08 Apr FASHION STARTUP SURVIVAL FACTORS
The man had a red star tattooed on his hand, a star that later became the part of his store’s logo. I learned his story at one of my classes on Retail Management. What impressed me most was that Roland Macy failed with 7 retail ventures before he finally opened the store which grew to become a staple of American retail, The Macy’s store.
I’ve been curious about two questions. First, what motivated him to continue? Strong belief, crazy dream, obsessive desire or just determination to win no matter what? Simply imagine yourself moving forward after seven big failures. Second, how did he finally manage to establish a successful business? What lessons did he learn from these failures?
As you know, now it’s even more difficult to succeed in fashion as the market is highly competitive and oversaturated. Through my work with fashion designers, I’ve formulated several factors that influence the survival of fashion startups. If you’ve ever thought about opening an online clothing store or starting your own collection I have three valuable insights I want to share with you.
First, you need to create a business plan. Second, you need to have a system of marketing activities. Third, you have to demonstrate a strong point of view as a designer or a fashion business owner.
Let’s start with the business plan.
Fashion designers are people who come from the creative side of the world. They always struggle with writing and creating a business plan considering it to be very complicated. However, a business plan can be compared with a roadmap, like the ones we use when we travel. Imagine finding yourself somewhere in the middle of Rome having no idea where to go and what to visit first. Or let’s say I will tell you – let’s go to The Colosseum! What would you do? You will go to Google maps, check where The Colosseum is located, what roads lead there, what is the shortest road to get there. You define your path.
We plan our trips in advance because we want to make the best out of the time we have to be there. My best trips were the one that I prepared long in advance. Very little unpleasant surprises. The business plan is the same as a trip map, it helps you get situated and define a path forward. Before the designer is launching his/her business, it’s absolutely necessary to find out the route and the tactics that will help to get the business results.
The second thing which is critical for your business to survive is your marketing system.
Sometimes designers ask me what one thing that I need to do to succeed. Honestly, I don’t think that such “one thing” even exists because I believe it is the orchestrated effect of at least 3-4 activities that, as a fashion business person one should accomplish at once:
• selling your collection to the stores,
• doing social media,
• working with bloggers,
• engaging through email marketing and so on.
On their own they are powerful, but together they become your irresistible business growth weapon.
It can be compared with cooking a soup. Imagine that you are making a soup and you put all the ingredients but you forgot the salt. The soup came out good, all ingredients that you put are fresh and according to the recipe but without salt the taste is different.
Success factor #3 is your point of view as a designer.
People buy from people. I always add that people buy from people with a strong opinion. Why did Chanel and Dior become so popular? Because their designers were not afraid to show how they want women to dress. They openly demonstrated their ideas and offered their vision of how fashion should look like.
Psychologically people prefer to be guided by strong leaders and ideas when they see that these ideas are coming from people who are passionate about it.
Imagine if Gabrielle Chanel was just another evening-gown-tailor and never invented jersey clothing, the kilted bag with the chain and tweed suits. That happened because she followed her vision and designer’s statement – “I don’t do fashion, I am fashion.”You might think it sounds too presumptuously but that was the position she followed all her life and that’s why people adore and remember her now.
Keeping all these 3 factors in mind will definitely increase the chances of your fashion startup to survive in the business world. And I truly believe that a day will come when you will have a flourishing online store with huge traffic and sales or a bridal boutique with dresses that would be wanted by all the brides in the USA.