I should have seen it coming. This past year has been a fantastic one for Manic Trout, the growth so far having exceeded all expectations and I am both in awe and proud of it. So it really comes as no surprise that in order to keep growing and to reach the next “level” (because what entrepreneur is ever happy with where they are?) would not be all easy breezy. Truthfully, it kind of feels like a senior feeling all mighty and then starting all over at the bottom of the totem pole as a freshmen in college. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s start at the beginning…
Throughout all of this growing there has been an underlying disconnect going on that has been holding the brand back from taking the next steps. Something was not quite sitting right but I couldn’t put my finger on it. As successful as I have been since the rebranding in 2010 at moving from the random releasing of jewelry to four well thought out collections a year (designed and ready 3 months before release for press) there was something still amiss. Deep down, I knew that well designed jewelry alone does not make a successful brand and would only get me so far, and I feared that I was reaching the top of “so far”. This was all made crystal clear a month or so ago, when I was contacted by a trend analysis who wanted to introduce me to one of her clients, a large and very well know name in fashionable stores. I was reviewed by the board and given notes about how they saw Manic Trout as a brand. The missing component was exactly what I been feeling as well, that my brand identity was not visible if even there at all. They recommend that I find myself an imaging consultant asap.
It was a pretty amazing moment when the exact problem I was having suddenly had both a definition AND a solution. There was just one problem…these people are not found via google. I suspect that they are to brands what the secret people are to celebs that make them go from mid western nobodies to the likes of Reese Witherspoon in a few short months. Just like in that world, I quickly discovered that you need to know someone to get an introduction with a secret person who is worth anything and then pray to everything that they can fit you in because these people have wait lists of months and years. Thankfully, after a week or so of emails and phone calls, I was introduced to the exact secret person I needed and she not only felt I was worthy of working with her but had a last minute opening if I jumped right in. Also thankfully, my checking account was currently in good standing because I was about to empty it. And then as soon as it started to fill up again, empty it. And then repeat that a few more times. As you can imagine, secret people are very, very expensive to work with. They are however, worth every penny.
The past month has been a whirlwind, and a very stressful one. There was such a high volume of work being accomplished each day that I would fall into bed exhausted from thinking so much. It was a crash course in a new genre (to me) of branding, business and marketing and one that required a lot of answers from my end on how I saw Manic Trout, where I want to go with the brand, who I design for and many, many other facets of the business, much of it that were completely foreign concepts to me. There were times that I had no idea if what I said was right or wrong or what the hell was going on, but that’s where my secret person was the most amazing, as she would guide me back on track and turn all of my ramblings about my designs into something resembling an actual brand. After all of the hours of questions and writing novel long emails back and forth we moved on to the next stage. This included model cards and deciding between stunning women who had modeled for brand such as Versace, Vera Wang, Zac Posen, Cartier, Marc Jacobs, Valentino, Carolina Herrera and other designers who made my head spin. Then a few speed sessions deciding on concepts and clothes and details that had me questioning myself at every turn. The entire time I was constantly feeling both overwhelmed and in over my head but thrilled all at the same time. In hind site, I’m actually surprised I didn’t have a few melt downs throughout the whole process. I came close when Adam’s dad died and I was up to my eyeballs in all of this, but it all worked out, as life always does.
I am still, two weeks after this intense period is behind me, a bit dazed by it all. I am absolutely still processing everything and wrapping my head around the grown up version of Manic Trout. Because that’s what this was all really about. Taking the baby that I have been nurturing and raising for the past almost 12 years, patting it on the head and telling it that it’s time to be a lady now.
If you have not been over to manictrout.com for awhile, take a peek if you’re so inclined. See the grown up lady version. This is a huge work in progress with a veritable team to make it happen, so there a few details still in the works, but to quote one of my favorite movies…”its all happening!”