First One In, Last One Out: In the Shoes of an Entrepreneur Written by Janan Leo, Founder & Creative Director of Cocorose London
I’m often asked about how and why I set up Cocorose London and what it’s like running my own business. As an entrepreneur in the fashion industry, the glamour and glitz often mask the daily highs and lows that go on behind the scenes and the whole-hearted team effort that goes into creating a beautiful, international brand. My passion here is to unfold the emotions that run with every step of being my own entrepreneur and to lay bare what it’s like being in my shoes. Find me on twitter @jananleo with the hashtag #InMyCocorose.
In the fashion world, the arrival of the New Year signals the launch of a new season collection. Well, two collections actually. There's the imminent Spring-Summer collection which will hit the stores shortly and then there's the launch of the new Autumn/Fall-Winter collection to the trade. For this post, I'm going to focus on the latter.
As a designer and entrepreneur, my relationship with this time of year is a mixture of giddy excitement coupled with what I can only describe as immense stress. As I write this post, I'm on the Fashion Express aka Eurostar, from London to Paris, which is where our first show of the season takes place. This is where we introduce our new collection to glossy, international Buyers, from independents right through to multi department stores and where we can launch our new innovations and present Cocorose London the Brand.
As the train zooms past open fields and cars move from left hand to right hand drive, this rare moment of peace on my journey allows me to dig that little bit deeper than I'd normally let myself at this time of year, to reflect on the past months and continue to strategise for the future few.
Over the past six months, I've been completely absorbed, consciously and subconsciously, in preparing for the new AW16 collection, studying the trends, finding my inspiration and interpreting all my thoughts and ideas into my new designs and collection. There have been sleepless nights of costings, swatches and images just jumbled and tangled up in a web of anxiety; hours and hours of travelling to and from to work on the new collection, jet-lag rearing it's unrestful head at every unopportune moment; passionate discussions and negotiations about the new sample development and time (so much time!) dedicated and committed to working on the new samples and patterns.
And finally, what seems to juxtapose itself in being the longest but also the shortest moment, I get to experience the pure delight, joy and excitement of seeing all my work and ideas come to fruition when my final samples are finished. I can't stop looking at the collection, snapping pictures for my family and team and trying all the shoes on. This is what makes all the anxiety and exhaustion worthwhile.
Following this, there's a huge amount of teamwork that's then dedicated to our campaign photo shoot and pulling together all of our supporting collateral, which prepares us for the season ahead despite the rush against time.
The pressure of launching a new collection is constantly on the horizon, from the ever-increasing costs of creating the range right the way through to what the potential reactions and feedback would be, not just from our buyers, but from our extended team too. How will the collection be received? Have I nailed the trends? How will we perform as a brand this season? Is our display and merchandising for the new collection right, and will it make an impact? Will the new styles, designs and innovations be appreciated? As an entrepreneur and designer, these are just a small handful of the questions that rush around and collide together in my head.
Over the years, I've learned that it's just natural to feel this way with each new collection that we launch. The crux of these emotions boils down to so much that's yet unknown about the season ahead. It's as if everything is delicately balanced on a mixture of luck, optimism and right-place-right-time. I trust my gut instinct, as so many times before, and I can't wait to take hold of the opportunities that the new season will present. The world truly is my oyster.
As the train pulls into the Gare du Nord station in Paris, I'm reminded of what I was once told a while ago; 'You're only as good as your last collection.' No pressure then, so the only thing left to do is go and get 'em!