Category Archives for "Vibe Consulting"

May 31

Should You Start A Fashion Brand If You Have No Experience?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion , Vibe Consulting

I am of the belief that no you shouldn’t.  This industry is difficult to make money in for even the most knowledgeable person, it is almost impossible for the novice.

Now that I have said that, there are some of you that won’t listen.  You have a burning desire in you to do this, so by hook or by crook you are opening your own brand.  Far be it from me to discourage you from following your dreams. So here are some suggestions.

  • Get a job in the industry and learn on someone else’s dime.  Then you can start your business part time as you are learning.
  • Take courses at a fashion school on subjects you need to know, such as: pattern making, fabric technology, design, marketing, accounting , etc.
  • If you have a lot of money to invest, hire people to fulfill the functions you don’t know.
  • If you don’t have any money, network till you find a mentor.
  • Hire a consultant like myself to help you navigate the waters.
  • Be prepared to do a lot of research on how to run a fashion business
  • Make a business plan.  This forces you to put together a blueprint for managing your business.
  • Make sure that there is a desire for your product.  There are a lot of brands out there.  You need to be confident that you are bringing something special to the marketplace and there is an appetite for it.

While it may be near impossible, it isn’t truly impossible.  People like Ralph Lauren, Steve Madden, and Sara Blakely started their businesses without prior knowledge and have gone on to have major success.  So if this is something you are destined to do, I hope you will take some of my suggestions to aid you on your path.

 

 

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 21

5 Tips On Creating A Stunning Lookbook

By Maria Pesin | Vibe Consulting

 

These days a look book is crucial for a fashion brand.  It has become the essential communication tool for marketing your company.   If you don’t know what it is, a look book is set of photographs displaying a fashion designer’s new collection.

You can use your lookbook for everything from letting your buyers know what your new line looks like, to reaching out to editors to get entice them to feature you in the blogs or magazines.  For something so important you must do everything you can to make it as effective as possible.  So here are my 5 tips:

  1. Great photography is of utmost importance –  This is not a place to skimp.  A good photographer will know how to light the set to show product at it’s best.  Also, you will want to use models that enhance your clothing.  The difference between shooting a garment on your friend with your iPhone (no matter how pretty she is) and having a professional photo shoot is the difference between poorly done and fabulous.
  2. Good quality paper stock – There are so many choices, matte, shiny, heavy, light etc, but it is worth the time to look for the right paper stock that will complement your photography and give the right impression.
  3. Choose a theme –  The best lookbooks I’ve seen have a strong composition and flow.  Think of a magazine editorial and how dramatic they are when they create a themed layout.
  4. Create a captivating cover page – The saying you can’t judge a book by its cover doesn’t apply here.  Because that is just what people will do.  If you want people to open your book make sure the cover grabs their attention.
  5. Show your brand personality – Remember you are using your lookbook to create brand awareness.  So use your creativity to make your book look unique.
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 09

Don’t Let A Toxic Employee Poison The Atmosphere

By Maria Pesin | Vibe Consulting

Over the years I have worked with several of what I call “Toxic Employees”. They do a poor to mediocre job because no matter how talented they are they don’t do their best work.
They waste time on gossip, badmouthing coworkers as well as the company, and undermining others to make themselves look good.
I once worked with a women who would tell me all the supposedly negative things my manager said about me. When I would answer “That B—h!” The woman would then tell my boss I called her a b—h. She was such a troublemaker that it got to the point where my supervisor and I couldn’t stand each other. Finally my boss and I sat down and cleared the air and realized the problem wasn’t us but the toxic employee. My former manager and I are very close friends now even though it is 30 years later.
The problem isn’t just getting these people to turn around their behavior. Because it is exceedingly difficult to change someones character. The real issue is what it does to the moral of the other employees. When others see difficult workers keeping their jobs it shows the standards are low for management. Why try, they ask themselves? Toxic employees are also a drain on your energy as well as the energy of others. Instead of focusing on high value activities everyone becomes distracted. In order to do your best work you must have positivity of spirit.
There is an old saying “People are hired for their talents and fired for their behavior”. Should you keep a toxic employee?
Having a healthy atmosphere is crucial for success. So no matter how talented a toxic employee is you need to ask yourself ​is he or she worth the negative impact they are having on your organization?
The post Don’t Let A Toxic Employee Poison The Atmosphere appeared first on Vibe Consulting.

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 27

Pot holes and fallen tree trunks

By Maria Pesin | Business , Productivity , Vibe Consulting

Obstacles to your business growth are a given.

In the real world things occasionally go wrong.

That is just how it is. For example, I have a new client who’s business has gone down the last two years and he doesn’t know what to do about it. He’s worried, but hasn’t actually decided on a course of action. Sometimes it’s just far too easy to hide your head in the sand.

A far better approach is to look at the obstacle as an opportunity.

Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel once said, “Bad companies are destroyed by crisis, Good companies survive them, Great companies are improved by them.”

Confronting obstacles isn’t necessarily easy to do, and I am not suggesting you take them lightly. Underestimating the difficulty of clearing a roadblock can cause the problem to become that much more threatening. But hear this: not dealing with potholes and fallen tree trunks make them even more dangerous.

Don’t let hurdles in your path floor you. Expect them and embrace them. Take the time you need to overcome them. Most days I think my job is just that – to solve problems.

By thinking this way, rather then bemoaning difficulties, you start to build the habit of being a true problem solver. When you figure out how to turn it around you will find that you can make your business stronger and more lasting than ever before.

So what is my new client doing?

He hired me to help him design and implement a strategy to turn it around. No matter what the obstacle, there are always solutions. To find them you need to face the problem straight on.

Ask yourself, “what is the opportunity here?”

Believe me, this is a much better conversation to be having. Not only does it set a more positive tone, but it opens your mind to finding alternative routes around the pot hole.

Sometimes a scenic jot down a lazy back country lane can get you to the interstate faster than waiting for the traffic jam to clear. Not only do you get to enjoy the countryside, but you’re in motion.

Of course, you could always strike up a game of gin rummy with the poor guy stuck in the car ahead of you!

Mar 16

The dark and gloomy future of retail that doesn’t have to be.

By Maria Pesin | Vibe Consulting

Yesterday my son (who’s been investing in stocks since he was 14 years old) and I discussed the future of Macys. A stock he owned.

He asked me if I knew 3 years ago that Macys would be having trouble. I answered yes. Retail stores in general are sweating a very uphill climb. Of course there are exceptions, but for the most part anyone and everyone from boutiques to giant department stores are feeling the pressure.

American Apparel and The Limited are closing stores. Neiman Marcus is up for sale. Macys and JC Penny are reducing locations. The iconic store Saks Jandel of Washington DC is closing after 128 years in business.

Gap CEO Art Peck stated. “I’m sure you see the public data and you could tell that traffic continues to be tough. We have seen a pretty consistent [traffic downturn] of about 3% a year and now it has gone deeper than that. Sometimes we see deeper than that. The public data would say that February started out significantly deeper than that due to a number of things, not the least of which was the holiday shift.”

How’s that for optimism?

But OK. We all know the doom and gloom of what is happening, but here is the bottom line. I haven’t seen anyone naked or shoeless yet (at least not on the street). In fact, many people have built huge closets to house all the fashion apparel they own.

The truth is people are buying and they are buying a lot.

They are just buying differently. If stores want to drive consumers into their stores and get them spending money, they have to come up with new ways to entice them.

It’s time to think outside the box. Time to be creative.

The future of retail isn’t bleak it is just different.

What we as an industry have to do is channel the public’s love for good fashion in ways that bring them back into the stores. We need to make the experience fun and exciting again. We need to bring back the sparkle in their eyes.

I have no doubt that smart retailers will get this right. And will be the new winners.

It just may be that the age old names we all have on the tips of our tongues will be forgotten.

If so, so be it.

Just make sure your brand isn’t depending on them for survival!