A Fleeting Moonlit Dream (3)
The young mistress of the Windsor house snapped out of her delusion, reevaluated her family's situation and started to tear up again. "But... I'm already running out of money..."
Looking at those beautiful, tear-filled eyes, Lorist said in an attempt to console her, "Don't cry. Doesn't your family still own some property in the city? This is what you can use to start the whole operation! Once your business builds up and begins to make a profit, you can start the operation according to the five points I've highlighted. I definitely think that your family can once again reclaim your dominion one day."
"Leaving that mansion of yours out, those two shopfronts owned by your family at Rotary Street is already worth a lot. They are situated at the city center of Morante City and the rent there is rather high. The fact that you own two shopfronts in that area gives you an edge over many others in starting a new business. Even the multi-million Gold Horn Merchant Guild started as a small establishment that did petty errands for others six years ago. I believe that with adequate management and a good business model, it would not be too hard for you to earn a profit of 1000 gold coins per year," added Charade.
The girl lifted her face, rubbed her cloudy eyes, and asked, "Then what kind of business do you reckon would earn me 1000 gold coins per year?"
"Oh no!" The fatty seemed to have remembered something and left in a hurry. "I forgot that I have to patrol the academy. With the weather being so hot recently, I bet many of the students would feel way edgier than normal and start to cause trouble! The Enforcement Division should be rather busy during these days. Heck, now we even have people trying to drown themselves in the Moon Lake! Now, we can even take it easy at night! You guys keep talking, I'll take my leave."
The girl's face reddened at the comment.
Gracefully bowing towards the girl, he whispered beside her ear, "He'll have a way for you," and whooshed outside the room.
Lorist was beginning to have a headache as it seemed very likely that the young mistress of the Windsor house already had her eyes set on him. She followed him in and out all day and even waited outside when he had to go to the washroom, attracting the attention of many students and causing rumors to spread.
"Come on, young mistress. Cut me some slack, will you? What do you want?" pleaded Lorist towards the stubborn girl.
"Who asked you to rescue me? Now, you have to take responsibility for it."
"My gosh, what's wrong with me saving your life? How should I fulfill that responsibility?"
"I want you to help me..."
"No way, that's too complicated and troublesome."
"Since you could think up a plan for me to get my dominion back, surely you could also figure something out for me to start my business..." the girl said coquettishly as she stomped her leg like a spoiled brat.
Lorist's resolved wavered. "I won't do it if there's nothing in it for me..."
Smiling brightly with a hint of embarrassment, the girl said, "Then, how about I become your girlfriend?"
Lorist was instantly entranced by her seductive smile and yielded.
The suggestion Lorist gave his new girlfriend was to stop all business proceedings of the shops at Rotary Street with the Jigda Kingdom and to revamp them into a premium women's boutique.
The girl stared wide-eyed at Lorist as he explained, not knowing what a premium boutique was. From her experience, noblewomen usually wore tailor made clothes by personal tailors or their handmaidens and never purchased them from anyone else. Most of the clothes at the stores focused more on utility rather than aesthetics and was usually marketed to smiths, mercenaries, office workers, housemakers, hawkers and other common city folk. No noble would ever lower themselves to wear clothes like that lest they want to end up walking jokes.
Lorist followed up with a patient explanation, "What we're trying to do is not to make common clothes like most other clothing stores out there. We are trying to appeal to the noble market, especially the women. We will focus on party dresses and accessories that cost at least ten gold coins per set."
"Is that really viable? Why would anyone in their right mind buy something at that price?" asked the girl to her new lover with much doubt in her eyes.
"Of course. As long as the designs are unique, a fashion trend would no doubt start. Given the nature of the nobles to only buy the best and most expensive things and their tendency to compare and compete with one another, we would succeed in no time."
"Then, who will be in charge of designing the clothes?"
"Me, of course," proclaimed Lorist with a face full of confidence.
In actuality, he had already come out with this idea for quite some time and only decided to start working on it for the sake of his girlfriend. Being a craftsman and a forger, he naturally had a certification for fashion design in his past life. It would not be an overstatement to even say that he was an expert in making dresses and gowns fit for even princesses.
During his time as a factory owner in his past life, he received a rather big business order. A rich businessman who wanted to throw a birthday party for his seven year old daughter had contacted Mattrel, one of the biggest toy companies in the world, to make 108 dolls that were about the size of his daughter at a price of 100000 RMB each (roughly 15000 USD) and specified that each of the dolls should have two different princess dresses that could be changed in and out of. In essence, he had requested for 108 dolls of the size of his daughter with another 216 sets of dresses and gowns.
The executives of Mattrel was left flabbergasted at the magnitude of the order. Did he come to them to order toys or clothes? If it were priced at 100000 USD each, then it would not be a problem for the company to hire professional fashion designers for the task. But 100000 RMB was not nearly enough for that kind of spending. So, they decided to just let one of their factories in China figure up a way to produce the clothes at a lower cost.
While the rich businessman wanted the original products produced by Mattrel themselves, he forgot that many of them were actually manufactured in China and that Mattrel was only responsible for branding, designing and marketing. Once the order reached the Chinese factory, the people in charge were also wracking their brains for a solution. While it would be easy to change a small part of the mold at a low cost to produce a new line of dolls, that wasn't easily achieved with the dolls' clothes. Should they resort to outsourcing this to clothing companies? It wasn't an easy task, especially when the request specified for the clothes to each have a unique design. This also meant different materials for different clothes, especially when princess-themed clothing would require certain special crystals or materials to decorate them. In the end, one of the persons in charge who was coincidentally an old comrade of Lorist decided to call him up for help.
Within three months, Lorist spent all his time researching. He watched various films that featured extravagant dresses, read all sorts of fashion magazines as well as studied the various exotic dresses movie stars often wore to the red carpet. His research material stacked up all over his office and his coworkers even joked that his office had become an archive for the whole of humanity's fashion culture.
Spending days and nights discussing and planning with several other fashion designers, he finally came up with more than 500 designs which he submitted to Mattrel's factory in China which then sent it to the rich businessman to select from, after which the selected designs were sent back to Lorist's factory to begin the production. This very order earned him more than 500000 dollars and he even deliberated whether he should change his factory's focus to children's clothing instead.
Having crossed over to Grindia for more than 6 years, Lorist already had a firm understanding of this world. Being the largest trading city on the continent, Morante City had visitors from all over the world and was also the central hub for the latest trends. However, to Lorist, most of these trends were nothing but jokes. What use did he have for popular things that ranged from soft beast fur shawls, well-written poems to durable, exquisite swords?
The nobles of this world had a custom of making their own clothes. But Lorist discovered that the designs of those clothes had not changed much from hundreds of years ago. The only noticeable difference was the improvement of the materials and the slightly different embroidery on the clothing. Most noblewomen, young or old, including the young Miss Windsor, had their personal tailors or handmaidens make their clothes which didn't really differ much from one another. The only things the ladies talked about during parties or banquets pertaining to clothing was the intricacies or details of the embroidery.
That's why Lorist firmly believed that the dresses he designed would definitely make most noblewomen go crazy for them. It was natural for women to continually beautify themselves. It's a shame that Grindia's fashion culture was so primitive and undeveloped unlike that of his previous world, where fashion designers brainstormed day and night to come out with a new, novel design.
So, to dispel any suspicions his new girlfriend might have about his ability that was painfully apparent in her gaze, he decided to show off a bit by drawing her a rough sketch.
The girl subsequently brought her new boyfriend back to her house in the east sector of the city, much to her two maidservants' surprise, as the usual haughty mistress of theirs had picked someone who looked so average to be her boyfriend. They thought that Lorist's clothes were rather ragged and that the Iron rank badge he wore on his chest was quite unsightly.
Not knowing of the thoughts his girlfriend's maids had about him, Lorist went up to the third floor to a room with sufficient lighting and asked for a pen and paper to start drawing. Initially, the young Windsor was weirded out by the relative revealingness of the clothes that accentuated one's body curves and thought that Lorist was a cheap pervert. But as the design neared its completion, the girl quieted down and had her eyes glued to the drawing, already fantasizing how she would look in that dress, much to Lorist's surprise.
Lorist gave her face a light slap and woke her from her daydream. The girl, blushing, grabbed the design and said, "I'm gonna have one made right now...", and rushed out to find her handmaidens.
Lorist shouted to her as she went out, "Then, what about me?"
"Just stay in that room and draw me more of those! I'll have someone send some food up during dinner!" said the girl.