2017 was definitely the year of women when it came to our Industry Interviews. We had the opportunity to interview some amazing #bossbabe women working in fashion about everything from growing a following on Instagram, pitching fashion editors and developing your own unique aesthetic and brand.
Here’s 10 things we learned from interviewing these phenomenal women.
ON GROWING YOUR INSTAGRAM FOLLOWING.
"People ask me what the secret sauce is to having success on social media — it’s equal part luck, timing, engagement + consistency. To start I would focus on having at least one full month of content. This way when things get busy, (because we all know you are going to get busy) you still have a library of images to chose from! As important as your imagery is, consistency is QUEEN! It will not only help you with engagement, but it will give you structure + help you plan out how much content you really need. Also, be yourself! People dig it when you are authentic (and they can tell), so if you are sassy — be sassy! If you are preppy — pull out all the monogram you can! As much you are selling your designs, you are also selling yourself because you are a huge part of that — so let people see that. Now, with that being said — you don’t need to share everything but let people in with stories, let them see where you design or where you source materials. Trust me, your followers + future patrons will thank you in the form of sales!"
ON IDENTIFYING YOUR STORY TO PITCH THE MEDIA
"Before you ever pitch to a publication, read a couple of issues and see what they cover. Pitch a story that you would be excited to read. I want stories where things were hard or nearly fell apart, or where people came together and community triumphed. This is a hard world to compete for attention, so make your pitch something that you would want to tell at a dinner party or to friends. If it feels exciting to relay, that’s often the best pitch. If it gets you excited to tell it, I’ll be excited to tell it for you. If you have something that you think is a solid pitch email me why you think it's a good fit, what makes it interesting now, and a photo is always nice for anything product related so we can see what you're talking about as we read about it."
ON DEVELOPING YOUR BRAND AESTHETIC AND MAKING YOUR OWN RULES
"I've learned that while it's important to have trend intuition and know what's popular, it's more important to understand the trends-and know how to translate them. For instance, I don't do a lot of knits or tights at all, but I can still merchandise some of my crops and casual pants in a way that says "athleisure" for my customer. Trends are important as every designer needs those pieces that are a sure money maker- you just need to know how they relate to you. Loud prints and raffia skirts aren't for everyone, but they will get people into the store and then they will leave with a brooch or basic tank. Give everything a try. Once you find something you're really good at, refine it. Much like trends, designers evolve, and in the end, you are free to be you. Just make sure whatever you are putting out into the world is considered perfect by your standards."
ON WHOLESALE ACCOUNTS
"When looking for wholesale accounts, do your research. Look to brands that you aspire to be and that you think you would sit well next to on a rack in any store. See who they sell to and use this to help you come up with a prospect list. Garmentory is also a great resource for this. Before you spend a lot of money to invest in a trade show, take season to visit the show first. Determine if it’s a good fit for you."
ON FINDING YOUR WAY AS AN ENTREPRENEUR
"There are a lot of “if you want to succeed you have to…” statements out there, and most of them hold some marginal truth at best. The apparel industry, and really the making and distribution of goods in general, is evolving so much right now that I think the outdated advice is the most prevalent problem. Question everything, all the time. Be that obnoxious 5-year-old who responds to every assertion with “why?” Sometimes there are really good reasons, but sometimes the reason is just “because that’s how it's done” and it can be done differently. Ask yourself a lot of questions too. Are the things you fantasize about actually the things you want for yourself in your everyday life and are they all you want? I love my work, so much so that I sometimes lose sight of the other things that I love. I think my most useful line of thinking has been this: what things are most important to me? How much time do I want to devote to each of these things? Where do these things and my business conflict or compete with each other? Are there ways that I can make my business and my other interests facilitate one another?"
ON KNOWING YOUR BRAND
"I would say that it’s important to know what your brand is. That sounds silly, but I can’t tell you the number of people in the creative field who I’ve spoken to who can’t articulate exactly what it is they do, offer, etc. Practice your elevator pitch. If you can’t articulately give me a description of what you do/what your company offers and why it’s different from others in the field in less than 30 seconds then I’m going to interpret that as you not being confident in your own brand… in turn, I’m not going to be confident in your brand."
ON CREATING A BRANDED INSTAGRAM AESTHETIC
"I want to attract people that resonate with my aesthetic and enjoy my content, but I’m not trying to appeal to everyone. With the millions of IG users, you can carve out a niche. Something Pete Holmes often says on his podcast “You Made it Weird” is: there are thousands of comedy shows, paintings, fashion lines, creative endeavors, but this one will be done by me, so it’ll be different. That’s how I view Instagram. It’s like my own magazine, blog, and art form, and I get to be the creative director. Consistent posts and community engagement are my keys to building my Instagram. Posting regularly is hard when you first start because you’re always running out of content. Keeping themes, colors, general aesthetic, and content consistent is key to creating a visually appealing feed. Engaging with your followers, and with followers of users that are similar to yours, is the best way to grow your community. Engagement should be more than just liking and commenting on photos; I view it as complimenting. I compliment someone in real life if I like their sweater, their dog, or their new haircut, and Instagram engagement is an extension of that. I see genuine compliments as a way to spread positivity, and a good life practice."
"Start with an attainable goal that develops your IG skills. My first goal was to post consistently every day, and to double my following of 450 – I still use knowledge learned while working on this goal. Develop a main theme, and work on one or two supporting themes, so that your feed has consistency. Avoid posting photo after photo of your product every day, as you need variety to keep people interested. Keep your color themes consistent. Whether it’s yellow in every picture, or a consistent filter that gives colors a similar tone, consistency is key. Pay attention to your top 9 photos and make sure they represent your themes and look cohesive. Your top 9 should represent your vision, as it’s all that many people look at before moving on. Follow accounts that inspire you and have similar themes /aesthetics to yours, and pay attention to their trends and what hashtags they’re using. Don’t copy others, but learning from someone more accomplished is a good way to grow in any art form."
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF STRONG IMAGERY
"I cannot stress the importance of compelling imagery deeply enough. Whether you reach out to an editor like myself via Instagram or email — and honestly, either one of those can be fine — imagery always makes a huge difference. If you’re the most ethical brand in the world and even have great design in the garments themselves but your pictures suck, it’s going to be hard to get a write-up. That said, if your brand is really fun but I can tell that manufacturing and production ethics aren’t central for you, you’re probably not going to catch my interest either. Brands that get those things right really shine."
ON PITCHING THE MEDIA
"Pitching can be tricky since every publication is different, but for me, I'm often working at a quick pace and juggling multiple projects at once. Unfortunately, I don't often have time to stop and compose a response to anyone simply reaching out to ask what I'm working on. The best pitches are thorough (include links to brand, imagery etc.) and acknowledge why it's a good fit for the site. Understanding the company that you're pitching to is so important, make sure what your pitching feels relevant and on brand. Since product is always in flux, knowing stock is something I keep in mind but wouldn't necessarily stop me from including a brand in a story."