Monthly Archives: March 2017

Mar 27

Pot holes and fallen tree trunks

By Maria Pesin | Business , Productivity , Vibe Consulting

Obstacles to your business growth are a given.

In the real world things occasionally go wrong.

That is just how it is. For example, I have a new client who’s business has gone down the last two years and he doesn’t know what to do about it. He’s worried, but hasn’t actually decided on a course of action. Sometimes it’s just far too easy to hide your head in the sand.

A far better approach is to look at the obstacle as an opportunity.

Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel once said, “Bad companies are destroyed by crisis, Good companies survive them, Great companies are improved by them.”

Confronting obstacles isn’t necessarily easy to do, and I am not suggesting you take them lightly. Underestimating the difficulty of clearing a roadblock can cause the problem to become that much more threatening. But hear this: not dealing with potholes and fallen tree trunks make them even more dangerous.

Don’t let hurdles in your path floor you. Expect them and embrace them. Take the time you need to overcome them. Most days I think my job is just that – to solve problems.

By thinking this way, rather then bemoaning difficulties, you start to build the habit of being a true problem solver. When you figure out how to turn it around you will find that you can make your business stronger and more lasting than ever before.

So what is my new client doing?

He hired me to help him design and implement a strategy to turn it around. No matter what the obstacle, there are always solutions. To find them you need to face the problem straight on.

Ask yourself, “what is the opportunity here?”

Believe me, this is a much better conversation to be having. Not only does it set a more positive tone, but it opens your mind to finding alternative routes around the pot hole.

Sometimes a scenic jot down a lazy back country lane can get you to the interstate faster than waiting for the traffic jam to clear. Not only do you get to enjoy the countryside, but you’re in motion.

Of course, you could always strike up a game of gin rummy with the poor guy stuck in the car ahead of you!

Mar 16

The dark and gloomy future of retail that doesn’t have to be.

By Maria Pesin | Vibe Consulting

Yesterday my son (who’s been investing in stocks since he was 14 years old) and I discussed the future of Macys. A stock he owned.

He asked me if I knew 3 years ago that Macys would be having trouble. I answered yes. Retail stores in general are sweating a very uphill climb. Of course there are exceptions, but for the most part anyone and everyone from boutiques to giant department stores are feeling the pressure.

American Apparel and The Limited are closing stores. Neiman Marcus is up for sale. Macys and JC Penny are reducing locations. The iconic store Saks Jandel of Washington DC is closing after 128 years in business.

Gap CEO Art Peck stated. “I’m sure you see the public data and you could tell that traffic continues to be tough. We have seen a pretty consistent [traffic downturn] of about 3% a year and now it has gone deeper than that. Sometimes we see deeper than that. The public data would say that February started out significantly deeper than that due to a number of things, not the least of which was the holiday shift.”

How’s that for optimism?

But OK. We all know the doom and gloom of what is happening, but here is the bottom line. I haven’t seen anyone naked or shoeless yet (at least not on the street). In fact, many people have built huge closets to house all the fashion apparel they own.

The truth is people are buying and they are buying a lot.

They are just buying differently. If stores want to drive consumers into their stores and get them spending money, they have to come up with new ways to entice them.

It’s time to think outside the box. Time to be creative.

The future of retail isn’t bleak it is just different.

What we as an industry have to do is channel the public’s love for good fashion in ways that bring them back into the stores. We need to make the experience fun and exciting again. We need to bring back the sparkle in their eyes.

I have no doubt that smart retailers will get this right. And will be the new winners.

It just may be that the age old names we all have on the tips of our tongues will be forgotten.

If so, so be it.

Just make sure your brand isn’t depending on them for survival!


Mar 13

Creativity on Demand

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Vibe Consulting

According to Donatella Versace, “fashion is about dreaming and making other people dream.”

Ok it is a new season and you have to design your collection. Except you just finished last season and your creative juices are running a bit thin.

Wouldn’t you love to be consistently creative?

The truth, though, is that we all get stuck from time to time. So here is what I do when I need to turn on my creativity.

First, I submerge myself in inspiration.

I look at the runways, on line, pinterest, magazines, museums, movies, stores, pretty much any and everything that gives me ideas. Then I start to see a thread develop and my vision takes form.

Second, I start to focus in on what I truly find exciting. From there I create. The more ideas I have the better. And I don’t censor them. I throw a lot on the board before even think about narrowing in.

“Studies from the University of California Davis and MIT have shown that groups who produce a large amount of bad ideas also tend to produce the most amount of good ideas as well.”

Sometimes having no inspiration and living totally in my head helps me create ideas.

I find hiking, driving a car, or even taking a shower is where I get some of my best ideas from. Doing something that I can do on auto pilot is also a great way for me to get my brain to start dreaming. (Just don’t space out while driving!)

Another tool that I hear works well is to just start.

Writers for example will start writing anything just to fill a page in order to get themselves in the mindset. For a fashion designer that might be just starting to sketch and see what comes from it.

Finally if all else fails, walk away.

Just like there is writers block, there can be designers block. Instead of pressuring yourself to the point where your mind is a blank, do something else completely different and then come back to it totally refreshed.

After all, we aren’t robots. Although creativity comes more naturally to some people than others, you still can’t expect to be constantly “in the zone.” Give yourself a break and let the inspiration occur!

Mar 09

3 Stockbrokers walk into a bar…

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Vibe Consulting

Once upon a time I was married to a stock broker.

I know it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but it’s true! One thing he would tell me is that when everyone is excited about the market, that is when the NASDAQ is about to go down. Like Warren Buffet says, “the time to buy is when everyone else wants to sell.” When everyone wants in, the smart money starts to take their money out – in order to capture profits.

While I wouldn’t say fashion cycles are exactly the same as the stock market, there are some similarities. When a trend is being bought by everyone and their mother, we know that it’s about to start fading.

Right now we are going to start seeing that with Athleisure. I mean they are putting the word in the dictionary soon for goodness sake.

Athleisure product is everywhere and every major brand from Tory Burch to Calvin Klein is now doing some kind of performance/casual brand.

Of course they all look the same.

One of the biggest fails of our industry is the way we copy things to death without having a unique point of view. Don’t you think wearing yoga pants every day is getting boring?

Aren’t we jonesing for a fabulous skirt with a cool pair of pumps?

Industry site the Robin Report predicts that athleisure “is rolling over for fall and its growth rate will dramatically slow, and then stall out”.

I don’t believe that this trend will ever fully end. The American people love casual dressing so this kind of apparel will leave the realm of trend and become a staple category just like jeans did.

However, I think the next trend is going to be a bit more dressed up.

And I for one am glad.

It will be fun, new, and, fresh. Isn’t that what fashion is about…change?