8.12.2013

Interlude - Major Life Accomplishment Here People

Since childhood, I've wanted nothing more than to make clothing. I'd sketch outfits for hours on end in my bedroom, elbows scratched from the itchy carpets of my apartment floor. I pitched it to my father once, a twenty-something punk dude whose idea of fashion was a heavily-studded leather jacket covered in band patches. "It's clothes for kids BY kids!" I explained, showing him my crude sketches clutched tightly in chubby child-sized hands. "I think it's a great idea," he replied. "You are so talented!" But then, much to my disappointment, he picked me up, put me on his knee, and asked if I wanted to go get ice cream. 

At the time, it was hard for me to understand why he wouldn't spring into action at that moment, taking the sketches to someone -- a big company perhaps -- who could bring them to life, why I couldn't have a clothing empire established in time for my 6th birthday party. "It only works if I'm still a kid when it comes out!" I thought, exasperated by the apparent lack of clarity in my explanation of the marketing plan. It wasn't until years later, teenaged Madeline fighting with her mother's sewing machine as hot pink faux fur flew about her bedroom, that the reality of my dreams set in. Making clothing is fucking hard. And selling it is even harder.

My dream evolved. One day, I would go to San Francisco and get my degree in Fashion Design. Every step in my adolescence was in the interest of bringing me closer to that point. And when I finally graduated from college, $30k deep in student loan debt with my monstrous San Francisco rent looming over me like a raincloud from hell, I couldn't help but ask, "Well, what the fuck do I do now?" San Francisco is small, seven miles across by seven miles deep, with few opportunities in fashion. Gap. Old Navy. Modcloth. The possibilities were hardly thrilling. I managed to get a contract assignment with Levi's, an amazing company steeped in tradition and good values, but when Mervyn's folded later that year, San Francisco's tiny marketplace was inundated with overqualified and desperate employees. The remaining Bay Area clothing companies went on hiring freezes. Contracts were not renewed. "We'd love to keep you on," I was told, "but the reality is that we can get someone with ten years of experience who will work for $12 an hour right now." My heart sunk into the pit of my stomach. 

After a series of ill-conceived attempts at making something for myself in San Francisco's dying fashion world, I gave in and moved to Los Angeles, a land of endless opportunities and similarly endless strip malls. The topography depressed me. The people, however, did not. 

I stalked Brit on the internet before I actually met her. She was from my hometown, but we hadn't known each other there. We had mutual friends. Brit ran her own eBay store and I was hopelessly bored of the 9-5 marketing job I had landed in the designer jewelry world. Together, we dreamt up a scenario wherein we could sell vintage and, on our own timing and budget, release a few styles of our own designs without the pressure to invest thousands of dollars in proper line development.  Much to my surprise, our plan worked, and it worked well. We sold $3,000 of merchandise the first hour our store was open. It wasn't enough to make us profitable, but it was enough to make us excited.

Now, a year later, www.shoptunnelvision.com is still going strong, and our little line, Bad Vibes, is continuing to grow. We don't have a lot of money to make everything our hearts desire, but we make the most of what we have. We change our patterns a little bit here and there. We make silhouettes we believe in, and then update the colors in fabrics we love. It's a slow process, and we won't be turning a profit for a few years yet, but we're working towards something, and there are no words for how rewarding that feeling is. 

I think there are milestones in every pursuit, a moment where you look at what you've accomplished and think, "If I saw myself do this ten years ago, I would be damn proud." And today, when I went on Dolls Kill, one of my favorite clothing websites, and saw Bad Vibes lookin' back at me, I realized today is one of those milestones. It might not be a lot, but it's something, and it's something to be proud of. 

So, that all brings me to this: Bad Vibes is now for sale on Dolls Kill. And while Bad Vibes items sold on Tunnel Vision are handmade to order, Dolls Kill has them all available right now, ready to ship in 24 hours, still ethically handmade here in Los Angeles but with all of the wait time already handled. They have four color options available now, with more colors and styles to follow:


You might look and think, "Pfft big deal..." but 'm basking in "major life accomplishment" mode right now. It's nice to know that 16 year-old Madeline would be high-fiving the shit outta 26-year old Madeline right now if she had the chance. I hope one day, 36-year old Madeline will be saying the same thing about me.