Follows are portions of a private conversation I had with Julie Ford who administers a forum called Stitcher’s Guild. Julie wrote:
One seller has really blown me away [link omitted]. She makes awesome, fabulous products. I think she deserves to be reviewed by someone who can help her do better in sales and sent her to your website.
What would be the best course for her to take to be noticed by the fashion magazines and such? Is there someone who can be paid to review work like hers? Or does she have to wait to be found? I have no idea how it works, but I know you probably do or that you have ideas that she can use? I’d really like to see this woman succeed. I think her designs are just…well, runway nice.
First, we can’t know if she is ready for fashion publications because we don’t know if she is eager to embrace this challenge. She must articulate her goals first. Many people don’t want it.
Second, I took a quick glance at one page of her items -this is my down and dirty product review. Two things stand out:
Continuity is all over the map, not stylistically but color wise. She has to get closer to being on trend because retailers won’t be able to merchandise her separates with other items they sell. Continuity is the #1 mistake of new designers wanting to break into the market. Also see Who do you hang with? (pt.2 and pt.3).
Pricing is so low it strains credulity (the designer resides in a low cost of living eastern European nation). She has to price within a range commensurate to the wholesale expectations particular to this market. The stores she should be selling to (independent boutiques) aren’t going to buy it because they will assume the line is shoddy or she hasn’t done precise costing to ensure she can make delivery. Buying from a new vendor is risky enough; stores aren’t willing to risk committing their budgets for purchases that won’t be delivered because they won’t have another product to replace it with. It can mess up their whole merchandising plan for the store.
Third, I don’t know this for certain but would imagine she’s not aligned with best practices (pt.2) in the trade. She needs to take an internal assessment or inventory of her strengths to determine where she should apply herself. Obviously I think she should read my book and join the forum to do the best job of it but that’s not my decision.
Fourth, being poised for the next step means having distribution in place (be in X stores) before fashion writers will cover the story because magazine readers will want to know where they can buy the item.
To find accounts, she should get an independent sales rep who shows at [omitted]. This show is perfect for her. She could pursue editorial in fashion magazines after she has acquired some customers, made some deliveries on schedule and weathered the transition to slightly larger economies of scale (hired some help and worked the kinks out). Then, if she wants to be featured in fashion magazines, she should consider hiring a PR firm (pt.2). Depending on how quickly or slowly she works on these first steps will determine her exposure time frame. It is possible she could grow quite nicely in compliment to her scale and consider the option of editorial later on if she feels she’s stagnating or not growing commensurate to her goals.