Category Archives for "Fashion"

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 18

5 Clues Your Sales Team Is Not Up To Snuff

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales , Vibe Consulting

Fashion brands rely on their sales teams to bring in new customers, keep the customers happy and grow their business. When a company doesn’t experience growth then that is a sign something is wrong. While most times the problem is product driven sometimes it is the sales team that is failing to have results. When a team’s sales figures are low month after month, it’s time to do some investigating.

By looking for these clues you can be enlightened to the problem.

  1. Do you find your salespeople doing a lot of paperwork?  It is very easy for a salesperson to get distracted by busy work.  Sometimes this is the fault of the management who dumps a lot of processes and reports on the team.  If you are doing paperwork your are not selling.
  2. Your people are not on the phones.  Speaking to buyers is the most effective way to bond with them and increase the stores business.  Too many salespeople over rely on emails which takes the relationship building out of the equation.
  3. Lack of follow up.  From the first phone call to the first showroom appointment to the first order, there are many steps in between.  Continually reaching out to a buyer to insure the process of getting an order is key. I once hounded a buyer for her order till she explained to me she had to place her basics first.  I asked her what she needed and found the product in another division of my company.  She bought those basics from me which totaled $450,000.  Without the follow up I would never had gotten that order.
  4. They don’t travel to see their buyers.  The most effective salesperson I knew constantly visited his buyers in their offices.  It’s often going the extra mile (no pun intended) that strengthens the bond.
  5. Too much gossiping or socializing.  It is important for your sales team to get a long and be collaborative. However, too much socializing can compromise the overall productivity in the office. Employees need to remember they are not at work to socialize; they are there to work.

Selling is an interesting job.  It is not like making a line of clothes with clear tasks that have clear results.  It is a job that required a person to be a self started. While a good salesman must have the drive and determination to succeed; even the best salespeople can get derailed.  That is why you need to be involved and not leave your sales to chance.

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 07

Finally A Fashion Industry That Embraces Inclusiveness

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales , Vibe Consulting

 

Black, White, Brown, Red, Petite, Tall, Skinny, Plus sized, Freckles, Disabled, Elderly, Transgender, Gay, Queer, Lesbian, and the list keeps on growing…

The difference among people is immense.

The world is getting bigger, and thank goodness, more tolerant. When I was young “coming out of the closet” as it was called was a scary thing indeed. Similarly, standards of beauty were narrow and restrictive. Today, we celebrate our differences, and the fashion industry is finally beginning to embrace inclusiveness.

Ann Taylor has a promotion called “Our Pants Are Everything”. Which shows women in all shapes and sizes. See photo above

The Spring 17 runway shows saw, transgender, race diversity, women of 50 and older, as well as curvy women.

Iris Apfel a quirky senior citizen with tons of personality, was featured in ads for the handbag line Aigner.

Tracey Norman, the first African American transgender model, appeared as the face of Nice N’ Easy’s “Color as Real as You Are” campaign for Clairol.

Urban Outfitters launched a 2017 fashion campaign highlighting diverse bodies. Calling it the “Class of 2017”, they feature all different shapes, sizes and different genders.

Models with disabilities graced the runways.

The list is long.

But, what we are finally seeing is that the standards for beauty and fashionability have expanded. There is no longer only one way to look. As women have rebelled against the high and narrow standards that our society places on pure physical beauty, the fashion industry is jumping on board.

What does this mean to you as a fashion entrepreneur?

This season I have clients that are making adaptive clothing, and an athleisure company making plus sized clothing. I’m also working with a mens line that targets gay men.

The beauty of all of this is that there are as many opportunities to serve these audiences as their are audiences. If you’re open to the possibilities, you can find truly passionate groups of people with specific needs and desires. By crafting both your products and your messaging to these needs, you will be giving yourself a leg up in the market.

Remember, it’s always much easier to talk to someone specific than to try and talk to everyone at the same time. Not only does it help you keep your focus, but it will save you gobs of marketing dollars at the same time!

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 13

Creativity on Demand

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Vibe Consulting

According to Donatella Versace, “fashion is about dreaming and making other people dream.”

Ok it is a new season and you have to design your collection. Except you just finished last season and your creative juices are running a bit thin.

Wouldn’t you love to be consistently creative?

The truth, though, is that we all get stuck from time to time. So here is what I do when I need to turn on my creativity.

First, I submerge myself in inspiration.

I look at the runways, on line, pinterest, magazines, museums, movies, stores, pretty much any and everything that gives me ideas. Then I start to see a thread develop and my vision takes form.

Second, I start to focus in on what I truly find exciting. From there I create. The more ideas I have the better. And I don’t censor them. I throw a lot on the board before even think about narrowing in.

“Studies from the University of California Davis and MIT have shown that groups who produce a large amount of bad ideas also tend to produce the most amount of good ideas as well.”

Sometimes having no inspiration and living totally in my head helps me create ideas.

I find hiking, driving a car, or even taking a shower is where I get some of my best ideas from. Doing something that I can do on auto pilot is also a great way for me to get my brain to start dreaming. (Just don’t space out while driving!)

Another tool that I hear works well is to just start.

Writers for example will start writing anything just to fill a page in order to get themselves in the mindset. For a fashion designer that might be just starting to sketch and see what comes from it.

Finally if all else fails, walk away.

Just like there is writers block, there can be designers block. Instead of pressuring yourself to the point where your mind is a blank, do something else completely different and then come back to it totally refreshed.

After all, we aren’t robots. Although creativity comes more naturally to some people than others, you still can’t expect to be constantly “in the zone.” Give yourself a break and let the inspiration occur!