posted: January 7, 2014
As we move from the Pre-Sketch stage into the Sketchpad stage, we will be peeking into our designers’ creative creation practice. This part of the process is all about turning the inspiration gathered in Pre-Sketch into innovative designs. Cara, our fast turn designer, took some time to dig into the role she plays in this process.
How do you make a difference in a business that’s growing as quickly as lululemon is?
That’s the question that Cara battled with when she left lululemon two years ago. “I really wanted to do something different and take a break and I was really stressed out, the business was growing so quickly,” she remembers.
She moved to Berlin to get her Masters Degree in Sustainability in Fashion and almost didn’t look back. “I thought I wouldn’t come back [to lululemon]. I didn’t think I wanted to be involved in mass production any more,” she says.
During her year abroad, however, she learned that lululemon was actually much further ahead than a lot of European companies. As she puts it, “I made peace with mass production because there are so many ways to do it more sustainably, and it makes a bigger impact.”
An opportunity with the fast turn team was the calling she’d been waiting for.
What is fast turn?
Fast turn is three things:
1. Fast turn is about reacting to the business needs. It’s a dedicated product pod working outside the traditional nine month calendar that responds to what is happening in the world and our business, to deliver a great guest experience in 30-90 days.
2. Fast turn is about reducing fabric liability. Fabric liability is the left-over materials from production that the fast turn team designs into, to reduce fabric waste, and create new styles that are new and exciting.
3. Fast turn is about Springerization. This is a made-up word that was created when we used to hem pants into crops for Spring. Now, the fast turn team alters existing inventory to create excitement on the floor.
Cara has always been passionate about sustainability. “When we cancelled a style, I was always wondering what happened to that fabric. Now we’re a huge company so when we cancel a style or make a mistake, our liabilities are huge and so I’m so glad I started when I did. I started in February around the time the black pants were re-called from stores, so that was my first big job; what do we do with all these sheer pants?”
Just five people, the fast turn team includes some super-skilled, multi-talented people. Cara is the sole designer, responsible for sketching, designing, drafting, and sewing—just to name a few of the many things she can do.
One More Time
If you’ve been to heylululemon then you may have seen Cara’s face before.
“After we launched heylululemon a lot of guests were asking to bring this back and bring that back, so our team got asked if we could do it. And I said, yes, of course we can, we’re fast turn! (I don’t want to say we work off calendar, because the pods can bring stuff back too, just not as quickly)” she says.
What really gets her stoked, though, is innovating and creating the next best thing. “What I love hearing is not just asking to bring this back and bring that back, but ask for something that we haven’t ever thought of – like a savasana wrap that’s a magic carpet that can help you fly, then maybe we would’ve tried to make that,” she says, laughing.
Designing for the future
“When I left, I felt like how can I possibly make a difference? And I feel like I can and I do now,” says Cara. “Quality, innovation, and beauty. I use those words on a daily basis as my mantra for sustainability. When I use those, I’m operating in line with the company and with me.”
Follow the Savasana Wrap as it comes back to life on heylululemon!