Typically, when we work with small businesses, they have survived early development, they have developed a solid understanding of their identity, and are ready to seriously pursue marketing and branding. This is never truer than for small businesses in the fashion industry. But, how is working with these types of clients any different from others? There is no shortage of creative talent in the world of design schools, but not every designer gets to translate his or her passions into a viable, profit-making business.
That is why the British Fashion Council has published a report that will guide budding designers in making a living off their work. The Commercializing Creativity Report was written by Alejandra Caro and Alessandra Basso, both of whom are Masters of Business Administration students at London Business School, in order to understand the biggest challenges, and best strategies, for entrepreneurs in fashion. The report provides advice for young designers on how to create companies that are respected for their creative work, that are well-known, and generate profits.
- Create a Style Guide
A style guide is essential for any small business looking to refine their brand. It allows you to visually communicate your brand identity and keep consistency in the design and messaging of your products.
- Print Your Products
If you want to stand out from the crowd, be unique and offer something different than other brands then print your products! The majority of small businesses prefer digital over print, however this is not always the case.
- Business Behavior
To create a successful label, you need to think like an entrepreneur from the beginning. That means understanding how the business works, and creating a plan that sets out your short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. Once you have got your business off the ground, establish strong relationships with manufacturers, buyers, and investors, being reliably and honestly upfront about what you are doing.
- What Customer Need from You
While these customers have lived with their brand since being bold enough to strike out on their own, they usually have not been asked to formally articulate it, so discussing business plans and marketing strategies is usually the first step in outlining strategies. Our workshops proved invaluable in these situations, giving clients clarity and strategies on which to base themselves, as well as giving us insights into the business.
- Extract The Ideas
It is only through genuinely listening that one gets an idea of what makes a business unique. And ultimately, it is that story that you have to tell. Find out what makes the brand you are working with unique, and then tell it.
For example, Steve, the designer behind Grey Rabbit, has a very animated speaking style -- she makes up words all the time and tells jokes -- and we used this sensibility throughout the copy on the site. For instance, the Grey Rabbit Days title comes from how Steve would usually explore a new town with friends when she was traveling.
- Understanding Products
Start small with one product line -- and then evolve the brand from there, in a way that feels cohesive, and continues to bring together a similar design DNA. Setting a fair price point for your products is critical to finding success. Work this out by starting from what the customer is willing to pay, then working backwards, to figure out what you can afford to spend on materials and production, but still make a profit.
- Be authentic about your Brands & align it with Business Plans
The report suggests young designers should focus more on customer feedback rather than press; nice reviews are great to have, but the only thing that is going to keep the business going is sales. It is essential to have a solid idea for your brands identity early on. Vanessa Friedman, Fashion Editor at The New York Times, says, Young designers have to figure out who they are and why they are starting a business. "If they are doing this, it is because they truly believe that they have something to say that cannot be said within the context of Paul Smith, or Oscar de la Renta, or Dior. . Start with a marketing plan, laying out what customers you are targeting, and how you are going to reach them.
You might consider hiring a public relations firm -- just do not do it until your company is established. Daniel Marks, Director at The Communication Store, says, "PR and communications are helpful tools for supporting the designer and getting their work in front of more eyes, only if their business can sustain that focus.