Category Archives for "Vibe Consulting"

Feb 02

Is Fashion Customization Here To Stay?

By Maria Pesin | Vibe Consulting

Customization, or made to order apparel and accessories, is a growing segment of the fashion industry. In an effort to be more consumer centric, brands are finding that personalization is something their customers respond to. “Mass personalization is set to become a reality, with 36% of consumers saying they are interested in personalized products or services,” according to research by the business advisory firm, Deloitte.

By offering different colors, styles, designs, fabrics, and fits, companies can truly empower customers to make their products feel unique and special. This allows the brands to differentiate themselves in the minds of their clients.

While it’s great in theory, it’s definitely not always so easy to deal with in the real world.

“The self-service, online customization experience is still very, very broken. The shopper is asked to configure their apparel by selecting from a vast array of options like collar types, pocket types, fabric materials and colors, etc. One custom dress shirt company used to boast that they offered over 7 billion possibilities to choose from. That’s nothing to boast about; that is way more than the human brain cares to process, i.e., the ‘paradox of choice.” Wrote Dave Sloan of Big Talker.

Another example is Shoes of Prey, a company out of Los Angeles, that customizes shoes according to the features a customer chooses. Nordstrom carried them in several stores, but found that customers spent hours of a sales persons time on designing their custom shoes. While it might be fun for the consumer, this is not something a commissioned salesperson wants to do. In the end, it just wasn’t practical.

Perhaps the best approach is partial personalization. The customer can change some features rather than being overwhelmed with the task of designing the whole product. After all, that’s what good designers do, no?

Like many business questions, the answer is almost always in finding the right balance. Is offering your customer choices a good idea? Almost certainly. However, you must take into account all of the implications before launching into a venture of this nature.

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 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?

Dec 21

That’s Your Fashion Website? Really?

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales , Vibe Consulting

This weekend I was at the Palisades Mall in Rockland County, NY.

It’s one of the largest malls in the US, so you’d think they get lots of traffic, no?

Especially since it is getting so close to Christmas.

Like most people, I was there shopping for presents.

However, the mall was not especially busy. Maybe it was because it snowed that morning, but the roads were pretty clear. In my neck of the woods it takes more than a bit of snow to slow people down.

While there I stopped by a one of the jewlery store chains to buy a necklace for my daughter.

The sales clerk was very helpful and friendly, and we got to talking about business (my favorite subject).

She had been working there for 3 years and was a commissioned salesperson. She said her first year was killer, but the following ones had been lackluster, at best. She attributed this to people shopping on line and not coming into the store like they used to.

And here’s the truth.

I myself I had bought 7 gifts on line that day, and only one in a store.

This is the new reality.

Since most on line stores are offering free shipping and make shopping so easy, who wouldn’t want to just shop on line?

So, if this is the new reality why wouldn’t all fashion brands have a kick ass website?

Believe me some don’t.

This is more than perplexing. Lots of companies big and small skimp on their sites, and I just don’t get it.

When you consider that, at the very least, your webiste is your calling card, and at its best a very lucrative selling platform it just makes no sense.

Considering these days it doesn’t take a fortune to make one you should absolutely have the best website money can buy.

It is imperative for every business to have a website.

The more professional your website is, the more advantages you can gain.

Think of it as a store without the rent.

The more interesting and engaging the better your sales will be.

Dec 15

Fashion Entreprenuers and The Bright Shiny Penny Syndrome

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

How are you feeling?

Be careful – there’s a nasty bug going around.

One of the biggest issues I see new clients suffering from is what I call the bright shiny penny syndrome. Now, don’t get me wrong. We’ve all done it every once in a while. We decide on a corse of action that we know will benefit our business and then bam… someone calls us with the latest new marketing program, or tells us of a fashion show that we are invited to be a part of that is almost free (yeah sure) and off we go running to participate.

Result? Usually squandering our time and money. Bye bye goes our strategic marketing plans. Hello new marketing idea that isn’t worth your effort, or won’t produce fruit because you don’t stick with it long enough.

Shiny pennies reflect a fiery glow that is hard to avoid. New pennies have power. Old pennies are dull and boring. We have willed the new penny with charm, a source of inspiration, as we traverse along the pathway of possibilities.

The penny is representative of all the ideas and opportunities that land in front of us, one right after the other.

The problem with the bright shinny penny syndrome is that it distracts you from doing the tried and true methods that you have committed to. Let’s face it they get boring. There is promise with the new penny. Just like there is promise with a new marketing effort. The truth is any kind of marketing plan requires repitition and consistency. Without that they are useless.

Marketing also takes time till it pays off.

It’s enticing to move on when we don’t see quick results.

This is not to say the new should be avoided. Innovating and testing are important. But there is a time and place. You must think it through and do your research before you jump in.

The overwhelming desire to continually focus on the new shiny penny can be a big distraction from working on the current marketing plan. So be careful that your not caught up in this syndrome.

Otherwise, you may end up with less than a penny in your bank account!

Dec 05

My Secret Recipe for a Successful & Affordable Fashion Photo Shoot

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

It’s tempting.

When trying to keep expenses down it is all too easy to skimp on photography.

A cheap model, an inexpensive photographer, no hair and makeup person. Some people do their own photography and ask their friends (who they think are really pretty) to be their models. However, you get what you pay for.

Namely, amateur looking photography that doesn’t adequately showcase your product.

Considering you are going to use this for press, your on line sales, contacting buyers, and social media, this strategy doesn’t make sense. Compromising the quality of your photography can and will compromise your business. I am not saying you have to spend $25,000, but you must allocate enough funds to do it right.

So what does doing it right look like?

1. Theme – Decide what you want your photos to look like. There needs to be a thread that ties them together. For example you might be doing an activewear line and decide to shoot models working out on the beach. Mood boards are very helpful in fleshing out the look you wish to create.

2. Models – Models can make or break a shot. A good model knows how to move to show your product in the best light. Schedule a “go-see” with modeling agents. This term is used in the Modeling Industry when a model goes out to meet with you. It’s basically like an audition. Here is your opportunity to see their photo book and see how they photograph and how versatile they are. Use this opportunity to have them try on some of your product and see how they look in it. Then decide which models you want. Have a couple of back ups in case they aren’t available when you go to book them.

3. Photographer – There are many, many photographers out there. However, they are not all good choices. Look at their work to see if you like what they do. They should be able to make your designs look great by using good equipment, lighting correctly, guiding the model, and pretty much directing the shoot. Do they specialize in fashion photography? When you talk to them do they get the story you’re trying to convey?

4. Stylist – A good stylist will find props and other clothing or accessories that will enhance your product without taking away the viewer’s attention. They also have contacts that they can go to for the items they need, contacts you might not have.

5. Hair and Makeup Artist – You need a makeup artist that understands how to make a person look their best and is capable of applying makeup with techniques that will save you time and retouching in post production. They will constantly be touching up during the shoot to keep your model looking fresh.

6. Know what you need ahead of time. Do you need horizontal hero shots for your website? Vertical product shots for your catalogs? Decide on how many final shots you need. Nothing is worse than investing and a photo shoot only to realize later that you forgot the one essential shot you needed.

In conclusion, do your homework and be frugal, but not cheap. Fashion is a visual industry and having awesome images can make the difference between doing just okay or hitting a home run out of the park.

If you’d like some help in making sure that you get your photoshoot done correctly, feel free to contact me here.

Nov 28

Why a Lonely Website is Inexcusable For a Fashion Brand

By Maria Pesin | Business , Sales , Vibe Consulting

When the internet first came out you could pretty pretty much sit on your hands, and people would find you.

But that’s not the case anymore.

Nowadays, there are so many websites that yours can easily get lost in the noise.

One of the problems I consistently see with new entrepreneurs is that they put up a good website and do nothing to get the word out. They believe people will find them because their idea is good or their product is great. It’s a kind of magical thinking that produces nothing.

You see, it just doesn’t happen.

That’s where marketing and advertising come in; if you aren’t going out of your way to get yourself in front of an initial target audience, you’re going to lose out. That gorgeous site you invested time and money in is going to sit in the dusty back corner of the Internet gathering furballs and cobwebs.

Why does this happen? Many times it is because new entrepreneurs don’t know what to do. They know they should do something but aren’t sure how to approach it. Or they do something but not consistently enough to make a difference.

Often new entrepreneurs are reluctant to invest much money in marketing.

Most business start ups have limited funds. There are lots of things they need to spend money on and marketing doesn’t always seem like a must.

However, you have to remember that without sales you have no business. So marketing isn’t a maybe down the road expense but rather an investment in your business. The more effort in terms of time and resources put into it that you invest, the better your sales will be.

If you don’t put an ample amount of money into your marketing plan, it isn’t going to work. That doesn’t mean you have to go crazy, but it does mean you should earmark funds from your budget for this function. Selling directly to your customers on your website is a terrific way to build brand loyalty and create a customer base. The margins are pretty great too.

It can be frustrating to work so hard getting your business ready and your website live only to get no sales, so make sure you market your efforts intelligently and watch the sales roll in.

Need help? Contact me now.