Getting Started in the Fashion Business

I just attended a workshop at the Brooklyn Public Library tonight called “Getting Started in the Fashion Business” Our meetup group Fashion Drawing Session, which is WYRT short for Would you Rock This? headed by Brandon Graham had the opportunity of being able to attend this workshop with some pretty amazing speakers. Nellie Partow a fashion designer, Christine Helm who is a coordinator from Fashion Institute of Technology all gave very informative insight into the fashion business. There was also Sujatha Sebastian who is the director of the Women’s Business Center who talked about their services and upcoming workshops on anything from writing a business plan to learning between an LLC to incorporating your business.

Most of the workshop was from Nellie’s perspective and how she got started into the business. It’s really interesting to note that she started out as a business major and then moved on to pursue fashion design at Parson’s. She’s a really inspiring individual and I liked that she touched up on some very important things. Here are some of them for those who have missed the event:

  • Relationships and business networks are extremely important and fundamental to any kind of business. Meet as many people as you can, ask a lot of questions to those who always know more than you do. Build a network, it is sometimes about luck and who you know. 
  • Know what you want to do first before you start a business and be focused. Figure out what you’re good at and what your strongest asset is. 
  • It is important to intern and work for other people to gain experience into the business you want to go into. She talked about interning for a smaller company and that it could benefit you in the long run because you learn a wider range of experiences and perspectives. Work in the industry you want to be in.
  • Know your brand, figure out what your target market is, do the research and see what people are looking for, and also doing research on your competitors. 
  • Also, know that as a creative you are ideally getting into a business and that’s the reality of it. There are so many aspects that go into starting your own business. It’s hard work and preparing ahead of time for the season collections and production takes time to prepare as well. Throughout the year she is focused solely on the business side and only two weeks out of the year does she ever get to do any real design work. 
  • Also bringing a lookbook and setting the price points before you meet with a buyer. You have to know how much the manufacturers are costing you and minimums as far getting your products made. It’s all trial and error, test it and see. The buyers will want to know if you can make them money. 
  • You’ll grow through the process and will find people that want to help and suport you. There are good people out there who genuinely want to help you. 
  • You have to start loving to create your business, and know that everything is going to be ok and that it is a process of. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes or fail the first time. 
  • As far as products and where to get started, find something you like the quality of and base it on that and use that as an example to bring to manufacturers so that they get a better of what you are looking for, and oh lots of visuals and pictures!
  • Always, trust your gut and don’t waiver from it. You make the choice whether a piece is good or not, and allowing yourself to go through a process of development. 
Something really important that Christine touched up on:
Take classes and workshops related to the type of business you want to get into, skills you want to brush up on, and study and research some books out there. Most importantly you have to really get out of your comfort zone and talk to people. If you really want to take it serious, you have to do the work and just put yourself out there. Another important thing to do too is to research and read up on how other brands got started, everyone has a different experience and how it unfolds to you is unique to you =)
Christine also teaches a workshop series at FIT called Design Entrepreneurs NYC, its free and covers everything to running your own label as well as many other aspects such as marketing, operations, and financial management. 

Some other resources:

I seem a very unlikely person to attend this workshop since I am an illustrator and story artist for Animation! Nonetheless this workshop was useful in that it provided a first hand experience and account from a designer and business owner. Anybody looking to start their own business would have found it very invaluable.

Good luck in your journey and I hope you found this post useful!



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