Category Archives for "Fashion"

Jun 27

Why a New Fashion Company Urgently Needs a Business Plan

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

There is so much that goes into starting a business.  Most new entrepreneurs don’t know what it entails.  They don’t even know what their first steps should be.  That is why I advocate for a business plan.  It is a critical step in increasing your chances of success.

Some people think business plans are a waste of time.  Their reasoning is nothing goes as planned, so why take the time to plan?  While that is true there is still an extremely  strong case for it.

A good business plan forces you to answer questions about what your business stands for, your market differentiation, marketing plans, etc.  It also helps you figure out the financials of the business. By making a plan you come up with the structure of your business and the strategies of how you execute.

If you don’t make a plan your business at the mercy of the way the wind is blowing.  Reactive as opposed to proactive.

While things will come up that you didn’t plan on or expect, you can always course adjust.  Which is exactly the best way to run your business?  Truthfully you don’t have a crystal ball so how can you possibly plan for every contingency.  But, plan you must.  Then as you learn what works and what doesn’t you can refine your plan

Since many of my clients have asked me for a business plan, I decided to develop one myself.  I have designed a business plan template for fashion brands that covers mostly everything you need to plan for (unless your business has more unique parts I might not have thought of.  At which point it is easy to add to)

All you do is fill in the template and out comes you business plan.  Nothing could be easier.

If you are interested click here.

 

Jun 22

Three Reasons Why You May Need A Fashion Industry Consultant?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

This is going to sound somewhat self serving, but a good consultant can make a difference between success or failure.  You might be new to the industry or you have been in business for many years.  I have found 3 reasons why hiring someone to help can be valuable.

  1. You are new to the industry or running a business. I speak to a lot of new entrepreneurs who start a business and waste a lot of time and money not knowing what the best use of their resources are.  Many times they spend thousands of dollars with nothing to show for it.  Rather then steering their business in a certain order they may do step 5 before they do step one.  Or they have a warehouse full of merchandise with no plan to sell it.When I started my consulting business I hired a consulting business expert to help me navigate the industry.  I know the fashion industry as I have 30+ years experience.  But, I didn’t know consulting.  It made a difference in how I structured my business so I was profitable from the first month.
  2. Your business is stagnating.  It can be hard to figure out what to do.  You are so in the thick of it you can’t see the forest for the trees. An experienced advisor can look at your business from the outside without any preconceived bias.  They can be a fresh pair of eyes that can help you develop a strategy for growth.
  3. Business is good but you’re not profitable. There can be many reasons for this.  I have come across companies who’s margins are too low, or production costs are unreasonably high, or they waste money on low value activities.  Whatever the reason a knowledgable expert can review your business and aid you in being a profitable and sustainable brand.

 

Jun 20

How Do You Know If Your Fashion Brand Is Really Good?

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales

One of the worst situations I have to deal with is speaking with new brands who truly believe their collection is far superior to the reality.  I am not saying I’m always right but I have a fairly good sense of what it takes to be successful. So when I see a line that needs work, I always tell the truth.

As the saying goes, Praise makes you feel good but critique makes you better.

The clearest way to know is if customers are buying it.  Consumers vote with their wallets.  The more sales you are doing the better your brand is.  Of course if they are returning it to the store because the quality is poor or the fit is bad then it doesn’t matter how good sales are.

How do you know if your fashion brand is really good if it is a new company?  Here are 3 ways to find out.

  1. Studying your potential competition and seeing how you measure up is an important step in finding out if your brand is going to have good sales.  You need to be as good if not better then the brands you hang with.
  2. Showing your product to your target audience  then listening to the feedback will give you insight, especially if they show enthusiasm for the pieces and want to know where they can buy them.
  3. Try your product in a couple of stores or pop up locations even if it is on consignment and see how sales are.  If it sells great!  If not, find out why.

Many times your initial product will need tweaking till it’s right.  Researching, studying, and testing the market will give you valuable information and will assist you in making your brand really great.  Very few companies open up with a slam dunk and need a few seasons to get their line to be amazing.  And, in this day and age your line really needs to be superior to be successful.

Jun 07

Is Your Fashion Business In A Slump?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

I have seen a lot of business startups that have had consistent success and growth over many years.  The trends change and they find their businesses stagnating, or worse, shrinking.  Even some of the best brands out their have lost their luster.  Companies like DKNY, Guess, and Juicy Couture, which at times were the hottest, are struggling.  So it is not surprising when small and mid-sized companies reach a wall.

Many people blame it on the economy.  “People are buying,” they say.  They blame it on the Internet stealing people from the stores, or it’s all this cheap fast fashion that customers are buying instead of their product.   But the real truth is somehow these brands have lost their way.

Sometimes it is just complacency.  Brand owners believe the ride will never end.  Most times, it seems to me, it is because their products have become stale.  The market is always changing, and your merchandise has to change with it. If you are lucky, the changes are slow and subtle; sometimes, they are profound.

I believe one of the key ways to deal with change in trends is to always be testing new ideas.  Marketing people, test ads, copy, and promotions all the time to see what works the best.  The same should be true of fashion.  Trying new fabrics, new categories, and new styling aids in keeping you fresh.

Sometimes you do really need an overhaul.  I’m not necessarily talking about a revolution.  But rather, reviewing your products, company structure, marketing and all aspects of your company with the goal of improving your collection and business.

Tony Robbins once said, If you are not growing, you are dying.”  Business should always be growing.  If not, they run the risk of losing their place in the market.  Is your business in a slump?

 

May 31

Should You Start A Fashion Brand If You Have No Experience?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

I am of the belief that no you shouldn’t.  This industry is difficult to make money in for even the most knowledgeable person, it is almost impossible for the novice.

Now that I have said that, there are some of you that won’t listen.  You have a burning desire in you to do this, so by hook or by crook you are opening your own brand.  Far be it from me to discourage you from following your dreams. So here are some suggestions.

  • Get a job in the industry and learn on someone else’s dime.  Then you can start your business part time as you are learning.
  • Take courses at a fashion school on subjects you need to know, such as: pattern making, fabric technology, design, marketing, accounting , etc.
  • If you have a lot of money to invest, hire people to fulfill the functions you don’t know.
  • If you don’t have any money, network till you find a mentor.
  • Hire a consultant like myself to help you navigate the waters.
  • Be prepared to do a lot of research on how to run a fashion business
  • Make a business plan.  This forces you to put together a blueprint for managing your business.
  • Make sure that there is a desire for your product.  There are a lot of brands out there.  You need to be confident that you are bringing something special to the marketplace and there is an appetite for it.

While it may be near impossible, it isn’t truly impossible.  People like Ralph Lauren, Steve Madden, and Sara Blakely started their businesses without prior knowledge and have gone on to have major success.  So if this is something you are destined to do, I hope you will take some of my suggestions to aid you on your path.

 

 

May 12

The 5 Challenges A Fashion Entrepreneur Faces

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

Let’s face it, running your own business is tough.  It is especially tough in the Fashion Industry.  Business is stagnant and stores are closing.  Yet, no one is running around naked, so someone is selling something, why shouldn’t it be you?

You do need to solve the challenges a fashion entrepreneur faces.  Here what I consider the top 5.

  1. Financing– This is a big one.  While you can boot strap a business and grow it slowly, you do need some money to start with, otherwise how will buy fabrics, start a website, and do many of the things it takes to start a business.
  2. Keeping an eye on cashflow – This industry will create many ebbs and flows in your cash levels.   For example you will be paying for production long before you ship to your merchandise to the stores and get paid.  So while on paper it might look like you are doing well without cash you might not be able to get your product produced for all the orders you have.  They say “Cash is king”.
  3. Standing out in a crowded market– And believe me it is crowded.  There are lots of manufacturers copying the same trends and doing the same things. Everyone looks  alike.  What are you doing that stands out from the pack?
  4. Finding and keeping customers– So many entrepreneurs treat this as an afterthought.  They are so busy working on their product that they delegate sales to the very last step.  This is a mistake as getting and keeping customers needs to be addressed at every step of the business process.  No sales, no business, period!
  5. Inexperience – This is not a fatal flaw.  You can learn what you don’t know.  So many avoidable mistakes are made that are costly when someone is new to the industry.

That is why I am creating my first Fashion Business Success Club.  It is for you the solo-prenuer who feels like they are going it alone.  This mastermind group will include people like you that you can also network with.  Imagine having a team you can brainstorm with, along with working with me a 40 year Fashion Industry Executive.

This might lead to the very breakthrough you need.  So take the crucial next step for your business and sign up.

When you click the following link, you’ll be getting first access to my group coaching plan called “Maria Pesin’s Fashion Business Success Club”.

And once you get signed up, we’ll be meeting regularly every Wednesday evening online in a small group setting.

Every week we’ll cover a new fashion business topic, and I’ll take your questions one by one. Also, we’ll have a section dedicated to showcasing YOUR obstacles and I’ll help you find ways to overcome them.

Cool, right?

So, all you have to do is click the link and get signed up.

The first call is on me, and I’m only going to open this up to 10 people for right now.

I’ve never done a program like this before, and I want to make sure I can overdeliver and surprise you with awesome results.

Take care and hope to talk to you on our first call!

 

 

 

Apr 28

As a Fashion Designer Is Your Brands Style Clear?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

As a fashionista  you have probably noticed that most successful designers have their own style sense and point of view that is unique to them.  Their style of design would have ultimately been branded in them in the market. Studying them will  help you to develop yourself and see how one builds their style.

A signature look is a key part of branding.  That doesn’t mean you don’t evolve.  Fashion is always changing and designers must change with it.  But designers  still have an inherit look to their collections.  Burberrys is not going to be doing Betsy Johnson flashy prints and Vivienne Westwood is not going to make preppy Lacoste shirts.

But here is the thing: Your own style isn’t something you can come up with from today to tomorrow. Usually your style will naturally evolves as a fashion designer. It is a process and one that you need to go with.

Sometimes I have clients who are really not sure what there style is and for them I send them to the stores or internet to research.  Putting together ian nspiration boards of photos, fabrics, colors, and trims that resonate with you is a great way to help you define your style.

By following this process ideally you  will end up with a look that is unique to you.  Everyone looks at things with their own creative filter. Each designer’s process is a little bit different from everyone else. However, sometimes we begin to mimic, too closely, other work without realizing it. Make an effort to make your design your own with its own DNA.

We don’t need another Tory Burch or Kate Spade or Lululomen.  Those companies already are successful.  What we need as an industry are brands that have their own personality and creativity that inspire and delight customers.

Apr 27

What Is Your Fashion Brands Unique Selling Proposition?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

Do you know what your unique selling proposition is or as some people call it your USP?  Your USP is what makes your business different from your competition. According to Theodore Levitt, author and professor at Harvard Business School. “Differentiation is one of the most important strategic and tactical activities in which companies must constantly engage.”

The reality of the fashion industry is it is not really growing.  The market doesn’t need another brand.  So if you are going to start a company the first thing you must ask yourself is…what makes your business different?  Why should someone do business with you instead of one of your competitors? You should ask yourself this at the very beginning of planning your company.  And you should be asking it again at every stage of your business.  This will help you create the story of your business.  It of course needs to be compelling.

There are 3 key steps to determining what your USP is.

1.   What is your company good at?  Or as expert marketer Seth Godin asks “What is your superpower”?

 

2. Does your product look unique?  It doesn’t have to be strange but it has to have it’s own identity.  It should stand out from the competition.

 

3. What emotional need does your product meet?

By developing your unique selling proposition you not only have a reason to exist but it goes a long way in helping you with your marketing message.  Whenever I speak to a new client the first question I ask is what make makes their company special.  Being able to answer this is the first step in starting a business.

 

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 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.

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