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Friday, 9 February 2018

If all you have is your room, or a room in your apartment, great!!

Two weeks ago, at TechPoint Build, a young lady asked one of the speakers a question;

"You keep encouraging youths to become entrepreneurs, but it looks so extravagant, especially on Instagram. Like to start a fashion business you need to buy mannequin and other things to start, and many of us can't afford it".

"So how would you encourage someone to start".

I wanted to talk to her after the event, but I couldn't find her.

If I had a chance to talk to her, I'd tell her to see beyond the Instagram hype.

Not all brands with the fancy stores and show rooms are selling. Some flat lays sell and make more profits than mannequin display.

Am I saying that branding doesn't boost sales?

No. Here's what I am saying;

Isabel Marant is a successful French fashion label known for her Parisian/Bohemian style.

The brand generates over 150million Euros in revenue YEARLY.

Having market presence across Europe, Asia and America, we would call her a global brand.

We can argue that funding and a supportive business climate helped her get to where she is.

But the most interesting part in her brand journey, is the beginning, and I believe fashion startups can learn from her.

Her label has been in business for over 20years, and the woman did not joke with sales and profits from inception.

Getting editors and journalists to publish your collection in fashion magazines is a big deal in the western fashion market.

It's pretty expensive and not many startups can afford it.

Showcasing on Fashion shows also requires financial commitment among other things. Not all brand can afford it as well.

Both platforms helps designers build an image, and get access to market through stockists.

Sadly most start-ups still do not sell after going through the hurdles.

No website, blogs, no social media to break out on your own back then.

But she sold and kept her business afloat without showcasing on the runway or getting editors to publish her work.

Here's what she says

“When I launched my own [fashion] label and started doing shows in 1994, for the first couple of years my audience consisted only of my friends. No journalists came, because what I did was nice but not eccentric or historical. What my peers were doing was perhaps more intriguing, but it couldn't sell,”

“I may have not been in the newspapers, but I was SELLING from the BEGINING, while others weren't and spending all their money on these extravagant shows, just to create an image.”

“I knew how to attract press, but I firmly believed in first settling my company and making it work and only then doing something more fancy to please editors.”

“At first, we had no selling points in France. I would just have these private sales in my living room for friends. They, in turn, would bring their friends and so on. Before too long I had 400 people showing up.”

What really propelled Marant's label early on was the Japanese market.

“We were lucky; we had Japanese retailers. That was massive and helped my brand a lot. They placed huge orders.”

To manage cash flow and design collections she sold to her Asian stockists and retailers on pre-order, which rarely happened in her time.

The Japanese market loved her label enough to pay.

“The only way we were able to handle the demand is because the clients were paying in advance,"

“I asked them to pay me before delivery, as soon as the order was confirmed, which allowed me to invest into the buying of the fabrics, etc etera.”

Only after laying the commercial foundations of her business did Marant feel it was time to develop her brand.
“Before getting too big too quickly, we wanted to build stone by stone, being very reasonable and taking our time to set up things, so that the base was strong,”

“Only once the company was operational and we had a clientele were we ready to work on image.”

Isabel Marant is famous for her shoe line. The most popular one being the hidden-wedge sneaker known as the Bekett, and popularly known as high tops or wedge sneakers in Nigeria.

The Bekett was launched in 2009 and still sells today, and has been copied by top sneaker brands like Adidas and many more.

Most fashion start-ups are focused on working on image.

They model their brand's image after the image of other brands on Instagram, without knowing the business model the other brand operates it's business with. or understanding thier target market and finding thier clientele.

It's also important to know that some big fashion labels you know are not sustained by the business itself.

The business owner has other assets that keeps the business afloat, while living the good life for real or just for the gram.

One of the three questions I must ask clients during consultations is;

What phase are you in your business and financially?

If you have the capacity to get a store at one of the posh malls, great.

If all you have is your room, or a room in your apartment, great.

If you can afford a fully optimized e-commerce website, great.

If all you can afford is to set up a shop on your facebook page, with a fair budget for ads, great.

At whatever stage you are in, it is important to sell, even if your profit margin is low at the beginning.

You need to sell.

Don't let branding intimidate you.

Not all brands get paid to dress celebrities.

Some do it for free with hopes to use them as a lead magnet for sales, and I can guarantee you that not all converts.

Where are you in business and financially?

Do the needful.

Don't let the media hype make you feel your business has failed even before starting.

A strategy to use what you have get to the things you want and where you want will serve as a catalyst.

Tag someone who you think should read this.

Credit: Ebere Lisa


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