Episode 38: Three mistakes I made in my own fashion label that held me back
Marketing, sustainability, fashion research, audience, wholesale, pricing
Welcome to the Fashion Unearthed podcast. If you need help navigating the fashion industry sustainably, you have come to the right place. I'm your host Belinda Humphrey and my hope is to simplify the fashion industry so that businesses can make the best decisions for people, planet and product.
Hello, and welcome to episode 38 of the Fashion Unearthed podcast. Today's episode, I wasn't sure whether I was ready to talk about it, particularly in the world of fashion, no one wants to talk about when things go wrong and I guess it feels vulnerable to open up about the things that you felt like were mistakes in hindsight.
But before I get into today's episode, I wanted to remind everyone about my one on one, one hour coaching sessions, where we meet over zoom and you can ask me anything about fashion, sustainability, your business, or where to go next with your product, absolutely anything. In 20 years in the industry, I've learned a lot, good and not so good and in this session, you can get access to all of that. So if you've been struggling with something and wanting to get an outsider's perspective, I'll have availability from May this year. So you can head to the website, belindahumphrey.com com and go to the shop if you're interested in that.
So onto today's episode, I think I've stalled enough! So, first mistake was launching a product with no audience. Although I had some good sales at the start much of this was word of mouth and friends and it only started to gain traction once I started doing pop ups and design markets. In hindsight, I would have thought about that a lot more and been working on attracting my audience before I had anything to sell. An easy example of this that comes to mind is how bloggers build up an audience before they launch a product. And another good example is people who have a large following on social media, then they might monetize their content on a platform like Patreon. But the lesson is, not to launch without having an audience.
Number two, and this was a big one. You know the phrase, you don't know what you don't know. I used to hear that and think, obviously, but I really had a lightbulb moment last year, when I did the Marketing for your Small Business Course, which was an online course with Fiona Killackey at My Daily Business Coach. I always had a great response with my label when I did pop ups or design markets, but after doing that course, I felt validated in a way that there was nothing wrong, per se with the product, it's just that not enough of my audience knew about it. At the time, you're always hearing about these brands that are just focused on Instagram are having huge successes. But that platform changed quickly and in hindsight, I put too much time into it. After I did that course, I was like, "Ah, I get it, I know where I went wrong". Firstly, marketing is not about a social media platform. I did get some press and write ups while I had my label, so there was some things happening outside of social media. But it was just things that popped up but that I went with, it wasn't really a strategy. So yeah, it's not until you work with an expert that you know, what you don't know, and how it's been holding your business back. So I suppose number two could be understand the power of marketing, and what it actually is.
Finally, number three, and this one's a bit of an awkward one because of my years in the industry. But in hindsight, I think my experience actually got in the way of making the best decisions. Whether that was because I was too emotionally invested, I'm not sure. But I felt like I would not try things because they might not have worked elsewhere in other businesses I'd seen. In a sense, I didn't embrace a beginner's mind where all options are possible or perhaps kept exploring something if it didn't work the first time. An example of this was when I tried wholesaling at the start. It wasn't a great experience with the agent and there was some feedback I got around the prices being too high, which led me to believe that wholesale wasn't for me, and to focus on direct to consumer. In hindsight, I probably would have tried again with a different agent the next season, as perhaps that person didn't have the relationships with the right stores and going back to marketing, perhaps I wasn't illustrating all the things that went into why the product was priced in that way.
So hopefully that might give you something to think about and maybe my mistakes will be something that will help you. As a recap, number one, launch with an audience, number two, understand the power of marketing and work with experts to know what you don't know and finally, keep a beginner's mindset and don't discount something too quickly. A reminder that you can book my one hour zoom coaching sessions again from May, just head to the website shop. And as always, you'll find the links and any show notes on the website as well belindahumphrey.com in the podcast section. Thanks so much for listening. See you next time.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort is made to ensure that information is accurate at the time of recording, much like the fashion industry itself, this information may change.