Somehow, 2018 is already just around the corner, but I can't help taking one last look at what has been Sugar Trampoline's best year yet!
2017 saw growth in ways I could never imagined, with the highlight being a very successful time vending at the Tea Party Club lolita fashion event back in August. Dream Masquerade Carnival was our very first time taking part in a fashion show (click here to watch our part!), and we had an absolute blast!
Here are the beautiful ladies who modeled for Sugar Trampoline. Photography by Emily Valentine Photography.
What a dreamy event! The atmosphere was lively and positive, and my brand's stall and fashion show outfits were received with so much warmth and enthusiasm. I got to work with three amazing models (one of whom owns their own wonderful indie brand, After Midnight), who were so fierce on the catwalk and were so much fun to hang out with before and after the fashion show.
I feel incredibly privileged to have been invited to take part in such a wonderful celebration of lolita fashion in the UK, and am excited to get our capsule Cherry Skirt collection finalised and launched in full in the new year.
This brand has always been a labour of love for me, and is something I dreamed about doing since I was in my mid teens! I must thank everyone who has supported Sugar Trampoline from the bottom of my heart; you have all helped to make my dreams come true! Let's make 2018 even better!
But for now, goodbye, 2017, and thank you. You were absolutely amazing.
It seems like everyone is at it-- launching some sort of internet-based entrepreneurial venture, with seemingly no qualms about the process. As with anything people share of themselves on social media, we should begin by assuming that everyone is putting their best faces forward. Not everyone is willing to share their setbacks, self doubt, or those days where absolutely everything seems to be going wrong. Because of this, it's very easy to compare oneself to others and wonder why seemingly everyone but yourself has their lives together, and are happy and successful 24/7. Deep down, we all know that this is in no way the reality, but lack of confidence can do funny things to our perception of others!
In this post, I'm going to share a few lessons I've learned in the time I've been running Sugar Trampoline-- not with the aim of discouraging people from starting their own business (truly, there is something so wonderful about doing something on your own terms) but with the aim of putting across that things aren't always plain sailing! Let's start!
You're going to have to advertise what you do, and you're going to hate doing it.
Nobody likes having ads shoved in their faces constantly, and when you find yourself sharing your site links and telling friends about what you do, you're going to feel self conscious, and afraid of coming across like you're an annoying sales person. The thing is, nobody can buy from you if they have never heard of your brand in the first place. The best thing you can do is strike a balance. Don't be that person who posts in facebook groups every single day and gets their friends to do the same on your behalf. It looks spammy, unprofessional, and worst of all, desperate. Try rotating sales posts in different groups. Always link to your website in your social media profile. Wear the items you make! Keep at it.
You will learn so much about yourself.
Prior to starting Sugar Trampoline, I didn't know that I could be so self-motivated, create my own schedule, file tax returns, confidently handle sales at large scale events, and so much more. One thing I will say, though, is that the process of getting a business up and running may give you a newfound perspective on other areas of your life, for better, or for worse. I'd say for better, in the long run. For myself, I realised the ways in which I prefer to work, and the kind of environment that gets the best out of me. I realised I'm happiest when I'm able to be creative and effect visible change, which is knowledge I can take with me beyond this business, and to other aspects of my working life.
You're going to spend a lot of time wondering if it's worth it.
Unless you get a lucky break, for example, an influential person promoting your business to a large audience, or you have a large follower count on your social media, chances are that the growth of your business will be slow. Agonisingly so. You're going to question whether you missed the prime time for launching a business like yours. You're going to feel priced out of conventions and events as a newcomer lacking the capital. You're going to wonder if you've been wasting time on your venture when you could have been doing something else. Well, maybe you could have been. But this is the path you took, and there's absolutely no point being angry at yourself for making decisions when you didn't have your current hindsight to aid you with! Your comfort will be knowing you took a chance, instead of sitting around wondering "what if?" It's those missed opportunities we regret the most, not those risks that didn't quite pay off.
The excitement when you receive order notifications never goes away.
Every single person who enjoys what it is you do enough to want to buy their own piece of the action will bring you so much joy. Packaging their orders is exciting, as is watching their parcel carried off to be processed at the post office. There is a huge sense of fulfillment that comes from seeing your product go off into the world, and that's when you know you're passionate about what you do, and couldn't give it up even with all the set backs you encounter. This brings me to perhaps the most important point...
Unless you're passionate about what you do, your brand will not last.
I can think of so many independent fashion labels, within the Japanese street fashion scene in particular, which have closed down within a couple of years of opening. Perhaps they became disillusioned by the lack of significant profit, or perhaps they realised the return for their hard work would never live up to what they set out to achieve. From day one I knew not to put all my eggs in one basket, and that unless I saw dramatic growth, this brand could only ever be a "side hustle", and that's perfectly ok! My brand is most definitely a labour of love, and it's something I keep doing because it brings me joy to do so. If you do not have this inherent sense of enthusiasm for your product, and cannot love the process regardless of whether or not you will make significant amounts of money from it, it's unlikely you will have the motivation to keep it going for very long.
I hope you enjoyed this reflective post of my experiences running Sugar Trampoline so far! I'd love to hear any words of wisdom other business owners might have, and hope we can learn from one another and get a discussion going. Thanks for reading!
After the massive rush leading up to Hyper Japan, it's a little surreal for it to be all over now! The 15th-17th July came and went much more quickly than I could have ever dreamed of, and now I'm back here to give you a quick account of how it went!
We experienced three super hectic, exciting, and interesting days at the Olympia Grand, where we met lots of people we wouldn't have otherwise, and picked up so much knowledge and wisdom from the convention veterans around us. The event itself was really fun to experience, with a good atmosphere and lots to see and do, though it wasn't anywhere near as Japanese fashion heavy as I hoped it would be. A highlight for me was the performance by Charisma.com, this really amazing rapping and DJ-ing duo, who really got the energy going in the crowd as we danced along to their fun music! They definitely helped to keep my spirits up over the exhausting, hot and stuffy convention weekend!
I am really happy with the way my stall turned out! Those metal display grids are a lot heavier to carry than I expected, but they were worth struggling on public transport with to have my bloomers and berets presented so nicely! There's things I would change, of course, but for my first time at a big convention, things went surprisingly well, without any major hitches! In future, I would love to have a backing board behind me, as I found my table's position at an awkward T-junction of sorts meant people got easily distracted by whatever they could see behind me.
An important thing I learnt over that weekend was that selling in person is a whole different game to selling online. The trends I experienced with my online sales were totally different to what I experienced at the convention, where my most popular items were my earrings and hair bows (two items I actually stopped listing online for a while due to lack of interest!) It seems that in person, people want to pick up lots of little things, so I am thinking of expanding my jewellery and hair accessories range. I returned home full of new ideas I'm really excited to try out!
Generating sales proved to be a real learning curve, and I got to figure out how to chat to prospective customers, and how to create an appealing stall layout and general shopping experience. The crowds I experienced were, for the most part, quite mainstream, and I think my unashamedly bright, alternative stall, along with many others, was something they didn't quite understand. I think the event went well for those who are big brands or regulars who have already amassed a large following, which is what I'm hoping to do with time! Still, I got many business cards out there, and made lots of sales that wouldn't have happened had I not been at the event! I even got to use my PayPal card reader for the first time, which was honestly so much fun and made me feel like the owner of a real bricks and mortar shop! Most importantly, I enjoyed my convention vending experience, and it's something I would love to do more of in future!
Thank you so much to all of my friends who came to check out my stall over the course of the event! It was wonderful chatting to you all! And of course, many thanks to those who purchased Sugar Trampoline items! ❤
It's been a little while since I last wrote here, and that's because I've been ridiculously busy! Things are starting to come together for Hyper Japan (finally!) and I have already started packing up my stock ready to take with me. The last couple of months have passed in something of a daze of crafting, making supply orders, posting out customer commissions, re-vamping my online storefronts... you name it! And now, there are only a few days left until I showcase my wares at the biggest event I've done so far. "Nervous" doesn't even cover it!
The run up to this convention definitely hasn't been plain-sailing. There's been setbacks, such as overlocker disasters, important supplies out of stock when I really needed them, Airbnb crises, and all manner of freak-outs. It's a good thing I am so passionate about what I do, otherwise, I'm not sure how I would have gotten through all of this drama. Searching through various forums tells me these anxiety-inducing moments are all a standard part of being a convention vendor. Lucky us!
Seeing as my main suitcase is going to be packed to the brim with stock, and I'm going on public transport, I have had to learn how to pack multiple lolita outfits in a small weekend bag. I'm still not sure how I managed it but I am rather proud of this achievement! It's amazing what you can do when you have absolutely no other choice (Well. I could just not wear such frilly, space-wasting clothes but that wouldn't be any fun, now, would it?) My coordinates for the weekend are all planned out and ready to go, which already makes me feel a bit less panicked.
One of my outfits will feature a skirt I made myself, in a design I may stock here in future depending on how things go. I am super into berry prints so I couldn't resist making something with this fabric.
Now, onto titular topic of this post!
Hyper Japan is taking place in the Olympia Grand, a gorgeous space with a vaulted roof and detailed Victorian architecture. You can find the Sugar Trampoline table on the gallery level, which overlooks the main ground floor space. We've got lots of super cute items on the go, such as bloomers, berets, hair bows, lolita headdresses, and kitschy earrings, so do come over for a chat and a browse!
Until then, I gotta run because I still have a ton of things left on my to-do list. Fingers crossed I can get myself organised in time! ❤
My goal for 2016 is to really put myself and my brand out there, and what better way to do that than to vend at a big convention!? The first convention I'll be doing is Hyper Japan!
Hyper Japan is the largest Japanese culture event in the UK, and last year saw an attendance of 86 000 people! This will be both my first time doing an event on this scale, and my first time at Hyper Japan altogether! Naturally, I am incredibly excited!
I have already started preparing the pieces I will be bringing along with me. Expect a rainbow of bloomers, a multitude of cute berets, a wide range of accessories, and of course, lots and lots of hairbows!
I hope to see you there! I will be sure to update once the final table arrangement has been decided so that you know where to find us! <3
Hi everyone! Sorry it's been a while since my last update but I bring good news! Sugar Trampoline is one of the raffle prize donators for the upcoming Tea Party Club anniversary event, Regalia!
Every September, the UK's oldest and largest Lolita fashion community comes together to celebrate the anniversary of its creation. This year, Japanese brand Innocent World will be the main attraction, with many other brands, artists, photographers, and jewellery makers in attendance! One thing I absolutely love about these events is finding out about new independent brands from different countries, not to mention seeing everyone's gorgeous outfits! I am incredibly excited to be attending this event, and happy to have been able to contribute to the raffle.
Regalia is set to be a truly amazing day for Japanese street fashion enthusiasts alike! I can't believe it's only next week! I think it might be time for me to start thinking about what I'm going to wear...
See you next time <3
I have a super exciting announcement to make! As of today, Sugar Trampoline will be available to buy in a physical store!
Creative Crafts is a shop which hosts a small community of different artists, from fashion designers to painters, jewellery makers to crocheters. In this space you can find a wide variety of items, some of which will make amazing gifts for loved ones, and some you will simply fall in love with yourself! There is also an upstairs area to check out, and many of the artists are happy to take custom orders if you see something you like, but want in a different colour or size.
I am so excited to be part of this talented group of people! It's wonderful to see an independent shopping arcade keep going in an ever-corporate world, and I can only hope this community will continue to grow and thrive.
Please do visit the shop the next time you're in Reading!
Creative Crafts Boutique is now closed. I had an amazing time having my collection there and being part of a handmade community collective. Hopefully we will see other incentives for locally sourced talent in the future, adding something a little different to the high street!
On Sunday 22nd February, Sugar Trampoline had a stall at the Reading Vintage Fair. I decided to bring along a bit of everything, so the stall was very varied and would hopefully appeal to a lot of people. I practised my booth setup a few times before the big day, wanting to fill the space more effectively than I had at my previous stall, and also worked hard sewing some new items ready for the event. I was able to purchase (very cheaply!) a folding 4ft table with a handle, so transporting this was a breeze. I really liked the size when fully extended and after covering the top with some cute floral fabric, I was pleased with the end result!
Improvements I would make include having a brand banner, and also a clothes rail. I did the best I could by hanging items from the table, and having a particularly heavy cardigan folded on top. Overall, I think the stall was very accessible as I had all the main bases covered, including my proudly displayed PayPal card reader sticker so people would know I accepted card payments!
But now for the important part... how successful was the day? Well it wasn't, really. Pretty early on into the event it began to pour with rain, so what was shaping up to be a fairly regular stream of people coming in for a browse quickly dwindled into the pitifully irregular passer by. There was little interest in the stall and I think that, despite one other stall owner knowing what sweet lolita was, both this venue and this area are not really suited to bright colours, accessories, and "kawaii" items. One thing I'm beginning to notice from attending vintage events is that only a small number of the people who attend them are actually into alternative fashion. They simply like buying clothes that happen to be vintage, and anything appearing to be outside of the mainstream doesn't really come into it.
It is tough not having your work appreciated, but I think it's something we all go through at some point, especially if you are an artist of some description. I do have some vintage clothes in stock, and a part of me can't help wondering if it is something I should focus more on. Vintage events are becoming a big deal up and down the country, with the famous ones having a particularly high turn out. But somehow, I can't seem to get on board. Maybe it's unrealistic, but I am determined to stick to reaching for my end goal, the one I have been dreaming of for so long, which is to sell clothing that I designed and made.
I know I have to push any doubts aside and remain optimistic for the future. The important thing is that I learned a lot of valuable information by having a stall at this event. I believe that it is by no means time to give up-- instead, I need to recharge, re-evaluate, and figure out what to try next. The vintage "scene" clearly isn't for me and isn't going to reach the right people. I look forward to finding an event which is more in line with my customer base, and also getting more stock made!
Things can only be better next time :)
We have some exciting news! Sugar Trampoline will be at the next Reading Vintage Fair!
Even before starting my brand I loved this event. The Purple Turtle isn't a huge venue with thousands of people crammed in so tight you begin to feel incredibly claustrophobic and stressed (unlike some of the more well-known country wide vintage fairs). Here, you can find a really good variety of stalls, ranging from handmade clothing and accessories, handmade goods, homewares, makeup, handbags, and of course, vintage clothing! What's more, it costs nothing to have a browse.
Why not come and pop in this Sunday 22nd February if you'll be in the area? We will have a table packed full of favourites such as our embellished berets, collars, hair bows, canotiers, jewellery and our latest bloomers!
Hope to see you there!
This whole bloomer-making expedition has definitely been a learning curve. I went from a design that was good but had a few minor construction issues to iron out, to bloomers I want to keep rather than sell! I must make sure to sew a few more for myself. But in the mean time, everything is destined for you guys and the feedback so far has been positive!
The first pair I had up for sale were these simple blue ones. The overlocking was pretty amateur but they were functional, with tidy elastic channels and an adorable ribbon arrangement if I do say so myself! These are what I'm calling my "budget" bloomers due to the cheaper fabric and lack of lace trim, and I figure I will always have a more affordable line for those who just want function over fanciness.
This next pink pair were a little more ambitious. I refined my seam technique so that the ruffles no longer had any exposed overlocking, and I experimented with crochet lace. The end result? Super cute bloomers that are comfy and high quality 100% cotton fabric! These were snapped up by one of my best friends, which I was pleased about as I had her in mind when I made them! I really love this design and will definitely be continuing it, simply switching up the colours of the bloomers, lace, and ribbons I use.
My most recent pair are these! A red gingham print with simple ribbons hand-stitched to it, and a white crochet lace hem. These were an absolute pain to make as the gingham made my eyes go funny and it was incredibly difficult to tell if I was sewing straight or not! Still, I think the drama was worth it as gingham is a favourite print of mine and I'm pleased with the end result. I hope someone else will fall in love with these, too! (and if not, I have no qualms whatsoever about keeping them for myself!)
So, where to go from here? Well, I do still have a rather vivid teapot print I want to try out! I was initially surprised by how few UK shops seem to sell bloomers, but I think I get it now. They are fiddly and take a lot of practise to get just right (well, for me at least!) Certainly, I don't want them to be the only clothing item I make and sell, but I am finding them a lot more fun than expected and am excited at the prospect of offering lots of different colours and styles.
I want to expand towards other things. Cute casual lolia inspired dresses, aprons to wear for meals or cooking or anything messy that might put your frills at risk... I have a lot of ideas and I'm hoping I'll have them figured out soon! But until then, I present to you my cute comfy bloomers, which you can wear under your lolita dress, lounge about the house in, or try out over a pair of tights as adorable shorts!