As a consultant, how do you determine what businesses to work with? Do they necessarily have to be at a similar development stage, or do you consciously look businesses at different stages – or in altogether different spaces – to work alongside?
I much prefer to work with brands at different levels and on different paths; it makes things much more interesting for me and keeps the brain working. Sometimes you find yourself wondering if something that works for an e-commerce focussed contemporary brand can also be relevant for a NEWGEN designer and vice versa. You find there’s certainly a lot of cross-over.
The only criteria I have for working with a brand is if I think there’s potential there – and I guess if they excite me on a personal level. I have to believe in it.
In your experience, what constitutes the biggest challenge to emerging brands when it comes to making the switch between developing a collection to establishing a fully-fledged business?
Making the leap from a seemingly successful brand with a good stockist list and an enviable press profile to actually being able to hire staff to expand. There comes a time when you’ve got more work than you can manage but not enough of a disposable capital to take on a production manager, say. A lot of the time I believe that the solution has been coming from outside investment, but for those that do it organically I’m in awe of their patience and skill.
Sooner or later, emerging designers will face the question – sales or PR? Where should I invest? With limited resources, it is often a choice is between hiring a specialist PR firm, or investing in a commercial figure, whether it be an agent, a showroom or an in-house hire. What is your advice?
Most of my clients tend to invest in PR first and foremost because it takes up so much time day-to-day to just deal with sample movements and requests. They’re lucky, they’ve been popular and developed a strong following early on, but it did mean they had to outsource quickly. As one-man-bands they just didn’t have the time to do the full-time job of PR-ing themselves as well as designing, selling, doing the books, visiting factories and so on. It’s true when you hear people say fashion isn’t for the faint-hearted!
I think it really depends on the type of business you have and where you feel weakest if that’s sales (and understanding pricing architectures, international markets, etc.) or PR (knowing who and what is right for your brand). You should always surround yourself with people who can do a better job than you – it’s the only way to grow.
Let’s talk a little about the ins and outs of running a business that are often overlooked – invoicing, shipping. Do you find these are the areas that many young designers have the greatest difficulty with? If so, how so?
Yes! In what other industry is the creative talent also the person doing the books and chasing up invoicing and getting on the phone to DHL? Can you imagine a design agency getting their graphic designer to pop their day’s work in Sage and do an EC Sales List? I do think to a certain extent there’s a lot to be said from doing it yourself once when you’re young and learning and your business is lean, but this is not sustainable in any business.
Read the full interview at Brand + Commercial: HERE!