Business Tips From A Fashion Designer
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.