Figured I would chime in here....give my 2 cents worth. I should start by saying that I don't have a LABEL, or a BRAND, and I'm certainly not arrogant enough to consider myself a DESIGNER. I design, and produce, interesting t-shirts and hoodies. I believe this to be an honorable thing to do....and something that I'm pretty freakin' good at. Do I have plans to expand my offerings to one day have a real LABEL....absolutely. Do I hope that LABEL one day becomes an actual BRAND....you bet. Am I aware that the chances of this happening are remote.....yes. Some of the stumbling blocks to doing this are: 1. I have no fashion education - I sincerely wish I did. Unfortunately, at 45 years of age, with a wife and 3 children, it isn't going to happen. If I were your age Arethusa I would ABSOLUTELY learn the trade from the ground up. You can philosophize (not a word, I know) without a degree in philosophy. I'm sure of this...because I do it all the time. My coffee vs. tea post should be proof enough. 2. I have no significant money. I don't mean to say that I'm starving to death because I'm clearly not. But to start a full blown brand takes an enormous amount of capitol. My plan is to become proficient at my craft and focus on a very small, well defined, segment of the market. If I can do that...it will allow me to expand my offerings into that market because I will at least have access to the decision makers......which is as important as the product itself. If this ever comes to pass...I will hire people that have skill sets that augment my own. Fill in where I'm weak so to speak. I have no shortage of ideas....it's almost a curse, but being able to take those ideas from my diseased brain and articulate them well enough to ever reach a retail floor will require technically proficient people working with me. It has taken me over a year just to get people to talk to me. Much of this was accomplished through my association with Fok....the rest through attending the Pool show. 3. The other reason I may never have a BRAND is that I may not be good enough. It really is that simple. I love playing basket ball....and was pretty good...up here in Maine. I was also a damn good football player.....up here in Maine. But being 6'2" and 235 lbs doesn't go very far if you are a power forward, and gets you no where if you are a defensive end. My point is....I may be good at what I do (and I believe I am) but I may not be GREAT at what I do. Is this going to stop me.....hell no. I have developed a skill set that allows me to play the game. Only time will tell if I'm good enough to play with the big boys. I can tell you this....I'm not scared of the big boys....and have always been willing to fail. If you aren't willing to get your ass kicked from time to time....you may as well not even start....because it WILL happen. A couple of other thoughts in no particular order: 1. You have to be obsessed with this business. If you aren't...don't even start. 2. Your project will have a far greater chance of success if you some education in the field. I don't think that education HAS to come from a school...it could be as an intern, or apprentice.....get a job with a screen printer if you are interested in that sort of product. Just immerse yourself in the field. DO NOT do what I did.....lock yourself in a shop for a year and figure everything out on your own. It sucks....it's stupid.....and while it may actually pay off in my case....it really is the hard way to do it. 3. Have a point of view....set the trend, don't follow it. I can tell you that my experience at the Pool Show confirmed that for me. There were probably 300 t-shirt brands there. If you took the signs off the booths...you would have thought 250 of them were the same company. 4. Start small....start with one piece.....this business can be overwhelming if you are trying to launch an entire line. Remember...Project Runway is a TV show. Not many people can live with no source of income.....fighting and crying on a daily basis.....and produce a fully mature line of apparel in just 3 months. Hell....even they couldn't do it. 5. I believe Jen mentioned getting a handle on the business side of things. That is good advice. The restaurants of NY and LA are fully staffed with people that have great design skills......and no clue how to run a business. OK...I've rambled long enough. The bottom line is that this business isn't something you dabble in. You are either all the way in....or you are wasting your time. Make sure you actually enjoy the work and not just the perceived lifestyle. Believe me....it ain't that glamorous.