I thought I’d answer some recent questions posted on the blog in the “Have Questions?” section.
Regina, a pattern maker from Florida, asks, “Can you recommend companies that will sell fabric in small quantities for start up companies?”
Background: my company, Pattern Grading and Marker Services (P.G.M.S.) provides computerized pattern making, grading and marking services. I also work with small factories that cut and sew.
Jane’s Reply– Thanks for your question. Absolutely I can recommend some companies! In fact, if you go to my website, there is a box to enter your name and email for a report on wholesale fabrics. It gives you 24 of my favorite fabric sources who actually want to sell to small companies. Imagine that. Fashion Brain members tell me it’s very helpful and saves them a lot of scrambling.
You can also go to the About Sources website. If you click on the 3rd link on the left called fabrics/trims/suppliers, you will see a free listing of companies. This gives you a taste of what’s in the About Sources guides. The books are good and the woman who owns the company, Susan Power, is terrific.
Amanda G. writes, “I really hate the idea of selling my own collection and would love some advice for how to not feel cheesy or desperate when I do it. Any advice would be appreciated!”
Jane’s Reply- Aaaahhhh. The dreaded SALES “problem”. I’ve written a few articles about this on the blog and I’d like to tell you a story about a former employee of mine and how she figured out how to feel GOOD about selling.
Years ago, I was getting ready to go on a 2 week trip to Greece. Yes, it was before I had kids. I had just hired my first full-time store manager, Ann, for my boutique. Now Ann was really nice. Maybe too nice. I think deep down she felt selling clothes to someone might somehow inconvenience them.
So I told her to watch me sell and see what she thought. A woman came in my shop. I asked her what event she was shopping for today. She said, “Oh just looking”. Typical. I hung back for a few minutes and then engaged her again. This time she told me it was her husband’s work dinner and she dreaded it and she’d just had a baby and the wife was really fancy…..you get the idea.
So I figured she was scared of looking foolish, fat, and dowdy. I asked her, “If we can find you an outfit that flatters your post-baby body and will assure that you look up-to-date with the current trend but not trendy, would that help?” She sighed a huge sigh, “Oh man, that would help a ton. I may even look forward to getting out of the house!”
The customer left with the anticipation of a good time, a great deal of relief, and a completely new outfit. . Ann looked at me and said, “I get it. It’s really not about me SELLING them anything. It’s about fixing their problem.” Bingo – a huge difference.
So when it’s time to sell your product, think of it like this. “What problem does my product solve for a customer?”
Does is give them an instant “coolness” factor? Hide figure flaws? Make them look sexy without being half naked? If you come at selling with the attitude of helping someone, everything’s easier and less stressful. It’s also feels OK when they say no. They just didn’t have the need for your problem-fixing product. Move on, there are a lot of fish in the sea.
Melissa from Texas asks, “I have 3 small kids and want to know if there’s a niche you suggest that’s a little “easier” than others. I know none of this stuff is really easy and I’m not looking to make tons of money right away. I just want something to keep my brain going while the kids are young that can turn into something bigger as they grow I have more time.”
Jane’s Reply- My suggestion is a product that doesn’t have to be fitted or sized too much — so cross women’s apparel off your list. This will eliminate fittings, grading, fit model costs, excess inventory etc. Think about T-shirts, purses, jewelry, baby products (blankets etc), hair accessories. If you plan to work from home, a good route to go is through home parties and selling online. If you plan to sell online, make your product something easily understandable – so it looks the same in person as it does on your screen.
Starting a business with 3 kids will be a time management challenge but it’s definitely do-able. You might also want to read an older post on taking The First Step .
Do YOU have a questions for Jane that you’d like answered in an upcoming article? Go here and post your question to be considered.
Or maybe you have more questions than one little blog can answer? Consider one-on-one phone consulting with Jane. She offers different consulting / mentoring packages for different situations. (Packages start at $450). To find out IF and HOW Jane can help your situation, email her at email@example.com or call her at 773.551.2111. Warning – she is ALWAYS honest and does not sugar-coat her advice for entrepreneurs.