Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gearing up for the holidays?  Doing your holiday shopping?  Allow us to help. 

How does 55%-65% off sound? 

I know, right?!?!!!!

Bina Apparel is having the last sale of the season and it starts at 8pm tonight EST - Nov. 14th.  The sale runs for 3 days on Totsy

Sign in to early to get the best selection. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lookin' Good while Giving Back

Another on-line flash sale for you!!!! 

The Mini Social will be hosting an on-line flash sale for Bina Apparel this coming Thursday October 14th.  "The Mini Social is a private members only on-line boutique, featuring up to 60% off designer clothing and accessories for mom, baby and child."  They were one of the first companies to feature these kinds of sales!

A discount on designer duds isn’t the only thing you can feel pleased with yourself about. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to several favorite women’s and children’s charities, including the United States Fund for UNICEF and Shoe4Africa. It’s the social with a conscience.

You need to be a member to access the sale, so please go to to sign up!

See you there!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ready. Set. Launch!

13 days and counting!  13 days until the official launch of Bina Apparel!
We are so excited because this launch has an extra something added to it by way of  Zulily is a private sale site that offers temporary sales in limited quantities, aka "flash" sales,  on designer apparel and accessories for kids and parents.

**We are very proud to announce Bina Apparel as the FIRST company Zulily is doing a launch event with. **

What does that mean for you, you ask?  It means that you get to shop the Bina Apparel Fall 2010 collection BEFORE it hits the stores AND at a discount!!!!  (Can you see my smile?)

"With more of a vintage flare for the Fall 2010 collection, shoppers will find warm tones, exceptional fabrics, and incredible attention to detail on the garment construction. Details include pintucking, appliqué embroidery, pockets, and pleats.  In addition, Maria designed and created the tweed fabric found in the outwear pieces, offering not only a unique aspect, but also one of a kind.

Though zulily is known for their special online events and sales, this is the first launch event they have offered for their customers.  zulily Buyer Kat Leonard said of the Bina Apparel line launch event, "We're always excited to see new lines and innovative products hit the kids' market. It's fabulous to be able to offer our zulily members the first shot at a new product . . . and at a great value, to boot.”"
This is a member site which means that you need to sign up to access the sale.  Please email your address to and we will send you an invitation email. 

The dates of the sale are Monday August 23rd - Wednesday August 25th at

Thank you for all your support, everyone.  We will see you at on August 23rd!!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sell, sell, sell...DANCE!

Selling your own line is hard work but you don't have to do it alone.  

When I started thinking about what my sales and marketing plan should be I had a few people and places that I referred to help figure it out.  Here is some of the advice I received that I DIDN'T end up following and I'll tell you why.

1) I was advised to send personalized emails to the potential customers instead of mass emailing.  I started to do this but it was so incredibly time consuming and I never knew if anyone was actually opening the emails or going to the links I provided.  So after a bit of research I decided to sign up with an email marketing site.  There were a few things that I knew I wanted the main thing being TRACKING.  I wanted to know who was opening my emails, who was clicking the links, which links they were clicking, what they were looking at, for how long, etc...  What a great decision.  I was able to see all that and more.  Yes, you'll probably need to pay for the service but it's nominal really.  Especially when you realize that your time will be more productive because you'll know who and where to direct your time and efforts. 

2) Some people swore up and done that I HAD to do a show (by "show" I mean trade show).  Shows are expensive.  And assuming you are a new(er) company you probably don't have relationships with buyers yet.  This means you may be spending a lot of money to sit and hope that buyers will come by, see your things, like them and will spend time to talk with you about the collection and hopefully make a purchase.  When I was deciding whether or not to do a show I did a cost breakdown of how much the entire event would cost, wrote a list of worst case scenario outcomes (no orders by the end of the show), talked to a few people who have done a show and then made some decisions.  The short version of this story is that I realized that I was much better off using those funds to hit the road and try to get appointments with the buyers. I met with them in their stores which helped me to see their layout, how they merchandise and where my collection would fit.  Another reason I decided against doing a show this season was that many companies have slashed their travel budgets so they were not going to be attending shows that required travel.  The last reason is that I have been to many shows in my career and unless you have buyers that you can't easily see that are attending the show and you have actual appointments with it may not be worth your time and money.  There are a LOT of vendors at these shows.  A LOT.  And as a buyer it can be a bit overwhelming and draining.  So save your money and get to schlepping.  Your dollars will go a lot farther. 

3)  A few people had advised me to not hire a sales rep until I had sold $XX,XXX in goods.  So my original plan was to sell the line by myself.  I quickly, QUICKLY realized that I simply could not do it all.  Research, design, develop, work with pattern maker, source fabric and trims, run the business side of things, price production, manage cash flow, look for funding sources, plan production, AND SELL!  Selling requires a lot of phone calls, travel and follow up.  And assuming you are starting with zero accounts the time you spend cold-calling and following up, following up, following up...well, let me just say that I was finding myself getting up at 2 a.m. and working until 5 a.m. to get all the other things done.  Add being a wife and a mom to this list and I realized that something had to give. 

So I did some research and made a list of the reps that I wanted to approach to sell my line.  Man oh man, it was the best decision I made. 

This is not the first time that advice that was given to me that didn't feel quite right, I went with my instinct and it turned out to be an awesome move.  Sometimes we need to remember that we know what we know and that we learned it from experience.  

GO WITH YOUR GUT.  This is the most important thing anyone can tell you and it applies to everything.  Luckily my dad taught me from a very young age to trust my instincts and go with my gut.  He always said that it would rarely, if ever, steer you wrong. 

Want to hear the best news of all?  We are basically sold out for wholesale sales for this season.  I had set a cap for production quantities (make sure to do this!!!) and we met them.  

I don't know what a "jig" is exactly, but if you could see me I'm doing my version of one right now!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Fall 2010 has been nonstop these past couple of weeks. Thank you all so much for your support and patience.

The photoshoot was quite exhausting but went well. From there it was editing and graphics and layout for the linesheet/lookbook.

It is DONE! I'm ready to sell! You can view it by clicking below.

A quick overview - the coats are a wool/silk/cotton blend (with a few other bits mixed in) with 100% cotton flannel lining. Almost like wearing your favorite blanket! Some added details to the coats are pockets, locker loop, and a "this belongs to" tag sewn inside. The dresses are made with a cotton/lycra blend fabric that has a bit of a smooth matte finish and are fully lined. And everything can be layered with the cotton/lycra blend shirred turtleneck and shirred legging.

If you know of any buyers who are interested in the line please forward my information to them and/or email me their contact info so that I can send them the buyer's version. The website will be completed and up by the end of the week.

I hope you like the collection as much as I do. So far the reaction has been quite good. I am very proud of having accomplished all of this so far.

There were many sacrifices made by many people and the person I want to thank first and foremost is my husband. He has 150% faith in me and is so supportive. I couldn't ask for a better partner in life. Thank you, Dave.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Planning the shots...

This week is all about the sample completion and the photo shoot.  We are doing the shoot at the photographer's studio in Portland Maine.  On Wednesday I am driving up to meet a couple of potential models and do some fittings on them.  Hopefully my props will have arrived by then.  I'm excited to see them. 

Want to know what they are?  They are toadstool chairs!!!

How cute are these stools?  I was excited to find them.  We are going to keep the props simple so that the focus is on the garments. 

Speaking of the garments...I've been having mini heart attacks all day for the past few days.  Talk about challenges.  First, one of the trims is not working quite right and I had to have a not so enjoyable conversation with a company owner about quality assurance.  Then issues with embroidery hoops and such.  And then just all around miscommunication.  It is all ok now but man oh man.  Right now is NOT the time for things to not go according to plan!  Murphy's law, right?  Good thing I have also planned for the unexpected!  I really did! 

Ok, back to the photo shoot.  You would not believe the amount of work that goes into these things.  On top of having the samples sewn and ready for photography, you need the models, fittings, accessories (shoes, hair stuff, etc...), props, meetings about all of these things, and so on.

So here's a checklist of what you should do to make sure that the shoot is productive and you will get the shots/look you want.   You can find a great article on it here, but I had to do some changing to the list for my shoot because we're dealing with kids and parents. 
  • Choose photographer.  This in itself was an entire process that I'll get into at a later date.  Your budget will really help to narrow the field.  I was surprised by the range in prices that I received.  They were anywhere from $500 per day (which is 2 days of shooting) to $9000 for the entire project. 
  • Create a mockup of what you want your shots to look like - basically sketch out what you want your shots to look like.  My shots are for my lookbook and website so I have drawn out everypage with every shot.  I need to make sure that all styles and colors are represented but not every style in EVERY color.  Know what I mean?  So it's a lot of merchandising. 
  • Discuss with photographer the look you want.  Be sure to discuss props, backrounds, etc...  
  • Locate props
  • Locate models
  • Meet models and fit garments on them for any last minute adjustments.  Also, this is a good time to take notes and assign outfits to the models
  • Schedule day for shoot with photographer and models.  Remember to ask parents what they think is the best time for the kids.  You want them to be happy and not cranky, right?  So find out when their nap times are and work around it. 
  • Include accessories - shoes, hair accessories, jewelry, etc...
  • Basic necessities - snacks, drinks. 
  • Friends.  Have friends who do hair/makeup?  Ask them for help.  Have friends with a little free time?  Ask them to come and help with anything that comes up - steaming garments, setting up, tearing down, etc...  Offer them money, beer, dinner, wine, hugs - whatEVER it takes!!! 
  • Thank you.  And then say thank you to everyone whether they are paid help or not.  I'm always surprised by how often this part of the project is forgotten and overlooked. 

Thursday, January 28, 2010

You wanted a sneak peek?

I was schlepping through the fashion district again to the trim companies this morning when I received an email from someone introducing their services.  What caught my eye was the first sentence that began, "I discovered you in Hudson's and..."

Huh?  Discovered?  In Hudson's?  Hudson's is a childrenswear trade magazine and I didn't know they were planning on including Bina Apparel in their "Industry News" section.  I had submitted some information for consideration but never heard back.  I was disappointed, to say the least.

So I ran to every fashion book/magazine shop that I knew of in the area but no luck.  So I went online, saw they have a download of the current Feb'10 issue.  I downloaded it AND THERE WE ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF PAGE 11!!!!!!!!!

So, here is the sneak peek I promised.  It's the illustration that accompanied the blurb. I know it may be hard to see the detail...but you get a bit of an idea.  Hope you're as excited as I am about this!!!  Yaaay, Hudson's!  Thank you!

Screen shot 2010-01-28 at 10.36.08 PM
Screen shot 2010-01-28 at 10.56.41 PM

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Curiouser and curiouser!"

As I research through trend reports on fashion, colors, fabrics, retail, trims and a million other things I have found many things that inspire me. For this season it is definitely Alice in Wonderland. My most absolute favorite story of all time.

I LOVED to watch this cartoon growing up. All the details just fascinated me! The impeccably dressed rabbit. The mad hatter with his top hat and blazer. The deep and vibrant colors. The idea of things not being what they seem. Curiosity. Celebration of anything ("very merry un-birthday to me!") I love that.

This is my idea of childhood. A wonderful childhood!

Multi colored tweeds. Vintage inspired styles. Feminine dresses with large unexpected details. One of my favorite moments while creating this line is while fitting a couple of the dresses the fit model clapped her hands and said, "Oooooh! Pretty!" She ran her hands along the fabric and then she put her hands out to her sides and began to twirl. When she tried on a few of the coats she said, "SOFT!" as we put it on her. She was referring to the flannel lining. These moments make me smile.

If you have any pictures you'd like to send along to add to my growing wall of inspiration, please don't hesitate!!!

Fun Fact for the day: Would you like to know what the "10/6" on the card on the Mad Hatter's hat meant? Lewis Carrol said, "The Hatter used to carry about hats to sell: and even the one that he's got on his head is meant to be sold. You see it's got its price marked on it - a "10" and a "6" - that means "ten shillings and sixpence."

Friday, January 22, 2010

Good karma when you need it most

Don't you just love it when everything falls together nicely, as if you planned it that way? Karma, baby, karma.

The toddler and I arrived in front of our friend's apartment around 10:30pm and whaddya know there was a free parking spot sitting in front of the building! Anyone who has ever driven in the city understands my excitement.


I spent the first half of the day in the garment district. I love it there. I think I must have spent about 93.4% of the time that I lived in the city in that neighborhood. The energy is addictive. Just walking down the street you see so much going on. You look up into the windows and you see people hard at work doing all the millions of little things it takes to keep a line and company going. After work you mingle with others who are in the same industry and talk about the ups and downs of your work over a glass of wine or martini or a badly needed glass of water because you've been so busy all day you didn't get a chance to sit and drink any during the day.

I had a few appointments set up first thing the next morning to work with some trim vendors on applique design. The first place I went to ended up being a goldmine and I didn't need to go to any of the other appointments. I knew that this particular company had a large library from which to look through for inspiration and ideas and had planned it to be my first stop. The other 2 are much smaller companies at higher price points and were more of a backup plan just in case.

So I went to my favorite button shop Botani (on 36th b/w 7th and 8th) to work with my favorite button guy, Hector. Hector is awesome. He is patient and has a great eye for color and details. He also understands the limitations I have with childrens wear and the CPSIA requirements. In about 30 minutes we had defined all the buttons needed for the line. On top of the great customer service Botani is also very reasonably priced!

One word of advice for those of you who are going to be spending time in factories and such. Bring hand sanitizer. And a dust mask if you are so inclined. I know that the perception people have is that these places are glamorous offices with white walls where you are seated and given a cup of coffee while they cater to you.

Ahem. No. Not even close.

These places are filled with dust from the cutting and sewing and handling of fabrics and trims as well as the millions of containers that hold things. Many times you are directed to a rack or closet that holds their samples and you need to manually go through it. And remember that rents are high and space is at a premium so many places use as much space as they can. So, you may find yourself looking through a closet full of samples that is in the hallway and in front of the elevators. This is their "showroom". And every once in a while you may need to move out of the way for someone who needs to get by.

The toddler has asthma and I just happen to carry child-size masks in my bag (thank you, H1N1). She thinks they're cool looking because of the Disney characters on the front so she doesn't mind wearing them when I ask. Whew!

So, everything that I thought would take a minimum of 2 days to complete was done in 1 morning. What a great feeling that was. I should also add that my schedule is always at the mercy of my toddler's mood. So, I always have to plan extra time to figure in sleepiness, tantrums and such. :) I'm a momma and you gotta do what you gotta do!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Want to be in the know???

Here is an update on the website. It is in work and right now you can go to the page and sign up to be the FIRST to receive notice about the launch! No worries, it is my policy to not give out your information and I will not bombard your inbox.

So get over to and sign up!

On a side note, I was asked if there are any pictures of the line. Not yet! I will be posting some previews over the next couple of weeks. And when it's perfect, you'll know it. Oooooh, the suspense.

I have just arrived to NYC with toddler in tow. I have a few vendor appointments this morning to work on embroidery and applique designs and my best friend Heather will be on hand to help. More to come on this.

Let me tell you that there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING more valuable than friends and family who believe in you and are willing to take time to go to appointments to help collaborate. It helps that she is a very talented designer with many years experience!!! She has been a sounding board for many years. I'm very fortunate.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Here we go!

I finally did it! As some of you may (or may not) know, I have been working on a girl's clothing line for the past few months. This is something I've wanted to do for a long time and I've finally started making my dream a reality.

The name of the line is Bina Apparel and our first season is Fall/Winter 2010. WHICH MEANS that I will be showing and selling the line starting NEXT MONTH!!!!???!!!

My background in the apparel design and manufacturing is quite long (12 years!!) and my experience covers everything from concept to creation/production. I really do enjoy all parts of the process and I have been fortunate to have had wonderful mentors, teachers, coworkers and friends throughout the years show me the ropes. Without you I would not have had the confidence or the skills to finally do this.

But even with all this knowledge, training and experience I would be lying if I didn't tell you that I am nervous as heck...but oh SO excited.

I will be documenting the ups and downs of this new adventure in my life and share the journey of trying to successfully launch a new childrens wear line. I also hope that this blog will help other would-be entrepreneurs. Please follow my story and send me any questions or comments you may have. Oh, and encouragement! Please send this too!

So sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. It's going to be a fun one!