CARLINE PAROIS: Save the offcuts!
Carline Parois is a whip-smart, one-woman orchestra, whose entrepreneurial creativity aligns particularly well with the more responsible era we are living in.
Since graduating from Esmod in 2016, and has worked a series of jobs at a consistent pace. A woman overflowing with innovative ideas and projects. For the third year in her fashion design and pattern-making degree, Carline chose the New Luxury Couture option. After her first 6-month internship as a pattern-making assistant at the creative brand Aganovitch, she decided to create her own brand, at the same time as a friend. An ingenious way to make the administrative part of creating a business easier! But, unlike her friend, Carline needed to quickly find a lucrative job. So, she accepted a part-time gig as a retail assistant at department store Le Bon Marché (in the lingerie section). This led to a side experience working at Princesse Tam Tam for two and a half years, which would prove useful in her career. However, it inevitably slowed down her own project.
After a few months, the fact that working in the area she studied would offer a more reasonable salary led her to the wedding dress boutique Cymbeline Paris. Three months later, the atelier Meraki, an incubator for fashion brands and accessories, convinced her to restart her brand project, which till then had been put on pause. That’s how she came to design her first collection, Carlinae, on short notice, using stores of fabrics that were lying unused. Which didn't stop her from displaying at Who's Next salon and finding interested distributors.
Shortly afterwards, the creator of the brand Ekjo, who she had met a few months earlier, offered her a paid post as a collection assistant in April 2019. She was finally able to quit Le Bon Marché. But, as is often the case, part-time quickly became more like full-time. Only in the first lockdown did she have time to design a new collection of her own, the second collection for Carlinae.
Now, she works freelance for other young brands, so she can spend more time on her own brand while developing a new project: an online platform selling sewing supplies, called Saventy Percent. She has also worked as a model from time to time, and sometimes still does a few shoots, often a fun experience.
Planet Esmod: Where did your idea for the marketplace Saventy Percent come from?
Carline Parois: During my studies, I obviously acquired a fair bit of fabric and cut-offs. There was also fabric that I had bought to make clothes for myself but never had time to use. Other students have confirmed that it was the case for them too. When I started to work in companies, it saddened me to see all the rolls of fabric lying unused in storage. My idea took form in 2019, when the brand I was working for as a designer, Ekjo, moved premises. In the end, moving all the fabric was what took the longest. Some fabrics had even been damaged over time, from damp, moths, etc., and had never even been used. It was a real waste, and this was in a company with a certain awareness of sustainability. I don't dare to imagine the amount of stocks lying unused in less aware companies... However, I was only able to concretely start developing this idea of reselling fabric cut-offs at the end of 2020.
P. E.: So, how does it actually work?
D. P.: For the moment, we're just beta testing. A web developer friend helped me create the platform. So that happened very quickly. If it grows in the future, it will need more structuring. But I'm already happy with what we’ve put in place. The second day after the site went online, there were already transactions. But this kind of project takes time to grow.
P. E.: Why did you choose the name Saventy Percent?
D. P.: It comes from a column I read, which said we only wear 30% of the clothes that we own. The remaining 70% of our wardrobe just lies gathering dust in the closet. I was struck by this, and I knew from experience that the same thing was true for fabric! The problem was that the domain name "70%" was already taken. But when I thought about it, I said to myself that the neologism "Saventy" would be even better, since it includes the notion of saving this 70%.
P. E.: So you chose an English name for your site, but for the moment it's only available in French...
D. P.: Yes, I would obviously like to develop this concept internationally. In time.
P. E.: How do you make money from Saventy Percent?
D. P.: Well unfortunately I'm not taking 70%! (laughs). I only take 15% from each transaction.
P. E.: What projects are you currently working on?
D. P.: One thing I'm doing is developing my brand Carlinae. My first collection was actually made from discontinued bolts of fabrics, offcuts and trims, so I had no way to really produce and market my garments after Who's Next... That's the problem with the recycling model. So for the second collection, I bought a bit more fabric, just so I could actually produce more garments. And this collection was also recently made available for sale. I've even created a specific e-shop for Carlinae. The brand is currently very inspired by literature and poetry, full of notions of reminiscing, preserving and references to time, but I would like to see it evolve with more open references to travel, places and potentially other exotic imagery.
P. E.: Why did you choose Esmod Paris?
D. P.: From the age of around 15, I went to the Esmod Roubaix open day every year in the region where I lived. I liked the authentic vibe of the place. The 'atelier' side of things was also very appealing to me. For Esmod's 170th anniversary in 2011, I won an invitation to the fashion show at the Paris school. I was thus able to discover the school, and felt at home there. So, it was logical for me to enrol.
P. E.: In what ways are your Esmod studies useful to you nowadays?
D. P.: With a bit of experience, I think that Esmod helped me structure my research and my creativity in general. Especially in terms of technical drawings, through computer-assisted design for example. I see it when helping new brands: companies that produce garments are not used to receiving technical dossiers that are as systematic as the ones we send them.
P. E.: What advice would you give to current Esmod students?
D. P.: Stick with it! Don't give up. These studies are very time-consuming, which can be challenging at a psychological level. Sometimes the techniques you have to learn are challenging as well. But it's a profession built on passion, so it's worth going the extra mile. Even if sometimes I had a hard time, I would do it all again, no question. At Esmod I realised that I had a good level of endurance for work. Sometimes you have to keep going until 2 or 3 am to finish a dossier. It's a marathon, but that's how it works and that's how you get through it!