Monthly Archives: May 2016

May 27

Create Raving Fans For Your Fashion Brand

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales , Vibe Consulting

 

As a brand owner you should always seek to create raving fans for your fashion brand.  A raving fan is someone who is so devoted to your company that they wouldn’t dream of shopping anywhere else and is always sings your praises.

Think about products you love that you would never give up.  Maybe it is the perfect shirt or shoe brand that is your go to.  Don’t you tell all your friends about your wonderful find?   This is the kind of adoration you should work to develop with your customers.

Making a phenomenal product is one part of the equation.  The other part is your customer service.  You can have good customer service, great customer service, or knock your socks off customer service.  A great example of knock your socks off  customer service is the legendary story of a family vacationing at the Ritz-Carlton in Bali.  Because of their son’s food allergies, the family was always careful to bring their own supply of specialized eggs and milk. In this particular instance, however, the food was ruined en route. The Ritz-Carlton manager couldn’t find any of the special items in town, but his executive chef recalled that a store in Singapore sold them. The chef contacted his mother-in-law, who lived there, and had her purchase the items, then fly to Bali (about 2.5 hours) to deliver them. Amazing!  The press on that alone was worth the time and effort and cost.

Are you doing all you can do to create your “raving fans”?

The final secret, according to Ken Blanchard, author who coined the phrase “raving fan”,  is to decide what you can do for the customers, and deliver it, plus 1%. Ask yourself what little extra you could do to give yourself the plus 1%. You don’t need to be 50% better, just 1 little percent makes the difference between a satisfied customer, and a raving fan.

May 25

Why You Should Sell Your Fashion Line From Your Website

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Sales

 

There are many reasons  why you should sell your fashion line from your website.  Let’s face it on line sales continue to grow at a significant rate.  By having an on line presence you have another avenue in which to sell your product.  Some companies do most of their business on line and have very successful and profitable businesses.  Below are my 5 top reasons.

  1. Your website is a great place for you to create a brand experience.  From the style of your website, to your photography, all the way to customer service you are in control.   You don’t have stores you sell to filtering the experience through the look of their stores and how they take care of their customers.
  2. You can build a direct customer list.  A list is a big asset that an online business will cultivate.  By having a list you can market directly to an audience that has already expressed interest.
  3. The margins are great!  Think about it.  You have to sell online at the same price as the MSRP that you tell the stores you sell.  So you have the margin on the wholesale price plus the margin on the retail price.  Pretty awesome!
  4. You are open 24/7.  This way customers are not locked into shopping when a store is open.  It’s fun to wake up to sales that occur through the night.  These are sales that you might not have had if the consumer had to wait till the morning.
  5. You can create links to your site.  Links are very important to viral marketing. If you have many sites linking to you, it is like spreading the word about your company all around the world. If you have a good website with good products people are more likely to link your website to theirs.  It is a relatively inexpensive way to market your site.

The internet has changed the way we do business.  It has allowed small start ups to get in the game in a relatively small way and build a business before having the big expenses of showroom space and staff.  It should also be an important part of your selling strategy.

 

 

May 23

Should You Be Your Own Fashion Brands Ambassador?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

 

Should You Be Your Own Fashion Brands Ambassador?  In retail, there is the belief that buyers and higher-ups should work on the floor at least once a month  to interact personally with the customers. This helps people who are normally removed from the customers buying experience to learn what their customers really want.  As a brand manager I was always visiting stores and spending time on the floor so that I really understood what the customer wanted.  Spending time with the shoppers to communicate the brands DNA helped create an emotional connection.

These days the emotional connection is even more important as buyers not only want to like the product but also like the company and what it stands for.  That is why companies like Toms and Everlane are so popular.

One of the easiest ways to create an emotional connection is through brand ambassadors.  Brand ambassadors humanize your brand and give customers someone to relate to.  As the brand owner if you have the right image it makes sense that you be that ambassador.  As your brand ambassador  you are usually the most passionate about — and intimately familiar with — your products or services

Your brand’s personality is the unique, humane voice with which your story is told in the marketplace.  Look at some of the best fashion companies out there and how they are led by the companies founders.  Companies such as:  Michael Kors,  Donna Karan, Estee Lauder, Sara Blakely (Spanx),  and Tom Ford.  They knew that no one else can tell your brand story like you can.  People relate to people, and if your brand feels like people, they’ll relate to you too.

So what are some of the traits you need to have to be able to be an effective brand ambassador?  The right image, passion for your product, good communication skills,  outgoing, a leader, and relationship builder,  are some of the key characteristics you will need.  If you have them or can cultivate them, then you should seriously consider being your own fashion brands ambassador.

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May 19

There Is Power In Focus For Fashion Entrepreneurs

By Maria Pesin | Business , Productivity , Vibe Consulting

 

There is power in focus for fashion entrepreneurs because a lack of focus leads to scattered resources.  Focus involves the ability to pay attention to things that will help and avoid distractions that will hurt your business.  I speak about lack of focus a lot in my blogs because to me  it is one of the single most destructive thing I find fashion entrepreneurs suffering from.  I call it the bright shiny penny syndrome, some people call it business ADD.  But whatever you call it doing it is not a good thing to indulge in.

Recently I sat down with a client.  She showed me several new lines she was thinking of taking on.  She was also thinking of adding the West coast trade shows to the list of shows she was doing.  The problem was she is just one person.  She had not even come close to building her business with the lines she had and they had huge potentials.  The new lines would be for different buyers so she wouldn’t be able to leverage existing relationships.  Finally the East Coast was so underdeveloped that just building that would be a full time job.  These were things that I convinced her were not something to take on yet.

When your resources are limited focusing is a powerful tool.  Concentrating your activities will help your business gain momentum because each step builds on the step taken before.  Instead of doing a task here and there that do not relate which builds nothing.

Think of it like you would compound interest.  Albert Einstein called compound interest  “the greatest mathematical discovery of all time.”  In terms of money, compounding is the exponential increase of an investment. But in simpler terms, compounding is interest you earn on interest.

Applying the same principle to your fashion business by focusing your efforts you can compound your results on selling, marketing, and generally building your fashion brand.  That is the power of focus!

 

 

 

May 17

When Should a New Fashion Brand Start a PR Campaign?

By Maria Pesin | Vibe Consulting

 

When should a new fashion brand start a PR campaign?  This is a question that comes up with a lot of my start up clients.  While there is no true right or wrong answer,  I have definite opinions about this.  I believe you should not start your PR campaign until a customer can buy your product.  If there is not a place for the customer to shop (it can be brick and mortar stores, on line, in home events , etc.)  than your consumer will be frustrated.

At the very minimum there should be an announcement of when the line will be available.  Target does a great job collaborating with top designers such as Marimekko and Lily Pulitzer.  They announce the date it will be ready to buy and create a huge buzz around it.  This way the customer knows when it will be available and doesn’t have to wait too long.

The famous quote from Microsoft creator Bill Gates says, “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.”  A Public relations campaign is essential to building  your business.   As soon as you have locked in your brand look and messaging and you have product to buy you can begin engaging your target audience(s).   PR is expensive to do in both time and money, that is why a new fashion brand should choose to initiate the campaign when the opportunity is there to get the best results.

 Most importantly  you need to be ready. If your product is not the best version of itself you most likely will get no press or even worse  negative press. And believe me, there is such thing as bad press. So, make sure you are completely ready before employing any PR strategies and make sure your message is clear, focused, and interesting.

May 16

Are Your Customers Fed Up With Bland, Boring Department Store Assortments?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Sales

 

Are your customers fed up with bland, boring department store assortments?

During the first quarter, spending at the nation’s clothing and clothing accessories stores grew 2.7% on a year-over-year basis, reaching $55.4 billion, according to the US Census Bureau. Yet according to Yahoo News , ” The earnings of Nordstrom’s department store peers also declined in 1Q16, primarily due to the impact of weak sales and higher markdowns. The adjusted EPS of Macy’s (M), Kohl’s (KSS), and Dillard’s (DDS) declined by 28.6%, 50.8%, and 18.6%, respectively, in 1Q16.”

So if spending on apparel is up than maybe it is simply that dollars previously accumulated by big name brands usually seen at major department stores are being redirected toward other brands.  Are your customers fed up with bland, boring department store Assortments?  I think so.  Consumers are voting with their wallets.  They are bored with all the big department stores looking the same.  With the same brands, same product, and nothing unique that sets one chain off from another it’s easy to see why department stores are having a tough time of it.

Macy’s is trying to make shopping more fun, but are “selfie walls” and touch-screens gimmicks enough to turn their lackluster business around?

I believe that the stores are forgetting that main rule in fashion and that product is first and foremost.  Buyers no longer scour the market for what is new and fresh.  When I started in this industry a buyer was expected to shop new lines.  Now it seems as though they are discouraged.

In fact when a new brand tries to find out who their buyers is the stores won’t tell them!  It is as though this is a big secret!

You can’t even blame the buyers.  If they try something new and it doesn’t work than they are penalized.  If the brand is small and cannot afford to give the buyer markdown money than they are doubly penalized.

That is why the advent of the internet has changed the way consumers buy.  New fashion companies can now go direct to the customer and bypass the traditional department store route.  So when apparel sales are up and department store sales are down we know that the consumer is finding what they like somewhere else.

 

May 13

Is Your Website Too Confusing!

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Sales

Is Your Website Too Confusing!  Can someone come to your site and know exactly who you are and what your product is? Do they know where to look? Where to click? What to do? Visual clutter and poor navigation are some of the most serious issues a designer can present to an audience. Not only is the user unlikely to achieve the desired goals (because it’s hidden in the clutter and poor usability), chances are they’ll just leave out of frustration before they do anything.

Yale researchers in partnership with Stanford and University of Michigan scholars, wanted to find out if people were more likely to spend money in response to complicated descriptions or simple ones. As you would guess, the simple options won. If consumers felt that an option was simple or easy, it made them more likely to spend their money.

Your website must have a message so make it very clear to your visitors.  Your customers should not have to guess what it is.   It’s easy to get caught up in adding all kinds of new features and building fancy websites, but sometimes too many bells and whistles can produce a jumbled message to visitors that produces confusion.

One of the biggest error I see fashion brands make is trying to be everything to everyone.  This is true in their collections as well as their websites.  Clarity and focus will go a long way in building your brand experience.  Decide what your brand stands for and make it obvious in your website.

Some websites sacrifice usability for beauty and are difficult to navigate.  The challenge a website designer faces is finding a balance between creating a beautiful site that will attract visitors and one that a customer will easily get them all of the information they came to find.

Creating a stream of business from your website is very profitable so don’t leave the development to chance.  Carefully develop and communicate your concept in a clear manner on your website with clear instructions on where to click to next.

 

 

 

 

May 11

What Can We Learn From Moncler?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Sales

What Can We Learn From Moncler?  We  know that the fashion industry is very competitive.  We also know that business in general is tough because we read the news, talk to buyers, and look at our sales.  But, what I always tell my Entrepreneurs is someone is doing business!  Someones business is good.  Why can’t it be yours?

Womens Wear Daily reported yesterday, “Lifted by double-digit growth in Asia and the Americas and a solid performance in Europe and in Italy, Moncler SpA saw revenues grow 18 percent in the first quarter of the year. In the three months ended March 31, sales rose to 237.3 million euros, or $261 million, compared with 201 million euros, or $225.1 million in the same period.”

Now even though Moncler is know as an outerwear brand they grew their business dramatically in the first quarter when sales in coats are typically low.  They have also been growing sales in a commodity that has experienced really poor sales due to the unusual weather patterns world wide.  Wow!

Moncler can attribute their success to many things.  Their styling is amazing.  They have collaborations with world renowned designers such as Sacai, Nicolas Ghesquière  and Thom Browne.  Their photography has been shot by Bruce Weber and Annie Leibovitz.  Their marketing is excellent.  Plus, they are in a category called athleisure which is very hot right now.  While luxury down coats is the new must have, you can say that Moncler has created the category.  Especially since they were one of the first to take down coats to the level of  fashionability that they now possess.

What you can learn from Moncler and any successful fashion business is that you can have a wildly successful fashion brand.  You just need to bring your “A” game to all aspects of your business and leave nothing to chance.

 

May 10

Is Private Label a Good Way to Grow a Fashion Business

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales

 

Private label is when you produce product for a retailer or another brand under their name rather than your own brand name.  Usually the margins on this business are smaller.  But many times the units are bigger than you might have sold the store if you used your own logo.  It is very enticing business, especially if you are new and trying to build sales volume.

It is great for retailers as they expect to pay less for private label so their  profits are much higher. “The stores don’t really make much money off of the brands they carry. For example, a dress from Aqua, Bloomingdales in-house contemporary label, generates much higher profit margins than a number by Marc by Marc Jacobs because they aren’t paying the high premium of getting the Marc by Marc Jacobs label.  Usually the price is less for the customer as well.  This is a win-win for Bloomingdales and their customers.  For brands it extends their product assortment into categories they do not have experience with.

Is private label a good way to grow a fashion business?  That depends on your business.  Each fashion company has its own business model.  It also has its own unique characteristics.  So what might work for one brand might not work for another.  The questions you need to ask yourself are, “What business am I really in? What are my ultimate goals?”  Look at your business as it stands.  Do you need the business because your sales are low or would the sale use up precious resources and reduce your profitability?  Do you have a hot item that would loose its exclusivity if you make it for someone else at a reduced price?  Or is everyone already starting to knock it off so you might as well get a part of that business.  Do you have the infra structure in place to do private label?  Because many companies that do private label have a whole list of requirements in order to do business with them.

As in all business there isn’t one stock answer fits all so studying the opportunity to do private label and making sure it adds positively to your company is truly the way to go.  Always do your due diligence before making any decisions.

 

May 06

5 Tips For How To Have An Awesome Trunk Show

By Maria Pesin | Vibe Consulting

 

I like to write about things my fashion entrepreneurs ask about.  This week I was asked about how to have an awesome trunk show.    Typically a trunk show was a preview of a designer’s latest fashion collection at select clothing stores prior to its general distribution.  Nowadays it could include any kind of an in store visit where samples are sent to a store for the salespeople to show the stores customers and take orders.

Trunk Shows are a time and money investment so of course you want to do everything you can to ensure their success.  The following are 5 tips for how to have an awesome trunk show:

  1. Only do trunk shows in stores you believe have the best chance of success.  You want to be in successful stores that do good businesses and have loyal customers.  It is also key that the product in the store sells to the same demographic that you do.
  2. Do all you can to promote the event.  Contact local magazines and newspapers.
  3. Incredibly important!!  Have the sales people call their best customers to personally invite them to the event.  Make sure to do a Skype product knowledge before the event with the sales people so they know what you are bringing and can tell their customers.  Of course send postcards and emails to the stores client list.
  4. They say timing is everything so choose a time of year that makes the most sense for your product and choose a day and time when the customers for the store will be available.  Some people have more time on the weekends, some nights, some days.  That is something the store buyer will know.
  5. View the event as a party. “It’s not just a showing,” Have food and beverages and also models if applicable.  I once had a psychic do readings for my customers.  I think they liked that even better than the wine.

I like trunk shows for so many reasons, selling product, meeting your end customer, etc.  But the best reason is to build brand recognition.  Be professional in everything you do and make sure you do not disappoint a customer and not ship something they order.