Designing for the Petite Community: togethersegal
Sisters with a mission
I recently got acquainted with a lovely FabricSight client: togethersegal. Their story is one of togetherness and a dream to bring fashion to an underserved community.
Togethersegal was created by twin sisters Amy and Melissa, who decided to pursue their shared dream of serving the petite community through sustainable and timeless fashion. Already having established careers in completely different areas didn’t stop them from launching their fashion brand together.
Everyone has dreams, but not many people are willing to put their career aside and actually go after their seemingly impossible goals. Amy and Melissa have decided to fight for a place in the fashion industry, allowing them to pursue their mission to bring fashionable clothing that fits the unique bodies of petite women to the market.
Imagine having a 9 to 5 job, a solid career in accounting or sales/marketing, then all of a sudden stepping on the brakes to chase your dreams. Would you do it? Well, Amy and Melissa Segal did it. Once they made the decision in 2018, they quickly set out to start their brand and launched Togethersegal in 2019. They have no regrets about dropping their careers to pursue their mission.
Following their dreams: starting Togethersegal
The Segal sisters had always loved fashion, but one thing always bothered them: it was very difficult to find clothes that fit them. Melissa and Amy are identical twins, and at 5’1 they fit into the size category we all know as petite. So, it was clear to them what community they would serve with their new brand.
They started out with a strong partnership, knowing how to execute, and having confidence in who they were and what they wanted. They weren't afraid of what they didn't know. This, along with having a meaningful idea and extensive conversations about their mission, was a sure way to get them on the path to starting their business.
"Having the conversation is so important,” Melissa says, "We talked about our idea to other people, and in those conversations we found an experienced pattern maker, which helped to jumpstart our creative journey sooner than we ever thought possible."
With this came what they call "an informal crash course" in fashion design, fabric sourcing, and production. Their partnerships grew with pattern makers, fabric sources, and production houses by going through production runs, as well as attending several textile events and seminars. Through these relationships and processes, they gained hands-on experience very quickly. Their conversations with fashion mentors increased and everything that once seemed overwhelming started to feel much more comfortable.
They then gave themselves creative freedom, letting their ideas flow and thinking deeply about what they truly value and what they wanted going forward. Being identical twins, Amy and Melissa have an extremely strong bond, but each of them brings different skill sets into the partnership. This allows them to divide and conquer, be productive, and reach compromises quickly when needed.
“We know each other so well, and respect and love each other so much, that we know how to work well together. In addition, we have learned to identify when something is important enough to the other so as to justify a compromise,” Amy says. They are both very involved in the design process for their collections, so knowing when to table a design if a compromise can't be reached allows them to quickly move on with no hurt feelings.
Something that I loved hearing about is the connection they have with their customers. This connection comes naturally, as they share the petite figure of their target audience and the problem that comes along with it - not being able to find clothes that fit. It is common for them to contact one of their customers and ask them to come over and try a new design on. Amy and Melissa are hungry for feedback and love hearing from their customer base.
A focus on sustainability
In order for Togethersegal to make perfect sense for its founders, it needed to be sustainable - both environmentally and socially. So, they had to find a production house that did right by its employees and that would take on small projects such as theirs. Also, they had to source sustainable, environmentally friendly fabrics.
After working with a production house for 2 years, they found Margaret, a highly skilled independent seamstress, and independent pattern maker named Charlotte. Margaret and Charlotte are responsible for Togethersegal’s production, which is done in exclusive 10-piece batches. “We are a small team getting stuff done during the pandemic,” Amy and Melissa say, with a smile that conveys satisfaction.
Here at FabricSight, we are proud to say that we are supplying Togethersegal with sustainable, high-quality fabrics, such as our Cupro Linen Twill fabric used in the gorgeous Mara Dress dress in the photo below.
So, whenever you buy a Togethersegal garment, you are supporting fair treatment of employees in the fashion production chain as well as the use of sustainable fabrics. Togethersegal’s customers are conscious participants in the fashion industry who want to wear beautiful clothing while making a positive impact on the environment and on society.
For this very reason, one of the brand’s long-term goals is to launch a buyback program that will allow their customers to sell their Togethersegal garments back and use the credit to buy new designs. This helps to reduce waste, because garments are not being simply thrown away when the wearer no longer wants the piece.
Another way the Segal sisters help to reduce waste in the fashion industry is by striving to design timeless pieces with uncomplicated style, rather than trendy, one-season designs. Nothing that has their tag on it will be forgotten in a closet or get tossed away.
How to start your own fashion brand: the Segal sisters’ top tips
Did you think the article was over? Well, Amy and Melissa have another admirable initiative to talk about: it’s well known that fashion designers usually keep their sources and their secrets to success on lock-down, but not these two! They share their fabric sources with other up-and-coming independent designers and they “would love to support other independent brands with the mechanism they are building.” They actually want to incubate upcoming independent brands once they finish setting up and stabilizing their operation.
Since Amy and Melissa have been blazing their own trail so efficiently, we asked them to share some advice with us so that other designers and fashion enthusiasts whose brands are still in their infancy can more easily find the path forward. Not surprisingly, the Segal sisters were happy to share their wisdom:
1) Don't be afraid of what you don't know, you will learn along the way.
2) Let people know what you are doing! Have the conversation! Talk about your idea to other people. They may know someone who could be a great contact.
3) Find a small fashion brand (like ourselves) who has been in the business for a few years and ask questions about fabric sourcing, manufacturing, etc.
4) Find a fashion coach to work with - there are several out there that are affordable to help get you started. They know a lot and can help you avoid making the same mistakes that a lot of other brands make. They will tell you this too: "create your social media before you launch your product."
5) Define what sets you apart from other brands and stay true to your mission.
6) Start out with a small collection, maybe 4 pieces at the most. And just focus on getting those right. We've learned to also only go through three rounds of revisions to a design. If it's not working after the third revision, consider tabling the idea.
We will definitely be rooting for you, Amy and Melissa! And we will do everything we can to help you turn your future designs into more beautiful, timeless dresses, tops, and pants! You can count on us!