Everything happens organically...
What are you up to?
I'm currently doing some freelance work as a stylist and make-up artist for film productions, like commercial films and music videos. I'm also the vocalist of a band Fwends and I have my own clothing brand called Cornerstone. My group of friends and I also set up an event organization called Conflakes that happens occasionally when we have time and money.
When did Cornerstone start?
It's been 6 years now. The first collection started when I was still in college with my best friend. We launched the first collection and took a long break from it since we both were super busy with school. I think we took about a year break and sadly my best friend passed away during that time. I decided to keep going with it so it's been only me since then.
Why did you start it?
It was when online shopping and Instagram shopping was starting to gain popularity. There were not many options so we saw the opportunity to do something. My best friend and I also wore similar type of clothing and were both into fashion at the time. I also like buying fabric to make my own clothes, so we thought it was a good idea to start a clothing brand and make the type of clothes that we wear.
FIRST THING FIRST!
Did you plan to be serious about it?
We were determined for sure but there was no stress involved. Both of us were new to making clothes and we didn't spend that much money on the first collection. In our heads we were making them for our friends who we know would wear this style of clothing.
What was the first thing that you did?
My best friend loved to take photos. She took beautiful photographs of nature, trees, rocks and stuff like that. We initially planned to print those on the fabric. It turned out a good printing place costs way more than what we had in our budget.
We decided to change the concept and went on a fabric hunting trip to see what was already out there and if there was anything we liked.
Did you go with light fabric from the start?
That came later. The first collection we only used Japanese fabric because it has really good ventilation but is not necessarily thin. In the 2nd collection, I refocused to making clothes that are only suitable to wear in the hot climate and something that I would wear. That's when I went for linen and Pan which are thin and a little see-through, which I like.
Did you have the design before going fabric shopping?
Not really, but I did have the image in my head of what I want them to be like. Like in this collection, I want to have this kind of skirt or this kind of pants. Then I took that imagination with me to look at fabric, and sometimes I found a different kind of fabric that I liked more, and then the design in my head changes accordingly.
How do you make your way through the fabric market?
I am a regular at some shops that I trust now, but before I used to just walk around until I found what I wanted. I used to bargain, but now that I'm a regular they gave me lower price anyway. It's been 6 years. Although, in the past, the discount was not that much anyways: 10-20 baht at most.
What is a garment maker like? A factory?
So it's like a garment maker that I go to and tell her what I want, and then she would estimate the price and time it takes and let me know. I think she probably has a few people that help her make the clothes. It's not really a factory but it's like a spot where there's a bunch of tables with people making clothes.
How did you do the branding?
We did everything by ourselves. My best friend was doing the graphic design and her boyfriend designed the logo. We took our own photos. There was seriously no strategy whatsoever. We got lucky because people liked our content, plus there was not much competition back then.
Did you change anything for the 2nd collection?
I made more clothes and had more designs. I also got someone I know to take the photos for me. I was a bit nervous because it was the first time I ever did this on my own. Luckily, the old customers came back and I also gained some new customers for whatever reason. Things were sold out and I restocked it until there were no more of the necessary kind of fabric left in the market. This gave me the courage to continue with the next collection.
How did get so many followers now?
That definitely didn't happen overnight. I organically gained followers little by little over the past 6 years. I've never boosted my post before but I'm considering doing it soon to keep up with all the new stores coming in. I actually tried it once but had to turn it off almost right away because I was too lazy to set up the current target group and the attention that I got was from a group that definitely wouldn't buy my stuff. I know that paying for ads works if the target group is right but I might need to hire a professional to do that.
Do you start sending clothes to influencers now?
Yes, most of them are the people I know though. I don't pay for people to post my stuff. I found that for my brand, that doesn’t really work. People who like the influencer post don’t actually end up buying my stuff.
I think because those influencers’ followers are not my target group. It might also be the price of the products too because people were interested in buying and messaged me for the price, but probably only 5% of those who asked actually bought. They have cheaper alternatives. I got a lot of dupe version of my design in the market which sold for around 50% less than I do and the quality is shit. Some of them even use my branding photos.
How does this dupe market work?
There are many retail malls in Bangkok like Platinum or JJ Mall which the shops in there sell similar stuff because they got all the clothes from the same big clothing factories. These clothing factories mostly make dupes from big brands like Zara and some local brands as well like me. So once they make a dupe version of your stuff then it can be very annoying because all the shops everywhere would have that to sell too. I was at Platinum and I saw my photo with my fake clothes in the shop. I get a piece of every collection duped now.
What are you going to do about it?
I was thinking of making my brand company more official so I can sue them, but just thinking about it makes tired (laughs). I’m kind of letting it go now. I feel like the brand is still doing pretty well and still attracting the right people who care about the quality of what they wear so I don’t want to worry too much about that.
What's for the future?
I’m planning to go back to selling stuff on the website (not only on Instagram) so it’s easier for foreigners to buy since I got people from China interested but they don’t have access to Line to communicate. I’m also working on a cosmetic line that branches out from Cornerstone called Lohastone. Stay tuned for that!
What's your day-to-day schedule like?
I work everyday on different things. I have days to go on set, practice music, packing customer stuff for mailing, Conflakes meeting, etc. It’s so rare that I get to be home and chill but I’m trying to have more of it. I also try to socialize after work or go to shows whenever I can.
Do you work all day all night when you work at home?
No, I’m lazy and very spacey haha. I don’t have scheduled plan for what time I will work. I just work when I feel like it but that takes a lot of floating around in my house for awhile first.
How do you take care of yourself?
I’m awful at that. I’m trying to exercise more (running and tennis) since I get sick easily from having allergies. I’m also trying to sleep earlier too when I have to get up early to go one set. Also trying to eat breakfast and take Vitamins.
I love doing earth tone make ups. I don’t do eyeliners or anything black on my face so everything looks kind of warm and blurry. I’m not specific about the brands.
Where do you shop for clothes?
I wear my own brand (laughs). Apart from that, I wear Brandy Melville, Uni qlo, and maybe Zara. I make my own clothes for a special occasion like weddings.
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