Monthly Archives: May 2015

May 29

The Importance of Focus and Building Your Fashion Brand

By Maria Pesin | Uncategorized


It’s very exciting to start your own fashion company. Your dream is to be the next Michael Kors or Donna Karan.   You envision being a lifestyle brand and making everything from sunglasses to dresses. Planning your first line thoughts of doing a little bit of everything: pants, dresses, shirts, knits, and maybe a few handbags sounds like a great way to launch your first collection. You also see yourself selling to everyone from age 21 to 50 and from different walks of life. Just when you are ready to begin on this path I hope someone with the voice of reason smacks you on the head and says NO!! This is not the way to do it. Because it isn’t and yet so many new entrepreneurs think this way. Take it from me focusing on a particular product is the best way to launch. Decide the classification you want to be in. Is it sportswear, or dresses, or accessories? Whatever you choose that should be your direction. And do the best darn collection in that category. Make a statement.

After you select your category you then need to decide on who your customer is. Then create a singular vision for your line.   Your collection needs to have a very clear point of view.   Then when someone sees your line they know what you stand for. As branding great, Al Ries said, “The best approach to take in our over-communicated society is the oversimplified message. You have to sharpen your message to cut into the mind.”

Your marketing should also reflect the collection.  You learn where target customer goes.  So that the PR you do reaches her.  Be repetitive in your marketing. Choose a few things to do then do them consistently, often, and well. This doesn’t mean you cannot sell to everyone.   But you cannot create for everyone and market to everyone.   You need to market specifically. Then, of course, you can sell everyone.

As your business grows you and you build a solid customer base you can then add on product extensions. But, starting with a focus will actually grow your business more quickly.  Brand focus is a critical component in building your brand. Strong brands have one big (major) point. Weak brands are a collection of small (minor) points tied together. I read a great saying recently, “Build a business that’s a sword, not a broom.”

May 28

Where Does A Fashion Designer Go For Inspiration?

By Maria Pesin | Uncategorized


Where does a fashion designer go for inspiration when designing a new collection?  There are many places for them to look.  Some of the tried and true methods are as follows:

Magazines: Take a look at the magazine rack of your local bookstore, grocery store, or drugstore for a wealth of fashion magazine choices. Some of the more popular ones (in the US, anyway) are Bazaar, Vogue, Glamour, and Nylon.  There are also magazines that are classification specific.  A great store to shop at in NY is Shop Around The World.  There website is: is the online home of Vogue magazine and has up-to-the-minute coverage of designers, parties, and anything else going on in the world of fashion.  You can see complete coverage of all the designer runway shows right after the show is run.  No longer do you need to wait till the collections are in the stores.  The Trend section is also a great tool for a designer.
Style Blogs: There are a ton of style blogs out there. A few excellent ones to check out include Refinery29, The Cut (New York Magazine’s fashion blog), The Sartorialist, and Fashionista. For even more, check out Signature9’s list of the 99 Most Influential Style Blogs.

The Street: Check out fashion in the city or town in which you live. There are likely plenty of fashion-forward residents in or around your home town.

Newspapers:  Many newspapers have fashion sections.  Some even have special editions like The New Times.  Women Wear Daily and Footwear news are important industry newspapers.

Culture:  This includes books, movies, museums, and travel.  You never know where inspiration can come from.  I once figured out my spring color pallet from watching the NYC Ballet.  And many times a popular movie will greatly influence the seasons trends.






May 26

Life Mastery by Stephan Pylarinos

By Maria Pesin | Uncategorized


I am reading Life Mastery by Stephan Pylarinos for the second time.  I am not sure how I found this guy but he is a young man who in his teens started on a journey to change his life.  It started with his goal of having more success with women and mushroomed into improving all areas of his life.  Stephan is very goal oriented.  He even has the guts to put his yearly goals online and gives an update on how he is doing each month.  Talk about being accountable!

In his book he discusses the process he has gone through and continues going through to reach his goals.  For example he wants to have 8% body fat and compete in fitness competitions.  He has financial goals that he continually achieves and then increases.  He wanted to meet an amazing women which he has.  Then his book gives you step by step actions you can take to get to your goals.

“Every month, I write a detailed monthly report about the progress that I’m making towards the goals and resolutions that I publicly stated on my blog earlier in the year,” says Pylarinos.

I like Stephan’s take on goal setting and as he calls it Life Mastery.  He recommends making your goals and constantly monitoring your progress.  While this doesn’t sound new his approach is unique.  I also think he has a likability that comes through in his book.  The book is  easy to read and his ideas are easy to implement his.  All in all I find Life Mastery by Stephan Pylarinos very motivating and recommend reading it.

His site is called and the book can be found at Amazon.


May 22

Taking Massive Action To Build Your Fashion Business

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Productivity


Building your fashion business is about taking massive action to market it.  It is not just about making a good product because if no one knows about it you cannot make sales.  You must get the message out.  I find through discussions with many fashion companies that they just dabble in the marketing process.  They do a little of this and a little of that.  They try one thing and it doesn’t work so they try something else.  Or they do the same thing consistently but not often enough.

I read an interview of Jack Canfield, co-author of Chicken Soup For The Soul Say: “I believe that people make their own luck by great preparation and good strategy. We used The Rule of 5 which I write about in The Success Principles, which is to do 5 specific action steps each day to move you towards the completion of a goal.  So every day for the 14 months before we hit the New York Times bestseller list we would take 5 actions steps. We would make 5 phone calls to newspapers to review the book. We would send out 5 free copies of the book to reviewers.”  In 2008, Chicken Soup for the Soul became the best-selling trade paperback series of all time.

Notice that the authors did the same things consistently over time till they produced results.  They did not try many different things.  They did 2 actions repeatedly over time till their target audience got the message.  According to Tony Robbins, self help guru:  “The path to success is to take massive, determined action.”

Choose your marketing actions, test which ones produce results, then repeat them over and over and before you know it people will start getting the message.  I liken it to riding a bike uphill.  The first few revolutions are extremely difficult, but then as you start to peddle it gets a little easier and then before you know it you reach a momentum that takes you to the top of the hill and you begin to glide.  Make your marketing plan and then work the plan and before you know your business will glide to the top.

May 21

3 Things to Know Before Starting Your Own Successful Fashion Business

By Maria Pesin | Uncategorized

Wow, big decision!  Starting your own fashion business.  You have dreamed of this almost your whole life.  Or, maybe you didn’t but you got an idea for something that you think the market needs.  Whoever you are you made the choice to do it.  If you haven’t had a fashion business before, starting one can seem daunting.  But, if you are prepared to do the work it can be a fabulous business.  Just know that the industry is not as glamorous as it seems from movies, tv shows, and magazines.  It is hard and it is demanding and sometimes you find yourself doing very unglamorous things.  Like rolling large trunks of samples through the street to bring them to buyers or steaming dresses to make sure they look good in the showroom.  There are magic moments though, when a magazine editor chooses one of your pieces for an article, or you see someone on the street wearing your stuff, or a store you shipped product to sells it out in the first week.  Those are the times we live for.

So what three things you should know before you start?

How well does your product compete?  You have an idea for your product and you of course think it is amazing.  How do you know that it is?  Research, research, research!!  I have a client who had a cool idea for an apparel line.  He felt it was something unique and something customers would like.  After shopping the stores and on-line retailers he found that what he wanted to do was not as unique as he thought and decided not to do it.  Money and time saved.  Another of one of my clients who researched for her product found there was definitely a market but the prices needed to be much lower.  You can see the value in research.


What is your business plan?  Business plans are very valuable.  They force you to answer questions that help you develop the blueprint for your company.  With a blue print you can focus your energy and keep your company on track.  You create benchmarks you can use to track your performance and make midcourse corrections. A roadmap and timetable for achieving your goals and objectives.  You can also use it to get funding.  Which brings me to the next thing.




How are you going to fund your business?  Now we get down to the nitty gritty.  Where do you find the money to run your company?  This is why your business plan is important.  It will help you figure out how much money you need to start the business and to run the business till it earns enough to run without cash infusion.  Running out of money in the middle of developing your business with no idea of how to get more is one of the major reasons why new companies do not make it.







May 18

15 Creative Financing Methods To Start Up Your Fashion Brand

By Maria Pesin | Business


Finding financing to start up your fashion brand is very tough.  But, not impossible.  It used to be that you needed millions to start a business.  With the internet available you can now put a store on line.  There are more small factories in the US taking small orders.  So once again a small company with limited funds get go into business.  Yet you do need some  funds.

I recently read an article on  It talked about creative ways to finance your startup.  I thought it was a great article to share.  Click on the link below to read it. 15 Creative Financing Methods for Startups.

This article will give you some ideas for where to find money.

May 13

Is This a Good Time To Start a Fashion Business?

By Maria Pesin | Uncategorized


Is this a good time to start a fashion business?  While I can’t answer that for sure, I know that I have seen lots of changes over the last decade that makes me think it might be.

When I first came into the fashion industry an individual with little funds could start a business and be successful. That was in the early 80’s when companies could do little wrong. Customers had money to spend and spend it they did. There were also many US factories and mills that would make small quantities, for a collection, at affordable prices.

With the end of the 80’s came the end of the boom. Money became tight. Factories and mills went to Asia and minimums on orders grew. While there were many stores to sell in the 80’s, the 90’s and 2000s saw stores going bankrupt, out of business, or merging into mega chains. Stores like H & M and Target started offering fun fashions at cheap prices. The landscape of the industry started to change. Now in order to start your own business you needed serious money. Anything less than $1 million and you really couldn’t go into business.

The last several years we have started to see another change. This time it’s for the good. At least that is what I think. With the growth of the Internet and shopping cart web development sites such as Shopify, one could now sell direct to the consumer. There is also a resurgence of resources in the US of factories taking small quantities for cuttings. Mills are being started up in the states. And sample rooms are being opened in US cities. If you don’t have a lot of money you can get crowd funding from sites like Kickstarter.

This breathes new life into the industry. Designers with a unique point of view are coming into the market with new ideas. Yay!! The industry needs this. Fashion has gotten stale. The same old players are dominating the market. All the stores look alike. I for one am happy to see the changes.




May 11

Mother Knows Best: 9 Inspiring Quotes From Successful Moms

By Maria Pesin | Uncategorized

I love these inspiring quotes that were in an article written by Marco Marrone for DocStoc on May 7th, 2015.  It is as follows:

1. Barbara Corcoran, Real Estate Mogul and Investor
“The joy is in the getting there. The beginning years of starting your business, the camaraderie when you’re in the pit together, are the best years of your life.”

Barbara Corcoran is probably best known as the first female on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” She famously turned a $1,000 loan from her boyfriend into a billion-dollar empire, and after nearly three decades in the industry, she sold her real-estate business for $66 million in 2001. Since that time, she has continued as a syndicated real-estate columnist and contributor, author and savvy investor (which is how she turned her $66 million into more than $1 billion).

2. Indra K. Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo
“The distance between number one and number two is always a constant. If you want to improve the organization, you have to improve yourself, and the organization gets pulled up with you.”

Indra Nooyi joined PepsiCo in 1994 and has been chairman and CEO since 2007. She’s directed the company’s global strategy for more than a decade, taking the lead in its corporate restructuring and spearheading several high-profile acquisitions. Nooyi is one of just 12 female CEOs in the Fortune 500 and was ranked the most powerful woman in the world twice by the magazine.

3. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook
“Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder. Ladders are limiting. Jungle gyms offer more creative exploration … The ability to forge a unique path with occasional dips, detours and even dead ends presents a better chance for fulfillment.”

Sheryl Sandberg manages Facebook’s sales, marketing, business development, human resources, public policy and communications. Previously, Sandberg not only built and managed Google’s successful online sales and operations program, but also served as an economist for the World Bank and chief of staff at the U.S. Treasury Department.

4. Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube
“Work smart. Get things done. No nonsense. Move fast.”

When Google was created in Susan Wojcicki’s garage, it marked a pivotal moment in the history of the world. Wojcicki grew within Google to become senior vice president of Ads and Commerce, leading Google’s advertising and analytics products, including AdWords, AdSense, DoubleClick and Google Analytics.In February 2014, Wojcicki became the head of YouTube.

5. Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!
“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of, ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.”

Marissa Mayer is the current president and CEO of Yahoo Inc., a position she has held since July 2012. Previously, she was a long-time executive, usability leader and key spokesperson for Google. In 2014, Mayer was ranked sixth on the list of America’s 40 Under 40 in Fortune magazine,as well as the 16th most powerful businesswoman in the world.

6. Irene Rosenfeld, CEO of Mondelēz International
“Our emerging workforce is not interested in command-and-control leadership. They don’t want to do things because I said so; they want to do things because they want to do them.”

Irene Rosenfeld has been involved in the food-and-beverage industry for about 30 years. In 2004, Rosenfeld was appointed chairperson and CEO of Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo, where she focused on promoting healthy products. In June 2006, Rosenfeld was appointed CEO of Kraft Foods.

7. Rosalind Brewer, President and CEO of Sam’s Club
“You can and should set your own limits and clearly articulate them. This takes courage, but it is also liberating and empowering, and often earns you new respect.”

Rosalind Brewer is president and CEO of Sam’s Club, a members-only warehouse store with revenues of $56 billion for fiscal year 2013. Brewer joined Walmart in 2006 as regional vice president, overseeing operations in Georgia. She later became division president of the Southeast and then president of Walmart East.

In 2013, Brewer was named one of the Most Powerful Black Women and one of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women by Forbes. In addition, Working Mother named her one of the Most Powerful Working Moms of 2013.

8. Ursula M. Burns, CEO of Xerox
“Keep your eye on what’s important, and everything else will fall into place.”

Ursula M. Burns is chairman and CEO of Xerox, the world’s leading enterprise for business processing and document management. In addition to the Xerox board, she is a board director of the American Express Company, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Ford Foundation. Burns also provides leadership counsel to community, educational and non-profit organizations, including FIRST, National Academy Foundation, MIT and the U.S. Olympic Committee, among others.

9. Arianna Huffington, Co-Founder of The Huffington Post
“We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.”

In 2005, Arianna Huffington launched The Huffington Post, co-founding the platform with Kenneth Lerer and becoming its editor-in-chief. In 2011, Huffington sold the site to AOL for more than $300 million, and she subsequently became president and editor-in-chief of the company’s Huffington Post Media Group. Huffington is also a nationally syndicated columnist, radio host and author of 14 books.

Do you have any great quotes from your mom? Leave us some of her insights in the comments below.

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May 05

Controlling Cash Flow For Small Fashion Businesses -Part 4

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion


Controlling cash flow is of vital importance to the health of a business.  Not having cash can keep you up at nights.  The following gives you insights to some of the issues that will impact your bank accounts.

Excessive amounts of inventory can really tie up your cash.  Many people place large orders of inventory with the goal of not missing out on potentially profitable sales.  They are afraid of running out of running out of best sellers.  Managers must decide on an inventory level that balances the risk of running out of products with storage costs and the other negative aspects of holding too much inventory.  By definition fashion has a cycle of salability.  Trends evolve, seasons change, and customers desires shift.  Unlike fine wine when this happens the inventory you have in your warehouse can lose value.  In fact if you are not careful you may not even be able to get the cost of the merchandise when you sell it.

I worked for a company that once had a large inventory of colorful suede skirts.  The inventory continually  reduced in value and management was not happy with the offers they were getting for it.  After several years they finally bit the bullet and agreed to sell them at $1 per skirt (a very, very, low price).  When they went to ship the skirts they found them discolored from the lights and years in the warehouse and ended up having to give them away.  While this is an extreme example it does highlight the issue of over buying.  Buying inventory is a combination of art and science.  But one thing is true.  A small business is better off erring on the side of caution, as money is limited it is sometimes better to miss a few sales than losing money on the merchandise you do buy.

A small business involved in manufacturing must deal with overhead costs. These are the costs beyond wages and materials that you incur for maintaining a manufacturing operation. These costs include such things as rent, utilities, employee benefits, insurance, equipment depreciation and property taxes. It is enticing to have a big beautiful showroom and offices, traveling to Europe to fabric shows several times a year and advertising in every publication that approaches you.  However since your money is limited (and quite frankly even if it isn’t) you should analyze these possible expenses using rigorous standards before you agree to spend on anything.

Small business owners that closely monitor cash flow will be able to pay their bills on time and build their credit.  They will have the money to take advantage of opportunities that come up and will be in a much better position to weather the inevitable lean times that come up throughout the years.


May 01

Controlling Cash Flow For Small Fashion Businesses -Part 3

By Maria Pesin | Uncategorized


Profit does not equal cash flow.  Reading your profit and loss statement (P&L) will not give you a handle on your cash flow.   Knowing whether you earned a profit (or created a loss) is not the same as knowing what happened to your cash,  Profit, as defined by the rules of accounting, is simply revenue minus expenses. Invoicing a customer for products or services you sold to them creates revenue. Actually collecting the money on that invoice is what creates cash.

That is why bad debt can really hurt you.  Small start up companies are so excited to get into business they forget about credit when they sell to stores.  Many do not have credit agencies on retainer so they cannot check credit ratings.  A good idea is to take credit cards from your accounts and then charge the credit card when you are ready to ship.  Small stores are utilizing this method more and more.  Since many credit companies are not extending credit to small stores they find it easier to pay this way.  The stores get points on their credit cards for the purchase which is a plus.

As your company grows you can hire a Factor.  Factoring is a transaction in which a business sells its accounts receivable, or invoices, to a third party commercial financial company, also known as a “factor.” This is done so that the business can receive cash more quickly than it would by waiting 30 to 60 days for a customer payment.  Your company than pays a percentage of the invoice till the customer pays.

There is a direct link between low profits or losses and cash flow problems. Remember – most loss-making businesses eventually run out of cash.  While this sounds like a no brainer keeping track of your profitability is so important.  You need to continually manage this so that there are no surprises at the end of the year.

Look for part 4 in the series.