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Rank #46 in Fashion & Beauty category

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Fashion & Beauty

The Successful Fashion Designer

Updated 5 days ago

Rank #46 in Fashion & Beauty category

Arts
Education
Fashion & Beauty
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The fashion industry is brutally competitive...and we're all trying to get ahead. The problem is that everyone's so tight lipped with their strategies and resources. The Successful Fashion Designer is an "all secrets revealed" show by industry expert designer and educator Sew Heidi to help you gain the confidence, skills and insights to make it in a cutthroat market. The show covers topics such as breaking into the industry, getting promotions and raises, launching your own label and becoming a successful freelancer. Every episode is packed full of actionable steps you can implement right away to get ahead. Now.

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The fashion industry is brutally competitive...and we're all trying to get ahead. The problem is that everyone's so tight lipped with their strategies and resources. The Successful Fashion Designer is an "all secrets revealed" show by industry expert designer and educator Sew Heidi to help you gain the confidence, skills and insights to make it in a cutthroat market. The show covers topics such as breaking into the industry, getting promotions and raises, launching your own label and becoming a successful freelancer. Every episode is packed full of actionable steps you can implement right away to get ahead. Now.

iTunes Ratings

186 Ratings
Average Ratings
171
11
1
1
2

easily the best industry podcast available

By memeott - Jan 10 2020
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If you are in the fashion industry (or a related industry) or looking to get into it, this podcast will quickly become your guidebook, inspiration, motivation, fountain of knowledge and go to library. To me, this is as real as it gets. What the industry is really like and how to succeed in it....or even just how to define what success is. My favor episodes focus on sourcing...i’ve literally listened to the episode with The Sourcing District four or five times. This, coupled with Heidi’s online and tutorials or templates easily make her the patron saint of the real fashion industry.

Awesome!!!

By Dé Johnea - Nov 13 2019
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I learned about this podcast from a friend of mine. From the first show I heard, I was completely hooked. I think I listened to every episode. This is so informative. Heidi has amazing energy and each week I look forward to what knowledge will be shared. I have learn a great deal of information and I am apply it to my business. Thanks so much for this. And I will continue to spread the word of this amazing podcast. @dejohnea_bianca (day-john-nay)

iTunes Ratings

186 Ratings
Average Ratings
171
11
1
1
2

easily the best industry podcast available

By memeott - Jan 10 2020
Read more
If you are in the fashion industry (or a related industry) or looking to get into it, this podcast will quickly become your guidebook, inspiration, motivation, fountain of knowledge and go to library. To me, this is as real as it gets. What the industry is really like and how to succeed in it....or even just how to define what success is. My favor episodes focus on sourcing...i’ve literally listened to the episode with The Sourcing District four or five times. This, coupled with Heidi’s online and tutorials or templates easily make her the patron saint of the real fashion industry.

Awesome!!!

By Dé Johnea - Nov 13 2019
Read more
I learned about this podcast from a friend of mine. From the first show I heard, I was completely hooked. I think I listened to every episode. This is so informative. Heidi has amazing energy and each week I look forward to what knowledge will be shared. I have learn a great deal of information and I am apply it to my business. Thanks so much for this. And I will continue to spread the word of this amazing podcast. @dejohnea_bianca (day-john-nay)
Cover image of The Successful Fashion Designer

The Successful Fashion Designer

Latest release on Jan 06, 2020

Read more

The fashion industry is brutally competitive...and we're all trying to get ahead. The problem is that everyone's so tight lipped with their strategies and resources. The Successful Fashion Designer is an "all secrets revealed" show by industry expert designer and educator Sew Heidi to help you gain the confidence, skills and insights to make it in a cutthroat market. The show covers topics such as breaking into the industry, getting promotions and raises, launching your own label and becoming a successful freelancer. Every episode is packed full of actionable steps you can implement right away to get ahead. Now.

Rank #1: SFD080 Production & Manufacturing Processes for Small Batch Fashion

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Jessica Osborn is the CEO and founder of Privy Label, a company that help brands and boutiques create their own custom clothing lines from design to delivery. She works closely with small-batch manufacturers in the USA in order to cut down on the wasteful practice of overseas manufacturing.

Jessica has six years of experience in the fashion industry, the first five of which she worked for a startup in New Orleans that went from being unknown to being carried in Nordstrom and REI across the country! After experiencing such amazing growth in just those five years, she learned a LOT about the production process and how small brand manufacturing works.

Jessica saw an opportunity to give boutiques and brand the capacity to have an in-house design and development team who will work to make their brand more successful, and she took that opportunity and ran with it. In this episode, she talks about production models, pricing structures, and how to make your production more efficient and cost-effective. This episode truly is a must-listen for everyone!

In the interview (which you'll love) we will cover:

  • The difference between traditional and on-demand manufacturing
  • What it’s like working in the on-demand manufacturing business model
  • How competitive these prices are with other market prices
  • The production process from idea to execution
  • The timeline between the first idea and the first sample / proof of concept
  • The (natural) disappointments that come with the first sample
  • The (simple, “old-fashioned,” interesting things that clients do to have a successful launch
  • How brands are funding / finding finances to get everything off of the ground
  • Budget price ranges to get things off the ground and where that money comes from
  • Cost differentials between sustainable and ethical manufacturers vs. other manufacturers
  • The resources that have become available to designers in the last five years with US factories and suppliers
  • The number one mistakes Jessica sees designers making during initial development and manufacturing practices
  • The benefits of creating a smaller collection to market test
  • Best advice Jessica has for fashion designers - where to start (hint: research, research, research!)

FROM ZERO TO NORDY’S

Jessica started her fashion career as a creative designer for an athleisure brand in New Orleans that was fairly unknown. In her five years working there, the brand went from unknown to being carried across the country at places like REI and Nordstrom. She picked up on a lot during her time there, working with factories overseas and exploring the production process. Then she decided it was time to start her own business.

TIME FOR A BUSINESS

Jessica started Privy Label one year ago providing innovative design to delivery solutions for brands starting their own private labels. She wears many hats during the process, helping her clients with sourcing, fabric, labels, trim, and finding local pattern-makers and seamstresses. She does sample development, fitting, and then sources manufacturers in the US that play nicely with small minimums.

She has a large variety of clients, and her job is to think about all of the nitty-gritty details that the client probably hasn’t thought of (because there’s sooo much to think of!). Jessica touches on a few of the steps, like the initial design phase, fabric selection, tech pack creation, and sample development, then the always necessary changes that need to be made after the first sample (most clients don’t realize it’ll take two or three samples to hone in a design!).

LOCAL, PLEASE

One thing that’s important to Jessica is focusing on finding local vendors and suppliers. These are good for a few reasons, one of which is speed! She likes to find fabrics that use less water to produce, and other sustainable fabrics, while specifically focusing on reducing the carbon impact of shipping mass quantities overseas and reducing the amount of overstock created during mass production. So important.

A FONT OF FASHION WISDOM

Jessica has been at this for a while, and has experienced almost every facet of the fashion industry. She’s full of advice about every step of the way, and talks about the differences she sees in the industry already after 5-6 years of being part of it. There are more resources available to designers now than there were before--and she’s the place to find them! She talks about the biggest mistakes she sees new fashion designers making, how to get your samples into the hands of people making decisions (which may be “old-fashioned”--but they work!), and how to ensure your styles are cohesive.

Oh, and make sure you test the market. Then retest. Then test, retest, and do it again. Get your customer the product they want!

We loved having such an inspirational resource on the show this week--it’s such a breath of fresh air to hear Jessica’s take on the fashion industry after being in it for so long--her advice is for seasoned fashion industry veterans as much as it’s for the newbie just trying to find their place in the fashion world.

Resources & People Mentioned

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Jan 21 2019

52mins

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Rank #2: SFD076 Six Steps to Starting a Fashion Line that Sells

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Designing and starting a fashion line is exhilarating and inspiring and something most of us want to jump right into. Starting a fashion line that sells is something completely different--but it’s something you can do.

Robyn and I are BACK with a podlet that sums up six easy steps to starting a fashion line that sells. The Successful Fashion Designer podcast has been going for 75(!) episodes, and after interviewing as many talented, business-savvy fashion designers as I have, Robyn and I noticed that many of them had similar advice when it came to designing a fashion line that sells.

We went back through and extracted the golden advice nuggets from their episodes and distilled it down for you here--it’s great advice for everyone that wants to start a fashion line the right way.

In the interview (which you’ll love) we cover:
  • Finding and owning your niche to create a fashion line that sells
  • How NOT to design for everybody (seriously!)
  • Solving your own problems by facing and overcoming the fashion challenges that you have
  • Doing RESEARCH on other fashion lines
  • Actually going to where your customer is hanging out to do MORE research
  • Testing, testing, and testing some more--getting feedback on your samples
  • Engaging and asking your customer for feedback during the design + development process
  • Asking open-ended questions to get more information from your customers
  • And so much more!

 

Episodes Referenced: Connect with cohost Robyn: Enjoy the show? Help us out by:

Dec 10 2018

25mins

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Rank #3: SFD039: How to Launch Your Fashion Line with No Experience

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If you have no fashion industry experience, it can feel really daunting to try and start your own clothing line. Where do you source materials? How do you find factories and manufacturers? How do you sell your line to retail shops?

But if you go slow, do your research, and have some patience, you'll discover you can get yourself off the ground.

And that's exactly what Kristen of Exclusively Kristen did to start her fashion line with no experience. She spent the last 3 years navigating the industry one step at a time to get her line of tops for full busted women off the ground.

She patiently and diligently researched what her customer wanted to make sure her product fit right, used the right fabric in the right colors and hit the right price point. After this long journey of educating herself and learning how to manufacture a product and work with factories, she recently started talking to factories in China to get her designs produced.

In the interview, we cover:

  • Why it's worth the small investment of hiring an expert to make sure things are done right
  • How spending a little more money up front pays off 10x in the long run
  • The value of asking your suppliers for referrals
  • The importance of deeply understanding your customer
  • Why you should have the self discipline to go slow and make sure your product is done right
  • Her strategy of using pop up shops to get to know her audience and build a base following
  • The difference in pricing, minimums and fabric costs from American made vs overseas
Guest Info & Resources Enjoy the show? Help us out by:

Feb 05 2018

1hr 1min

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Rank #4: SFD091 100 Ways NOT to Start A Fashion Brand: These Guys Learned Firsthand What Works and What Doesn't

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Starting a fashion brand from scratch is a massive challenge. And when you don’t have big investors and influential connections, it can seem impossible. But these three young entrepreneurs found a way to beat the odds and make their brand a reality. 

Meet Salvatore Graci, Angelo Acquista, and Luca Graci, founders of luxury streetwear brand CSNV (Casanova). Their passion and seemingly endless determination helped them take CSNV from just an idea to the runway at LA Fashion Week and beyond.

It sounds like a fairytale, but it wasn’t an easy journey. They share their highs, their lows, and the many lessons they learned along the way!

 

In the interview (which you’ll love), we will cover:
  • The first steps Salvo, Angelo, and Luca took when they decided to launch a brand
  • How they made cold emailing work for them
  • The personality traits that helped make them successful
  • What moves helped them grow their brand’s exposure--and what fell flat!
  • How they went about finding factories that could produce their designs (when searching on the internet got them nowhere!)
  • The marketing campaign that failed, and how they regained their footing
  • Why they turned down a huge investor
  • How they got ready for LA Fashion Week
  • When they quit their day jobs
  • And more!

 

“WHY NOT?”

Luca, Angelo, and Salvatore were all less than 24 years old when they decided to turn their passion for elevated, Italian-inspired streetwear into a label of their own. 

It started with a phone call. Salvatore and Angelo had joked about starting a fashion line since high school, but a few years later, Salvo called Angelo and told him they should really do it. 

Angelo’s response? “Why not?” They had no experience and no real connections in the industry when they started. Yet in less than two years they went from cold-emailing influencers from Instagram, to being invited to LA Fashion Week. 

 

IT WASN’T ALWAYS EASY    

The road wasn’t without its obstacles. The guys recall starting out with optimism and enthusiasm, but they had plenty of setbacks. They sent hundreds of emails that never got a response. They made trip after trip to Italy to search for factories and suppliers, spending their savings and coming back exhausted, with nothing to show for it. 

“We’d come back from a trip and feel like we're still at zero. We're like, what? We just spent so much money, we spent so much time and effort... and yet we're still at zero. So what do we do?”

What they did was keep on going. Although they all had times where they wanted to give up, eventually they found their footing, and gained the traction they needed to turn Casanova into a successful brand. 

DISCOVERING WHAT’S NEXT    

The guys and their brand are still evolving. Since recording the episode, they’ve rebranded again, and they’re still working on new pieces and new ways of getting their designs seen all over the world. One thing’s for sure: from “No way,” to the jetway, to the runway, these three were relentless in pursuing their dream. And it’s just the beginning. 

 

Resources & People Mentioned Enjoy the show? Help us out by:

Sep 16 2019

1hr 5mins

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Rank #5: SFD023: Part 1: How to Stay Creative (when there's never any time)

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Solomon Eversole has the most calm and collected approach to creativity I've ever witnessed. With 15 years experience working in the corporate world and on his own collections, he's figured out the best ways to help himself and his team express their artistic side in an industry that thrives on tight deadlines and late nights.

Solomon explains his "plan first" approach to creativity. Giving himself a comfortable amount of time, the right mindset, and being prepared with the necessary tools, his outcomes are not only better, but he feels more peace of mind during the creative process.

If you struggle with creative block, creative panic, or creative pressure, listen to this episode now. Not only will Solomon inspire you with new ways to approach your creativity, his cool, calm and collected demeanor will provide you with a sense of relief in an industry where we all too often feel overwhelm.

And watch for Part 2 of our interview on overcoming fear. It's out next week.

You will learn:
  • How “Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance”
  • Why you need to give yourself the time and freedom to explore your creativity
  • The importance of controlling what you can can control (because plenty of things will become urgent on their own)
  • Why planning gets a bad name but why it’s essential
  • The 80% rule and why you always need a “fresh set of eyes”
  • Why mood boards aren’t as essential to the creative process as you may think
  • How to relieve yourself from the pressure of being creative
  • How to prioritize your time and efforts when you feel like everything has to be done now
  • That it's ok if everything you create isn't brand new

Guest Info & Resources:

Oct 16 2017

57mins

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Rank #6: SFD041: How to Set Up Your Fashion Brand Successfully, from Samples to Production

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Tricia runs her fashion studio, Hello World Fashion, in DTLA. With more than a decade of experience in the industry designing, sourcing and doing production, she can help you set up your fashion brand successfully, from the entire design through development process, including sampling and production.

One of the things I love most about how Tricia runs her studio is her dedication to designer's successes. While many sample rooms or development houses will just take your money and do what you tell them (even if they know it's a bad idea or won't work), Tricia will give you her honest constructive advice to help you set up your fashion brand for success and sure you make the right decisions throughout the entire process. She also is completely transparent about her process, suppliers and the supply chain (she'll help you source your fabric, but won't keep that supplier a secret from you - whaaat? YES!).

Tricia shares tons of lessons she's learned in her industry experience including when / why you want to source locally versus offshore, whether you should use stock or custom fabrics, and how to think about wholesale and retail pricing to set yourself up for success.

In the interview, we talk about:

  • Different business models to gain success with your fashion brand
  • When and why you'd want to develop custom fabric vs working with stock materials
  • What the design to development process looks like
  • The importance of a tech pack whether you're making 20 units or 20k units
  • The most important questions you need to ask your suppliers as a startup designer
  • Options for protecting your designs (and why you shouldn't always worry about it)
  • How to think about scaling and planning for the future
For details and to RSVP to the LA meet & greet party with Tricia and me, click here. Guest Info & Resources Enjoy the show? Help us out by:

Feb 19 2018

58mins

Play

Rank #7: SFD070 Build a Fashion Brand with a Cult Following

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Seeing other fashion brands on social media with these crazy cult followings can be pretty intimidating. You see these fashion brands and think, “I can't possibly generate that much interest in my designs.” 

But it’s possible.! You can design products that people want to buy because they are obsessed!

With the right consumer research and branding, you can fill a gap in the market. Create the right product for the right person? Can lead to a cult following. This is exactly what Aaron and Carmen of Caraa did. But not without the leg work it takes to build this kind of  cult following.

In the interview (which you’ll love) we cover:
  • Starting your fashion career in a different field (finance)
  • Finding a gap in the fashion market, and figuring out how to fill the gap
  • Saturating the fashion accessories market with a unique product
  • Learning how to lead with design, but sell based on function
  • Launching with only one well researched fashion product
  • Doing product research directly with your potential customer
  • Wading through all the financial options for funding
  • Working with big brands to collaborate
  • Why one way pitching doesn't often work out
  • Manufacturing locally until you’re ready to manufacture overseas.
Press the orange play button below to listen here, or listen on Apple Podcasts:

Aaron Luo and his partner Carmen Chen Wu, are innovators in the fashion accessories world. They noticed a gap in the market for a bag that would meet the needs of the multifaceted woman. The working woman, the mom, and yogi who needed the right bag to transition throughout all those roles without switching her bag, or worse carrying three of them at once. They have generated a cult following because of their unique, fashion focused, function driven line of bags.

Like you, Aaron started his fashion career from an unlikely field.

With 20 years in finance for a company that specializes in clothing production he gained an understanding of the fashion market from a unique perspective. When he and his partner Carmen (designer for many years)  discovered a major gap in the market they decided to embark on this exciting new adventure together.

Being a designer, it’s not as sexy as TV makes it out to be.

Aaron shares the ins and outs of designing a brand new fashion product. Most people think, “I designed this product, how can I fit it into the current market place?”. But Arron tells us about discovering a gap in the marketplace, then designing a product around what that consumer wants and more importantly what this customer needs.

Resources & People Mentioned

Oct 15 2018

1hr

Play

Rank #8: SFD094 This Dirndl Designer Grew a BIG Fashion Brand with a TINY Niche

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Is it possible to start a successful fashion brand when your niche is super small? 

Meet Erika Neumayer Ehrat of Rare Dirndl. Her full time job is designing and selling dirndls. Never found yourself desperately scouring the web for the perfect dirndl? We’re not surprised! It’s such a tiny niche market, it may not seem like a sustainable business model. But by knowing her customer so well that she’s even given her a name, Erika makes a living creating something extremely special for a small but dedicated customer base. 

In the interview (which you’ll love), we will cover:
  • What even is a dirndl, anyway?
  • The smart moves Erika made early on in her business
  • What she learned from her years doing festivals and pop-up shops
  • Why Erika narrowed her already small niche down further…
  • ...and even further, and how she got super clear on her ideal customer
  • The second ideal customer avatar that surprised her
  • What she’s learned about creating a website to sell your designs
  • How blogging on other topics helps her find her customers
  • How she handles returns and custom designs
  • The marketing strategy that works for her today 
  • And more!

For the full show notes, head to the SFD website!

Oct 28 2019

1hr 11mins

Play

Rank #9: SFD 001: How to Get Your First Job in the Fashion Industry with Bjorn Bengtsson

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If you want to break into the fashion industry, it seems logical that you’d need to go to fashion school. But what if that’s not for you? There are creative ways you can approach opportunities to get your foot in the door. Bjorn shares exactly how to get an interview, and what he’s looking for during that first meeting. These are things you can do on your own (without a fashion school degree) to secure your first opportunity.

YOU WILL LEARN:

The value of internships and building relationships What to include (and not include) in your portfolio Why Illustrator skills are mandatory – but what other skills you need to survive The skills learned in school vs what’s required in the real world How to better prepare yourself for a job while you’re in school How to create opportunities if you don’t have a fashion school degree Why a curious mind will take you far How to get in touch with Bjorn for guidance (thank you for this generous offer Bjorn!) GUEST INFO & RESOURCES https://www.linkedin.com/in/bjornbengtsson/ https://www.businessoffashion.com/ https://www.untuckit.com/ ENJOY THE SHOW? YOU CAN HELP US OUT BY: Rating and subscribing on iTunes: http://sfdnetwork.com/review – it really helps! LOOKING FOR MORE RESOURCES? Visit http://sfdnetwork.com/free/ for free fashion design templates, tutorials and more from Successful Fashion Designer

May 08 2017

41mins

Play

Rank #10: SFD061 Are You Ready to Quit Your Job for Your Fashion Startup Business?

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You have had this full time corporate fashion job for several years. You’re comfortable where you're at, with benefits, income and stability. But you also have this “passion project” that you started as a creative outlet and it has turned into a fashion startup business. You spend all your free time designing, making, creating and problem solving in your craft.

But now you’re stuck. This fashion startup business has begun to flourish, your process has streamlined and your passion has grown and yet you’re still working your 9-5 fashion job. Figuring out where to go from here can be rather unnerving.

This is exactly what Jackie Ayres from Dyetology did. I am so excited to share with you how she QUIT HER DAY JOB FOR HER FASHION STARTUP BUSINESS and made it work.

In the interview (Which I know you’ll love) we cover:
  • The journey to finding your passion in the fashion industry
  • Turning your passion project into a profitable fashion business
  • Finding the energy to “do it all” when running your fashion startup
  • Why you should allow yourself to dream
  • How she used her corporate job to fund her fashion startup business
  • Feeling at peace with quitting your corporate fashion job
  • How to leave corporate life and move into entrepreneurship
  • Her thoughts on “doing the research” for yourself
  • Finding a mentor or support group established in the fashion industry
  • Why you have to ask yourself “do you love it” because no one else will

Jackie Ayres from Dyetology hand dyes textiles that she turns into scarves, shawls, skirts and tops. She spent 3 years organically growing her startup fashion business all while raising her son and working her full time corporate fashion job. Using this overlapping time to really learn what she liked about the hand dying industry and teaching herself what was needed to make it into a profitable business.

Like you, Jackie dreamed about her startup while working her corporate full time job.

She spent 14 years designing in the corporate world honing her talents and learning form the best in the industry. While climbing the corporate ladder she felt like her job was void of the kind of creative outlet that would leave her feeling passionate. So she started hand dyeing textiles out of her home and soon learned this was a passion project she wanted to turn into a full time career.

More than just a designer - how she would love to help you!

She loves to be transparent with her customers, followers and any one who asks for her advice about how she got to this point in her career that she is at. As long has you have the drive and have done the background research she is more than willing to help answer any questions you have about this scary transition from corporate life to small business owner. She hopes to break down some of the barriers that most of us face in the fashion industry when it comes to sharing helpful information.

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Jul 23 2018

1hr 12mins

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Rank #11: SFD013: The Step by Step Production Process for Fashion Design Entrepreneurs

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In this episode I’m chatting with Abbie Ellis, co-founder of Stitch Method - a Chicago fashion agency that helps you DEFINE your market, DEVELOP your product and DELIVER it to your customers. In the interview, she walks through a step by step overview of the production process, how to work backwards from costing and budgeting to design, and why a tech pack is essential for every product, no matter how simple or where you’re manufacturing.

You will learn:
      • How long it takes to go from idea to production (hint: it’s longer than you think!)
      • How much you should budget to get your design into production
      • How to know whether you should manufacture overseas or locally
      • A step by step walk through of the production process from start to finish
      • Why your factory is one of your most valuable resources
      • How to work backwards from costing and budgeting to design
      • The value of thinking bigger picture and creating long term goals
Guest Info & Resources: Production Checklist

Enjoy the show? You can help us out by: Looking for more resources?

Jul 31 2017

54mins

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Rank #12: SFD012: How to build a group of raving fans before you have a product

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In this episode I’m chatting with Colleen Monroe, founder of Untucked Workwear - clothes designed for women who embrace a lifestyle filled with gumption and a whole lot of go. After a year and a half of hard, Colleen launched a successful Kickstarter to fund the first round of production of her three piece collection. In the interview, she talks about how to build an email list and an audience before you even have a product, why fit is one of the most important factors to your success, how to deal with the financial realities of launching a label, and the importance of engaging with your customer

You will learn:
  • How to build tons of raving fans for life before you even have a product
  • How to collaborate with non-fashion brands to grow your audience
  • Why it's better to take your time to make sure your product is done right
  • The financial challenges of launching a label and advice to overcome them
  • The non-glamorous parts of the fashion world
  • How to have a successful Kickstarter campaign
Guest Info & Resources:

Enjoy the show? You can help us out by: Looking for more resources?

Jul 24 2017

1hr 14mins

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Rank #13: SFD048: How An Amazing Eco Friendly Clothing Brand Was Built On The Passion Of One Woman

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If you need a shot of inspiration, you’ve got to hear this conversation with my guest Elle - the creator and designer behind Ellerali, an eco friendly clothing brand built solely on the passion of its founder. Elle wasn’t educated as a designer, she was trained as a marine biologist. But that hasn’t stopped her from following her passion for design, upcycling, and the creation of sustainable fashion.

Elle began sewing in 2012 and almost immediately began designing and handcrafting clothes. She loves to create out of repurposed fabrics in a way that does not add to the human imprint on planet Earth.

Ellerali is a lifestyle eco-fashion brand focused on multifunctional clothing that avoids waste and gives great value to the consumer at the same time. Elle’s guiding motto is “No scrap left behind.”

Join us for this conversation. It's inspiring, motivating, and encouraging to hear what passion can achieve.

Outline of This Episode
  • [0:42] A marine biologist turned designer.. a passionate designer doing amazing things
  • [5:15] Elle’s story: How she became the founder of an eco-friendly clothing brand
  • [11:28] Beginning to design and generating income to sustain her efforts
  • [20:34] Scaling the business and establishing unique, cause-oriented partnerships
  • [26:10] The promotional power of wearing and using your own product
  • [29:00] Making the most of curated craft shows and events
  • [34:10] The current challenge: scaling the business while creating and designing
  • [38:57] Manufacturers, investing in her business, and being true to her values
  • [52:20] Overcoming the fear of putting yourself out there
  • [56:50] The legalities and nuances of working in the upcycling movement
  • [1:07:24] What do people not ask about the fashion industry that they should?
The MFS (Multi-Functional Shawl): Elle’s stylish application of her desire to not be wasteful

A wonderful example of the creativity and ingenuity Elle brings to her eco friendly clothing designs is what she refers to as “The MFS” or Multi-Functional Shawl. As its name implies, it's a multifunctional clothing accessory that can be transformed to suit any outfit. It’s also reversible. I own two of these and love them!

The MFS is an item that Elle creates intentionally from salvaged material such as ends of fabric rolls or leftover scraps from a production run. She designs them with zero waste in mind. One of the unique things about the MFS is that those who purchase it truly receive a one-of-a-kind piece of clothing because of the nature and sourcing of the materials used in their creation.

You can see a video of the MFS here.

Elle wears her own eco friendly clothing because she believes she is her own best billboard

As Elle got started with her sewing and clothing design work, she wasn’t sure what would come of it. All she knew was that she loved doing it and making a positive impact at the same time. It was the marriage of two incredible passions. As she began making things, she began wearing them. That’s when she discovered an amazing reality…

She was her best billboard.

People she met began asking her where she got the unique things she was wearing. Naturally, she was encouraged by the attention and was humbled when, after discovering that she’d created the clothing herself, many of them asked if she would create a piece for them.

An incredible aspect of promotion that many DIY designers overlook is that people need to see the clothing in action, and you are indeed your best billboard. In this conversation, Elle and I talk about how important it is for designers to “eat their own cooking,” so to speak, and the powerful impact it has on product demand. There are many lessons to be learned from Elle’s experience. I hope you take the time to listen.

To maintain the values behind her eco friendly clothing brand, Elle has to move slowly

As any business endeavor begins to gain steam, it’s natural to become excited about the forward progress you're beginning to experience. But that excitement can lead to hasty decisions and compromise if we are not careful.

Elle points out that the things that she loves about her creations - that they are eco friendly and sustainable - are exactly the things she has to keep her focus on as she begins thinking about mass production of her clothing. There are so many opportunities to cut corners that bypass the vision behind what she's doing, and she never wants to do that.

So she’s taking it slow. One step at a time. In her words, “I want to grow, but I want to be smart about it.” That’s great advice for any designer, whether we’re creating eco friendly clothing or not, don’t you think?

“If we persist, it will happen.” Great advice from my friend that we all need to remember

Design is a passion even more than it is a means of making a living, so most of us who are truly committed to designing will likely stay at it, at least on a small scale. But for those of us who want to build something bigger, something that is able to create a lifestyle and life we love, it can be a very discouraging road.

One of the most important lessons Elle has learned in her journey so far is the value of persistence and consistency. She says that in spite of the discouragements that crop up along the way, the path is worth it and she simply needs to keep going. She doesn’t need to be afraid or nervous about what the future might bring. In her words, “If we persist, it will happen.”

I so enjoyed my reconnection and conversation with Elle. I encourage you to check out her eco friendly clothing line and support her as you are able. She’s a great inspiration to anyone just starting out in fashion design because it wasn’t too long ago that she was just starting out, too.

Thanks for listening.

Resources & People Mentioned Connect with Elle

Apr 16 2018

1hr 10mins

Play

Rank #14: SFD030: How to Get Press Coverage & Publicity for Your Fashion Line

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If you love step by step instructions, you're going to love this SFD episode. Rosie Davies runs The London Fashion Agency and PR Dispatch to help indie brands get the press coverage they deserve. In our interview, she walks us through the exact process brands can use to get featured in publications, on blogs, or with influencers.

From figuring out what magazines to pitch to, what your email should say, and what to do if you don't hear back, she graciously spent an hour with us answering all our PR questions and telling us exactly how startup fashion brands can get publicity.

Considering agency retainers can set you back $3k / month, this is a pretty sweet deal. Thank you Rosie for sharing all your knowledge!

You Will Learn
  • The number one mistake designers make when trying to get press coverage
  • Why it’s worth investing in professional photography and brand assets before doing PR
  • How to determine what publications are right for your brand
  • Bigger doesn’t always mean better - why small publications can be your best bet
  • How to figure out who to contact at the publication (and where to find their email)
  • What to send in your pitch email (and what the subject line should be)
  • The importance of engaging with influencers before reaching out
  • Why you should think outside “fashion” influencers
  • What to look for in publications to decide if they’re right for you
  • Why you shouldn’t invest in advertorial coverage
  • The surprising details about your brand that publications really care about
  • When you should say no to press coverage
  • The top 3 things publications want to know about your brand or product to feature it
  • How to make sure you pitch the right product at the right time
  • How to stand out and make sure your pitch email gets read and your designs get featured
  • The best time to send your pitch emails
  • When - and how - to send follow up emails if you don’t hear back
  • How to use Instagram to engage with press and influencers
  • When - and why - to mail a physical product sample
  • How to leverage one feature to get more publicity
  • How long to expect to wait before getting press coverage
  • What not to do so you don’t annoy the press or editors
Guest Info & Resources Enjoy the show? Help us out by: Get More Resources

Dec 04 2017

57mins

Play

Rank #15: SFD087 How to Become a Fashion Merchandiser and Product Manager 👗

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In this interview with Shelby Collins, we go a little off the beaten path of the Successful Fashion Designer podcast. Shelby is a merchandiser and works in product development--she knew right from the beginning that design wasn’t quite the right path for her, so she did a lot of self-exploration throughout school and found the right path for her through trial and error.

Besides Shelby taking a “non-traditional path” through the design world, and going into something other than design, I want you guys to pay attention to the exact thing that Shelby did to progress her career. She worked her way up--spent a lot of time working for The North Face in California, and now works for VF Corp. Shelby’s career trajectory did not come by accident! She started out in some pretty crummy administrative roles that she hated, but she worked her butt off, got noticed, built friendships and relationships and that’s exactly how she grew her career.

We talk about how she was mindful about creating these relationships in the workplace, and how she was always very intentional about showing that she was willing to put in the work and go the extra mile to stand out, even if it was a project that wasn’t that exciting. She’s experienced such amazing growth in her career--so pay attention to her advice because I know it can help so many of you go so far in your careers as well!

In the interview (which you'll love) we will cover:

  • How Shelby got her start in the fashion industry
  • The difference between the production / merchandise part of the business, and the design / development part of the business
  • How Shelby knew she wanted to get into merchandising (it all started with a 2007 Burton catalogue!)
  • Shelby’s first opportunity after college
  • How she proactively prepared for interviews
  • How Shelby navigated the “networking” world by authentically and genuinely maintaining relationships
  • What Shelby did in her Product Line Coordinator job
  • The one thing Shelby wishes people would ask her about working in the fashion industry

SMALL TOWN DREAMS

Shelby grew upon a farm in a small town in Colorado. She always loved looking at magazines and seeing how different things were from her day to day “real world.” Like a lot of us, she really enjoyed expressing herself through apparel--she loved the way she could almost change her mood and how she felt; how she represented herself to the world. So the logical next step after high school? Start in a design program in college (because it’s so hard to know which career path to follow in the fashion industry when you’re brand new!).

But it didn’t feel quite right. She was doing well, but she didn’t feel grounded in the creative space. As a math lover, she wanted more balance and logic thrown into the mix. She kept thinking back to her magazine-flipping days, and specifically remembered a 2007 Burton catalogue--and how disruptive it was. There were badass women in white snowboard gear sitting in mud, completely filthy after snowboarding all day. She remembered how the image had struck her, and knew she wanted to be the person making those decisions. So she checked out merchandising, and got a little closer to her dream.

BREAKING IN AFTER COLLEGE (ALWAYS DIFFICULT, RIGHT?)

Shelby’s last semester at college was a 12-credit internship. School helped her land the gig (a little), but she had to work her butt of to get it. She applied to around 50 internships, and two people called her back...but that’s just how it goes! She googled interview questions and made her dad run through the answers with her (anyone else done this? Such a good idea!), and landed an internship in the marketing department. Sure--it wasn’t the product creation team like she wanted, but she was open to her options. Shelby dug in, learned what she could, and navigated forward from there.

After she graduated, she got a job at the same company she had interned at, but it was in customer service--not her desired career path. But she kept grinding and excelling, and when the company acquired another women’s outdoor brand, an opportunity arose. She became brand coordinator, and so began the marathon of many hats. And she LOVED it. She did materials sourcing, approved material colors, did day-to-day communication with factories, worked with the marketing team on sales tools, organized photo shoots, and so much more. She gained visibility into all areas of the business, and even though the learning curve was steep, and she was scared and insecure every once in a while, she took a deep breath and did it, and learned a ton.

The brand went under and closed after a year, but she got an opportunity to stay on the marketing team on another project. This was another job she wasn’t crazy about, but it motivated her to find something that did make her happy. She reflected on the relationships she had built with her coworkers--she had always been scared of the “networking” word, but was able to connect in a genuine, authentic way with the people she saw every day. She had always been mindful of building and maintaining relationships, so asking her connections for what she needed came naturally and easily for her. “If you do the upfront work of keeping in touch with people frequently, it doesn’t feel as icky when you reach out for connections.” (Write that down!)

JOB HUNTING

The connections she had helped Shelby get an interview in the Bay Area, and she got a job as a Product Line Coordinator where she did...everything. It was similar to what she had done in her brand coordinator position before, but more specific: she prepared meetings, made grids / visual line plans, managed all documents (like the workbook, line plan, image approval), did data entry, managed tools, and had lots of exposure to things like fittings and being at the decision table (finally!). She had always been a detail-oriented person, but this job was perfectly challenging for her. She was promoted twice in her five years at the company.

HER SECRET?

Shelby was never too shy to request feedback from her coworkers and superiors. She constantly wanted to improve, and constantly did so. When asking for promotions and raises, she backed everything up with hard facts. She would talk about which goals she met, the steps she took to achieve those goals, and how she extended beyond those goals. She always focused on the ways she added value to the company, and made sure to always contribute in a positive way.

Shelby is in a new role now (a little over 6 months at the time of the interview) at VF Corporation, a company that owns North Face, Timberland, Vans, etc. She’s on the Innovation Team as the Senior Product Manager. She works on all of the brands at VF Corp., focusing on leveraging cross-brand projects that take personalization and customization to the next level. She’s loving it, and we couldn’t be more excited for her.

Shelby is full of valuable advice for anyone looking to get ahead in the fashion industry, and really anyone looking to level up their networking and interview skills (not to mention she’s a total inspiration in the work ethic department, too). Can’t wait to see Shelby shine in this new role!

Resources & People Mentioned

Enjoy the show? Help us out by:

Apr 29 2019

1hr

Play

Rank #16: SFD 002: Using Email to Successfully Pitch Freelance Clients with Melissa Mendez

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After Melissa experienced what she thought was a heart attack while working in the corporate fashion world for over 10 years, she knew she needed to make a big life change. For over two years, she's been working as a freelancer and running her own design agency. She uses her industry network and cold pitching in email to get new clients (including a $15,000 contract from one email!) and in this episode, Melissa shares it all.

YOU WILL LEARN

How to transition from corporate to freelance fashion design work How to use free resources to educate yourself and build your own business Strategies to get new clients using your current network Using email to pitch and land clients The 4 podcasts Melissa listens to that helped grow her business What you need to do before cold emailing any company or person to offer your services CLICK HERE FOR MELISSA'S PITCH TEMPLATE GUEST INFO & RESOURCES http://www.melissamendezdesignstudio.com/ http://www.womencraftingsuccess.com/ https://www.smartpassiveincome.com/podcasts/ http://www.internetbusinessmastery.com/ibmapodcast/ http://ask.garyvaynerchuk.com/ http://www.girlboss.com/podcast/ ENJOY THE SHOW? YOU CAN HELP US OUT BY: Rating and subscribing on iTunes: http://sfdnetwork.com/review – it really helps! LOOKING FOR MORE RESOURCES? Visit http://sfdnetwork.com/free/ for free fashion design templates, tutorials and more from Successful Fashion Designer

May 15 2017

58mins

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Rank #17: SFD063 Mailbag: Fashion Design Career Advice on Samples vs Prototypes, Made to Order fashion and Textile Design

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Many of you have loads of Q's about working in fashion...and I know it can be hard to find answers. Maybe you don't know any industry experts to ask. Maybe your coworkers are tight lipped and not willing to share their secrets. Maybe you just don't even know where to go. Which is why I'm excited to be back with another mailbag episode to give you fashion design career advice.

Once a month, I answer your Q's on the Successful Fashion Designer Podcast. This month, I'll be giving my best advice on industry terminology (samples vs prototypes), made to order fashion, trend research jobs, and textile design.

(If you want to submit your Q, email it to me anytime at podcast [at] sewheidi [dot]com for consideration.)

Here are the fashion design career advice questions I answer in this mailbag episode!

On the difference between prototypes and samples, from Samari [01:36]:

I was interested in knowing what is the difference between a prototype and a sample?

On how to break into fashion if you don't have a design background, from Antonio [07:08]:

I currently have a bachelor's degree in business and a year of work under my belt as a buyers assistant. I wouldn't say I have a background in design but I do draw very often especially on my iPad and just started learning Adobe Illustrator with the help of your videos. Do you think it would be worth it to go back to school for fashion design. I find I am not qualified for the design jobs I want and I am not sure how to get in the industry without a design background.

On getting a job as a trend forecaster, from Stamatina [10:18]:

I have an idea and wanted to know your opinion/feedback.

How amazing would be if I can find a job that is trend forecasting? Of course, I do love designing and I am getting ideas for my portfolio but I think ultimately - trend forecasting would be the next big thing I would love to do. I am trying to google information, and the requirements and even if companies are hiring. It's not so easy to find as, there are companies who do this specifically out there and are worldwide.

Could you offer any feedback?

On creating a "made to order" fashion brand, from Breanna [13:31]:

My name is Breanna and I am the owner and designer of Bre Nikole. I design pants for tall women, or at least I want to.

I'm struggling to find a manufacturer/cut sew factory as well as funding for production. I've building my brand for some years and I'm ready to put product out. Until I have the right funding, I was considering doing "Made to Order". What do I need to consider for myself and customers when doing "Made to Order"?

On learning textile design, from Karly [18:25]:

I subscribe to and love your podcast! And I signed up for your Illustrator class, but can't seem to find the time to learn it.

A little about me:

I am a working mom with you 2 baby boys.... I run a brick & mortar family business in which my favorite part is that I have fairly high end coastal boutique.  I recently launched a website which I am growing slowly due to the fact that I am a one woman show who does everything myself. I am also "an artist" with lots of creative energy that I don't always get to use.  My dream has always been to launch my own label that I can sell in my boutique and on the website. I want to design my own prints to digitally print. I find myself always wanting to take a first step towards this, but not sure what to do.  Must I first learn Illustrator so that I can design my prints myself, or is there a way around this? I am considering hiring a consultant like I heard on one of your podcasts to help me get started, do you think this is a good idea? I have zero time, but feeling like I need to follow my dream asap!

Thank you for reading and THANK YOU for all that you do to support all of the people with fashion dreams!!

Resources mentioned in this episode:

If you enjoyed this episode and have questions you want answered, email them to podcast [at] sewheidi [dot] com for consideration. I'll pick the best ones and include them in the monthly mailbag show.

Aug 13 2018

25mins

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Rank #18: SFD058: Navigating the “4 P’s” of Fashion Marketing and Overcoming Networking Intimidation, with Robyn Spady

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One area of the fashion industry that unites us all together is marketing - getting the right message about our products to the right people. On this episode of The Successful Fashion Designer podcast, I interview Robyn Spady, a lifelong handweaver and fashion industry professional with over 17 years of experience.

Throughout our engaging conversation, we discuss the 4 main pillars of fashion marketing: product, price, position, and promotion. Robyn shares her secrets to successfully networking with industry pros and how to handle hearing “no” in challenging conversations.

Her advice will surely help you approach fashion marketing the right way. It’s always easier to grow from small success than recover from large mistakes. Start your business off on the right foot by giving this podcast episode your full attention!

Outline of This Episode
  • [3:45] Robyn Spady, textile expert and fashion professional, is my guest for this episode
  • [5:50] Robyn shares how she got started in handweaving and why she enjoys this niche market of fashion design
  • [16:55] Overcoming intimidation while networking in your niche market
  • [24:26] Learn to understand the “no’s” you receive in fashion design
  • [32:55] The importance of marketing to the right people
  • [42:28] Navigating through the 4 P’s in fashion marketing
  • [56:51] Keeping your brand fresh and examining buyer/wearer demographics
  • [1:03:24] Here’s a tool that helps gain your brand exposure

 

Networking doesn’t have to be intimidating! Use these tips to secure great connections

Networking in the fashion industry shouldn’t feel like a burden. It should always be about connecting passionate people to others in a shared community. You can leverage people and their extensive knowledge without taking advantage of them, and reaching out with questions could lead to career-changing conversations.

Robyn shares main tips for networking success on this episode. Here they are!

  • Do your homework on potential contacts
  • Be prepared and respectful when initiating a conversation
  • Focus your questions on one specific topic - not the entire industry
  • If you receive a “no” or “not right now,” understand the reasoning behind that decision
Fashion marketing is about 1 thing - communicating with the right customer

The goal at the heart of fashion marketing is communicating your brand’s message and products to the right buyer at the right time. Robyn encourages all fashion designers to be laser-focused on the right type of customer. She explains, “If you market to everybody, you’ll miss everybody.”

Many fashion designers fear missing out on sales if they have a target audience that’s too focused. But that belief simply isn’t true! Robyn believes that “When you meet a customer’s need beautifully and better than everyone else, the result will be more business than you know what to do with!”

Don’t fall into the trap of creating products for every demographic in every size. Learn from Robyn’s extensive experience and develop your targeted fashion marketing strategy. Check out this episode for all the details.

Here’s how to navigate the “4 P’s” in fashion marketing

Defining the “4 P’s” in fashion marketing for your brand will give you a launchpad for future marketing initiatives. Robyn shares a few key ideas on each of the 4 and wants you to understand them. Check it out!

  1. Product - Understand what your market is looking for regarding trends and functionality
  2. Price - Know that overpricing and underpricing are two sides to the same dangerous sword. Know the value of your product and price it accordingly - people will want to pay!
  3. Position - Your position establishes the image/identity of your brand in the minds of your customers. Encouraging your buyers to be educated in the eco-conscious decisions behind your products or the fair-trade practices are all part of positioning.
  4. Promotion - Promotion answers the question, “How will you spread the word about your brand and your vision?”
Consider buyer vs wearer demographics to increase sales and keep products fresh

Continuing with her belief that no brand can serve the needs of every customer, Robyn wants every listener to consider buyer vs wearer demographics when designing. She points out that the wearer isn’t always the buyer (for example, grandparents purchasing clothing for a grandchild), and that special considerations in marketing and design need to be made accordingly.

Rotating through various fabrics, colors, cuts, etc. will keep your products fresh in the eyes of buyers. Local boutiques are always searching for new and exciting pieces - your brand needs to evolve as buying interests shift. To hear more about how to keep your products on the racks, be sure to listen to this episode of The Successful Fashion Designer podcast.

Resources & People Mentioned Connect with Robyn

Jul 09 2018

1hr 12mins

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Rank #19: SFD 004: Freelancing Strategies for Fashion Designers with Marissa Borelli

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Marissa ditched her volleyball career during her junior year at UCLA to enroll in Parsons - without the support of her parents. She turned her love for sports and fashion into a successful career as an activewear designer which she's been doing for over 10 years, working with brands like Lululemon and Athleta. She also had her own line of scarves with distribution to over 60 retail outlets internationally, and she now freelances full time from the comfort of her home while being a twin mom to two boys. Marissa shares exactly how she pitches new clients, prices her projects to make a fair wage, and successfully does that scary networking thing to get more work.

YOU WILL LEARN:

How to use your industry contacts to your advantage

What to do to make yourself easy to work with and get more jobs

How to get inside the customer’s head to make sure your designs are on target

How to price yourself (and estimate projects) as a freelancer to make sure you get paid a fair wage

How to use email to keep in touch with your clients and make sure they think of you first for projects

Approaching companies at trade shows and other networking events without being "salesy"

Why researching the brands you want to work with is key landing the job

GUEST INFO & RESOURCES

ENJOY THE SHOW? YOU CAN HELP US OUT BY: Rating and subscribing on iTunes: http://bit.ly/SFD-review – it really helps! GET THE STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO BEING A SUCCESSFUL FREELANCER http://sfdnetwork.com/download4/

May 29 2017

1hr 6mins

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Rank #20: SFD029: Fashion Career Advice for Ambitious Designers

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Malie’s climbed her way up the corporate ladder in the fashion industry and now works for one of the largest fashion brands in the industry, PVH. It took her a while to realize it, but she unconsciously did some strategic things that helped her gain traction and keep moving forward in her career. When she started implementing those strategies on purpose, she noticed promotions, new opportunities and career advancement seemed to land in her lap.

Networking? I know many of us hate that dirty word, but it works. Malie walks us through the best way to network online, at events, and even with coworkers. It's these relationships that will help you move up in your job, or land a new one. 

Going above and beyond? It’s hard to think about doing more work when so many of us are already swamped with our day to day tasks. But if you want to get noticed, you’ve got to put in a little extra effort. Malie shares simple things you can do to create more opportunity for yourself like chances to work on new projects and make your boss (and team) love you.

The best part? Some of these things are surprisingly simple and take very little effort to implement, but the results are extraordinary.

Malie also now runs Pickglass.com, an online business that offers fashion career advice and helps designers grow in the fashion industry.

You Will Learn
  • The surprisingly simple things you can do to get ahead in your career
  • Why it pays to stay in touch with college friends and colleagues over the years
  • How to network in any situation
  • The one thing you can do to break into the fashion industry and land your first job
  • Why you shouldn’t always focus on moving up, and what to strategize on instead
  • The importance of customizing your resume for every job application
  • Why you can’t afford to get too comfortable in your job

Guest Info & Resources Enjoy the show? Help us out by: Get More Resources

Nov 27 2017

1hr 6mins

Play

SFD097 How to Become a Remote Fashion Freelancer

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Guests on the SFD podcast tend to fall into one of three categories: They’re employed by a company in the industry, they work as a fashion freelancer, or they’ve launched their own brand. In this episode, you’ll hear from someone who has done all three! If you’re wondering how to become a remote fashion freelancer, this episode is for you. 

In the interview (which you’ll love), we will cover:
  • How Lily’s super specific degree helped her strong start in the industry
  • What it was like designing collections for factories in Sri Lanka
  • Her experience with the value of really knowing your niche and your customer
  • The unique way she moved from working for a company to starting her brand
  • How Lily managed to get her designs featured in major publications like Vogue--without hiring a PR company
  • Why she decided to shut down a successful brand and become a remote fashion freelancer
  • How she got started freelancing--and what she would do differently now
  • What Lily says was a major factor in her freelance success
  • How she stays busy despite not living in a major city
  • What she’s learned about pricing, getting clients, and the tricky waters of navigating freelance projects
  • And more!

For the full show notes, including links to everything mentioned, head over to the Successful Fashion Designer website!

Jan 06 2020

1hr 14mins

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Bonus: Freelancing Advice for the Fashion Industry

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In this special episode, check out Heidi’s interview on the Spirit of 608 podcast. The interview, which originally aired in March 2018, focuses on her work as a freelance fashion designer, and Heidi doles out tons of valuable freelancing advice for the fashion industry. She talks candidly about her fashion journey, sharing the highs, the lows, and the lessons she learned the hard way on her way to creating work and a lifestyle she loves.

It was a direction she never expected to go, but now that she knows how freelancing can change a designer’s life, Heidi wants to share what she’s learned with YOU. 

In the interview (which you’ll love), we will cover:
  • Heidi’s journey from graphic design school to Successful Fashion Designer
  • Why having your own label may not be as glamorous as it seems
  • The “dream” jobs that Heidi walked away from
  • How she found her perfect fit as a designer
  • Tips for fashion freelancers looking for their first clients
  • How doing less as a freelancer actually helps you earn more
  • What you should do differently when you’re pitching for freelance work (or ANY type of job!)
  • Where to start when setting your rates 
  • And more!

For the full show notes, including links to resources and people mentioned, head to the Successful Fashion Designer website!

Dec 23 2019

52mins

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SFD096 Q&A: How to Become a Fashion freelancer with Heidi & Marissa

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Have you been dreaming of beginning a freelance career, but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you’ve been freelancing for a while, but you still have a ton of questions! Between pricing, juggling projects, finding clients and resources, and more, it can be overwhelming to navigate the fashion freelancing world alone. In this special AMA episode, two 6-figure+ freelance fashion designers, answer YOUR freelancing questions. 

For the full show notes, including links, resources, and more, head to Successful Fashion Designer

Dec 09 2019

1hr 15mins

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Bonus Episode: My Infertility Journey

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(On this special episode, I get personal. If that's not your thing, no worries--it's back to fashion insider interviews on the very next episode!)

I got bad news spring 2017 when I was 35. My husband and I were in line at the airport heading to Costa Rica when my phone rang.  It was my doctor with test results, so I answered with "I’m heading on vacation, don’t tell me anything, I’ll call you in 10 days." Instead, she blurted out, "you’re in menopause, and you’ll probably never get pregnant." In the middle of the airport, I burst into tears.

It’s been a long 2.5 years since we got that phone call, and my husband Marc and I have dealt with a lot. During this time, we have also learned that what we’re going through is actually REALLY COMMON. Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples, and female factor is more common than male. Since I know that the majority of my followers are women between 25-45, something like this will affect A LOT of you. And so I feel some sort of obligation to talk openly about it for a few reasons: ✅ Education and awareness (I had no idea this was an issue until it hit me) ✅ To help you feel less alone (this stuff can be taboo, but it shouldn’t) ✅ To give you a chance to share your story (and tell you mine). This week is Thanksgiving here in the US, and I’m happy to tell you that Marc and I have a lot to be thankful for. If you’re going through any type of infertility, my deepest thoughts are with you. I’m 100% transparent about what we’ve experienced and want to see this topic become more approachable for everyone. If you have questions, want a shoulder to lean on, or care to share your story, I’m here for you. Email me anytime.

Nov 25 2019

53mins

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SFD095 How to Get Your First Fashion Design Job After College

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When you first decide to work in the fashion industry, going to fashion school can seem like the one thing you need to score your dream job. But as many fashion graduates discover, completing that degree is only one step in the complicated and sometimes frustrating process of breaking into the industry. 

In this interview, designer Kate Norkeliunas shares all the details of how she landed her first design job with a well-known company right out of college--without having to work retail, take unpaid work, or move back home!

In the interview (which you’ll love), we will cover:
  • How she decided to change her major to fashion after pursuing a different field for 2 years
  • What she did to boost her chances of getting an interview
  • What she did for interviews that helped her stand out 
  • The dream job that didn’t happen
  • How she scored her first design job right out of college
  • What it was like starting her first job for a big company in NYC
  • What she does as an assistant designer and the part she plays in the design and production process
  • The biggest part of her job--that she DIDN’T learn in fashion school
  • The biggest lesson from her first year working in fashion
  • And more!

For the full show notes, including links to the resources mentioned, head over to our website, Successful Fashion Designer!

Nov 11 2019

41mins

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SFD094 This Dirndl Designer Grew a BIG Fashion Brand with a TINY Niche

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Is it possible to start a successful fashion brand when your niche is super small? 

Meet Erika Neumayer Ehrat of Rare Dirndl. Her full time job is designing and selling dirndls. Never found yourself desperately scouring the web for the perfect dirndl? We’re not surprised! It’s such a tiny niche market, it may not seem like a sustainable business model. But by knowing her customer so well that she’s even given her a name, Erika makes a living creating something extremely special for a small but dedicated customer base. 

In the interview (which you’ll love), we will cover:
  • What even is a dirndl, anyway?
  • The smart moves Erika made early on in her business
  • What she learned from her years doing festivals and pop-up shops
  • Why Erika narrowed her already small niche down further…
  • ...and even further, and how she got super clear on her ideal customer
  • The second ideal customer avatar that surprised her
  • What she’s learned about creating a website to sell your designs
  • How blogging on other topics helps her find her customers
  • How she handles returns and custom designs
  • The marketing strategy that works for her today 
  • And more!

For the full show notes, head to the SFD website!

Oct 28 2019

1hr 11mins

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SFD093 How to Land Your Dream Job in the Outdoor Apparel Industry

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Fashion is a tough scene. Even when you manage to break into the fashion industry, how do you get into your dream category? With so much competition for design jobs, it seems like luck can play the biggest factor in many designer’s careers. But what if you could make luck work for you?

In this episode, we spoke to Allion Juhasz. Allison has spent ten years in the industry, designing for big outdoor apparel names like Scott, UnderArmor, Obermeyer, and Ultimate Direction. 

These opportunities were open to Allison because she made the right moves at the right times. She readily admits that she’s been lucky--but she shares tons of ways that you can become lucky too! Follow her lead, and boost your chances of getting to design for the category YOU want most.

 

In the interview (which you’ll love), we will cover:
  • How she got into fashion--with a bachelor’s in marine biology
  • How she got “lucky” with jobs--again and again!
  • Why she left her first dream job (and what she would have done differently)
  • Why she quit another job many designers would kill for--without a job lined up!
  • Her tips for networking when it doesn’t come naturally to you
  • How she has scored more great opportunities over the years
  • Why working for a big brand isn’t always the best option
  • How she spends her days in a smaller company with diverse aspects to her role
  • Details about the product design and development process
  • And more!

 

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Oct 14 2019

53mins

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SFD092 Should You Sell Your Fashion Brand on Consignment?

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Sometimes it seems like there are as many ways to sell your fashion brand as there are types of fabric! But when you’re starting a fashion brand, should you sell your pieces on consignment? 

On this show, you’ll hear from Sam Murkoff. Sam’s brand, Manhattan Knights, was born when he started refashioning vintage tee shirts for himself and his friends in middle school. 

Sam got his brand where it is today by starting small, leveraging the ability to sell his work on consignment, and knocking on a LOT of doors. In the interview he shares details on everything he did in the first few years of launching a fashion brand. 

In the interview (which you’ll love), we will cover:
  • How Sam transitioned from making shirts for his friends to selling to the public
  • Why his brand was a little too niche, and what he did about it
  • How he self-funded the early days of his brand
  • The hugely valuable job that most people underestimate
  • How he chose the first factory that produced his designs
  • The little ways he made his pieces feel more upscale
  • How working with a showroom helped evolve his brand
  • Why he let go of one of the core tenets of his original brand
  • The pros and cons of selling on consignment as a new designer
  • The CRAZY way he got the word out about his brand
  • And more!
It started with tee shirts

Despite a lifelong interest in fashion, Sam Murkoff didn’t intend to become a fashion designer. In his early teens, he cut up and reassembled garments, infusing his own unique style into clothes for himself and his friends. When he got to college, he majored in theater and began working in luxury retail. Aside from a little screenprinting, design wasn’t really on his mind. But when he realized he needed a creative outlet, he started making shirts again. That’s when Manhattan Knights really began.

NYC Streetwear   

Sam quickly discovered that there was more interest in the clothes he was creating than just his inner circle. When the screen printer he’d been using encouraged him to get his work out there, he started offering his designs on consignment at small boutiques. 

This first line of streetwear, which played on his private school experience and satirized some major brands, came to be known as Cease & Desist. It appealed to a niche New York audience that grew his confidence and convinced him to make a real go at launching a brand.

Bold Moves

Since that first success, Sam has faced a steep learning curve. He’s continued to sell his work on consignment, worked with a showroom, and changed his production methods repeatedly. He’s now designing clothing that takes the sardonic humor of his early designs to a cut-and-sew line that transcends season and defies description. He’s had to pivot over and over in the process of creating a fashion brand that can actually sell. He also made one of the boldest moves we’ve heard of to publicize his fledgeling label! 

Through it all, Sam has kept his eye on the goal of taking his bold inspiration and irreverent sartorial attitude to a wider market, without losing the essence of where Manhattan Knights began.

 

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Sep 30 2019

56mins

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SFD091 100 Ways NOT to Start A Fashion Brand: These Guys Learned Firsthand What Works and What Doesn't

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Starting a fashion brand from scratch is a massive challenge. And when you don’t have big investors and influential connections, it can seem impossible. But these three young entrepreneurs found a way to beat the odds and make their brand a reality. 

Meet Salvatore Graci, Angelo Acquista, and Luca Graci, founders of luxury streetwear brand CSNV (Casanova). Their passion and seemingly endless determination helped them take CSNV from just an idea to the runway at LA Fashion Week and beyond.

It sounds like a fairytale, but it wasn’t an easy journey. They share their highs, their lows, and the many lessons they learned along the way!

 

In the interview (which you’ll love), we will cover:
  • The first steps Salvo, Angelo, and Luca took when they decided to launch a brand
  • How they made cold emailing work for them
  • The personality traits that helped make them successful
  • What moves helped them grow their brand’s exposure--and what fell flat!
  • How they went about finding factories that could produce their designs (when searching on the internet got them nowhere!)
  • The marketing campaign that failed, and how they regained their footing
  • Why they turned down a huge investor
  • How they got ready for LA Fashion Week
  • When they quit their day jobs
  • And more!

 

“WHY NOT?”

Luca, Angelo, and Salvatore were all less than 24 years old when they decided to turn their passion for elevated, Italian-inspired streetwear into a label of their own. 

It started with a phone call. Salvatore and Angelo had joked about starting a fashion line since high school, but a few years later, Salvo called Angelo and told him they should really do it. 

Angelo’s response? “Why not?” They had no experience and no real connections in the industry when they started. Yet in less than two years they went from cold-emailing influencers from Instagram, to being invited to LA Fashion Week. 

 

IT WASN’T ALWAYS EASY    

The road wasn’t without its obstacles. The guys recall starting out with optimism and enthusiasm, but they had plenty of setbacks. They sent hundreds of emails that never got a response. They made trip after trip to Italy to search for factories and suppliers, spending their savings and coming back exhausted, with nothing to show for it. 

“We’d come back from a trip and feel like we're still at zero. We're like, what? We just spent so much money, we spent so much time and effort... and yet we're still at zero. So what do we do?”

What they did was keep on going. Although they all had times where they wanted to give up, eventually they found their footing, and gained the traction they needed to turn Casanova into a successful brand. 

DISCOVERING WHAT’S NEXT    

The guys and their brand are still evolving. Since recording the episode, they’ve rebranded again, and they’re still working on new pieces and new ways of getting their designs seen all over the world. One thing’s for sure: from “No way,” to the jetway, to the runway, these three were relentless in pursuing their dream. And it’s just the beginning. 

 

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Sep 16 2019

1hr 5mins

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SFD090 How to Stand Out in Your Fashion Career (and Always Get the Job Offer)

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Whether you’re still in fashion school, or you’re looking toward your next opportunity, you’re probably wondering how to stand out in your fashion career. In such a competitive industry, it can feel like an uphill battle to even get noticed by fashion hiring managers among stiff competition. 

On this episode, we talk to London designer Barbara Houghton. With over 15 years of experience in the fashion industry, Barbara has been on both ends of the hiring process, and she wants to share what she’s learned about standing out in fashion and always getting the job!

In the interview (which you’ll love), we will cover:
  • Important things to look for when choosing a fashion school--because not all programs do this!
  • The downside to working for high-end brands early in your career
  • What Barbara did before the interview for her first job to give herself an edge (it’s something you should definitely be doing, too!)
  • How Barbara survived her first job in London, and the realities of starting your fashion career in a major city 
  • The super creative way Barbara scored her next job as a fashion designer
  • Her experience in a super creative role… and why she decided to leave it
  • How she transitioned to working for a brand she really loves
  • As a hiring manager, the top things she looks for when interviewing potential hires
  • And more!
EVOLVING SUCCESS

From landing her first job in the fashion industry before she even finished fashion school, to working as a senior designer for a major supplier, UK fashion designer Barbara Houghton knows what it takes to get noticed by employers in the fashion industry. Over the course of her career, Barbara has gone from an assistant job she compares to The Devil Wears Prada to leading a division for one of the biggest suppliers of UK highstreet fashion. 

Through creativity and an intelligent and intentional approach to the job market, Barbara has been able to consistently move forward in her career. She has managed to always land that next great opportunity as her goals and desires have evolved.

BREAKING IN    

Barbara still recalls feeling lucky to have found a job in fashion starting right after graduation (and she tells us how she did it!).  Barbara didn’t have the advantage of her family paying for her education. So when she graduated from fashion school, she had to begin repaying her loans while surviving in London on a shoestring salary. 

That first job was incredibly demanding, with long hours and little reward. But putting in her time and giving 100% to that entry level position was worth it--when she was ready to move on, she was told she was very employable, because she “had worked in one of the hardest places there is to work.” 

  MAKING OPPORTUNITIES COUNT

Barbara happily moved on to bigger and better things, from creating collections start to finish for a highstreet boutique, to spotting trends for Miss Selfridge. She traveled the world as a freelance fashion designer for brands like New Look, Tesco, and Joy, before moving on to building and running a successful department for a major highstreet supplier. 

Barbara’s hard work and creative moves have taken her far in her fashion career. With a little determination and Barbara’s smart approach to job success, you too can stand out, upgrade your fashion career, and score the opportunity you’ve been dreaming of!

 

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Sep 02 2019

1hr 1min

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Episodes You Love: SFD006 Job Hunting & Resume Advice for Fashion Industry Professionals

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It's a summer of your favorite episodes! This episode, which originally aired June 12, 2017, was nominated as one listeners loved!

In this episode I’m chatting with Chris Kidd, founder of Style Careers, the largest fashion only job listing site. With inside access to fashion industry employers and exposure to job seekers at their career fairs, Chris has learned what works - and what doesn't - in the job hunting process. We discussed the importance of presenting yourself as a modern candidate, what sectors of the industry are booming, and the most important information to include on your resume.

You will learn:
  • What the first inch of your resume must include to catch the employer's attention
  • What parts of the industry are dying, and what parts are booming
  • Guidance for young job seekers and advice for breaking into the industry
  • Advice for older job seekers to stay up to date and relevant
  • The importance of taking risks
  • How fashion is competing with other "must have" items and why designers need to be aware of this
  • Why the fashion industry is in a rut and what designers need to do to break out of it
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Aug 19 2019

46mins

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Episodes You Love: SFD075 How to Be a Lingerie Designer

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It's a summer of your favorite episodes! This episode, which originally aired November 26, 2018, was nominated as one listeners loved!

Being a lingerie designer is its own unique and interesting niche of working in the fashion industry. There are tons of different things you have to think about compared to designing, let’s say, shirts or jackets.

But it’s a pretty cool job! Laurie Van Jonsson knows this firsthand. From launching her own lingerie brand that was sold in TopShop to working for other companies, she knows the ins and outs of being a lingerie designer.

Her 15 years of experience make her an expert in this category, and in this interview, she shares it all. From how she broke into the lingerie industry, how she sold her designs to global retailers, and how she ultimately became a freelance lingerie designer.

In the interview (which you’ll love) we cover:

  • Designing within constraints and restrictions in the lingerie design industry (that’s how she found her niche!)
  • The mistakes (many people make) of trying to cater to too many markets
  • Working with large manufacturers as a lingerie designer
  • Having the passion and belief in your product to sew it all yourself (by hand!)
  • How to be the lingerie designer that stands out with major retail buyers (being “pest-like” was described as a positive trait here!)
  • How Laurie started blogging, grew her business, wrote and published a book, and managed the supply and demand for niche lingerie sizes.
  • How Laurie’s freelance work built off of the momentum of her other projects
  • The mistakes people make when starting their own fashion brand
  • Advice on the best way to start strong, save time, and save money
  • Working with people as a freelancer in the lingerie fashion industry
  • Setting clear expectations and scope with freelance clients
  • How Laurie built a foundation of inbound referrals that led to projects
  • The challenges of working with people across the globe
  • And so much more!  

Freelance Designer with Lingerie Leanings

Laurie van Johnson, a lingerie designer who started out in the industry back in 2003, first worked as a lingerie designer for brands, but quickly built her own brand of full cup, small back bras that she's sold throughout the world, including TopShop. Laurie now works as a freelance fashion designer working with other startup brands to help them launch labels and get patterns, grading, and tech packs all in order so that their bras and lingerie fit perfectly. After fifteen years in the fashion industry, she has great stories and loads of advice for freelancers and budding branders alike.

Laurie has a rich history in the fashion industry. She studied Fashion and Textiles in school, and focused her obsession with detail into lingerie and swimwear as soon as she could. She focused her expertise on a small niche of the lingerie market, and quickly became an expert in the industry. She wrote “How to Become a Lingerie Designer” in 2012, and currently specializes in working with startup designers.

Advice for Every Fashion Designer

Laurie draws up designs, writes spec sheets, produces tech packs, and provides consultation for the startup lingerie designers of the world. She launched Van Jonsson Design again in September 2018, and she writes technical books, design sheets, and design patterns full time. Laurie spoke about finding her niche, what to charge freelance clients, and how she stood out with major retail buyers. Her passion for her craft is contagious and we know you’ll love hearing about her experience in the lingerie design realm!

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Aug 05 2019

1hr 4mins

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Episodes You Love: SFD078 Working with Factories as a Freelance Fashion Designer

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It's a summer of your favorite episodes! This episode, which originally aired January 7, 2019, was nominated as one listeners loved.

There are a lot of different paths to becoming a freelance fashion designer. And Heather Royer took one I’d never heard of before. Instead of working directly with brands, she got her first freelance opportunity designing for a factory in China.

The best part? There are ways you can create the same freelance opportunities for yourself, and she shares step by step her best advice to do this.

In her 20+ years in the industry, Heather has worked for brands like Target, LL Bean, REI and Talbots. She now runs a team of 9 full time fashion designers located around the world while working remote from her home in south Florida.

And it all started with one freelance gig from LinkedIn.

In the interview (which you’ll love) we will cover:

  • The simple change you can make to your LinkedIn profile to attract brands or factories looking for freelancers
  • How to turn one freelance project into many to get more work and make more money
  • What brands are looking for when interviewing and hiring freelance fashion designers
  • How to give your opinion and feedback about design without sounding pushy or negative
  • Why staying in touch with past coworkers and industry friends can make or break your success (even if you’re uncomfortable “networking”)
  • What Heather’s transition from working as an employee to working freelance looked like and how you can do the same
  • What Heather learned at her first (big!) freelance project for a Chinese company
  • How she made the decision to start hiring designers to help her
  • The skills Heather looks for in her own freelance candidates-for-hire
  • How Heather runs her freelance business and the freelancers that work for her

FROM 4H TO FASHION

Heather Royer has created a job for herself that is unlike anything we’ve heard of before here at Successful Fashion Designer. But like most fashion designers, fashion was just a hobby in her early life. But she did get an early start! Heather was in 4H when she was little (the kids club that does hands-on projects surrounding health, science, and agriculture), and loved the sewing aspect of the group. She started making clothing when she was 7 years old! We’d say “the rest is history,” but we’d be leaving a lot out (like when she worked for the park service in Alaska building hiking trails–how cool is that??).

Knowing she always had a passion for working in the fashion industry, she took fashion classes on the side, and then made the commitment to going to Rhode Island School of Design. She started designing kids’ outdoor clothes (talk about blending her loves), and then got a great first job as “just” an assistant–but she loved it! It was “the bottom of the barrel,” but she got great exposure to the industry that way.

THEN CAME THE FREELANCING

Heather’s freelancing career came about as more of a necessity–she wanted to move to Florida, but knew there weren’t going to be a lot of jobs in the fashion industry. So she took her fate into her own hands: she started working on her portfolio, working on her own projects, and branching out. She started her own jewelry line, and got a taste of business for herself. When one of her contacts on LinkedIn reached out to her about an opportunity, she was ready.

This is where her career path delved into the unknown. Much like her work for the park service, Heather made her own… fashion-hiking-trail, if you will. What started as a simple proposal for a factory in China for men’s cold weather goods turned into a huge project and eventually a team of 9 full-time designers working for her.

How? Partly the usual way: she gave it her all. She worked long long (long) hours, did tight turns, bent over backwards. But she also vocalized her ideas, drew on her previous experience, and eventually started outsourcing her workload to other freelancers, as well. Freelancing begets more freelancing! As much as she cringed at “networking,” she made it work with her friends and contacts.

SUCCESSFUL (FREELANCE) FASHION DESIGNER

Now that she’s the Vice President of Design and Operations for Weihai Luda Company, Heather is still looking forward. She has plans to build a private label, her own brands, and chooses to think of her company as an investment portfolio that she diversifies and keeps flexible. Heather’s rich experience building her own business has led to enormous insight into the life of a successful freelance fashion designer, and her advice is applicable to almost any fashion designer. She’s learned how to delegate, how to build a team, how to outline tangible results, and how to make sure things are getting done, all while acknowledging that the fashion industry is “not always glamorous. If you can see the humor in that, it’ll go a lot farther.”

We loved hearing Heather’s inspirational story–you really can create the job you want!

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Jul 22 2019

54mins

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Episodes You Love: SFD053 4 Best Practices for Fashion Job Search Success

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It's a summer of your favorite episodes! This episode, which originally aired May 28, 2018, was nominated as one listeners loved.

The fashion job search process is not one to be taken lightly. Thankfully, my guest for this episode of The Successful Fashion Designer is Shellie Simpson, the Fashion Division Talent Director at Atrium Staffing. Shellie and her team at Atrium are creating a more personable relationship between top talent candidates and recruiters.

She shares her 4 best practices for aspiring fashion professionals, and her insights will surely make your job search process easier and more enjoyable. She also explains the common freelance/employee dilemma, how to get started with a talent recruiter, and the one area that should NOT be the biggest highlight in post-internship interviews.

Shellie shares this advice in a transparent and honest way that you don’t want to miss.

 

Shellie’s best advice for presenting your portfolio in an effective way

A fashion professional’s most effective tool is their portfolio – a creative display of your most effective ideas and a showcase of your design process. Shellie explains that interviewers want to see your work in Adobe Creative Suite programs and how you complete your design process. It’s also critical to demonstrate through your portfolio where you draw your inspiration from.

Regarding the size of your portfolio, you can highlight your capabilities without overwhelming your interviewer. Including every project since your fashion school days may not be necessary – ensure you tailor your portfolio specifically for every company. Hear the full details on why portfolios can be your biggest asset when completed well by listening to this episode. 

 

Resumes receive 6 seconds worth of attention – make yours stand out!

Resumes go through trends, just as every other segment in the fashion industry. The current best practice is to keep it simple! Shellie explains that many interviewers favor easy to scan, bullet-point format resumes. Results-driven resume language can also set you apart from the competition. Go beyond just a list of tasks that you performed! Be sure to explain if one of your designs became a best-seller, or if you increased revenue by a certain percentage.

Shellie also explains the importance of letting your recruiter and/or interviewer know about any gaps in employment that may be on your resume. It will come up in conversation, and it’s important to explain why the gap is present and what you were working on during that time period. Remember, the average interviewer only spends 6 seconds per resume, so yours needs to highlight your best achievements in a succinct, engaging way.

 

Perfect these interviewing skills and land your dream job!

After you’ve worked with a recruiter, fine-tuned your resume, and perfected your portfolio the final step is to interview in-person with an employer. If you chose to work with a recruiter, they will help prepare you for the interview because they know the client. It’s essential to research the company and know their product well before walking through the door.

You should also study your own resume ahead of time. Develop ways to explain your resume in an engaging, storytelling manner. Consider bringing printed tech packs, swatches, knits, or other physical items to supplement your portfolio and resume. Shellie explains, “Whatever physical items you decide to bring, they should show how you’re always drawing inspiration from the world around you.”

Keeping everything organizing, being authentic and relatable, and asking questions are sure to allow you the greatest chances of success in your in-person interviews. For more tips, don’t miss this episode.

 

This one step is key for success in your post-graduation fashion job search

The most important takeaway from this episode of The Successful Fashion Designer is the importance of internships. Shellie says that “They’re so key to getting a position in the industry, and they’ll help elevate you moving forward.” Internships completed while in school and post-graduation will allow you to build your network and work on “real world” projects.

Even if they are unpaid opportunities, don’t immediately shy away from them. The academic credit and resume-building experience alone will put you light years ahead of students who have fewer internships under their belt. The sweat equity will be worth it, we promise. Don’t miss the rest of this conversation with Shellie, you’ll be glad you listened!

 

Connect with Shellie

Jul 08 2019

58mins

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Episodes You Love: SFD008 Freelance Textile Designer: How to have a Successful Career

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It's a summer of your favorite episodes! This episode, which originally aired June 26, 2017, was nominated as one listeners loved. 

Being a freelance textile designer can feel like a daunting process to tackle. It’s hard to figure out how to price your work and whether or not you should work with an agency or print house.

Which is why I’m so excited to share the latest episode of the Successful Fashion Designer podcast with Michelle Fifis, founder of Pattern Observer and creator of the Textile Design Lab, a blog and community that helps creatives grow their textile design business.

Michelle’s done textile work for Columbia Sportswear, Lucy Activewear, Jantzen Swimwear, Perry Ellis and had been featured in Stylesight.com, Elle Decor, and Nordstrom. In the interview, she shares how she got started and worked her way up in the industry, her strategy for leaving her full time job to start freelancing, and how she grew her blog into a successful online business. Michelle and I also talked about how to choose and start working with an agency or print house, how to stay motivated when you feel deflated, and not only how to price your work, but how to gracefully raise your prices.

You will learn:
  • -The role a textile designer plays in the fashion world
  • -The pros and cons of working with an agent or print house
  • -How to rediscover your creativity when you feel stuck
  • -The importance of having patience with your career growth
  • -How to stay up to date on trends if you don’t have access to expensive services like WGSN
  • -The importance of having a community and not working in a vacuum.
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Jun 24 2019

50mins

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Episodes You Love: SFD025 Make the Most of a Fashion Sourcing Tradeshow

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It's a summer of your favorite episodes! This episode, which originally aired October 30, 2017, was nominated as one listeners loved. 

Attending a trade show is expensive, so before you go, make sure you’re fully prepared. Get industry expert advice from Trish of DG Expo to make the most of your textile trade show visits. Learn what mistakes you should avoid, and how to walk away with the right fabrics, trims and contacts for your fashion brand.

Trish has worked with companies that support startup and indie designers since 2009. Her breadth of knowledge isn’t just around trade shows, but the business that goes on behind launching and building a successful brand.

From how to get started to ensure success (yes, it includes finances and costing) to how to make the most of your trade show visit, she’s extremely knowledgeable and graciously shared tons of tips during our interview.

If you’re launching a label, you don’t want to miss this episode. You’ll discover not only how to make your trade show visit worthwhile, but also hear Trish’s insights on making it as a startup designer.

You will learn:
  • When you should attend your first tradeshow (hint: it’s sooner than you think)
  • How to prepare for a successful show
  • Why follow up after the show is the most important part of building relationships
  • The difference between sourcing at a small show like DG Expo vs a large show like Magic
  • How to explain to suppliers what you want if you don’t speak the right lingo
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Jun 10 2019

55mins

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SFD089 How This Fashion Designer Balances Career and Being a Mom to 4 Kids!

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Working in the fashion industry can be brutal. The long days, late nights, and cutthroat competition can make balancing a fashion career and motherhood seem impossible.

But the reality is that women everywhere are finding ways to make it work. While there’s no magic answer for every situation, there are many ways to balance a career in fashion with being a mom.

In today’s episode, you’ll hear from Karrie Foley. Karrie has a successful career as a freelance fashion designer, and has done it all while raising four young children. She’s here to share some of her secrets for success!

 

In the interview (which you’ll love), we will cover:
  • How Karrie got started working in the fashion industry
  • Why a “top” fashion design school isn’t always the best option
  • How Karrie managed to grow her career without living in New York or LA
  • How she kept working after the birth of her first child
  • What she did to get back into the fashion industry after taking three years off!
  • How she jumped across fashion design categories and avoided getting pigeonholed
  • What Karrie believes have been the keys to her continued success (Hint: You can do this too!)
  • How she landed a great job right out of college
  • Why it’s worth it to be kind in an unkind industry
  • How Karrie is balancing her fashion design career with motherhood today
  • And more!

 

STARTING RIGHT

From a young age, Karrie Foley knew she wanted to work in the fashion industry. Like many young aspiring designers, she dreamed of attending Parsons or FIT. But when the time came for college, her parents encouraged her to stay open to other options. Karrie ultimately settled on the University of Cincinnati, and that decision would have a profound effect on the direction of her fashion career.

When she graduated, Karrie was able to turn an internship with Limited Too into a full-time job. From there, she went on to work for other big brands, including Disney Stores and Lane Bryant.

LIFE HAPPENS    

When Karrie became pregnant with her first child, she knew things would have to change. As a full-time fashion designer, she’d been working long hours that she knew she couldn’t sustain once her baby was born. She originally planned to resign. But her hard work, and her great relationship with her boss, lead to a rare part-time position. That gave her the opportunity to work in the fashion industry while raising her first and second children.  

Karrie did eventually take time off when she had twins. But when she was ready, she managed to jump back into the industry--with multiple offers!

 

BALANCING ACT

Today, Karrie works full-time hours as a freelance designer for Thirty-One Gifts. She puts a lot into her job, and still makes time to be there with her kids. While she doesn’t have a perfect life, Karrie shows us that it’s really possible to balance motherhood with a successful career in fashion.

 

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May 27 2019

1hr 1min

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SFD088 How to Build Your Fashion Business with Festival Vending

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Kimberly Ponniah didn’t take the typical route into the fashion world. Yet through grit and perseverance, she went from knowing almost nothing about the industry to running a successful fashion design business. She now works full-time designing her own line of accessories, Wild June.

Through years of experience, Kimberly learned how to use festival vending and more to grow a fashion brand from the ground up. From the euphoria of a successful launch to hating her business, she has been through highs and lows. Now, she’s sharing what she learned with you.

 

In the interview (which you’ll love), we will cover:
  • How Kimberly got started in her fashion design career
  • What she did to make her first-ever festival a success
  • What it’s like working with factories as an unknown designer
  • How Kimberly dealt with a factory that couldn’t deliver on its promises
  • Kimberly’s sink-or-swim moment--and how she managed to make the most of a product disaster!
  • How she used exposure at festivals to build her customer base
  • How Kimberly funded the early years of her fashion design business without burning out
  • What she learned from her experiences with trade shows, wholesaling, and working with a showroom--and what she wishes she had done differently
  • How Kimberly missed out on her dream account--Twice!!
  • How WildJune has evolved to earn 5X the income
  • The most valuable resources Kimberly relied on as a new fashion designer
  • And more!

 

FROM BUSINESS SCHOOL TO THE BUSINESS OF FASHION

Kimberly didn’t grow up dreaming of a career in fashion design. In college, she studied business. But she never quite fit in. After she graduated, she realized she’d chosen the wrong major. When she started traveling and fell in love with India, she knew she wanted to build a career that would let her spend more time there.

In 2011, after a lot of research and some fateful advice from a business advisor, Kimberly decided to start her own line of belt bags. Since she didn’t have any background in fashion, she knew she would need help. She started with an ad on Craigslist for a technical designer. That’s how she met Liz, who became an invaluable advisor and friend. Liz helped Kimberly learn the ropes and plan for the ups and downs of starting out as a new fashion designer. Together they finalized Kimberly’s designs and put her very first sample run into production.

Kimberly quit her job and let go of her apartment before she even received the first shipment of her new accessories. The day she received her products, she barely looked at them before putting the box in her car and driving ten hours to set up as a vendor outside Burning Man. She wasn’t even sure she’d be accepted as a vendor!

Kimberly’s courage paid off. She was allowed to sell at the bazaar, and that first festival was a huge success. Kimberly sold almost everything she had brought. But getting started in the fashion design business isn’t always smooth sailing.

 

FACTORY FAIL    

Kimberly happily returned to India, and spent six months there looking for factories to put her line into production. Finding factories as an unknown fashion designer was hard work, and she had to figure things out as she went. It didn’t get easier after choosing a factory. Her first production run was delayed by months. And when it came, things got worse.

Kimberly had put down $7,000–a huge amount to her, yet only a third of the factory’s minimum order. And instead of the beautiful belt bags she’d been waiting for, she found herself neck deep in merchandise that was literally falling apart.

She could have let that setback derail her. Instead, she set out to get those belts sold. Not only did she do it, but in the process she even grew her brand’s reputation and following. “I was in it for the long haul,” she remembers. It was her sink-or-swim moment, and she asked herself, “Am I gonna sink, or am I gonna swim? I’m a swimmer. I’m gonna swim through this.”  

 

LEARNING THE HARD (AND HARDER) WAY

At that time, Kimberly was working all kinds of “mindless” jobs in order to support her budding fashion business. She was physically exhausted, but she kept her mind on her business goals. Part of that was making her first visit to the MAGIC fashion trade show in Las Vegas. There she met Roger, the owner of a factory in Indonesia. He could produce her designs at a much better quality—with no minimums. This was a major turning point for her fashion design business. Now she had products that matched quality she wanted to be known for.

Although she had found a great niche market, Kimberly wanted to grow her business and branch out from the festival scene. She’d been vending at 13 festivals a year and was ready for a change. So, she brought her new designs to another trade show in New York. That show was another big success. Not only did she write a ton of orders, but she was also noticed by wholesale giant ShopBop.

Wholesale was a different animal. Although her belts sold well, Kimberly had to adjust how she did things. There were intense shipping requirements and major price point differences. She learned a lot about designing fashion accessories for production, but she also felt that it took a toll on her business.

When she realized wholesale wasn’t the right path at the time, Kimberly decided to work with a showroom. She got in touch with several and was excited to be accepted by her first choice. It was a big monthly expense at a time she didn’t even have her own apartment, but she believed it would be worth it. Then she found out there was an even bigger catch: the showroom wanted Kimberly to completely rebrand her business. And they only gave her a month and a half to do it.

As part of her contract, the showroom asked Kimberly to add multiple new designs, new types of accessories she had never made before, create a catalog, and design multiple seasonal collections. But the biggest change was renaming her company. Up to that point, she’d been selling her belt bags under the name Bohemian Hips, but the showroom told her that the name limited her accessories’ market. So she reluctantly--and expensively--rebranded her entire company under the name Wild June. When all was said and done she had invested thousands in the process. Unfortunately, the sales from the showroom were nowhere near what she had hoped.

Although she learned a ton about price points, customer needs, and making herself more marketable, Kimberly quickly realized that the showroom wasn’t the right fit for her fashion accessory business. She moved on, but it took time for her to fall back in love with her business.

 

LOOKING FORWARD

Kimberly persevered through all of the setbacks she experienced as a new fashion designer. She had started her journey prepared for years of hard work and no profits, and she made it through. Now, she runs her business full-time--and finally has her own place again! She found a balance with the festivals she attends as a vendor, and has time to be an artist. Looking to the future of Wild June, Kimberly’s thinking about trying wholesale again, and even launching a clothing line.

Kimberly is an example of what’s possible for new fashion designers who are prepared, determined, and willing to work hard to make their dream a reality. We can’t wait to see what she does next!

 

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May 13 2019

1hr 10mins

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SFD087 How to Become a Fashion Merchandiser and Product Manager 👗

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In this interview with Shelby Collins, we go a little off the beaten path of the Successful Fashion Designer podcast. Shelby is a merchandiser and works in product development--she knew right from the beginning that design wasn’t quite the right path for her, so she did a lot of self-exploration throughout school and found the right path for her through trial and error.

Besides Shelby taking a “non-traditional path” through the design world, and going into something other than design, I want you guys to pay attention to the exact thing that Shelby did to progress her career. She worked her way up--spent a lot of time working for The North Face in California, and now works for VF Corp. Shelby’s career trajectory did not come by accident! She started out in some pretty crummy administrative roles that she hated, but she worked her butt off, got noticed, built friendships and relationships and that’s exactly how she grew her career.

We talk about how she was mindful about creating these relationships in the workplace, and how she was always very intentional about showing that she was willing to put in the work and go the extra mile to stand out, even if it was a project that wasn’t that exciting. She’s experienced such amazing growth in her career--so pay attention to her advice because I know it can help so many of you go so far in your careers as well!

In the interview (which you'll love) we will cover:

  • How Shelby got her start in the fashion industry
  • The difference between the production / merchandise part of the business, and the design / development part of the business
  • How Shelby knew she wanted to get into merchandising (it all started with a 2007 Burton catalogue!)
  • Shelby’s first opportunity after college
  • How she proactively prepared for interviews
  • How Shelby navigated the “networking” world by authentically and genuinely maintaining relationships
  • What Shelby did in her Product Line Coordinator job
  • The one thing Shelby wishes people would ask her about working in the fashion industry

SMALL TOWN DREAMS

Shelby grew upon a farm in a small town in Colorado. She always loved looking at magazines and seeing how different things were from her day to day “real world.” Like a lot of us, she really enjoyed expressing herself through apparel--she loved the way she could almost change her mood and how she felt; how she represented herself to the world. So the logical next step after high school? Start in a design program in college (because it’s so hard to know which career path to follow in the fashion industry when you’re brand new!).

But it didn’t feel quite right. She was doing well, but she didn’t feel grounded in the creative space. As a math lover, she wanted more balance and logic thrown into the mix. She kept thinking back to her magazine-flipping days, and specifically remembered a 2007 Burton catalogue--and how disruptive it was. There were badass women in white snowboard gear sitting in mud, completely filthy after snowboarding all day. She remembered how the image had struck her, and knew she wanted to be the person making those decisions. So she checked out merchandising, and got a little closer to her dream.

BREAKING IN AFTER COLLEGE (ALWAYS DIFFICULT, RIGHT?)

Shelby’s last semester at college was a 12-credit internship. School helped her land the gig (a little), but she had to work her butt of to get it. She applied to around 50 internships, and two people called her back...but that’s just how it goes! She googled interview questions and made her dad run through the answers with her (anyone else done this? Such a good idea!), and landed an internship in the marketing department. Sure--it wasn’t the product creation team like she wanted, but she was open to her options. Shelby dug in, learned what she could, and navigated forward from there.

After she graduated, she got a job at the same company she had interned at, but it was in customer service--not her desired career path. But she kept grinding and excelling, and when the company acquired another women’s outdoor brand, an opportunity arose. She became brand coordinator, and so began the marathon of many hats. And she LOVED it. She did materials sourcing, approved material colors, did day-to-day communication with factories, worked with the marketing team on sales tools, organized photo shoots, and so much more. She gained visibility into all areas of the business, and even though the learning curve was steep, and she was scared and insecure every once in a while, she took a deep breath and did it, and learned a ton.

The brand went under and closed after a year, but she got an opportunity to stay on the marketing team on another project. This was another job she wasn’t crazy about, but it motivated her to find something that did make her happy. She reflected on the relationships she had built with her coworkers--she had always been scared of the “networking” word, but was able to connect in a genuine, authentic way with the people she saw every day. She had always been mindful of building and maintaining relationships, so asking her connections for what she needed came naturally and easily for her. “If you do the upfront work of keeping in touch with people frequently, it doesn’t feel as icky when you reach out for connections.” (Write that down!)

JOB HUNTING

The connections she had helped Shelby get an interview in the Bay Area, and she got a job as a Product Line Coordinator where she did...everything. It was similar to what she had done in her brand coordinator position before, but more specific: she prepared meetings, made grids / visual line plans, managed all documents (like the workbook, line plan, image approval), did data entry, managed tools, and had lots of exposure to things like fittings and being at the decision table (finally!). She had always been a detail-oriented person, but this job was perfectly challenging for her. She was promoted twice in her five years at the company.

HER SECRET?

Shelby was never too shy to request feedback from her coworkers and superiors. She constantly wanted to improve, and constantly did so. When asking for promotions and raises, she backed everything up with hard facts. She would talk about which goals she met, the steps she took to achieve those goals, and how she extended beyond those goals. She always focused on the ways she added value to the company, and made sure to always contribute in a positive way.

Shelby is in a new role now (a little over 6 months at the time of the interview) at VF Corporation, a company that owns North Face, Timberland, Vans, etc. She’s on the Innovation Team as the Senior Product Manager. She works on all of the brands at VF Corp., focusing on leveraging cross-brand projects that take personalization and customization to the next level. She’s loving it, and we couldn’t be more excited for her.

Shelby is full of valuable advice for anyone looking to get ahead in the fashion industry, and really anyone looking to level up their networking and interview skills (not to mention she’s a total inspiration in the work ethic department, too). Can’t wait to see Shelby shine in this new role!

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Apr 29 2019

1hr

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SFD086 This 76 Year Old Worked in the NYC Fashion Industry since the 60's. Here's her story.

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Judy worked in the industry way back in the 60’s and 70’s in New York and she has so many fun and inspiring stories about what her journey was like through fashion back then. Whether you’re listening for a fun flashback or for some insight into what the New York fashion world was like back then before you were born, you’re going to love this episode!

P.S. This interview was done here in my living room in Denver, and my terrier Lana was home and very excited that the ladies were talking. She doesn’t bark, but she’s definitely there tapping around (and chewing on a bully stick). She’s excited about this episode too!

In the interview (which you'll love) we will cover:

  • How Judy decided to start in the fashion industry
  • What it was like working in the fashion industry when she was right out of college in the 60’s
  • What it was like working for a t-shirt factory in New York (yes--a factory in New York!)
  • How the fax machine changed the lives of the sketches being sent!
  • How the car industry would influence the fashion industry
  • How Judy presented her ideas (sketching, sketching, sketching!)
  • Which celebrity wore her westernwear shirt designs!
  • How the fashion industry was different without Adobe Illustrator

FASHION SCHOOL IN THE 60’S

Judy Karp was like a lot of us in that she was always interested in art. She knew she wanted to study that (maybe become an art teacher?) But when it came time to choose a college in the 60’s, her counselor suggested Washington University in St. Louis. When she saw the fashion design course in the brochure, she knew she wanted to try it--she like sewing (“everyone sewed back then”), so she did her four years out there. This was back when FIT was a tiny little course, and RISD was somewhere out there. But Judy got her BFA and made her way into the world.

At first she got a job for Formfit Rogers, but then decided to move to New York. Formfit Rogers had an office out there, so Judy packed up her volkswagon and made her way out there! Shortly after she got a job as an assistant designer at Smartee--one of the first places to actually DO tshirts. Seriously--no one wore t-shirts back then (maybe to the beach), but she got to be on the forefront of creating that trend! Vogue and Harper used to come by the factory (yes, factory in NY) to check out the t-shirt trend. (Thank goodness Judy helped create the t-shirt as we know it--my life would not be the same without them!)

WHAT THE JOB WAS LIKE

As you might imagine, Judy spent a lot of time sketching. And sketching some more, and sketching some more. There wasn’t any way to do anything except by hand, she says. Doing things on a computer “wasn’t normal.” My, how the tides have turned! After working in New York until about ‘78, she made her way west to Denver, Colorado. She worked for Carmen westernwear and got to design western shirts for John Travolta in Urban Cowboy! Yes--he wore her designs!

Judy’s story really is a fascinating insight into the fashion industry in the 60’s and 70’s--you’re going to love it!

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Apr 15 2019

57mins

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easily the best industry podcast available

By memeott - Jan 10 2020
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If you are in the fashion industry (or a related industry) or looking to get into it, this podcast will quickly become your guidebook, inspiration, motivation, fountain of knowledge and go to library. To me, this is as real as it gets. What the industry is really like and how to succeed in it....or even just how to define what success is. My favor episodes focus on sourcing...i’ve literally listened to the episode with The Sourcing District four or five times. This, coupled with Heidi’s online and tutorials or templates easily make her the patron saint of the real fashion industry.

Awesome!!!

By Dé Johnea - Nov 13 2019
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I learned about this podcast from a friend of mine. From the first show I heard, I was completely hooked. I think I listened to every episode. This is so informative. Heidi has amazing energy and each week I look forward to what knowledge will be shared. I have learn a great deal of information and I am apply it to my business. Thanks so much for this. And I will continue to spread the word of this amazing podcast. @dejohnea_bianca (day-john-nay)