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The Key Points for Building a Successful Fashion Business

I am currently reading the book Great By Choice. In this book the authors, business researchers: Jim Collins & Morten T. Hanson,  enumerate the principals for building a truly great enterprise in fast-moving times.

What are the key points for building a successful business? Is it innovation? Do you need to be a geniuses leader who can predict the future? Is it a question of money?.....Is there a secret that we should all know of?…… maybe it’s just pure luck after all???  

Interesting enough, the book rules out such reasons and list these 3 as the key points: 

  1. Fanatic Discipline – that means consistently hitting prescribed targets, day after day, year after year, regardless of the prevailing conditions. (Whether the market, economy and industry are up or down).

  2. Imperial Creativity –  that means small steps, shooting bullets first by trying out different ideas on a small scale, get feedback on what works, adjust it and only then go big and fire a calibrated cannonball.  

  3. Productive Paranoia – that means preparing for what you cannot predict, surrounding the company with buffers and cushions to protect it when things don’t go as planned. Btw, this does not mean being pessimistic, it just means preparing for bad days.

As you can see these are much more “simple” and “grounded” (dare I say boring??) points with focus on practicality and consistency. How is that relate to fashion than? After all, fashion is a creative field where talent and creativity are important, and more so, as a designer you do need to predict the future/next trend….

Funny enough this week BOF published this article on Isabal Marant reviewing how she build her successful global brand. As I was reading the article It donned on me that her story is pretty much a case study of all the points mentioned in the above book.

The Isabal Marant brand was build slow and study, and in its 20 years it has seen consistent annual growth rates of between 20 and 30 percent. This is pretty amazing considering how much the fashion industry changed over these 20 years and considering all the ups and downs in the economy around the world!

Marant’s recipe to success: “Build a strong base and stay focused and true to yourself”. Simple and practical, right?

Practicality was always part of her business DNA: She actually started with Jewelry because she didn't have the budget to develop a full line of clothing. Again, practical financial move.

While other designers around her designed editorial products that didn't sell, she focused on designing a product that will sell, and it did. “I may have not been in the newspapers, but I was selling from the beginning, while others weren't and were spending all their money on these extravagant shows, just to create an image” Again, a great, practical business decision!

Do you get where I’m going? I am a big believer in small steps and I push designers to think practical and be consistent…. You can see why!

Yes, fashion is a creative industry, but if you are looking to build a successful business you must think business! I know that for creative people like you this can be difficult, if so, than seek advice and help from professionals.

To help you think like a business, here are key points for you to start with:

  • Re-examine your target customer and target market. Do you know them well enough? Are you giving them a good reason to buy your product? Is your price point right for them? 

  • Look at your budget and monthly expenses.  Are you spending on the right priorities? Do you need to develop as many styles? Do you have ways to reuse patterns, styles, fabrics, prints etc that you already invested money on in previous seasons? Use our budget sheets to help track your budget.

  • Is your product selling? No matter how much your friends and family love your designs or how love you get fro  media, what matters is the bottom line….so, is your product selling? Don’t be afraid to find out why it’s not. Consider to test some product ideas on a small scale first before jumping into a new concept, get feedback, see what works, fine tune it and then go and expend on it.

  • Go over your cash flow and prepare for bad days. Are your sales projections realistic? Are you accounting for enough cash to sponsor you next development? Your next production? Do you have cushions in case things don’t work out, re: a bad selling season? It might not be fun to think of that option but you better off planning for it

Yes, I know that these are NOT the “fun” things that you imagined you'll be dealing with when you started your line….but what is your other option? to ignore all that???

P.S. Still need help with planning and strategizing your business? Contact us here and find out how we can help.

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