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Setting your sales strategy

In this video, several fashion entrepreneurs share their top tips on building sustainable sales and why a sales strategy is so important.
Selling your products and services is not always easy. The market can be pretty fickle. Trends change weekly. If there was a simple numerical formula for fashion success, well, we would live in a very different world. Here we speak to some business owners and fashion designers to get some advice about how they’ve achieved sales with their sustainably made fashion products. You’ll find out some of the major things to avoid when you start selling your products, or when trying to boost your current product sales. You’ll also hear some great tips about where to sell your products, and how to sell them.
It’s the most important thing. And you would expect me to say that, because without sales, you don’t have a business. The certainness for me, generally, is that they don’t have a great deal of commercial sense and would like to hide as long as they can behind their Macs, and their designs, and their colours, and their thoughts. And that’s not going to make money.
And I think the most important thing for people who are, perhaps starting a new business in the fashion industry, or are being on the journey for maybe a year or so, is that they understand that the attention to detail that they spend on their finance package, on their sales strategy, on their spreadsheets– which, generally, you find creative people aren’t particularly in favour of– are the things that will destroy them in the end, or make them successful in the end. There’s no point in creating something which isn’t needed or your customer doesn’t understand. At the beginning, it was just instinct and it felt that there was a customer out there who would like this product.
And it’s only through time, through getting feedback, and through learning a customer. We have a studio where we invite people in to try on the products and we’ve done various pop-ups. We meet a lot of people over the five years we’ve been doing it, so you get to know who your customer is. Still think that personal networking and personal connections is the most important thing, especially early on. It’s very difficult in the noise of the online media, and e-commerce, and online retail stores, and online fashion– to have a proper relationship with people.
So certainly in the early parts of starting a business, or in a younger business, it’s absolutely vital that you have personal contact with people, which then gives you a relationship with people. And it allows you to talk to each other, and get things– and start a business, and to get success from that. Where are you going to sell your collection? Are you going to go down the traditional way of exhibiting at fashion week? Will you be accepted in any given fashion week? Will you have the money to invest in taking part in any kind of fashion week initiative? Or are you going to go down the online way, or the market, even.
I think the most important sales channel is wholesale. And by that, I mean wholesale is where somebody will buy the product from you. Either they’ll give you an order for however many units. It could be 10 boutiques, or giving you different orders, or it could be a retailer giving you 150 pieces of a style. So that’s definitely, definitely the way to go in terms of cash flow. And also, in terms of if you need to get a loan, the banks will help you, because you have physical orders. Understanding the territory that you’re trying to break into and making sure you get your pricing correct is really important.
It’s really upsetting when we fall in love with brands and then it’s like, yeah it’s 2.2 mark up. And you’ve got to pay for import duties. It’s like, right, see you later. You have to really make a lot of strong connections with buyers. You have to choose the right kind of trade show to show with. We will next year be starting to work with a sales agent as well. The channels to market are the key– something perhaps I wish I’d have done a little bit more research on. I’ve just done two trade shows in New York last year. And before that, I was doing Premiere Classe in Paris for several years, and London.
Word of mouth is the biggest, and the best, and the cheapest form of marketing you can get. We do sort cold calls, in a sense. We write to people, we send to people. If someone’s bought before and they have stopped buying, we continue to pursue them. With my women’s couture, how I’ve found customers a lot has generally been by word of mouth. I’ve been making made to measure pieces for people since I was about 18 years old. And first it was like friends of my mother, or friends of other people’s moms, or other friends. Individuals are fantastic at connecting with you with other individuals, because they all have social circles.
Traditional press, going to the right men’s magazines, or talking to a hell of a lot of people, inviting people in, word of mouth. We’re still going for the very, very traditional approach of how to find our customers. The hardest thing for any business is finding your customer. Once you find your customer, then it’s easy. I remember someone gave me a really good example of gorillas want bananas. If you put your banana in front of a gorilla, he wants that banana. You don’t have to sell a banana to a gorilla. It’s finding these guys, these gorillas. So we have a lot of people come to our site because they like the imagery. So finding them is a lot harder.
The ways we do it– I don’t know, we’re still trying to find that because it’s the marketing side.

In this video, several fashion entrepreneurs share their top tips on building sustainable sales and why a sales strategy is so important.

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How to Build a Sustainable Fashion Business

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