Category Archives for "Vibe Consulting"

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.

Aug 21

3 Steps To Improving Your Fashion Business

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

No matter how good your fashion business is there is always room for improvement.  I myself am always looking for ways to refine my business.  Whether it is streamlining my processes or refining my marketing I always endeavor to evolve into having the best business I can.  Truly by doing this, you can increase profitability dramatically.  So the following are the steps I suggest.

  1. Analyze – The first steps in any plan to improve is to look at where you are in your business now.  Look at sales, customer service, production, and operations.  Are you happy with all these areas?  Should you increase sales?  Do you have systems in place so that everyone is clear about how things run?  Is your fit good, can you notch up the quality a bit?  Michael Gerber, author of E-Myth wrote, “Most entrepreneurs fail because you are working IN your business rather than ON your business.”  This is your opportunity to work on your business.  By studying your entire business area by area, you can then move to the next step.
  2. Plan –  Now that you have identified the areas for improvement the next step is to plan strategies for the improvement of each.  If increasing sales is a goal you might hire more sales reps.  You might decide to update your computer system.  Or maybe take a trip to China to find new factories is important for you to increase profit margins.  Having a well-thought-out plan that is written out is key to the process.
  3. Execute – Even with the best intentions how many times do you come up with ideas but don’t follow through?  Without a solid idea of how to execute nothing gets done.  This might involve delegating certain tasks or outsource the job.  Sometimes it is even as simple as putting the different projects on your calendar.

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often”, Winston Churchill.

Aug 14

Why do new fashion businesses fail?

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Productivity , Vibe Consulting

I have read that the number one reason new businesses fail is lack of money.  I believe this is true.  But there is more to the story than not having enough money.  Lots of times they do have money.  There have been many entrepreneurs that I have run across who have told me they spent $50,000, $100,000, or even $200,000 and they have nothing to show for it.  So they really did have enough money to, at the very least, start small and then build from there.

So what is the problem?  As I see it, it is two fold.  One reason is many emerging designers just don’t know where to start.  Their beginnings are somewhat chaotic as they jump from task to task without a plan.  They don’t even know who their target customer is.  Or they think they do but haven’t done any research to insure that they are right.  They do step 5 before step one. I have even seen people spend years on their brand and yet haven’t had any sales because they make it the last priority.  One entrepreneur I know put $1 million of inventory in his warehouse before he even started to think about how to sell it.

Another issue I see is brand owners who spend their money on ineffective marketing.   They jump around trying a little of this and a little of that.  I had one client spend $50,000  a fashion show in Europe yet sold no stores and had no plans to do so. And how many people do one $10,000 trade show with no orders placed, not realizing that it is a building process and takes many shows before they see results.  Or they try to do so many things but do not consistently pursue a few targeted strategies that will ultimately build results.

Yes, not having enough money makes it hard to be successful but spending what you have unwisely is the biggest culprit of all.

Jul 31

How Long Will It Be Before My Fashion Startup is Profitable

By Maria Pesin | Vibe Consulting

Lets see, let me get my crystal ball…uh…the spirits aren’t sure.  Even they don’t know when a fashion business will start making money.  Let’s face it, the answer to this question  depends on many different things and since each business is unique it’s hard to know how much time you will need to prepare before you can actually start selling.  One thing that every entrepreneur should know is it takes time before you start making money.

Making a business plan will help you come up with the time it will take you to become profitable.  While a business plan is not a seer of the future, understanding your profit numbers and creating a break-even analysis is an important of your business plan that will give you some idea of when you will be profitable.   As a start up company developing break-even analysis, a profit-and-loss forecast, and a cash flow projection will help you understand what you need to do to reach the goal of making money.  Having an aggressive sales and marketing strategy will help it be quicker.

I find nothing sadder than a business owner pulling the plug on the business just before it starts making money, because they ran out of steam or worse money.  Having a business plan in place gives you a blue print for how to run your business.  It helps you figure out how much money you will need to run it plus an idea for when it will start making money.

Because I know how valuable a business plan is I developed a business plan template specifically for the fashion industry.  Click here to purchase the plan.  Believe me it if you are starting a fashion business it will be the best $97 you will spend.  If you do purchase it contact me and I will review it and give you my critique for free.

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