Category: Fashion

All things generally related to fashion.

5 Tips to Pitch and Work with Brands you LOVE

This post was originally written for Simply Stylist by me (Syama Meagher, CEO of Scaling Retail). Simply Stylist is an Online Platform & Conference Series for Female fashion enthusiasts. They are the bridge that connects you with other like-minded stylistas, beauty babes and tech whizzes, and allows you to tap into the minds of major style influencers.

Your blog relies on working with brands you love. Not only does working with brands you’d personally use appear more organic, but it also increases the chances of that brand wanting to work with you. However, pitching and working with brands you love requires a strategy! I will discuss the fundamentals to building relationships and positioning yourself to get the visibility and, ultimately, the income you want. I warn you — its not easy, but can be very worthwhile!

1. How to Identify the Right Brands

There are so many amazing brands out there, but who is the right fit for you?  Ultimately, this depends on your brand positioning. What kind of content do you produce? Do you know your tribe? When was the last time you actually engaged with them? Truly understanding your own brand will give you a foundation to identify the right brands that you should work with.

So, how do you start to find out about your audience? Do research or ask them! People love to know that they are important. Surveys and questionnaires produce amazing results. Once you know your audience, it’s time to analyze the brands. What are the brands that your audience already engages with? What are they wearing? Where are they going? Become a detective and start to write down a list of the brands they engage with.

Tip: Don’t just write down fashion brands; write down all the brands- Airbnb, Uber, Blueprint, etc. This is your starting point.

2. Identify What You Have to Offer

What is your USP (Ultimate Selling Proposition)? This applies to your content and your audience. Do you have amazing images and high engagement? Do you have a lot of followers who click on the links in your bio? How about a small targeted audience that really listen to you?

Once you establish what you have to offer, it iss time to package it nicely. Create a PDF with your stats, a bio about yourself, images, and some information about your following. Also, identifying and including the types of brands your followers are interested in will help brands feel like you are a good fit.

Tip:  I work with brands every day, established and new brands. What they are looking for is real engagement and a targeted following. Yes — they will look at your followers and analyze!

3. Know What You Want

Whether you’re a flatlay queen or can get your readers to buy anything, being knowledgeable about what you bring to the table will ensure you’re working with brands that align with your aesthetic.  Know what kinds of products you want to work with and start to slim down your list to those brands within your context. Ask yourself, “If I work with this brand, would I want to work with my brand?” That is the important question.

Also, please note that if you have big brands that you really want to work with, consider featuring their products on your page prior to reaching out. Brands take note of whether or not an influencer has previously posted about them!

4. Pitching

As your following grows, pitching should become a part of your daily routine. Pitching can include anything from emailing brands to sending DM’s (Direct Messages) on Instagram directly to a brand social media page. However, you should only pitch to brands that make sense, meaning they, too, would benefit from collaborating with you to share their product with your readers. The pitches should be personal to each brand and portray a casual confidence without overselling yourself or your brand.

Tips:

  1. Highlight your best social media platforms first.  Don’t immediately propose posting on platforms that you are not building or that have low engagement. Instead, showcase your strengths!
  2. Don’t limit yourself. Instead of having one set rate for all collaborations, offer tiered pricing and al la carte options to appeal to brands seeking small activations.
  3. You need to be willing to start small and work your way up! Small collaborations will show brands the type of work they’d expect from a partnership with you, so make them count.

5. Building Your Perceived Value

The value of your brand is based on what others perceive of you. If you decide to collaborate with other influencers, be sure you’re featuring brands that are consistent with your aesthetic — this will help you develop a strong brand. It takes time to build your portfolio of collaborations, but don’t worry! No one is going to ask you about the nature of previous collaborations. Just remember: Have discretion and be smart as to what the return on investment (ROI) is for each brand or collaboration you do.

Building your brand is a long-term decision that is essential to success. So don’t be afraid to be aggressive and diligent in ensuring you’re working with brands you love!

Tips To Find The Perfect Co-Founder

This post was originally written for Create & Cultivate by me (Syama Meagher, CEO of Scaling Retail). Create & Cultivate Is an Online Platform & Conference Series for Female Entrepreneurs in the Digital Space. Its such a useful post, I wanted to make sure my readers saw it.

Many of us have a vision of launching a business with co-founder who is the perfect compliment to our right brain or left-brain selves. Strong creatives tend to seek business strength and vice versa, but actually finding the perfect fit can be more difficult than we like. This is largely because we 1. Travel in circles that tend to be more like us 2. Don’t understand our own personalities, weaknesses and core competencies 3. Are eager to find someone that when we do we say “YES” too quickly. There is a formula to finding the right partner and setting yourself up for success. Lets dive in.

YOUR INNER GAME

Your capacity to understand your traits as a leader is essential. Are you passive aggressive? Can you hire people well, but struggle with firing? Do you think you are always right? Maybe you have self-worth issues. Or, like me, maybe you are a work-a-holic and treat your business like it’s your first-born. No matter what your unique personality type, it’s critical to understand how you work and to be honest about it. Launching a business is not the time to work through your personal baggage, but you are the center of your business so these things do come up.  You need to square away personal obstructions and work through anything that might keep you from performing at your optimum. I suggest making a list of how you like to work, what types of personalities you have worked well within the past, and what might someone else need to know about you to know if you are a good fit for them. Do you like to do things last minute but never miss a deadline? Your potential co-founder will need to know not to worry about your commitment.

“Launching a business is not the time to work through your personal baggage.”

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WHAT YOU BRING TO THE TABLE

Aside from bringing a great idea to the conversation you need to stack up your skill sets. I always ask my clients to make lists: what are they really good at, what would they like to learn, and what is something that they would have to hire out/have zero interest in learning. If you are a creative that struggles with business matters or vice versa it’s important to itemize the specifics. I work with a lot of clients that are creatives and need a business backbone, and let me tell you, you can be successful doing it on your own, but it’s definitely easier when you are working with someone who loves MS Excel if you hate it.

MATTERS OF MONEY

Who pays for what? With a biz partnership it’s cleaner if both parties can equally split liability and expenses. Not only does this keep things feeling balanced, but there is true shared ownership. If going 50/50 is not a possibility and you are looking for a co-founder to fund the operation, you might actually be looking for an investor. In my experience having a co-founder that’s really an investor can muddy decision-making processes. A co-founder should be able to bring something beyond money to the table. They should have skills and expertise that will relate directly to the day-to-day operations. If your co-founder is unable to invest as much money as you are or nothing into the business it’s critical that you stipulate in your operating agreement how your investment gets paid back over time and if/when the company dissolves. At the end of the day this is about playing fair, doing what’s right for the business and yourself.

“Having a co-founder that’s really an investor can muddy decision-making processes.”

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DOING BUSINESS WITH FRIENDS & LOVERS

In theory it’s a wonderful idea to start a business with a friend or romantic partner. Working with someone you know you already like and have things in common can be very rewarding, but it does require knowing yourself very well to pull this off successfully. Before launching into a business idea with someone you care about make sure to ask yourself and him or her- why now? Why would you two be the best to do this together? What complementary traits do you have? Discuss how long you want to test the process and have a trial period together before committing to a contract. And yes, you will want a contract! Business amongst friends/lovers can still get ugly and you want to have a contract out of respect for you and them. The goal is to preserve the relationship and possibly launch an amazing business!

TINDER FOR CO-FOUNDERS

I wish there was Tinder for Co-Founders (kind of like Bumble BFF…). But as of now there are only co-founder sites that really focus on technology. Sites like CoFoundersLab, FounderDating, and Angellist are a few places to look if you are looking to start an ecommerce site, otherwise I suggest good old fashioned LinkedIn and reaching out in Facebook groups, friends and family. As you would on a first date, you need to make sure to meet your potential co-founder for coffee or a drink and not just trust the phone or email. You wouldn’t marry someone without really knowing him or her right? So why would you risk your financial investment working with someone you don’t know well. (Jessica Alba jokes that partnering up with her co-founder is like an arranged marriage.) I suggest dating around. Dating around means having lots of coffees and working on small projects with someone to test out the personality styles and core competencies. Think of it as an experiment. You could sign an NDA, but really, it’s not necessary unless you have a patent pending. Ideas are easy come, easy go, but execution is hard. You need a partner you can execute with that has a shared vision. Don’t expect your first couple dates will yield a co-founder! Be patient.

Get on Facebook Marketplace Now

Facebook has launched their in mobile app marketplace and sellers are flocking. In 4 steps you can upload a photo, add a product description, choose a price and post it to the marketplace. You can even change your zip code to show up in more relevant listings and post your item for sale in groups you are a member of.

So why on earth are designers not flocking to this? They will. If you have been paying attention to my last few talks and posts I’ve been preaching the gospel of attention arbitrage – in essence be first and be where your customers are. Don’t wait until brands are getting on this platform before you jump in. Start playing now.

It has a little bit of a Poshmark feel as well; the layout, the necessity for good images, fair prices and the small amount of area to write product copy. Poshmark also allows you to re-sell goods that you buy at wholesale. The official Facebook Marketplace for Business hasn’t launched yet, but be certain that when it does it will be easier for brands who have already had experience on it to quickly jump on board. You won’t miss a beat.

This marketplace acts a little bit like Craigslist, you use your profile and are able to set up a time for the transaction to take place. If you have a studio you work out of it’s a great way to get your brand exposed to more customers. If you are doing a sample sale, boom, mark it down and let your community have first dibs. I really love what types of possibilities this will open up for businesses down the road that participate in popup shops.

facebook marketplace

Facebook is hoping to weed out fake buyers by only allowing those with a full profile and active friends to participate. They also won’t accept payment terms, for now. Imagine down the road Facebook partnering up with Visa or American Express and negotiating special rates with them on the backend if they are the preferred payment processing system. Facebook doesn’t integrate with a shipping method yet. So this means you will be deciding on if mailing or picking up works.

facebook marketplace

To make sure you close the sale follow these steps:

  1. Have great images- you have 4 to use.
    1. Make sure the lighting is good
    2. Use a background
  2. Write your product copy beforehand.
  3. Choose the zipcode you want to do business with.
  4. Pick a strong product title.
  5. Post your product on relevant community groups.
  6. Time the release of your product. Don’t just upload everything at once, your product will become more relevant in search if you stagger, like how Pinterest is.
  7. Use relevant words in your description. This is a primarily search based platform. Think of long tail keywords versus short ones. There will be way too many “little back dresses” to be able to find, but “knee length little black dress with sleeves” might be more relevant.

I’m super excited to see what awaits Facebook Marketplace. Brands have been waiting for when Facebook would diversify its offerings since the plugins that allow selling in your Facebook Page don’t really convert. This is mostly due to the fact that Facebook has become a pay-to-play platform for businesses. Its virtually impossible to get traction on Facebook pages without spending ad dollars. And small brands with little budget have a difficult time seeing ROI’s on their advertisements.

This could be a new channel for distribution and it’s definitely worth keeping your eye on and even testing it out. Remember when eBay first launched? There were business that grew out of eBay, hello, Sophia Amoruso’s Nasty Gal!

How Many Collections Should You Produce Each Year?

This used to be a very simple answer: two. But in recent years business models have changed on the retail side and on the vendor side. Ever since the market crashed in 2008, retailers have been in the mentality of buy little and buy often. They don’t want to be heavy in inventory and risk high markdowns. This puts brand owners (vendors) in a precarious position with manufacturing. If a vendor doesn’t have the capacity to produce reorders quickly and often then they may loose out on potential sales. Retailers are also looking for more newness more often. They need to keep the retail landscape exciting for consumers. This recent development in inventory management might spin your head and leave you asking: How many collections do I really need to produce?

 

Lets take a step back within your own business model. What type of business do you want to create? Do you want to focus on slow and sustainable- one collection a year? Or do you want to deliver newness every 3 months in stores? Maybe its twice a year. This is about what drives your desire for brand longevity. How often do you want to do photoshoots, sampling, pitching. You can choose the model, but then you need to stick with it. Consistency is Queen here.

 

Capsule collections vs. Deliveries vs. Full Collections

There are many ways to deliver product, so lets clarify what they are and how to take advantage of them. Capsule collections have become a favorite amongst brands. Capsules are simply a collection that has about 5-15 skus and are significantly smaller than a “normal” collection size (30-70 skus). I use quotes here because normal is a very subjective word and we all know that fashion is a subjective industry. Brands will introduce capsule collections when testing product ideas or to create exclusivity- limited number of styles and units available.

 

Deliveries are the dates that your product ships into the stores. Did you know that you could offer to have many deliveries within your full collection? One Fall delivery can arrive 8/30, 9/15, 10/15, 11/1. You can break it up so that there is newness often. And if you pitch and sell it as such, your buyers can then determine how often they want newness.

 

Full collections refer to the entire collection you are pitching. You can control the frequency by which you release new collections- some brands only sell Spring and some only sell Fall. Other brands do both and include transitional deliveries so there is newness between season.

 

One comment I hear all the time is: Why are we delivering Spring in February when its still cold out? Retailers know that consumers buy when its needed and that why the “trans” deliveries become an interesting marketing. Trans – short for transitional – is that amazing time of year between spring and fall (Jan/Feb and Aug/Sept), when you are buying markdowns in store and also looking for something new and wearable at that moment.

 

Once your determine your business model of choice its time to reconcile that with the market. How you communicate that to your buyers is critical. You have to be clear about the deliveries, sku counts and how your product will merchandise season over season. Remember, each collection needs to be able to sit next to one another – one might be on sale and one might be full price but they shouldn’t look like two different brands. When pitching to buyers you will need to be clear about your business model. Your line lists and PO’s should be very clear on delivery dates.

 

If you are selling online direct to consumer keep in mind that just because you haven’t sold what you expected to sell for one season doesn’t mean it lets you off the hook from creating another season. Too often I hear brands tell me that “its still new to someone”. At the end of the day your brand collections must evolve to tell the story of your brand- even if that’s one collection a year.

 

So, how many collections a year?

 

It’s really up to you. Think about your long-term strategy and let’s play with the new business models. This concept doesn’t just apply to new brands. If you are launching a diffusion line, a new retail store or revisiting your current business model, its not too late rethink your retail strategy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ultimate Fashion Marketing Toolkit

Before you launch your brand you need to have a few (read a lot) things in place. Here is my ultimate check list of marketing tools you need, to get your brand off the ground, and people talking about it! Which tips have you heard of and do they work for you? Comment below and lets talk fashion marketing.

If you are ready to launch your brand then set up a consultation. Email: hello@scalingretail.com. Scaling Retail is the consulting firm for retail globally. Specializing in startup and growth stage ecommerce, brick & mortar, and wholesale.

For more tips and exercises for building a fashion website check out
Creating Fashion Websites That Sell by Syama Meagher and Nicole Giordano: http://www.scalingretail.com/product/creating-fashion-website-that-sell/
Check out Scaling Retail website for more business ecommerce and retail tips, reviews and more: http://www.scalingretail.com/

Follow us here
Instagram: https://instagram.com/scalingretail/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/scalingretail
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/scalingretail
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/nyc-retail-consultant

How to Open A Fashion Boutique?


 

Thinking of opening your on fashion boutique, but don’t know where to start? Watch todays video going through the essential tasks you need to go through to get the ball rolling. Listen to how to nail your concept, financing your business, to where you will launch your boutique. Hope you walk away with some knowledge and motivation to launch your brand! Looking forward to your comments.

If you are ready to launch your brand then set up a consultation. Email: hello@scalingretail.com. Scaling Retail is the consulting firm for retail globally. Specializing in startup and growth stage ecommerce, brick & mortar, and wholesale.

For more tips and exercises for building a fashion website check out
Creating Fashion Websites That Sell by Syama Meagher and Nicole Giordano: http://www.scalingretail.com/product/creating-fashion-website-that-sell/
Check out Scaling Retail website for more business ecommerce and retail tips, reviews and more: http://www.scalingretail.com/

Follow us here
Instagram: https://instagram.com/scalingretail/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/scalingretail
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/scalingretail
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/nyc-retail-consultant

Crossing Gender Lines – Should You Branch Out?

Anya Hindmarch just announced her men’s collection launch with leather goods and accessories, and last month Stella McCartney announced she would be debuting a men’s collection in November. It’s no wonder that brands are moving into the men’s market; with $440B in annual sales it’s certainly a market share worth capturing. Menswear designers have been making the transition to women’s as well. Brands like Rag & Bone, Public School and designers like Hedi Slimane have only in the recent past branched out to design for women. The women’s market clocks in a hefty $670B yearly.

As a growing brand you are probably wondering how this all affects you. Should you rush to develop a collection for the opposite sex simply to make more money? How should you test the waters? Lets break it down.

First- It’s important to address that collections can be designed androgynously, but when it comes to walking down the runway or showing the pieces in a lookbook you will most likely ascribe gender. The Squad, a knitwear brand out of LA does a great job of creating for both, but you will notice that the collections do have clear cross over between genders.

Second- Aside from aesthetics, the two products are very different. Women’s sizing versus Men’s sizing and fit. If your brand is very tailored for women, you will need to bring in the tailoring for men. This might mean hiring a new product developer to help create your designs.

Third- Branding, sales and marketing. It’s not easy to just create a women’s line after having a men’s line. You will need to pitch to different stores, develop a new marketing strategy and evolve what your brand identity is. This can be especially tricky if your collection will be produced under the same name and your brand identity was very gendered to begin with. Sometimes brands will create a diffusion name to help with creating a “new” brand.

Accessories are the easiest transition to cross genders. Anya Hindmarch did this as she introduced a collection of briefcases and iPhones marketed for men. If you notice that your collection already appeals to both markets try testing out different color ways and fabrics to see how each gender reacts. What’s also interesting about Anya’s story is that she waited until enough men were purchasing her products to warrant the creation of a new line.

Clothing can be difficult for the above-mentioned reasons, but it doesn’t mean the market demand wouldn’t make it worth your while. Smaller brands like The Squad do so with a small team and a highly focused vision. My opinion is to always think big and make a timeline for your growth. If you want to expand then start thinking about it now even if it won’t be for another few years. Retail is a long tail game, so play it to last.

If you are ready to develop a launch or growth strategy for your business send an email to hello@scalingretail.com

6 Ways to Make Your Product Stand Out

Competition abound and you are out there trying to make a name for your brand. Its time to bust out the marketing toolkit and get the attention of your audience. Try these 6 tips on how to make your product stand out in a crowded market. If you need additional help creating a plan check out the Fashion Marketing Bootcamp– a 2 day seminar and workshop to plan the next 365 days.

  1. Your Last Email. Sending out an “Unsubscribe” email will notify your current list that you want them to engage with you. If someone has not opened one of your last 10 email campaigns they may not be worth having on your list.
  2. Get Physical. Every quarter send out a postcard or notecard to to all of you current customers. Don’t make it full of sales copy. Just a quick hello to show them you care.
  3. Loose Lips Friends. Ask your friends the next time they go shopping to ask if the store carries your brand. Little hints like that will get a store employee to google your name.
  4. Advertising Trick. Use images of influencers and bloggers in your products for advertising. Potential consumers love to see that your products are relevant.
  5. Pinterest: Take an already robust board and convert it to a sale converter by having all your products for sale on your boards and periodically dropping the prices in a “flash sale”. This will automatically put you at the top of the notifications.
  6. Dress people. Don’t just think about gifting celebrities think about dressing public speakers, and those in the limelight who may not be as obviously famous.

Most of all, have fun, try lots of marketing experiments just make sure to have your metrics and goals outlined.

Need help? Schedule a consultation! Email Hello@ScalingRetail.com

 

How to Survive Tradeshow Season: Brand & Retailer Guide

Its official, Resort market week just ended in New York and we are upon tradeshow season. If you are participating in a tradeshow you might be wondering what you need to do to ensure your success this season. If you are a new retailer you might be getting nervous at the thought of having to place orders for a season you aren’t even in yet! This guide is for both of you: the brand & the retailer.

Lets start with Brands.

Maximizing your strategy at a tradeshow requires a heavy dose of outreach about 4 weeks out of the event. You need to start by putting together your list of boutiques that you want to be pitching to, I suggest a list of about 250 nationally plus your international retailers.

Next, make sure your sales toolkit is strong. That means: pitch emails, postcards, look books, line lists, order forms, your website, instagram. This sales kit is what you are going to be sending and representing your brand over the next 8 weeks. You have 4 weeks pre tradeshow and 4-6 weeks after to keep following up. Then you will revert to your normal correspondence and relationship building with buyers. You should plan to emailing with buyers weekly, and following up with postcards and phone calls leading up to the tradeshow.

While at the tradeshow you cannot expect buyers to come find you. You need to plan your arsenal with postcards, a model or a friend to walk around the tradeshow in your clothes promoting your brand. You should also be networking like crazy! Aside from any industry related talks you might be attending, you should be on the outlook for your next brand collaborator and keeping an eye on your competitors. What do they say about keeping your enemies closer? Yeah, do that. Afterall, you are all in together, so make friends.