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.
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.
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often”, Winston Churchill.
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.
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.
Do you have favorite companies that you like to buy from? Do you lust for a Prada handbag, or jeans from 7 of all mankind? Or maybe you just really like Old Navy’s T-shirts. That is the power of branding. When people love your brand, they seek you out. They also will pay a premium to get your product.
But what is branding? Branding is all the effort we make to create a to create an impression we want our customers to have of our products. Brand building is the biggest lever most companies have to improve profits and create a demand amongst our customers. Most retail buyers seek to buy from companies that have strong consumer recognition. They understand the effectiveness of branding. If you want to create leverage with an account you must make your brand so compelling that they have to carry it in their store.
Brands that stand out from the crowd do so because they intrigue people, are memorable and different. Compelling brands are relevant, have strong brand stories, and have a consistent style. They stand for or against something and have a unique proposition that differentiates them from the competition. People remember compelling brands and know what to expect from them. It’s like finding a McDonalds in China. You know what the BigMac is going to taste like even though the restaurant you’re in is 6,000 miles away from the one you usually go to.
Creating a consistent brand experience is critical to establish your identity and engaging your customer. There is nothing better than a shopper coming to a store and asking for you buy name. That level of demand brings equity to your brand. It makes it more valuable and helps you compete more successfully in the marketplace. So spend the money it takes to build your brand, as it is money that is well spent.
Have you ever noticed that some fashion brands post random photos or messages that mean nothing to the brand and have no cohesion? It is as if they have no idea what to post and do it just for the sake of doing it. Or they post what looks like a series of ads with no personality. Big mistake!
One of the biggest ways social media has impacted marketing is by giving companies the ability to tell their story. That is what makes marketing on social media so great. By using brand storytelling marketers are able to give personality and associate emotion with a brand. By combining the power of storytelling with social media, brands can create a personal connection with the consumer. People relate to stories and customers like to do business with companies they relate to.
Effective brand stories must communicate the essence of the brand. They must be unique, truthful, striking and interesting enough that people want to engage and share, and of course eventually buy the product. They shouldn’t be self serving but must be meaningful to audiences.
As marketers we have to think as people connecting with other people as opposed to businesses selling to consumers . You should use powerful imagery that is relevant and personal to your brand. Storytelling is most effective when it’s personalized but use personal images as stock images will never do your brand story justice. Videos are also a terrific tool to build your following. Think of an active brand that shows a short video of certain yoga moves, or a lingerie company that illustrates how to fit a bra. This is a good way to engage.
With the growth of social media, a storytelling approach to building a brand is critical. We know that stories are relatable and helps make connections, which is basically what social media is for.
First off, what exactly is ethically produced fashion.
According to Ethical Fashion Forum “ethical fashion represents an approach to the design, sourcing and manufacture of clothing which maximizes benefits to people and communities while minimizing impact on the environment.
“If you describe something as ethical, you mean that it is morally right or morally acceptable.” Collins English Dictionary
For the EFF, the meaning of ethical goes beyond doing no harm, representing an approach which strives to take an active role in poverty reduction, sustainable livelihood creation, minimizing and counteracting environmental concerns.”
Ethically produced fashion matters to consumers. In the US more and more people are becoming more socially conscious. As a human beings, we are constantly bombarded with news of : climate change, poverty, war, worldwide inequalities, shrinking natural resources and other challenges. More people than ever before have woken up to the fact that we absolutely need to do something. One of the ways people are doing something is by buying ethically made product.
In fact the consumer is so motivated to buy this way, “They will even spend 10 to 15 percent more on ethically produced clothing,” according to Marshal Cohen, retail analyst at NPD Group.
Social media is huge right now, and consumers like to post about the brands they prefer. Those that admire socially responsible businesses will discuss your brand and recommend it to others. In fact this is a very newsworthy subject that can prompt writers to publish articles about your brand.
I speak to emerging designers all the time who are interested in making ethically produced fashion and have a strategy to do so. One thing I make clear is that the product itself still needs to be right as well as ethically produced. You cannot have one without the other.
Does Making Ethical Fashion Impact Your Sales? I say the jury is in and that it absolutely can impact your sales in a positive way.
Fashion entrepreneurs have one thing in common. They always seek to grow their businesses. They see themselves as a major brand and rightfully so. While they may not necessarily want a billion dollar brand a $20 million brand can make them very happy. So how do they do that? Here is what I suggest.
It seems to me that new entrepreneurs are afraid of setting goals for their business. They have no idea what their goals should be; so they either don’t do it or they set vague wishy washy goals.
Jay B. Barney and Ricky Griffin authors of “Managing Organizations: Strategy, Structure, and Behavior,” stated organizational goals serve four basic functions; these are:
Having goals gives you a direction, clarifies your ideas and forces you to come up with a plan to achieve it. If your goal is to have a volume of $5 million in 3 years there are different strategies you need to take then if your goal is $500,000 in 3 years. It also required more money so by knowing your goal you can arranging for your financing. You know the old saying, “Fail to plan, plan to fail,” Planning your business is one of the most important activities an owner needs to take in order to inure success.
Research shows that specific and difficult goals lead to better task performance than vague or easy goals.
It is so easy to be distracted and want to everything. Setting goals forces you to be focused, using your time and resources productively. If an activity doesn’t help you reach your goal you don’t do it.
Your goals should be short term, mid-term, and long term. This helps you to see if you are achieving your bench marks that will indicate the likelihood of reaching your long term goals. If you aren’t achieving your short term goals you can course correct before it is too late.
Dream a little, then make your goals for your brand. Make sure they are s.m.a.r.t.