Category Archives for "Business"

May 31

Should You Start A Fashion Brand If You Have No Experience?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

I am of the belief that no you shouldn’t.  This industry is difficult to make money in for even the most knowledgeable person, it is almost impossible for the novice.

Now that I have said that, there are some of you that won’t listen.  You have a burning desire in you to do this, so by hook or by crook you are opening your own brand.  Far be it from me to discourage you from following your dreams. So here are some suggestions.

  • Get a job in the industry and learn on someone else’s dime.  Then you can start your business part time as you are learning.
  • Take courses at a fashion school on subjects you need to know, such as: pattern making, fabric technology, design, marketing, accounting , etc.
  • If you have a lot of money to invest, hire people to fulfill the functions you don’t know.
  • If you don’t have any money, network till you find a mentor.
  • Hire a consultant like myself to help you navigate the waters.
  • Be prepared to do a lot of research on how to run a fashion business
  • Make a business plan.  This forces you to put together a blueprint for managing your business.
  • Make sure that there is a desire for your product.  There are a lot of brands out there.  You need to be confident that you are bringing something special to the marketplace and there is an appetite for it.

While it may be near impossible, it isn’t truly impossible.  People like Ralph Lauren, Steve Madden, and Sara Blakely started their businesses without prior knowledge and have gone on to have major success.  So if this is something you are destined to do, I hope you will take some of my suggestions to aid you on your path.

 

 

May 12

The 5 Challenges A Fashion Entrepreneur Faces

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

Let’s face it, running your own business is tough.  It is especially tough in the Fashion Industry.  Business is stagnant and stores are closing.  Yet, no one is running around naked, so someone is selling something, why shouldn’t it be you?

You do need to solve the challenges a fashion entrepreneur faces.  Here what I consider the top 5.

  1. Financing– This is a big one.  While you can boot strap a business and grow it slowly, you do need some money to start with, otherwise how will buy fabrics, start a website, and do many of the things it takes to start a business.
  2. Keeping an eye on cashflow – This industry will create many ebbs and flows in your cash levels.   For example you will be paying for production long before you ship to your merchandise to the stores and get paid.  So while on paper it might look like you are doing well without cash you might not be able to get your product produced for all the orders you have.  They say “Cash is king”.
  3. Standing out in a crowded market– And believe me it is crowded.  There are lots of manufacturers copying the same trends and doing the same things. Everyone looks  alike.  What are you doing that stands out from the pack?
  4. Finding and keeping customers– So many entrepreneurs treat this as an afterthought.  They are so busy working on their product that they delegate sales to the very last step.  This is a mistake as getting and keeping customers needs to be addressed at every step of the business process.  No sales, no business, period!
  5. Inexperience – This is not a fatal flaw.  You can learn what you don’t know.  So many avoidable mistakes are made that are costly when someone is new to the industry.

That is why I am creating my first Fashion Business Success Club.  It is for you the solo-prenuer who feels like they are going it alone.  This mastermind group will include people like you that you can also network with.  Imagine having a team you can brainstorm with, along with working with me a 40 year Fashion Industry Executive.

This might lead to the very breakthrough you need.  So take the crucial next step for your business and sign up.

When you click the following link, you’ll be getting first access to my group coaching plan called “Maria Pesin’s Fashion Business Success Club”.

And once you get signed up, we’ll be meeting regularly every Wednesday evening online in a small group setting.

Every week we’ll cover a new fashion business topic, and I’ll take your questions one by one. Also, we’ll have a section dedicated to showcasing YOUR obstacles and I’ll help you find ways to overcome them.

Cool, right?

So, all you have to do is click the link and get signed up.

The first call is on me, and I’m only going to open this up to 10 people for right now.

I’ve never done a program like this before, and I want to make sure I can overdeliver and surprise you with awesome results.

Take care and hope to talk to you on our first call!

 

 

 

Apr 28

As a Fashion Designer Is Your Brands Style Clear?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

As a fashionista  you have probably noticed that most successful designers have their own style sense and point of view that is unique to them.  Their style of design would have ultimately been branded in them in the market. Studying them will  help you to develop yourself and see how one builds their style.

A signature look is a key part of branding.  That doesn’t mean you don’t evolve.  Fashion is always changing and designers must change with it.  But designers  still have an inherit look to their collections.  Burberrys is not going to be doing Betsy Johnson flashy prints and Vivienne Westwood is not going to make preppy Lacoste shirts.

But here is the thing: Your own style isn’t something you can come up with from today to tomorrow. Usually your style will naturally evolves as a fashion designer. It is a process and one that you need to go with.

Sometimes I have clients who are really not sure what there style is and for them I send them to the stores or internet to research.  Putting together ian nspiration boards of photos, fabrics, colors, and trims that resonate with you is a great way to help you define your style.

By following this process ideally you  will end up with a look that is unique to you.  Everyone looks at things with their own creative filter. Each designer’s process is a little bit different from everyone else. However, sometimes we begin to mimic, too closely, other work without realizing it. Make an effort to make your design your own with its own DNA.

We don’t need another Tory Burch or Kate Spade or Lululomen.  Those companies already are successful.  What we need as an industry are brands that have their own personality and creativity that inspire and delight customers.

Apr 27

What Is Your Fashion Brands Unique Selling Proposition?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

Do you know what your unique selling proposition is or as some people call it your USP?  Your USP is what makes your business different from your competition. According to Theodore Levitt, author and professor at Harvard Business School. “Differentiation is one of the most important strategic and tactical activities in which companies must constantly engage.”

The reality of the fashion industry is it is not really growing.  The market doesn’t need another brand.  So if you are going to start a company the first thing you must ask yourself is…what makes your business different?  Why should someone do business with you instead of one of your competitors? You should ask yourself this at the very beginning of planning your company.  And you should be asking it again at every stage of your business.  This will help you create the story of your business.  It of course needs to be compelling.

There are 3 key steps to determining what your USP is.

1.   What is your company good at?  Or as expert marketer Seth Godin asks “What is your superpower”?

 

2. Does your product look unique?  It doesn’t have to be strange but it has to have it’s own identity.  It should stand out from the competition.

 

3. What emotional need does your product meet?

By developing your unique selling proposition you not only have a reason to exist but it goes a long way in helping you with your marketing message.  Whenever I speak to a new client the first question I ask is what make makes their company special.  Being able to answer this is the first step in starting a business.

 

Apr 25

Everyone Loves A Good Makeover

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

Today I was reading about a homeless man who received a free makeover from a hair and grooming salon.  They offered him a new look as well as new clothes.  This man, who at 55 years old homeless for 25 years, went from looking homeless to looking like a hipster.  The locals who knew him did not recognize him and his confidence has soared.  His story has inspired people to help him and now he is off the streets.

I love seeing makeovers.  In magazines and on TV, whether it is an individual  or someone’s house going through a rehab they are especially fun to see.  But, one of my all time favorites are business makeovers.  The best ones are the ones for which is I get to do the makeover.  The only thing more fun than seeing a makeover is doing a makeover.

Clients come to me with businesses that are stagnant, shrinking, unprofitable, or just not growing the way they should. I get to analyze the problem and come up with strategies that turn things around.  How great is that?

You too can turn the corner if your company is not where you want it want to be and make it  a successful and sustainable business.

The first step is to be honest with yourself and own up to what the problems are.  There are solutions to every problem but only if you know what challenges you have.  If you’re not sure, talk with your employees, customers, and vendors.  Get their take.   Come from a positive place.  The worst thing is to tell people your business is in trouble.  Rather say:  “I want to take your business to the next level, what ideas do you have to help take it there?”   Be open to feedback.  You don’t have to agree with everything said, but if you are defensive and closed off it won’t get you anywhere.

Then you need a plan to institute the strategies to execute your makeover. It’s never easy but it is very doable.

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 13

How Well Do You Know Your Market?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

How well do you know your market? This is an important question. Unfortunately some Entrepreneurs aren’t even sure what the market is for their product.

The term “your market” is a group composed of characteristics which are used to identify a specific target group of consumers or of a market segment and can be understood with information composed of the demographic, psychographic, and socio-economic factors of the population.

The internet is a great place to find this data. There are many sites that will give you detailed information on your potential audience.  HubSpot posted a helpful article called: “17 Tools & Resources for Conducting Market Research” which as the title says gives you sites you can go to in order to do research, many of which are free.

Throughout the course of starting and developing your business make sure you ask your buyers what they think at every stage. You should be led by what they will buy, not just by what you think they will want.

Additionally “knowing your market” encompasses knowing your products competition. The most successful people I know in the fashion industry are very in-tuned to their market. They are constantly in the stores and speaking with salespeople and consumers, or walking the floor with their buyers.  This reinforces their ability to be relevant to their customers and not fall behind.

No matter how high up you are in your companies hierarchy never stop interacting with your market. When I ran businesses I would visit the stores that carried my product and spend hours working with customers one on one.  It is amazing what you learn when you sell directly to the end consumer.   There is no substitute for hands on exposure.

Never assume you know all there is to know and that your markets wants and needs won’t change.  By constantly studying and learning your will assure your brand of continued success.

 

Apr 06

When people see your product do they know it’s you?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

What makes your brand uniquely you?  Do you have a point of view that is recognizable?

When you look at Chanel apparel, even without a label inside you know it’s Chanel.  If you see a Versace dress it is totally identifiable as sexy.  Calvin Klein, clean, modern. and sophisticated.  Ralph Lauren, Americana.  We always speak of brand consistency.  Which of course is very important.  Labeling, packaging. Photography, website, all brand collateral must be identifiable to  the brand.

However, first and foremost is product.  Are you creating product that when a customer sees it they recognize your style?  Have you endeavored to have a signature look?    High end fashion lines tend to have an easier time as they are creating trends where less expensive lines more times follow them. But, no matter what your price points, you can most definitely have your own style.

Tom Ford once spoke about the importance of product and how it is key. I used t0 jokingly say that product was first, second, third, fourth, and fifth, in other words everything.  It still is.

Differentiate yourself from competitors through a strong brand personality in your space and create product that is uniquely you.  What makes you identifiable?  Can you articulate it?  When a customer sees it would they know it is you without seeing the label?  This is somethings all designers should strive to do.

Consistency creates brands people trust that are dependable.  They also are recognizable.  It’s like handwriting, uniquely you.

“It’s frankly easier to create something new than to rework someone else’s attempt,” Adam Judge, Author of ‘The Little Black Book of Design’.

 

 

Apr 03

5 Things an Entrepreneur Should Know Before Starting A Fashion Brand

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

Starting a fashion brand is exciting.  But, it can also be quite daunting. As Sophia Amoruso founder of Nasty Gal once said, “It takes a lot more than just knowing how to put an outfit together to succeed in the fashion industry, so more power to you if this is where you want to be; just don’t expect it to be an extended trip to the mall.”

I know we love the glamour and excitement we perceive being in the fashion business will bring.  But it is a lot of hard work and sometimes a lot of disappointment before you can start to see success.  Here are 5 things you should know before you start.

  1. What is your big idea?  There is a lot of competition out there.  So you need to know how you will stand out.  What will you bring to the table that is new and different?
  2. Who is your customer?  Having a very clear picture of your customer allows you to build a collection that is focused on what you buyers wants and values.
  3. How much money do you need and where are you going to get it?  Planning your financials is a critical component to your success. Making a plan for what it will cost to run your business and then raising the money first will help you with the significant outlay of capital before your business starts making money. One of the main reasons most small businesses fail is that they simply run out of cash.
  4. How is your product being produced?  The best designers I ever worked with kept production in mind while they put together their lines.  Many newbies create great designs only to find out they are not financially or technically feasible.  Working closely with a good production company will save on time and money as they direct you to the best factories and suppliers for your product.
  5. What is your sales and marketing plan?  Unfortunately many designers come up with a line and sometimes even a production run before they even know how they will get it sold.  Without sales there is no business.  So make a plan from the beginning.

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”-Coco Chanel

While it is a business, for many of us, it is still a passion.  If you have the passion than go for it and fulfill your dreams!

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!

Feb 28

You Screwed Up. Now What?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

You saw the news everywhere.

While announcing the best picture Oscar award at this past Sunday’s event, there was a mix-up of cards and presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty initially declared the musical, La La Land, the winner.

Ooops!

But just as La La Land’s producers were accepting the award, they were interrupted by Host Kimmel who stated La La Land was not the winner, Moonlight was. As you can imagine chaos and confusion erupted on live TV.

Wow! That is a big error!

Who’s fault was that? And how does the guilty person recover from such a huge mistake? Can you image that person’s rep in the industry? I bet they won’t be stuffing envelopes for a while!

Embarrassing, yes – but not really all that uncommon.

In the fashion industry people screw up all the time, many times publicly.

Remember when Lululemon had to recall their yoga pants because they were too sheer? Or the time Andrew Marc was sued by The Humane Society of the United States after an investigation revealed raccoon dog fur violations? The investigation uncovered evidence that the brand continued to sell raccoon dog fur (a species of dog) despite a court order prohibiting it after March 2013.

Think of one of the biggest business blunders ever! Coca Cola changing their soda formula. Overnight Coca Cola experienced a huge drop in sales.

How do businesses come back from these mistakes? And they all did.

According to Paul Schoemaker, the research director for the Mack Center for Technological Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and co-author of the forthcoming Brilliant Mistakes, most people tend to overreact to their slip-ups. They “make asymmetric evaluation of gains and losses so that losses loom much larger than gains,” he explains.

I know in my many years in business there was a time or two where I made cringe worthy mistakes. We all do. Then I dwelt on them for months rather than remembering the successes.

So how do you handle a mistake?

First you own it. Acknowledge it, even if it has to be public. Maybe apologize. Learn from it. Then course correct.

You can’t undo what’s already happened. You can’t miraculously make people forget.

However, by being honest, humble and up front about it, your chances of quickly recovering are good. People are usually forgiving of honest mistakes.

They may laugh at you for a while, but remember: no one ever died from a red face!