On this Sunday past, I received an email from A.J., a fashion blogger and writer. She was interested in featuring pieces from my spring collection in a story for an online magazine called Liberating Style. I was flattered. I perused her blog and the webzine to make sure it was a quality publication that I would want to be associated with. It was well done. And besides, I thought it would also increase my audience. So I responded. I needed to know readership and hits and what she wanted from me. She requested the look book and provided the site's stats that I asked for. I promptly emailed the look book to her. When she wrote back she explained that the editors had scrapped the idea of the story for Liberating Style and told me that they would run photos from the look book with style descriptions. But she did offer me a consolation prize of being featured on another site she wrote for. Although I was disappointed, I thought, "Why not?!" And after speaking to Ashanti, I was convinced. A.J. told me that all she needed now were a couple of my samples. After all, they could not recommend a designer without first seeing the workmanship and construction of the garments. In closing, she said that they had no policy with regards to returning the samples. I then explained to her in the following email that although they had no policy with returning samples, the way it was going to work was that we would charge her for the shipping & handling and the samples and once she returns them in pristine condition, we would be able to credit her for the samples. She then wrote back saying that since her company does not require payment for featuring designs like print magazines do, they then require that they get to keep all samples at no charge. She also implied that because they have a wide audience I should be fine with giving my dresses away for free. I was really quite outdone by her boldness and obvious entitlement and I had to spell things out for her. Below is my final response.
I am well aware of the influence of webzines as well as print media as I have been featured many times in both mediums. And because of my vast experience over the last 11 years in the fashion business, I am a little troubled by your policy. Perhaps I should explain that it takes a substantial amount of capital and hard work to bring my designs to life. A great deal of detail goes into the selection of fabrics, trim, and construction and I am not in the practice of giving my gifts away for free. When you approached me first about the feature in Liberating Style I was very flattered indeed, as I did state this in my reply. But then you told me that you would only be using the images I sent you with detailed descriptions of each style and not featuring me in an editorial capacity as you first had stipulated. Although I was a little disappointed, I assumed you did not find my pieces edgy enough for editorial. And you did offer to write a piece about me on the Models & Moguls site as somewhat of a consolation. And now it seems that you want me to send you my dresses for free? What is the guarantee that you will even write something favorable about me once you receive them? Did all the designers that you feature on the site, such as Prabal Gurung, send you samples from their lines for you to keep? Something sounds fishy with this arrangement. So, unfortunately, I am going to have to decline your offer. But when I show during NY Fashion Week in September, I'd love for you to come as my guest. You will then get a bird's eye view of how well the dresses are constructed and that they also fit to a t.
Selling my soul to the devil was never part of my business plan when I started on this career path. And this devil wasn't even camouflaged in an A-list publication like Vogue. I have sacrificed way too much to get to this point. And I need to honor my dream and all the hard work and money I've put into it. Not give it away.
Peace & Fashion!