When you own your own clothing brand, no day is identical to another. You are prepared to work hard and you are willing to do it whenever and however long you need to. It is your baby, after all.
With that being said, not every day is completely jam-packed either. To get a better idea of how my typical day goes, I’ll be giving you a snapshot of a regular workday and a glimpse at a day when I’m at a pop up/trade show or holiday market. As you’ll see, both types of days are EXTREMELY different!
Wake up. Make coffee, go over the orders I’ve gotten throughout the night. Go through the nine steps on UPS.com per label to mail out Nordstrom orders and go through USPS.com to process mine. Adjust inventory, submit tracking and invoices on the portal accordingly and spend time packaging.
I grab two of those HUGE Ikea bags and pack as many boxes, bags, and ribbon that will fit and consult my list from the day before of what I need to restock at both pop up locations. I walk three avenues (NYC-style LONG blocks) in the blistering cold to Columbus Circle.
Kitty is a huge help, as per usual!
I stand on my tiptoes and carefully roll up the tent-like flap to open my pop up. I try and make the flaps straight at the very top, but they’re always crooked and slope downward threatening to fall on anyone’s head at any second. It’s fallen on mine plenty.
I restock everything just so so it remains hidden and neat. This pop up is tiny – just 5 x 5! I try and straighten everything as much as possible. Ryan, who works for me and is an absolute neat freak (bonus points), will definitely disapprove if he shows up for his shift and the bow ties are not completely straight. He shows up, as per usual, 15 minutes early. As predicted, he is not pleased with my organizing skills. I run to the bank to get change for him for his shift.
I walk briskly back to my apartment. I refill the Ikea bags with ties, boxes, and bags, and head to Bryant Park to restock that shop. Walking past crowds of people with these two bags isn’t fun, especially as I pass Rockefeller with the mounds of tourists who just stand on the sidewalk blocking the way. I get to Bryant Park, stopping to get a coffee at the kiosk at the entrance of the park.
I’m open for business at Bryant Park. Let’s make some sales!
The crowd is starting to pick up a bit despite the high of nine degrees. I’ve already gotten questions asking if I have a tie with jumping goats on it or a tie with white stripes in lime green. I say I do not have that in my collection. When can they expect it? Ryan seems to be having a good day at Columbus. I put my hands in my pockets as they’re a nice shade of hot pink so that my fingers will work to package the next tie. The last customer was very patient as I kept flexing my hands to get feeling back into them.
Boy, it's cold. But hey, I’ve spotted three mullets. Three real ones.
More questions. Comments like, “$95 for a tie? I can buy one for $10 at Walmart!” These don’t offend me as much as they used to. Normally, when I educate people about the quality and where they’re made, they get it. It still might not be for them, but at least they know!
I get many more sales from different groups of people and I try and flitter to each group to make sure they don’t lose their patience and leave.
It can get rather chaotic in there.
They’re all so nice and patient. Must not be from New York. I get a sale from a guy who wants to buy his stuffed animal moose a few bow ties. I can’t make this stuff up.
See? Mr. Moose is wearing the kid’s Anchorman bow tie.
I am hungry. I close the shop really quickly and run across the street to get a salad. Thankfully, the lunch rush is over. I run back to the shop hoping I didn’t miss any big sales and eat my salad in the corner slowly, answering questions and helping customers. After about an hour of trying to eat this salad, I give up.
I get a text from my other part-time helper, Susan. She does not want to go to Columbus Circle today because it’s cold and she will only work at Bryant Park. Ryan is leaving to go to his other job right at 3:00. What can I do? I agree and wait for her to show up.
Susan is late. Ryan is texting me because he needs to leave. I text Susan to ask her where she is and I get no response.
Susan finally shows up muttering something about the 6 train. I gather my stuff and run out to the subway. I don’t have time to walk so I take two subways, two stops each to get to Columbus Circle. Ryan is rightfully frustrated. At least my shop neighbors are super friendly at Columbus Circle. For some reason at Bryant Park, no one talks to anyone!
It is cold! Despite all of my layers, I just can’t get warm. I watch the minutes go by ever. so. slowly. Slightly fewer questions here about the price. Talk to a really nice couple from Texas who bought from me last year and they need more ties this year. Have a few repeat customers from last week as well.
Keep getting play-by-play texts from Susan telling me every interaction she’s having. As I ask a customer to sign with their finger on my phone, I swiftly push her texts up so the customers won’t see them. My friend Michael stops by. He’s always such comic relief...He gets hoards of people into the tiny Columbus Circle pop up by telling people a mixture of, “Free ties,” “As seen on Oprah,” or “Please buy a tie so my kids can eat!” Of course, his spiel is way more extensive than I’m giving him credit for, but it makes everyone erupt into a fit of laughter (including all of my booth neighbors who have heard it for the zillionth time!)
I start tallying the online orders coming in. I have my work cut out for me tonight. This may be TMI but with this little tent structure, it’s soooo hard to go to the ladies room. I ask one of my neighbors to keep watch for me and I zip as fast as possible across three intersections into the mall. I go up to the third floor because there’s usually no line and the bathrooms are much cleaner. The feeling almost returns to my fingers before I’m back outside, heading back to my booth. The neighbor says some people wanted to buy something and they’ll be back. Shucks!
OMG! This day is just not ending. Susan texts me asking if we have certain ties in these different colors. I tell her no, that the ties on display are the only options. I sell the last of a few of the designs, almost sad to see them go. A customer asks to take a picture with me because they saw me on “Billion Dollar Buyer.” She posts it once she leaves and tags me in it. I look tired, which is code for…sh*t. Only one more hour.
With Tilman Fertita during filming of Billion Dollar Buyer
We get an email from Urbanspace telling us market hours have been extended today until 9:00 PM. You can hear the sighs. The market has started to die down as people head to dinners, the theater, and into their warm apartments.
One more hour.
I start packing and tidying up. I make a list of what ties are needed here tomorrow, noting we are out of a bunch of styles. As soon as my phone says 9:00, I start the process of tying up the tent again, which is even harder now that the temperature dropped further!
It takes about 10 minutes and then I go back no less than two times to make sure it’s really closed! I text Alex to let him know I’m on my way home so that he knows timing for dinner.
I get home and Alex is excited to see me. I’m grumpy, tired, and cold. Dinner smells great and I appreciate the effort he’s put in with the grocery shopping, working his own full-time job, and cheffing. He hands me a martini. I take my computer to the dining room table and start the process of printing out UPS labels…nine windows per label! He puts the dinner on the table and I eat it while packing/printing.
Orders ready to go out!
I’ve packed everything. I sit down to watch “The Holiday” with Alex. My phone pings. Another order. I package it, print out the labels and settle back on the couch. Ping. Ping. “NO!!!” I cry out. Alex does not feel sorry for me. Not one bit. He said, “Once the holidays are over, you’re going to wish you had orders pouring in like this.” He was right. This continues until about 1:00 AM.
What you can’t see is the inside of the box is lined with our Re-Rack (red party cup) design!
I go to bed, make a to-do list of what inventory and other things I need to bring to restock both locations tomorrow. I turn on “Survivor” on my iPad. It’s been a busy day, but a productive one.
- Miriam Zelinsky, Founder of Lazyjack Press
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