Update: Brand Alley France have now paid us some money! So, one N1 form not needed, 1 to go.
I'm writing this because everyone keeps asking about when we'll have some new styles in, and here's the thing, when you are a small brand with no investors, getting a new style in means getting the money from the last lot of stuff you made. You may spot some problems we are having with this process in the following information!
"Exposure" is a big word in the fashion world. It basically means getting your brand name to a bunch of people you mightn't otherwise, and is often promise in lieu of actual hard cash, and KMD is as guilty of offering it at times as anyone, so I'm not going to complain about that.
High-end brands worry about over-exposure because it could mean losing their social status; we worry about it because it can more conventionally mean we're overexposed to risk, money-wise. We massively limit our exposure to such risk by making most orders "pro-forma" which means you pay up, and then we send you the stock. Bigger brands who can either afford to write off debt or are confident that they have other means of getting you to pay up will often offer 30 days - that's 30 days from you getting the stock to when you have to pay - or more. Meanwhile, bigger stores with more perceived clout will say, well, you can give us 30 days, or we won't stock you at all. Business selling is a bit of a dog-eat-dog world at times.
In the last year or so we've taken a few risks, and some have paid off, some haven't. One, as many of you who are happy with handwashing know, resulted in us selling off thousands of pounds worth of stock that ended up stinking of cigarette smoke - and we haven't been paid for most the stock that wasn't returned, either. So that spells the end of our foray into having a Benelux agent and pop-up. Bye bye, Belgium, we were looking forward to an excuse to visit but it's going to have to wait!
Even more disappointingly, in December of last year we agreed a designer discount sale with Brand Alley in France. Like most brands, we try this occasionally for a bunch of reasons, including making space in the office, clearing old stock, and in our case hoping to build a better following in France. We make no profit on such sales because of the steep discounts demanded, and they also insist on 30 days to pay.
The purchase order arrived in January. The stock was sent out on the 9th January, and we issued the invoice then too.
To date we have not been paid, though we know they have received the invoice and payment information as they have responded to the emails and double checked details. In fact, they've even responded to the information on their facebook!
So today, rather than dealing with production, or planning 2015 or following up our catwalk or the other million things on the to do list, I am learning how to fill in a Small Claims N1 form, and an Out of Jurisdiction Form N510.
I happen to know that Playful Promises have had exactly the same experience.
Brand Alley France are invested in by News International (now News UK, owned by New Corp, who you may associate with the name Murdoch and the phrase phone-hacking scandal), and are reputedly one of Frances top 15 ecommerce sites.
And that's all I have to say about Brand Alley France.
But you can play "imagine Catherine's face right now", if you want - I might need some new emoticons!