A favorite time of the year for Beau Satchelle is in October when one of Metro Detroit’s premier non-profit organizations educate and promote the growing cut and sew industry in Michigan. Their annual FashionSpeak is part education, part networking, and all about the business of fashion. It is a time for professionals (designers, manufacturers, retailers, buyers, and bloggers) in the industry from veterans to college students to meet and learn from each other.
So here’s Beau Satchelle’s takeaways from a packed day of learning:
The morning began with Lauren Kirsch Weiss who serves as a buyer at Freeds of Windsor who shared tips on surviving trade shows from two standpoints that of a designer displaying their lines and secondly being an efficient tradeshow buyer. From a designer’s view it comes down to doing good prep work prior to the show (especially reaching out to potential buyers), presenting the best of you and your designs during event, and solid follow-up post show.
The second speaker was Amy Dietrich, a product development expert and design consultant at Restoration Hardware whose topic was “Determine and develop your best product” and we have covered many tips that have been in previous blogs which boils down to doing your homework about your product, your customer and your competition.
Karen McDonald, a public relations expert was the presentation that was key for Beau Satchelle. She offered a number of suggestions on creating a public relations plan for an emerging design business that included having good photography, a strong website, developing a press release and 3 to 6 talking points, know media’s deadlines, and practice interviewing. Karen also invited Rebecca Voigt, stylist editor from Hour Detroit, a local luxury magazine and RJ King, editor of Dbusiness an online business magazine that focuses on Metro Detroit businesses to participate in a panel discussion. They both emphasized be sure to determine your messaging and what media is the best to convey that message. Most importantly, keep in mind the old adage “the squeaky wheel gets the oil”. Fashion media is constantly looking for new content and trends based on their annual fashion calendars. Top of the mind awareness can potentially put your business on the map. A small start-up just has to stay persistent in reaching out to the decision makers of your selected media.
Annette Repasch, Group Vice President, Softlines of Meijer was not in our wheelhouse, but there was plenty of information in regards to designers who would like to approach big center stores such as Meijers or Walmart that can expose your fashion line to millions of consumers. Key points were understanding the process to getting in the door, being able to deliver your orders and being relentless in keeping your wholesale costs low to be able to make money in this market.
Lastly, the incomparable Jeffry Aronsson, founder and CEO of Aronsson Group, who has served as CEO for Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan and others; also a Detroit Native and actually comes from the world of finance. He has had a distinguished career of working with elite designers and shared a number of personal stories regarding his fashion world journey. He chalks up his success to being introduced at the right time and having a point of view that comes from a world outside of fashion. His key advice he shared is to have a vision, be prepared, truly committed and recognize your weaknesses, especially when it comes to the numbers side of your business which may mean partnering or hire someone to be responsible.
For any up and coming designer in the Midwest, this was a not to miss event with the wealth of knowledge gained and the invaluable networking. As always, FashionSpeak delivered! -AJ
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