Category Archives for "Vibe Consulting"

Apr 13

Do You Dream of Having a Fashion Business?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

Many of my subscribers have fashion businesses.  However there are a few that just have a dream.
They always wanted to be in the industry but for some reason or another they never pulled the trigger.  There are many reasons why they didn’t pursue it.  They got married and had children right away.  They didn’t have the confidence to go for it.  Or maybe they were talked out of it by well meaning parents.

Whatever the reason I’m here to tell you it’s not to late no matter what stage you are in your life.  I have people approach me that want to start a fashion business who are all different ages and some are in their late 60’s.  When other people are ready to retire they are ready for the next step in their life.  These people have a burning desire, a dream they never attained but feel if they don’t try their lives will never feel fulfilled.  I am talking about the fashion business, but this is true of any dreams you have.  Dare you go for it?

When someone is ready to make the leap into the fashion business many times that’s when they contact me.  They want to save time by learning from someone who has already done it.  Just because you don’t know the business it doesn’t mean you can’t learn.  The market is full of stories of people who took the chance.  A friend of mine started his accessory business by selling belts from his trunk. Another one started in a flea market and went on to open 20 stores. My favorite story is about Sara Blakely of Spanx who built a billion dollar business with an idea and $5,000.

Are you ready to take the plunge?  If so, go for it.  Make it happen.  Believe in yourself.

 “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

Apr 04

3 Habits of Highly Effective Fashion Entrepreneurs

By Maria Pesin | Business , Vibe Consulting

Fashion Entrepreneurs are a special breed. They tend to think creatively, they thrive on chaos,  they have total faith in their products. And chances are they haven’t had any special business training.  What they do have is passion, passion for the product and the industry.  Many fashion entrepreneurs have dreamed of starting a business for years and feel that if they don’t begin a business they will always feel they missed out on pursuing their dreams.  Of course that doesn’t mean they are all running their businesses effectively.  However they increase the ability of their success if they follow these habits.

  1. Habit #1 – They put a substantial focus on sales and marketing.  They consider this one of the most important aspects of their jobs so they spend a lot of time doing it.  Every product they design is made with the goal of sales in mind.  Thinking of creative ways to increasing their sales is paramount in their minds.
  2. Habit #2 – They are fiscally responsible.  While they know they need to invest money to build their business they are careful how they do it.  They know their financial picture by heart and are rigorous about keeping a good cash flow.  These fashion entrepreneurs know that sales without profit is meaningless.
  3. Habit #3 – They stay focused on the big picture.  It is very easy to get bogged down by the minutia of running a business.  However effective fashion entrepreneurs know that the things that drive the business forward is the best use of their time.  So if something is not a productive use of their time they don’t do it.  The most effective I have seen get right to the point on phone calls and in meetings.  They don’t have an open door policy but rather encourage their staff to solve their own problems so that the owners can concentrate on moving the needle forward.
Mar 14

Should I Start a Fashion Business?

By Maria Pesin | Vibe Consulting

“Fashion is a $1.2 trillion global industry, with more than $250 billion spent annually on fashion in the United States, according to industry analysts. Fashion and apparel industries employ 1.9 million people in the United States and have a positive impact on regional economies across the country,” according to Maloney.house.gov.  That is a pretty impressive number.  Of course it includes all parts of the industry from manufacturing to piece goods.  But, still a lot of business.

People are buying fashion.  So obviously there is potential to have a successful fashion business.  Should you start one is the question.  That really depends on you.  There are lots of things to consider.

  • Do you have a great idea?  There is a lot of product out there so your product needs to stand out from the crowd.
  • Do you have time and money to invest in a business?  There is no getting around it.  You will need both.  How much will depend on this business and how fast you want to scale it?
  • Do you have the tenacity to drive through the challenges?  The is no straight line to the top in this business.  You have to be prepared that some of the things you do will not work out.  When they don’t you need to figure out a different strategy.
  • Are you persistent?  Growing your business requires you to keep driving forward no matter what happens?
  • Do you have the drive?  I have a client that I was having a discussion with about what stores to sell.  One of them happened to be in his neighborhood, so I asked him to visit the account.  30 minutes later he was in the store talking about his brand with the store manager.  Now that is drive.

There are lots of people out there who dream of starting a fashion business.  If that is you and you think you have what it takes, go for it.  I know for me it has been a very rewarding career.

Feb 19

What You Don’t Know About Sales May Hurt Your Fashion Business

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Sales , Vibe Consulting

A lot of emerging designers are very creative but have no clue about sales.  They work really hard on their brand and their product but they are so intimidated by the sales process that they ignore it till the last minute.  Then they realize “oh shoot, I have to sell this, what do I do now.”  Unfortunately waiting till the end of putting together your line and then thinking about sales will most assuredly will hurt your fashion business.  You need to be thinking about sales from the beginning to ensure that you actually have a viable business.  These are the things you need to know.

  • Who your customer is.  How can you even start designing if you don’t know who you are selling to.
  • Where your customer shops.  In order to develop a solid sales plan you have to know where you are selling your product.  You must ascertain what kind of stores you need to be in.  Or are you going to sell on line or are you going to do both.
  • Have a sales plan.  Knowing who you are selling and how you are selling them is a strategic step in building your fashion business.  Will you hire sales reps?  How many?  Will you have your own showroom?  Are you going to do trade shows?  These are questions you need to answer in order to develop a solid sales strategy.
  • Are you going to sell the line yourself?  If that is the case learn how to be the best salesperson possible.  Sales takes a lot of skill to be successful.  It is more than doing a fashion show or showing up at a trade show.  So learn how to do it.  I know some designers who are great salespeople and were very successful in building their brand.
  • Do you need to hire someone to sell for you?  If you aren’t going to do the sales yourself you have to hire someone.  Whether they are an in house employee or a rep you need to have dedicated sales people.

A business without sales is a hobby.  So if you want to have a viable business with solid profits learn everything  there is to know about the selling process and have a plan to execute it.

 

Feb 15

6 Mistakes Great Leaders Never Make

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

Everyone makes mistakes.  Even the greatest leaders ever make them.  But, great leaders don’t hide their mistakes or blame them on someone else.  Nor do they run from them.  However, great leaders are careful not to make these mistakes.

  1. Hide from problems –  Great leaders face issues head on.  They are solution oriented and know that by procrastinating they only exacerbate problems.  They also don’t let problems throw them because they know that it is part of the job.
  2. Do not create conflicts within their teams –  Have you ever seen a manager who takes pleasure in creating competition between employees?  I’m not talking about contests for most sales of the month, but the kind of competition that causes intrigue and backstabbing within a group.  They also show favoritism which can create rivalry that distracts people from the mission.  Good managers foster good relationships between team members.
  3. Do not operate secretively – A secretive boss is one who delights in power over others.  They also create an atmosphere of distrust and insecurity among their staff.  By keeping people in the know great leaders develop loyalty in their team and also get their staff to champion the goals of the company.
  4. Give positive feedback for a job well done and constructive feedback when mistakes are made – I recently had a client who’s staff worked incredibly hard for the company and gave their all.  Rather than complimenting them on a job well done he was always complaining about what they did wrong.  The staff was miserable and ultimately lost their motivation.  People work hard for leaders who appreciate and acknowledge them.  And if they do make mistakes they appreciate learning from them rather than feeling judged.
  5. Give credit to their team – Success is never from one persons efforts.  It always is a group effort.  Great leader share commendations with their staff.
  6. They don’t pass the buck –  A good leader doesn’t take all the credit for the success of their team but they also do not blame others for their failures.
Feb 07

5 Steps To Prepare For a Fashion Trade Show

By Maria Pesin | Sales , Vibe Consulting

Moda, Magic, Coterie, Project, so many shows and so expensive to do.  There was a time when you just showed up and you could book business.  That is no longer the case.  As business at retail gets tougher the shows are not as successful for manufacturers as they used to be.  That requires you to pull out all the stops to insure you do well.

I still find brands doing little or nothing to market their booths.  Yes, many make them pretty.  They have line sheets and swatch cards and maybe a look book too.  However without the sales and marketing component in place you basically are crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.  And that never works.  So here are the 5 steps I suggest.

  1. Make sure your sample line looks amazing,  not just good but great.  You should have correct fabrics and colors in good quality.  They should coordinate and make a strong presentation.  If your line is not well put together or the samples aren’t correct it is a red flag to a buyer and will cause her to move on.
  2. Have all the collateral materials you need.   Being organized and making it easy to buy is important.  So have business cards, swatches, correct line sheets, order forms, and a press book if you have one.
  3. Teach your staff how to sell.  I once was at a show looking through the rack of a line and the salesperson didn’t even stand up.  She told me the delivery and not much else.  That was a missed opportunity for the line.
  4. Contact your accounts before market to try to set up an appointments.  They won’t always give you one but you want to be on their radar.  That doesn’t mean one email announcing the opening.  It means a series of emails over several weeks, along with something you mail, as well as calling them on the phone until you get to speak to your buyer.
  5. Finally do not forget the follow up.   Call after the show to get orders from people who saw the line but didn’t place their paper.  It is also nice to send a thank you note to the ones who did.
Feb 01

5 Things You Should Do Every Week To Grow Your Fashion Business

By Maria Pesin | Sales , Vibe Consulting

Consistent good habits and routines are pure gold in your life.  Like working out 3 times a week or drinking 60 ounces of water a day.  These habits build momentum that over time results in good health.  That is the key word here…momentum.  “Momentum is a leaders best friend. Sometimes it’s the only difference between winning and losing,” John C. Maxwell.

Which brings me to the 5 things you should do every week to grow your business.  Trust me you do these things and they will make a difference in your business.  Some of these are no-brainers.  But, you would be surprised at how many people don’t do them. They say they don’t have time.  They mean to but never get around to it.  If you schedule these into your week and make them a non negotiable than you will see your momentum increase and your business grow.

  1. Meet with your team once a week.  I find Monday mornings the best.  This is where you develop a synergy with your people.  Inform them of everything that is going on.  When your people feel trusted with the good and the bad it makes them feel more invested in the company.  This is a great time to acknowledge individuals successes and also when someone has a challenge everyone can help solve it.
  2. Contact a certain amount of new accounts each week.  Come up with a number that works for you.  It could be 10, 20, 50.  But, you must decide on a number and stick with it.  It could even be the same stores.  But, till you open them or find out there is no way to do business with them keep calling.
  3. When you reach out to new accounts do not just use e-mail.  Reach out with email, phone calls, and mailers.  You can use 2 of each strategy each week.
  4. Call your top accounts each week to discuss how you are performing at their store.  Develop strategies with them to increase sales.  Some examples:  Make sure they have your best sellers, switch out merchandise that is not selling,  maybe offer a trunk show.  This will help you deepen your relationship with your buyers.
  5. Visit at least one store a week.  Preferably an account you either do business with or want to.  Find out how their store conducts business, what can you learn from their sales people and what can they learn from you.  Meeting their customers will give you insight to what products their store may need.  Knowing what sells and what doesn’t sell makes your product better which will grow your fashion business.
Dec 13

The Importance of Staying True To Your Brand

By Maria Pesin | Business , Vibe Consulting

As a consultant in the fashion industry I meet many emerging designers.  The first question I ask when I speak to them is “who is your customer?”  They either tell me they’re unsure or they say everyone.  The problem with those answers is they have trouble developing a brand because they don’t have a unique point of view. Today branding is everything.  “Brands convey a uniform quality, credibility and experience. Brands are valuable. Many companies put the value of their brand on their balance sheet,” according to Scott Goodson the founder of StrawberryFrog.

I think at this point we can all agree that branding is important for a fashion company.  But, what happens if a company veers off the track?  They see other brands having successes and they want to try what they are doing. Maybe they had a season that wasn’t that successful so in their panic they move away from what made them have good sales to begin with.

The key is not to ping pong all over the place.  Brands can evolve wth the trends and the knowledge of what is or isn’t selling.  But by staying true to the core DNA of the business you create A more loyal, highly engaged audience.  If you don’t then you confuse your key customer base causing them to buy else where

Look at companies like Gap and J. Crew.  Their biggest problem is that they lost their brand identity driving their loyal customers to shop elsewhere  Companies that innovate and evolve like Eileen Fisher but still stay true to who they are continue to increase market share.  Whereas companies who go through revolutionary change loose customers without gaining new ones to replace them .  The lesson here is to remember to stay true to your brand and true to your visual identIty

Dec 04

Major Changes At Burberrys

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Vibe Consulting

Burberry was founded in 1856, making it a staple in our closet for generations. Where would fashion be today without those trench coats?
The departure of the president, one of the faces that made the brand what it is today, could throw the company for a loop.
It was announced in late October that Christopher Bailey, the Burberry president and chief creative officer, would be leaving the company in March of next year. Bailey has been with the company for 17 years.
Industry leaders always raved about Bailey.
“He has been a huge influence on everything in fashion over the last couple of years,” said Jonathan Saunders, creative director of Diane von Furstenberg. “At one moment almost all young British independent designers went to him for advice about their business and career.”
He started out as design director in 2001, worked his way to becoming creative director in 2004, and was promoted to chief creative officer five years later in 2009. His current position as both chief executive and chief creative officer was acquired when one of the the two chief executives, Angela Ahrendts, left the company in 2014.
At the time that Bailey earned his duel titles, the global luxury sales had hit a downfall for a variety of reasons including foreign exchange rates and the decrease of China’s economic growth. This took a major hit on Burberry’s share value.
Bailey’s position in both the creative and commercial aspects of the company started to be criticized, as people didn’t have faith in his ability to succeed in his balancing act. He eventually gave up his chief executive title to Marco Gobbetti in July of this year.
He is open to working on other projects and there is no word of who will take the highly coveted place, but I assure you that the entire fashion industry is waiting at the edge of their seat.
Sources:
Oct 19

Is The Fashion Customer Getting Bored With Dressing Too Casually?

By Maria Pesin | Vibe Consulting

You know that feeling when you dress up for an important business meeting, a wedding, a first date? You put on that dress and heels, or a sports coat and shined-up shoes, and feel like a million bucks. Don’t you think, “I wish I could dress like this every day?”

We spend a majority of our lives in casual clothes. Sure, we dress nice for our jobs in some career industries or for fancy parties a few times a year. But most people spend their childhood, teen years, retired years, free time, and lately at work in jeans or leggings with a t-shirt or a basic sweatshirt. Do you ever get bored of not being able to dress up whenever you feel like it? If you want to dress up to go to movies, you shouldn’t feel out of place or uncomfortable. I believe people are getting bored with dressing too casually.

It’s the social norm to dress casually unless you’re attending an event that requires you to do otherwise. No one wants to be the person that’s wearing heels to go to the grocery store that everyone else gives side eye (and not in a good way). But why can’t I dress up to run errands? If it makes me feel confident and makes my day better by dressing up, I should be able to do so without getting odd looks.

It’s a popular opinion that dressing up makes us feel more attractive, more powerful and more courageous. A man wearing a brand-new suit and tie is more likely to have the self-esteem to ask out a woman than a man wearing cargo shorts and a football jersey because he takes pride in his appearance that allows him to “dress for success.”

Its time to change the routine. Its time to breakout those clothes that are only meant for “special occasions.” Make every day a special occasion.

I believe we are going to see customers start dressing up more.  If the runways are any indication wearing more polished clothes are in our future.  It definitely is time to move on from the dressed down every day to the more put together that we used to wear.

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