At Scaling Retail, we’re seeing an influx of more and more talents who are preparing to launch their fashion brands after the age of 40. In fact, they make up 30% of our clients preparing to launch! We’re finding these clients have the resources and they’re very clear about what they want. For many, this is their second or third career. They have the life experience, this is what they’ve always wanted to do and now they can execute. They’re in it to win it.
You don’t have to be a young kid coming out of Central Saint Martins to see success. Fashion just isn’t about that anymore. In fact, you don’t even need to be a designer. All you need is the vision and the understanding of what makes a solid, effective team.
Here are some of the most common challenges our over 40 clients face and the solutions they’ve taken up to overcome them…
Challenge #1: Maintain a Healthy Life Balance
Our clients launching after 40 require more of a life balance in order to thrive. They are not able to work almost 24/7 like their younger counterparts can. You can skip sleep and work like crazy when you’re younger but it’s a lot different when your lifestyle changes and you have different needs/expanded responsibilities.
Solution: Bring on a Team
Most of these clients are in the financial position to launch with a full team in place. They understand that the most successful business owners can’t do everything on their own and they’re willing to hire all of the right talents, experts in their respective fields.
Challenge #2: Having Less Networking Opportunities
It may seem like there are less networking opportunities when you value a quiet dinner at home in place of a wild night on the town. But there is a solution for those who prefer such a lifestyle…
Solution: Pay for PR and Marketing
These brand owners are getting around this potential challenge by hiring well-connected, influential and effective PR & marketing agencies. PR is a worthwhile investment but the high monthly retainers can often be way out of range for younger designers and brand owners to afford. Our clients are leveraging their resources to bring on the best of the best to push and promote their brands.
Challenge #3: Understanding Technology
Younger fashion professionals literally grew up with technology so there’s not much of a learning curve when it comes time to launch on their own. That isn’t typically the case for fashion founders over 40.
Solution: Learn the Right Software and Business Advice for the Trade
Reach out to resources like General Assembly to learn how to use any software (i.e. Photoshop, Illustrator, et al.) or business concepts you don’t already understand. Even YouTube can be an amazing ally. Sometimes it’s as easy as typing a question into the search box to immediately get the answer to your question. For example, you can type “How to Launch a Luxury Startup” and get this result.
The Benefits of Launching After 40
Based on our clients launching after 40, we’ve culled tons of benefits for waiting to launch a little later in life. Our clients already have lots of people skills and life experience. They know not to take everything so seriously all of the time and typically have better perspective and foresight because of it.
They have the financial resources to do it right the first time because they’re not picking and choosing how to invest and they’re not sacrificing any important aspects like product development.
And those who don’t have the resources are at an advantage for investor support. The professionals who have built their careers around successes and have the track records to prove it can be much more favorable for startup funding. They have an edge to show off their competence and capabilities.
Successful Fashion Designers Who Launched Over 40
These fashion professionals are definitely in amazing company. Some of the most successful designers in fashion history launched after 40, including Vera Wang and Giorgio Armani.
Vera Wang had a few careers before diving into the world of womenswear design. She was a competitive figure skater in her teens before joining the ranks of Vogue right after college. Within only a year, she was promoted to the position of senior fashion editor at the young age of 23. She maintained her title at Vogue for 15 years before leaving to take up the role of design director at Ralph Lauren at 38. She designed her own wedding gown at the age of 40 then got funding from her father to launch her own bridal boutique in New York City at the age of 41. Of course today we know she is a household name and international success offering her signature bridal designs as well as RTW, accessories and lifestyle extensions.
Giorgio Armani is yet another legendary designer who needs no introduction. He is the sole owner of his still privately owned fashion mega empire and he launched his brand at the age of 41! Armani grew up in a working-class family with the hopes of going into medicine. He was in the army after graduating college and then ended up in fashion. His career trajectory took him from visual merchandising to freelance design at Cerruti, Loewe, and Zegna. Finally, he sold his Volkswagen Beetle at the age of 41 to fund his design house startup. The rest is history…
Contact Scaling Retail for personalized retail consulting strategies to launch your fashion startup or to grow to scale. For more of a DIY approach, take a look at our Fashion Profit Plan programs, e-books and digital content for support.