5 Networking Tips for Aspiring Fashion Designers

Networking is an interesting topic for me, as I grew as an entrepreneur and learned along the way to be more natural at it.  I don’t believe there are any books or courses that can teach you how to network well, but I believe you can teach yourself in finding your own “groove”.


Leave your inhibitions at the door, and step in with grace, value creating thoughts and the mindset that anyone there can be as much help to you as you are to them.

I recently attended a Fashion and Tech meet-up in Santa Monica with my business partner, and our goal was to meet new people, and why not, potential customers or partners. We work with fashion designers, we help them get their businesses off the ground, help them with marketing, web development and strategy. This was a great opportunity to get some of my knowledge shared with the right individuals and get us known with the LA fashion community.

Networking tips

Here are my top 5 networking tips:

Tip #1: Know your audience

This was a meetup so I could read everyone’s profiles before attending from I learnt that most people in the audience were aspiring fashion designers. So instead of pitching the company I started talking to them about their problems, making suggestions and I offered my business card to take our conversations further.

Tip #2: Don’t rush

This is your douche-bag networker and I hate him (or her). They come to an event and their only goal is to go around and talk to as many people.  Most times you’ll end up in a conversation with above said networker when he’ll abruptly stop you and says something like “I have to go around and do my rounds” or “I have to go meet other people” . He has no interest in you and you’ll never see him again. Don’t be this guy.

Tip #3: Give value

This ties back into the above two points. if you know your audience, then you know what brings them to the event in the first place. Spend time with each prospect and provide something of value to them, they will be more engaged with what you have to say. At this event I tried to provide as much feedback as possible and make appropriate introductions to help the aspiring entrepreneurs.

Tip #4: Don’t stick together

I noticed that the events I attend together with my partner I tend to network less. We end up talking to each other, and by the end of the night we think that the event wasn’t worth while because nobody wanted to talk to us.  The problem is, when you stick together, others won’t approach you as they’ll think you are engaged in a private conversation.

Tip #5: Follow up

This one drives me insane. So many times I have met people that for one reason or another they couldn’t share their contact info with me (some genuinely forgot their business cards at home or my phone would be dead  and couldn’t take their info). I have met many fashion designers that I could have helped, but they only connect with me when they felt they needed something from me – sometimes months later. I am sorry, but by that point, I’d forgotten who you are.

Some of these may seem like common sense, however, when networking many become overwhelmed and unnatural. Just take it easy, one step at the time, and just think that everyone is there for the same reasons as you are, to meet new people!

This article was first published on LinkedIn by our co-founder Ana Caracaleanu.

Fashion Branding – the case of Patagonia (part 1)

What is branding?

Branding is creating a unique name and image for a product or range of products in the consumers’ mind. Branding focuses on influencing the perception of customers as an image or impression is built in the mind of customers. The idea of branding came up when the product itself was not enough in the midst of many competitors. Branding gave more options for the customers to choose from: the brand was an added value to the product. Customers could recognize their set of values through the brand. (Read our Intro to Branding here)

Your logo and identity have more impact than you think, they tell the customers what you stand for, who you are, and who you are talking to. Branding also has a lot of impact on your sales. A great design without good branding will not get noticed in the crowd of up-and-coming fashion designers.

And being noticed is what you are looking for in order to achieve your sales.

Your brand has to be built around your own unique vision, but at the same time make sure to set it up in terms of meaning, values and visual aspect. These 3 points also have to be respected all along the brand life to remain coherent and meaningful to your customers. Poor branding or poorly managed branding communication can go against the purpose of branding and can lead to failure.

In order to better understand how branding can drive the success or the failure of a fashion company we’ll go through a case study and discuss the main concepts of brand visuals, coherence and recognition.


A bit of history

Late 50’s, Yvon Chouinard, ardent rock climber, does not find satisfying climbing gear to his level and technique. From there, he decides to produce himself tools and equipment under the name of Chouinard Equipments. The idea is simple, he needs reliable gear in order to follow his passion, but he also needs money to sustain it. Chouinard Equipments becomes the solution, 6 months working and producing for 6 months of climbing.



In 1964, his first mail ordering catalog is out. The foreword of all the offers is quality. Why quality? For security. Faulty climbing gear is dangerous. As Yvon Chouinard was himself a customer, his own life was on the line. Second focus was: perfection, taking his motto from Antoine de Saint Exupéry : ” In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away, when a body has been stripped down to its nakedness”.

The business started to grow, little by little more of Chouinard friends came on board. Because they lacked  competition (the market was not very profitable at that moment), Chouinard Equipments became the largest supplier of climbing hardware in the US by 1970. Next step for him was to go into clothing.

So the clothing line Patagonia was born in 1973.

The challenge was to maintain the same focus of quality and perfection. Another concern was raised: environment.  Chouinard started to worry about the damage climbers did to the rocks as rock climbing became increasingly popular. That’s when  he came up with the idea of producing  products that would have the least impact on the rocks and on the environment was born.

From the get-go the brand had 3 values to stand by: quality, perfection and environmental. And with that in mind we will evaluate their branding in the second part of this article. Stay tuned!


This article was written by Alexandra, fashion consultant. Follow her on Twitter @Stylindublin

Instagram – Lessons from 2014 for emerging fashion designers

Simply Measured recently released their 2014 Q4 Instagram Study. The study included over 6,000 posts from 82 brands active on Instagram (from Interbrand 2014 top 100 brands),  and over 129,000,000 likes. Basically – think of it as a study of the most successful brands on Instagram. In this post I will summarize their key findings  and how they relate to you, the emerging fashion designer.

If you are a fashion brand, should you care about yet another social media platform?

YES, and here is why Instagram is important:

  • Over 300,000,000 monthly active users
  • Over 2.5 Billion likes per day
  • 86% of brands are already on Instagram
  • Brands have a very high engagement rate on Instagram
Instagram statistics Simply Measured



Some of the most interesting findings of this study:

  • The brands in this study are posting more and more on a regular basis
  • Post engagements are steadily growing for these brands
  • The average caption length is 141 characters long – including hashtags
  • But they couldn’t find any direct correlation between caption length and engagement rates
  • Posts that mention another user in the caption get 37% more engagement
  • Top brands have on average 3 hashtags per post
  • Geo-located posts see 50% more engagement

 What should you do?

  1. Post consistently (Experiment and find the right balance for you: maybe it is once a day, maybe it is once a week, but be consistent)
  2. @Mention other users in your posts ( you can do this to show appreciation to partners such  as MUA or to your clients)
  3. Tag the location of your posts (for example if you are at a fashion event)
  4. Focus on content not length of the caption
  5. Filters don’t have a correlation with engagement rates, in fact most brands post with no filters
  6. Don’t go overboard with hashtags; stick to 2-3 per post

Instagram is a very powerful social media platform, remember an image is more than a thousand words! This is why you should use good quality images, use the right hashtags, engage with your fans  and just be creative and have fun with it! If you have any questions about Instagram or your social media strategy, let us help you!


This article was written by our co-founder Ana Cara, marketing consultant and social media professor.



Negotiation Steps for Fashion Designers

Starting a fashion business will require a lot of investments. You’ll need to find a location for your store of office, you’ll need to source your fabrics, you’ll need to invest in your production, you’ll need to get your products shipped, you’ll need to get a website, etc. You’ll maybe also need to get a loan. And very early on, even before you start designing, you will need to sign contracts, so make sure you know how to negotiate them well.

Negotiation is not only a price/cost question, you’ll have to negotiate time, length of contract, service quality, exclusivity, shipping terms, interests, commissions, you name it. When trying to set up any kind of contract it is easy to fall into the trap of focusing on the price alone, trying to get the lower price possible. But in B2B negotiations, one is not a bazaar customer.

For this article, I looked back at my courses in Fashion Management and continued researching online. I concluded that the basics of negotiations are similar for both sellers and buyers.

Let’s look at the 6 steps of negotiation for sellers, and adapt them to a buyer’s perspective.

The 6 steps that lead to signing a contract are:

Identification and Formalisation of the Need

What do you really need? You need to ask yourself this question. We are not talking about what you want or what you wish for. In a business negotiation, the seller has to understand your needs. We are coming back to the essence of communications with this topic. To be prepared to negotiate, you have to know and communicate your expectations.
To communicate your needs, you will have to assess them, to evaluate them and to formulate them. You have to set up goals and make a differentiation in between what you cannot live without and what you wish for. Drawing this line will help you in focusing on the important points of your negotiation.

For example, your need may be to set up your business, to get your products in the hands of your customers.

This formalization of need implies a quantification of the need, a clear assertion of what is your budget for a particular quantity and for a certain level of service.

Then, from your own understanding of your needs, wishes and acceptance level, you can perform a market analysis.

Market Analysis

Learn as much as you can about suppliers and their products, their own competitors, the market situation (economically and geographically), etc. Be aware of your purchasing power and then you’ll be able to draw a tender.


From your analysis, ask for quotes. Quotes, quotes and quotes. Contact the companies you found during your market analysis. Communicate them your needs. Be honest, be open. Explain your situation, who you are, what you do and what you want to do. The company in front of you will be able to make you a proper offer on the ground of a good understanding of your needs.

Results Analysis

Don’t jump on the first quote you receive. Study all of them, compare them and meet the vendors. Talk with them. Assess the quotes that are meeting your request.

Short List

From your results just pick up the quotes or offers that match your needs. Now you enter the negotiation process. Don’t waste your time in negotiating with all of the companies that answered to you.


You can not become a negotiator overnight. Attitude and tactics will come with experience and are to be taken depending the type of service you are contracting for. You are not negotiating the same way the terms of  a contract with your fabric supplier as you are negotiating your rent.

Until this point, you communicated to your potential businesses partners, who you are and how or why you would use their services for.

You want to conduct business with individuals that really understand your needs, and who are not trying to push you. Think about long term relationships, you need to get into a win-win situation. Establishing a solid, trustworthy relationship with a supplier can only help your retail business in the long-run.

Bonus Negotiation Tip: Don’t hesitate in mentioning you talked with competitors (just don’t reveal confidential information). You’ll be able to assess the other party’s real interest in working with you and the value they can bring. Remember, vendor relations should be treated as collaborations rather than conquests. Just like the buyer, the vendor must make a profit to stay in business, so if you feel he tries to conquer you, you might not be 100% in a collaboration situation. Conquest equals to short term, while collaboration equals to long-term success.


Ok, you are there. In front of your contract. Just insure what’s written corresponds to your verbal agreement. Then sign, congratulations you got yourself a vendor!

With experience and time, other variables will have to be taken in account in negotiation : culture (you will maybe not be contracting in your own country), verbal and non verbal communication tricks, your negotiation style, psychology, etc. They will have to be discussed topic by topic. But first, get out there and make your own negotiation experience.

This article was written by Alexandra, fashion consultant. Follow her on Twitter @Stylindublin

Are you looking for a new writing opportunity? Perhaps you have style tips that you would like to share with the world? We value new fashion trends and are always looking for talented guest bloggers. If you’re a blogger or writer, this is the place for you to get noticed. Can you see yourself as a part of our blogging team? Apply here!

Learn how to crowdfund your fashion business

Crowdfunding is now a popular alternative to traditional funding, but is it right for you and your fashion business?

Luevo has teamed up with Startup Fashion and put together a detailed and resourceful guide and workbook for fashion businesses interested in crowdfunding. It took us months and we accumulated hundreds of hours in research and in writing, but here it is available now to fashion entrepreneurs around the world.

The 77 page guide includes 7 chapters from how to choose the right platform, how to prepare for a crowdfunding campaign, how to market it and what to do once the campaign is over. To make things easier, we’ve also included templates, checklists, extra resources, budget tools and sample social media messaging. Basically, everything independent and emerging fashion brands need to know to successfully launch and manage their crowdfunding campaigns, on any platform of their choice.

Check out the table of contents!


Introduction to Crowdfunding
Is Crowdfunding Right for You?
Choosing Your Crowdfunding Platform
Preparing for Your Crowdfunding Campaign
Marketing Your Crowdfunding Campaign Before Your Launch
Marketing Your Live Crowdfunding Campaign
What to Do After your Campaign Has Closed

Tools and Bonus info:

Pre-Launch Campaign Checklist
Social Media Resources
Social Media Sample Posts
Email Templates
Project Budget Template
Fashion Industry Interviews
8 Tips for Positioning your Brand for Funding
12 Tips for Continued Business Success

If you’ve used our crowdfunding guide let us know how it helped you and your fashion business via Twitter. If you’d like to apply as a designer on our platform, please do so here, our platform is now open for any designers located in USA and in Canada.