.

Rule number three, form relationships.

It is important to form healthy and positive relationships with anyone you plan or hope to do business with. Take the pattern maker I worked with for example. After her company had made a few patterns for me (that turned out amazingly), I asked her to do the grading and marking for the patterns, and then later a small production. We now have conversations that take place outside of business, “How was your weekend?”, “How was that party?”, “Isn’t your son’s graduation next week?” Because I have formed a positive relationship with her, she takes care of me, and I take care of her. Two days before a photo shoot, three sample garments went missing. Because of the great relationship we’ve formed, she created three new samples for me in less than two days over a weekend. If we didn’t have that relationship, the time and money put into organizing the shoot would have been a huge waste.

My fourth and final rule is to always keep a positive attitude

…and to always look for the silver lining. In life, but particularly in business, ten doors will be slammed in your face before one door opens. It is so important to stay positive. DO NOT let that get you down. Stay positive and persevere! Don’t let anything knock you down! You get back up and you go knock even harder on ten more doors and know that anyone who doesn’t answer is missing out. I’m a firm believer in karma and manifesting your destiny. The universe gives you exactly what you need, when you need it. All that knocking on doors and hard work will pay off in the end if you stay positive and manifest it. A positive mindset attracts positive outcomes. This may sound crazy, but time and time again I didn’t know how it would work out if ever, but I have never let any bad situation get me down. As my best friends Sophia and I always say, “It always works out” and it eventually does. If you believe it, it will happen. I hit so many road bumps in trying to launch my first collection and thought it would never happen, and now I’m about to launch my second collection this summer. It just always works out if you believe it will!

You can shop the current and upcoming summer collection of Levitation Activewear at Levitationlifestyle.com

You can follow Sean Scott and his line on:

Photo credit: flickr