To date, we’ve done 40 design collaborations over the history of Oh Joy! Every single design collaboration we do is different and unique in its own way. And as I do more and more, I take learnings from past projects to bring into the new ones. Here’s a little about how we worked with The ODells to create our first women’s clothing collection…
Last year in 2021, the ODells team reached out to see if a clothing line would be of interest. I knew Laura (one of the founders) through local events and had been a fan and customer of their brand already. Lots of times when the discussion of a licensed collection comes up, there are so many factors to consider…it’s never an immediate yes or no until we dive into more details. Also, I often pitch to brands to work together so the way conversations can start varies every time!
First Phone Call
We had a preliminary phone call to discuss what we each envisioned in a collab. They’ve been fans of Oh Joy!, and I’ve worn their clothes for a while so we knew we were already fans of each other’s brands. This call covered the design process, how we each envisioned everything would work, and how profits would be shared or paid. All of those are the basics of how I go into licensing conversations (more of that here). We also discussed the ability to do plus size options which was very important and that we could sell the pieces at a price point that felt attainable for my audience.
Discussing with My Agent
I have done licensing for over a decade and have had times with agents and also without agents, so I know the process inside out. We currently have 3 different agents (whom I love) we work with on various parts of our brand and next was having a more detailed discussion with our licensing agent, Kim. Her job is to think about not only the financials but also to make sure that we are getting what we want out of the partnership. She handles the nitty gritty, asking the tougher questions, and making sure that the business side of it feels right for us.
And We’re Off to Start!
After a little back and forth (as contracts always are!), we signed on the dotted line and got to work.
First Design Meeting
The first meeting was at ODells headquarters, where we looked through a presentation they prepared of their initial thoughts for our collection. They proposed what types of pieces and styles based on the incredible research they had done on my personal style, what types fabrics I might like, and general ideas that seemed right for us. I brought some of my favorite pieces of clothing (lots of vintage) to discuss why I liked them and what factors and design details were important to me. I provided feedback on their initial thoughts, and we also talked high level about what general colors or types of patterns we’d want to create for this collection.
Second Design Meeting
Their team took all of my feedback and ideas and put together exact styles drawn out—it was so fun to see actual garments coming to life! We had also worked on surface patterns for the fabrics back and forth over email since the last meeting, and we were able to look at some of these clothing styles with patterns applied to them. We continued to look at fabric samples to pick between. We (at Oh Joy!) also took on the part of designing the hang tags and logo lock-up to use for the hang tags and labels. The cool thing about collabs like this is that I lean to my partner to design the parts they have expertise on which I may not (in this case the physical structure of the clothing), and I use my design expertise to bring what I can to the table.
Samples of pieces come in phases…from fabric swatches at first, to parts of garments, to samples of the pieces for fit (but not in the final fabrics yet). We got fabric samples of the designed patterns, and picked between color ways and tweaked colors that didn’t print right. We also started picking buttons before final samples were in so that all these pieces could come together to make the final pieces.
When seeing actual physical samples, it usually includes at least two fittings with a fit model. Fit models are often a size 6 in standard sizes and 2X in plus sizes. And it allows us to see the garment in their size on a person and make tweaks to the fit before it’s put into mass production. These meetings were super fun because we would start seeing the garments really come to life!
This type of meeting includes deciding how many pieces to order and what we hope to sell through, when we’ll launch the collection, how we’ll promote it, and ways to make sure it does well!
We reviewed models online and them selected several to show up for a go-see where they come to the office, wear a piece, and we can see how they move, how the pieces fit them, and see whose look and personality fit the mood we’re looking for. I used to do model castings back at my very first job, and it was fun to be part of this process again!
Photo Samples Arrive + Photoshoot
Once we have final pieces in the sizes we need for the models (and for Courtney and I who serve as unofficial models), we were able to schedule our photoshoots! For this collection, we did two shoots—one for the ODells site with two different models and one for our own content with me and Courtney.
Websites Gets Prepped
Once photos are in, both teams prepped their own sites in advance of launch. We’ve coordinated our launch dates, planned how we’ll share it on all our channels, and we get excited!
We launched our collection on April 29th (almost 2 months ago), and it’s been so so fun. We’ve had amazing sales (with some styles almost sold through) but still plenty left for people to snag into the summer.
The thing I love about licensing is that it allows me to partner with brands who are experts in what they do while bringing my design sense, style, and audience to a new category. The ODells team was a dream to work with! I hope it was fun for you to see a peek behind how these things happen. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below!
Top photo: Left to right: Roxy (model), Abby (ODells), June (ODells), Pooja (ODells), Courtney (Oh Joy), Joy (Oh Joy), and Laura (ODells).