New Year, New School House

Ok, we’re reeling a bit from an amazing day yesterday. After our CEO and COO unveiled our 2012 collection to Barnes & Noble College (and received rave reviews!), we’re so excited to share our Fall line with you over the next couple of weeks.

The inspiration for this collection spurred out of many amazing conversations and months of soul searching. But in the end, we decided to let our mantra, American Collegiate Craftsmanship, lead the way. Our amazing designer, Emily, alongside Rachel and Susan put together a set of trend boards and hand-crafted designs (literally, she sketches amazing things for us just in her free time!) that are so truly special. Today, I just have to share a snippet of what we’re talking about, so without ado, here’s our inspiration – enjoy!

When I first met Charles Carroll, I could hardly believe there were still people making sweaters in the United States.  Like most young people in my generation, the labels in my closet are like sashes in a Miss Universe pageant: Mexico, China, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Jordan.  Charles, however, has spent the past forty years making clothing in America, and, as I soon discovered, had more than a thing or two to teach us about making garments the old fashioned way.

School House’s fall 2012 collection features the very best collegiate fashion our team has created with our local factory partners.  What started as an effort to bring our t-shirt and hoodie line from Sri Lanka to the United States, evolved into a soul-searching opportunity to elevate our entire brand.  Our mantra—American Collegiate Craftsmanship—speaks to the journey we’ve been on and the products we believe in.

Here, you’ll find oxford shirts crafted in a historic factory in Garland, North Carolina, updated for the college girl of 2012, as well as covetable, cozy knits made by a worker-owned sewing cooperative in the Appalachains.  We even branched into accessories this season, bringing American made school spirit tights and a chunky, irresistable infinity scarf to the line.  Our favorite pieces, however, are Charles’ sweaters—the perfect pairing of our team’s trademark collegiate fashion sense with his old school approach to quality and construction.  The result?  A collection that’s both youthful and classic, modern and vintage, rooted in the legacy of American manufacturing but inspired by 21stcentury fashion.  We hope you love it.

Thank you, as always, for shopping School House!

xoxo

Rachel

Thankful to Be a Small Business

It’s Thanksgiving week, and for most people that means gathering with friends and family to eat a good meal, celebrate a happy and healthy year, and most of all reflect on all those things in life we take for granted. But as a small business, we’ve never needed a holiday to count our blessings – each day has it’s ups and downs, successes and failures, and part of being a successful business in this economic climate is celebrating those everyday wins.

Take for instance our move to US manufacturing. Bringing our apparel business back to the US was priority number one for our executive team, and when we transitioned business from Sri Lanka to North Carolina, we counted our blessings. Anytime you switch factories is a big risk for a company – will the new factory pick up where we left off? Will the product have the same quality? Same turn time? Can we fulfill all our orders? We answered all those questions this year. And, more than once, we failed. We didn’t get every order out on time. We had some quality problems. Our COO, a seasoned fashion and apparel veteran, has spent months on the floor with our workers showing them how to make our product and having tough conversations about craftsmanship and quality as we were making our garments. But despite the setbacks, we’re thankful. Our business model is greener than it’s ever been. We’re close enough to our factories to see School House clothing being made, and touch and feel our garments on the assembly line. And we’ve never had more public support for what we’re doing. Each day it seems we get a new email congratulating us on doing the tough work we’re doing to help rebuild our economy, and putting those priorities before making a profit or always getting it right.

And among the big wins, were the small victories. We signed on 60 new university partners this year, giving us a chance to reach more students with our brand and mission than ever before. We hired 3 new people, bringing our team to 5 and hopefully growing that much more in the next year to come. We also got some great press, designed a bigger and better Fall 2012 line, fundraised and joined forces with partners that will elevate and grow our business.

The point is this: for a small business, everyday is risk, a hurdle, a success story and a chance to be thankful. And to all the fellow startups and entrepreneurs out there, we’re just thankful for your camaraderie. Happy Thanksgiving!

XOXO, The School House Team