10 Risks Every Designer Needs to Take to be Successful
By Beth Diamond (@bethisqueen)
It takes true grit to succeed in an industry as cut throat as Fashion. Success does not happen overnight and it certainly won’t all be glitter and gold, but with risk comes reward. For those willing to take a chance, taking necessary risks might be the key to success. What risk should you consider? Here are 10 risks every designer needs to take:
BE GOOD. This might sound obvious, but when the competition is fierce, the fierce get competitive. Being good doesn’t mean your designs are pretty, it means you’ve done your research, you have the education or experience necessary to start in a competitive business and you’ve prepared yourself for an upward climb. You may have planned to go at it on your own but one of the best ways to test your knowledge and skill is with an internship or apprenticeship. Learn all you can and absorb as much knowledge from those with more experience.
DRIVE. What separates the wildly successful from everyone else? Drive! Those at the top never gave up. You will face difficulties that may make you want to throw in the towel, but your dream will never be realized if you do. You will have to work long hours, make sacrifices and stay incredibly focused. Sometimes this means saying no to plans and fun gatherings with friends and family. Stay focused on your goal, those who love and support you will understand.
BE UNIQUE. Following trends is easy; setting them takes a brave soul willing to step outside comfort zones. If you want to stand out from the hoards of other brands start thinking outside the box. Following a fickle trend might seem like a good idea to garner capital, but doing the same thing as everyone else means you fade into the background. If you want people to take notice and keep coming back for more, do something different. Use your artistic and creative skills to offer the world something new.
INVEST. Don’t have a lot of money? Most people don’t when starting a new business. That’s why investors exist. It’s a scary thought to give up some control of a dream you’ve worked so hard to build, but the resources investors can provide can be pivotal to building an empire. PR maven, Adrienne Mazzone of TransMedia Group says, “Avoid a long-term partnership, and make the investor a buy out should you start to make money, so there are no permanent attachments.”
MARKETING/PR. Unless you’re already famous or have millions of Instagram followers you probably won’t know how to get your amazing designs out there for the world to see. Hiring a Marketing/PR firm might sound expensive but it’s a worthwhile investment. You design, let someone else worry about getting your product out there.
COLLABORATION. Find other creative souls and ask to collaborate. It can be anyone. Find a jewelry or accessories designer and set up a photo-shoot. Submit those photos to magazines or plaster them all over social media. Have a favorite band? Design something amazing for them to wear on stage. Offer your designs to local charity events and put on a stunning fashion show. Getting your name out into the community creates great exposure as well as establishes a potential client base.
INSPIRATION. Be vulnerable. Inspiration is everywhere; one must only open their eyes. Using your own life experiences as inspirations behind your product might be a scary thought, but being vulnerable and sharing your story can make people feel like they have something to relate to. When others relate, they are paying attention. Showing the world who you truly are and putting meaning behind every piece will make what you have to offer truly one of a kind.
REALISM. Understand what you’re doing and be absolutely realistic about it. Never give up your dreams and goals but always be aware of the reality of your situation. Fashion is a competitive business and you are unlikely to become the next Marc Jacobs or Calvin Klein. Even if you never reach superstar status you can still be crazy successful. Also, understand that for a while anyway, you will need to cope with the idea of giving up a steady paycheck. Quitting your job and focusing on your dream of designing is a huge deal, but one that must happen if you ever want to see that dream flourish.
WHERE TO SELL. Opening up your own boutique at the very beginning of your career might be unrealistic. There are plenty of other options available to those not able to have their own brick and mortar. Consider hiring an expert to create an app or website, most people shop online anyway. There are also many e-commerce stores where selling is made easy. Etsy and eBay are two obvious choices but websites like notjustalabel.com and ustrendy.com exist to help emerging designers establish themselves.
BE PRESENT. Blogs, Social media, LinkedIn, and charity events are all important tools to stay active in the community and will ultimately help grow your business. Actively engaging online will help draw people into your creative world and make them feel more connected to what you are building. Keeping people updated on exciting happening like new products and launch dates will keep them wanting more.