Launching your own business can be a daunting experience, especially when that said business is a fashion brand you’ve poured your heart and soul into.
And for many creative emerging designers, the business side of their brand is often the most difficult. So where do you start?
Natalie De’Banco of Australian fashion label, Bronx & Banco believes the best place to start is with a clear vision of your style and a 100% understanding of what you want your brand to represent.
“Take a moment to really identify who you see as your ideal client or customer and make sure choices made early in your label’s development, are the right choices for this target audience,” she said.
Bronx & Banco will join Australian designers Christina Exie and IXIAH for the Fashion Exposed Business Breakfast where they’ll share their experiences in the world of fashion and retail. Chaired by Editor of Ragtrader, Assia Benmedjdoub the discussion panel will explore all the fashion hot topics.
In this interview Natalie reveals why emerging designers need a business plan; key learnings; what support is available for start-ups; why business electives should be part of your creative course; and advice on breaking into the fashion industry today.
There are some incredibly successful fashion stories and brands that began life in someone’s mum’s garage. There are also some incredibly successful fashion stories and brands that began life with a cohesive business plan and clearly mapped out strategy. A business plan is a great way to plan ahead, but young designers should remember that even the most thorough business plan is no guaranteed recipe for success. The recipe involves blood, sweat and tears…. these aren’t mentioned in a business plan.
Looking back at your own journey, what are some key learnings you can share with us? What would you have done differently?
Looking back at my journey I’m grateful for all of the lessons I’ve learnt….. even the hard lessons. The fashion industry can be competitive and daunting and the retail landscape is always changing…. especially right now. So one of the best lessons I’ve learnt is to never stop learning.
How can start-ups access government initiatives or grants? Is this something you took advantage of or recommend?
Start-ups can be found by searching on line to understand more about government initiatives and how to go about receiving grants. It’s not something I personally took advantage of but I’d totally recommend it. Taking the first steps in any business can be overwhelming at times…. especially financially so be sure to do some great homework on entrepreneur grants.
So many emerging designers or new retailers start up a business without any previous experience – do you think it’s important to take a business course or surround yourself with the people that do? Tell us about your experience.
I’m a believer that anyone studying a creative subject (like design) should also take as many business subjects as electives to really help out in the long run. Let’s be honest, creative people aren’t really known for their brilliant business skills and understanding of commerce (unless you’re Beyonce) so early introductions in a good learning environment are great. However, I feel the most valuable learning I ever did was on the floor. This meant endless hours interning and offering myself up for unpaid industry work. There’s some really valuable lessons you just can’t learn from a text book.
Make sure your brand jumps at opportunities that present themselves and also make sure you get out there and create new opportunities. Networking is priceless in any industry and of course, in the fashion ‘What’s Hot’ and ‘What’s Not Hot’ world. Interestingly, some of the best media coverage has come from contacts and work relationships from my businesses early days….. when those contacts had not yet become who they are known as today. So remember to be nice to everyone…. from day one lol.
How important is social media in your marketing? And is it a selling tool or more about branding?
Great question. Social media is so important and it’s a really fine line between using social media platforms as a selling tool or simply as branding. I think social media is the best way to really learn about your customer and what he or she likes.
How did you source the right factory to produce your line? What kind of research is involved here? And travel?
My family is all in the rag trade. This meant I did my first trip to China and the factories when i was 13. So I’m lucky with my family’s business history. For anyone else though, I’d suggest really looking into factories that will work with higher QUALITY and lower QUANTITIES (especially in the early days). It is all too common in the fashion industry for businesses to become unstuck because of ONE over ordered season. Yeah….. ONE.
The fashion industry is a lot tougher to break into now, what’s advice can give to emerging retailers/designers starting out today?’
Sleepless nights and heavy lifting wearing heels
There are limited tickets still available for the Fashion Exposed Business Breakfast with Bronx & Banco, Christina Exie, and IXIAH.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit fashionexposed.com/sydney