Category Archives for "Sales"

May 10

Is Private Label a Good Way to Grow a Fashion Business

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales


Private label is when you produce product for a retailer or another brand under their name rather than your own brand name.  Usually the margins on this business are smaller.  But many times the units are bigger than you might have sold the store if you used your own logo.  It is very enticing business, especially if you are new and trying to build sales volume.

It is great for retailers as they expect to pay less for private label so their  profits are much higher. “The stores don’t really make much money off of the brands they carry. For example, a dress from Aqua, Bloomingdales in-house contemporary label, generates much higher profit margins than a number by Marc by Marc Jacobs because they aren’t paying the high premium of getting the Marc by Marc Jacobs label.  Usually the price is less for the customer as well.  This is a win-win for Bloomingdales and their customers.  For brands it extends their product assortment into categories they do not have experience with.

Is private label a good way to grow a fashion business?  That depends on your business.  Each fashion company has its own business model.  It also has its own unique characteristics.  So what might work for one brand might not work for another.  The questions you need to ask yourself are, “What business am I really in? What are my ultimate goals?”  Look at your business as it stands.  Do you need the business because your sales are low or would the sale use up precious resources and reduce your profitability?  Do you have a hot item that would loose its exclusivity if you make it for someone else at a reduced price?  Or is everyone already starting to knock it off so you might as well get a part of that business.  Do you have the infra structure in place to do private label?  Because many companies that do private label have a whole list of requirements in order to do business with them.

As in all business there isn’t one stock answer fits all so studying the opportunity to do private label and making sure it adds positively to your company is truly the way to go.  Always do your due diligence before making any decisions.


Apr 25

A Bad Photo Can Kill Sales On Your Website!

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales

I have worked with many catalogs and on line companies.  From Neiman Marcus to Spiegel’s, and I know from experience that a bad photo can kill sales on your website.  Even professional companies that have lots of money to make sure their photography is top notch have times where the picture doesn’t do the product justice.

The following tips will help to insure you do everything possible to make your items look good:

  • Choose a professional model – There is a reason why there are professional models.  They know how to make your fashion item look its best.  You also want to create a look that your customer wants to aspire to.  Using regular people for your shot usually doesn’t elevate your clothing.  But, a great model can make an average item look amazing.
  • Choose a professional photographer – Again there is a reason why you would use one.  They know how to compose a photo to make your clothing and accessories look their best.
  • Use good lighting – Lighting is a key factor in creating a successful image. Lighting determines not only brightness and darkness, but also tone, mood and the atmosphere. Therefore it is necessary to control and manipulate light correctly in order to get the best texture, vibrancy of color and luminosity on your subjects.
  • Make sure your garments fit well and are steamed or pressed –  Allowing the customer to see the shape and natural draping of each product will give them a realistic idea of how the garment will fit on them—not to mention a higher quality shopping experience. Fitting the items can go a long away, too. If your garment seems to be too big for your model, try fitting pinning it and tucking your garment so that it is styled to fit properly. The worst is when a piece is wrinkled.  Making your clothing look its best sounds like a no brainer but you would be surprised at how many times this is overlooked.
  • Make sure your customer can accurately see your merchandise.  If the item gets delivered and it looks different from what the customer expected, you can be sure it will be returned.

Put effort into your photos and try and represent your products in the best and most professional way that you and your budget can put together! Remember you are just not selling fashion you are trying to create desire in your customer.

Apr 18

How Personal Branding Can Build Sales For Your Fashion Company

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Sales

Personal branding can build sales for your fashion company.  Nowadays the face behind any given product, be that a blog, magazine or designer label, is just as important as the product itself–if not more so.  Branding needs to be about fashioning an emotional experience for your target audience.  Having a brand that has a brand ambassador as its spokesperson gives your customer someone to connect to.  Think of all the entertainment celebrities that have groupies or athletes that have die hard fans.  The attachment these fans have is powerful.

Look at some of the top fashion brands today, Chanel has Karl Lagefield, Vogue has Anna Wintour, Versace has Donatella Versace.  These people are brands themselves.  They get loads of press and people are engrossed in following their careers.  I have blogged about having a brand story that your customers can relate to.  Having a personal brand strategy can add to the story. Also people prefer to buy from people not companies. By having a personal brand you can increase sales by increasing customer bonding.

“If your brand is to have a strong identity, it must come from you and not from a committee,” says Tom Ford.  Never forget — people connect with other people. If you don’t appear to be a real person, or if it just looks like you’re faking it, how likely do you think others are to trust you? Even if they do buy into your fake persona for a while, the slightest bit of inconsistency could prove problematic.  So the approach to personal branding is key as well.

Branding yourself attracts attention.  The media is always interested in hearing stories from entrepreneurs who are in different stages of business creation and development.   You want people talking about your company and personal branding is a wonderful way to start the conversation.


Apr 15

Are You Worried About Sales?

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales

Are You Worried About Sales?  When asked most fashion entrepreneurs say their number one concern is booking enough sales.  However, many are so scared by it that they avoid it altogether.  They think selling is sleazy.  Or, they don’t think that they would be good at it so they avoid it all together.

I am going to make the assumption that you have a good line, priced right, and buyers like it.  Because, if that is not the case then you have different problems.  So, if you have a good product then sales should be easy right?  No, it isn’t and since you aren’t happy with your sales I am also going to assume you it’s because you are not  spending enough time on  selling activities.

As an owner it is key that you dedicate time to reaching out to stores with the goal of getting them to place an order.  Especially if you do not have salespeople on your staff.  If you do have salespeople ensure that they are spending their days productively and not on busy work.

As much as we hate to admit it, sales is a numbers game.  The more sales calls you make the more opportunity you have  to get orders.


Take a lesson from Rainmakers, those in the top 10% of all sales performers.  They believe in the power of goals and action plans. Those who truly want to reach the elite status don’t get there by accident — they live by goals, and they are committed to doing what they need to do to achieve.  Usually on the list of their action plans are the number of calls they intend to make in a week.

Make sure to have a good target list of prospects. Every business needs a good prospect list.  Calling on stores that would not be right for your product is a waste of time.

So if you are worried about sales, call more stores each day and call the right ones.


Apr 14

Choose The Right Trade Show For Your Fashion Brand.

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales

How should you choose the right trade show for your fashion brand?  First, identify what your objectives are. What results are you hoping to achieve, and who do you want to reach? The first step with any business decision is to identify your objectives and then choose a course of action that will provide you the best opportunity to meet those objectives.  Are you trying to build your business nationally or do you want to build it one region at a time.  Regional shows tend to be less costly.  But, national shows more exposure.

The following is what you should consider:

  • Be clear on who your target buyer is.  Determine what stores would do well with your product and then find out what shows they attend.
  • Where does your competition show?  Chances are that is where the accounts you want to show,  go.  Of course I mean your successful competition.  The ones you know sell many stores.
  • Make sure that the show you attend gets good traffic.  If it is a poorly attended show your chances of getting orders goes down.  Also, the show needs to get the right traffic.  So if a show has a lower attendance but great quality stores attend then it may be the way to go for you.
  • Are the people who run the show easy to work with.  The days where a trade show company can be very independent is over.  If they don’t return your calls or give you any support have second thoughts about whether to they are the right show for you.
  • Will they give you good placement at the show or help promote your line.  Good placement at a show is critical.  Especially if you are new.  While a new brand does not have the clout to demand good placement some trade shows are smaller so you can get better exposure.  Something to think about when choosing.
  • Where do your accounts tell you they like to shop.  Buyers have their preferences.  Finding out where they shop and why can give you insight to what might be the best place for you.
  • Visit the show.  Contact the show organizers and have them walk you through the show.  This way you can get a feel if the show is for you and you can get a lot of your questions answered.

When it comes to growing your business or launching a new product, trade shows can be a very effective way to gain industry insight, capture new prospect leads, and network.  But they are expensive in both time and money so consider your options carefully and think strategically about the type of show to attend and how you can stand out once you’re there.

Read my blog 10 Tops Tips For A Successful Fashion Trade Show for more info on increasing your trade show success.


Apr 08

Should New Fashion Brands Do Trade Shows

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Sales


Should new fashion brands do trade shows?  There is a lot of conversation about whether trade shows are still relevant.  We know that traffic is down and many companies feel they do not do well at a show.  They are expensive both in time and money.  New lines get poor placement at shows and the shows are so big that it is hard for a buyer to walk the entire venue.  So as a new fashion brand is it worth it to do a show?

According to an article by Graeme Moran of Drapers on Line,  where they did a study on the relevance of trade shows,  “The overriding conclusion was that trade shows are still an important element of the industry and will, in one guise or another, continue to be so. Yes, they can be expensive and time consuming for exhibitors, but they can also be one of the best ways to introduce brands to the market.”

A new brand has to weigh the cost versus the benefit of doing shows.  The key thing to remember is that doing a show is not going to be the way you do business.  It is a tool in the tool box and you will need many tools.  Creating a synergy between all your marketing efforts is the way to do business.  So doing a show which will get you exposure will also have to be done in conjunction with having a showroom to see buyers and traveling the road to see buyers.

When you are new it is important to have as much exposure as possible.  One of the biggest mistakes I see new brands make is doing one show and then not doing it again.  Many buyers want to see you several times before they take a chance on your company.  They want to make sure you a not a fly-by-night company.  Success at a show is a building process and it may take several before you are happy with the results.  If you are going to only do one, don’t even bother.  It will be a waste of your money.

So the bottom line is, if you can afford to do shows they are worthwhile.  Just make sure you choose the right show for you.  You prepare properly to maximize results and commit to the long haul.



Apr 07

Five Proven Ways To Get Rid of Unsold Inventory

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Sales

The bane of a fashion entrepreneurs business…owning inventory that didn’t sell at regular price.  No matter how good your sales were for a season, too much unsold inventory can ruin your profitability.  We have a saying in the fashion industry: “Inventory is not like fine wine, it doesn’t increase in value over time”.  In fact the nature of fashion is that it has a built-in dwindling of value because the fashion business is based on newness and change.  That is why you shouldn’t get too attached to your inventory and unless it is an ongoing style you should look to get rid of it as soon as you can in order to get top dollar.

Here are five proven ways to get rid of unsold inventory:

  1. Run a private sale to your customer list – Send an email blast to your customer list offering a discount just for them if they use a special code on your website.  Make it so that the sale expires after a few days in order to create urgency.
  2. Offer off price to your current account list – Reach out to the stores you sell and offer them a discount on reorders.    Make sure you do it way after you ship them otherwise they might ask for the discount to be retroactive.  Also make sure the discount is enough to encourage them to reorder.  5-10% is not going to cut it.
  3. Flash Sale Sites- This is an e-commerce business model in which a website offers products for sale for an average period of 24 to 36 hours.  Examples of this are: Haute Look, Rue LaLa, and Zulily.
  4. Off price stores – These stores offer deep discounts on product to customers who are always looking for a bargain. I always think of this customer as someone who likes the hunt as much as they enjoy the purchase.  Examples of these are:  Ross Stores and Marshalls.
  5. Sample Sales – Sample sales used to be sales where a showroom would open up to the public and sell their samples at a discount.  Nowadays it is used as a vehicle to sell leftover inventory.   In fact they are so popular there are companies that run multi line sample sales and will run the entire sale for you.


Apr 04

10 Critical Mistakes Fashion Designers Make

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Sales


Being a fashion designer is not just about making pretty clothes.  Though wouldn’t it be fun if that is all it was?  The fashion industry is a business and the point of it is to make money.  A designer who realizes that will have a greater chance of success.  However, many forget that when they are designing, which can cost them sales.

 10 Critical mistakes Fashion Designers Make

  1. Not designing with production in mind – When designing a style a designer must be sure that technically it can be made and within price structure of the line.  I have seen many a design that had to be dropped from a line because the production department did not have the ability to produce it.
  2. Choosing fabrics and trims that are too expensive – I know sometimes you see a gorgeous fabric or a great button that you just have to have.  But, if you don’t stay in the price range you can afford than you will not make a profit.
  3. Not having the right fit – Yes,  you know you need to have a good fit.  But it is also important to have the right fit for your customer.  A young contemporary line needs to fit a young persons body where a missy fit is more appropriate for an older person.  Make sure your fit is right for your ideal customer.
  4. Not having a target customer – How many times have I heard a designer say they sell everyone.  But truthfully your collection has to have a focus otherwise it doesn’t stand for anything.
  5. Not understanding your customer – Once you have a target customer than you have to know your customer inside and out so that you can create clothing that will fit their needs.
  6. Not having a strong unique selling proposition –  Having a good fit, or good quality is not enough to set you apart.  Those are the basic expectation a store buyer will have for your product.  You need to bring something special to the table.
  7. Assuming that the factory understands you sketches –  There is the saying that when you assume,  you make an ass(out of)u(and)me.  That goes doubly so for fashion.  When you send sketches to a factory you must highlight every detail from stitching, to facing, to darts, and whatever other details are on the piece.  Otherwise you will be wasting a lot of time on poor samples.
  8. Not shopping the stores – A good designer will always shop the stores so they know what is out in the market. They need to see what is selling and what isn’t.  They also need to see what their competition is up to.
  9. Not always keeping sales in mind – One of the best designers I ever worked with always knew her numbers.  She knew how many pieces a style sold or if a style wasn’t successful.  This way she would design more of what was working and less of what wasn’t.
  10. Not having advisors – No one knows everything.  So having professionals you can go to in areas that you are not an expert in is just smart business.  Even I work with professional advisors.
Sales Suck
Mar 28

Help! Sales On My New Fashion Brand Suck

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Sales


Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. – Thomas Edison

What do you do when your fashion brand sales suck?  Sales takes time.  We know it takes a while for a brand to catch on.  But if sales are really low you need to analyze why.  You must answer the following questions.

  • Do I have a good sales team in place?
  • Have I given them the tools they need to sell?  Good samples, marketing material, product knowledge?
  • Am I priced correctly?
  • Are they seeing the right stores for my product?
  • Am I seeing enough stores?
  • Does my line have a unique point of view?  The industry is very saturated and does not need a new brand unless it has a USP (unique selling proposition).

If you answer these in the positive then the next question you need to ask is:  What are the stores saying?  Do they like your line?  Because if they don’t you need to figure out why and fix it.  Many new brands do not have a slam dunk their first season. They need to adjust to what they are hearing from the customers.  Perhaps the buyers don’t like your fabrics or color story.  Or,  maybe the styling is too basic or too novel and not wearable.  Whatever it is you need to find out.  Then you can adjust your line based on the feedback.

Change is not a threat, it’s an opportunity. Survival is not the goal, transformative success is. – Seth Godin

Evolving your collection based on feedback is important to success.  When I first opened the Jessica Simpson Coat collection the retail sales were low.  I learned that it was in the wrong price range for the Jessica customer it.  I reduced prices dramatically and sales boomed.  The moral of the story is to pay attention to what isn’t working and improve it so that your sales can improve.