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Kickstarter pushes Lidgett founder through the first collection


By Kate Hayden | Staff writer, Des Moines Business Record

After going through Kickstarter to launch her dream clothing line, Kate Wagner knows that the platform isn’t a perfect fit for every founder. 

“That’s really just kind of a wild ride,” Wagner said. “I wouldn’t recommend it for every project. But I’m so glad that I did it because it was great exposure, and obviously helped me get over the finish line.”

Wagner crowdfunded just over $20,000 to launch the first collection of her new clothing line,Lidgett, this spring (the brand borrows Wagner’s maiden name). 

More than half of her campaign contributors were people she didn’t know, which encouraged her that people were responding to the clothes, she said. 

“The first couple of days are this huge rush, everybody’s excited about it, people were giving money. And then, you know … everyone says the middle was just the hardest part. And then right at the end again, it picked up and I got over the finish line.”

Inspiration stemmed from Wagner’s time working with her sister Liz Lidgett, an art consultant who founded Adore Your Walls [now Liz Lidgett Gallery]. 

“It was like the seed was planted. I just kept thinking, ‘I would love that print on a dress,’ ” Wagner said. “From there, I just started doing some research and researched turned into action.”

After clinching her debut season, Wagner is again collaborating with local artist Jenna Brownlee on the fall collection.

“I have found it to be really rewarding in a lot of ways. I think it’s also the cycle of life I’m on right now too, because it’s the first time I’m at home with my kids, and also doing my own thing. Creatively, it has been really fulfilling,” Wagner said.  

How did working with Dwolla and Adore Your Walls shape development of Lidgett? 

Working with my sister [Liz Lidgett, Adore Your Walls], she is just such a great leader. … It really got me to fall in love with art and how it can affect people. We would hang art in a regular old office, and employees would come out to us and be like, ‘Oh, my gosh, you just changed our entire workflow. Our workday just got better and got brighter.’ I just really started to understand the connection between the emotional and creative. …

I consider myself a startup addict. I just love the dirty, nitty-gritty of beginning a company where everyone is pulling their weight and doing all the jobs. You’re going to have highs and you’re going to have lows, but regardless, you still have to show up the next day and work hard.

How did you end up partnering with artist Jenna Brownlee? 

We had always been a fan of her, but we actually hired her to do our first mural [at Adore Your Walls]. Now she’s done so many murals around town and I’m so proud of her. 

I just really enjoyed working with her, and I also love her art. I just thought it was so pretty. … I kept envisioning that [on clothes] and then it started coming to life in my head. 

Will you turn to Kickstarter again for the next collection? 

No. From the proceeds from selling the rest of the inventory, I’ll be able to hopefully keep moving forward and have been able to so far. I’m growing slowly and organically, and I don’t expect it to happen overnight. That’s good, because people are really loyal to the brands that they love. It’s hard for them to take the leap to a different brand. I totally understand that. 

Were you intentionally seeking another female [collaborator] in manufacturing?

I interviewed about 10 different factories. I actually went on a website called Maker’s Row. … Honestly, only about three of them were male, but I don’t think that’s the norm. 

I wasn’t specifically seeking that out, but when I talked to Martha, we just clicked immediately. She was excited about the brand, and I was excited about working with her. Sometimes you just have to go with it. 

I feel like I’ve picked a really good partner and my manufacturer right off the bat. That was just honestly going off my gut meeting with the owner, and we really hit it off and felt like we had similar values. She was willing to work with the designer, which not everyone is willing to do that. I got lucky there.

What will happen in your next collection? 

I’m playing with a bunch of different fabrics, different prints, of course, but it will be similar in a lot of dresses, skirts, tops … but all of them will be kind of bold. I think my goal really is to help other women tell their story through clothing, because I have always been able to do that. Everybody does it, whether they realize it or not; they are telling their story by what they’re wearing. I really just want to help other women do that in a beautiful, functional way. 

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