coffee and lost confidence
The names and locations have been altered for the art of storytelling. Any similarities to any specific persons, or you the reader, simply indicate that you too are a Silkie Girl.
My leg bounces as I wait for Martin to show up. It’s not everyday I get to meet with the founder of a prestigious clothing line and now the man in charge of our fashion week. I’m hoping that having him as mentor, though currently terrifying will help me be successful. This year has been a rollercoaster. From graduating uni, to starting this clothing company I swear I’ve aged 20 years - thank God for skin creams.
I sip my iced Americano as I continue to look around the coffee shop, out the window at the overcast day, hoping to see him pop up. Is it irrational of me to be worried he won’t show up? I’m such a small business that I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t want to waste his time…
“Harper?” I hear on my left.
Martin is dressed in a perfectly fitted gray check suit, with a white dress shirt and black tie, one button done. His handshake is firm, as I greet him.
Thank you so much for meeting me Mr –.”
“Please, just Martin will do.”
“Can I get you anything?” I offer before sitting down.
“I frequent this place enough that they should bring me my order shortly.” He smiles, sitting and adjusting his pant so that the pleat stays perfectly crisp despite his legs being crossed. He’s a vision of dapper in the black wicker chairs on the patio.
“So, Harper, tell me about your business? I’ve done some research but naturally having the creator tell me her vision will give me better insight.”
I swallow hard and take a breath. “Well, it’s a company called Dee Silkie – named after my mother who always wanted to design clothes but never felt it was feasible. I hand dye my own silks, locally. I also screen print designs onto fabrics, sort of like Kate Spade’s surface designing. I brought some samples, and I’m wearing some of it.” I say, gesturing to my legs. “These are the VanderSilk shorts in Stormi Gray. But I also have these.” I pull out a few items. “These are the Olsen slips in Millennial Pink, which I read was really in right now, and also black. And these are the Petra shorts in Aqua.” I wait as he stares at the items, not reaching over to touch them, simply staring as I hold my babies up to him.
“And why have you decided to meet with me?” He asks as a server hands him an espresso and nods at him, as if Martin is royalty.
My eyes widen. I wasn’t expecting the Spanish Inquisition. “Well, Martin, I sort of need a mentor. I’ve used a lot of my money starting up this company, getting the fabrics, getting sewers and I’m at a point where I’m not sure how much more I need to, or can, spend to really get this business off the ground. I guess I need a mentor, or some advice, on where to go from here.”
He says nothing, sipping the espresso.
Finally he opens his mouth. “In my honest opinion, yes these items are nice. It’s a luxurious fabric and doing surface design is an unrecognized method and I do love that you are doing that. However, you are in over your head.”
I take a breath. “That’s why I came to you.”
“First of all, at the price fabrics are, and how much of it you would need to have a full line created for market, or to show to major distributors you would need to have about two hundred thousand dollars.”
“Pardon me?” I say, almost choking on Americano.
He nods. “Look, I can help mentor you but don’t expect your business to become popular overnight. I’ll assist you with some branding, and we can see what we can do. Do you have staff? Can you affordstaff?”
Ouch. That one hurt.
“I have an intern currently.” I nod, pulling my auburn hair into a pony tail.
“That’s all you have? You and an intern and casual sewers?”
I nod meekly. “I just moved here so my budget’s fairly -.”
“I don’t want excuses, I want productivity. You need to find a business manager – someone who can over see your PR, getting you into events, emailing sponsors, emailing venues et cetra. You need to line up shoots and create a look book, so models will be needed you see. More than what an intern who knows nothing can provide.” He sets down his saucer with a clang.
“Yes. Okay.” I nod, jotting this down in the notebook that’s been in front of me.
“Once you have these key players lined up, call me back and I can accompany you to some of the more difficult locations. If there’s an event you need to get into let me know and I’ll see what I can do, but no promises.”
I nod as he says each word. “Thank you again Martin for meeting with me. I appreciate it.”
“Look, you have good items, and I see potential but you are going to have to work hard. Honestly I would consider getting a job to help with these finances. I know you want to be an entrepreneur but sometimes you need to work a shit job to achieve your dreams.” He pushes away from the table and stands. “I must go to another meeting, it was a pleasure Harper. Keep in touch.”
I shake his hand, smiling despite feeling like a semi-truck hit me. “I will, Martin. Thank you so much.”
And just like that he’s gone, and I can’t help feeling he took my dreams with him.
I pay for both of our coffees and start walking home, trying to hold in the tears of frustration that have welled up. My mom wanted this so bad, and she never followed her dream because of everything Martin just said. I really believe that I can do this but how can I if I’m living on minimal money a month. Living in a big city is expensive and so is starting over and starting a company.
When I finally walk into my apartment I let myself crumple onto the couch, feeling defeated. I don’t want to work a day job. I want people to be as passionate about my brand as I am. I really feel people are intimidated by silk and if they just saw how easily cleaned silk is, they would love my stuff as much as I do.
Kicking off my shoes I wander into the bathroom and stare at my reflection. I see my mother in myself, in the way my hair as always been a lion’s mane and I can feel her wanting this dream – her dream – for me.
“I can do this.” I say to myself, setting my hands on the white vanity. “You’ll post an add on some job board website. Empty your god damn bank account if you have to Harper – you can’t give up yet.”
I might feel defeated, but I am resilient and I will make Dee Silkie a household name.