I receive emails and phone calls daily from entrepreneurs who have never graduated from fashion school and who do not have an artistic bone in their body but who have identified a need in the garments market and who are looking to launch an apparel brand. This makes me happy! Most of the time they purely want to start a brand because they once had or still have a need that they feel like isn’t being filled or being filled well by existing brands.
The age of the traditional fashion designer is dying and the fashion entrepreneur is emerging. With social media taking over our planet, everyday people are deeming what consumerism should be and who should be rewarded for doing it well. This “People’s Choice” movement is changing the face of fashion industry. It’s opening the doors for independent brands to be profitable without the weight of the “old school” fashion industry rules and regulations. When the face of fashion changes it makes a big impact on manufacturing and how we in production approach producing for brands.
I love empowering brands to listen to and find their customers because it is how I’ve been able to thrive in production, by listening to what brands need instead of judging them for what they may not know or don’t have right away. I believe finding and listening to your customer is the lifeblood of any sustainable business.
Here are my tips for: Finding & Listening To Your Customer
- Know Your Purpose
What is a need that you once had or still have that is not being filled or serviced right now in the industry you wish to create a brand in. Research if the problem is being addressed. What are the shortcomings that exist with those brands? Create a brand that problem solves this problem because like Sam Smith said “I know you’re not the only one”.
- Discover Who Your Customers Are
Is there a group of people who have a need for what you have a need for or what you think is needed or lacking in your apparel industry? If not, great ! Discover what they want, discover what they’re lacking, discover who they are.
- Get to Know Them Well
When you find your people, know them WELL. What do like? What colors move them emotionally? What do they love about their body? What do they hate about their body? What do they wish they loved about their body (because you can make them love it), where do they like to hang out (remember, clothes have to fix our life because we wear them in life), when would would they want to express someone, when would they want to NOT express someone but just feel conformable? KNOW THEM WELL. Create ideas that answer these questions.
- Ask THEM!
So many new brands want to hire all of these people to give them advice when that person is probably NOT your customer. Yes, they may know how to make a brand money or make a design look pretty but remember, YOU have the freedom to identify your market and speak to your market everyday via social media which will bring the real financial return and traction that a growing business needs. So talk to them! Ask THEM. Make samples of your garments post them not for sale online but ask them if they like, first before putting for sale online. Ask them, how could this be better? Don’t be afraid of coming off small by asking them. Don’t feel like you have reinvest more funds resampling your pieces because a couple of people commented saying they hate the color blue and your collection has a ton of blue dresses in it. All feedback is good feedback because your learning your market. Your growth will be because of this and no one will be laughing at you when you’re making more sales when no else is because they refuse to ask the every people who will be buying their pieces or products. Social media is a free focus group. Use it.
Remember brands are love letters to people groups. When your customer feels like you know their life or you have known them their whole life you will get an immediate response. If they feel like you don’t know them or you’re just trying to do something that you think is cool or what you think they need but really don’t, you could be climbing a long up hill climb to success.
So remember identify: Who Are You. Who Are They. Know Them Well. Ask THEM!