Category Archives for "Business"

Feb 23

Should your Fashion Business Go “Seasonless”?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

My goodness, is spring already here?

Wasn’t it snowing a couple of days ago?

The weather is so strange. It seems winter is later and spring is earlier every year. Climate change is all too real an issue for our industry.

Many years ago I was taking May 30th for Fall deliveries from Saks Fifth Ave. Now no one wants inventory before August. For 6 years I worked in the coat industry. Each year business became more and more difficult as the cold weather took longer and longer to arrive.

One solution is the buy now, wear now model. Creating clothing much closer to need as opposed to showing way in advance of the season. “The current way of showing a collection four months before it is available to customers is an antiquated idea and one that no longer makes sense,” stated Tom Ford.

Another solution is to include “seasonless” pieces in your collection.

These are items that feel timeless and can be worn again and again, but are still interesting enough to make the customer want to buy. I don’t know about you, but I find myself wearing the same clothing all year round.

This is a trend that brands need to be on.

Seasonless fashion is on the rise, and we can’t afford to ignore it. And this isn’t just about heavy coats and lighter fabrics. This change breaking some of our hardest kept fashion rules.

Now you can wear white in the winter and cashmere in the spring. Also using lighter weight fabrics that are layered in the fall and then stripped down in the summer. You see women without hose in the winter, and all sorts of weird fabric combinations.

Then there are companies like AYR (https://www.ayr.com) that stands for All Year Round. They were founded in 2014 when the founders saw the need for seasonless clothing. And Catherine Quin (http://www.catherinequin.com) who’s website says the brand was “created as an interchangeable wardrobe reflecting the needs of the modern woman, the Catherine Quin collection transcends occasion, climate and culture with seasonless versatility.”

Is this a strategy for you?

Obviously I can’t be sure. However, I think this is a strategy everyone needs to consider. Almost certainly there should be some element of “seasonless” incorporated into just about every collection.

Feb 13

Ever Feel Discouraged?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

Sometimes it’s hard not to get discouraged.

Deliveries are delayed, samples come in wrong, stores are late making payment. Believe me, I know that sometimes things happen in my business that are out of my control and I also get discouraged. It’s just human nature.

Running a business is not always smooth sailing and it is often harder than you ever expected. (similar to marriage and raising children, lol).

For entrepreneurs, being discouraged from time to time comes as part of the gig.

Entrepreneurship is filled with peaks and valleys. And from experience, I know the valleys can feel like someone has trounced on your spirit. Someone wearing big heavy military boots.

This can lead to questioning and self-doubt.

So what is the solution? Sometimes you just need to step away. Read a book, see a movie, or go to the gym. But what do you do if that is not an option?

Listen closely, because I have a multi-step sure-fire solution that works for me:

Step 1: determine what the exact problem is…without blowing it out of proportion. For example if a delivery is delayed, rather than thinking I will go out of business, I slow down and state the exact problem. Many times it is not as bad as I thought.

Step 2: make a list of possible solutions. For the delayed delivery I may ask the factory to give me a discount, or send by air rather then boat if they are coming from overseas. There are always viable alternatives if you breathe calmly and look closely.

Step 3: take action. In our hypothetical case of the delayed delivery, I get on the phone and start negotiating. The key step is taking action.

To me the cure for discouragement is activity.

Movement always beats sitting there in the dumps. I totally understand that when you’re in the thick of the problem it can be difficult to see a solution as you get so emotionally involved. You just can’t think straight.

When that happens get your team on board. This is when your business consultant is worth her weight in gold.

Contact them to talk you off the roof and brainstorm solutions.

And remember, a month from now today’s mountain of despair will seem like just a bump in the road!

Feb 09

Why Fashion Businesses Are Drowning in the Facebook QuickSand

By Dennis Lewis | Business , Guest Posts

You’re posting regularly.
You’re running “like ads” to grow your audience.
You’re advertising your online store.

And it’s just not producing.

Sound familiar?

This is the Facebook quicksand trap that is slowly but surely drowning far too many fashion businesses.

But before I continue, I’d like to share a quick tip with you that could save your life.

You see, drowning in quicksand must be a truly awful way to go. While maybe not the most clear and pressing danger for many “city slickers,” you just never can be sure, can you?

So, file this away in your memory: The best course of action when you find yourself being swallowed by a hungry puddle of quicksand is to slowly raise your legs while leaning backwards. You’ll float right to the top!

With that now out of the way, I’d like to try and save your brand’s marketing budget as well.

You see, all too often I talk with fashion entrepreneurs who seem to be flaying away – desperately trying to do a bit of everything while pretty much going nowhere.

Don’t let this be you.

You see, Facebook is the most powerful advertising platform in the world. It offers unparalleled targeting options and can drive torrents of high quality traffic.

But it’s notoriously tricky.

And even worse – it is a terrible place to try and drive organic, free traffic!

Why? Because for brands, Facebook is decidedly NOT a social media network.

Nope. Those days are long gone.

Facebook is an advertising platform that sponsors a social network for individuals. Just like the good old days when Coca-cola sponsored Gilligan’s Island, today your brand’s messaging is sponsoring Uncle Ben’s ability to check in on his grandkid’s trip to Fort Lauderdale!

So, what should you be doing?

First and foremost, EVERY fashion startup should be dedicating four times more effort to Instagram than Facebook!

Instagram is where the engagement is.
Instagram is where the loyal followers are.
Instagram is where the sales are being made.

Data has proven that Instagram drives 58 more times engagement than Facebook! It is highly visual and people spend enormous amounts of time staring at their Instagram feeds every day.

If you’re interested, please check out my Powerhouse Instagram Marketing Service here.

Next, in order to avoid the Facebook quicksand you need to play a different game over there. A game that will be clear when you answer the following question:

What does Facebook love almost more than racking in your ad dollars?

The answer is: great content that genuinely appeals to highly targeted groups of users.

Facebook loves content that drives engagement. This is the key ingredient in their success. So much so, that they are willing to give away their most precious asset – user eyeballs – in exchange for awesome content.

So, my recommended formula for getting the most on Facebook is:

  1. Consistently invest a small amount ($5 – $10 a day, for example) on like ads to grow your facebook page following. Be super careful about how you target these ads!
  2. Make sure you are growing a Facebook retargeting audience of everyone who visits your website.
  3. Publish both original and curated content to your page everyday.
  4. Promote the content that gets engagement and ignore all the rest.
  5. Only run traditional ad campaigns to people on your retargeting audience.

Want to have a conversation about how this is all done?

Signup here for a couple of hours of 1-on-1 marketing assistance.

I’m looking forward to seeing your success!

Jan 23

Why Aren’t Stores Treating Curvy Women Right?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

Recently one of my followers, Lisa Banks of Lisa Kay Banks Designs read a post I wrote “The demise of the department stores”.

She wrote me and stated’ “I wanted to also add that as a curvy woman going to the department stores to shop is fun but also disappointing. I would love to see more diversity in clothing brands that make apparel specifically for curvy women. I find some departments stores have the “plus size” area, next to maternity wear—REALLY—. I love the idea of the 3-4 way mirror, and to see sales personnel, that have training in styling and fitting, to help the shopper with recommendations while shopping for garments.”

She is so right.

I have a client that is making a foray into the plus size arena. While researching the market I found myself searching department stores in an effort to find the plus size department.

In some stores it was in the basement.

However, what was really disappointing were the assortments. Ill fitting, frumpy, and cheap looking clothing is what I found. Is business so good that stores can ignore or barely register a whole segment of the population?

There are designers who purposely don’t make past a size 12 because they don’t want to see large size women in their clothes. While this may be insulting, it’s their choice.

But then there are the ignorant people such as Chip Wilson, former CEO and founder of Lululemon who once stated, “Frankly, some women’s bodies just don’t actually work [for the yoga pants],” Chip Wilson said on Bloomberg TV’s “Street Smart” program. “It’s more really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time, how much they use it.”

I believe it is time to make fashion that is inclusive of all body types.

So why not think of including extended sizing in your clothes or adding plus sizes to your brand? Did you realize that over 60% of women in the US are plus sized? What’s even more important, they are totally underserved!

Plenty of these women are actively seeking clothes that help them look and feel their best. Plenty of them have the economic means to make significant purchases.

That’s why I recommend opening your vision to this huge segment of the market. You might find a whole new set of raving fans who are hungry to buy your products!

Jan 18

Why Telling Your Story Is Important For Your Fashion Business

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

I was at a trade show one day shopping for product to sell in my shoe and accessory store.  Passing by a booth I saw belts that looked interesting.  The salesperson gave me the information about the belts and I was ready to leave.  Then the owner of the company came over and told me the story of the company and the belts.  The story was so compelling that I sat right down and wrote an order.

Stories have the power to inform and educate, entice and engage a customer. Stories can capture the imagination and influence decisions. When you are marketing and selling, telling your story will create an emotional connection.  This is how you begin to create a brand.

whats_your_story

What are the elements of a good brand story?

Start with the reason your company came to be.  What was the vision behind your product, the inspiration that was the catalyst in creating your business?  I love the story about Spanx.  Sara Blakely founder of Spanx was going to a party one day and had white pants she wanted to wear.  She wanted to make sure she had no lines or bulges.  At the time there were no undergarments that did the trick.  So she bought control top pantyhose and cut the feet off.  After wearing it all night she realized this was something women needed and her company was born.

The next chapter should explain your USP (unique selling proposition). What makes your product fabulous and unique and why a customer should by it.  Remember to discuss benefits as opposed to features.

The story needs to have a hero.  Just as Sara Blakely was the hero of the Spanx story who is the hero of yours.  Is it you?  Then tell the story of you and how you came to the business.

Telling your story with passion, honesty  and excitement will make your story powerful.  Sharing your business story builds a sense of trust and familiarity and people are more likely to buy from those they relate to, understand, and most all, they trust.

Jan 10

6 Tips for making your fashion website mobile friendly.

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Sales , Vibe Consulting

Let’s start with a confession.
I don’t know how people shop on their smart phones.

How can they see anything on those little screens? I have a big screen and I still have trouble. However, my 24 year old daughter shops on her phone all the time as a major source of entertainment.

And obviously so does the rest of the country.

I just read this: “Compared to 2015, total e-commerce holiday sales increased by 10.43%. Meanwhile, purchases on mobile devices, or m-commerce, surpassed 30% in 2016.” According to Chain Store Age.

So what does that mean to us old timers who thought having a great website was good enough?

Well, it’s time to join the new reality and make sure your website is mobile ready. I understand that keeping up with technology is hard since the rate of change is accelerating.

But as we used to say “Be there or be square”.

So here are 6 useful tips that can help you meet the bar:

  1. Make sure your website converts to a smartphone or tablet so that it is easy to see and nothing’s cut off.
  2. Simplify the site so that it is easy to shop. Simplify the navigation and eliminate links that can distract the shopper. At the very least move them further away from the call to action.
  3. Be careful that you don’t strip down your pages so much that you loose your brands personality.
  4. Make the shopping process on mobile a smooth experience. Make it as easy for the shopper to complete the order as as possible on a small screen using the phone’s keyboard.
  5. Provide full product details. Users favor retailers who show all available product information: stock availability, sizes, color choices, descriptions, photos, videos, etc. . Design your site so product detail features are clear and easy to understand.
  6. Customers want to be able to zoom in on details, but they must be able to zoom where they want and control the size. This is especially important considering how small the screen is.

Most important of all – test, test and test some more!

Every day new phones, operating systems and updates go out, and sometimes they break things that used to work perfectly. Be sure to visit your website on your phone regularly, and if you see something that needs fixing, call in the calvary!

In today’s market, where 65% of the traffic is mobile, you just can’t afford to neglect your m-commerce strategy.

 

Jan 05

Is Your Sales Team Up to Snuff?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Productivity , Sales , Vibe Consulting

Let me start with a truth that needs to be said:

Sales is a really tough job.

Most people think they aren’t suited for it. They believe you have to have a certain personality, or they think you have to be sneaky and a bit of a liar. It’s a dirty subject that “nice people” avoid at all costs.

What a bunch of BS.

I have been a salesperson almost my whole career. That is 30+ years. And I will tell you the best sales people are hard working, ambitious, and honest people who care about their customers and want to do right by them. The sleazy ones usually are not all that successful. So when you add someone to your sales team, make sure they have the qualities I mentioned.

To be a good salesperson you have to be a self starter. A person who begins work or undertakes a project on his or her own initiative, without needing to be told what to do.

You see, salespeople need to always be selling. That means increasing their business with their present accounts and always opening up new clients. Because there is a lot of paper and detail work it is very easy to be seduced by busy work and not keep your eye on the ball. Time management is an important skill for a salesperson. Especially since sales is such a difficult job.

The #1 way to improve the productivity of your salespeople is to…

  • Train them properly, reinforce the training and observe them with accounts. It takes time and effort but that’s what builds an effective sales team. Great salespeople work in putting great effort over time.
  • Keep them motivated. Let them know what is going on in the company. If you treat them like partners they will go the extra mile.
  • Set specific goals that are challenging and attainable. Then follow up on a regular basis to see how they are doing. Giving them feedback and ideas on how to achieve their goals is an important part of managing your people.

But please remember, there is a difference between micro managing and guiding your staff. It’s a delicate balance that requires conscious effort.

With salespeople you need to be interactive, however you don’t want to be peering over their shoulders every minute. They need to know that you’re there for them without feeling constant pressure.

A good salesperson is worth their weight in gold — and they know it.

So, once you come across someone who really produces, make sure they’re happy and motivated to stick around.

Finally, the ugly truth is that you also need to be ruthless with salespeople who aren’t working out. If you’ve set clear goals and expectations and they clearly aren’t being met, don’t be afraid to part ways. Sometimes the chemistry just isn’t there, and if it’s not you need to cut costs as soon as possible.

Jan 03

The Compound Effect and The Fashion Industry

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

 

I just read The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy – for the second time.

You know you love a book when you read it multiple times.

While it is basically common sense, and we’ve heard it all before, I find it to be very motivating. Frankly, it inspires me and reminds me that I need to do certain things repeatedly over time in order to build success.

I tell my clients that in the beginning of their business it will take a while before they see results. Like riding a bicycle uphill, the first few pedals are killer, then it gets a touch easier. And before you know it, you’ve built some momentum.

But be careful!

You never want to stop and rest. Because then it’s like starting from zero all over again.

So what are the things you must consistently do as a fashion brand to build momentum?

  • Always be marketing
  • Consistently visit the stores buying your product. You should see what your competition is carrying and what your customers are saying.
  • Do 2-3 things everyday that move your business forward. These are called M.I.T.’s or most important tasks.
  • Speak to your buyers everyday. Of course not necessarily the same buyer, but the interaction is important to stay current on what is happening at retail, but also to develop rapport.
  • Refining your brand. Branding is never finished. You will always need to tweek it to make it the best it can be.
  • Which brings me to improving your product. You should inspect a percentage of every shipment for fit and quality.
  • Be current. This is a fashion business so do your research. Watch the runways, read magazines, pay attention to pop culture.
  • Know your numbers. Know your bookings, sales, inventory, and margins at all times. This way you know if a you are behind or ahead and can operate accordingly.

Remember when you were learning your times tables?

Running a business requires the same degree of consistency. You can’t just run through the dastardly 8 times table a couple of times and say you’re ready for the test. Instead, you have to wear those flashcards out.

Consistent constructive action is the key to building a lasting and profitable fashion brand.

Why not give it a try for 2017?

Dec 15

Fashion Entreprenuers and The Bright Shiny Penny Syndrome

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

How are you feeling?

Be careful – there’s a nasty bug going around.

One of the biggest issues I see new clients suffering from is what I call the bright shiny penny syndrome. Now, don’t get me wrong. We’ve all done it every once in a while. We decide on a corse of action that we know will benefit our business and then bam… someone calls us with the latest new marketing program, or tells us of a fashion show that we are invited to be a part of that is almost free (yeah sure) and off we go running to participate.

Result? Usually squandering our time and money. Bye bye goes our strategic marketing plans. Hello new marketing idea that isn’t worth your effort, or won’t produce fruit because you don’t stick with it long enough.

Shiny pennies reflect a fiery glow that is hard to avoid. New pennies have power. Old pennies are dull and boring. We have willed the new penny with charm, a source of inspiration, as we traverse along the pathway of possibilities.

The penny is representative of all the ideas and opportunities that land in front of us, one right after the other.

The problem with the bright shinny penny syndrome is that it distracts you from doing the tried and true methods that you have committed to. Let’s face it they get boring. There is promise with the new penny. Just like there is promise with a new marketing effort. The truth is any kind of marketing plan requires repitition and consistency. Without that they are useless.

Marketing also takes time till it pays off.

It’s enticing to move on when we don’t see quick results.

This is not to say the new should be avoided. Innovating and testing are important. But there is a time and place. You must think it through and do your research before you jump in.

The overwhelming desire to continually focus on the new shiny penny can be a big distraction from working on the current marketing plan. So be careful that your not caught up in this syndrome.

Otherwise, you may end up with less than a penny in your bank account!

Dec 05

My Secret Recipe for a Successful & Affordable Fashion Photo Shoot

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

It’s tempting.

When trying to keep expenses down it is all too easy to skimp on photography.

A cheap model, an inexpensive photographer, no hair and makeup person. Some people do their own photography and ask their friends (who they think are really pretty) to be their models. However, you get what you pay for.

Namely, amateur looking photography that doesn’t adequately showcase your product.

Considering you are going to use this for press, your on line sales, contacting buyers, and social media, this strategy doesn’t make sense. Compromising the quality of your photography can and will compromise your business. I am not saying you have to spend $25,000, but you must allocate enough funds to do it right.

So what does doing it right look like?

1. Theme – Decide what you want your photos to look like. There needs to be a thread that ties them together. For example you might be doing an activewear line and decide to shoot models working out on the beach. Mood boards are very helpful in fleshing out the look you wish to create.

2. Models – Models can make or break a shot. A good model knows how to move to show your product in the best light. Schedule a “go-see” with modeling agents. This term is used in the Modeling Industry when a model goes out to meet with you. It’s basically like an audition. Here is your opportunity to see their photo book and see how they photograph and how versatile they are. Use this opportunity to have them try on some of your product and see how they look in it. Then decide which models you want. Have a couple of back ups in case they aren’t available when you go to book them.

3. Photographer – There are many, many photographers out there. However, they are not all good choices. Look at their work to see if you like what they do. They should be able to make your designs look great by using good equipment, lighting correctly, guiding the model, and pretty much directing the shoot. Do they specialize in fashion photography? When you talk to them do they get the story you’re trying to convey?

4. Stylist – A good stylist will find props and other clothing or accessories that will enhance your product without taking away the viewer’s attention. They also have contacts that they can go to for the items they need, contacts you might not have.

5. Hair and Makeup Artist – You need a makeup artist that understands how to make a person look their best and is capable of applying makeup with techniques that will save you time and retouching in post production. They will constantly be touching up during the shoot to keep your model looking fresh.

6. Know what you need ahead of time. Do you need horizontal hero shots for your website? Vertical product shots for your catalogs? Decide on how many final shots you need. Nothing is worse than investing and a photo shoot only to realize later that you forgot the one essential shot you needed.

In conclusion, do your homework and be frugal, but not cheap. Fashion is a visual industry and having awesome images can make the difference between doing just okay or hitting a home run out of the park.

If you’d like some help in making sure that you get your photoshoot done correctly, feel free to contact me here.