January 21, 2018 • All / Behind the scenes / Process

I’m not good at balance. It’s something that intrigues me, I’m always vaguely seeking it, but it’s not natural to me. My husband affectionately (I think) tells me that I am extreme in all ways. I’m an all-or-nothing type, I take risks, I bite off more than I can chew, I’m thorough to the point that I’m sure it’s exhausting to most who know me. A few examples of this: my to-do list for a weekend day is never actually achievable in a 24-hour span; “organizing my closet” means purging the actual clothing but also demoing the physical closet and then purchasing and installing an entirely new system; when I want to learn something new I collect not one but at least eight books on the subject; I often find myself stubbornly committed to finishing a project through the middle of the night because I can’t bear for it to be left half-heartedly done. I’m perennially fearful of not doing enough or there not being enough of something.

The most salient example I can think of is the time I made mega-lasagna. A few coworkers and I used to do a lunch co-op where one of us would cook for the group each week, and we’d rotate weeks. It was great. During one of my weeks, I decided to make lasagna for us. There were three meat eaters and one vegetarian, so I was making two recipes to begin with. I didn’t pick simple recipes - I picked ones with multiple meats, a million kinds of cheeses, and a massaged kale caesar salad with homemade dressing. There were four of us eating, and I wanted the meal to last two days, so I doubled the already family size recipe. It was a hectic week, we were preparing for a large shoot and an interview, and I was pretty frazzled. I spent an hour and a half shopping at Whole Foods during which my husband pressed me on the amount of ingredients I was purchasing. I kid you not, I bought three 32-ounce containers of ricotta cheese. I had almost four pounds of meat. I was sure that the recipe called for all this, and I wanted to be certain it was enough. I put together the lasagna that night in a frenzy. There were dishes everywhere, I had three different kinds of meat, and there was too much cheese to fit in the bowl and too many vegetables to saute. In the midst of it all, I double checked the recipe and finally realized I was preparing two servings of a recipe intended to feed TWELVE people. I ended up making four full pans of lasagna, and it took us two weeks to eat it all. But that’s my flaw - nowhere along the way did I stop and think, "Man this seems like way too much damn cheese for four humans to consume."

At any rate, all of this to say, balance and moderation elude me. It’s a bit ironic considering the tempered visual nature of the clothing I design and the simplicity I embrace in most aspects of my life. But then again, it’s fitting - we are so often desperately seeking that which we find most lacking in ourselves. Most of the time, I find this go-big-or-go-home quality useful. It motivates me, it keeps me from being bored, it propels my work and life forward, and I always have something to be passionately engaged in.

But as of late, I’ve found that designing products this way has been more difficult and less rewarding than I’d like. When we release an update to a collection, like our Warm Weather Collection or Signature Collection, I hate the feeling of excluding products I’m proud of or excited about. I want to be absolutely thorough, I want to go big, I want to fit everything in. However, I also want to test each piece for wear and fit, I want to spend time on each pattern, I want to experiment with different finishes, I want to train our team on impeccable construction, I want to go over each detail of the design and inspiration with you. Our product line has evolved and grown over time to include so many incredible pieces, and I’m excited about so many new fibers and colors that are yet to come. Releasing new products and updates to current collections has become quite the affair internally, involving a significant time investment from every team. We are typically in a sprint to the finish line, with a fantastic launch to show for it, but without the deep care and intricate commitment to each individual piece that I’d like because it’s simply impossible to highlight each piece thoroughly in a launch that contains forty or fifty items.

We’ve been toying with the idea of changing our release structure for the past year, and we are ready to experiment a bit. Rather than releasing an update to a full collection all at once, like our first Signature Collection Generation 4 update in November, we are instead going to focus on smaller groupings of individual products (don’t worry - all of the items that were planned to go into the collection will still be coming, just not all at once). We’ll release pieces as they are ready, no sooner and no later. Pieces will be available sooner than having to wait for a full collection to be released, and nothing will be rushed to make a launch date. This will give me more time to focus on the design of each product, immerse myself in the story and personality of each piece, and communicate that to our team here at ES and to all of you. It will allow our operations team time to perfect the construction of each new piece with their fullest attention. It will allow us to photograph products with more flexibility, and publish more tailored content that digs into the meat of what we do and why.

It will also allow us to manage our order intake with more nuance - when we launch a large collection, it is hard for us to predict what our volumes will be, and that makes it hard to control our lead time. By launching smaller groupings of products with higher frequency, we can fine-tune launch timelines according to order volume and production capacity, reducing some of the volatility that makes our made-to-order, direct-to-consumer model tough sometimes. It will hopefully make the pace of consumption a bit easier too with less of the overwhelm and decision fatigue that can often accompany larger releases. I also think the phasing in and out of new products will have less of a jarring feel - there will be more time for education and getting familiar with fit changes, sizing updates, and new fabrics. Overall, I have been thinking a lot about food and how this transition feels like going from trying to eat all of the day's calories in one, mega-lasagna-ish meal to spreading them out over several well-portioned meals and a few good snacks. There is more time to savor and enjoy the unique qualities of each bite, and hopefully, we’ll feel a bit healthier.

I am all at once relieved, excited, anxious, and curious to see how this new strategy feels in practice. This Tuesday, we’ll release our first grouping of products, so we shall see! The upcoming launch will include four new styles going into our Signature Collection. Tomorrow, I’ll share the inspiration behind these new pieces and tell you all about them (Ah! It’s already working!).

As always, thank you for your constant support and encouragement. I’m so thankful to be able to write openly to you, and I couldn’t be happier to have a community like this to serve. Wish I could have you all over for lasagna.

- Liz

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