Rank #1: SFD080 Production & Manufacturing Processes for Small Batch Fashion
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!).
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
- Privy Label website
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan 21 2019
Rank #2: SFD039: How to Launch Your Fashion Line with No Experience
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
- Exclusively Kristen Website
- Exclusively Kristen on Instagram
- Exclusively Kristen on Twitter
- Exclusively Kristen on Facebook
Feb 05 2018
Rank #3: SFD076 Six Steps to Starting a Fashion Line that Sells
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!
- Episode 17 with Anna Livermore of Vmora
- Episode 31 with Sarah Coronado
- Episode 39 with Exclusively Kristen
- Episode 70 with Aaron Luo of Caraa
- Episode 44 with Timm Smith of Voormi
- Episode 12 with Colleen Monroe, founder of Untucked Workwear
- Learn more about Robyn and her publication, Heddlecraft Magazine.
Dec 10 2018
Rank #4: SFD051: Discover How One Fashion Design Entrepreneur Created a Flexible Direct-to-Consumer Business
Creating a direct-to-consumer (DTC) business in the fashion industry isn’t easy. Learn from serial entrepreneur and new fashion designer Allison Floam on this episode of The Successful Fashion Designer - I promise it’s an episode you don’t want to miss.
Allison shares the story behind her latest business venture, Bello Belts. The company specializes in unique, handcrafted belts for women and men. Allison is using her diverse background in business and finance to craft a unique company that is breaking molds in the fashion industry and innovating in their own way.
Hear about the importance of selecting the right suppliers, how you can balance direct-to-consumer and wholesale sales opportunities, and the top 4 tips for aspiring fashion design entrepreneurs. Listen now!Outline of This Episode
- [0:43] My guest for this episode is Allison Floam, and she shares her journey as a serial entrepreneur
- [3:44] How Allison got started and why she chose NYC-based production for Bello Belts
- [12:55] Securing the right suppliers is key to a new fashion business
- [18:30] Allison reflects on the past year of Bello Belts business
- [27:30] Where did the funding come from for Bello Builts & how they secured customers
- [33:05] Moving into wholesale opportunities as well as DTC avenues
- [41:47] The best 4 tips for aspiring entrepreneur fashion designers
Allison understood the importance of flexibility and collaboration when she was selecting production companies for Bello Belts. Since she didn’t have any fashion design experience prior to starting this company 1 ½ years ago, she wanted to keep the production close to home.
Bello Belts offers countless combinations of belt straps and buckles in various sizes and widths, and Allison wanted to be involved in the entire production process. She explains that “It’s hard to maintain control over a diverse product line with overseas-based production.” That’s why she chose to keep production based in NYC. She’s been extremely happy with her production so far, and you can learn from her journey. Don’t miss this episode for all the details.Strategic areas to look at when securing new supplier partnerships
Selecting your suppliers for a new product is an essential step in creating a direct-to-consumer business. Without utilizing the best suppliers possible, your product quality and entire business will suffer.
Allison has AMAZING suppliers that she’s very thankful for. She went to online guides, visited stores and factories, and gravitated towards the warm, welcoming people who were understanding of entrepreneurs. She urges other fashion entrepreneurs to trust their instincts when it comes to talking with potential suppliers. Always go with the people who are comfortable with collaboration and those who can answer your questions about materials, sales opportunities, and other details they specialize in.Handling the challenges of selling DTC as well as through wholesale opportunities
Even though Allison started Bello Belts with the intention of being solely a direct-to-consumer business, she realized that wholesale opportunities may be a great avenue for growth in the future. With the first year of business under her team’s belt, they began to understand the key balances between having many SKU items, inventory, and production times. Once they refined the online selling process, Allison and her team began looking at other opportunities to get the Bello Belts name into the industry.
That’s when Allison discovered the immense value in having customers see Bello Belts items in person. The product quality and value shone through! During the various in-person events and pop-up shops that Allison hosted she really enjoyed selling the product face-to-face. As Bello Belts moves forward they are examining wholesale opportunities to supplement the original direct-to-consumer business model, and you can learn from their journey. Be sure to give this episode your full attention.The best 4 tips for aspiring entrepreneur fashion designers
Allison has years of entrepreneurship experience that she shares with listeners on this episode of The Successful Fashion Designer. She explains 4 essential tips that you need to hear:
- Keep experimenting!
- Surround yourself with people who support your weaknesses
- Be vulnerable in asking for help
- Be obsessively focused on identifying WHO your customer is
The most successful direct-to-consumer business entrepreneurs aren’t afraid of utilizing other team members to make the best team possible. They innovate on their own terms, pay attention to what’s working in the business and adjust accordingly. For more insights, be sure to give this episode your full attention.Connect with Allison
May 14 2018
Rank #5: SFD041: How to Set Up Your Fashion Brand Successfully, from Samples to Production
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
Feb 19 2018
Rank #6: SFD023: Part 1: How to Stay Creative (when there's never any time)
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
Rank #7: SFD012: How to build a group of raving fans before you have a product
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 customerYou 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
- Rating us on iTunes - it really helps!
- Subscribing on iTunes - I appreciate each and every one of you!
Jul 24 2017
Rank #8: SFD091 100 Ways NOT to Start A Fashion Brand: These Guys Learned Firsthand What Works and What Doesn't
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!
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
Sep 16 2019
Rank #9: SFD064 Fashion Startup Advice on Creating, Manufacturing and Selling Your Designs
You’re someone who spends hours getting lost in a fashion idea, drawing and redesigning a garment over and over again until it’s just right. But once those ideas are perfected you’re not sure how to go from hand drawing on a napkin to holding that garment in your hands.
But you can wade through the uncertainty of becoming a startup fashion designer, your dream can come true!
Which is exactly what Anouchka Santella of Wear Gold clothing line did. And in this episode of the Successful Fashion Designer podcast, Heidi introduces you to her, where they talk about how she became a startup fashion designer.In the interview (which you'll love) we will cover:
- How to take napkin drawings from concept to an actual product line
- Finding a reliable team of seamstresses and pattern makers
- Deciding to keep your garment production local and cost effective
- Why you shouldn't be afraid to take risks with your first fashion Line
- How to drive sales to your design website in a cost effective way
- Why it's important to take the right margin on your final garments
- Her decision to design something that would create less waste in our landfills
- Why you shouldn't be ashamed of your retail price point
- How she funded her startup fashion design brand
- The importance of having the self discipline to get to the finish line slowly
Anouchka Santella was a journalism major who has taken her pipe dream and made herself into a full fledged fashion designer with her startup fashion line called Wear Gold, in only 6 months.Like you Anouchka Santella was just a girl with a passion for fashion design.
She had no experience or education in fashion design, pattern making or sewing, so she never thought she could become a designer. That was as big of a dream as becoming a “big music star or movie actress”. Like many designers she noticed a hole in the fashion marketplace that she wanted to fill. Where fast fashion is on the rise and so are the piles of garbage in the landfills, she wanted to create a line that would stand the test of time.What's it like starting your own Fashion Design line - you might wonder?
She shares the trials and tribulations of creating a fashion line that is manufactured in her country of origin and keeping the price point reasonable. She shares some of her “ahh ha” moments about what it really costs to have clothing made and how flighty people in the industry can be.
Aug 20 2018
Rank #10: BONUS: What I Wish I Knew About a Career in Fashion (from 10 industry experts)
Becoming a fashion designer in real life is not what most people think it is.
Because what you see on Project Runway and what you learn in school is not how the industry actually works.
So if you want a career in fashion, get the inside scoop from 10 industry experts.
Most of them have between 10-20 years experience, and they’ve worked at Brands like Lululemon, Under Armour, TopShop, Mavi Jeans, and Roxy.
Their designs have been Featured in magazines like InStyle, Vogue and Sports Illustrated.
If I were you? I’d take their advice VERY seriously.
Get ready for some good stuff (you know, the stuff no one talks about). It’s why I call it FASHION INDUSTRY SECRETS REVEALED.
Note: This was originally released on YouTube as part of the full Fashion Industry Secrets Revealed series (check out all episodes here). This episode lent so well to audio that we decided to release it as a bonus episode - enjoy!
Resources & People Mentioned
- Carla Louise Stout: Website / Instagram
- Cristina Dorda Soriano Website / Instagram
- Eirini Scott: Website / Instagram
- Emily Keller: Website / Instagram
- Jackie Ayres: Website / Instagram
- Kimberly Hamilton-Rice: Website / Instagram
- Kimberly Dippel: Website
- Leila Jalili: LinkedIn / Instagram
- Malie Bingham: Website / Instagram
- Marissa Borelli: Website / Instagram
Oct 16 2018
Rank #11: SFD030: How to Get Press Coverage & Publicity for Your Fashion Line
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
- Rating us on iTunes - it really helps!
- Subscribing on iTunes - I appreciate each and every one of you!
Dec 04 2017
Rank #12: SFD 015: How to Get Factories to Take You Seriously
Kathleen Fasanella is author of one of the fashion industry’s best resource books, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing. Kathleen is a trained pattern maker with almost 4 decades of experience, and now owns a factory in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In this interview, she shares why speaking the right language can help factories and vendors take you seriously, how to make sure your production stays on track so you don’t get bumped out of line, and why designing isn’t always as glamorous as it can seem.You will learn:
- Less expensive and more effective alternatives to FIT or FIDM for technical design
- Why you may be more technically inclined than you think (hint: if you can sew, you are)
- The difference between a manufacturer and a sewing contractor
- How speaking the right language will help suppliers take you seriously
- Why you should only produce one style with a new factory
- The realities of being a designer, and why it’s not as glamorous as you think
- How to make sure your production stays on track and you don’y get bumped out of line for a bigger order
- Kathleen's Website: Fashion Incubator
- Kathleen's Book: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing
- El Centro College (Dallas)
- Seattle Community College
- LA Trade Tech
Aug 14 2017
Rank #13: SFD046: How to Authentically Engage with Your Audience for Fashion Entrepreneurs
As fashion creatives, we think if we come up with the world's most brilliant design...it will just sell itself. If we just put up an ecommerce site, people will flock to it and buy our beautiful designs.
Unfortunately...it doesn't work that way.
You can create the best product in the world, but if you don't strategically attract and engage with your audience, no one's going to buy it.
Virginia learned this the hard way when she launched her activewear brand years ago. So, she bought business courses, learned from others who had been successful, and implemented strategies to figure out what worked. In just 2 months, she turned her online shop around and started getting sales.
She now runs Fashion Founder, and online community where she teaches other fashion entrepreneurs how to build a profitable business. In our interview, she shares some of her best strategies to attract and authentically engage with your audience...so they naturally want to buy from you.
It's not snake oil or magic...in fact, the strategies to sell are quite simple once you learn them. I know you'll love our chat as much as I did.
In our interview, we discuss:
- How to sharing value vs always selling
- How to carve out a path for your customer to go down
- Why you need to be clear about telling people what to do
- How you can share your story and introduce yourself in an authentic way
- Why it's so important to just be nice and say thank you
- What you can do to build your Instagram, get people to your site, on your email, and then engage with them
- What does engagement actually look like? How do you talk to people? What do you say?
- Fashion Founder Website
- Fashion Founder on Instagram
- Free Factory Guide
- Instagram Guide
- Interview with Kathleen Fasanella
- Third Love
Mar 26 2018
Rank #14: SFD 001: How to Get Your First Job in the Fashion Industry with Bjorn Bengtsson
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
Rank #15: SFD013: The Step by Step Production Process for Fashion Design Entrepreneurs
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
Jul 31 2017
Rank #16: SFD048: How An Amazing Eco Friendly Clothing Brand Was Built On The Passion Of One Woman
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?
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
- Elle’s Multifunctional Shawl (video)
- Outland Denim - A purpose-driven business fighting human trafficking
- Renegade LA Craft Show/Event
- I’m Unique LA Craft Show/Event
- Rewilder - Bags made from recycled beer filters
- Jackalope Craft and Arts Fair in Pasadena, CA
Apr 16 2018
Rank #17: SFD070 Build a Fashion Brand with a Cult Following
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.
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
Rank #18: SFD021: How to Get Funding for Your Fashion Startup
Billie Whitehouse has been called the Elon Musk of Fashion. In just 4 1/2 years, she's launched multiple successful wearable tech products. Her most recent, Nadi X, is a line of activated yoga apparel that listens & responds to your body. In the interview, Billie shares her valuable lessons learned about getting funding, advice for growing your circle of friends to help support you during your ventures, and how to create a product that your customer loves.You will learn:
- How to know when you’re ready to go after funding
- Why you’ll probably get rejected 100+ times (and that’s ok)
- Why you should become friends with your competition
- How to get over the dirty “networking” word
- Why you need to put your customer, not yourself, first
- The difference between emotional vs quantifiable data in fashion tech, and which direction we’re moving towards
- The importance of creating experiences for people through the clothes they wear
- Why you should look at yourself as a designer of the future
- Where fashion tech is heading and why you can’t ignore it
- Decoded Fashion
- Bella Beat
- The Future of Design
- Wearable X Website
- Wearable X Instagram
- Billie on Instagram
- Billie on Twitter
- Rating us on iTunes - it really helps!
- Subscribing on iTunes - I appreciate each and every one of you!
Oct 02 2017
Rank #19: SFD026: How Millennials Are Giving the Fashion Industry a Better Name
Liz Segran covers fashion at Fast Company, a world leading progressive business magazine. She’s interviewed hundreds of industry professionals, and in this week’s episode, I turned the tables and interviewed her.
In our chat, Liz shares her interesting perspective of how the fashion industry is changing at the hand of millennials and what that means for consumers and industry professionals like you and me. From abusive workplace realities to startup fashion trends, she has a pulse on what’s happening and why brands do or don't succeed.
Liz’s outlook and the overall trends she sees in fashion are positive. Our industry is making progress towards being more inclusive, and there’s more room than ever for startup brands to find their place in a crowded and saturated market.
Our conversation takes a few interesting turns and we cover tons of topics, so whether you're a budding designer launching a label or trying to climb the corporate ladder, there's something just for you in this episode.You will learn:
- How millennials have put their foot down and said no to abusive working environments and unjust exclusivity in fashion
- How to find room for your brand in an industry that seems overly saturated
- How the industry is changing to be more inclusive, both for consumers and professionals
- Why simple thoughtfulness in your product design, fabric choices and function can have a drastic shift on your brand’s trajectory
- How to present your product to your audience in a way that makes sense and resonates with them
- Why transparency in your supply chain and pricing structure is becoming the new norm in fashion
- What brands are doing in wearables that’s actually working (instead of using technology for technology’s sake)
- Liz on Twitter
- Subscribe to Liz's Newsletter
- Wage Theft, Drugs and Boob Tape: Here's What It's Really Like Working in Fashion
- Dagne Dover
- Oliver Cabell
- MM LaFluer
- Third Love
- Wear Lively
- Project Gravitas
- Levi's Commuter Jacket
- Rating us on iTunes - it really helps!
- Subscribing on iTunes - I appreciate each and every one of you!
Nov 06 2017
Rank #20: SFD090 How to Stand Out in Your Fashion Career (and Always Get the Job Offer)
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!
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.
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!
Resources & People Mentioned
Sep 02 2019