On Work Island: An Update

Hello friends,

I’ve not posted in the past 60 days or so, which is 6,000 or so Internet years. During that time little Instagram civilizations came and went, hashtags rose to great heights only to fall to obscurity. And so on.

I’ve been on an island of sorts. Not just the one I live on—Orcas Island, WA (pop. 5,387)—but a work island as well. An update on my efforts:

So many leggings
I’ve actually lost count of how many prototypes I have made of my Nebraska leggings. Please hold while I check.
[logs into Printful dashboard]
The answer is 13. That doesn’t count all the digital iterations that were not printed. That’s closer to 25 or so.
The good news is that I’m 95% certain the next batch, currently at the printers, will be the final version. I’ve said that about four times now. The Nebraska dazzle camouflage leggings will launch in a black/gray/blue colorway and a monochrome black/gray version for the multitudes of friends who have asked for a color-free version.

I’m very excited to say I finally have a second design in the works. With all I’ve learned from the Nebraska design, this one is going much faster. It’s another historical camouflage and it much more easily adapts to apparel because it was originally printed on fabric (hint, hint!) No more hints though, until I have something to show.

My final note on leggings is this wonderful story from Snap Judgment: “How Estee Got Her Zumba Back.” A fascinating tale about a woman who bucked her strict religious upbringing by becoming an exercise instructor (at the Jerusalem YWCA, no less.) Exercise apparel was a big deal for her. In public she was expectd to be fully covered, but in the studio she could wear whatever she liked, whatever she felt good in. She even name drops some camouflage leggings in the tail end of the tale.


Branding and Rebranding
Another reason I have been incommunicado is the deep, dark hole of branding I’ve fallen into. A couple months ago I interviewed five friends about fashion and leggings. From those interviews I came up with some key words that I think define my customer. Words like:

Self-love, self-acceptance

From these words I have come up with hundreds of ideas for brand names. As I mentioned in the past I am a perfectionist. In my mind this branding process has the stakes of a major corporate identity project. Like I’m naming a new soft drink, or anti-depressant. The name must be perfect. It must elicit cries of joy from my target market. People will spontaneously tattoo the logo on their arms. The brand will speak to everything I stand for, everything my customer stands for, everything dazzle leggings stand for.

So, yeah, I’m stuck.

Ok, not totally stuck. I feel close. Closer. Early on I was fixated on color:

Danger Rainbow (already a band name)
Duck Duck Rainbow
Flying Colors (also a band name)
Odd Colors


Then I went down a nerd rabbithole on historical brand names. My starting place was the wonderfully august-sounding Standard Oil (which later become such memorable brands as Exxon, Mobil, Amoco, and Chevron.) What if there was a company that manufactured colors, or rainbows, or colorful things. Lots of fun ideas there:

Standard Rainbow Company
American Color & Pattern (Amcopa)
American Chromatic


I will admit these earlier brand names please me, but probably not my customers. Inside jokes, very nerdy. Obscuring, confusing, ironic—kind of like me in my twenties.

More recently I have been drilling down on what my friends told me. Stories of courage, self-expression, self-acceptance. Apparel as statement, as affirmation. Apparel as an expression of social status. Apparel as an invitation for connection in a disconnected world.

Somewhere in all that is a brand name.

Bonus branding nerd fact from a Wikipedia deep dive on the Wild West. The original meaning of rebranding (1888):

“There were said to be strongholds in the San Simon Valley where the bandits concealed stolen cattle until they were rebranded and sent to market, and where no officer of the law dared to venture.”

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