A passion for fashion, accessories, and even cosmetics can be a wonderful expression of creativity and individuality. Although, turning that enthusiasm into a thriving business is an entirely different story. Countless business owners rise and fall each day due to a lack of perseverance, cloudy vision, and disconnect with their consumers. Here’s what entrepreneurs of the fashion industry say it takes to make it to the top.
How to Succeed in the Fashion Industry
1. Work With What You Have
If you don’t quite have all the resources at your disposal in order to start the kind of business you would like, just start small. Do what you can initially and slowly build your brand or business. Fashion entrepreneur Samata Angel has been working on many projects throughout the years such as a global dress designing competition, her own clothing line, and speaking on the subject of Fashion Enterprise at the London College of Fashion. In order to get her projects rolling, she worked full time so she could put as much funding as possible into her passion.
Finding financing is a huge obstacle for many fashion entrepreneurs. However, hoping that someone will cash in on your big idea isn’t always as fruitful as one might hope. If you are truly enthusiastic about your plan then working hard to make it a reality is the best first step towards success.
2. Build Your Network
Samata’s other tip for entrepreneurs, especially in the beginning, is to build a network. While this is easier said than done, working hard with what you have will get you far. If you have even one customer, follower, or interested funding party, her advice is to check in with them on a regular basis just to say hello. Many brands accomplish this simply by connecting with their customers regularly through a blog or social media. A willingness to build an honest and long lasting relationship (instead of always thinking of interactions as a potential sale) is what sincerely builds a great network around a business.
3. Narrow Your Options
Jane Hammill, a successful fashion designer turned fashion industry consultant has had her experience with a plethora of fashion moguls over the years. In her experience, she believes that creative types can have a problem with constructing too many ideas, not lack there of. Concentrating the field of vision on a smaller scope of ideas will allow a business owner time and resources to focus on a singular, but impressive product.
Hammill says that many of her clients are entrepreneurs that haven’t had business education. Which means they aren’t quite in touch with what sells and what doesn’t as well as how to properly interact with customers and clients. They may have many great ideas, but they aren’t quite sure where to go from there. Starting with one outstanding product and a clear idea of how to market it to your customers is a perfect launching point for any entrepreneur in the fashion industry or not.
4. Connect With Customers
Undoubtedly, an individual spending her hard-earned cash on what you have to sell is the most important part of the equation. A study performed by Market Force found that many retail customers aren’t being helped during their shopping experience. Half of US customers reported they were not assisted in any fashion by an associate.
The results show that customers want three types of interactions in order provide an exemplary experience for their customers: make the product easy to purchase, suggest complementary products and state two small things that make your brand exceptional. Even if your brand does not have a storefront location, connecting with your customers in these ways is imperative.
Let’s say, for example, that your store is completely online. First, spend some time on a truly user-friendly and efficient web interface. Try going through the ordering process yourself as many ways as possible. If it’s hard to choose products, put them in your cart, and purchase, your customers will feel the same. Make your shopping experience something unique to your brand and give your e-commerce site a look that you are proud to show the world.
Next, while it’s easier to do in a live setting, suggest pieces that would compliment a customer’s current selection. Many websites, like Amazon for example, feature a “people have also purchased” section that will present itself during a customer’s shopping experience. Another great way to do this would be to feature “outfits” on pages throughout the website. Showing the customer the perfect way to tie their look together could be the tipping point of a great sale.
Lastly, show the customer exactly what makes the brand unique. Some customers have reported brands fulfilling this bonus interaction by explaining that their products are ethically constructed, materials are organic or beneficial in one way or another or part of the proceeds go to charity. Of course, this isn’t always necessary to the sale of every product, but consumers have testified stating that these are the types of experiences that make them want to remain loyal to their favorite companies.
To be successful in the fashion industry takes more than just talent. Those who have made a name for themselves understand that there are certain traits one needs to possess in order to effectively build a brand. Taking no for an answer and admitting defeat too early is just not an option. What’s more, taking some time to build meaningful relationships with other entrepreneurs and customers will evolve your idea from expectation to actuality.
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