We are thrilled to start the new season of Dubai Fashion News Podcast. In this first episode, you will be learning how to build your fashion brand with fashion consultant Maire Morris.
In fact, Maire Morris is coming back to Dubai to deliver a 2-day masterclass at D3 the 2nd and 3rd of November about precisely that. The podcast we recorded it when she came here for the first time to deliver her masterclass back in May. I am very excited to have her back! Why? Because she was simply awesome.
She has over 15 years of experience working in the fashion industry in different roles. Initially a fashion designer, she struggled to start her first brand. That helped her develop skills and knowledge in fashion buying, merchandising, and branding. Maire is an expert when it comes to sourcing and manufacturing too. She created her eponymous company: Morris Fashion Consultancy and started helping local and international brands. She soon realized that there was still a gap in fashion education and that there is a real need to reinforce and link creativity and business. Hence her masterclass was born.
Sit down now and hit the play button to enjoy the full interview.
HOW TO BUILD YOUR FASHION BRAND
According to Maire, the first thing designers need to do is plan their business and plan their product range. This is critical even if it is meant to change multiple times. The exercise of creating your business plan will allow you to think ahead and strengthen weaknesses your business might have.
In the business plan, you will cover market research, define your brand identity, make sure you have a financial plan so that you don’t run out of money before starting, develop your marketing and sales strategies, plan your inputs and where you would be sourcing them, etc.
We asked Maire how we can attract investors when we are barely starting or even when we are just a project. She advises preparing a very strong Business plan with very good financials. The only way to get investors at the very early stage is to convince them of the potentiality. Most of the fashion brands though start with bootstrapped funds. And having business partners is not easy either. You need to find the right fit for you and for your business. Someone that brings something you don’t have to the table. Finding a complementary profile to yours and making sure he/she is able to respect the division of tasks and is someone you can trust blindly.
SOURCING AND MANUFACTURING
This is a nightmare for most fashion start-ups. Maire recommends working hard on the initial product development plan. Thanks to that you will have an idea of what you will require to produce your product range: meters of textiles, cost of fabric, labor, set up, suppliers, shipping etc. Based on that you can start creating the samples. With those samples, you can approach the buyers. When the buyers are ready to sign a contract, then is when you can go ahead and mass produce.
MOQ or minimum order quantities is one of the many obstacles small fashion brands face. Maire Morris recommends looking for production partners and pay the surcharge fee they might be requesting. It is important to know the surcharge fee if any, as you need to add it to your costs and it will affect the final pricing or your margin.
When looking for suppliers, whether local or overseas, she advises to always visit their factories. Be attentive to potential red flags as poor communication, unethical behavior or disorganization and keep an eye open at any given time.
The keyword when selecting a supplier must be “reliability”, not price, or name… It might be a costly mistake.
TO COPYRIGHT OR NOT TO COPYRIGHT
When sharing your designs to get the initial quotes, you can have the suppliers sign a Confidentiality agreement. That way if the suppliers breach the contract the designers can have a legal case. Copyright takes long and in the fast-paced fashion industry, it will put you out of business. It would only make sense if your product or idea is revolutionary or very innovative.
She advises though to always trademark the logo. That is what gets copied all the time if the company gets well-known.
Part of the business plan is the pricing structure. It is very important to get all the factors added as the result will be your cost of producing: your base. To that, you can add your margin.
If you don’t have all this under control you might be working a lot and not covering your own costs.
Part of the initial business plan. Your product, your colors, your logos, your packaging, your website … all that is part of your brand identity and it is critical. At the end of the day, it reflects on how your brand is perceived by your target market. That is why it is very important to define who your target market is because it is your starting point.
We asked Maire Morris how we can make our brands stand out in such a saturated market. She says that the trend now is to envelop the brand within the lifestyle where it belongs. Branding is now immersive. Share the lifestyle of your product, look for images that recall the product. There is always an aspirational factor, so make your product desirable, appealing and very importantly authentic.
Social media is a good way to start but be selective. Concentrate on one or two -make sure your target market likes the social media networks you choose.
WITH THE BUYERS
Buyers are extremely busy, and they have lots of lookbooks and people looking for them. If you want to be able to access them, go through the right channels and be professional. Have a strong lookbook and send it on time and always do follow up. Of course, don’t shot to every store on the planet. Check fist that the store they represent is a place where your product will sit nicely- in shape, price, target market, demographics etc.
Be aware that stores might have terms and conditions that might impact your financials (payments in 90 or 120 days, or absence of deposit for example). Are you able to do business with those terms? It is a question you better address without delay when negotiating with them. At the end of the day, look for win-win solutions to be fair on both sides.
ABOUT THE MASTERCLASS “ HOW TO BUILD YOUR FASHION BRAND ”
Maire Morris will go step by step in her two-day masterclass. The seats are limited as it is a very practical hands-on masterclass. If you want to get in touch with Maire, you can email her here.
Date: Nov 2nd- 3rd 2018
Price: 2.990 Dhs is the full price. But if you book before the 15th of September, you will enjoy a huge discount. The early bird price is 1.695 Dhs.
If you want to have more information or if you want to join the masterclass, click here.
NOW hit the play button and listen to the full interview. Maire is a great communicator and she explained it all beautifully!
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