Category Archives for "Vibe Consulting"

Apr 22

Why Too Many Product Categories Can Kill a New Brand

By Maria Pesin | Vibe Consulting

From my experience too many product categories can kill a new brand.  I work with many start up fashion brands.  One of the questions they always ask is: “How big of a collection should I make and how many different product classifications should I do?”  This is an excellent question.  One of the ways I can answer this is by looking at their budget.  Since most new entrepreneurs have limited funds the answer is usually asking another question; how many can you afford and will there be enough styles to interest a buyer?

One of the ways to create a line that makes a statement without having to make 50 styles is to narrow your product assortment to 1 or 2 categories.  So rather than having 2 t-shirts, 1 jacket, 1 pant, 1 belt, and 1 skirt.  You pick one item and make a strong presentation.  For example you can have 6 skirt styles and become a brand that stands for skirts.  Your sales, marketing, production, and sampling is concentrated on this product.  You can then become the go to brand for this.  Once you build your business in this area you can then layer on additional product categories.


I have seen companies like Ugg and Crocs take one item and build huge businesses.  What they do that sets them apart is they make that one product as exceptional as possible.  Then they put all their sales and marketing efforts to create a buzz for that product.    When you look at the line below you can see the styles are variations on one product.  The brand is  synonymous with sheepskin boots.  The brand is so well known that when you own a pair of Uggs, you don’t call them my boots, but rather my Uggs.  That speaks to the prestige that Uggs created around their brand.


Don’t kill your brand before you start by being all over the place with your product.  Find the product category that you feel has the best potential for you and really do it right.

Apr 01

5 Things To Look For When Hiring An Independent Fashion Sales Rep

By Maria Pesin | Vibe Consulting


What are the 5 Things To Look For When Hiring An Independent Fashion Sales Rep?  A good sales rep can make a big difference in your business.  They not only sell stores and take orders, but, they give you market information, such as: what is selling in the stores, what is trending, and how business is.  A good rep has strong relationships with their buyers so they can get and give you honest and valuable feed back on your line.   They also give you exposure to stores that you might otherwise not see.  The  5 things to look for when hiring one are as follows:

  1. Do they have lines in their showroom that sell the same customers as your brand does?   You want to make sure that your collection is seen by stores that would buy your kind of product.  If not then chances are you wilt be successful with this rep.
  2. Do their lines that compete with yours?   While not being in a showroom with a direct competitor sounds like a no brainer, sometimes a business owner hopes by being in the showroom they can be as successful as the competitor.  The truth is if the rep already has a substantial business with the competitor the buyers are not going to see the need for also bringing in your product.
  3. Do you feel you can work together?  Having a good relationship with your rep is a must.  Remember they are not your employee but more like your partner.  So having a good rapport will go a long way in building a business together.
  4. The rep has good communication skills.  It is important to work with Reps that return calls in a timely manner and share results of shows and meetings.  The more information a rep shares with you the better your chance of success.
  5. The rep has excellent follow through.  This is key for your company but also for the stores they sell.  This is an integral part of the relationship building process between your company, your rep, and the buyer.


Mar 29

What Scenario Should You Cost Your Fashion Product For? By Boaz David

By Maria Pesin | Vibe Consulting


As a start-up fashion brand, costing your product for the first time is one of the most challenging parts of your fashion business.

When you source a factory you will have their costs for making both a small run of your product (i.e. 50 units) and a bigger run (i.e. 200+ units). For many designers, the first season is experimental and you might not know exactly how many orders you will get. So the big question is: Should you price your product based on the cost of a small run or the cost of a big run?

To better answer this question let’s think generally about your business. As a start-up fashion brand your first year in business is most likely going to be all about testing! This will be a test run for your concept, your product, your development and production chain etc. Realistically, you will most likely only start to see profit in your 3rd (or more) year, so these first years become about building your brand/ business, not about making money.

That same assumption should be carried into costing and pricing your fashion product. The first couple of seasons you will produce small runs and therefore you will pay high cost for production, resulting in your margins being far from where you would like them to be. Which by the way, is VERY NORMAL for any start-up business in any industry.

Therefore, when you cost your fashion products you should start with deciding on the market that you are looking to compete in (in fact that part should have been decided back when you created your business plan but just in case you haven’t yet, now is the time to do so), and decide on your retail price based on that market, then open your cost sheet and cost the following two scenarios:

Low units – this will reflect the cost of your fashion product in the short term when producing small runs (30-50 or any other minimum units that you are allowed to do).
High units – this will reflect the cost of your product in the long term down the road when your brand is built and you will produce the higher units (200, 300 and more).

Now plug-in your desired wholesale and retail prices into these two scenarios and see what kind of margins you have for both. The things to look out for are:

That when producing the lower units you are not losing money and hopefully even have some revenue margins (anywhere from 30-40% is normal for this stage)
And when producing the higher units your margins are where you need them to be for your business to be healthy (normally around the 50% is good).
To sum this up, your goal when costing your product is to have a view of both your fashion business today as well as 2-3 years from now. You must make sure that your plan for today’s cost allows you to stay in business meanwhile make sure that when you‘ll build your production units down the road that your cost will allow you to have the margins needed to have a healthy, profitable business. If neither one of these two points are met you will need to find a way to either adjust your product, your costs, or your wholesale/retail prices.

Need a cost sheet? Click here for our cost sheets, they are simple excel sheets and already have built in formulas for the 2 scenarios.

Need more help with costing and pricing your product? Check out our Costing workshop here or click here to book your one on one costing session.

By Boaz David of HumanB


Aug 20

What Sports Can Teach The Fashion Industry

By Maria Pesin | Vibe Consulting

“Please take off your shoes and socks,” Coach John Wooden announces to his team on the first day of a new season, “I’m going to show you the proper way to put them back on.” He then proceeds to show them in great detail. You may think this is some kind of insider football knowledge and the players may think he is nuts but there is a method to his madness. John Wooden believed that you leave nothing to chance. There are fundamentals and processes for all elements of his sport and he had training in place for each one. In fact there isn’t a sports team that doesn’t have a playbook covering every aspect of their games with practices that review each of those plays over and over again till it is second nature for the athletes.

In the fashion industry the sales training we receive at our companies is, at best, solely on the product. My old friend and mentor was an account executive at Liz Claiborne when they were in their heyday. She said they would spend up to 12 hours going over the collection for the new season. Every feature of the product was reviewed so that they really knew their stuff. But, when I asked about the sales training she said there was none.

We need to step up our game. Let’s take some lessons from sports teams training. It is time to stop running our sales departments from the seat of our pants and put into place comprehensive and consistent training programs. Managing sales is more than just pressuring our people to get out there more. There truly is a science to it. Let’s bring people development to the culture of our companies and maybe we can win a few more “games”.

Jun 05

What Is The Most Important Function of Any Business?

By Maria Pesin | Vibe Consulting

Success in business is never automatic. It isn’t strictly based on luck—although a little never hurts. It depends on many things; a maria-200x300good product, filling a need, enough capital, and many more. However without sales there is no business. Gustav Berle in his book The Do It Yourself Business Book writes that many businesses fail because of low sales, Michael Gerber in his book The E-Myth states that so many small business owners have trouble growing their businesses. Basically, Michael says that most entrepreneurs start a business because they are a technician, and they only enjoy the part of the business they perform well. He also explains that they don’t understand the basic truth that the small business owners need to be involved in the marketing and sales for their businesses.

There is the difference between the business of law and the practice of law, or the business of being an accountant and the practice of being an accountant. You are already a good technician, now you need to perfect the practice of being a good salesperson!

In other words marketing/sales should be something you do every day. So what is marketing? One of the best articles comes from “Reliving My MBA Days.” According to Peter Drucker, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself. Ideally, marketing should result in a customer who is ready to buy”. There are many forms of marketing 3D mailings, snail mail, webinars, advertising seminars and email blasts. Everything delivered cross channel. Selling is one of the most important forms of marketing. Everyone in your business that interacts with you customer should be selling. That means that they should be showing your business in the best light possible so that customers will want to do business with you. You should also be selling yourself. This is one of your most essential jobs. Though not everyone feels they can sell. So if you don’t feel you can sell, hire someone else to do it. Never leave it to chance.

Mar 06

Never Underestimate the Power of Offline Marketing

By Maria Pesin | Vibe Consulting

Tis the season to write loads of holiday cards to family, friends and clients, but do you ever wonder why we’re all still sending messages in such an old-fashioned way? If snail mail is as outdated as everyone says it is, why don’t we just write up emails? Even more interesting from a sales perspective: why is getting a card in the mail so much more exciting?

For anyone working in sales, the answer is essential. A card sent by mail feels authentic. Sure it’s outdated, but for that very reason it’s also unexpected. Alternatively, it’s become the most mundane thing in the world to check our email. And no email, however sincere it sounds, can match the power of a handwritten letter.

Would you believe me if I said that a phone call in today’s internet-driven world bears a striking resemblance to a card? Phone conversations often lead to upselling opportunities and increase client engagement, yet almost none of your competitors take the time to do it. They’re fully given over to online sales. They’ve forgotten how much of an impact something as simple as a phone call can be.

Clearly online marketing is exploding. You can’t run a sales campaign without social media, email and online advertising anymore. But one of the most common mistakes I see my accounts make is to ignore older forms of communication and throw 100% of their sales pitch online. They’re forgetting that sincerity doesn’t often translate as well online as it does offline.

Jun 16

Restoration Hardware Just Sent Me A 5LB Book

By Maria Pesin | Vibe Consulting

I just received in the mail several catalogs packed together – 13 to be exact.  Between the paper and the postage it must have cost a fortune.  And it’s not like I have ever ordered anything from them.  It is hard to understand how this kind of marketing pays off.  Yet their earnings have increased significantly over the last 3 years.  They must be doing something right.  I love the product, though it is a bit expensive.  Their customer service is top-notch.  And their catalogs are as nice if not better than any decorating magazine.  This is a company to watch and see if we can’t learn something.

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