3 Crucial Business Steps Fashion Designers Tend to Skip When Trying to Make More Sales

make more sales

This blog post is sponsored by our partners at Texworld USA. The content is inspired by three independent designer discussions that StartUp FASHION will be giving at the July show in NYC. But this post is just the beginning– if you’re in NYC this summer and would love to learn more about what we’re discussing below, join me at the show! I’ll be deep diving into these topics. Register for free.

I talk to a lot of emerging designers every single day. I know the struggles and the concerns, the worries, and the truths.

One of the biggest struggles for an emerging brand is often around making sales. Not because the product isn’t great or the website isn’t working. But because to make more sales, there needs to be a thoughtful plan, creativity, and a willingness to spend time doing the things that might not seem important, but actually are.

Things like…

  • Building relationships by bringing value to your audience
  • Learning ways to better communicate with your audience
  • Understanding the importance of a budget, experimentation, and strategic planning
  • Accepting that all of the above take time to work, and not letting yourself lose patience and give up

There are three steps in business that often come to mind as being forgotten or ignored by designers but that have such a huge impact on making more sales in business, they shouldn’t be.

Creating a Thoughtful and Strategic Email Marketing Plan

I know you’ve heard it a million times, but I’m gonna say it anyway: If you’re not using email marketing in your business then you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

The thing is, this is not about sending intermittent sales-focused emails when you’re trying to make some money. It’s also not about sending brand updates and news that no one really cares about because there is no clear indication about how this “news” relates to them.

Email marketing is about creating a thoughtful and strategic plan that not only does the job of making sales but also building a connection to your audience.

The email address is the most coveted of contact information because it is a direct connection to your current and potential customers. As compared to social media which is a connection that you don’t own, one made by the social platform to your audience. And if said platform wants to make it difficult for you to reach the audience, they absolutely can and will.

So sending emails to your audience is therefore a really important part of making more sales in your business.

Here are the steps for a successful email marketing plan:

  • You need to take the time to get a clear picture of who your audience is.
  • You need to do research to determine what kind of information they find valuable.
  • And you need experiment with what you can share to create a bond between you and them. A bond that will lay the foundation for future sales and create a sense of loyalty.

And while it doesn’t mean that you should ignore selling completely in your emails, the goal is to polish your approach to the point where you are sharing value that naturally links itself to a sale.

Your emails should be something so valuable that your audience actually looks forward to receiving them each week.

That value can be found in the form of information, encouragement, support, ideas, inspiration…whatever. But the key is that it is all about them, not an update on you and your business.

I realize this sounds like a lot of work– it is. But that’s the point. Business is a lot of work, and steps like these are where your time and energy is best spent. That’s why we’re talking about it!

I’ll be speaking on this topic at Texworld USA: How to Create an Email Marketing Plan to Turn Subscribers Into Customers, Monday, July 23rd , 11:00am – 12:00 noon
Register for free.

Spending Time Learning How to Write

I realize that learning to write for your business can be intimidating. It doesn’t come naturally to a lot of us. And we can find ourselves getting all caught up in process of making it “perfect”. But I promise you, it doesn’t have to be so scary. There is a structure that makes the process seem more doable. That structure includes:

  • knowing your brand
  • knowing your customer
  • using your voice

Once you have spent the time figuring these things out, you’re next step is to get into the habit of practicing your writing. Practice is the way that you improve. No one, not even skilled writers, get it right on the first try—that’s why the process of editing exists!

The reason learning how to write is so important, and why I consider it a “crucial” step in business, is that your ability to write copy impacts all of your marketing communication:

  • Your website
  • Your social media captions
  • Event fliers and other promos
  • Media outreach
  • Blogging
  • Email marketing
  • How you interact in meetings

And your marketing is what leads to your sales.

If you’re not spending time crafting copy that will connect with your audience, then you’re not crafting copy that will convert to sales.

And sales are obviously an important component of a thriving business! Do you see how learning to write is so closely tied to the success of your business?

Getting Clear on What it Takes to Run a Profitable Direct to Consumer Brand

I’m a huge fan of the direct to consumer model. I think it has a lot of benefits that include more profit for you, a direct connection to your customer, and flexibility in creative production (i.e. designing seasonless collections, creating a signature product to build on rather than a full on collection, and pre-selling new styles for market research).

But that being said, I do understand that to be successful with a direct to consumer model, you do need some capital. I don’t think you need exorbitant amounts of money, but you do need some.

I also understand that with a direct to consumer model, designers can’t be only online. For success, brands need to complement their online stores with live events including pop-ups, trunks shows, markets, and other opportunities to meet and connect with their audience in real life.

What I’ve realized over the years is that a lot of emerging brands don’t understand this.

And that’s a problem.

It’s absolutely essential that when working on your sales channel plan, you take the time to deep dive into what it takes to be successful in D2C.

  • Decide how often you will do live events
  • Create a budget for events, emails, blogging, and social media marketing
  • Learn or hire someone who knows digital advertising and be sure you have a budget to experiment with this
  • Create a strong email marketing strategy
  • Get past fear of embarrassment and create videos, write blog posts, and allow yourself to get vulnerable
  • Spend time figuring out exactly who your brand is and who your customer is

Direct to consumer sales channel can be a lucrative one. But it’s important to understand that you can’t simply launch, send out an email, do a few posts on Instagram and watch the money train pull in.

I’ll be speaking on this topic at Texworld USA: How to Increase Your Online Sales and Exceed Your D2C Goals, Wednesday, July 25th, 11:00am – 12:00noon, Discussion with industry expert Syama Meagher, founder of Scaling Retail  Register for free.

There you go. Those are three steps that shouldn’t be ignored. If you take the time to really work on these things, you will be a lot closer to reaching and surpassing the financial goals you put in place for your business. And you’ll be standing out among a sea of designers who are ignoring these things.

As I mentioned, I’ll be speaking at Texworld USA, happening July 23rd -25th at the Javits Center in NYC!  This show is favorite of mine not just for sourcing fabrics and attending amazing seminars, but also to connect with fellow designers and create relationships with people who working towards the same goals.

Take a look inside last summer’s Texworld USA and Apparelsourcing USA shows.


Nicole Giordano

Nicole is the founder of StartUp FASHION, an online resource and community supporting for independent designers around the world with building their businesses. A deep love for the craft of fashion paired with an adamant belief that success is defined by the individual, led her to found StartUp FASHION, where she helps independent designers and makers screw the traditional fashion business rules, create their own paths, and build businesses they truly love. More than anything else, she’s in the business of encouragement and works every day to remind makers and designers that they have something special to offer the world and that they can, in fact, do this thing!