Over the past while, you have asked us some great questions on social media and on our online survey. Now we have some answers for you straight from the source. Brandy founder of Franc chimed in with her insight!
What other brands and products are being pared with your basics in photos?
When it comes to our pictures, the other items our products are styled with belong to the models. I always ask models to bring their fave items, and we style our basics around those. We think photos always turn out best when the person feels comfortable and at their best. Plus, real-life style forever!
Why don't you buy enough stock? The sizes I need are never in stock when I want them!
Every season we increase our stock levels, and we try to buy enough of each size. (The ratios between sizes are always changing based on sales and what sells quickest). Still, sales are often higher than I could have expected, and we simply sell too quickly (sometimes on a size basis). As a small business, this is a good problem but also frustrating as it is so hard to be good at keeping things in stock while trying to do it all sustainably. It is a priority to get better at keeping things in stock. But it is a constant work in progress.
Are you doing well financially?
I think we are doing pretty well. Each season is paid for by sales, and I have yet to accept any outside funding or apply for any additional loans (outside of the start-up loan I received from Futurpreneur). I've powered through and am continuing to grow each year, though we are still very young I started Franc in 2017!
How do you decide what styles to offer next?
This is entirely based on customer feedback and what I see as a staple in real life. Forever people-watching! Often concepts don't work out, or sometimes it can take a few seasons for a style to go into production because I'm a stickler for perfection.
Do you wear your own creations?
Yes, almost entirely. My closet consists basically of Franc T-Shirts, Franc hoodies, and jeans.
How did you start the company?
This question requires a longer answer if you are interested? Short answer, I thought about it and planned for many years. I also worked in the fashion industry as a designer for many years, so I did have a bit of a head start. My plans kept changing, evolving, and being added to until I eventually sucked up all my "I can't's" and took the plunge. This happened in stages by crossing off the tasks little by little. Each step gave me confidence and inspiration to move onto the next.
Why doesn't anyone make ethical, well-made kids' clothing?
Highly recommend mini mioche.
What’s your least favourite part of the business and trying to compete with the market?
Least fave part the financials. If you ever want to watch my eyes glaze over, this is how you do it.
Trying to compete with the market? In all honesty, I don't work at this or even think about it much. I focus on doing the best I possibly can to meet my customers' needs and let other brands do what they do best.
How do you find people to sew your clothing line?
We have partnered with a local manufacturer in Toronto. They employ about 16 people. It can be challenging to find skilled sewists. They are lucky to have very close relationships with some local fashion colleges and many contacts in the local fashion scene, plus an excellent reputation. So, they never seem to have too many issues.
Where do you get your raw material? Where do you source your fabric from?
Our fabric is custom knit and dyed for us here in Toronto. As for the material, the TENCEL is from Austria, and the cotton is from the United States. Both materials are spun into yarns (along with the spandex) in a certified facility in Korea.
How have you managed to make the clothes so affordable considering all the challenging aspects of ethical, slow fashion?
Selling directly to the customer makes this financially viable for us. If we sold to stores or boutiques, we would have to add another 50-60% on top of our current margins. Since we don't ever plan to sell wholesale, we cut this margin out of our clothes. This also means our margins are tighter than other brands, so you won't see us going on sale a lot.
Do you plan to remove spandex/lycra from the clothing soon?
As soon as there is a better option to replace spandex with something more sustainable, we would love to remove it. In the past, we tried fabrics with no stretch, and the response was not great. This could always change as we grow and can offer more options.
What do you pay your sewing staff? how do you work to address racial inequality and systemic oppression as a company in large or small ways.
We partner with a local manufacturer who employs all the sewists, though we see them as an extension of our brand. We have posted the lowest starting wages here and the different methods some like to be paid. As for systematic oppression and racial inequality, there is a better answer that we posted here, I don't want to short-form a critical response.
What is the hardest vs the most fun parts of the process of creating fabulous clothing?
The hardest part is keeping everyone happy. We are a people-focused brand, and we listen to feedback to make improvements. Sometimes the polarizing feedback/wants/needs can be hard to take in and decipher. It's hard to be everything to everyone, and it's probably the perfectionist in me, but it's always a goal to make as many people happy and feel heard as possible.
The most fun part also happens to be receiving the feedback it honestly lights everything up.
How do you balance motherhood and entrepreneurship?
Oh, I do not think I balance this at all. My kids have always been home with me. (We have never been in the place where day cares or help was an option.) So they have always seen me working and trying to create something of my own. They are older now, both preteens, so they understand really well and often offer to help or help around the house when they see me frazzled. Mostly though, I fail at one thing multiple times a day, but I just keep picking myself and the piece back up and do it all over again then next day.
If we have missed anything this round, or if you have any additional questions, chime in on the comments below. We love hearing from you!