Now when I wrote the post, I knew going to fashion school was the best decision I ever made. BUT I still felt the need to challenge that mindset, after all… some of the richest men in the world today dropped out of school. In fact, Ralph Lauren didn’t go to fashion school yet made loads of money from the fashion industry. So why exactly is getting the knowledge in the chosen field necessary I wonder?!
NOW! I have spoken to many designers who believe their love for fashion and the fact that they can sketch is really all they need to start a fashion business. HA! I only wish. Yes your love for fashion goes a long way…. it is all that will keep you going when the going gets tough but it is not enough! Even those who studied it in formal environments, backed with our work experience STILL face those challenges. After all, that’s why even the most successful businesses like Coca-cola still spend so much time and money rebranding themselves. But you know what?! When we hit the roadblocks, we knew when to bow out and choose different routes.I also say, when you thoroughly understand fashion, your clients will feed off the confidence and enthusiasm you exude when you talk about your product or service. More often than not, people want to patronise those they can trust and who seem to know what they are talking about. They also want people to advise them based on informed decisions and conclusions reached rather than just gut feeling. If you understand fashion and colours for example, you can explain why certain colours will not work for certain people and certain spaces simply because you understand the psychological effects of colour. Those who attended FEC 3 will tell you that.
I recall extracts from a 4-part series from my church’s sermons, “The 7 Principles Jews Teach Their Children” and the reason for the success of the Jews. I learnt a lot from those cds and have listened to them so many times, I know them by heart. I have even bought them as gifts for people simply because it highlights many things small businesses often neglect and take for granted. One of the most important things I gained from sermons was the fact that Jews ALWAYS invested in the knowledge or gained relevant work experience in whatever field they chose to operate in. They would rather take a loan to fund their education than buy expensive cars or live in expensive houses. Needless to say that almost every successful business person would tell you that they read, read and read, conduct lots of research to broaden their minds and attend various seminars relevant to their chosen fields.
So why oh why do we fashion designers in this environment not do the same?! Why do we hesitate to register for courses or buy books or conduct research on the internet. Why do we rush into setting up our businesses without studying our environment or conducting proper research before we set up. We need to understand the processes involved in setting up the businesses and that is why I decided to run the Fashion Entrepreneurship Courses. Yes it is costing me a lot to run the courses but for me, every single time a designer tells me they are quitting, it breaks my heart because I know there is so much money to make from this industry. If only they were better prepared for the challenges they would face and there are a lot of them.
What many of us concern ourselves with is learning how to sew…. and yes it is important but trust me, it is the least of our problems. Yes we need to learn how to sew but not because we should actually sew but because the knowledge is important to guide our production team. We need to focus more on running our businesses and conducting research and spending more time planning and developing our product than rushing into setting up or bothering about PR and lookbooks. I have seen so many people who loved fashion quit the industry out of frustration. Why?! Simply because they made some avoidable mistakes. Hey! Even I made a lot of mistakes with all the formal education and accounting background I had but I was able to realize the mistakes I made early on in the game and backtrack.
So what am I saying in a nutshell? Simple!
1. Spend more time investing in the knowledge, either a formal or informal education, registering for relevant courses or even surfing the internet. You will be amazed what the University of Google has to offer.
2. Focus on turning that amazing love and passion of yours for fashion into a viable business! As my friend always says, “Unless the Outcome is Income…” – passion to me is completely useless! So even if it is a mere hobby, think about making some money from it, even if it is just to cover your costs.
3. Proverbs 21:5
Great then! That’s my 2 cents for today! Remember, knowledge is power! Trust me, it will be time and money well spent!