How two non-designers designed sleepwear

When we tell people that we’ve started a sleepwear line, inevitably, someone will say? So, who designed your pajamas? The answer is easy. We did. The journey to design wasn’t so easy or pretty.

Our backgrounds are in marketing, advertising and public relations, not design. In fact, no two people could probably have less ability to draw than we do. So, what made us think we could design pajamas? First, we love pajamas. We are also super opinionated. We know what we like, and what we don’t like. The real reason – and this is still a little hard to talk about – we screwed up in the beginning and let someone else try to design our pajamas.

Because so many people have been curious about this process, we’re going to let you in on our story about how we went from a blank piece of paper to real pajamas that we love to wear and sleep in.

So, the process, went a little bit like this. The two of us sat at a dining room table with some paper, a pencil, a measuring tape and a big pile of pajamas and T-shirts. We then tried on various pajamas and talked about what we liked and didn’t like, and we took notes. If we tried on a top that was too short, we added a couple of inches. If we didn’t like that the sleeves felt tight as we moved around, we took measurements and made comments. This went on for an entire afternoon.

We discussed everything from how far a v-neck should plunge to how an armhole in a tank needed to feel roomy without showing side boob. Very few pajamas have pockets, and for the ones that did, we tested whether our phone would stay in the pocket if we sat down and bent over. We measured the depth of the pockets that worked and those that didn’t and came up with estimated sizes.

At the end of the day, we had a very crude drawing of a pant, short, T-shirt and tank top. That, my friends, is how we designed our first collection of sleepwear.

But that’s really not the whole story. In the beginning – spring 2018, we thought the best thing to do would be to hire a designer to create our designs. We didn’t entirely think this through, mostly because we were just so excited to have pajamas made for our 50-something bodies in fabric that felt good and kept us cool. Here are the mistakes we made, just in case you think you want to design something, too.

Mistake No. 1, and we’re embarrassed to even discuss this, we did not get credentials from the so-called designer. We did not even ask to see designs. We just took her word for it that she could design. She told us a convincing story and was a friend of a friend. We told her what we wanted, and she came back with designs that looked nothing like what we told her we wanted.

Mistake No. 2, the tulip pant. If you don’t know what a tulip pant is, don’t worry, we didn’t either, and we even paid for a pattern of a tulip pant. The first designer was adamant that the solution for women with hot flashes would be a tulip pant. It’s basically a pant that wraps around your leg like a wrap dress. Her argument was that when you get hot, you can simply unsnap the pant, and instantly you’ll be cool. Except, you won’t be, because you’ll work up a sweat trying to untangle yourself from all this fabric flowing around your hot and sweaty legs. Thankfully, we smartened up, and the tulip pant died, before it became a real thing.

Mistake No. 3, making samples from bad patterns. Our first designer also told us she knew how to make patterns, which we thought was fantastic, as it would save us from hiring a pattern maker. Again, we didn’t ask enough questions, and after about six weeks, we finally got a file of patterns. Yes, the patterns included her tulip pant, but they also included a T-shirt and tank top. We asked our first seamstress to make a tank top from these patterns.

It’s hard to emulate the excitement of going to pick up the sample of our first T-shirt of a design we helped create, and we planned to get to market very soon. It’s also hard to emulate the anger, disappointment, confusion when we tried on this thing that was supposed to be an XL T-shirt. The very nice seamstress explained that she followed the pattern, but it didn’t really look right, and she wasn’t sure this was really what we had in mind. She was correct. It’s not at all what we had in mind. 

It was a form-fitting tunic that came down about mid-thigh. The armholes were large enough, we could fit all four of our arms in it. We also wanted a V-neck, and maybe it was our mistake to not explain this to designer 1, but this v-neck pointed directly to the left nipple. It was a disaster. There were no redeeming qualities, and there was no way this pattern could be saved. We fired the designer and started again. That’s what lead us to the dining room table to design our own pajamas the way we wanted them to look. Thankfully, we also met a wonderful seamstress, who took our crude little sketches and helped us create CoolRevolution PJs.

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