Category: Launch My Brand

Fashion Startups, Master the Basics of Retail.

Fashion Startups, Master the Basics of Retail

Fashion startups! This business is tough but it’s even more difficult if you don’t take the time to master the basics of retail. How well do you understand your fashion business? There’s a lot more required for retail success than having beautiful products, inspiring photography, and a creative brand voice. These are all important considerations but you have to take charge and be just as effective with the business side as you are when it comes to design.

This is what I teach in my 9-week program- Fashion Profit Plan: Fundamentals. In 3 months’ time, you’ll master every aspect of retail and immediately be able to put what you’ve learned into action. You’ll also have access to resources and templates worth $1,000s, weekly group coaching calls, and 3 one-on-one strategy sessions with me so we can develop and discuss unique game plans for your brand.

Here’s a couple of lessons based on some of the retail essentials you’ll explore in the program: Cash Flow, Competitors, Customers, Wholesale, and CEO Advice.

Cash Flow

A lot of you are probably coming from strictly creative backgrounds so cash flow management can be especially intimidating. Don’t stress out, you can still become a cash flow pro. You just have to understand the essentials – why you need to know it, how it works, and how you can use the insights you gain in the process.

For the newest startups, cash flow is particularly complex. Why? You don’t have any sales history to reference. You need to project your expected future expenses for the next 3 years… project too high and you may think funding is out of reach, project too low and you could face lots of future unexpected costs.

As you project your future expenses, the most important costs to include are professional fees (lawyer, accountant, etc.), office space expenses (rent, office supplies, printing costs…), product samples, professional photography, and digital marketing campaigns.

How you plan your finances depends on a lot of different factors like the number of collections you’ll produce each year and the type of resources you can score for free!

Competitors

You wouldn’t believe how many brands say “I have no competition”. That’s never true! Your customers (individual shoppers and wholesale buyers alike) have plenty of options of where to spend their money so even brands with the most unique designs still have competitors. Build a competitive matrix to understand what options your customers are choosing from and how your brand fares sitting next to the competition.

There’s a lot you can do with your Competitive Matrix including… indexing pricing, identifying potential wholesale accounts, gaining website and branding cues, gleaning copywriting inspiration, and deciding how many styles/SKUs to produce.

Customers

You have to be able to accurately identify your customer in order to get the right marketing and sales strategies in place as well as to develop your product assortment in a direction that makes sense. Those outdated, generalized customer profiles don’t work because they’re way too broad to be useful. It’s time to get specific.

As a startup with no sales history, you can look to your direct competition for answers.
Where are their products sold? Where are they getting press? Who follows them on Instagram?

Instead of a customer profile that looks like this…

25-30 years of age
Female
Income: $100k/year
Lives in Urban Area

…it will be much more precise (and useful) like this…

Reads Porter Magazine, shops at Barneys New York, follows celebrity architects on IG, follows brands like The Row, Sophie Buhai, and Jil Sander on IG.

Your research should also leave you with key insights like additional competitors you may not have discovered before, magazines, blogs, and influencers relevant to your target customers, and potential shops to approach for wholesale business.

Wholesale

Use this formula for wholesale success: Product + Pricing + Persistency + Proof.

Product: Create your product perfectly – read: based on your audience.

Price: Use competitive pricing.

Persistency: Be strong. You need a thick skin to navigate the rejection-filled world of wholesale pitching. And always remember that no doesn’t mean no. It means not right now. Be persistent. Keep emailing, calling, and sending out those postcards.

Proof: Build social proof. Instagram should be your #1 channel as a fashion startup. Post 3x a day and maintain a balance of lifestyle, brand, and product images. Actively engage with your audiences! Buyers want to see that you have a market for your brand.

CEO Advice

Even if you have 0 management experience, as the founder of your fashion brand, you are the CEO. It can feel strange to think of yourself as the top executive in charge but that’s exactly who you are.

The future success of your business relies on your ability to manage yourself and others with confidence, smart decisions, organization, and strategic delegation. Yes, even if you only work with 1, 2, or 3 other people, these are all crucial skills – planning, goal setting, negotiation, scheduling, and adopting the right tools.

As a fellow CEO, I know how it goes. I also love what I do and I’ve been guilty of working around the clock from time to time. The truth is, balance is important for your health and the health of your company. The CEO needs to be well-rested, healthy, and sharp to continue to make the right moves. You need to commit to a 30 minute lunch break and even a time to call it quits for the day. If not, things can really get out of hand!

Learn actionable insights about these aspects of your retail business and more (including pricing strategy and e-commerce) in Fashion Profit Plan: Fundamentals!

Do You Need a Business Plan for Your Fashion Business?

Today’s video we are discussing if you really need a business plan for your fashion business.Traditionally we are told before we even start working on your business you need a formal business plan in place. There are different kinds of plans that can relate to you; such as a Product Plan, Action Plan, Sales Plan etc. Watch our new video and see how you can start your planning!

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://blog.scalingretail.com/product/creating-fashion-websites-that-sell-ebook/
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

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.

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

Foundation: CEO Advice & Management Tips

Hello CEO’s!  Some of you might be resistant to accepting that you are the heads of your businesses, but you are.

So again, Hello CEO’S! and you say “Hello Syama!”

In the final week of Launch My Brand we go over CEO Advice & Management. This topic is so critical,  and it is essential that you develop an approach towards the management of your team, even if it is a one person team.

As a new CEO my first piece of advice is to think of yourself as a consultant to your own business. If someone were asking you how to run their business what would you tell them? Would you suggest they just work around the clock and plough through as much as they can? Probably not. A calculated approach is always the best. You are the boss and need to have plans, schedules, and budgets for new hires, production costs and operating costs. This means you should set aside at least 3 hours per week to do management related tasks.

Management Tips:

  1. Set goals and expectations for any project you are hiring for in advance. When you do interview for the position make sure you know exactly what your needs are and make them clear.
  2. Plan for the year and the month, and make sure you and whomever else you work with is clear on the goals so you can make progress towards it.
  3. Don’t be afraid to say no, play hardball or negotiate. This is your money and your business, you cannot assume that everyone is going to give you a fair price or has your best interest in mind. However…you do get what you pay for. So if someone doesn’t budge on their price, there might be a reason why they are charging it!
  4. Implement smart tech tools to optimize operations. Some of my favorites are Basecamp for project management, Boomerang for email scheduling and Streak for tracking email opens.
  5. Don’t over schedule your time. There is a tendency to jam pack things in down to the minute. Trust me, I know,  sometimes I do it too!  But, the best days are the ones where I have 30 minutes set aside for a lunch and a hard stop at the end of the day.

Alright CEO’s, here is to your success!

To read the other posts in the Launch My Brand Series, check out the list below:

Launch My Brand is a 6-Week Program on Fashion Business Basics for the Startup Fashion brand. Each week I go over important topics that are essential for success in launching your brand smart.
Week 1: Cash Flow
Week 2: Assortment Planning
Week 3: Customer Demographics
Week 4: Competitive Matrix
Week 5: Sales (Wholesale & Ecommerce)
Week 6: CEO Management Tips (we are here)

 

 

Foundation: Selling Tips + Videos!

Sales are the lifeline of your business. No sales, no business. So its very important to develop your sales strategy. Your strategy might include ecommerce, wholesale, popup shops, consignment, and drop-shipment amongst others. This blog post we will discuss the 1st step to selling ecommerce and the 1st step to launching wholesale. For more advice on increasing sales, and growing your business check out Scaling Retail TV or schedule a consultation.

1st Step to Selling Ecommerce

Make sure you have a presentable site that is optimized for sales. Your website is your first impression- so do it right the first time!

Backend: SEO optimize each page, SEO optimize each image, make sure your social media links actually go to the right pages and click out of your site. Review your shipping and return policies, and your FAQ’s. Make sure you integrate your email popup with your email provider.

Front End: Do you have your Instagram images integrated to your site? Do you have enough photographs to change your homepage each month? Are your product pages easy to read? Are your pictures high resolution and zoomable? Do you have an editorial merchandising strategy for each month? Get all the juicy details of your products and your “about” statements out in a clear and concise way.

Videos >>>>>>

Ecommerce 

If you need a step by step guide to building your site pick up a copy of Creating Fashion Websites that Sell. 

1st Step to Selling Wholesale

Wholesale is scary and hard work. You are constantly pitching and retailers are comparing your brand to others. Your brand that you have spent a lot of time and energy building! 

My #1 to getting started selling to buyers is to master this formula: Product + Pricing + Persistency + Proof.

Product: Get your product down perfectly, know that they have an audience and you should have some selling history in small selling arenas.

Price: Make sure you are competitively priced. Look at your competitive matrix.

Persistency: Develop a thick skin. Not getting a response doesn’t mean no, just not right now. Keep emailing, mailing out postcards and calling.

Proof: Build your social proof. Instagram should be your #1 Channel to develop right now. Post 3x a day and make sure its a combo of lifestyle, brand and product. Don’t forget how importance of engagement! Buyers want to see that you have a market.

Videos >>>>>>

Wholesale

If you need a more indepth overview on how to start wholesale, sign up for the How To Sell to Barneys & Boutiques Webinar.

 

Good Luck with getting your sales strategy off the ground, and let me know how it works for you!

 

Foundation: The Competitive Matrix

“I Have No Competitors” Why a Competitive Matrix is important.

 

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard brands say, “I have no competitors”. I just cannot believe this; simply because at the end of the day your “customer”, either the wholesale buyer or the direct customer, has options on where they want to spend their money. This means that while your product might be very unique, you still have competitors. Building a competitive matrix will help you understand the landscape of what your customers are choosing from and how your brand sits next to them.

 

Here are a few ways my clients use the Competitive Matrix

 

  • Indexing pricing
  • Identifying potential wholesale accounts
  • Website and branding cues: use of white space, image types, email popups
  • Inspiration on copywriting: types of writing
  • Evaluating how many businesses are new or heritage
  • Identify where brands are manufacturing
  • How many styles/skus are being produced
  • Social Media cues: patterns, messaging etc.

 

 

Now how should you be comparing your brand? What brands constitute a competitor and how do you find them?

 

Occasionally I hear new brands say they want to be the next Balmain when they have a small budget and little resources to launch. How could Balmain then be a direct competitor? They are a heritage brand that makes millions each year. Now, you can have Balmain be an inspiration brand, but to make the competitive matrix useful for you I suggest choosing brands that have launched within the last 15 years.

 

Finding your competitors isn’t as simple as doing a Google search. We all know that Google works through algorithms with backlinks and page ranking and that you may never find a cohesive list of the brands you are looking for. I suggest starting with the stores you want to be sold at and checking out what other brands they carry. If finding stores are a tough task then take to Yelp. All small boutiques and large boutiques can be found on Yelp. This won’t account for the ecommerce stores out there, but it’s a good start. Other places to look: Angel List, Tech Crunch- they will list out new ecommerce companies occasionally. And if you want to outright buy a list you can checkout companies like WeConnectFashion.

 

Lastly and most importantly, keep your matrix organized and neat. This means you will want to color code, add appropriate boxes and make it as easy to use as possible. In fact, you may need to have multiple sheets if the one becomes too large.

 

Competitive matrices are a critical part of your business and you should treat it as part of the foundation. If you have trouble creating them you may want to sign up for the Launch My Brand workshop to get fashion business foundation training or schedule a one on one consult with me.

 

 

Good Luck!