Category Archives for "Business"

Dec 11

Do Companies Really Mean It When They Say They Are Committed to Excellent Service

By Maria Pesin | Business , Sales

I really like the success guru Darren Hardy, author of the Compound Effect.  Or at least I did.  I bought a program of his  that I though seemed really good.  I only listened to the first part of 12 and knew it wasn’t for me.  Since he guarantees his products I filled out his contact form asking for my money back. I had to do it twice because I haven’t heard back.  (Still haven’t) Nor is there a telephone number to call, which is a pet peeve of mine.

This is just one story in a list of similar stories where I feel like I am annoying the customer service rep rather then having a service rep who wants to help. The following is a small list of customer service experiences:

  1. Called Sprint 3 different times to fix a billing issue and was put on hold for up to 100 minutes.
  2. My son was hit by a car and it took 3 weeks to get the police to write up the report.
  3. Trying to get my sons car appraised for weeks and was told we’ll call you when we get to it.
  4. Tried to cancel my gym membership at Retro because I had a knee replacement and can’t work out or walk, yet they won’t cancel unless I walk in and cancel (which of course I cannot.)

I did have one really great experience,  I had to order very expensive food for my elderly cat.  Unfortunately my cat died before the food arrived.  When I called the company Chewy to return the food they told me to keep the food and donate it to whoever I wanted. Wow that was impressive.

This has all happened in the last 2 weeks.  What is going on with companies?  Is business so good that companies can so disregard the brand experience that they alienate customers.  I now love Chewy and would recommend them to everyone.  The rest, not!

What is your experience?  I’d like to hear from you.  Do you have good experiences or has the concept of good customer service gone with the dinosaur?

Nov 09

Kate Spade Bought Out By Coach

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

 

It’s time to start making our holiday wish list and every woman has put a designer purse at the top of that list. One of our favorite purse brands that we hope to see under the tree has now been sold to an iconic company.

 

Companies buy each other out in the fashion industry all of the time. Just a few months ago, Michael Kors bought out Jimmy Choo. And another company has been added to the 2017 “bought out” list.

 

Kate Spade, a fashion and accessory company that began in 1993, was bought out buy its major competitor, Coach, which began over 50 years earlier in 1941.

 

In a $2.4 billion dollar deal, Coach bought out Kate Spade in July with a transaction of $18.50 for every stock of Coach. The goal of this purchase was to appeal to more millennial shoppers.

 

Kate Spade has struggled in the past few years due to competition and the constant discounting of products.

Coach anticipated reaching $50 million in savings through their inventory management and supply chains. This goal seemed to be out of reach in August when its shares fell to their lowest point in four and a half years after pulling out Kate Spade in nearly half of its department stores. Revenue is projected to be less than predicted at $5.9 billion. The gross margin is expected to continually fall in the 2018 fiscal year, standing at 66.5 percent in August, falling from 67.8 percent.

 

“In an unpredictable environment, we are evolving to drive our long-term success by reinventing ourselves,” Coach Chief Executive Officer Victor Luis said in a statement.

 

Luis continues to hold faith in Kate Spade outlet stores. He plans on opening 25 in the upcoming fiscal year. He also hopes expanding to the men’s market will help the company increase profit

 

Sources:

http://money.cnn.com/2017/05/08/investing/coach-kate-spade-takeover/index.html

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-15/coach-declines-after-kate-spade-acquisition-weighs-on-forecast

Oct 29

BJ Wilson, Can She Rescue Your Retail Business?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

BJ Wilson and Company, a professional wardrobe-consulting firm, started up in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1983. The company also offers services in personal styling, special event styling, personal shopping, travel packing and gift buying.

Believe it or not, BJ Wilson, the owner, founder and image consultant for the company, didn’t always want to go into the fashion industry. Before building her business, Wilson was the only woman in an architectural firm, working as an assistant. She became the person her colleagues went to when they didn’t know what gifts to purchase for their wives or girlfriends. This gift-buying service spiraled into an interest in consulting.

We dress ourselves for a majority of our lives, and we develop our own style. We know what we like, and what we don’t like. So why do people turn to a professional wardrobe consultant instead of sticking to what we know?

“People recognize that they need the help,” Wilson said. “They aren’t knowledgeable, they don’t know what to buy. A consultant that’s professional can educate their customers.”

Every business owner has bumps in the road, and those bumps often come one after the other at the very start. Even though she has an entire page of customers raving about her business, Wilson faced a challenge that most companies struggle with in the building process. She struggled to find employees that were loyal and knowledgeable that she could rely on to help her thrive.

Success stories like BJ are what can inspire the rest of us. A few words of advice from someone experienced in the fashion industry can be just what we need to take that next step in our career.

Wilson believes that being trained in some form of retail background, for at least one year, is what many fashion industry newcomers lack.

“Work retail, on the floor,” Wilson said. “That’s what can kind of give you direction.”

Wilson also opened up “Knowledge is Sales,” a fashion retail training resource.

BJ Wilson and Company offers online classes and group seminars to people that are looking for help in specific style areas including how to dress in the workplace and dress codes.

For those wondering what is “in” right now, Wilson has a variety of favorite current fashion trends, including feathers, fringe, the color red and metallics.

Find out more by visiting http://bjwilsonandcompany.com

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.

 

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