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I witnessed a sad situation last week. I saw a fashion brand owner I worked with last year: she was totally exhausted. She has been posting relentlessly on social media for the past 6 months. She got a few likes and emoji comments here and there but in the end, her efforts did not bring the sales she was expecting. She was usually so peppy and full of passion but last week, she just llooked tired and fed up with everything.
I do not know if you have experienced this. That horrible feeling of deep fatigue when you end up questioning your choices. You were in for this whole thing because you were passionate about fashion. Remember? You just wanted to make beautiful clothes and share your passion to the world.
How did you end up there, desperately waiting for people to show up and wondering how to sell your clothes online?
I understand what you are going through: the struggle is real.
And I figured out that many fashion designers who start (actually even the ones who have been on the market for years and still struggle…) have ignored a totally basic tool.
Newsletters and e-mail marketing.
I am aware that the accessibility of a Facebook or an Instagram platform leaves the impression that everything is so easy. And it can be, if you use those tools properly.
But as you probably noticed, there is a lot of noise on social media and it is getting harder to get heard. According to Statista.com, in January 2018: there were 2.2 billion active users in Facebook and over 800 million users in Instagram. And numbers are going up as we speak, making it even more difficult to stand out.
So you absolutely need to think of an alternative to get your message through to your target audience and inform people about that cute little dress you just got in your store.
#1 – Why you are in a desperate need of a fashion newsletter
Let’s start with hard facts.
The ideal way for fashion brands to generate repeat orders
Here is one thing you need to know: an estimated 40% of purchases in e-commerce stores are generated by repeat customers.
What does it mean?
It means that 40% of the sales in your online fashion shop are generated by people who will buy from you again again and again.
Yes! A few raving fans can do miracles to your sales.
40% is massive: nearly half of your sales! And how can you make sure they keep hearing from your brand? The good old newsletter!
Your fashion brand needs to interact at least 7 times with a prospect before being able to sell
Yep. It is called the rule of 7. A prospect needs to interact and be in touch 7 times with your brand before buying from you. With social media becoming more and more crowded, you absolutely need a complementary way to reach your target customer.
How can you ensure that your message gets heard 7 times? Social media is one way but you can also send your messages directly to your prospect’s inbox.
Do not put all your eggs in the one same unpredictable basket
Thirdly you never know what will happen with social media. Today you have the Facebook or Instagram accounts of your followers but this is not a data you own. Facebook and Instagram own the information. And if for any reason they decide to change their platform, there is a risk you no longer have access to your own followers. It looks unprobable today but you never know!
At least with a newsletter you have an entire database with their email address. And this is at least an information that you own and can rely on.
Newsletters are just efficient. Period.
Emails are at least 4 times more effective in reaching your audience than Facebook for example. Email gets an average 20% open rate while Facebook has 5% talking about that same topic.
So I am not saying here that you need to forget about social media. On the contrary. All I am saying is that it is good to have the good old email to keep in touch with your customers.
A great way to tailor your message to your fashion brand and every single customer
The great thing with Fashion newsletters is: you can personalize the user experience. Because you reach them personally.
You will also be able customize your newsletter according to your brand identity. You can also use your subscriber’s first name.
#2 What can you communicate with a newsletter?
I do get the issue of not knowing what to tell your audience about. And yet, you have a lot of things that you can talk about. To start brainstorming on this, you can also download our fashion newsletter brainstorming checklist.
Learn more about your audience first
Before you do this I highly encourage you to have an idea of what your customer is into. So even a basic analysis of your audience is enough to understand what kind of content they value.
Then the content also depends on the kind of experience you want your target customer to have with your brand. But basically, you will be able to share more about your lifestyle and create a real connection with your readers. You have a whole space to tell about your brand story and your brand identity.
Show them what they missed on your fashion brand’s social media profiles
You can also get them engage more with you on social media by showing them what they have missed on social media. Depending on what you share but you can also give them a taste of the kind of content you have on your Instagram account (behind the scenes for example or events).
Generate even more trust
You can also show them customer reviews and show them what is trending in your shop right now.
Share news from your fashion business
You can also tell them about a new fashion item or an event that you launched. Basically any news in your fashion business can be shared here. Also news about an upcoming collection or a current campaign that you are preparing or what is in preparation in your workshops. There again, it depends on the audience, you need to get the feel of what they like.
Show that your fashion brand lives
You can share some lifestyle advice. How to wear your piece for example. Where people can wear it.
#3 – How can you get your audience to opt in?
In the service business it is easier to share things in exchange of an email address. With physical products it is more complicated. You are not going to give away a product in exchange of an email. So you need to think about what you can deliver to your customer for free in exchange of an optin.
Here are some ideas: you can do a styling quiz that helps to profile your audience. And in exchange of the results, you get the email.
You can send them the care instructions in exchange of the email address.
You can send styling advice, maybe get inspirations from a celebrity that resonates with your brand and put together a styling booklet to look like that celebrity.
Then of course, you can also give a discount in exchange of the optin. You can also market the newsletter as a priviledge and give the promotions in priority to the people who sign up for your mailing list.
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Finding the right price point for your fashion line is one of the most difficult tasks a designer can work on. So many of you fashion designers come to see me to view the collection and help you price your items.
I get it. It’s not an easy task, especially if you’re on your own.
On the one hand, you are afraid that if your price point is too high, no one will ever show up to buy your items at that price. On the other hand if your price point is too low, you’re afraid that people may think that it’s low quality. And on top of that, you might not be able to make enough profit out of your fashion line. I get it! This topic raises so much anxiety. You feel the fear just thinking about it: is it too high? is it too low? Maybe you’ve even gone a step further and you’ve showed your fashion line to some people who showed some interest. Until you mentioned the price…
Yes trying to find a reasonable price point for your fashion line can feel like a real struggle when you’re figuring out how to start a clothing line.
We need to address the main obstacles that appear during the pricing process. I observed three main obstacles that created fear around pricing your fashion line.
#1 – Get Rid Of Your Mental Limiting Beliefs
The usual traditional methods won’t tell you about this although I see it as the main difficulty you will have to overcome when you’re launching your clothing line.
It’s the first issue that holds you from pricing your line properly: you feel that you and your fashion brand are one and the same.
Since you made the collection, it feels very difficult to put a price on your own time and effort. How much is it worth? You can’t say since you find it difficult to separate yourself from your own fashion brand. I understand, it’s like putting a price tag on your own person. If you have this issue, you will probably feel as affected when people give you a Bad review, it hurts personally as if they stumped on your own heart.
To start with, you need to step back and take some distance. What you need to do here is to clear your head and act as if you were hired by your own brand to perform a job.
Second obstacle is actually a consequence of the first obstacle. Since you feel that you and your brand are one and the same, you totally lack of objectivity. So all your personal issues might reflect on your fashion brand. As a result, if you have a low self-esteem you will probably think that you work is not worth paying a certain amount. So you will probably be asking for a ridiculously low price for a beautifully made product.
And if you are, let’s say unrealistic, you will be tempted to follow a high price point although the quality and the value added you deliver do not meet the level required.
You need to get rid of those mental patterns. They usually come in a form of a little voice telling you that you don’t deserve to ask for that kind of money or on the contrary, you feel that you worked so much on your collection that no matter the market reality, your fashion line should be priced like a high end product. When you hear those voices, you have to reason yourself by saying that you cannot rely on an unverified information that is only based on fear or belief.
Once you put aside the mental limiting beliefs, you have to take care of the actual pricing analysis.
#2 – Compare your fashion line to your competitors’, criteria by criteria
If you carried out a proper market research, now is the time to pull it out. Take your analysis of your competitors and position your brand compared to your competitors. If you haven’t performed any market research yet, I’d highly recommend you do one even if it’s only to be aware of the biggest trends and risks you are facing nowadays in the fashion industry. And you absolutely need to know who your competitors are, what makes them strong and what are their potential weaknesses. Concretely what does it look like?
It means that you will have to pick a few of them, analyse their offer and compare it to yours. In the checklist that I share in the Fashion Fix Facebook group, I’ve prepared a little chart to make the comparison easier and more objective. The idea here is to compare your brand to your competitors’, criteria by criteria. When you do this work, it’s important that you don’t lie to yourself. Otherwise you’ll just end up promising a value added that does not exist and disappoint your customers.
Choose a category you will work on (T-shirt, dress, skirt, trousers etc). And be honest with yourself, don’t just evaluate your product blindly. Also to do this exercise, you need to understand and to read the quality of the work.
When you put your product category in the chart, you need to ask yourself: how do you compare to your competitors on each of those criteria? if there are criteria on which you have a low assessment, can you maybe compensate with another criteria? For example if you are not able to make your products available on as many distribution channels as your competitor, which can make your brand less convenient to access to, maybe you can argue, promote rarity and the fact that you make limited series. Maybe you can even add that it’s handmade if it’s the case.
#3 – Make Sure Your Price Point Covers The Costs
In the last step, you compare the price obtained to your production costs. There are different formulas out there. The most common you will find is
Production costs X 4 = Retail price
However if in your business model, you consider selling wholesale, you need to have some room for potential price discounts and sales promotions that retail stores will ask you to apply. So in the end, that’s why you can find markup levels of 7.
But what does that mean? It means that your retail price cannot be more than 7 times higher than your total production costs.
Do you want to know how to apply this pricing method to your fashion line?
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Fashion brand DNA: what makes a brand unique.
I’ve had some quite passionate discussions with some of you about the DNA of your fashion brand. Lots of the designers I exchange with now start understanding that this industry is not only about designing good looking pieces. Now you are more and more aware that the fashion brand DNA is a vital foundation of your business and that it is the number one thing you should start working on when you launch a fashion brand.
So some of you sent me their fashion brand DNA descriptions. Since I have been so swamped lately, I was not able to deliver you an individual feedback. So I did this live video yesterday with the common mistakes you guys do when defining your fashion brand DNA.
Historically the fashion brand DNA is not the core thing that I am known for in this business. What I am really known for is writing business plans for fashion businesses. After having drafted some fashion business plans for emerging brands, I have written a book about exactly that: Fashion business plans. I also teach fashion business planning at the ESMOD Paris fashion school.
However the reason why fashion brand DNA came up so frequently in the fashion FXF blog posts, our live videos and so on, is because I found out that it is the key ingredient of your success, even to get funding. And lots of fashion brands fail because they have not sufficiently worked on that part. In the framework of my work with fashion brands, I had opportunities to exchange with different actors of the fashion industry: fashion press experts, fashion buyers, fashion event managers and I found out that what actually made a fashion business interesting for all those people, even what made a fashion brand interesting to fund, was the impact that it delivered. Because impact means sales which increases your chances to make more profits. And the brands that delivered the strongest impact were those with a very well defined brand DNA. Maybe you have seen our last live when we talked about using Instagram to get featured in the fashion press: Sara who shared her expertise started her work by defining the brand DNA.
So starting from there and observing the successful brands, I came up with a method to generate a cohesive brand DNA for a fashion business. It is all in the book I wrote. And the good thing is that after discussions we had on that subject, you guys start giving it a thought from the beginning. I know it can be a tough exercise for many of you.
So here are the common mistakes designers do when describing their fashion brand DNA.
Mistake # 1: No Fashion Brand DNA
Not having a fashion brand DNA is a big mistake. I know a designer who had great intuition. He was doing high end street wear. He designed amazing pieces, he had lots of talent. He had a real gift in crafting a nice shape for women’s body. But he never took the time to do any introspection and understand what made his work so unique. Plus he had lots of imagination so his designs went all over the place. And he lost himself. And since he never took the time to understand what his signature was, the sales decreased, the success vanished.
So to avoid having that kind of one time success that you did not do intentionally, work on your DNA first.
Do things on purpose.
Mistake # 2: Defining a fashion brand DNA for the sake of defining one
It shows immediately: you see sentences that are there for no reason. This is not an exercise where you have to fill in the blanks. You are not telling a story just to tell a story. It has to really mean something and be perceptible for your audience.
For example I saw on one designer who wrote that “she did a cruise in the Caribbean island for some time”. Then I checked the designs and I did not see the Caribbean influence at all. Why do you put that there if there is no link with your design? If you add a sentence into your brand DNA, make it really mean something. What you say should really mean something to the aesthetic of your band and what you say in your fashion brand DNA should systematically be visible on your designs. If you say it is a conservative design with a discrete crazy twist, then each time you create something a bag, a scarf, a hat, trousers, antyhing, you should design something conservative and add that little crazy touch you talked about.
Your fashion DNA description is the promise that you deliver to your customer.
Mistake #3: Lack of personality
Some designers used generic words such as chic, elegant. I tend to grow allergic to those terms…
You have to go the extra mile and spice up the words you are using.
Add some personality to it. Is it “Bon chic bon genre?” is it daring? Is it conservative? Is it audacious? is it whimsical? Dig deep into yourself and make it sound exciting.
It is FASHION, you are here to dazzle and wow your audience.
And the way to do that is to do as if the brand was a person, with its personality traits, the little details and the flaw that makes its charming. Give some depth to your DNA.
Some designers are not inspired and have difficulties describing who they are. In the fashion business plan book, you have a workbook with all kinds of adjectives that you can use to qualify your brand. We use it in our individual workshops as well and the designers I worked with love it in the end because they can really see if they resonate with that.
Mistake #4: A gap between what you say you are, the design you show and your visuals
I guess some designers always dreamt of a certain image and once they start their own brand, they used the words they were dreaming to become one day.
For example, I had a streetwear brand calling its pieces timeless…
This does not go together! Timeless is a classic design. So it should not be used just because you like the sound of it.
One other mistake I saw is the use of symbols in the logo that had absolutely nothing to do with anything. The brand was selling women’s workwear made of wax fabric but there was an odd shoe in their logo. And they did not even sell any shoes! So why would you use shoes in a logo if your brand is not about shoes?
Another one gap I saw: one designer wrote he was selling luxury design. But the site did not deliver the luxury effect and the logo was not luxury at all. The font was very weird, in a weird blue color. Ideally the graphic design and the visuals should be done with professionals. But in doubt, use a very sleek font, a variation of Helvetica or Lato. But do not use complicated handwritten fonts for your logo.
Mistake #5: too technical descriptions
I see lots of sustainable businesses that do that mistake. They get too caught up in the technical details of what they do. They strongly believe in what they do, which is okay but they totally forget to make their customers dream.
A fashion piece should ALWAYS be desirable. Do not forget: your customers will buy from you firstly because they think the designs look good and your pieces make them feel something special. Of course, your beliefs and the ideas you defend are important. But saying that you are an activist against animal testing or waste should not make you forget about the style.
Style and personality should always come first.
Mistake #6: lack of cohesion
Sometimes designers put too many different adjectives together. As a result, the brand DNA description becomes incoherent and cofusing. Sometimes they are afraid to miss out on sales and they try to target everyone. So the fashion brand DNA becomes this mix of words that do not match.
But who are you? and what is your brand about?
In my fashion brand DNA workshop, I help designers generate a cohesive image. Since some designers do not necessarily have the words to express who they are, I offer individual workshops in which we go through styles but also a huge list of words that describe a personality. And they pick three of them that they feel most correspond to them. And during this exercise, it is sometimes difficult to get designers to focus because some of them want to talk to everyone.
One designer picked exuberant and sleek in the same brand DNA description. It does not go together. Is it exuberant or is it sleek?
Pick one. And preferably the one that corresponds to your design.
Interested in seriously working on your fashion brand DNA?
Here is the tool you need to get for yourself. The fashion business plan starts with a workbook on the brand DNA and explains how the DNA can build up to a tailored strategy for your fashion business.