Where It All Started - First Campaign Shoot

10:47:00 AM

It's almost 2 a.m. in the morning and I am still up. I haven't been able to sleep early lately. So, I was just browsing through my hard disk and found the behind-the-scenes photos of aere's first campaign shoot for the first ever collection launched on 28th October 2014, and decided to start blogging on this BTS / reflection post. 

The Nature of Grace collection.

It's always good to pause and reflect at where we currently are in our individual journeys, and also to look back to where we started. Of course, aere has a long, long, long way to go. It's been over a year since aere just started, but looking at these photos reminded me of how much aere has grown since it started. And it reminded me of aere s first campaign photo shoot. It feels just like yesterday.

I was just so extremely nervous the days leading to this photoshoot. It was my first ever shoot for aere, and my first official step into this new world, having left my lawyering days behind to pursue this. And this photoshoot was going to be how I would introduce myself, my brand, my new pursuit to the whole world. Man, the pressure was really intense. I didn't want aere to be crushed at its first attempt. I had no idea how aere was going to be received by everyone. It was hard to remove these doubts and thoughts from my head, even though I was sure that I made the right decision to switch careers after already thinking about it for a long time.

Somehow, you have to push away the voices of doubt that get in your head. Despite these doubts, I knew and had figured out the mood, concept and look that I wanted specifically for this photoshoot but of course whether it turned out as I envisioned it was another matter. 

As aere means air in Latin, I wanted the concept of the shoot to be in the air and I also wanted a nature in the city kind of concept. And I felt that since I was introducing aere to the public with the first collection, I wanted it to symbolise the colour of the logo too. White and blue, which represents the white and blue we see in nature. The sky, the sea, clouds... Easy right?

Not really. Where were we going to find the location to shoot that concept? That was one of the many things I had to figure out.

As it turns out, a few weeks before the shoot I attended a private family event at my cousin's Zaralisa's apartment. She did it on the rooftop and the view was just amazing as they even had a pool with a beach feel on top of the roof. They had a sand pit too. I felt that the apartment's rooftop was perfect for my concept, and there was a background of all blue with NO greens. Just the model wearing aere  with the sky as the background with hints of the blue pool and buildings down below. I really wanted and was pretty set on the all-blue and white background concept.

But alas, we can only plan ahead and plan for something that we want, but He is the best of Planners and His plans are always better for us... The plan I had in mind for aere s first photoshoot was taken over by an unforeseen sequence of events.. Looking back more than a year on, I'm very thankful that I could view whatever that happened now as something positive. And I'm going to share about my day that day.

It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining but it wasn't too hot. Thank God it didn't rain. Everyone arrived on location early and we were pumped up for the first shoot! I thought things were going smoothly. The shooting for the first look went well, we managed to shoot at the place by the pool where I wanted the shoot to be at for the whole 6 looks. It was a pretty cool manufactured beach on a rooftop overlooking a clear blue sky.

I didnt even know what was tear sheets before this photoshoot. But I had it prepared few days before the shoot as a guide.

So we did the shots for the first look which is ZEPHYR Draped Dress at that spot... And then suddenly we had to unwillingly move to another place because ...

Let me rewind back to the time I was planning for the shoot before I continue telling the rest of the story about the shoot.

What made the nervousness increase was that the time was really tight. There was already a delay in production for the 6 designs I wanted to release together as I've targeted the first release to be a certain date, but I had to proceed with production of the designs much later than my targeted date because the samples did not turn out as I wanted it to be. Of course, the samples had to be remade a number of times till it was perfect for production and it took me months till I was finally happy to proceed with production. I was hard on myself as I had set a certain date, of course other people didnt really care as I did not tell other people my timeline but it was something that I have already set my mind into so I was really bummed when it didn't go as planned. At the same time, I didn't want to rush something which wasn't the finished product. I wanted to make sure all of the aere pieces were solid quality. 

When we finally got the shipment samples which was perfect according to what I wanted, I could't wait any longer and pushed myself to plan for the first ever shoot. 

First, the photographer. I needed someone who's good, creative and has a great track record. A few of my cousins recommended Bibo Aswan and I called him at the very last minute. I was glad that he agreed to do it and he said for him to shoot 6 looks it will only take him half a day. I thought shoots could last the whole day, but this guy is a pro. Plus, it was only 6 looks. (Though at that time it did feel like 6 looks was really a lot production wise and in general since I was  just merely dipping my toes in the fashion business) I chose beautiful Lauri Dalanhese, a Brazillian Model through Andrews Models and booked Mabel Toh for makeup. The bubbly Nadhirah Brundage helped with the logistics of the shoot.

There were 6 designs altogether. For the styling of aere's first designs I knew how I envisioned and want the models to wear them but I had help with the styling from Alyssa  Aishah Shahrir and Gina Anryana who were then interns at FV. They helped with finding the accessories and bags and even printed out photos of the mix and match. I brought Ina who was also my talented assistant designer for aere at the time. She also helped me to dress the model up and help see if there was any problem with the fitting and outfit. The great team that day was pretty awesome and as much as it was pretty stressful, it was also a fun shoot, at the end of the day. I was blessed to get the assistance of these amazing individuals!

There were problems though. 

For the ISSORIA Draped Skirt, the final sample didn't reach  us on time for the shoot, so we had to use one of the previous samples that I had already made changes. That's why the shoot's sample and the final one that's released is different! Hehe. But at that time, I was so annoyed because we couldn't shoot the full look of the skirt because of that. As for the EDITH Detachable Jumpsuit, the standard sizing was more towards Asian size. It's actually perfect for my kind of height, but as the caucasian model is really really tall (she made us look like midgets during the group photo), it was difficult for us to attach the top and bottom of the detachable jumpsuit, so there were times when we just had to detach them for her during the shoot to let her breathe. The wardrobe malfunction was a major panic emergency situation at that time! 

Oh, and not to mention, as it was an outdoor shoot, there wasn't any changing rooms, so Lauri had to change with some of us covering her up!

Back to the story of the venue. Oh yes, the venue was really gorgeous and all. It really suited the concept that I envisioned in my head. Nature in the city. Modern and minimalist. Sometihing that to me, represents aere. But there was a problem. My cousin was a resident there and we did not have problems taking photos there at the rooftop with DSLR and all for the event she hosted just weeks before the shoot which made me decide on the venue. We made the necessary payment to book the spot. However, the guards and management didn't allow us to do our shoot by the pool since the shoot we did was for a commercial purpose. I didn't know this beforehand.

So thats why, after we shot the first look, we kena halau and had to shoot at another place, just above the pool. It wasn't that bad, there was still a nice skyline view. But the only problem is is that there were a lot of greenery and trees too. 

In my mind, I was screaming "no!! The concept is ruined! There will be greens in the photo. I just wanted a blue and white background in the photo! No greens!" Bibo and the rest of the team knew that but I didn't want to cancel the entire photo shoot to look for another place. Bibo also assured me that he could still work with what we have and synchronise the theme with the first Zephyr look. I trusted his eye and judgment, then learned to let go and just accepted the fact that there will be greens in the photo. The end result? It turned out to be great~! Greater than how I expected it to be. Greens are good for you, don't you know?

Even when we have moved to the different spot, the guards weren't too happy we did the shoot there so we had to rush it. Lucky for me, Bibo Aswan was just so talented and creative that she managed to get pretty gorgeous and amazing shots so quickly. We were done with the shoot by noon.

So, some lessons I learned from my first campaign shoot for aere :

1. Finding a beautiful and perfect location (in this case it was the Verve Suites) is important, but having the proper permission to do the shoot is even more important.

2. Having the samples ready is one thing, but fitting of the pieces on the model is even more important because photoshop is still so limited to certain things.

3. Learn to adjust to the situation and let go. I wanted no greens, but at the end of the day, I had to accept the fact that I have to let go of what I want, because in turn I might get something even better.

4. Always take a group photo at the end of the photoshoot, because you never know one day, you might not have the chance to work with all the same group of talented people again. So it's nice to capture the beautiful memories for the shoot.

5. As much as it can be challenging and nerve-wrecking (I must have been frowning the whole time under the hot sun because I was so worried how it might all turn out), at the end of the day, just have fun with it because it will show!

6. It is okay to overthink. It is much better than not thinking at all about something that you are responsible for. So don't beat yourself too much when you stress out and overthink things that you are in charge of.

I remember when I took the BTS photos oh-so-nervously during the shoot and thought to myself that if aere is well received and is still standing maybe a year from the first collection, I'll blog and share the story about what happened behind the scenes of those gorgeous shots which made the first release a success. 

And here I am, around 1 year and 6 months after that shoot (4th September 2014), almost 2 years since I started aere, typing this out and just feeling very thankful of the success of that first collection. Some of the designs were sold out in 2 days, and some in just a few weeks. We restocked some of them due to popular demand.

Oh, and I remember since it was my first shoot and I couldn't even sleep the night before, Khubayb the husband came to drop by from his busy schedule at work to give love and moral support. It was just about 15 minutes but it means the world to me to know that I have the support of my own husband especially when it was during the time that I officially changed my career from being a lawyer to running and managing my own label. Plus, he brought us pizzas and took this candid-not-candid group photos at the end.

Whats not to love!

So have faith that even though things will not turn out how you want it to be, it'll be okay in the end. If God wills it.

Ps : If you want to check out some of the campaign photos for aere's first collection, Nature of Grace I posted on the blog, you can check out my post on aere in this blog the day of the first release, A Burst of aere.


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  1. the model so high....

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