This year has been a very eventful and wisdom packed year in my fashion world. I was blessed enough to participate in 2 New York Fashion Weeks with Esé Azénabor was a driving force getting the brand into stores across the U.S. and across the globe, helped forming the brand’s identity through a variety of marketing activities, took charge of all special events and fashion shows and was/am constantly on the look out for opportunities and strategic partnership that will elevate the brand to the next level. Further I became an active part of Lifestyle Magazine Cosign Magazine as fashion director and learned more about the editorial side of the fashion business. These are the following lessons I learned:
1. If you don’t have your stuff together you are getting LEFT BEHIND!
With stuff I mean look books/line sheet, professional logos and website. Social media is also becoming more and more important. If you have a business profile keep it business and update it on a regular basis. Provide extra value such as styling ideas, what kind of fabric or special techniques are being used to create the garments etc. Don’t post too much personal content and keep the selfies to a minimum unless you are the face of the brand. Also use a business email and NOT a gmail or yahoo account. The first impression is crucial in the fashion industry. Second chances don’t happened very often. Take the time to get everything in order.
2. In Fashion you have to plan 2 years in advance
Woah 2 years? Yes, get at least a road map of what you have to accomplish in the upcoming 2 years. The fashion life cycle is very short-lived 3 months the longest. Designers are working on Fall Winter Collections 2016 right now and most buyers have completed their Spring Summer Collection 2016 shopping. But keep in mind that designers don’t only have to work on a new collection but also on setting up a photo shoot, look book, marketing campaign, fashion show and trade show all while also operating their daily business. I hope it becomes clear now why it is so important to plan a head of time and to create a calendar with deadlines. If you don’t have a team, now it’s time to start recruiting as it will be impossible to take over all these tasks by yourself. Comment below if you need help finding the right people. MS word offers great templates for project management plans as shown below.
3. If you want to learn about Fashion you have to be in the midst of Fashion
Honestly, I hated going to social events to “network” and small talk. It appeared fake to me. But I have learned to keep an open mind and my own authenticity. I can read people very well so if I got a hint of BS I simply stayed away from those people. By attending industry related events I got to know great fashion influencers, learned more about the fashion industry and have found a group of people I can turn to for any kind of advice. I will update my calendar next week so you guys can attend all these fabulous fashion events.
4. Everyone is faking it to a certain extent
Everyone is always doing fabulous in the fashion industry, whether facing bankruptcy, decreased sales, or sitting on 2 seasons of inventory. Very few are willing to open up about their mistakes and tragedies. I understand that the dream has to be kept alive but I also believe more designers could actually help each other if they shared their obstacles and found solutions together. That’s why I love Diane von Furstenberg‘s book “The Woman I wanted to be” she just tells it all! I pokered very high myself, I didn’t know anything about fashion sales when I accepted the position of sales rep. She just had heard about my great work ethic and was given a recommendation from one of mentors. I read books, listened to podcasts, took seminars and eventually figured it out in a very short time. My position evolved beyond sales now and it was and still is my passion and drive that kept me focus.
5. Fashion is like marriage and divorce isn’t an option!
You have to move on quickly when things don’t turn out as planned. Don’t dwell on the past but keep a positive mindset. Be prepared for many sleepless nights, especially before presentations, fashion shows, or store launches. I sent emails and was on the phone for 3 months straight before even receiving a response from a store about carrying the collection. Yes it was frustrating but I didn’t give up. I tried to understand the industry better and found out it takes 7 contacts of communication before I can even expect an answer and that right after fashion week is the peek buying season. So I started building rapport and got on their map before those season. After 3 months of trying to get in contact it took another month to solidify the orders. I developed an efficient strategy how to get into stores. Success doesn’t happen over night and if it was easy everyone would do it!
Comment or email me if you have any questions!