Christine Quigless didn’t always love fashion. Like many millennials, she’s not a fan of crowded shopping centers, and she used to believe clothes looked better on models than on regular people. As a dancer, Christine lived in her leotard and never dressed up, but life eventually forced her out of her comfort zone and into the dress of her dreams. Now the owner of grâce à toi dress, Christine aspires to create the perfect dress that is customizable for every occasion, comfortable for every body type and ethically made.
“The retail industry has always had a problem with waste, but we’re starting to move toward an industry where consumers want to do things more consciously—from how we drive to how we treat our teeth to how we dress. In some ways, fast fashion is awesome, but we as consumers and retailers can make a more conscious effort to ensure every action moves us toward a better world,” Christine said.
What started as a personal project turned into a business as Christine went from recreating her perfect dress to making it for friends who admired her style. In typical millennial style, she remains informed through her social network, but doesn’t let fashion trends influence the style of her dream dress. It was eye-opening when she found other women of all different shapes and body types who fell in love with her dress and struggled with the same body image issues she experienced. Through tireless market research and conversations with others in the industry, Christine launched a Kickstarter to showcase how her design could meet the needs of many different women.
For Christine, every level of the process, from sourcing to selling, and every aspect of dressmaking, from where she buys her materials to who sews the dresses, make a difference. Instead of continuing to source her materials from stores with huge markups, she quickly learned to leverage the knowledge of local industry players.
“I talked to local people who worked in these stores, talked with other buyers, talked with people on the street,” Christine said. “Connecting with fabric mills and fabric brokers led me to my favorite producer, and just sitting in their showroom and listening to people talk helped me learn the business and learn how to find the materials I needed.”
Though she has started out using traditional tools—spreadsheets, giant workbooks and handwritten notes—to help organize her business, Christine says the most challenging part is scaling it. She has ambitious goals for the future, including raising the number of dresses she sells from one per week to one hundred per month. But she’s not worried about how she’s going to get there as long as she has the right tools to keep her organized and help her leverage the knowledge of the larger retail community. She’ll find her way by following whatever is in front of her, just as she has from the beginning.
Read the second installment of our Millennial Voices series.