Apr 25

Everyone Loves A Good Makeover

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

Today I was reading about a homeless man who received a free makeover from a hair and grooming salon.  They offered him a new look as well as new clothes.  This man, who at 55 years old homeless for 25 years, went from looking homeless to looking like a hipster.  The locals who knew him did not recognize him and his confidence has soared.  His story has inspired people to help him and now he is off the streets.

I love seeing makeovers.  In magazines and on TV, whether it is an individual  or someone’s house going through a rehab they are especially fun to see.  But, one of my all time favorites are business makeovers.  The best ones are the ones for which is I get to do the makeover.  The only thing more fun than seeing a makeover is doing a makeover.

Clients come to me with businesses that are stagnant, shrinking, unprofitable, or just not growing the way they should. I get to analyze the problem and come up with strategies that turn things around.  How great is that?

You too can turn the corner if your company is not where you want it want to be and make it  a successful and sustainable business.

The first step is to be honest with yourself and own up to what the problems are.  There are solutions to every problem but only if you know what challenges you have.  If you’re not sure, talk with your employees, customers, and vendors.  Get their take.   Come from a positive place.  The worst thing is to tell people your business is in trouble.  Rather say:  “I want to take your business to the next level, what ideas do you have to help take it there?”   Be open to feedback.  You don’t have to agree with everything said, but if you are defensive and closed off it won’t get you anywhere.

Then you need a plan to institute the strategies to execute your makeover. It’s never easy but it is very doable.

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 21

5 Tips On Creating A Stunning Lookbook

By Maria Pesin | Vibe Consulting

 

These days a look book is crucial for a fashion brand.  It has become the essential communication tool for marketing your company.   If you don’t know what it is, a look book is set of photographs displaying a fashion designer’s new collection.

You can use your lookbook for everything from letting your buyers know what your new line looks like, to reaching out to editors to get entice them to feature you in the blogs or magazines.  For something so important you must do everything you can to make it as effective as possible.  So here are my 5 tips:

  1. Great photography is of utmost importance –  This is not a place to skimp.  A good photographer will know how to light the set to show product at it’s best.  Also, you will want to use models that enhance your clothing.  The difference between shooting a garment on your friend with your iPhone (no matter how pretty she is) and having a professional photo shoot is the difference between poorly done and fabulous.
  2. Good quality paper stock – There are so many choices, matte, shiny, heavy, light etc, but it is worth the time to look for the right paper stock that will complement your photography and give the right impression.
  3. Choose a theme –  The best lookbooks I’ve seen have a strong composition and flow.  Think of a magazine editorial and how dramatic they are when they create a themed layout.
  4. Create a captivating cover page – The saying you can’t judge a book by its cover doesn’t apply here.  Because that is just what people will do.  If you want people to open your book make sure the cover grabs their attention.
  5. Show your brand personality – Remember you are using your lookbook to create brand awareness.  So use your creativity to make your book look unique.
Apr 18

5 Clues Your Sales Team Is Not Up To Snuff

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales , Vibe Consulting

Fashion brands rely on their sales teams to bring in new customers, keep the customers happy and grow their business. When a company doesn’t experience growth then that is a sign something is wrong. While most times the problem is product driven sometimes it is the sales team that is failing to have results. When a team’s sales figures are low month after month, it’s time to do some investigating.

By looking for these clues you can be enlightened to the problem.

  1. Do you find your salespeople doing a lot of paperwork?  It is very easy for a salesperson to get distracted by busy work.  Sometimes this is the fault of the management who dumps a lot of processes and reports on the team.  If you are doing paperwork your are not selling.
  2. Your people are not on the phones.  Speaking to buyers is the most effective way to bond with them and increase the stores business.  Too many salespeople over rely on emails which takes the relationship building out of the equation.
  3. Lack of follow up.  From the first phone call to the first showroom appointment to the first order, there are many steps in between.  Continually reaching out to a buyer to insure the process of getting an order is key. I once hounded a buyer for her order till she explained to me she had to place her basics first.  I asked her what she needed and found the product in another division of my company.  She bought those basics from me which totaled $450,000.  Without the follow up I would never had gotten that order.
  4. They don’t travel to see their buyers.  The most effective salesperson I knew constantly visited his buyers in their offices.  It’s often going the extra mile (no pun intended) that strengthens the bond.
  5. Too much gossiping or socializing.  It is important for your sales team to get a long and be collaborative. However, too much socializing can compromise the overall productivity in the office. Employees need to remember they are not at work to socialize; they are there to work.

Selling is an interesting job.  It is not like making a line of clothes with clear tasks that have clear results.  It is a job that required a person to be a self started. While a good salesman must have the drive and determination to succeed; even the best salespeople can get derailed.  That is why you need to be involved and not leave your sales to chance.

Apr 13

How Well Do You Know Your Market?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

How well do you know your market? This is an important question. Unfortunately some Entrepreneurs aren’t even sure what the market is for their product.

The term “your market” is a group composed of characteristics which are used to identify a specific target group of consumers or of a market segment and can be understood with information composed of the demographic, psychographic, and socio-economic factors of the population.

The internet is a great place to find this data. There are many sites that will give you detailed information on your potential audience.  HubSpot posted a helpful article called: “17 Tools & Resources for Conducting Market Research” which as the title says gives you sites you can go to in order to do research, many of which are free.

Throughout the course of starting and developing your business make sure you ask your buyers what they think at every stage. You should be led by what they will buy, not just by what you think they will want.

Additionally “knowing your market” encompasses knowing your products competition. The most successful people I know in the fashion industry are very in-tuned to their market. They are constantly in the stores and speaking with salespeople and consumers, or walking the floor with their buyers.  This reinforces their ability to be relevant to their customers and not fall behind.

No matter how high up you are in your companies hierarchy never stop interacting with your market. When I ran businesses I would visit the stores that carried my product and spend hours working with customers one on one.  It is amazing what you learn when you sell directly to the end consumer.   There is no substitute for hands on exposure.

Never assume you know all there is to know and that your markets wants and needs won’t change.  By constantly studying and learning your will assure your brand of continued success.

 

Apr 09

Don’t Let A Toxic Employee Poison The Atmosphere

By Maria Pesin | Vibe Consulting

Over the years I have worked with several of what I call “Toxic Employees”. They do a poor to mediocre job because no matter how talented they are they don’t do their best work.
They waste time on gossip, badmouthing coworkers as well as the company, and undermining others to make themselves look good.
I once worked with a women who would tell me all the supposedly negative things my manager said about me. When I would answer “That B—h!” The woman would then tell my boss I called her a b—h. She was such a troublemaker that it got to the point where my supervisor and I couldn’t stand each other. Finally my boss and I sat down and cleared the air and realized the problem wasn’t us but the toxic employee. My former manager and I are very close friends now even though it is 30 years later.
The problem isn’t just getting these people to turn around their behavior. Because it is exceedingly difficult to change someones character. The real issue is what it does to the moral of the other employees. When others see difficult workers keeping their jobs it shows the standards are low for management. Why try, they ask themselves? Toxic employees are also a drain on your energy as well as the energy of others. Instead of focusing on high value activities everyone becomes distracted. In order to do your best work you must have positivity of spirit.
There is an old saying “People are hired for their talents and fired for their behavior”. Should you keep a toxic employee?
Having a healthy atmosphere is crucial for success. So no matter how talented a toxic employee is you need to ask yourself ​is he or she worth the negative impact they are having on your organization?
The post Don’t Let A Toxic Employee Poison The Atmosphere appeared first on Vibe Consulting.

Apr 07

Finally A Fashion Industry That Embraces Inclusiveness

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales , Vibe Consulting

 

Black, White, Brown, Red, Petite, Tall, Skinny, Plus sized, Freckles, Disabled, Elderly, Transgender, Gay, Queer, Lesbian, and the list keeps on growing…

The difference among people is immense.

The world is getting bigger, and thank goodness, more tolerant. When I was young “coming out of the closet” as it was called was a scary thing indeed. Similarly, standards of beauty were narrow and restrictive. Today, we celebrate our differences, and the fashion industry is finally beginning to embrace inclusiveness.

Ann Taylor has a promotion called “Our Pants Are Everything”. Which shows women in all shapes and sizes. See photo above

The Spring 17 runway shows saw, transgender, race diversity, women of 50 and older, as well as curvy women.

Iris Apfel a quirky senior citizen with tons of personality, was featured in ads for the handbag line Aigner.

Tracey Norman, the first African American transgender model, appeared as the face of Nice N’ Easy’s “Color as Real as You Are” campaign for Clairol.

Urban Outfitters launched a 2017 fashion campaign highlighting diverse bodies. Calling it the “Class of 2017”, they feature all different shapes, sizes and different genders.

Models with disabilities graced the runways.

The list is long.

But, what we are finally seeing is that the standards for beauty and fashionability have expanded. There is no longer only one way to look. As women have rebelled against the high and narrow standards that our society places on pure physical beauty, the fashion industry is jumping on board.

What does this mean to you as a fashion entrepreneur?

This season I have clients that are making adaptive clothing, and an athleisure company making plus sized clothing. I’m also working with a mens line that targets gay men.

The beauty of all of this is that there are as many opportunities to serve these audiences as their are audiences. If you’re open to the possibilities, you can find truly passionate groups of people with specific needs and desires. By crafting both your products and your messaging to these needs, you will be giving yourself a leg up in the market.

Remember, it’s always much easier to talk to someone specific than to try and talk to everyone at the same time. Not only does it help you keep your focus, but it will save you gobs of marketing dollars at the same time!

Apr 06

When people see your product do they know it’s you?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

What makes your brand uniquely you?  Do you have a point of view that is recognizable?

When you look at Chanel apparel, even without a label inside you know it’s Chanel.  If you see a Versace dress it is totally identifiable as sexy.  Calvin Klein, clean, modern. and sophisticated.  Ralph Lauren, Americana.  We always speak of brand consistency.  Which of course is very important.  Labeling, packaging. Photography, website, all brand collateral must be identifiable to  the brand.

However, first and foremost is product.  Are you creating product that when a customer sees it they recognize your style?  Have you endeavored to have a signature look?    High end fashion lines tend to have an easier time as they are creating trends where less expensive lines more times follow them. But, no matter what your price points, you can most definitely have your own style.

Tom Ford once spoke about the importance of product and how it is key. I used t0 jokingly say that product was first, second, third, fourth, and fifth, in other words everything.  It still is.

Differentiate yourself from competitors through a strong brand personality in your space and create product that is uniquely you.  What makes you identifiable?  Can you articulate it?  When a customer sees it would they know it is you without seeing the label?  This is somethings all designers should strive to do.

Consistency creates brands people trust that are dependable.  They also are recognizable.  It’s like handwriting, uniquely you.

“It’s frankly easier to create something new than to rework someone else’s attempt,” Adam Judge, Author of ‘The Little Black Book of Design’.

 

 

Apr 03

5 Things an Entrepreneur Should Know Before Starting A Fashion Brand

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

Starting a fashion brand is exciting.  But, it can also be quite daunting. As Sophia Amoruso founder of Nasty Gal once said, “It takes a lot more than just knowing how to put an outfit together to succeed in the fashion industry, so more power to you if this is where you want to be; just don’t expect it to be an extended trip to the mall.”

I know we love the glamour and excitement we perceive being in the fashion business will bring.  But it is a lot of hard work and sometimes a lot of disappointment before you can start to see success.  Here are 5 things you should know before you start.

  1. What is your big idea?  There is a lot of competition out there.  So you need to know how you will stand out.  What will you bring to the table that is new and different?
  2. Who is your customer?  Having a very clear picture of your customer allows you to build a collection that is focused on what you buyers wants and values.
  3. How much money do you need and where are you going to get it?  Planning your financials is a critical component to your success. Making a plan for what it will cost to run your business and then raising the money first will help you with the significant outlay of capital before your business starts making money. One of the main reasons most small businesses fail is that they simply run out of cash.
  4. How is your product being produced?  The best designers I ever worked with kept production in mind while they put together their lines.  Many newbies create great designs only to find out they are not financially or technically feasible.  Working closely with a good production company will save on time and money as they direct you to the best factories and suppliers for your product.
  5. What is your sales and marketing plan?  Unfortunately many designers come up with a line and sometimes even a production run before they even know how they will get it sold.  Without sales there is no business.  So make a plan from the beginning.

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”-Coco Chanel

While it is a business, for many of us, it is still a passion.  If you have the passion than go for it and fulfill your dreams!

Mar 27

Pot holes and fallen tree trunks

By Maria Pesin | Business , Productivity , Vibe Consulting

Obstacles to your business growth are a given.

In the real world things occasionally go wrong.

That is just how it is. For example, I have a new client who’s business has gone down the last two years and he doesn’t know what to do about it. He’s worried, but hasn’t actually decided on a course of action. Sometimes it’s just far too easy to hide your head in the sand.

A far better approach is to look at the obstacle as an opportunity.

Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel once said, “Bad companies are destroyed by crisis, Good companies survive them, Great companies are improved by them.”

Confronting obstacles isn’t necessarily easy to do, and I am not suggesting you take them lightly. Underestimating the difficulty of clearing a roadblock can cause the problem to become that much more threatening. But hear this: not dealing with potholes and fallen tree trunks make them even more dangerous.

Don’t let hurdles in your path floor you. Expect them and embrace them. Take the time you need to overcome them. Most days I think my job is just that – to solve problems.

By thinking this way, rather then bemoaning difficulties, you start to build the habit of being a true problem solver. When you figure out how to turn it around you will find that you can make your business stronger and more lasting than ever before.

So what is my new client doing?

He hired me to help him design and implement a strategy to turn it around. No matter what the obstacle, there are always solutions. To find them you need to face the problem straight on.

Ask yourself, “what is the opportunity here?”

Believe me, this is a much better conversation to be having. Not only does it set a more positive tone, but it opens your mind to finding alternative routes around the pot hole.

Sometimes a scenic jot down a lazy back country lane can get you to the interstate faster than waiting for the traffic jam to clear. Not only do you get to enjoy the countryside, but you’re in motion.

Of course, you could always strike up a game of gin rummy with the poor guy stuck in the car ahead of you!

Mar 16

The dark and gloomy future of retail that doesn’t have to be.

By Maria Pesin | Vibe Consulting

Yesterday my son (who’s been investing in stocks since he was 14 years old) and I discussed the future of Macys. A stock he owned.

He asked me if I knew 3 years ago that Macys would be having trouble. I answered yes. Retail stores in general are sweating a very uphill climb. Of course there are exceptions, but for the most part anyone and everyone from boutiques to giant department stores are feeling the pressure.

American Apparel and The Limited are closing stores. Neiman Marcus is up for sale. Macys and JC Penny are reducing locations. The iconic store Saks Jandel of Washington DC is closing after 128 years in business.

Gap CEO Art Peck stated. “I’m sure you see the public data and you could tell that traffic continues to be tough. We have seen a pretty consistent [traffic downturn] of about 3% a year and now it has gone deeper than that. Sometimes we see deeper than that. The public data would say that February started out significantly deeper than that due to a number of things, not the least of which was the holiday shift.”

How’s that for optimism?

But OK. We all know the doom and gloom of what is happening, but here is the bottom line. I haven’t seen anyone naked or shoeless yet (at least not on the street). In fact, many people have built huge closets to house all the fashion apparel they own.

The truth is people are buying and they are buying a lot.

They are just buying differently. If stores want to drive consumers into their stores and get them spending money, they have to come up with new ways to entice them.

It’s time to think outside the box. Time to be creative.

The future of retail isn’t bleak it is just different.

What we as an industry have to do is channel the public’s love for good fashion in ways that bring them back into the stores. We need to make the experience fun and exciting again. We need to bring back the sparkle in their eyes.

I have no doubt that smart retailers will get this right. And will be the new winners.

It just may be that the age old names we all have on the tips of our tongues will be forgotten.

If so, so be it.

Just make sure your brand isn’t depending on them for survival!