Business Tips From A Fashion Designer

by | Mar 25, 2015

Entering a crowded market and finding a way to compete is difficult, especially when your core business involves one of the creative fields where you actually make, create or build something. Creative types, however, can gain an edge over their more established competitors that follow more traditional business models. They just need to take their unique way of looking at the world and apply it to the way that they do business.

In a recent Open article, the internationally known fashion designer Annie Thompson shared her secrets to making a creative business thrive, despite being in a competitive space. Try some of these strategies to increase your success in a crowded market.

Do It Your Way – Craft Your Business Model Around Your Passion and What Feels Right to You

When you start a business, there is a lot of pressure to copy what others are doing, but this can make it difficult for creative types to compete against larger operations that can churn out a larger number of items more cheaply or that have a larger number of locations from which to sell their products.

Thompson is passionate about designing and creating limited runs of clothing with a tailored fit. Rather than opening a large number of physical locations to sell clothing to a larger number of clients so that her designs would be picked up by a mass marketer, Thompson only has one physical location for her designs and an online storefront. She divides her time between the location and several clothing shows that she attends each year where she can meet with her clients face to face to offer personalised services.

By operating her business in a way that honors her passion, Thompson has more time for product creation so that she can turn out a new collection every six months. It also allows her to build her brand, and receive immediate feedback in person that helps her improve her business while also allowing her to sell fewer items, but at a greater price.

As a creative type, you can be more successful if you design the operation of your business to give you the greatest amount of time around those things that you are passionate about and that help you to offer some aspect of a product or service that sets you apart from your competition.

Custom Service – Give the Customer What They Really Want and Need

Being able to “wow” her clients by exceeding their expectations is really at the heart of Thompson’s success as a designer, and if you are able to offer your clients customised, personalised service that literally “knocks them off their feet”, you can increase the success of your business as well.

When designing her collections, Thompson looks for high quality, locally sourced materials that are in scarce supply so that clients know that there are only a few of each outfit available. She also personally fits each article of clothing and alters it in person so that it is tailored for a specific individual, giving them a custom fit.

When designing your products or services that you will offer your clients, looking for ways that you can make what your offer to them fulfill their need as well as being more personal and “exclusive.” This will build your reputation and the demand for what you have to offer.

Accept the Risks, Be Comfortable With Them, and Jump Right In

Starting your own business is a risk in itself, but if you are going to be successful you have to realise that this is only the first of many risks you will take on a daily basis. Thompson believes much of her success comes from being “comfortable” with risk. After all, Thompson originally planned to become an artist working with pastels rather than a fashion designer – but she accepted the risk and jumped right in.

As a creative type you may dream of starting your own business, but hesitate because you worry about the risk. If you do open a business you may find that you hold yourself back from making changes that could increase your success because you worry you might be wrong or fail. To run a successful business that harnesses the talent and skill of your creative mind, you must be open to and embrace change. So, plan to take risks and shake things up in your business and don’t let your fears hold you back.

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Sophie has been a tremendous support and guiding light for my business. I have continually succeeded when acting on her advice and by using her services. Her products are fantastic and her ideas and accuracy is out of this world. I would never hesitate to recommend Sophie’s services and I would invite anyone to contact me for a referral.
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Sophie has the spirit of the Entrepreneurial Business Owner! Whether she is running a successful single family website, creating a product for small business owners or running her own bookkeeping agency she is always right on track as to what small business needs. If you want to speak to someone who not only knows what business owners are going through-she also does something about it- then don’t miss out, connect with Sophie! She is someone who can not only think outside the square- she has true strategic thinking; which is often spoken about but is rarely truly placed into action.
Sophie is an amazing business woman. She is able to take the complexities of business and break them into manageable pieces for small and home based business owners to work with. She’s clever, creative, supportive and very generous. She’s the reason that so many small businesses are doing so well. If yours is a small or home based business then Sophie is someone you need to know.

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2017-10-13T09:26:35+00:00

Anne Maybus
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Sophie is an amazing business woman. She is able to take the complexities of business and break them into manageable pieces for small and home based business owners to work with. She’s clever, creative, supportive and very generous. She’s the reason that so many small businesses are doing so well. If yours is a small or home based business then Sophie is someone you need to know.
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Strategic Resourcing Manager

2017-10-13T09:28:24+00:00

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Sophie is efficient, direct and gets the job done. She responds quickly, keeps me updated and has a way of simplifying things and making my life easier. She is all about efficiency and that’s what makes it great to work with her, I highly recommend her to anyone who wants someone to efficiently look after their books and she is great value for money too.
I’d been stalking Sophie for a while since I saw some of the great work she did at Ideas Book. What she’s up to at the SOHO Agency is equally impressive and I’m delighted to have someone working in this space who I feel so confident referring onto others. Keep being brilliant Sophie!

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I’d been stalking Sophie for a while since I saw some of the great work she did at Ideas Book. What she’s up to at the SOHO Agency is equally impressive and I’m delighted to have someone working in this space who I feel so confident referring onto others. Keep being brilliant Sophie!
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Kristy Smith
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Sophie is an incredibly savvy business owner, for whom I have great respect. She has always been very clear and detailed in her instructions, is always very focused on her business objectives, and displays a business model that you can aspire to as a small business owner. I have no hesitation is recommending her work at The Accounts Studio.
I have had many a chat with Sophie on the networking circuit. Sophie has a strong profile and reputation within business circles and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her to any soho needing direction, support and encouragement. I have a passion for educating small business myself and wholeheartedly support Sophie in her endeavour to actively reduce costs for those who may be unintentionally making uninformed decisions relating to business management. Many business owners are unnecessarily outsourcing tasks which are misdirected or can be achieved inhouse.

Gai Hook
Virtual Sales Strategy

2017-10-13T09:32:05+00:00

Gai Hook
Virtual Sales Strategy

I have had many a chat with Sophie on the networking circuit. Sophie has a strong profile and reputation within business circles and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her to any soho needing direction, support and encouragement. I have a passion for educating small business myself and wholeheartedly support Sophie in her endeavour to actively reduce costs for those who may be unintentionally making uninformed decisions relating to business management. Many business owners are unnecessarily outsourcing tasks which are misdirected or can be achieved inhouse.
I’ve worked with Sophie as a contributor to Confessions of a Mumpreneur – a fantastic book that she dreamt up, edited and produced. Apart from producing fabulous books that help so many others realise their entrepreneurial dreams, Sophie is an astute business person who is making her mark on her own terms. Watch this space – I’m sure we’ll see and hear a lot more from Sophie Andrews in the years to come.

Jennifer Dalitz
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2017-10-13T09:50:01+00:00

Jennifer Dalitz
Gender Diversity expert, Career Coach, Award winning blogger on women, work & leadership @ www.TheSheEOBlog.com

I’ve worked with Sophie as a contributor to Confessions of a Mumpreneur – a fantastic book that she dreamt up, edited and produced. Apart from producing fabulous books that help so many others realise their entrepreneurial dreams, Sophie is an astute business person who is making her mark on her own terms. Watch this space – I’m sure we’ll see and hear a lot more from Sophie Andrews in the years to come.