“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” – Steve Jobs, Commencement Speech at Stanford University.
Everything happens for a reason. You may not realize it at that moment, but little do you know, the universe is balancing your life out. If I had not attended Notre Dame High School, I wouldn’t have met Elaine. If I had never met Brian (my husband) and his friends, I wouldn’t have become good friends with Sarah. If I had not worked with Sarah on our previous start-ups, I wouldn’t have known Lenn or Marie as I do today, my trusted business partners and friends. And, if I had listened to my parents in college and majored in accounting, I wouldn’t be the graphic designer I am today. Looking back, I realize these were the “dots” that would pave my future and lead me to Lotus Premium Denim.
Growing up, I always had a love for fashion. Starting at Kindergarten, my mom would go to work early, leaving me with my dad in the mornings. On school picture days, my dad had no clue how to dress me, so I had to dress myself. Needless to say, my affair with fashion started then. I remember wearing a lot of party dresses to school on random days of the week. At a very young age, I began using fashion as a way of expressing my creativity and style. While others had the gift of gab, mine was fashion. For me, it was my outlet. Later on as a teenager, I started paying more attention to the fashion around me. I saw it very much like art; everyone is a blank canvas. The clothes, accessories, and make-up you wear paint a story about who you are and the kind of life you aspire to lead. My appreciation for beauty started with fashion, and led me to my love for art. In fact, art was my favorite subject in school, but it wasn’t until college that I discovered it could also be my career. Art became my profession and I began developing a keen eye for media, digital, and print design.
I’m obsessed with the notion that you can create and make an idea come to life. This happens all the time in art. Something as simple as a logo or design can communicate a message. My obsession with creativity led me onto my entrepreneurial journey. In fact, it prepared me for it.
It was March of 2011 when Sarah asked me, “Do you have issues finding jeans that fit you right?” Being 5’2, I answered, “I hate shopping for jeans. They never fit me and they’re always too long. I always have to get them hemmed.” She had a big smile and at that moment I knew she was onto something. She told me about her idea of creating a new denim line, but not just any denim line, a denim line designed to fit the average height (including us petite) women. The idea was so simple and definitely needed. I tried on a sample, and the fit was so perfect. And, I didn’t have to hem it! She wanted to call it “Philosophy Denim”, but later told me it would be called “Lotus Premium Denim”.
The symbolism of the lotus flower stuck with me. It wasn’t because it was a sacred flower or the fact that it grew in mud…it was deeper than that. It was a symbol of the beautiful struggle that we are all going through. Right then and there, I knew that what we were about to create was more than just a denim line; we were a brand with a message. Sarah told me about her vision of the lotus flower and asked me to help her create a logo. With those thoughts in mind, I wanted to create a logo that was simple, yet powerful and memorable. A week later I showed Sarah a couple of designs I came up with. But in presenting my ideas to her, I somehow already knew which one she’d love. And then, a couple of tweaks later, there it was…our logo. When you see a trademark or a logo, you should already know its message and what it stands for. I wanted our logo be strong enough to stand on its own and tell our story.
I am often reminded of a quote in my favorite story, The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” We always want things to work out, but we can never control when and how it exactly unfolds. Maybe it was bad timing. Maybe it was pre-destined. But I feel that all our previous ideas had to fail, in order for this one to succeed. From those failed start-ups, we got smarter at executing Lotus Premium Denim. Our failed attempts helped us get it right this time around because we knew what to avoid. Even though we made mistakes along the way, we also saved ourselves a lot of heartache and missteps too. We also needed those experiences to determine our persistence and to test our friendships along the way. This was a group of women that did not give up. Although we were all unsure of how to launch a denim line, we were up for the challenge - mainly because we were addressing our own denim fit problem. We’re a team that loves learning and building things from scratch. And when we’re together, it feels like we can accomplish anything we set our minds to. A combination of the right idea, presented at the right time, and executed by the right team is what makes a perfect storm.
Those early months were chaos. We held private focus groups with our friends and family. Through this, we determined our color theme and design aesthetics for our jeans. We held our first photo shoot with our friends Helena and Becca. We were designing our own website, filling it in with content, copyright, and photos. Around the same that I was putting together the creative collateral for our November launch, Elaine was working on the venue. While Lenn was working out the inventory and production logistics, Marie and Sarah were working the clientele list. But none of us had experience with event management and our impending launch had to be amazing. Had it not been for Elaine, the experience felt at our Launch, as well as the numerous trunk shows and fashion shows we’d later be hosting, would not have been as memorable and on par to our brand messaging. A great brand does three things – first, it inspires people, second, it solves a real problem, and third, it delivers a great experience. Elaine was the final piece to our puzzle.
Tune into our final chapter next week, and see how Elaine became a Lotus Woman.