You know when you hear about that handbag designer who got a feature in Vogue, because she happened to be sitting on a plane next to Anna Wintour? Or how that jewelry designer ran into a celebrity in the bathroom of some trendy bar, and next thing you know, a necklace hits the red carpet? These instances are not luck.
Yes, you need lucky timing to be shopping for avocados at Whole Foods the very moment an Olsen twin is doing the same, but the actual magic – the conversation, the connection, the offer for help – that’s in your hands. Without preparation, I know that, more likely than not, I would see an iconic editor at my coffee shop, get all flustered thinking, “Oh my god, it’s Grace Coddington, what do I do?!” At the same moment she’s walking out the door.
These amazing moments will happen – not to sound all new age-y, but I’ve found that the world has a way of throwing us amazing chances when we’re working on something we love. Yet these fateful meetings, or invitations to the coolest parties with endless networking opportunities won’t matter much if you don’t successfully pitch yourself and your business, which begins with saying hello. Here’s how to do it:
Prepare a Pitch
How do you describe your company in one short, very compelling sentence? What can you say that will make the other person say ‘tell me more!’ This will be useful too when you’re out and about, and someone asks what it is you do. The important thing to remember always, is that you never know, a friend of a friend, or that person next to you in the elevator could end up being enormously helpful if they’re intrigued by your brand.
I think this is the hardest part, but if you remember that you’re putting yourself out there for your company, not yourself, your anxiety will diminish. Apologize for bothering them, and ask if they have time to talk before you begin speaking; remember to always smile!
The day that you leave the house without business cards will be the day you run into a buyer from Saks. Always be ready to have an incredible encounter. Be sure you have photos of your collection in an easy to reach spot on your phone, or even better (if your designs are wearable and not, like, kitchen tables), wear your pieces as often as you can without getting sick of them.
Running up to a fashion editor and saying, “Here is my lookbook! Feature me!” isn’t going to work. What will work, is saying something along the lines of, “Hey, I love your work, and I would really value your opinion on my new collection. Can I show you my lookbook over coffee?” This will also give you the opportunity to build an actual relationship,and receive valuable feedback and advice.
Ask For What You Want
Actually, this is the hardest part. Someone may not offer to use one of your pieces in their next photoshoot, or show it to their buyer friend. You might have to actually ask them to. It’s humbling and scary, but it gets easier with practice, and it’s so worth it. You might even have to ask twice: a stylist doesn’t think her celebrity client will be into your dresses, but does she want you to email her images of your next collection?
If you have their contact information, or can easily (or not so easily) find it, send a thank you note for their time. It’s simple, and probably something our moms taught us all when we were very young, but it goes a long way.
If you enjoyed this, take a look at these related articles:
› Reigniting Your Passions and 5 Industry Events Every Designer Should Attend
› Why It’s Important to be Specific When Pitching Yourself and Business
› The One Thing You Can’t Forget When Starting Your Company