This Past Friday the 3rd annual Business of Fashion panel discussion took place at the Hyatt Place in Hyde Park. Everyone in the room was so eager to learn the tips and tricks of the fashion business and so was I. Six influential faces from the fashion industry participated in the panel discussion.
“I am all about manifesting my dreams”
Laurie Underwood (IG: designerlaurieu ) was on season 14 of Project Runway. The Detroit native has made waves in the fashion industry with her ready-to-wear clothing called Wanda Grace. She has also helped her six year old daughter launch her own business called Shades of Me Doll.
Laurie spoke a lot about her journey through this industry. She worked a series of jobs that helped her accomplis her dreams. Her rise to the top may not have been all glitter and gold, but in this industry you have to start somewhere. She spent several years working for other companies until one day she asked herself “Why am I here if I’m not doing what I love?.” I identified most with her because she helped me realize that some doors that are opened for you may not be exactly what you want, but these doors may lead to other doors.
“I am capable of all things”
Robin Harris is the CEO of Model Atelier. (shopmodelatelier.com) She has been in the fashion industry for over 10 years! Some of those years were spent representing Ford Models! Model Atelier is a clothing company that caters to tall women. Robin oozed confidence as she spoke about the start up of her business. I learned that you have to always have a “I am capable of ALL things attitude” because if you don’t believe in you or your business then no one else will.
Social Media is one of Robin’s secret weapons. Social Networks were originally created to connect with others easily and Robin uses this same mindset when she posts. “You have to use social media to build your brand” says, the CEO. Our generations tend to use this tool the completely wrong way, but we just need to be careful to use that platform to uplift ourselves and others.
“Discover what your signature is…your image needs to be on point… you are a walking business card”
Aaja Corinne is a branding and image consultant from Chicago. “I help leaders and executives to create game-changing, personal brands by teaching them how to package and platform their God-given purpose.” She has worked with top-tier companies such as Neiman Marcus, Coach, and Nike. Aaja was very blunt when it came to the truth about the fashion industry. She stated that this business is so saturated with other talented people so you have to find what’s unique about your business and figure out how you will represent it.
I suggest that anyone who needs guidance with their image and branding visit aajacorinnethebrand.com. You will be able to learn more about the importance of representing your brand. She also has testimonials from previous clients she’s worked with.
“Always stay true to yourself”
Marin Heiskell is a management consultant at Deloitte marinheiskell.com This woman has broken what makes and breaks businesses down to a science. It’s obviously all about the customer. They are who drives your business. Some companies tend to get so wrapped up in their revenue that they forget about who the most important factor is. She had three major questions you must ask yourself prior to starting your business.
- Figure out who your customers are?
- What is the value of your customers?
- How will you reach your customers? (Social Media does not always work)
Marin also informed us about the importance of studying other businesses. Learn the success and failures of other businesses and apply them to your own. She suggested reading The Harvard Business Review, Fortune 500, Vogue, and the Wall Street Journal.
“A lot of people underestimate how hard this is…if it were easy…everyone would do it”
Jay Arbretman is the owner of The Sourcing District. They are one of Chicago’s top supplier of fabrics, zippers, and garment construction necessities. Jay has over half a century of experience in almost all phases of the apparel and textile industry.
He also suggest using social media, pop up shops, and events to elevate your business. He constantly reminded us that you cannot be afraid to make a mistake and to always be ready to learn. You have to have an open mind when you are given constructive criticism. This will help you stay ahead of the game.
If you are looking to start manufacturing The Sourcing Company is located in Oak Park, Il. Thesourcingdistrict.com
“Stay Consistent and take business seriously”
Adodo Robinson (IG: adodo_robinson) has been a licensed cosmetologist since 2008 and has opened up her own full service salon. She is a make-up artist and hairstylist. Her work has been featured in The Midwest Hair magazine, The limitless look magazine, and Black Fashion Week Chicago.
If you are a hairstylist or Make-up Artist you can definitely learn a lot from this woman. She helped me learn to always go after what you want and be direct about it! Take pride in your business and always take it seriously.
She had a few tips for hairstylists and make-up artists.
Use Squareup.com it will help you keep track of your income and your clients. Square Inc will send you friendly reminders about your client. For example, a customer may come in and pay for their services using square up and you will be sent reminders when your client is due to come back. This may be the perfect customer service tool.
She also suggests joining different online communities with people that are like minded. You can learn a lot of tips and tricks of this business from speaking to people that have gone through the same issues as you.
Alright Entrepreneurs, I know that was an eye full. lol But seriously I want you guys to take this advice to heart and apply it to your own brands. You may see that it was just what you needed. 🙂