Wanted: freelance fashion designer

Posted by Kathleen Fasanella on Oct 30, 2007 at 11:44 am / Contractors, Design / Trackback

I was recently approached by a party looking for a freelance fashion designer and decided to blog about it to give you the inside track on how you should evaluate a job. Every single time, until now, I’ve passed those opportunities onto those of you who have the work experience and skills with the type of needed design. In this case though, I had an opportunity but no appropriate designer to fill it. Rather, it was a perfect job for me. What a shock, I never thought I’d see something like that come along. It’s a job designing a particular genre of western style leather jackets and coats -and I’ll bet you thought western wear was all the same. It’s got my name written all over it, particularly since this prospective employer was a competitor of a previous employer of mine. Zoe was the closest fit; she’s done leather coats but not western styles, much less this type of western styling. I do know one other designer who’s qualified but I can’t find him anymore. I also know he’d want a lot more than this guy wants to pay.

I’m not qualified for many design jobs but I know exactly what this guy wants. Part and parcel to design, you have to know a manufacturer’s capacity; can he make what you design? Considering the type of work, this is no small question. Simplifying matters, he does everything here in the U.S. In addition, I have insight on his doors, his customer profile, the price points, the sizing, you name it. I most likely even know some of his sales reps (heaven forbid that Gail -the rep from hell- is still skulking about). To make matters even better, I know the whole pattern and sewing side of it. Unlike many designers, I’d have the capacity to do the whole product development sequence from patterns to prototypes; the whole ball of wax. So what’s the hang up on the deal?


In short, the pay and the time frame. He wants 6-10 new bodies. He wants an additional 6-10 reworks of existing bodies -complete with embroidery and embellishment designs. He wants all of this in 9 weeks. Rather, I should say he needs finished samples for market in 9 weeks. Wow. I did this before. I know what it’s like. This is crunch time. Even when I worked with a bevy of sample makers, cutters and support personnel at my beck and call, we didn’t get much sleep during mid October through January 1st. To make this deadline, I don’t see how corners won’t be cut. And I don’t like cutting corners. It always comes back to bite you in the butt for which you are invariably blamed to boot.

The problem with the pay is that he only wants to pay $150 per design he selects. If you haven’t been around long, that may tempt you but there’s a lot to roll into that. He didn’t offer an hourly to cover talk time which could be considerable. Also, he offered an additional $150 if the style goes to production. I’ve never heard of anything like that. And no -if you’re new in these parts- you don’t get royalties (catch up here and here).

Payment for patterns is another story. He offered $150 per pattern, with a bit more for sewing samples (okay, but with no margin). He justified this by saying his in house pattern maker makes $120 a day and an outside service he uses occasionally charges $200. There’s no way I could match that. I don’t doubt he pays such to his in house pattern maker but I have a hard time believing he only pays $200 to an outside service. I cut these things for years. Exactly these styles so it’s not as though I’m guesstimating. I’ve also sewn plenty of them. In other words, whatever sewing time he wouldn’t know in advance, I would. There’d be few uncertainties. This is rare in manufacturing and don’t we all know it. In my opinion, the elimination of uncertainties is worth something. You’re paying for skills and experience. The pay scale offered says “beginner”; the skills and job demands say “highly experienced niche professional”.

Now, before I get too far off track, this guy is no dummy. He probably knows that given the chance (and assuming a designer has the required skills), a designer will prefer to make the patterns or have them made under their auspices. I don’t know if he knows why but it’s not the money (assuming he was paying the going rate). Not really. The primary motivation is because the designer has more control over the rendering of their design. A designer won’t have to go back and forth over the execution and expression of how the design was interpreted by the client’s pattern maker. So if I were designing these, I’d want the pattern work to ensure my ideas were executed as I intended them but it certainly wouldn’t be for the money he’s offered. I couldn’t do it for what he’s quoting. It could be he thinks a designer will do it for the money but at least in my opinion, there’s nothing there to tempt me. I don’t think there’s enough in this to tempt anyone who knows this product. Maybe if somebody were really new and needed the money they’d do it but then if they were really green, they wouldn’t have much experience to know the product.

He said he’s been disappointed with the response he’s gotten. He’s been trying to farm out this job for a while now and hasn’t gotten any serious contenders. I can’t say I’m surprised. His price is so wafer thin you’d have to be desperate to take it. Then there’s still the time factor. Nine weeks to samples? I know his market dates. I lived by those market dates! For someone to take this job, they’d have to drop everything else they had going. That’s the reality of the job if you knew it and could do all that it entailed. In my case, it’d mean 12 hour days for the next two months. He’s not offering anywhere near what it’d cost to pull me off everything else.

There’s a couple of other details that nag at me too. The whole issue of being paid an additional fee if it goes to production is a new concept (to me). I can understand that in the employer’s mind it creates an incentive but I don’t think it’s necessary. What designer will deliberately design something they think won’t sell? I’ve never met a designer without an ego, however slight and I am no exception. You never get a bigger thrill than standing in the line at the grocery store and seeing somebody wearing something you’ve made. I think the two tier payment structure is a way of mitigating his risk. No offense, but if I wanted to assume the risk, I’d manufacturer it myself. I know that market from customer to sourcing to production and sales, inside out. I’d want the total fee at the outset. Some will sell so he makes money on those. Some will bomb, it comes with the territory.

Then, there’s the issue of reputation. There’s a lot of trust involved with handing over those sketches for review. How can one know he won’t decide to produce them? It’s not as though he didn’t have the resources in house to do it. With most clients these days, you don’t have to worry as much. They don’t have staff to make and sew the patterns; they’re depending on you for the value added. That includes things like sourcing. When you hand over sketches to the typical client, you with hold the sourcing until they’ve made their selections. You have to keep something back until you get paid. In this case, I’m sure he knows the sourcing better than I do; he has more established relationships with those suppliers (although I know who they are) than I do.

Another thing to consider with regard to reputation, is who has designed for him before and why aren’t they doing it now? In the case of an established manufacturer (he’s been at it since the early 90’s), you have to ask that. In this case, I didn’t have to because he volunteered it. After we got off the phone, I dimly remembered I’d actually spoken to a designer he used to work with several years back. As I recall it, the designer was unhappy with his former partner but this party wasn’t mentioned. So, in the interests of due diligence, I have some feelers out and waiting to see what comes back. Another red flag is that this manufacturer (with whom I’m speaking) is still manufacturing products originally designed by this designer. I’m guessing he has the rights to these. I looked over the designer’s current line and he isn’t producing anything akin to those. Still, my overall impression is that this manufacturer’s line hasn’t evolved much from the early nineties. It still has the same look and feel. Not that that is a bad thing if the market supports it but it feels aging to me. It’s time to freshen up.

There’s one last minor detail on the whole deal that makes me feel it’s not fair compensation. When we were talking, he mentioned how my previous employer saw a real spate of innovation with a big increase in the number of styles offered. He described it as “reinventing the line”. Well, I knew all about it and why. I told him that I’d invented some sewing methods and re-engineered many of the styles that had the effect of lowering allocation and speeding up the sewing process, simultaneously increasing product quality (think Lean). If I did the patterns, I’d be giving him all of that and I don’t think it’s fair. Not for what he’s offering to pay me. Everybody wants a deal but there’s such a thing as cutting too close to the bone. I’m just not that desperate and I sincerely doubt that anyone else with the same level of skills are that hungry either. It’d be one thing if this were same old, same old sportswear but it’s not. I know it’d be more than a minor chat to discuss those sew bys but he hasn’t made allowances to pay me for that, much less for the increase in productivity and profit I’d be adding to his bottom line.

In sum, as much as I’d love the opportunity to have some fun with a product line that I’m truly passionate about, I have to turn this down. If one of you wants it,. Of course I’ll want to interview you for your suitability for the job as well as making sure you are in full possession of your faculties. For all I know, it boils down to good negotiation skills. I’m lousy at that. A door knob is more skilled at negotiating than I am. For what it’s worth, I like the guy, really enjoyed catching up on that side of the business and I sincerely hope we can do business together at some point in the future. I think my role may be better suited to speculator. There’s no reason I couldn’t develop product ideas in the future and and submit those to him -for a set price.

26 Responses to “Wanted: freelance fashion designer”

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Alison Cummins
October 30th, 2007
4:09 PM

You don’t need the work, so negotiation should be really really easy.

From what I can tell he’s hoping to pay about $4,800 for nine weeks of labour – that’s about $14.25 an hour for 37.5-hour weeks, or $8.90 an hour for 60-hour weeks. Clearly he’s assuming that whoever takes the job will throw in their equipment and workspace for free.

I’m not sure what would make the job worth it to you, Kathleen, but $825 per day would be $37,125. Make him a proposal detailing everything you would do for him for that amount of money. If he accepts it, you’ve both won. If he declines, you can either be thankful and happily go back to your real job or ask questions to see whether submitting a different proposal would be useful (not at a lower rate of pay but with a reduced or increased set of deliverables).

If you can’t agree, neither of you is worse off than when you started and you ride your horses off into your respective sunsets.

Trying to convince someone to change their mind when you need them to but they don’t need to is awful. They just sit there not changing their minds while you go through the motions of negotiating feeling like a humiliated idiot. But this situation is different – it’s about dictating terms for work you don’t need.

Kathleen
October 30th, 2007
4:35 PM

that’s about $14.25 an hour for 37.5-hour weeks, or $8.90 an hour for 60-hour weeks. Clearly he’s assuming that whoever takes the job will throw in their equipment and workspace for free.

The thing is, he’s paying his pattern maker $15 an hour, more than what he’s offering me. Plus, every employee costs you another 25% of their wages so he’s paying $18.75 for her. Adjusting my wage that 25% (forget overhead!) and I’m earning $10.70. Usually you get an employee for lower wages because you’re offering longer term employment but this would be temporary. Temporary hires always get more.

If you compare it to prevailing designer wages of about $40K a year (full time employee) for half the job/wage you calculated, I still get less that what a designer earns. If you compare the other half of the wage/job to what a pattern maker earns ($55K), for the pattern portion, I’m taking an even bigger bite.

I don’t know of an independent business with a fixed business location that can bill out at $14 an hour and keep the doors open. I mean a sole operator. You probably could if you had a bunch of people but not just one person.

I think if someone worked out of their home and had the equipment and table space, this could be a good situation for them if they needed a track record or wanted to build a long term relationship with the company. He did mention that was a possibility.

I really regret not being able to do this. It’s really more of an issue of not being able to do anything else. I don’t know how I’d be able to post for 9 weeks. It would be a fun challenging job that I’d really like.

dosfashionistas
October 30th, 2007
4:59 PM

Considering your specialized expertise and experience, my only question is why he wasn’t revising what he was willing to pay as soon as he realized who he was talking to. And if he isn’t able to see the advantages for his company in having you, as opposed to just anyone, than he isn’t going to be smart enough to appreciate the work you would be doing for him and you are better off not getting into it. If you work for someone for bargain basement prices, they are going to treat you like a peon and not respect you or the work you are doing. Tell him what the job is worth, and if he takes it, you will have much more of a chance of seeing things go through as you want to see them.

Don’t know what we would do without you for nine weeks, but that doesn’t put any groceries on your table. Though I do intend to contribute. Since I just got the book recently, I figure I have a few months before I need to pony up.
dos fash

/anne...
October 30th, 2007
7:03 PM

It’s business. Any time I’ve cut my rate, I’ve regretted it – and no business has ever been grateful for a discount. Ever. Any time I’ve rejected a job, and wondered if I was loopy, another better one has come along shortly after.

In your business and mine (I’m a tech writer), reputation – including how much you charge (more=better, because Greed is Good) – is everything; once you cut your rate, your reputation can suffer. I don’t charge the top rate, because I need to stay in constant work; but I’m happy with the amount I do get. And they have to pay for 20+ years experience.

One thing that bothers me is that you like the guy ;-). Haven’t you told us to only trust people in the industry who are rude? Is he trying to sell you a bridge? :-)

Alison Cummins
October 30th, 2007
8:37 PM

Kathleen, I agree with everything you say. That’s why I thought $50 a more reasonable starting point for an hourly rate than $10.

J C Sprowls
October 30th, 2007
10:33 PM

I agree, in general, with /anne. Any time you sacrifice your standard rate, it sets the wrong tone, which you carry into the job. It’s difficult to kick yourself in the arse and put out the type of work that is representative of your brand of professional excellence.

While I sympathize this project is, indeed, up your alley, I also support your decision. I think all mature businesses should evaluate the multiple facets, like you have, and act accordingly.

Personally, I *never* bend on time. The calendar is what it is. If I were in your shoes and still wanted this project because it’s interesting enough, then I’d negotiate a reduction in deliverables. IOW: instead of 9 new bodies, I’d give 4 in 9 weeks (still a time crunch) for the same package rate. That brings the time and effort more in line with the level of expertise required.

jen
October 31st, 2007
1:45 AM

not enough money and no security
worked freelance in the manufacturers own premises paid by the hour, which I billed for(dodge to avoid his having to involve himself in all the employment protection and costs if employing a designer normally) and was paid more than this, using his materials, his sample maker.This system was fairer for me than the proposition on offer here, because obviously all discussion time, sourcing time, talking to production team was paid. this manufacturer sold on to a major retail outlet which was not above ripping off his (our) work, taking the design to another manufacturer to make at lower cost, so where is your protection if you hand over samples or sketches?

Lisa NYC
October 31st, 2007
3:42 AM

As tempting as it might be, the minute you mentioned the pay, I knew it was a dealbreaker. Seriously, it’s almost insulting. Think about it–the going rate for a pattern is approximately $250 per style (shirts, pants, etc.). Leather jackets are a specialty-market and the price should reflect that ($$$). Yet he wants this and the rest for beans. This is a perfect example of pennywise dollar foolish.

You dictate the rate, not him. That’s like going to a lawyer who has a solid track record and expertise in a type of proceeding you require and saying, “I’m pay you $500 for this case. If we win it, I’ll give you an additional $500.”

Honestly, I just don’t get why this guy wouldn’t beg you to take this job at YOUR rate.

Kathleen
October 31st, 2007
5:39 AM

/anne wrote:
One thing that bothers me is that you like the guy ;-). Haven’t you told us to only trust people in the industry who are rude? Is he trying to sell you a bridge?

Just because I like him doesn’t mean I’ll do business with him. Business and like, two different things. That’s a lesson DEs need to learn.

Lawrence Pizzi NYC
October 31st, 2007
7:20 AM

OK, I have worked with start ups many times and they think they can come in and pay and get the job done (efficiantly- because every one knows fashion designers just sit around all day drinking Mocha-Frapuccinos).

This is what I tell my start ups…
I use this rule of thumb, expect to pay $1,000 USD per style. And the normal time frame is 5 months….. We need to source a factory, mills, and all trims for you to start working with. I have connections to help, but they will be working with YOU, and they will proceed with caution. We can use sample sewers to get the samples made as we look for factories, but we should also have a sample made by a few factories to compare quality, services, and price.

The rates a quote are normal industry standards…. 60/ hour, but I will work with them and charge 40/hour. I also tell them what I expect to work on each part of the tasks so that they know what my hours are totalling up to. The fact that I run steps by them before I do it al, is so that they see how much there really is to get a garment made. People have no idea how long it takes to get labels made…… and the amount they have to order. Not to mention the RN, care label wording, shipping hangers/poly bags, hang tags, showroom hangers, ect.

They also need to understand that there will be a few samples that will not be salvageable (fit is all off). These garments can be sold off at a sample sale, or can be used for sewing quality examples. But the work and supplies are lost.

And production….. one company I worked with expected that a mill produce 100yds of DTM modal for him in 30 days. He is paying COD, they should want his business. This company runns modal for Juicy, BCBG, BeBe. These new people just don’t get it, or pretend not to get it to see if they can make it happen.

I can go on and on…. and then there is the China/India way to go. They pay per sample, but with out an agent fighting for you, they get back pooooop! I accually moved and lived in Shanghai to help control quality and work out production issues. It’s like I spend a year on Krack!

nadine
October 31st, 2007
7:53 AM

It is good that you have the faculty of mind to look at the real issue. No matter how “wonderful” the proposed project is you cannot look at it from a surface perspective or what it will potentially be or what you would really like to do for it. It is fine if an employer doesn’t need all the depth of experience and doesn’t want to pay but a smart person will make use of anything that is above and beyond what they had in mind if it will increase their bottom line and pay fairly for it. Since he is neither willing to do this nor seems not knowledgeable about how your extensive skills can benefit him – WALK AWAY WITHOUT REGRET.

Some people flew in to have a meeting with me to make some accessories samples. They were clearly not knowlegeable about anything of the Great Idea they had. In the end the women gave me the big sad eye look and said but I have no money. So that is that. If you don’t have a budget for launching your great idea – don’t take up people’s time to try to get a sample made. What would you do with it anyway if you have no plan. I’m recommending your book to her. She told me that in China her sample costs $50 dollars but I reminded her that they get paid $75-100 a MONTH and what about travel and hotel costs etc. So I told her with that logic my sample should cost her $500 because $100 a day in the US is a low wage for professional work. I bill much higher than that. I was quoting her less than $500 for one bag which was a simple design.

Anway, no matter how much I like or don’t like her idea or how much fun I would have with it. If she is a clueless client it will be NO FUN. So I’m willing to walk away.

BTW – Nice to know that garmentos exist outside of NYC. That bunch of nonsense he fed you is classic garmento reasoning.

BTW#2 – My friend accepted a design job to launch accessories for an well known label that didn’t have handbags. She took a relatively low salary plus a commission on whatever sales. I thought that was the first time I heard of that. Needless to say, she never saw a penny more than her salary. All kinds of things outside her control or her job function made it impossible for the line to sell. I hope she learned her lesson from that. In a large company a designer would just get an employee bonus for good work which could be very healthy if they did a good job but don’t call it a commission. That’s nuts. Freelancers don’t get bonuses and I’ve never heard of any commissions. If you just get paid what is fair it is just a job, you do it, you move on to the next one. Freelance should be higher than what employees get because we have to pay our own healthcare and taxes. You can’t compare freelance wages to in house employees. The guy just sounds kooky. That’s my 2 cents.

Rocio
October 31st, 2007
9:24 AM

Hi K,

I deal with people like that all the time…. perfectly nice people who obviously don’t have a clue and somehow get it in their heads that the freelancer should “compensate” for their general lack of business knowledge.

My approach is simple…. I break down the project into sections:
1- Design and Sourcing
2- Working sketch development
3- Pattern Development
4- Technical Specification Development
5- Sample Sewing
6- Line Editing
7- Pattern Editing
8- Specification Editing
9- Sample Sewing

I designate a time frame for each section and either an hourly rate or a piece rate for each section.
If the job needs to be completed within a time frame shorter than the “standard”, then all rates go up to our rush fee.
This is because we’ll have to put other jobs on hold and have people work overtime to meet the deadline.

It’s usually at this point that they start making some hard decisions and compromise half way… or go to a place that will accept thir prices and make a mess of the project
If they are serious about business they usually come back to us the next season with their tail between their legs and we either get our full price or even more to fix the mess quickly :-)

Zaz
October 31st, 2007
9:39 AM

the guy seems cheap and doesn’t pay what’s worth for the job. he seems stingy.

J C Sprowls
October 31st, 2007
10:02 AM

nadine said: In a large company a designer would just get an employee bonus for good work which could be very healthy if they did a good job but don’t call it a commission.

Agreed. Commissions are earned based on sales. The first clue that the job is more than just design. Though, I don’t know that it’s necessarily a bad business model – just a bad job description.

Product Managers oversee marketing, research, design, analysis, pre-production, sales, etc. That also include patterns, samples, production and post-production activites, too! But, their jobs are ultimately tied to the Profit & Loss of the product or line. It’s not atypical for a Product Manager to earn 1-5% as a performance bonus due to the success of a product. But, that’s in addition to their base salary.

That said, a Product Manager is not a designer, per se – they manage designers. They are business people with a foot in the creative and technical worlds. They understand the jobs because they need to direct people; but, they don’t execute each job, personally.

So, that raises a different point of contention. If you earn a bonus in this deal, are you also expected to take on Product Management responsibilities? If so, the deal still needs to be discussed. You’re entitled to your base fee (as a manager) in addition to the bonus – not the bonus as part of the “total comp”.

Myrte
November 5th, 2007
8:38 AM

I don’t think you should think to much about this dilemma. (although I understand why it’s hard)From my perspective you are too good to be considering this job at these rates. Your experience deserves more money. PERIOD! One of the things designers have to deal with every day, is people who don’t understand the amount of work. My boss often says, please design this and that and finish by the end of the week. And those are just the people who are responsible for our paycheck!

cdbehrle
November 5th, 2007
12:22 PM

I love this post and the feedback, this problem is so endemic to the industry.

I have been repeatedly approached by a formerly famous company over the last 4 years to design, yet every time it comes to discussing what I need to be paid to properly do the job, they disappear for 6 months to a year. Then come back with smaller and smaller projects. At this point, they are still unwilling to pay what would be needed to do any of the projects.

What they barely seem to understand is that this line needs a complete overhaul. They have been working off the same patterns for about 20 to 25 years now, (a salesperson has been designing recently) so both stylistically and fit-wise the line’s become a dinosaur. For me now, their inquiries are filed under the heading “cheap entertainment”. It’s sad, at one point I would have LOVED the opportunity to (re-)design for this company.

Other stories I can relate: Being asked to design leather outerwear for an off-shore maker. I give him my price, don’t hear from him for a week and then he comes back with 9 sketches done by his 7 year old daughter (I swear to God, If I could find the scans, I’d attach them!) Looking for a price break since the garments are “designed” and all he needs are tech packs.
Hello???

Another is a famous brand, multi-million$$$ shoe and handbag company who’s freelance terms are as follows:

“…I need to clarify that the payment terms are not for each style but for all 3 styles: so the first $200 is for the photo ideas of the bags that we will now own. The next $200 is for all 3 styles spec’d and detailed….”

…‘nuff said.

Ragga Katla
November 26th, 2007
1:44 PM

I’m a bit shocked at the rates mentioned in this article. I’m in Los Angeles doing patterns and samples freelance out of my studio, and while my rates aren’t as high as my colleagues who have been in the industry a lot longer than me – I know that they charge at least $70/hr for patterns (I know someone who recently raised her rates to $100/hr for pretty standard patterns for knitwear). You might be making $15/hr if you were starting out as a design assistant or a completely inexperiences in-house sample maker but thats pretty much it. In fact when I think of it, $14 is what the cutter was making at my former workplace – a typical L.A. sweatshop that was notorious for being cheap in every way (not mentioning any names here).

As far as I know in-house patternmakers make close to 100K annually, and senior designers at least 60K. In my understanding designers go through a period of proving themselves that can almost be regarded as internship before they start to earn decently and I’m thinking thats whats bringing the average salary down.

I think its really important to refuse work thats underpaid and I think us freelancers have to unite on that issue. Just like someone mentioned here theres a lot more involved for us, there is off season (almost all my clients have had a really bad habit of ordering fabric late or simply not designing the line until a few weeks before market), then theres time you spend on the project that you cant directly charge for (phone calls, emails etc). You have to update equipment, pay rent or mortgage for your studio, update software… Spend time interviewing potential clients that may or may not come through. When you’re in-house you’re being paid for every minute you spend in there. Thats not the case when you’re self employed.

intoit
January 17th, 2008
1:12 PM

i’m a new freelancer and have been working this way for the last three months. I have always been a fulltime designer but have had enough weirdness from my last fulltime job. Everything on the surface looked wonderful: I was designing two contemporary divisions for this company and loved the look and vibe of the lines. I was designing the clothes as well as the prints, big job but I enjoyed every phase. I also had the highest respect for my design team (design asst, patternmakers, sample makers, cutter), all of whom I had the luxury of handpicking myself. They really are so dedicated and professional. However, due to an absentee owner and a sloppy production staff, the light was diminishing quickly. That scenario got a lot worse when the absentee owner appointed one of the sales reps to help oversee the divisions since I was getting too involved and frustrated with the lack of production flow. There is the rare sales person who can look at the big picture and be a contributing professional to the entire cycle of garment anufacturing, but this rep wasn’t one of those gems.
Oh, and to add a very Aaron Spelling situation, one of the assistants I hired was sneaky and overly ambitious, and was taking credit for designing the lines. She would tell buyers as well as different showrooms (that had walked up to our booth and asked who the designer was.)
So, with all that weirdness I walked away from a huge salary and am now freelancing for two clients. It is scary, though, because though these clients came to me through references, I never know if it will be a continuous thing or if the next check due really will come.
Is there any way to come up with a fair design fee? I mean, fair to myself as well as to the client. I’m a really strong designer because the clothes retail well, but is there a freelance designer’s code of fees so that we don;t undersell ourselves and then that adversely affects the rest of us?

Ian MacGraw
February 19th, 2008
6:18 PM

I’m a small organization in a town of 300,000 on the East coast. we design mainstream apparel for chains and independents. My designer is moving and I wonder how I will attract someone to this rural town. And what will I pay someone with 5 or 6 years design experience? Any advice?

Sharrina Witherspoon
May 7th, 2008
1:33 PM

Hello, I googled a question in regard to how much to charge for a freelance project I was presented. The job consists of me designing a group of high end couture ensembles for a woman who’s used to paying 4,500 for suits. My responsibility would be to design a group and then have her choose the ones she wants from that group. My questions are 1) how many choices should I be giving her 2) how much should I charge for the presentation which will include fabric swatches & trim 3) how to charge for each ensemble she chooses? Thank you for any and all responses.

Sharrina Witherspoon

ayomide
June 12th, 2008
12:23 PM

HI, I was browsing your site to see if you had any info on a non-compete clause. That states as a freelancer you will not work for the competition while working or after working ( usually a year or more) for the company you are contracted with.

I have never seen this while freelancing until now. I have a guy that contacted me about designing handbags for kids. His company is just starting off and he and his partner are new to the fashion industry. They have a concept they think will sell and are contracting the job out to several designers for a designer face off ( whoever gets the design he is looking for will get the job. He wants each of us to do about four designs. All that sounds okay until I got his consulting agreement with the non- compete clause. I told him I wouldn’t sign the contract with the clause included. I had a lawyer look at the contract and said I should ask the guy to make changes. So after some back and forth with emails he says that he will change the clause to say that I couldn’t work for their competition that produces an handbag for kids using their type of concept. What do you think about non-compete clauses?

orly
January 19th, 2009
12:27 PM

Question:
I’m entering into an aggreement with a private label manufacturing company.
They will be using my one of a kind designs as samples to sell to mass market stores across the country. So, i will be responsible for all design details, and et final approval on the production sample. but the company will take care of all details after that.
i.e. Selling the line and manufacturing the order, placing whatever label the store requests.
I will be getting a back end commission on all sales. So my question is, does anyone know what commission rate i can request. I heard that for licensing it’s generally 7-9% but that’s when they are using the name as well. In this case they knocking off my custom line, to create mass market reproductions, under private labels. Do i request a per piece, sample fee AND a commission?
My final meeting is tomorrow…please help?

Sundal
January 19th, 2010
8:31 AM

I’d appreciate an answer to orly’s question too as I may be in a similar situation myself. I haven’t finalised details yet, but I have a made-to-order line and a startup wants to collaborate with me, i’m meeting them day after tomorrow so would love to know what you came out with, orly.

Kathleen
January 19th, 2010
8:48 AM

In addition to my book (right side of the page) which answers questions many don’t know they need to ask, you can find some useful information in this entry.

Jodi
February 17th, 2010
8:40 PM

I’m looking for some advice…
I’m currently the senior designer for a well know handbag company in manhattan. I’m relocating to Boston for personal reasons but have discussed with the corporation continuing on with them remotely. As a corporate company they do not encourage this, so they have requested that I stay on as a freelance designer. I’ve been told to come up with an hourly rate that will be sufficient for my new lifestyle as a freelance designer, travel expenses, & health insurance but something that will be acceptable as well considering it will be consistant work (daily communication with my current boss via phone/email/skype). I’m looking for some input from other designers who are in similar situations b/c this is new for me and I want to be able to make a substantial living, while still being fair to my current employer. Any thoughts will help! thanks!!

[...] This was left in comments yesterday: I’m currently the senior designer for a well know handbag company in Manhattan. I’m relocating to Boston for personal reasons but have discussed with the corporation continuing on with them remotely. As a corporate company they do not encourage this, so they have requested that I stay on as a freelance designer. I’ve been told to come up with an hourly rate that will be sufficient for my new lifestyle as a freelance designer, travel expenses, & health insurance but something that will be acceptable as well considering it will be consistent work (daily communication with my current boss via phone/email/skype). I’m looking for some input from other designers who are in similar situations because this is new for me and I want to be able to make a substantial living, while still being fair to my current employer. Any thoughts will help! thanks!! [...]

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