Oct 12

Five Qualities a Successful Fashion Entrepreneur Has

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

Sometimes I think of Entrepreneurs as being a breed apart from most people. I talk to many and they say things like, “I feel like I was meant to do this” or “I will have major regrets if I don’t”. Or “I dreamt of this my whole like”. The following qualities are what I have observed that successful entrepreneurs have in common.

 

  1. Driven

Being a driven entrepreneur means never settling and never being satisfied. You have to always want more for your business and your own personal success. Be hungry for the next best thing. An entrepreneur should always have their eyes on a bigger and better prize.

 

  1. Adaptable

Life will always throw curveballs at you, always put roadblocks in your way and always throw a wrench in your well thought-out plan. Never let a downfall dissuade you. You have to adapt to unforeseen changes and to the trends in your industry. Learn how to roll with the punches and make the best of a situation. Just because your business doesn’t go according to your plan doesn’t mean the new plan is bad. It’s just a new plan that can lead you to the same finish line: success.

 

  1. Passionate

We’ve all heard the saying “If you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” It’s corny and played-out, but true. For instance, there is a lot of money in the makeup industry. But if you own nothing but Chap Stick, then don’t throw yourself into the industry just for the money. If you are going to pursue something, and you’re going to jump into it full-force, you have to be passionate about what you’re investing so much time and money in. If you believe in something enough, you can have the power to make others believe in it too.

 

  1. Goal-Oriented

There are ideas and then there are goals. Ideas are thoughts that pop into your head that sound intriguing. Goals are benchmarks in your career that you want to achieve. Don’t just talk about ideas forever. You have to set your goals and do everything possible to reach them. Being goal-oriented allows you to set plans in motion that can build and lead to success.

 

  1. Risk-taking

Nothing is guaranteed in life, that’s what makes it interesting, and it applies to entrepreneurs as well. Risks can lead to rewards. Sure, we all wish that our success could be 100% guaranteed when we make a nail-biting decision, but you never know what could come of it. Emailing that intimidating investor or raising your hand in a meeting to question an authoritative figure might lead to something new and exciting.

 

Oct 06

5 Mistakes to Avoid as a Fashion Entrepreneur

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Productivity

Mistakes are part of life. They most definitely are part of business.   It is important to learn from them. But, even better if you learn from others. Here are 5 that you should avoid.

 

  1. Treating employees unfairly

 

An employee will only work hard if they feel like they are respected at the business. Treating your employees poorly can result in poor service on their part, which could hurt your clientele. Respecting their availability, acknowledging their successes and keeping a positive work atmosphere will keep them motivated to work hard. We’ve all had bad bosses, and you don’t want to be someone else’s.

 

  1. Never adapting to trends

 

What’s hot, and what’s not, can change at the drop of a hat? Staying relevant is how you stay in business. You need to stay on top of the current, and upcoming, popular trends to give your customers what they want, not what they wanted last year. All types of businesses go through trends, and optimizing those trends brings in customers that could lead to them finding something they didn’t expect. They come for the trend but could stay around to see what else you have to offer.

 

  1. Not knowing your demographic

 

We may want to, but it’s impossible to please everyone. As a business owner, you need to learn your demographic. Who’s buying your product? The same person that buys sweatpants with cartoons on them is most likely not the same person that’s going to buy a pair diamond-studded heels. And that’s okay! Find a niche, and run with it. Trying to incorporate 30 different types of styles and interests is only going to confuse people.

 

  1. Not reaching out for experienced advice

 

There’s always going to be someone bigger and better than you. There’s always going to be someone more successful that is making more money than you. But instead of being jealous of them, ask them how they did it. Never be too proud to ask for advice. There are so many people in the world of business with different experiences, different strategies and different success stories. Always be eager to learn more.

 

  1. Trying to survive, not thrive

 

The number one mistake that we make not only as business owners, but as people in general, is that we focus on staying afloat, never trying to go above and beyond. Never settle. Never be happy with just surviving. Always try and thrive to the best of your abilities.

Sep 29

Decrease Automation, Increase Retail Customer Satisfaction

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales

I keep hearing people in our industry say that retail is on its demise, but that’s because companies don’t know how to do it anymore. It’s time to change up our customer’s experience in our businesses. I think we have the ability to turn it around. We need a retail renaissance.

 

The reason why retail is going downhill is due to the lack of helpful employees and increase of computers. The sales help is either not well trained, or they don’t exist at all. Companies are automating their businesses to the point where it’s impossible to even speak to someone on the phone. Many companies may think that computerizing the retail experience increases efficiency, but more often than not, it decreases a shopper’s excitement and motivation to make purchases. Automating a store can make customers feel like the company isn’t willing to go the extra-mile to make their shopping experience a pleasant or enjoyable one through face-to-face interaction.

 

Shopping is a form of entertainment. We’ve all spent hours shopping on our days off because we find it fun, and even relaxing. Incorporating entertainment into your retail company can keep people engaged, and this is something that can only be done with human interaction. Automating your business lacks the human qualities that we look for in retail help like an upbeat attitude and the ability to give opinions. I went into a clothing store the other day and the manager immediately approached me. We held great conversation and I found myself making multiple purchases before leaving the store. I felt like the staff was knowledgeable and focused on customer satisfaction which made me feel like a valued buyer.

 

It’s time to bring back what made retail so successful: quality customer service. The more you automate retail, the worse off you are. So take away the automated system on your help line and connect your customers to reliable employees

Aug 21

3 Steps To Improving Your Fashion Business

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

No matter how good your fashion business is there is always room for improvement.  I myself am always looking for ways to refine my business.  Whether it is streamlining my processes or refining my marketing I always endeavor to evolve into having the best business I can.  Truly by doing this, you can increase profitability dramatically.  So the following are the steps I suggest.

  1. Analyze – The first steps in any plan to improve is to look at where you are in your business now.  Look at sales, customer service, production, and operations.  Are you happy with all these areas?  Should you increase sales?  Do you have systems in place so that everyone is clear about how things run?  Is your fit good, can you notch up the quality a bit?  Michael Gerber, author of E-Myth wrote, “Most entrepreneurs fail because you are working IN your business rather than ON your business.”  This is your opportunity to work on your business.  By studying your entire business area by area, you can then move to the next step.
  2. Plan –  Now that you have identified the areas for improvement the next step is to plan strategies for the improvement of each.  If increasing sales is a goal you might hire more sales reps.  You might decide to update your computer system.  Or maybe take a trip to China to find new factories is important for you to increase profit margins.  Having a well-thought-out plan that is written out is key to the process.
  3. Execute – Even with the best intentions how many times do you come up with ideas but don’t follow through?  Without a solid idea of how to execute nothing gets done.  This might involve delegating certain tasks or outsource the job.  Sometimes it is even as simple as putting the different projects on your calendar.

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often”, Winston Churchill.

Aug 14

Why do new fashion businesses fail?

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Productivity , Vibe Consulting

I have read that the number one reason new businesses fail is lack of money.  I believe this is true.  But there is more to the story than not having enough money.  Lots of times they do have money.  There have been many entrepreneurs that I have run across who have told me they spent $50,000, $100,000, or even $200,000 and they have nothing to show for it.  So they really did have enough money to, at the very least, start small and then build from there.

So what is the problem?  As I see it, it is two fold.  One reason is many emerging designers just don’t know where to start.  Their beginnings are somewhat chaotic as they jump from task to task without a plan.  They don’t even know who their target customer is.  Or they think they do but haven’t done any research to insure that they are right.  They do step 5 before step one. I have even seen people spend years on their brand and yet haven’t had any sales because they make it the last priority.  One entrepreneur I know put $1 million of inventory in his warehouse before he even started to think about how to sell it.

Another issue I see is brand owners who spend their money on ineffective marketing.   They jump around trying a little of this and a little of that.  I had one client spend $50,000  a fashion show in Europe yet sold no stores and had no plans to do so. And how many people do one $10,000 trade show with no orders placed, not realizing that it is a building process and takes many shows before they see results.  Or they try to do so many things but do not consistently pursue a few targeted strategies that will ultimately build results.

Yes, not having enough money makes it hard to be successful but spending what you have unwisely is the biggest culprit of all.

Jul 31

How Long Will It Be Before My Fashion Startup is Profitable

By Maria Pesin | Vibe Consulting

Lets see, let me get my crystal ball…uh…the spirits aren’t sure.  Even they don’t know when a fashion business will start making money.  Let’s face it, the answer to this question  depends on many different things and since each business is unique it’s hard to know how much time you will need to prepare before you can actually start selling.  One thing that every entrepreneur should know is it takes time before you start making money.

Making a business plan will help you come up with the time it will take you to become profitable.  While a business plan is not a seer of the future, understanding your profit numbers and creating a break-even analysis is an important of your business plan that will give you some idea of when you will be profitable.   As a start up company developing break-even analysis, a profit-and-loss forecast, and a cash flow projection will help you understand what you need to do to reach the goal of making money.  Having an aggressive sales and marketing strategy will help it be quicker.

I find nothing sadder than a business owner pulling the plug on the business just before it starts making money, because they ran out of steam or worse money.  Having a business plan in place gives you a blue print for how to run your business.  It helps you figure out how much money you will need to run it plus an idea for when it will start making money.

Because I know how valuable a business plan is I developed a business plan template specifically for the fashion industry.  Click here to purchase the plan.  Believe me it if you are starting a fashion business it will be the best $97 you will spend.  If you do purchase it contact me and I will review it and give you my critique for free.

Jul 28

Why Branding Is Important In Fashion

By Maria Pesin | Vibe Consulting

Do you have favorite companies that you like to buy from?  Do you lust for a Prada handbag, or jeans from 7 of all mankind?  Or maybe you just really like Old Navy’s T-shirts.  That is the power of branding.  When people love your brand, they seek you out.  They also will pay a premium to get your product.

But what is branding?  Branding is all the effort we make to create a to create an impression we want our customers to have of our products. Brand building is the biggest lever most companies have to improve profits and create a demand amongst our customers. Most retail buyers seek to buy from companies that have strong consumer recognition.  They understand the effectiveness of branding.  If you want to create leverage with an account you must make your brand so compelling that they have to carry it in their store.

Brands that stand out from the crowd do so because they intrigue people, are memorable and different. Compelling brands are relevant, have strong brand stories, and have a consistent style. They stand for or against something and have a unique proposition that differentiates them from the competition. People remember compelling brands and know what to expect from them.  It’s like finding a McDonalds in China.  You know what the BigMac is going to taste like even though the restaurant you’re in is 6,000 miles away from the one you usually go to.

Creating a consistent brand experience is critical to establish your identity and engaging your customer. There is nothing better than a shopper coming to a store and asking for you buy name.  That level of demand brings equity to your brand.  It makes it more valuable and helps you compete more successfully in the marketplace.  So spend the money it takes to build your brand, as it is money that is well spent.

Jul 25

Is Your Social Media Telling A Story?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Digital Marketing , Vibe Consulting

Have you ever noticed that some fashion brands post random photos or messages that mean nothing to the brand and have no cohesion?  It is as if they have no idea what to post and do it just for the sake of doing it.  Or they post what looks like a series of ads with no personality. Big mistake!

One of the biggest ways social media has impacted marketing is by giving companies the ability to tell their story.  That is what makes marketing on social media so great.  By using brand storytelling marketers are able to give personality and associate emotion with a brand. By combining the power of storytelling with social media, brands can create a personal connection with the consumer.  People relate to stories and customers like to do business with companies they relate to.

Effective brand stories must communicate the essence of the brand. They must be unique, truthful, striking and interesting enough that people want to engage and share, and of course eventually buy the product.   They shouldn’t be self serving but must be meaningful to audiences.

As marketers we have to think as people connecting with other people as opposed to businesses selling to consumers . You should use powerful imagery that is relevant and personal to your brand. Storytelling is most effective when it’s personalized but use personal images as stock images will never do your brand story justice.  Videos are also a terrific tool to build your following.  Think of an active brand that shows a short video of certain yoga moves, or a lingerie company that illustrates how to fit a bra. This is a good way to engage.

With the growth of social media, a storytelling approach to building a brand is critical. We know that stories are relatable and helps make connections, which is basically what social media is for.

Jul 21

Are you selling enough brick and mortar stores?

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales

I recently read a statistic stated by Manhattan Associates that…
“Online retailers have seen sales decrease by as much as 23 percent in zip codes where physical stores close.”

That is an interesting statistic and surprising to some people I tell it to.  Most fashion industry people see the internet taking business away from brick and mortar.  What they don’t see is that brick and mortar stores support internet business.

This statistic also supports many retailers strategy around “omni-channel” retailing, where merchants seek to provide customers with a seamless experience whether shopping online via desktop or mobile device or at a traditional retail store.

I believe in the advantages of having several business silos because they form a synergy that multiples you sales.  That is why it is advantageous to sell at physical stores as well as on line.  The more exposure you have the more the consumer gets to know you and the more opportunities there are to increase you volume.

What is important to note here is that being in a brick and mortar store also helps build your brand.  I’ve read that it takes 9 points of contact before a customer purchases a product.  The truth is how many points of contact you need depends on many factors.  However there is data that supports the idea that there needs to be several touch points.

The great thing about being in a traditional retailer is that a customer can touch and feel and try on your product before they buy. Many people prefer to shop that way.

It is a smart strategy to be in many brick and mortar stores in order to build your business and get your name out.

With the advent of the internet more and more brands are focusing on website sales, sometimes to the detriment of their volume.  Don’t be short sighted.

 

Jul 19

Does Making Ethical Fashion Impact Your Sales?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

First off, what exactly is ethically produced fashion.

According to Ethical Fashion Forum “ethical fashion represents an approach to the design, sourcing and manufacture of clothing which maximizes benefits to people and communities while minimizing impact on the environment.

“If you describe something as ethical, you mean that it is morally right or morally acceptable.” Collins English Dictionary

For the EFF, the meaning of ethical goes beyond doing no harm, representing an approach which strives to take an active role in poverty reduction, sustainable livelihood creation, minimizing and counteracting environmental concerns.”

Ethically produced fashion matters to consumers.  In the US more and more people are becoming more socially conscious.  As a human beings, we are constantly bombarded with news of :  climate change, poverty, war, worldwide inequalities, shrinking natural resources and other challenges.  More people than ever before have woken up to the fact that we absolutely need to do something.   One of the ways people are doing something is by buying ethically made product.

In fact the consumer is so motivated to buy this way, “They will even spend 10 to 15 percent more on ethically produced clothing,” according to Marshal Cohen, retail analyst at NPD Group.

Social media is huge right now, and  consumers like to post about the brands they prefer.  Those that admire socially responsible businesses will discuss your brand and recommend it to others.  In fact this is a very newsworthy subject that can prompt writers to publish articles about your brand.

I speak to emerging designers all the time who are interested in making ethically produced fashion and have a strategy to do so.  One thing I make clear is that the product itself still needs to be right as well as ethically produced.  You cannot have one without the other.

Does Making Ethical Fashion Impact Your Sales?  I say the jury is in and that it absolutely can impact your sales in a positive way.

 

 

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