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Jane Margolies

Skin



Rodríguez's Skin collection fits the body no matter how much it changes

Marisol Rodríguez first tried her hand at origami when she was an industrial-design student at Los Andes University, in her hometown of Bogota, Colombia. She took classes in Asian culture, and was fascinated by how the Japanese art of paper-folding could transform a perfectly flat material into — presto — something 3D. But fabric, not paper, interested her as an origami medium. In Skin, her limited-edition line of stylish, expandable clothing for pregnant women, she applies origami to organic cotton to break the hide-the-bulge mold of most maternity wear. “We want to highlight the belly,” says Rodríguez, now 29 and based in Brooklyn. “This is happiness that is showing through your clothes.”

Rodríguez started developing the collection while she was still living in Colombia, stirred when her brother’s wife was pregnant with the couple’s first child. Recognizing how little money most people in her native country have to spend on clothes, she conceived a design that would last throughout a woman’s pregnancy, minimizing what a mother-to-be would need to buy for herself. The concept got a favorable review in a local design magazine, and Rodríguez looked into mass-producing her line. But ultimately she decided that at that point in her life she “wanted to just keep designing and sketching,” rather than start up a business. She shelved the idea as she moved to the U.S. and began working for various firms doing market research, project management and design.

But the problems of her homeland, where her family still lives, plagued her. She was particularly troubled by high unemployment among women who are in their 50s — many of them fired from jobs despite their skills, but not yet eligible for retirement assistance, which begins at age 62. “What do you do when no one wants to hire you, and you still have to support your family and pay your rent?” Rodríguez asks.

Hoping to help this segment of the female population that has fallen through the cracks, the designer and her 63-year-old mother teamed up: they established a small workshop in Bogota that employs women in their 50s to hand-craft goods. Housed in a two-bedroom rental apartment, their Bogota Factory doubles as a showroom over which Rodríguez’s mother presides — people come in and see samples of clothing, knitwear and painted wood pieces, then place orders. Mother calls in workers on an as-needed basis (currently there are three women, paid an hourly wage), while daughter provides design and business expertise from afar.


Pleats can be vertical as well as horizontal

Rodríguez’s Skin maternity line is one of Bogota Factory’s first offerings. There are three different two-tone dress styles in the collection, with either vertical or horizontal pleating. In every case the brighter of the two colors is the one revealed as the wearer’s belly expands. The dresses are priced at 60,000 to 65,000 pesos each ($30 to $35 in U.S. currency). Sales of the dresses and other Bogota Factory items just about cover operating expenses, with Rodríguez, who currently works as a freelance design consultant, occasionally kicking in a bit of her own money when earnings come up a short.

The idea of expanding the business and exporting goods to Europe is tantalizing to Rodríguez, who is the first to admit that Bogota Factory’s small-scale, low-tech, labor-intensive operation is not the most efficient business model. Sending the fabric to a laser-cutting facility would certainly get the cotton cut faster, and with greater precision, than having a worker use a pair of scissors to execute the job by hand. Then again, the entire dress line could easily be produced overseas.

But for the designer and her mother, the aim is not to eliminate jobs locally, but rather to create them. They would like to be able to employ at least one more woman. Their immediate goal, however, is to offer their current workers a labor package that includes health insurance. Another sticky issue is whether to continue to use organic cotton — which Rodríguez prefers on environmental grounds, but costs 15 percent more than conventionally made fabric.

For now, mother and daughter are satisfied with the modest progress they’ve made. “Maybe later on, we can actually make an economic profit,” says Rodríguez. “But at this moment the ‘profit’ is just to be able to say that one more person who didn’t have a job yesterday is working today.”


Posted in: Business + Industry, Fashion , Social Enterprise

Comment 40  |     |     |   Like 0  |   Tweet 3
Comments [40]
Muy buen blog de diseño! great blog! thanks from Argentina.
estudio web
09.28.09
10:50

These are amazing. Where can I purchase?
Diane
09.29.09
10:08

These are all wonderful and great inspiration. Coolll
Teach me more..
Webdesign@Posh-Creation
09.29.09
10:47

Love these!!!
A bit like giant stretchmarks, - if only they were that attractive!
misskriti
09.29.09
05:38

These are fantastic -- just what I am looking ofr.
Where can I purchase?
Sue
09.30.09
01:09

Beautiful story. I want one of those dresses very much! Where can I buy one?
larsko
09.30.09
11:29

Yeah, where can I get my hands on one of these? I'm screaming out for hip maternity wear!!! :D
Emma.
Emma
09.30.09
12:42

Beautiful! Well done!
Love that it is creating jobs, too.
Alexandra
09.30.09
10:28

I think with publicity like this and online pick-up, Ms. Rodriguez can start to think about this becoming profitable. I would love to see the whole line as there is absolutely a market for affordable ($35!), designer maternity wear.
amy
10.01.09
05:00

enhorabuena
Luís Porém
10.01.09
06:59

Precioso!
Lusi
10.01.09
07:43

Hey! This IS a great idea! I love it.
Smila
10.02.09
02:18

The ideas and philosophies behind this small company are commendable. To aim to provide jobs, use quality materials and create a beautiful, functional and long-lasting product is something that isn't done enough. I think that expanding the line while staying true to the designer's original intentions is absolutely the way to go. I would love to own one of these dresses and would treasure it even more because of the high standards to which the company holds itself. I'm sold!!
Bess
10.02.09
05:42

I'd love to carry this maternity line in my Canadian boutique, Evymama. I will be looking her up!
Sarah Kaplan
10.02.09
02:11

where can i buybuybuy???
cary
10.02.09
02:23

Thanks for the post Jane, I just gave it a link from our baby blog. I hope they are able to expand SKIN to the US, I think the design would be popular.
Dr.MOZ
10.02.09
04:47

That is a great idea, I'd love to see a dress in person.
Valerie Heck
10.04.09
08:34

hola vivo en colombia y me gustaria saber donde queda el almacen.

gracias
LIDA FORERO
10.05.09
02:43

Qué buena idea! Vivo en Madrid y estoy embarazada, puedo comprar los vestidos por internet?
Matilde Tobon
10.07.09
04:58

Jane- where can we purchase this dress???
Alison
10.08.09
08:50

donde se puede consegir los vestidos? porfa mandame la direccion. la hija mia esta bastante interesada!
gracias

marc
restrepo valle
marc leyman
10.09.09
08:33

Nice idea! Bad presentation!
Most Interesting Ideas
10.12.09
09:50

Another story of a designer thinking out of the box which in turn helps other people - always inspiring to read about. Not only is it helping people who can't afford pricey maternity clothes as well as the clothes you wear before/after a pregnancy (gaining or losing weight) but it's employing people who couldn't make money before. Maybe if this line becomes more popular and can have more employees/machines, the quality of the dresses can rise and more creative designs for pregnant women can be evolved. I personally think the dress should have prints on the outside and a solid color on the inside (the belly part) so maybe the prints can help hide the pleats when the woman isn't "showing"... to me, they are distracting! But overall a creative idea!
Casey Canon
10.13.09
12:51

i liked it a lot.i want to wear it....but i think first i need to get pregnant:))
cansu
10.13.09
11:53

很不错
ding
10.16.09
12:44

i like the concept, if the pleats were more contiguous with the entire outfit it wouldn't look so much like something was going to happen in the womb area.
jon
10.17.09
02:38

me encantó!! en donde lo puedo comprar?
claudia
10.23.09
11:17

Where are these available for PURCHASE??? I love them?
sarah mullenix
10.24.09
12:40

WHERE CAN I BUY THIS NOW?????????
STACIE
10.26.09
09:04

I LOVE this! What a beautiful, clever, and flattering design! It also looks very comfortable. I think that something like this would make a great baby shower gift for someone's daughter! I would pay $50 for a dress like this, perhaps $65 if it helped create jobs for underpriveleged women. Spectacular!!!
Amie
10.30.09
02:43

Where can I purchase this?? I would love one for when I decide to have children!
Shawna
11.06.09
10:10

What the heck!
There's no way I'm wearing that ugly thing if not pregnant! I wouldn't even wear it if I was pregnant. It looks like a green garbage bag! The idea is not stupid but the design of the dress is absolutely awful!
Mido
11.11.09
10:26

I think the idea of expanding the business and exporting goods to Europe is tantalizing to Rodríguez, who is the first to admit that Bogota Factory’s small-scale, low-tech, labor-intensive operation is not the most efficient business model
Girl Dresses
11.21.09
01:16

I WANT THİS DRESS in turkey?
please
BAHADIR BABATIN
11.21.09
06:57

the fabric to a laser-cutting facility would certainly get the cotton cut faster, and with greater precision, than having a worker use a pair of scissors to execute the job by hand.
Wholesale Clothing
11.24.09
01:05

giyim kursu hocasıym modeliniz çok güzel fikir
ayten filiz
01.01.10
03:35

I would like to buy one of these! How can I do this?

Thanx
anastasia
02.01.10
01:30

I would very much like to buy the two dresses of your Skin Collection. How may I do this?
Yohanis
07.05.10
11:17

Mi piacerebbe acquistare almeno due vestiti della collezione. Come posso fare? cortesemente
Elena Falco
09.14.10
11:58

I would like to buy ! How can I do ıt?
yener ozalban
11.17.10
08:25



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