Let's face it, Designers only want to create, but this is not possible when you are building a fashion brand. In most cases, you know very little, if anything all, about how the fashion industry works or what you need to do generate sales or increase your brand’s visibility. This is where a Fashion Business Consultant comes into focus. He or she can counsel you about what you need to know when running your own startup. Moreover, they can give you the necessary tools to launch and manage a successful business. Now, with that said, let's delve into the reasons a Fashion Business Consultant is vital to the launch and maintenance of your brand.
FINANCIAL DECISIONS CAN MAKE YOU OR BREAK YOU
It is very easy to mismanage finances, especially, in the early stages. I want you to know that production & marketing are the areas that will require the most funding. However, you can find yourself wasting money on unnecessary expenses like a studio space or a new sewing machine. When working with my clients, the first thing I do is to assess their cash flow and where they are allocating their current funding. The goal is to track, organize & reduce expenses, which means developing a sound business plan. This is essential to keeping the business in the "black".
If I see one more “architectural collection”, I swear I will SCREAM. These designs are neither functional nor practical for any target audience, therefore, no one is spending their hard-earned money to buy them. This is where my advice on product development comes into play. You must design items that will complement the lifestyle of your target market. As a result, I often work with designers to create pieces, which are more commercial to increase potential sales without compromising their creative vision & brand integrity.
A brand is more than its products, it is a lifestyle. Look at some the great designers like Ralph Lauren, who give that "Upper Class Americana" vibe. When I think of the Ralph Lauren lifestyle, I see an upper middle class couple with "2.5" kids in prep school who walk their Yorkshire terrier along the streets of the Upper East Side, a summer cottage in The Hamptons and ski trips to Aspen during winter break. This is what great branding development does, it conjures up an image of a specific lifestyle, usually one that your target market is a part of or would like to experience! Whether it is jet setting to St. Tropez and lounging on a yacht dripping in diamonds or the hipster Brooklynite who lives in Williamsburg who is a foodie and fights for social causes, it is all about perception. This is what I stress to my clients about their branding. You create the imagery through your presentations on Instagram, color palettes and fonts, not just the product.
SHIPPING FULFILLMENT & LOGISTICS
If you think production is the most stressful challenge you will have, try figuring out how to ship, receive and store your goods. Shipping in general is costly, especially, when done by air. If you are shipping by boat, it is even more complicated trying to determine, which INCOTERMS to use. Terms such as FOB (Free On Board) to CIP (Carriage & Insurance Paid) could result in the difference between who is paying upfront or who is financially responsible, if your goods are lost. In addition, there is a possibility that your goods could be damaged in transit due to weather or held up in customs due to incorrect labeling of goods. Let us not forget the import taxes, customs clearance and storage fees.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT & COACHING
“If you build it, they will come” is a bogus myth. Yes, building and defining your brand is important, but it is just one third of the work. Your products need visibility, therefore, you will need to market your brand to generate sales. Product visibility fosters sales from brand to consumer as well B2B(business to business) through wholesale deals. Once you have your final goods, your number one goal is to create sales channels. As a result, knowledge of marketing, business strategies and negotiating are crucial.
Before launching a fashion brand, it is important to know that this industry is one of the most challenging to start a business. Therefore, each element is integral to the success of independent and emerging designers.
Does your brand need help to get off the ground or are you stuck with the next steps on how to advance your start-up? Find out how I can help you here. In the meantime, follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter & Quora