Category Archives for "Business"

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.

 

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.

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 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.

 

 

Jul 17

5 Ways To Increase Your Fashion Business Sales?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Sales , Vibe Consulting

Fashion entrepreneurs have one thing in common.  They always seek to grow their businesses.  They see themselves as a major brand and rightfully so.  While they may not necessarily want a billion dollar brand a $20 million brand can make them very happy.  So how do they do that?  Here is what I suggest.

  1. Expand on seasons deliveries – I have worked with brands that do most of their business in one season.  For example a cashmere line that ships 90% of their product in the fall.  I have them add spring fabrications so that they can increase sales by shipping more for spring then ever before.  For brands that do business for fall and spring I have them add additional groups to ship in other months.
  2. Grow your sales team –  Adding additional sales reps, both showroom sales and independent reps can make a significant difference to your volume.
  3. Increase your marketing – Are you doing all you can to get your message out?  Review your social media, email marketing, retargeting efforts, and PR with an eye to expanding on what you are doing.  The idea is to create more buzz in order to drive customers to your site with the goal of internet sales or having them look for a store where they can buy you product.
  4. Broaden your product assortment –  If you make sweaters, perhaps you can add some bottoms to work with them.  I have a tie company as a client and we added pocket squares.  I also have an activewear client and we added sports bras.  There are many natural adjacencies to product lines so just figure out what makes sense for your brand.
  5. Rework best sellers – When I ran Jessica Simpson we had a coat that sold very well at retail.  Our first season we sold 500 units.  We took the body and reworked it by offering different lengths, different sleeves, changed the collar, and offered it in plus sizes.  We must have sold 50,000 units of that coat in all the incarnations and it always sold well at retail.
Jul 04

Are You Creating An Outstanding Brand Experience?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

What is a brand experience?  A brand experience is conceptualized as the sensations, emotions, perception, and behavioral responses evoked by brand related activities

Marketing is all about delivering  the kind of experience that you want to associate with your brand with each customers  interaction. The more compelling the experience, the more people take notice and the quicker you will build brand loyalty. In fact, the culture you create becomes your brand in your customers’ minds.

You must think about both the totality of the experience.  So every point that you touch a customer should be thought out to ensure  consistency across your various marketing elements.

This includes everything from customer service policies, to label and packaging; social media posts to advertising.  Think of going the extra mile.  Instead of just delivery a great experience think exception.  Don’t just make a happy customer but one who is surprised and excited.

I still remember the first time I ordered something from J. Crew.  It was a Father’s Day gift.  When I received the box and opened it up I was impressed by the packaging.  In fact so much so that I called my mother to tell her about it.  That’s the value of an outstanding brand experience.

Even though it isn’t a fashion brand I can’t help thinking of Disney as a perfect example of a brand experience done right.

“Years ago when the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction was being built at Disneyland, Walt Disney noticed that one of the construction workers on the project was from the Louisiana bayou country. The Louisiana bayou is the setting of the first part of the attraction.

Walt took the worker aside and walked him through the first part of “Pirates.” Disney pointed out details, they took their time, allowing the man to look around. Finally he asked the construction worker what he thought of it. Was it authentic looking? Did it remind him of the bayou country that he had grown up in?

“You know,” the man said, “it is good, but there is something missing. I just can’t put my finger on it.”

“Well,” Walt said, “let’s walk through it until you figure out what’s not right.”

So they started over again, and then they went back and did it again, each time allowing the man to look and ask Walt questions. Finally as they were passing through the bayou the man snapped his fingers.

“Fireflies!” The man excitedly proclaimed. “There ought to be fireflies in this swamp!”

Just a few days later, the swamp was alive with electric fireflies.” as told by Jeff Dixon in his post “Walt Disney Fireflies”

Walt Disney left nothing to chance when creating an experience.

Creating an outstanding brand experience is both a tactical and operational activity.  First you need to decide what you want to create and then put strategies in place to execute.  Remember to raise the bar high and create an experience your customers will brag about.

Jun 27

Why a New Fashion Company Urgently Needs a Business Plan

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

There is so much that goes into starting a business.  Most new entrepreneurs don’t know what it entails.  They don’t even know what their first steps should be.  That is why I advocate for a business plan.  It is a critical step in increasing your chances of success.

Some people think business plans are a waste of time.  Their reasoning is nothing goes as planned, so why take the time to plan?  While that is true there is still an extremely  strong case for it.

A good business plan forces you to answer questions about what your business stands for, your market differentiation, marketing plans, etc.  It also helps you figure out the financials of the business. By making a plan you come up with the structure of your business and the strategies of how you execute.

If you don’t make a plan your business at the mercy of the way the wind is blowing.  Reactive as opposed to proactive.

While things will come up that you didn’t plan on or expect, you can always course adjust.  Which is exactly the best way to run your business?  Truthfully you don’t have a crystal ball so how can you possibly plan for every contingency.  But, plan you must.  Then as you learn what works and what doesn’t you can refine your plan

Since many of my clients have asked me for a business plan, I decided to develop one myself.  I have designed a business plan template for fashion brands that covers mostly everything you need to plan for (unless your business has more unique parts I might not have thought of.  At which point it is easy to add to)

All you do is fill in the template and out comes you business plan.  Nothing could be easier.

If you are interested click here.

 

Jun 23

The Value of Setting Goals For Your Fashion Brand

By Maria Pesin | Business , Vibe Consulting

It seems to me that new entrepreneurs are afraid of setting goals for their business.  They have no idea what their goals should be; so they either don’t do it or they set vague wishy washy goals.

Jay B. Barney and Ricky Griffin authors of “Managing Organizations: Strategy, Structure, and Behavior,” stated organizational goals serve four basic functions; these are:

  1. provide guidance and direction
  2. facilitate planning
  3. motivate and inspire employees, and help organizations evaluate and control performance
  4. Organizational goals inform employees where the organization is going and how it plans to get the job done

Having goals gives you a direction, clarifies your ideas and forces you to come up with a plan to achieve it.  If your goal is to have a volume of $5 million in 3 years there are different strategies you need to take then if your goal is $500,000 in 3 years.  It also required more money so by knowing your goal you can arranging for your financing.   You know the old saying, “Fail to plan, plan to fail,”  Planning your business is one of the most important activities an owner needs to take in order to inure success.

Research shows that specific and difficult goals lead to better task performance than vague or easy goals.

It is so easy to be distracted and want to everything.  Setting goals forces you to be focused, using your time and resources productively.  If an activity doesn’t help you reach your goal you don’t do it.

Your goals should be short term, mid-term, and long term.  This helps you to see if you are achieving your bench marks that will indicate the likelihood of reaching your long term goals.  If you aren’t achieving your short term goals you can course correct before it is too late.

Dream a little, then make your goals for your brand.  Make sure they are s.m.a.r.t.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time sensitive

 

 

 

 

Jun 22

Three Reasons Why You May Need A Fashion Industry Consultant?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

This is going to sound somewhat self serving, but a good consultant can make a difference between success or failure.  You might be new to the industry or you have been in business for many years.  I have found 3 reasons why hiring someone to help can be valuable.

  1. You are new to the industry or running a business. I speak to a lot of new entrepreneurs who start a business and waste a lot of time and money not knowing what the best use of their resources are.  Many times they spend thousands of dollars with nothing to show for it.  Rather then steering their business in a certain order they may do step 5 before they do step one.  Or they have a warehouse full of merchandise with no plan to sell it.When I started my consulting business I hired a consulting business expert to help me navigate the industry.  I know the fashion industry as I have 30+ years experience.  But, I didn’t know consulting.  It made a difference in how I structured my business so I was profitable from the first month.
  2. Your business is stagnating.  It can be hard to figure out what to do.  You are so in the thick of it you can’t see the forest for the trees. An experienced advisor can look at your business from the outside without any preconceived bias.  They can be a fresh pair of eyes that can help you develop a strategy for growth.
  3. Business is good but you’re not profitable. There can be many reasons for this.  I have come across companies who’s margins are too low, or production costs are unreasonably high, or they waste money on low value activities.  Whatever the reason a knowledgable expert can review your business and aid you in being a profitable and sustainable brand.

 

Jun 14

How To Create a Million Dollars business In The Fashion Industry

By Maria Pesin | Business , Productivity , Vibe Consulting

I have created several multi million dollars businesses in the fashion industry.  The key to their growth,was success at retail.  The bottom line is the stores that did well with my product increased their orders each season.  Their customers voted with their wallets and laid down their money to buy.  In order to build a million dollar fashion business you need to have styles that people want.

There are plenty of mediocre products out there, and chances are these companies aren’t making a million dollars. In order to generate big sales, you’ve got to bring something to the table that wows customers and generates buzz within your marketplace.  Product is everything.  That is where you must start.  Creating a great line that stands out in the market as unique is what makes million dollar fashion business.

So you must first ask yourself, what makes me unique in the market and what makes my product fabulous?

As the co-founder behind the Kate Spade and Jack Spade brands, Andy Spade once said; “don’t worry about starting a company, If your product is great, the rest falls into place.”  This doesn’t mean you don’t have to think about setting up you business correctly.  It just means making amazing product is first and foremost.

Consuming data helps make you right.

Even the smallest businesses generate data these days.  If your business has a website, a social media presence, sells wholesale, etc., there is data it can collect on its customers, through its user experience, web traffic, selling reports and more.  Studying your data will tell you what styles work and what doesn’t.  Are you getting enough traffic and is the traffic converting to sales? In this day and age consumers love to comment.  Use all the information to make your collection even better.

The companies I ran started with a pretty good product, but as we learned and grew it got better and better till we were the leaders in our category.  That’s how you create a million dollar brand.

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