It has been almost 6 months since I started my first project, helping Emerging Fashion designers to get their designs to market. Being a professional marketing and sales specialist with years of experience in managing lead generation campaigns for B2B customers, I was excited for to help these talented people bring their products to customers.
The idea to extend the Prospect Solutions’ lead generation services to Fashion designers came after the realization that there is an opportunity in this niche market. Speaking to my friends, I’ve heard complaints about their inability to find the right outfit for an affordable price in Vancouver. On the other hand, I was the only marketer at Vancouver Fashion Week in September 2014 who actively spoke to designers offering marketing and distribution services.
It came as no surprise that many designers to whom I spoke were genuinely interested in what I had to offer. I was cautious and only took on a couple of customers for a nominal fee of $100, which was barely covering my expense of renting a showroom at the Vancouver Fashion Exchange.
I am very grateful to my first customers Viktoria Nasteva and Swati Padmaraj for their trust and support of my new business. But as it is said, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”, my business has faced many challenges.
The first challenge, which I learned almost the first week is that fashion distributors and retailers want almost nothing to do with new designers. Nothing matters to them; design, quality, creativity, price: They would not even step into my showroom in the Vancouver Fashion Exchange (FX) to take a look what I had to offer. Occasionally, people would come by and give me a compliment, but would not even consider trying our fashions on consignment basis.
Not having too much luck at FX, I went out to visit stores and speak to retailers – that with not much luck either. Store owners and managers would like and compliment the garments, but would not make buying decisions no matter the great conditions and prices I would offer to them.
Disillusioned in the Vancouver wholesale market, I decided to approach it from the other end; customers. I was organizing monthly mini fashion demonstrations showcasing my designers. It worked – people were coming to events and fashion shows and were even willing to pay a small cover charge for food and Champagne to see the fashion show.
I received a lot of support from the fashion community; models Galina San, Holly Wu, Ekaterina Igorevna, Lubov Belova, Irina Getman, Anna Kroug and my favorite photographer John Spooner were kind to come and support my events for a nominal fee, almost just for their love of fashion. Our attendees were very receptive and supportive, and at the end of each event I sold some of the garments. These events were also great inspiration for my social media marketing efforts and I got a lot of new friends and supporters on Facebook.
Summarizing the results of my first months in fashion lead generation business: I learned that penetrating new markets takes a lot of time, and it requires patience and a lot of hard work. It requires consistent marketing planning, commitment to the process, collaboration with my designers, investment in marketing campaigns for my clients and myself.
Preparing for the upcoming Vancouver Fashion Week in March, I prepared a new program for Fashion Designers which is more realistic and scalable. This program requires strategy, marketing investment and cooperation with my clients. This program is not for everyone; it is not based on “ get rich quick” scenario, but it will lead to success and will get results.
If you are interested in learning what I have to offer, please contact me at ekaterina@ prospectsolutions.ca