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The 7 Defining Qualities of a Successful Fashion Entrepreneur

By Maria Pesin | Business

Mar 18

This article is about the 7 defining qualities of a successful fashion entrepreneur.  Why do some designers make it big and others barely make a living?  I have studied this issue by looking at various successful designers who have built successful brands.  I concentrated on the ones who dominate their markets.  In their own words here are the qualities they believe made a difference.

Successful designers have:

  1. Passion and the ability to persevere.   ” What’s worked for me is not quitting and being passionate about what I do and not giving up — and when I don’t believe in myself, turning to others who believe in me.” –  Marc Jacobs.  It is hard to build a fashion business.  They’re so many challenges you face. Having the passion to plow through problems and keep on keeping on will keep you going through the hard times.
  2. The ability to work hard and stay focused. “There are many designers who have much greater talent as a designer than I do, but they may not have my drive, they may not work as hard, they may not have the focus, the desire… You have to have a talent because, at the end of the day, if the pants you design don’t make someone’s butt look great, they’re not going to buy them.” –  Tom Ford.  Lots of things will vie for your attention.  Working hard on what’s most important will allow you to create momentum in your business.
  3. The desire to always be learning. “Don’t be afraid to take time to learn. It’s good to work for other people. I worked for others for 20 years. They paid me to learn. “ – Vera Wang. I am a big believer in learning.  No matter how old or experienced I am there is still so much out there I can learn.  These days I find myself discovering all the new ways brands can use social media to grow.
  4. A clear vision for their brand. “If you want to have longevity, then I think that you have to have a point of view, but at the same time still be elastic. Things evolve, the world changes, but people have to know you for who you are so they know what you stand for.” – Michael Kors.  All businesses need to stand for something.  When customers look at your product they should know it’s you.  Look at brands like Gucci and Versace.  They always stay true to who they are.
  5.  Goals that they consistently strived to achieve. “I’ve been strong and determined all my life about many things I’ve wanted.” – Calvin Klein. If you don’t know where you are going how do you know when you’ve arrived.  Setting goals will give you something to reach  for and will compel you to push yourself.
  6. Consistently follow their values. “You cannot do something just for the money. You have to do things you believe in and eventually you will make money.” – Miuccia Prada. ”  Create a business with core values that people respect and trust.  I always looked to being the best I could  be and the money always followed.
  7. Believe in themselves and what they are doing. “Have faith in yourself, but also have faith in faith. Not faith as others define it. Faith as you define it. Faith as faith defines itself in your heart. Starting my own business was the only thing that made life’s other risks—marriage, Vegas, alligator wrestling—seem like sure things. But my hope was that when I failed, if I failed, I’d fail quickly, so I’d have enough time, enough years, to implement all the hard-won lessons. I wasn’t much for setting goals, but this goal kept flashing through my mind every day, until it became my internal chant: Fail fast.”Phil Knight”  This is a really hard one because so many people have self doubts. Do your research before you start your business so you can have confidence in your approach.  While you may course correct on the way to achieving your goals, believing in what you do will drive you.

While not everyone is born with these qualities you can definitely develop them in yourself.  These traits speak to a state of mind you need to develop. You can hire people to do different tasks, but, you still need to have the right mind-set in order to lead the business.  When you think about running any business, leadership is the key competency.

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About the Author

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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