Behind-the-scenes with Diana of DDCC -- activewear equally suitable for running as it is for eating ice cream
I first met Diana at party near Dolores Park. We instantly bonded over It's-Its, trending colors, crazy sew shop experiences, magical fabric finds and the reality of starting your own business. She shared her secret of keeping it all together (3pm runs!) and we’ve kept in touch. She just launched her kickstarter campaign today to fund her Spring 2014 line. It’s incredibly inspiring (and rare) to know for a fact that this designer/business owner knows what she’s doing!
And of course, her line rocks. It’s slimming and fun, technically equipped to handle any kind of physical stress (just look at those beautiful seams) and you can even customize your fabric selection. I can’t wait to workout (or eat out) in DDCC’s upcoming line. Back her project on Kickstarter here.
Here’s our interview with Diana:
What first attracted you to fashion? You talk about your first hoodies having an unintentional use -- what did you originally design them for? How have you used feedback to influence your designs?
I started sewing at the age of 13 when I took a stuffed animal making class in middle school. My grandmother had always sewn clothes for my mom, and my mom for me, so they fostered a new found eagerness I had for creating garments. When I came out with the first line of hoodies they were designed to be worn every day with skirts and jeans. Soon I found that a lot of women were using them for working and and loungewear. This mainly influenced the garments I designed to go with the hoodies. Originally I thought I would be making jeans, and now I'm making yoga pants instead.
Where did you learn to sew? pattern making? business?
I refined my sewing skills and was introduced to pattern making at Cañada College. I fell in love with pattern making and transferred to the Apparel Arts Program, where I ended up taking an Apparel Production Seminar. It was there that I learned you could produce clothing in San Francisco, which I thought was so cool. I started the business, enrolled in the Business Planning Course through the Renaissance Entrepreneurship center, and have been learning how to run it ever since. In February of 2013 I was accepted into the Fashion Incubator at Macy's Union Square, and have been under their incredible support and guidance ever since.
Where are you from? Where did you grown up? Who are your biggest influencers?
I'm originally from the Chicago area, and half of my family still resides there. I grew up in the country with a forest in my backyard, where I played every day. I've had many over the years, but right now I'd have to say my main influencers are the mentors in the FiSF, and a core group of friends who are also my customers. You can really tell someone wants you to succeed when they are willing to give you honest feedback on your designs.
Why do you work out? Where is your favorite place to workout?
I've always had a temper, and used to stay angry for days when someone pissed me off. Now that I've been running I hardly ever get angry, and I can work out the day’s frustrations. I also I sleep better, feel more comfortable in my clothes, and can eat way more. It's awesome. What I need to focus on now is learning how to slow down, do more yoga, and meditate. My favorite running spot is the hills in Glen Park, and my favorite yoga class is Ana-Mari Hamada's all levels Iyengar class at the Yoga Loft.
When did you decide you wanted to have a whole line of activewear?
During my time at the FiSF. When I started I had just finished the product development for a yoga pant. It was such a hit that I decided to design a complete collection in technical fabrics, for running and sweaty activities.
How has your experience at FiSF (Fashion Incubator San Francisco) helped you?
My experience at the FiSF has been invaluable. The first thing they did was tell me to put the breaks on the business side of things and to focus on designing. Having the mental and physical space to design my product pushed my creativity to its limits, raising my line to an entirely new level. Now my collection is well-merchandised and impeccably engineered, and will be the basis for future collections. The FiSF has also taught me how to market and sell the line, and has provided a ton of PR opportunities. (note: FiSF is now accepting applications for 2014 residents--apply here).
What inspires you?
I'm a pattern geek. I like to design clothing that is flattering, which is why you see all of the angled lines, which are lengthening/slimming. I also wanted to design something that was more sophisticated and San Francisco. The majority of activewear is neon and splattered with logos, and I find it unappealing and cheesy. I'm really proud of how sleek this new collection is, and how well it fits!
How do you keep it all together?
I run, and I do yoga. I also have a huge support group of friends and family. But when I'm frustrated or freaking out about DDCC, I go for a run and it all works itself out, and I come back clear headed and revitalized.
Where will you be selling your line post-kickstarter?
Online at ddccsf.com, and at various retailers. Both SecessionSF and Paragraph Boutique have placed orders on some of the tencel pieces, which I can't wait to show in the spring.
How are you producing your line? How will you ensure quality product? How will you make sure it's produced within your projected timeline?
I'm producing my designs at a factory in San Francisco. It's the same factory that did all of my sample making, so we already worked out all of the quality issues. The factory has it's own QC station, and I will stop by constantly throughout production. I 'm giving myself ample time on the production calendar to ensure I meet my deadline.
What advice would you give to aspiring designers?
Get your business plan together before you decide to launch your own line. Find at least 3 industry specialists who have done what you plan to do, and have them go over your business plan. Pay them if you have to! The advice you get will save you a ton of money in the long run.
What advice would you give to aspiring workouters?
I think a key step in starting a routine is to work out at least one weekend day. During the week it's too easy to say we don't have time, so remove that excuse by fitting it in on a Saturday or Sunday. Make plans to do this with a friend so you can't flake. Once you've got this down you can start adding days, and tagging along with your more active friends who will inspire you to push yourself harder. The important part is it has to fit in with your life .
Back Diana and DDCC on Kickstarter here.