“I have been debunking myths about the fashion business since I started. And I’m proud of that,” said Marj Carlet Edmonds, owner of Carlet Edmonds, a scarves and swimsuit cover up manufacturing company.
Not having any fashion background, Edmonds set out to learn everything she can in the 6 months that she spent researching online, dedicating 3 hours each night, from 11:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. in front of the computer. The Filipina immigrant who grew up in Hawaii said she knew she had three things going for her – heart, drive and tenacity.
“I couldn’t let anyone tell me ‘no.’ I’ve always liked fashion and I knew I couldn’t just give it up just because I did not go to school for it. I had to know what I was getting myself into,” said the woman behind the fastest growing brand in Central Valley, CA. “I would read up on everything, from bloggers, to fashion people, to big designers, to sewers, anything and everything. Time is money, money is time. I had time. I didn’t have money but I used my time to research.”
It is through this research that Edmonds was able to make her first connection in the fashion industry.
“Once again, I’m going debunk the myth. You don’t need fashion connections when you start a business. All you need is to dive into it. Then you’ll meet some once you’re in it,” she said.
In her research, Edmonds came across Mercedes Gonzalez of Global Purchasing Companies, a New York-based strategic planning company in the fashion industry – offering consulting, training and workshops to clients all over the world wanting to break into the fashion business.
“You just need one connection. That was my big break,” said Edmonds who shared that immediately after reading about Gonzalez and the services that her company could provide, she emailed her using the suggestions and complaints portion of their website. “Because I knew that good companies monitor people’s suggestions and comments closely.”
She recalled that her email was very honest and candid. And even though she “opened up” her heart, Edmonds was not disheartened when she didn’t get an immediate reply. She actually emailed again when she found out that Gonzalez was going to be in L.A.
“I was bold and asked if she would meet with me,” she said and added that she actually got the surprise of her life when Gonzalez emailed her back, to confirm the meeting. “She could charge as much as $5,000 for consultation. So I knew I had to be honest and told her I would not be able to pay.”
“I will not charge you,” replied Gonzalez, to Edmonds surprise.
“She then became my fashion mentor. I would consult her about everything,” shared Edmonds who partly credits her mentor for the rapid success and expansion of her business, even now having a factory in downtown L.A.
“Even for me, I was so in awe with how fast it happened,” Edmonds said. “A lot of people fell in love with my story, so people started buying my product.”
The other people Edmonds credits for her success are her parents, who, like many Filipino parents, sacrificed a lot for their daughter. Virgilio and Melinda Carlet, retirees from Honolulu, moved to Fresno when they learned their daughter was starting a business.
“’We don’t have money to give you. But we have time,’ my parents told me. They moved so they could take care of my 4-year old daughter. I gave my time to my company, they gave their time to my family. I was able to eat even though I did not have time to cook,” Edmonds said.
She was not only able to make sure her husband and daughter were taken care of, Edmonds was also able to grow her enterprise. The Fresno-based entrepreneur is currently preparing to distribute their products all over Napa Valley, Bay Area and Los Angeles in California; Hawaii and New York. And that’s another myth she has disproved.
“Yes, I come from a small town in Fresno. People think you have to be in a big city like New York or L.A., to be in fashion. It may be true for some; but that’s not the case for me,” she said with a satisfied smile.
Edmonds doesn’t mind sharing her story because she thinks it’s the heart of her company.
“You can be anything you want to be. It’s not the money nor connections that will make your business successful; but the heart behind it,” she said. “If I let the myths discourage me, I wouldn’t have this thriving business now. I want to make sure that people know what real fashion is about… fashion with a heart.”
She says having heart is caring for the people, not just your customers, especially in the retail business; but also the back end.
“I didn’t fall in love with the glamour side of fashion. I fell in love with my master seamstress, my cutter. I would hang out at the factory, more than I would in fashion events. Because without them, I would not be here,” she said.
She started with $200, buying the fabric to make scarves. After it sold out, she increased her investment and put in $600. When her products sold out, she put in $1,800. That’s how it grew into a $10,000 business. And aside from negating myths around the fashion industry, Edmonds is also debunking some notions about business.
“You don’t need a big capital to start something. All you need is a dream and the drive to pursue it. It is your responsibility to believe in your own dream,” she said.
Jannelle So is credited for creating, hosting and producing America’s first and only locally-produced daily talk show for Filipinos, that ran for 8 ½ years under her leadership, making it the longest-running Filipino talk show outside of the Philippines. Connect to her on Facebook – www.facebook.com/JannelleSoOFFCIAL; Twitter – www.twitter.com/JannelleSo; Instagram – www.instagram.com/sojannelle; or email her at email@example.com.