By Anna Lardinois, Startup Storyteller
The Milwaukee momtreprenuer at the helm of the newly formed luxury brand Comfyist has shared an update on the launch of the company’s first offering, an athletic cami with built-in bra cups. CEO Fallucca has shared the journey from the launch of the business, to the design of the unique product, and the garment prototyping process. The company is currently working on the sizing of the soon-to-be launched garment.
There is no standard size chart for the manufacture of women’s clothing, so companies self-determine the size and fit of garments they release. Fallucca created the Comfyist size chart by using herself and other Milwaukee-area women as fit models. “I was the base size-model for the size small because I very consistently wear a size small. Then I provided the designers the size chart of a brand that runs pretty true to size so they could replicate that sizing in the design,” Fallucca said.
Sizing has proven to be a challenge because of the many variables to consider when designing a shirt. Not only does the stretch of the fabric, and the natural variations between torso and breast size need to be considered, but so do manufacturing practices. Garment manufacturers set an “allowable tolerance” of deviation from agreed upon sizing chart determined by the brand.
Fallucca has recently discovered the Minnesota-based manufacturer that she selected to create the Comfyist camis has an allowable tolerance that may not work for her garment. “For a size small at that same measurement on the underarms, it can be plus or minus an inch,” Fallucca said. “An inch would turn a small into a medium, but with small cups. So that’s a problem. We’re working through the issue. One way or another, I’ll figure it out.”
Quality is paramount for the Comfyist CEO, who sees the fit of the garment as a key selling point of the first piece in her luxury brand. Without a change to the initial allowable tolerance stated by the manufacturer, “I probably would be getting returns left and right. It’s already a difficult garment to size due to the integrated cups.” Fallucca said.
“I’m paying a premium to make this in the United States, so my expectations on size consistency are high,” she said. “I’m at a critical point right now, do I move forward with my current manufacturer? Will they be able to do what I need them to do?”
While the company finds a solution to the sizing issues, Fallucca is focused on preparing the market for her product. “I’m working on lining up the next steps in getting the product to market. Direct to consumer, social media, events, wholesale. There are lots of ways to approach it.”
“Based on the current material and labor costs, I won’t hit breakeven on my first production run,” Fallucca said. “My material costs alone went up $8 per item since the original estimate in January. Labor is up. It’s brutal.”
Fallucca intends the first run to be a proof of concept to see if the product sells and develops a following. “I really believe in the brand and the concept, so I’m okay if it doesn’t make a profit right away. I’d prefer that it did, but it looks like that’s not going to happen.”
Explaining the costs of designing a new garment, Fallucca said, “there’s design, materials, labor, development, and shipping costs. Most people don’t include their design costs in their per piece costing because that’s an investment of something you can use over and over. The materials that I’ve chosen are very nice materials. I’m selling a high-end luxury product, and the materials reflect that. US-based labor is very expensive. If I order larger volumes my manufacturing costs will go down.”
Beyond labor costs and the global rise in the cost of materials, boutique brands like Comfyist struggle to compete with large brands whose cost to create an item is significantly lower. “If you’re a huge company you can demand lower prices for volume. For me, the labor cost difference between producing around 600 (units) and 10,000 is over $10 per piece,” Fallucca said.
Despite the obstacles she has faced in the process from design to retail product, Fallucca remains focused. She looks to the origin story of apparel brand Spanx for inspiration.
“Spanx founder, Sara Blakely, her story is so inspirational to me. She was running around, cutting the feet off of pantyhose, trying to manufacture her idea,” Fallucca said “You don’t have a lot of pull with garment manufacturers when you’re a startup. You need to convince them it will be worth their time. She just kept trying until she found someone who would make it. Now that’s a $1.2 billion brand.”
“My point is, I can’t expect that everything will go smoothly, and it will be easy. I will hit roadblocks. The difference between someone who is successful and someone who fails is giving up. And I strongly believe in the brand vision,” Fallucca said.
Fallucca values the education she has received while launching this product and looks forward to using everything she has learned when she launches the next product in the Comfyist line.
“This will definitely be easier the next time around,” Fallucca said.
The anticipated release date of the brand’s athletic cami is September 2022.
You can connect with the emerging brand here.
[…] Amy Fallucca and the launch of Comfyist: Founder and CEO Fallucca has taken MKEStartup.News readers with her as she designed her unique athleisure cami and through the prototyping process. Readers are eager to follow this story to the manufacture and launch of the first product in the Comfyist line. […]