Monthly Archives: April 2016

Apr 29

What Is A Fashion Entrepreneurs 2 Most Important Commodities?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Productivity


What is a fashion entrepreneurs 2 most important commodities?  Time and Money!    When you have your own business you want to do everything you can to make it successful…the best website, advertising, writing 5 blogs a week, etc.  It is easy to lose focus and find yourself doing a little of everything and before you know it you have very little money left and you wasted time on unimportant activities that do not drive your business forward.  When you think of Time and Money as a limited resource you are then more judicious on how you spend them.

As a business manager, it’s important to place a value on your time and on the time of your employees. My time is worth more than my staff’s, and their time is worth more than an intern’s. Everyone understands this dynamic and plans accordingly.  The key here is to understand that time spent cannot be replaced.  So don’t utilize your time doing busywork and make sure you are performing high value activities.  High value activities are the activities that produce your most important outcomes.

One of the biggest ways I see fashion entrepreneurs wasting money is doing to many things at once and not focusing.  They either start with too many product categories, or they try a trade show once or maybe they run an ad only two times.  Focusing and doing less things but doing them well is the way to go.  These entrepreneurs expect too much, too soon from a strategy and then give up before they see results.

The Small Business Administration says 30 percent of all start-up small businesses fail within two years, and that number reaches 50 percent within five years. Many small businesses start strong, but then, within months, they’ve failed.  With numbers like that it makes sense to husband your time and money very carefully.





Apr 27

It Is Vital To Save Money For a Rainy Day

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

It is vital to save money for a rainy day…especially in the fashion business.  There are so many peaks and valleys in our industry.  The very nature of our business creates issues with cash flow.  However, what I am talking about is different.  What I am discussing are those times when your business comes up against unusual problems.  Maybe business is slow because the stock market is down.  Or a shipment came in damaged and you can’t ship it, reducing sales.  It could be your line wasn’t particularly well received that season.  These are issues outside of typical cash flow.  I have seen businesses killed by not being prepared for these unexpected difficulties.

The saying “save your money for a rainy day” comes from an Italian comedy, La Spiritata by the Florentine playwright, A. F. Grazzini and written in 1561. The idea its to keep a cash cushion so your business can survive disaster.  I’m not speaking about a few extra dollars but something substantial to cover expenses during lean months.

It’s very easy to think that things will last when business is flush.  I lived through the 80’s when customers abounded and we thought the good times would never end.  Many a fashion brand closed their doors following the crash of ’87 and even more in the Great Recession in the 2000’s.  That is why you need to be able to ride out a bump in the road.

Obviously the big reason to have money for a rainy day is so you don’t go out of business.  Another good reason is sometimes you need to course correct your strategy in order to get your business back on track.  The worst position to be in is when you cannot do the things you know you need to do because you can’t afford to.

So think about the lesson you learned from your Mom and Dad and save money for a rainy day.


Apr 25

A Bad Photo Can Kill Sales On Your Website!

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales

I have worked with many catalogs and on line companies.  From Neiman Marcus to Spiegel’s, and I know from experience that a bad photo can kill sales on your website.  Even professional companies that have lots of money to make sure their photography is top notch have times where the picture doesn’t do the product justice.

The following tips will help to insure you do everything possible to make your items look good:

  • Choose a professional model – There is a reason why there are professional models.  They know how to make your fashion item look its best.  You also want to create a look that your customer wants to aspire to.  Using regular people for your shot usually doesn’t elevate your clothing.  But, a great model can make an average item look amazing.
  • Choose a professional photographer – Again there is a reason why you would use one.  They know how to compose a photo to make your clothing and accessories look their best.
  • Use good lighting – Lighting is a key factor in creating a successful image. Lighting determines not only brightness and darkness, but also tone, mood and the atmosphere. Therefore it is necessary to control and manipulate light correctly in order to get the best texture, vibrancy of color and luminosity on your subjects.
  • Make sure your garments fit well and are steamed or pressed –  Allowing the customer to see the shape and natural draping of each product will give them a realistic idea of how the garment will fit on them—not to mention a higher quality shopping experience. Fitting the items can go a long away, too. If your garment seems to be too big for your model, try fitting pinning it and tucking your garment so that it is styled to fit properly. The worst is when a piece is wrinkled.  Making your clothing look its best sounds like a no brainer but you would be surprised at how many times this is overlooked.
  • Make sure your customer can accurately see your merchandise.  If the item gets delivered and it looks different from what the customer expected, you can be sure it will be returned.

Put effort into your photos and try and represent your products in the best and most professional way that you and your budget can put together! Remember you are just not selling fashion you are trying to create desire in your customer.

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 20

How Much Cash Does It Take To Start a Fashion Brand

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

How much cash does it take to start a fashion brand?

Think you’re ready to start your new fashion business? Wait a second. Before you take off, you need to know how much money it will cost to get started.

You may have an idea, but what you really need to do is create a realistic business plan with financials to actually get your business off the ground. Accurately gauging how much capital you need is crucial to success. Underestimate your needs, and you’ll run out of money before the business becomes profitable. Overestimate your costs, and you’ll never raise enough money to get your business off the ground.

Whether your start-up costs total $5,000 or $500,000, you’ll need solid numbers. There is no exact number that I can say you need.  Each business has different needs from the amount of styles you make, to how many people you hire.   Also your expectations can help you figure it out what you need.  Whether you want to do $10,000, $100,000, or $1,000,000 your first year, each dollar volume requires different things.  The staffing, marketing, and in fact your whole business has different requirements to accomplish each volume goal.

An experienced  industry profession who has knowledge in this area can advise you in what you need to consider.

If your sales are on fire, you can deal with the enviable problem of financing the supplies you need to fill a flood of orders. However, it is often more helpful at the beginning to make a practical plan for the worst-case scenario. You need to know up front how you will weather a month — or two or six– with no sales. How much will it take to keep the doors open while you build your brand recognition? Document it all, including whether you will have employees and what kind of space you will need, down to the cost of ink and paper for your office printer.

Obviously, the more cash you have to fund your startup, the easier your life will be during the often hectic first months. So no matter what numbers you come up with pad it in order to have a cushion.  And remember money goes fast so think twice before making any expenditure.

Apr 18

How Personal Branding Can Build Sales For Your Fashion Company

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Sales

Personal branding can build sales for your fashion company.  Nowadays the face behind any given product, be that a blog, magazine or designer label, is just as important as the product itself–if not more so.  Branding needs to be about fashioning an emotional experience for your target audience.  Having a brand that has a brand ambassador as its spokesperson gives your customer someone to connect to.  Think of all the entertainment celebrities that have groupies or athletes that have die hard fans.  The attachment these fans have is powerful.

Look at some of the top fashion brands today, Chanel has Karl Lagefield, Vogue has Anna Wintour, Versace has Donatella Versace.  These people are brands themselves.  They get loads of press and people are engrossed in following their careers.  I have blogged about having a brand story that your customers can relate to.  Having a personal brand strategy can add to the story. Also people prefer to buy from people not companies. By having a personal brand you can increase sales by increasing customer bonding.

“If your brand is to have a strong identity, it must come from you and not from a committee,” says Tom Ford.  Never forget — people connect with other people. If you don’t appear to be a real person, or if it just looks like you’re faking it, how likely do you think others are to trust you? Even if they do buy into your fake persona for a while, the slightest bit of inconsistency could prove problematic.  So the approach to personal branding is key as well.

Branding yourself attracts attention.  The media is always interested in hearing stories from entrepreneurs who are in different stages of business creation and development.   You want people talking about your company and personal branding is a wonderful way to start the conversation.


Apr 15

Are You Worried About Sales?

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales

Are You Worried About Sales?  When asked most fashion entrepreneurs say their number one concern is booking enough sales.  However, many are so scared by it that they avoid it altogether.  They think selling is sleazy.  Or, they don’t think that they would be good at it so they avoid it all together.

I am going to make the assumption that you have a good line, priced right, and buyers like it.  Because, if that is not the case then you have different problems.  So, if you have a good product then sales should be easy right?  No, it isn’t and since you aren’t happy with your sales I am also going to assume you it’s because you are not  spending enough time on  selling activities.

As an owner it is key that you dedicate time to reaching out to stores with the goal of getting them to place an order.  Especially if you do not have salespeople on your staff.  If you do have salespeople ensure that they are spending their days productively and not on busy work.

As much as we hate to admit it, sales is a numbers game.  The more sales calls you make the more opportunity you have  to get orders.


Take a lesson from Rainmakers, those in the top 10% of all sales performers.  They believe in the power of goals and action plans. Those who truly want to reach the elite status don’t get there by accident — they live by goals, and they are committed to doing what they need to do to achieve.  Usually on the list of their action plans are the number of calls they intend to make in a week.

Make sure to have a good target list of prospects. Every business needs a good prospect list.  Calling on stores that would not be right for your product is a waste of time.

So if you are worried about sales, call more stores each day and call the right ones.


Apr 14

Choose The Right Trade Show For Your Fashion Brand.

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales

How should you choose the right trade show for your fashion brand?  First, identify what your objectives are. What results are you hoping to achieve, and who do you want to reach? The first step with any business decision is to identify your objectives and then choose a course of action that will provide you the best opportunity to meet those objectives.  Are you trying to build your business nationally or do you want to build it one region at a time.  Regional shows tend to be less costly.  But, national shows more exposure.

The following is what you should consider:

  • Be clear on who your target buyer is.  Determine what stores would do well with your product and then find out what shows they attend.
  • Where does your competition show?  Chances are that is where the accounts you want to show,  go.  Of course I mean your successful competition.  The ones you know sell many stores.
  • Make sure that the show you attend gets good traffic.  If it is a poorly attended show your chances of getting orders goes down.  Also, the show needs to get the right traffic.  So if a show has a lower attendance but great quality stores attend then it may be the way to go for you.
  • Are the people who run the show easy to work with.  The days where a trade show company can be very independent is over.  If they don’t return your calls or give you any support have second thoughts about whether to they are the right show for you.
  • Will they give you good placement at the show or help promote your line.  Good placement at a show is critical.  Especially if you are new.  While a new brand does not have the clout to demand good placement some trade shows are smaller so you can get better exposure.  Something to think about when choosing.
  • Where do your accounts tell you they like to shop.  Buyers have their preferences.  Finding out where they shop and why can give you insight to what might be the best place for you.
  • Visit the show.  Contact the show organizers and have them walk you through the show.  This way you can get a feel if the show is for you and you can get a lot of your questions answered.

When it comes to growing your business or launching a new product, trade shows can be a very effective way to gain industry insight, capture new prospect leads, and network.  But they are expensive in both time and money so consider your options carefully and think strategically about the type of show to attend and how you can stand out once you’re there.

Read my blog 10 Tops Tips For A Successful Fashion Trade Show for more info on increasing your trade show success.


Apr 11

Is it Necessary to Have a fashion Degree in Order to Have a Successful Fashion Brand? By Boaz David

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion



We often get asked if a fashion design degree is necessary in order to have a successful fashion brand?

The key words in that question are necessary and successful.

If you have a fashion design degree, this means that you learned in theory how to design a full collection and got introduced to the technical and design terms and the process of making a fashion product. HOWEVER, if you do not have a fashion design degree you can still take courses or workshops (yes, these exists) that can teach and help you understand the steps you need to take towards designing a line or you can also learn the trade by interning/ working in the industry.

In other words, as oppose to a doctor or an attorney you don’t need a design degree to become a designer, in fact you will be surprised how many designers out there never went to fashion school.

So if a degree is not needed in order to be a fashion designer than the next question would be: Is obtaining a design degree means you’ll have a successful brand?

While a fashion product must be well designed, at the end of the day a business mind and business instincts are equally as important!

The key to having a successful brand (like with any other business) are motivation, passion, strong will and the drive to be successful. As an entrepreneur you will face many challenges in your business along the way and will have ups and downs until things will start to click for you. You will be constantly under pressure and will need to keep your motivation, focus and drive no matter what comes your way, while constantly learning, making adjustments to your business, coming up with solutions, and making decisions.

All of these actions and skills are not ones that you can learn in school or ones that a degree will show you how to do them (Who knew!). The reality is that the only way to master these is by going through them.

In conclusion, it is not obligatory to have a design degree to be able to become a successful fashion brand. To have a SUCCESSFUL fashion brand both the creative vision (left brain) and the business mind (right brand) are needed, however this doesn’t mean that you personally need to master those two (which btw is perfectly normal since most of us master only one of the two), but your business will need access to both. Therefore, when you start your fashion brand and build your support system make sure to have at least one person, a company or an adviser that master the aspects that you don’t. For example if you are a creative person, it’s should focus on the design aspects and hire help to cover the business side, someone who can help you build a business plan, understand your financial strategy, start-up cost, cash flow etc.. in fact if you look at any successful fashion brand out there you will find that behind the designer (who is in most cases the one that’s in the front) there is someone who handles the business side.

Article by Boaz David of HumanB

Apr 08

Should New Fashion Brands Do Trade Shows

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Sales


Should new fashion brands do trade shows?  There is a lot of conversation about whether trade shows are still relevant.  We know that traffic is down and many companies feel they do not do well at a show.  They are expensive both in time and money.  New lines get poor placement at shows and the shows are so big that it is hard for a buyer to walk the entire venue.  So as a new fashion brand is it worth it to do a show?

According to an article by Graeme Moran of Drapers on Line,  where they did a study on the relevance of trade shows,  “The overriding conclusion was that trade shows are still an important element of the industry and will, in one guise or another, continue to be so. Yes, they can be expensive and time consuming for exhibitors, but they can also be one of the best ways to introduce brands to the market.”

A new brand has to weigh the cost versus the benefit of doing shows.  The key thing to remember is that doing a show is not going to be the way you do business.  It is a tool in the tool box and you will need many tools.  Creating a synergy between all your marketing efforts is the way to do business.  So doing a show which will get you exposure will also have to be done in conjunction with having a showroom to see buyers and traveling the road to see buyers.

When you are new it is important to have as much exposure as possible.  One of the biggest mistakes I see new brands make is doing one show and then not doing it again.  Many buyers want to see you several times before they take a chance on your company.  They want to make sure you a not a fly-by-night company.  Success at a show is a building process and it may take several before you are happy with the results.  If you are going to only do one, don’t even bother.  It will be a waste of your money.

So the bottom line is, if you can afford to do shows they are worthwhile.  Just make sure you choose the right show for you.  You prepare properly to maximize results and commit to the long haul.