For all of you who read about, support and have joined League Collective…

Running a business has its highs and lows, its waves of brilliance and glory, distraction and despair.

At League Collective, the belief of success is a continuous one, however, that does not decrease its daily battle to maintain a state of growth and gratification from all those included, supporting, observing and buying into our brand.

The last two years have been, mountainous, to put it mildly, and I want to keep you in the loop as to the next steps for our business, for your clothing, and what and when you will be receiving it if you haven’t already.

And above all:

For anyone starting out on a new business venture or endeavouring to succeed with anything they do, I hope this story can inspire you to never give up. To keep going no matter your constraints, mental, financial or physical blocks you have to overcome. I hope it will be worth it in the end for you, and I hope the journey shows you everything that makes you who you are.

The last year has been non-stop, and so the marketing and informative element of my business took a back seat as I went from 3 interns to none, focusing all my energy into completing clothing production, so that those of you – regardless of the brand’s social status and circulative awareness – actually have the clothes you ordered. For this reason, I would like to apologise for my lack of contact in informing some of you on the whereabouts of your orders.

This has been the undelivered story.

I get emails, weekly, from customers asking where their orders are. “How have you still not managed to make something that I ordered a year and a half ago?!”

I ask myself the same question often. And it certainly disheartens to know you have not delivered on something you so believed in and promised yourself and others.

To create a sustainable clothing brand, however, and break the chain of mass production whilst taking your own route, for faith in the planet, humanity and living sustainably, takes a lot more than just designing a product and sending it off to get made.

So, here is a break down of what has been happening, for two reasons:

1 – I want to keep you informed. Where your clothes come from, why changing the way you produce takes time, understanding the process of development and why it’s important.

2 – So you know that I haven’t given up on you! I really have been working my socks off, and really, truly, doing my best – learning everything I can and fighting to deliver what I promised, without budging on what I promised for lack of time or money.

 Before I begin – For those of you who have no interest in either of those things other than wondering where your clothes are – Here are the Delivery Dates: (thank you for your patience up until this point, I am beyond grateful!) Your sportswear is being delivered in drops across the next 2 months. The clothes fit like a glove, They are incredibly well made, I couldn’t be happier with how they have turned out and I am beyond excited to show you!

  • The League Collective OnePiece arrived mid-September with now only 18 pieces’ left (picture below)
  • The Biking shorts arrived on the 30th September (pictured above)
  • The Sports bra will be arriving on Halloween
  • and the Leggings at the end of November.

Some things I have learnt this year (and last).

Trust your gut

At the beginning of 2017, I made a huge leap.

For over a year I had been travelling back and forth to Portugal to meet manufacturers to produce my collection. After the final sample was made, and all calculations were ready for production, I pulled out.

Something didn’t sit right. I was persuaded that recycled fabric wasn’t as strong, that it was too expensive, and I had been kept in the dark regarding enough communications to feel uncomfortable about the people I was with. Corners had been cut, and I hadn’t been shown the entire process.

Since then I have been through 3 more factories. And at similar moments in time, one of us has decided something doesn’t work or something doesn’t fit the bill.

Be Resilient

I didn’t know what this word meant a while back, but learnt pretty quickly in May, this year, whilst running a yoga retreat in Mallorca, and coming back to find my current factory (I had been working with for nearly a year) had dumped me for a larger order placed by a bigger company because I had not returned sample edits in time, before I had to fly out (9 Days had changed everything.)

With each time limit we give ourselves as a director, it places an even smaller time constraint on the companies we work with, and if we are already delivering Pre-orders to customers, the stresses increase considerably in both directions.

I was distraught, to say the least, but was now too far down the line to give up.

In the back of my mind, I remembered a woman had approached me at a trade show and told me she could create my bike shorts with a more discreet stitch in certain areas. I rummaged for her card, and within a week had shipped all products from Leicester down to London to (unbeknownst to me) begin, all over again.

Companies will try and take the biggest cut they can.

In the process of working with a new company, boundaries have to be set, relationships need to be felt – built from the ground up, and this can take time.

At this point in time, I no longer had time, and what this new company was suggesting felt unrealistic.

So much work by this point had been done to create this collection. The fabric had taken 4 months to print, had finally been shipped from a printing company in Italy to the UK, and problems were already visible with the pattern fit transferring across different sizes with the previous factory.

This new company were telling me that the entire collection needed to be re-graded, patterns re-made from scratch, everything re-designed, to fit the body better (and hopefully still fit the pre-printed fabric)

To complete this task I would need to find another £4k in the space of 2 months, begin production all over again, and hopefully come out the other side with wearable garments. All I’d originally asked for was a few pattern edits.

This put a lot of pressure on my time constraints to make enough money. For the last 2 years, once the crowdfunding money dried out in the trial and errors that were Portuguese manufacturers, I have been self-funding this startup from teaching Yoga.

To keep the business ticking over, I transfer almost a grand a month into League Collective, with no visible profit. That’s £24k minimum straight off the mark.

With this new company asking me to fork out even more for reproduction, and after a few mental breakdowns, I got my butt in gear, began teaching round the clock, and racked up 73 hot yoga classes in one month, helping me cover most of my costs, plus using up all my savings that ever existed.

I was now fully committed. And certainly had no plan B, or physical energy left to do anything but eat, teach, sleep, rush to fittings and repeat.

Trust your gut and Stand up for your self

We were almost there. Come Mid June, I had managed to turn this disaster around, and find a new company, who had re-graded my entire collection so it fit the body better than hoped, salvaged all fabric printed, and we were on track for full production to take place… albeit 2 years late, and minus 45 pieces of clothing lost in the sampling process.

I went in for the final fitting when they dropped a hefty 25% Surcharge on my entire collection. With my initial deposit paid, and still no finalised price on production, I really couldn’t fathom anything else that could possibly go wrong.

With the idea of £10k looming in my head, I stormed out of the office and paced it down the road…

The resilience stuck though.

Sometimes you just have to stick up for yourself, or just stick two fingers up… And that’s exactly what I did.

Something again didn’t sit right. I have always given bigger companies the benefit of the doubt -because “I am young”, “new to this”, “a one-man band”, “still learning”, “not great at Math”, and “they probably know best”… but this time I needed to fight back.

If there was anything these 3 years had taught me, this is where it came into play. I knew I was trading fair, paying my dues, correct wages to suppliers, and working with a brilliant small team in a nice working environment in the heart of London, however, this just did feel like Fairtrade. I sought legal advice from everyone I could find. I racked my brain for every business deal and cost they had incurred on me since the beginning to find out where I had been going wrong… and I hadn’t.

The final email landed in my inbox on the way to my 9th trade show I was now attending with no stock due to late production. The email stated I wouldn’t receive my collection until December with an included 14% surcharge…

Now, I’m all for love, kindness, goodwill, and compassion. And being a yoga teacher, we practice bending over backwards to be all of these things 24/7.

In this case, however, I think someone just needed an earful. And so I let loose. Yelling down the phone with a structured claim for exactly why the hell I should not be paying a ridiculous amount for something I still had not received when I have customers waiting and had been promised something else…with a few F words for added effect…

And that was that.

Some information I want you to know

Where are my clothes?!

Since the palaver that is called ‘growing a pair’, and launching a business that sets out to change the way we consume and care for our environment whilst supporting our active lifestyles doing the sports we love – I managed to drop the surcharge. Your sportswear is being delivered in drops across the next 3 months. The Clothes fit like a glove, They are incredibly made, I couldn’t be happier with how they have turned out and I am beyond excited to show you!

  • The League Collective OnePiece arrived mid-September with now only 18 pieces’ left (picture below)
  • The Biking shorts arrived on the 30th September (pictured above)
  • The Sports bra will be arriving on Halloween
  • and the Leggings at the end of November.

All of these items can be pre-ordered. Many of them have, and there are just a few left.

Social media says one thing. Life is another

This is an accurate and probably overly detailed version of what has been happening for League Collective for the last 3 years. And what Social media shares, isn’t. Many people will probably advise me not to share this, for the fear of making the business look bad.

Many people recently have been congratulating me on my business…For me, nothing has changed. I wonder whether my SEO has been working better on my webpage, or the Facebook algorithm picked up momentum somehow.

There is a part of me however, that has struggled with anxiety, from not being good enough, not achieving enough, and I have definitely allowed myself to be dragged on by that through seeing what other people are doing through social media, and feeling like they have it so easy.

The messages we express on Social media show everyone how great we’re doing, and if they didn’t, it wouldn’t be worth reading, but sometimes we hide the reality…And the reality is, that it is challenging. You have to put the work in. You have to give 110% all the time, for a long time. You spend hours alone, working away on a screen and figuring stuff out along the way.

I want to share this story. Not because I disagree with social media, but because I feel social media makes it all look so easy, which makes us think that when the first hurdle falls, the rest will be impossible. Sometimes it really seems that way, but I promise you otherwise. This story isn’t here to dishearten you, but instead the opposite.

I don’t think we know how much we are capable of. We stop at the first hurdle, because we only believe in immediate success, and never see the struggles portrayed on the screens we are now addicted to. And as our attention span decreases, we get used to this.

If you want something enough, you will find the resilience, the strength, the courage to keep going. Sometimes we don’t know what that something is, and I feel that maybe its due to not going far enough to find out.

If I had started League Collective for the benefit of me alone, I know I would have given up a long time ago.

But League Collective is more than that, more than me. I hope to build a community around finding strength, and with that strength, create change for our environment, on a global scale.

One person can’t change the world, but if you can inspire those around you to join you, that is where change begins.

Our time is now.

Why I am so Grateful

I am beyond grateful to everyone who has crossed my path through this journey. Without many of you, if not all of you, I would not still be on this journey for a more sustainable future. I am grateful to my customers. Without you, I would not have the added pressure to continue, to my close friends and family, for being there when I crumble. For every manufacturer past and present, who has taught me everything I know about starting a sustainable fashion brand. I would be none the wiser without you all.

Thank you for reading! If you would like to get in touch, please don’t hesitate to do so by emailing [email protected] Or give us a follow on Instagram


Lilly Richardson

Bringing you stories to inspire, motivate and achieve. Lets create your sustainable life.

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