So, I’m a member of Fashion Group International (FGI) and recently attended a lecture and panel in NYC titled “How to Grow a Brand in a Challenging Economy.” It was well attended by those in every facet of the fashion industry. I learned some valuable and “entertaining” insight that I wanted to share because it really does apply to everyone regardless of career.
The moderator was the recently appointed editor-in-chief of Essence magazine, Constance White.
The panel consisted of this year’s “FGI Rising Stars” award recipients: Loris Diran (designer and owner of Loris Diran), Bradley Scott, (owner of the brand, Bradley Scott), bag designer Marc Marmel, and Brian Wolk and Claude Morais (designers and owners of Ruffian).
The panel was well chosen because their industry experience, as well as their price-points, ran the gamut. Plus, these were designers who CREATED their brand. This means they not only had the creativity and artistic talent to design and standout in a brutal industry, they also had the business savvy and understanding of other elements that go into brand growth including financing, advertising, marketing, PR, web development, production, logistics, team management and sales.
Some of the topics covered were: financing challenges, production in the US vs. overseas, start-up stories, the role of editorial in brand growth, and the importance of social media. I took copious notes, but want to focus on Constance’s question to each designer, “What are the two or three key points you think are vital to growing a brand?” Here are some of their responses that really resonated with me.
Excitement: Nothing happens without excitement. If you are GENUINELY excited about what you are creating and selling, then those around will share the excitement. Genuine excitement is infectious. I truly feel this is the key to everything in life and definitely the foundation when taking on any goal or challenge that is going to take effort and time.
Create a network of artists: This is so true and I feel blessed to have a network for both CMH and ful. Talented photographers, makeup artists, web designers, stylists, etc. They grow with you and when you feel confident about them it makes the projects easier and more enjoyable (and projects should always be enjoyable because life is too damn short).
An understanding of all areas that make up your business: If you are in sales, have an understanding of production. If you are in logistics, have an understanding of PR. This is easy if you are in a small company, but try to do this even if you are in a massive established company filled with cubicles and departments. All roles are related to your end product and it makes you more of a valuable commodity when you have an intelligent understanding of the whole pie.
Fulfill a Niche: In other wards, know your demographic and know what the market is missing. Create accordingly.
Network: Make the effort to go to the events, email, pick up the phone, attend the party, etc. You never know what connection you will make. I think the flipside to networking is keeping an open mind. If you are always hanging out with people like you, you aren’t going to grow. Flamboyance is refreshing and really “what is normal anymore anyways?” Normal equals boring so truly appreciate how different people are from you and what you can learn from them.
Whenever I attend these discussions, I’ll write about the topic because I think it’s important to share. Have a fabulous week and remember to keep counting.