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Help Dare Fashion Rebuild After $300K Robbery

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Hi, I'm Ben Wang. On May 1, the San Francisco office of my company, Dare Fashion [1], was broken into and robbed.

They stole $300K of equipment and merchandise, including nearly everything with an on/off switch and our most popular styles [2]. At the time, we were packing our best stuff into rolling bags to vend at the World Goth Day (WGD) convention - they took all that, too.

I had a $1 million business insurance policy, but it turned out to be liability-only, so no property was covered [3]. ‍‍

This nearly broke my heart. But we rallied: we inventoried what was left, packed what we could for WGD, moved the remaining merchandise to a more secure office location in Japantown, and made it to WGD on May 4, where the response to our fashion was overwhelmingly positive [4].

Now I'm more determined than ever not to give up. I'm raising money to replace essential equipment ($10K), remake our three best-selling styles ($40K), replenish accessories & leggings ($7K), cover moving costs ($1K) and to start a podcast: "Tough times don't last, tough people do" ($2K) [5].

@Dare Fashionistas: If Dare Fashion has ever made you feel more confident and/or made your day, please consider making a contribution and helping us survive. Or better yet, buy more of our fashion!

@Family, Friends & Other Kind Souls: If I've ever helped you in any way, done you a favor, given you advice, toasted you, made you laugh, made you dance... now's the time to get me back! This is my "dark night of the soul" moment, but I'll be chronicling my journey back in the podcast and inviting others to tell their stories there, too. I promise it will be inspirational!

THANK YOU!

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Footnotes:

[1] ABOUT DARE FASHION

At Dare Fashion, we make Confident Curvy Couture: Gothic, Victorian, Renaissance & Steampunk-inspired clothing that flatters all figures from petite to plus-size (S - 5x). Our inclusive fashion is designed on a 2x pattern and ethically made in San Francisco, with quality workmanship and a strong commitment to sustainable practices. We've been in business for over 17 years and are proud to have helped tens of thousands of women feel better about themselves, providing them concierge customer service, while creating work for local pattern makers & cutting and sewing shops.

[2] ROBBERY DETAILS

This robbery was devastating to my company. Amongst other equipment, they took 2 computers, 2 tablets, 2 printers, 2 postal scales and 2 smartphones. But the biggest loss was on the merchandise side: they stole all my accessories, including almost 1000 necklaces, >300 of pairs of stockings and leggings, >750 tops and dresses, and nearly 1200 costume packages. The retail value of the costume packages alone was >$100K. Moreover, they took our best stuff: they cleaned us out of our "tent-pole" styles - the two styles that drive 85% of our website sales and traffic, and they took all the stuff that we had packed to vend at the World Goth Day (WGD) convention.

[3] INSURANCE FAIL
Lesson learned! Always double-check the insurance policy when an employee researches and buys your business insurance for you. You can bet I've updated the insurance policy to include property damage now!

[4] TRIUMPH AT WORLD GOTH DAY
The timing of this robbery is so ironic. At the end of last year, because sales were slowing, I was considering ways to shift my focus to more profitable endeavors. Then, in March, we vended at Steamptopia, a Steampunk convention in Petaluma. One of the co-organizers was named Connie, who I thought might be the same "Connstance" who started recruiting us in 2019 to vend at her “oddities and curios” fair in Alameda, before it was canceled due to Covid. When I introduced myself and gave her my card, she went wide-eyed, "You're Dare Fashion! Where have you been?!? You're my FAVORITE fashion company! I own 7 of your tops! I now organize 15 festivals a year... World Goth Day is May 4th, it's on the USS Hornet, you have to come! I'll gift you a booth! And I can tell you exactly which of my festivals you'll do well at." When I explained that we've had a few difficult years and I've had several personal challenges and setbacks, she said, "I get it. But I'm going to make you believe in your company again, because your clothes made me believe in myself again."

This breathed new life into my company. Connie put me on the fashion show committee, and we got three spots on the runway. My staff were excitedly preparing their outfits when the break-in happened and completely took the wind out of our sails. But then I employed a technique I picked up whilst dealing with multiple, stacking setbacks over the past 6 years. I gave myself a set amount of time to feel sorry for myself (in this case 15 minutes), then I put my feelings in a box, made a plan and took action. Within 48 hours, we had filed a police report, secured a new office location in Japantown, re-packed what we could for WGD, inventoried the remaining merchandise, moved it to our new office (shout-out to the friends who lent a hand!), loaded the gear we needed for WGD, and were headed towards Alameda to set up our booth.

  • photo credits: @Davidpoznic, @borjaplus

And we crushed the World Goth Day event! We rocked the fashion show and the response to our outfits and our fashion was amazing. Even though much of our best stuff was stolen, we still had a continuous line of folks heading into the dressing room and we did steady sales throughout the day, re-affirming our company’s concept, mission and product-market fit.

[5] TOUGH TIMES DON'T LAST, TOUGH PEOPLE DO

If you know anything about my personal story, you'll know that in recent years, I've been knocked down and gotten back up repeatedly. My engagement fell apart, my mom had multiple strokes and I became her primary caregiver - amongst my close friends & associates, there were 3 accidental deaths, 2 drownings, 3 suicides, 2 overdoses, 3 cancer losses & one murder-suicide. I’ve been robbed, hacked, cheated, had a rat infestation, shut down a business, and was in a bike crash. But also, I was able to complete an Ironman triathlon, hike from Mexico to Canada on the PCT, and my mom and I are closer than ever.

As I was telling the story about the break-in to a friend and mentioned some of my mindset tricks and coping mechanisms, she said, “You should start a YouTube Channel or a podcast, it really would have helped me." Then she shared that a few months ago, her sister jumped off the roof of a building and just over a year ago, she got divorced AND her mother passed away! I found myself "interviewing" her, asking her how she was able to pull through such difficult challenges. I said, "when you're ready, you should be a guest on my podcast!" It occurred to me that we all go through tough times and losses, and it would be helpful, healing, and even inspirational to talk about (and hear about) those tough times, how we survive them, process them and keep moving forward.

Plus, there's an empty 325 sq ft space adjacent to our new Japantown office that would make a perfect little podcast studio. I take that as a sign!
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Fundraising team (2)

Benjamin Wang
Organizer
San Francisco, CA
Stefanie Gesiorski
Team member

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