Monthly Archives: January 2017

Jan 23

Why Aren’t Stores Treating Curvy Women Right?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

Recently one of my followers, Lisa Banks of Lisa Kay Banks Designs read a post I wrote “The demise of the department stores”.

She wrote me and stated’ “I wanted to also add that as a curvy woman going to the department stores to shop is fun but also disappointing. I would love to see more diversity in clothing brands that make apparel specifically for curvy women. I find some departments stores have the “plus size” area, next to maternity wear—REALLY—. I love the idea of the 3-4 way mirror, and to see sales personnel, that have training in styling and fitting, to help the shopper with recommendations while shopping for garments.”

She is so right.

I have a client that is making a foray into the plus size arena. While researching the market I found myself searching department stores in an effort to find the plus size department.

In some stores it was in the basement.

However, what was really disappointing were the assortments. Ill fitting, frumpy, and cheap looking clothing is what I found. Is business so good that stores can ignore or barely register a whole segment of the population?

There are designers who purposely don’t make past a size 12 because they don’t want to see large size women in their clothes. While this may be insulting, it’s their choice.

But then there are the ignorant people such as Chip Wilson, former CEO and founder of Lululemon who once stated, “Frankly, some women’s bodies just don’t actually work [for the yoga pants],” Chip Wilson said on Bloomberg TV’s “Street Smart” program. “It’s more really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it.”

I believe it is time to make fashion that is inclusive of all body types.

So why not think of including extended sizing in your clothes or adding plus sizes to your brand? Did you realize that over 60% of women in the US are plus sized? What’s even more important, they are totally underserved!

Plenty of these women are actively seeking clothes that help them look and feel their best. Plenty of them have the economic means to make significant purchases.

That’s why I recommend opening your vision to this huge segment of the market. You might find a whole new set of raving fans who are hungry to buy your products!

Jan 18

Why Telling Your Story Is Important For Your Fashion Business

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

I was at a trade show one day shopping for product to sell in my shoe and accessory store.  Passing by a booth I saw belts that looked interesting.  The salesperson gave me the information about the belts and I was ready to leave.  Then the owner of the company came over and told me the story of the company and the belts.  The story was so compelling that I sat right down and wrote an order.

Stories have the power to inform and educate, entice and engage a customer. Stories can capture the imagination and influence decisions. When you are marketing and selling, telling your story will create an emotional connection.  This is how you begin to create a brand.

whats_your_story

What are the elements of a good brand story?

Start with the reason your company came to be.  What was the vision behind your product, the inspiration that was the catalyst in creating your business?  I love the story about Spanx.  Sara Blakely founder of Spanx was going to a party one day and had white pants she wanted to wear.  She wanted to make sure she had no lines or bulges.  At the time there were no undergarments that did the trick.  So she bought control top pantyhose and cut the feet off.  After wearing it all night she realized this was something women needed and her company was born.

The next chapter should explain your USP (unique selling proposition). What makes your product fabulous and unique and why a customer should by it.  Remember to discuss benefits as opposed to features.

The story needs to have a hero.  Just as Sara Blakely was the hero of the Spanx story who is the hero of yours.  Is it you?  Then tell the story of you and how you came to the business.

Telling your story with passion, honesty  and excitement will make your story powerful.  Sharing your business story builds a sense of trust and familiarity and people are more likely to buy from those they relate to, understand, and most all, they trust.

Jan 10

6 Tips for making your fashion website mobile friendly.

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Sales , Vibe Consulting

Let’s start with a confession.
I don’t know how people shop on their smart phones.

How can they see anything on those little screens? I have a big screen and I still have trouble. However, my 24 year old daughter shops on her phone all the time as a major source of entertainment.

And obviously so does the rest of the country.

I just read this: “Compared to 2015, total e-commerce holiday sales increased by 10.43%. Meanwhile, purchases on mobile devices, or m-commerce, surpassed 30% in 2016.” According to Chain Store Age.

So what does that mean to us old timers who thought having a great website was good enough?

Well, it’s time to join the new reality and make sure your website is mobile ready. I understand that keeping up with technology is hard since the rate of change is accelerating.

But as we used to say “Be there or be square”.

So here are 6 useful tips that can help you meet the bar:

  1. Make sure your website converts to a smartphone or tablet so that it is easy to see and nothing’s cut off.
  2. Simplify the site so that it is easy to shop. Simplify the navigation and eliminate links that can distract the shopper. At the very least move them further away from the call to action.
  3. Be careful that you don’t strip down your pages so much that you loose your brands personality.
  4. Make the shopping process on mobile a smooth experience. Make it as easy for the shopper to complete the order as as possible on a small screen using the phone’s keyboard.
  5. Provide full product details. Users favor retailers who show all available product information: stock availability, sizes, color choices, descriptions, photos, videos, etc. . Design your site so product detail features are clear and easy to understand.
  6. Customers want to be able to zoom in on details, but they must be able to zoom where they want and control the size. This is especially important considering how small the screen is.

Most important of all – test, test and test some more!

Every day new phones, operating systems and updates go out, and sometimes they break things that used to work perfectly. Be sure to visit your website on your phone regularly, and if you see something that needs fixing, call in the calvary!

In today’s market, where 65% of the traffic is mobile, you just can’t afford to neglect your m-commerce strategy.

 

Jan 10

Amazon Go and the Danger of Turkish Delights

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales , Vibe Consulting

My new favorite company is Amazon.

And it’s not necessarily because I buy a lot from them (which I do), but because they are brilliant. They remind me of the quote by Robert Kennedy “Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”. Except in Amazon’s case they don’t ask “can it be done?”, but “how fast can it be done?”

They ship so fast that it is amazing. I usually receive my purchases in one to two days. When other companies quote 5-7 days shipping, which is more common, I am un-impressed. Imagine how we’ll feel when their drones start delivering in hours instead of days?

But what does this have to do with us?

Well, they are taking the fashion industry by storm! When long standing companies like The Limited are struggling just to stay in business, Amazon is growing daily. According to Marketplace.org, “The equity research firm Cowen and Company estimates that Amazon’s share of the apparel and accessory market last year was 6.6 percent and will keep climbing.”

Wow!!

But it gets even better.

Did you see their new Amazon Go concept? It’s truly amazing. According to Amazon.com, “Amazon Go is a new kind of store with no checkout required. We created the world’s most advanced shopping technology so you never have to wait in line. With our Just Walk Out Shopping experience, simply use the Amazon Go app to enter the store, take the products you want, and go! No lines, no checkout.”

I can’t wait till they open a store in my neighborhood.

It goes to show you that no matter how bad business is, someone is successful. And the ones that are successful are the ones that think outside the box and do what it takes to amaze and delight their customers.

Do you remember how the White Witch tricked Edmund in the Chronicles of Narnia? That amazing experience brought him under her spell without a whimper.

So, here’s a thought for you.

What are you doing to amaze and delight your customers?

Hit reply and share with me what you’re doing.

I would love to hear your strategies.

Jan 05

Is Your Sales Team Up to Snuff?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Productivity , Sales , Vibe Consulting

Let me start with a truth that needs to be said:

Sales is a really tough job.

Most people think they aren’t suited for it. They believe you have to have a certain personality, or they think you have to be sneaky and a bit of a liar. It’s a dirty subject that “nice people” avoid at all costs.

What a bunch of BS.

I have been a salesperson almost my whole career. That is 30+ years. And I will tell you the best sales people are hard working, ambitious, and honest people who care about their customers and want to do right by them. The sleazy ones usually are not all that successful. So when you add someone to your sales team, make sure they have the qualities I mentioned.

To be a good salesperson you have to be a self starter. A person who begins work or undertakes a project on his or her own initiative, without needing to be told what to do.

You see, salespeople need to always be selling. That means increasing their business with their present accounts and always opening up new clients. Because there is a lot of paper and detail work it is very easy to be seduced by busy work and not keep your eye on the ball. Time management is an important skill for a salesperson. Especially since sales is such a difficult job.

The #1 way to improve the productivity of your salespeople is to…

  • Train them properly, reinforce the training and observe them with accounts. It takes time and effort but that’s what builds an effective sales team. Great salespeople work in putting great effort over time.
  • Keep them motivated. Let them know what is going on in the company. If you treat them like partners they will go the extra mile.
  • Set specific goals that are challenging and attainable. Then follow up on a regular basis to see how they are doing. Giving them feedback and ideas on how to achieve their goals is an important part of managing your people.

But please remember, there is a difference between micro managing and guiding your staff. It’s a delicate balance that requires conscious effort.

With salespeople you need to be interactive, however you don’t want to be peering over their shoulders every minute. They need to know that you’re there for them without feeling constant pressure.

A good salesperson is worth their weight in gold — and they know it.

So, once you come across someone who really produces, make sure they’re happy and motivated to stick around.

Finally, the ugly truth is that you also need to be ruthless with salespeople who aren’t working out. If you’ve set clear goals and expectations and they clearly aren’t being met, don’t be afraid to part ways. Sometimes the chemistry just isn’t there, and if it’s not you need to cut costs as soon as possible.

Jan 03

The Compound Effect and The Fashion Industry

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

 

I just read The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy – for the second time.

You know you love a book when you read it multiple times.

While it is basically common sense, and we’ve heard it all before, I find it to be very motivating. Frankly, it inspires me and reminds me that I need to do certain things repeatedly over time in order to build success.

I tell my clients that in the beginning of their business it will take a while before they see results. Like riding a bicycle uphill, the first few pedals are killer, then it gets a touch easier. And before you know it, you’ve built some momentum.

But be careful!

You never want to stop and rest. Because then it’s like starting from zero all over again.

So what are the things you must consistently do as a fashion brand to build momentum?

  • Always be marketing
  • Consistently visit the stores buying your product. You should see what your competition is carrying and what your customers are saying.
  • Do 2-3 things everyday that move your business forward. These are called M.I.T.’s or most important tasks.
  • Speak to your buyers everyday. Of course not necessarily the same buyer, but the interaction is important to stay current on what is happening at retail, but also to develop rapport.
  • Refining your brand. Branding is never finished. You will always need to tweek it to make it the best it can be.
  • Which brings me to improving your product. You should inspect a percentage of every shipment for fit and quality.
  • Be current. This is a fashion business so do your research. Watch the runways, read magazines, pay attention to pop culture.
  • Know your numbers. Know your bookings, sales, inventory, and margins at all times. This way you know if a you are behind or ahead and can operate accordingly.

Remember when you were learning your times tables?

Running a business requires the same degree of consistency. You can’t just run through the dastardly 8 times table a couple of times and say you’re ready for the test. Instead, you have to wear those flashcards out.

Consistent constructive action is the key to building a lasting and profitable fashion brand.

Why not give it a try for 2017?