So here’s a story for you…

I asked a buddy of mine a few questions the other day on YOUR behalf. YOU being new apparel and accessories designers and want-to-be-soon-designers. BUDDY being a cool woman I know who owns a boutique.

I’m not one to name drop (sigh), but most of you would LOVE her store. She carries contemporary women’s clothing and accessories.

Here’s a wrap-up of the conversation:

She wanted me to tell you, and I quote: “Please don’t just make some Art-y thing that you think is cool. Make something I can SELL.”

That pretty much sums it up.

Now here are some pretty scary statistics.

According to Dun & Bradstreet, “Businesses with fewer than 20 employees have only a 37% chance of surviving four years (of business) and only a 9% chance of surviving 10 years.”

A study done by Inc. magazine and the National Business Incubator Association (NBIA) revealed that 80 % of new businesses fail within the first 5 years

A Small Business Administration (SBA) study found that high-risk ventures, such as restaurants, have a two-year attrition rate as high as 80%. (I would definitely put a fashion design biz in the “high-risk” category.)

I know there are lots of different reasons independent designers go out of business. But if you aren’t selling enough, that’s a doozy. Weak sales mean weak cash flow means trouble.

If you’re sitting around wondering, “Why aren’t more people buying my line?”, then ask yourself if you’re ready to DO something about it.

Find out what’s happening with regards to the following:

1) Your designs – is your product wrong? Take a hard, mean, real look at your product. You think it’s great and so do your friends and family, right? But does the market like it? Are you just making something “art-y” instead of something that can sell? Ask customers and former customers what they’re looking for in a line and LISTEN.

2) Your marketing – maybe the product is OK but you’re not targeting the right people. Do you know WHO really is your target customer? Get a clear picture of where most of your sales actually come from rather than thinking about who you want to sell? Do a little spreadsheet (or just jot it down in a notebook) with who bought what and where you found that customer. If you start to see a pattern, you know where to go to find new customers.

3) Your sales – do you know how to close a sale? If you think your product is OK, and you’re showing it to your ideal customer and they’re not buying, could it be the way you’re selling it? Is your line branded properly and merchandised in a way that makes sense? Are you or your salespeople clear on the benefits of your line for the consumer?

My suggestion is to start concentrating on these things ASAP so you don’t end up a statistic. If you’re crazy busy, just start with one category and go from there.

And please don’t use the excuse that it’s the economy! It is so tired.

I come in contact with plenty of businesses that are thriving and growing. One of my clients did $4,400 in wholesale sales at two trunk shows in November. Another client sold $1,800 recently at a trunk show and her pricepoint is in the $30 – $40 range.

There is business to be had out there. Go get it!

Have a good one!




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