Do you have what it takes to have a successful fashion brand?
Starting your own fashion brand is risky. You put a lot of your own money into it and lets face it, it might not be successful. So how do you know if you have a better than average chance of making it?
Well, obviously you need to have a good product. But, do you also have the characteristics you need to be successful? And what are they? In my experience the following are essential traits to have or at the very least cultivate.
1. Tenacity – You have to be able to live with uncertainty and push through many obstacles for years on end. Entrepreneurs who can avoid giving up have a better chance of finding their market and outlasting their inevitable mistakes. Basically you have to keep on keeping on. I always thought tenacity was one of my super powers. As a salesperson I had target accounts that I wanted to do business. I did whatever it took to open them and have a successful ongoing business with them.
2. Willingness to work hard – I think pretty much everyone knows this. But it isn’t just working hard, it’s the willingness to do what it takes. Even if it means packing boxes or delivering samples and all the unglamorous things that come up in a day. One time I was going to see the Nordstrom buyers in Seattle. I had 3 rolling trunks. When I was dropped off by the taxi I quickly learned I was at the wrong building and they had moved the office 5 blocks away. I had no choice but to roll all 3 trunks by myself the whole way. But, I got the order!
3. Passion – Starting a fashion business is a labor of love. In the beginning it costs lots of money and time without a lot of results. Having passion for what you are doing is what gets you through the hard times. When I started my business I was excited. I loved launching and managing businesses. This was my passion. I believe clients sensed my passion hired me beause of it.
4. Vision – One of the defining traits of entrepreneurship is the ability to spot an opportunity and imagine something where others haven’t. It also keeps you focused on the end result and drives you to do what is necessary to attain it. This is the first thing I address when speaking with new clients. They need to have a vision of what they want to create then they can create the map for getting there.
5. Flexibility – Business survival depends on adaptation. When I first started the Jessica Simpson Coat line my retails were close to $300. I did a soft launch with Nordstrom’s, Macys, and Dillard’s. That first season we did ok but not great. Through research I found that the prices were too high and needed to be half that. Once we did that our business took off. Your final product will probably change from what you started with. Flexibility allows you to respond to what your customer actually wants and buys. You have to have a willingness to be honest with yourself and say, ‘This isn’t working,’ and evolve to the market.
I really believe these traits are critical for an entrepreneur’s success. Having these is what turns an idea into a profitable and successful business.
Maria Pesin knows fashion, especially the business side of the fashion industry. Do you know how Manolo Blahnik got his start in the industry? How he leveraged a paltry 3 grand into one of the world’s most famous luxury brands? While she doesn’t take credit for Manolo’s success, Maria has walked a similar path on numerous occasions. The world of fashion is not silicon valley, and it has nothing to do with Madison Avenue marketing. In this industry there is ALWAYS room for something new and exciting, but you have to have your ducks in a row. If that’s what you need, believe me, Maria is the General Patton of fashion ducks!
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