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A platform for Fashion Industry News| Business Advice Reviews | Resources

Friday, November 29, 2013

Managing distribution as your on-line fashion boutique grows.

Space for a growing business is always an issue.

One of the main Routes to Market for many of the Start Up Loan businesses we work with is selling their products on-line, either via their own e-commerce website or on other marketplaces.

These on-line boutiques are often run from home, to keep overheads to a minimum, and technology has made it possible to be a global brand from your bedroom. However, as a  business becomes successful and orders increase, it may well become impractical to manage the distribution from home as additional space and staff may be required to accommodate stock and order processing.

This can be a critical point for the business as it may be doing well, but taking on premises and staff is another ball game. The extra financial commitment can easily turn a company making a small profit in to one making a loss.
courtesy of www.saderose.com

Luckily there are ways to manage this growth spurt without taking on large overheads. There are now an increasing number of order fulfilment houses that are set up to take in your stock from the manufacturer and distribute to your customers on your behalf. Traditionally these distribution warehouses only wanted to work with high volumes of stock and deliver to business premises. They were used mainly by large brands delivering to  retailers, but the experiential growth of on-line sales has led to many offering a menu of services to smaller web based retailers including pick and pack distribution, re-processing and customer service.

Obviously there are fees attached to these services, which will need to be included in to your cost prices, but this can be a cost effective way of managing growth. There are many fulfilment warehouses to choose from including Intermail and Amazon offer this service for goods not even sold on their site.

As ever, you’ll need to do your research to check out the comparative costs between companies offering these services. You should find out who else they work for, if they have minimum quantities, where they can distribute to (national and international?), what level of service they can offer you ect. You'll need to manage the relationship carefully and brief them on how to respond to customers and how your goods should be packed as it is important they maintain your standards and reflect your brand in a positive way. Mystery shopping can be a good tool to monitor their effectiveness and check if they are following your brief.

If your brand continues to grow there will come a point where the critical mass could mean it is better to take on premises and staff to bring the distribution back in-house, but by that time hopefully the business will be in a stronger position to take that next step.

If you want to find out more, our practical Routes to Market workshop will inspire you and further information on access to funding and free mentoring is on our Start Up Loan page.

If you'd like to share your experiences with fulfilment houses and have any recommendations for our community,  we'd love to hear from you.

By Alison Lewy

Saturday, September 7, 2013


We’re pleased to announce another exciting competition, in collaboration with ASOS Marketplace to win a FREE online boutique.

ASOS Marketplace is the place where anyone, anywhere in the world, can sell fashion, to anyone, anywhere in the world.

Boutiques are small businesses selling their own label, other brands or vintage collections, directly to the customer.

This competition is a fantastic chance to showcase your collection to a global audience, increase your sales and build brand awareness, whether you already sell on line are looking for a new avenue to grow your business.


One lucky winner will win a free ASOS Marketplace boutique for six months *
One runner up will win a free ASOS Marketplace boutique for three months *
* normal fee’s resume after this period, for more info read ASOS Marketplace Features & Fees

  • Open to fashion clothing, vintage or accessories brands based in the UK, with a target market of 20 something men & women.
  • You must be a Fashion Angel newsletter subscriber – you can sign up here
  • Your collection must have at least 10 pieces available.
  • You cannot be currently selling on ASOS Marketplace


To enter the competition, entrants must complete the 


Deadline for Entries: Midnight 29th September 2013

Finalist Notified: Monday 7th October  2013

Competition Terms & Conditions
  • Fashion Angel is the promoter and solely responsible for all aspects of the Competition.  ASOS Marketplace is the prize sponsor.
  • To enter, participants must fill in the online application form 
  • Entries close: Date 29th September 2013
  • Open to UK residents only
  • One winner will receive a six months boutique on Asos Marketplace and one runner up three months. The normal fee’s resume after this period, for more info read ASOS Marketplace Features & Fees
  • No cash alternative. Prizes are non-transferable
  • FA reserves the right to amend the prize content as necessary
  • Only one entry per person
  • Entrant’s data is covered by UK data protection laws.
  • Winners  will be required to have at least 10 styles available to upload to their boutique
  • Entrants must not falsify information – if they do this may lead to disqualification
  • Entrants acknowledge that by entering the competition they are authoring Fashion Angel and ASOS to contact them with relevant marketing information. Entrants data will not be passed to third parties
  • Entrants acknowledge that if they win the competition they must agree to be featured in promotional material on the promoter and sponsor’s websites.
  • By entering the competition, the winner is agreeing to abide by ASOS Marketplace  standard terms and conditions.
  • Fashion Angel reserves the right to withdraw, change or cancel the competition at any time.
  • The Promoter : Fashion Angel 62 Sutton Crescent, Barnet, Herts, EN5 2SS

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Business Advice from Jewellery Designer and Entrepreneur Gia Belloni

In another of our regular interviews with designers that are making their mark, we talked to Gia Belloni Founder and Creative Director of  British luxury jewellery brand Gina Belloni.

Before completing her degree in Fashion Jewellery from the Sir John Cass in 2010, Gia gained experience in interior designer and photography. ‘I have always enjoyed creativity. Since leaving university, I have been constantly absorbing new skills’ . This includes being qualified in CAD level 1,2 and advanced.
Today, Gia runs her own label, Gia Belloni, and is stocked at numerous high end fashion online stores such as LUXX LAB and Not Just a Label.

Here Gia tells us her story, and the different aspects of running a creative business in the fashion industry.

When did you decide to start your own jewellery brand and how did you come to that decision?
My jewellery brand grew from my initial interest in making unique, one off pieces of hand fabricated jewellery incorporating gemstones. I then realised that learning goldsmithing & design professionally  would suite me in so many more ways.  After finishing the degree at university, I began to realise this could be the career path I wanted to take.  I later attended The Goldsmiths ‘Getting Started’ course, where I formulated a more cohesive plan to begin this journey.  Research and commitment are key ingredients in starting your own business, knowing your own strengths and weaknesses and realising what you enjoy doing most. My ideas for the future are numerous, but one step at a time is the way forward.

How did you get to the point you are at now?
This question really makes me realize how much I’ve been doing! I began by looking at my design process and researching the market.  Starting any new business means taking on many roles which you are not necessarily familiar with. Jewellery is no exception. A lot of research, a lot of contact growing and a huge amount of learning about materials and production, manufacturing, marketing and PR all have an important role. I’m naturally a worrier, so for me, the journey so far, has been fraught with worry and concerns. I knew certain things would benefit me a huge amount, such as CAD, so I put a lot of time and effort into really learning them and integrating them into my workflow. I would also add determination to this answer – a lot of determination to realise a vision and being able to adapt and evolve to what unknowns could be around any corner.
Since you started your business , what has been your biggest achievement ?
I was very pleased with my ability to learn CAD, this was something I found daunting in the beginning, so I’m quite proud that I am now proficient with this technology. Also, my 1st collection was a great achievement. The combination of creating fine and well made work and getting it to fall within certain price points is very challenging, so I feel very pleased at the results. A personal proud moment was selling one of my designs to a Royal!

What was the most difficult obstacle during starting your own business and how did you overcome it?
The hardest part of starting my own business has definitely been the financial commitment you have to make to it. It is a nerve wrecking thing to throw everything you have at something. My way of overcoming this has been to research the market and establish a clear direction and strategy and defferentiate between what is essential for growth and what can wait . Another challenge I have found is starting up production. To be able to consistently provide the same level of quality and value has been very hard to orchestrate! Trying to create the designs you want without compromising or simplifying and yet get them to fall within certain price points – this is a steep learning curve and I don’t expect it will be ending anytime soon! You just have to keep focused, keep pushing and keep learning as many tricks as possible to reduce costs without reducing the quality of my designs.

In which business areas did you receive support?
I have had some financial support which  has been an essential course of action in order to be able to grow and move in the direction I have planned. A recent decision was to employ a good PR agency, which involved a big financial commitment.  It wouldn't necessarily suit everyone, but for me it is an important step.

You stock at online stores such as Luxxlab, Boticca and jewelstreet. How did you decide which are the right online stores for your brand?
Initially I was happy to list on quite a few online stockists. However, as things have progressed I’ve been able to look at the stockists that suit my work more and rationalise my online outlets. I now look for the length of time an online stockist has been running, how much marketing they put into their store, who they also stock and the price points available there as well as the overall ‘look’ they present. 

Certain online boutiques are wonderful to work with and I am very glad to be listed on, it is a fabulous way of reaching a wide audience. Online boutiques take time to build momentum and a strong client base. The most important thing I consider is the kind of products the online boutique sells; if they are very cheap and cheerful then it’s unlikely that customers will be looking for higher priced items, so I think designers have to consider their market and stock appropriately.

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who plan to start their own creative business?
 I love sharing what I’m learning (both what’s worked AND what hasn’t!). However, everyone is different, so you have to research your market and what suits your designs and your way of working, what works for one may not for another. 

The jewellery trade is multi faceted, so there are many different ways of starting in business.  If someone wants to create a brand then my advice is to be very clear about what you want to do and how you work. Ask yourself many questions and be a ‘devils advocate’. Once you have done this, be positive. It may sound glib, but believing in yourself and reacting as positively as you can to everything that comes your way will make all the difference. 

My overall advice would be to try and map out what you would like to happen and how you can make it happen. Then be ready to have nothing go the way you thought it was going to go!  Think: BACK UP PLANS! If it all flows as planned, this is amazing, but if you encounter hurdles, have alternate ways of reaching the desired outcome, then you can quickly switch to plan b and keep moving forwards. Be determined, take on board any advice and give it due consideration. Above all, try & be fair to yourself, we can’t all be born knowing the answer to everything, it takes time to become more confident in decisions made.

What motivates you?
I've been sent these pictures today by a customer from San Francisco. I was rather impressed with their clean character and it turns out that her friend is a professional photographer and was snapping away all night. I thought they were rather beautiful. It's so nice to hear from happy customers!

Interview by Katja Widder

Monday, September 2, 2013

Video of the Week - Tory Burch gives Business Advice for Fashion Entrepreneurs

Our favourite video this week is this video featuring Tory Burch speaking about women entrepreneurs, the importance of having your own point of view in the fashion industry, and advising to never say no and always think forward.

A great inspiration for all fashion entrepreneurs!  

By Katja Widder

Friday, August 30, 2013

David Longshaw on Setting Up his Own Fashion Label

In this week's interview we talked to fashion entrepreneur David Longshaw, Founder and Designer of one of London’s highly regarded emerging designer brands.

David graduated from Central St Martin’s with a BA (Hons) in Fashion Design (womenswear) in 2005 and achieved an MA from the RCA in 2007, and has been nominated for numerous international design awards. 

In February 2010, after gaining experience as a designer at Alberta Ferretti and Max Mara in Italy, David returned to the UK to launch his own label. He won the BFC/ELLE Talent Launch Pad 2010 and was selected for the ‘ones to watch’ catwalk show by Fashion Scout and to show at the LFW Exhibition. Today, David Longshaw’s collections are sold worldwide in the UK, USA, Japan, Hong Kong, Dubai and more.

David shared with us some of his valuable experience running his own fashion label.

When did you decide you wanted to launch your own label?
I knew I wanted to start my own label before I went to Central St. Martins. This was the reason I wanted to go there and then decided to complete my MA at the RCA.

How did you decide when was the right time to set up the label ?
It was important for me to gain some experience before starting my own label and working for Max Mara gave me the chance to gain high end commercial experience. Once I learnt as much as I could, I felt ready to come back to England and start my own label.

Having gained valuable industry  experience but felt I had  my own distinctive style (in design) to offer. Also, I wanted to start my label before I got too comfortable with the job I was doing. 

What has been your biggest achievement so far?
That people enjoy wearing my clothes and take pleasure in my work. The likes of Isabella Blow (when I was at St Martins), Helena Christensen wearing my clothes and Mary Quant complimenting me on my designs.

What has been the most difficult obstacle in your career until now, and how did you overcome it?
Dealing with Maude’s ego (Maude is the fictional fabric mouse I created whilst at St Martins and have illustrated for various magazines including Vogue Italia and vogue.com)

What support structures have helped the business grow?
When my first capsule collection was selected for Fashion Scout's ‘one’s to watch’ catwalk show and for the LFW exhibition I was lucky to receive mentoring from them. At that point, different PR agencies also approached me to represent the brand. Another important element was hiring an accountant. Many young designers forget about the money side and think they can just spend all their time designing collections. You have to make sure that you are on top of the finances.

I also received support from the UKFT to exhibit in Paris for Fashion Week and our production is outsourced to a variety of different factories and individual machinists.  

What would you describe as the most important decision you have made in order to get to where you are today?
Deciding on the direction and style I wanted to develop for my label and to stay true to that idea was important in the development of my USP. Part of my brand positioning strategy was to showcase my creativity through multiple channels.

I created a weekly comic strip for Vogue Italia online and an animation for LOVE magazine, as well as collaborations such as a multi-media art installation for the last LFW. All of which adds to the label in general.

After the  ‘One’s to watch’ catwalk, I had to decide which route to take. I didn't want to invest all the business's money in to catwalk presentations. Catwalk shows can cost 20- 50K and grow to 100-200K, and this twice a year. It's just not a sustainable business model for young designers.

Catwalks work as part of the advertising and marketing strategies of big labels like Chanel. I didn't want to get too wrapped up in the (catwalk show) glory. As a young designer you need to sell the collection, and it needs to make sense as a business. That’s why I decided to exhibit in Paris and London where I can meet people who are relevant to my business such as buyers and press. At exhibitions you meet people face to face and can build relationships.

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who plan to start their own fashion label?
Do your research! Absorb information about pricing, stores, range plans, etc. – talk to different people at different stages of their business journey. Networking and introductions are very important. As an example, through gaining funding  to exhibit in Paris I was invited to a party at the British Ambassador’s residence and introduced to the owner of a store, which lead to a collaboration.

With everything you are doing you must be extremely busy. How do you fit everything in?
I like to have several projects at one time I tend to work more efficiently when I'm very busy – the projects can all help inspire each other and when I'm resolving problems for one aspect of a collection it may give me an idea for another project…also I don’t get much sleep.........

What are the business goals that motivate you? 
To continue being as creative as possible and to create clothing, designs, animations that people love.

David Longshaw A/W 13/14

David Longshaw A/W 13/14

Illustrations by David Longshaw

Interview by Katja Widder 

Friday, August 23, 2013

6 Reasons using Google Tools can improve your Fashion Business

Most of us use Google as our default search engine, but it offers so much more, including a host of free tools that can help your fashion business.

Here are our 6 favourites:-

Google +

1.  Lets potential customers find your business faster
Using Google+ improves your SEO. Google+ is Google’s answer to Facebook and unlike  other social media channels, posts are indexed in to Google search results. This means customers are more likely to find your website through Google search.

2. Helps you target the right posts to the right people
While posts on Facebook or Twitter reach all your followers, Google+ enables you to create ‘circles’ and segment your audience in different categories. How about creating a circle for customers, and one for influencers such as bloggers?

Google Drive

3. Offers you flexibility
Have you tried Google Drive? This app allows you to access your work from any computer, smartphone or tablet. You can share documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more with others and work together online on the same file at the same time.

Google Analytics

4. Gives you insight in the way people find your website
The Multi-Channel Funnels, a tool of Google Analytics, allow you to get insight in your consumers’ online behaviour and how they make their purchase decision.
It shows you the pathway your consumers are going until they reach your website or online shop. For instance, whether they already know your brand and directly type in the URL of your website or whether they find it through a search engine.

5. Helps you find out which social media channels work best for your business
This also allows you to see how the social media channels you are using interact and which of these channels drive traffic to your site.  

6. It's free
Google Analytics is free if your website generates 10 million viewers or less every month.

How have Google Tools helped your fashion business?

By Katja Widder

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Start Up Loan helps Swimwear Designer Sarah Reader Swim to Success

Designer Sarah Reader applied for a Start Up Loan to help her set up her new swimwear label Project 104. Sarah had become frustrated that she couldn't find  any swimwear she liked in the marketplace, at an affordable price.

A graduate in fashion design at Ravensbourne, she decided to combine her design skills with her professional swimming background, and fill this gap in the market .

She decided to design a swimwear collection that was an affordable alternative to the mass produced offer on the high street. The Project 104 ‘s USP is that it offers the first limited edition, individually numbered fashion swimwear made entirely in the UK. She is passionate about ethical sourcing and supporting UK manufacturing, so keep production in the UK was a key element of her business proposition.

She heard about the Start Up Loan scheme via delivery partner Fashion Angel who is the only partner specialising in supporting fashion industry entrepreneurs. Sarah says ” The pre-loan support I received was highly beneficial in assisting me to think through and gain a better understanding of my business direction and goals.”
The process helped her identify the brand's target customer as 18-35 fashion conscious women who want a unique quality product that they won't find others wearing.

The Start Up Loan was used to finance the development of the first collection named   “My Body, My Shrine”, make up some stock to sell, and to set up the Project 104 e commerce site, which was launched in May 2013.

Project 104 S/S 13 Collection
Project 104 S/S Collection

Sarah’s advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs ” Plan, plan, plan! If you don't spend enough time planning and researching you’re constantly chasing your tail and achieving nothing”. Having a clear idea of what you’re going to do with key milestones, helps you achieve your goals step by step. Keeping track of your finances is also essential.  Designing is only part of the business, if you don’t understand and control the money going in and have a clear handle on your costs and profit margins, then your creativity doesn't have a chance of being a viable business.”

She goes on to say “Thanks to Fashion Angel I have channelled my creative ambitions into what I believe to be my business future. The initial Start Up Loan funding has enabled me to invest in creating a supply chain for my products that would be impossible to do otherwise as banks aren't interested in helping a start up business without security.”

Her plans are for the brand to supply international stockists as well as selling direct to the consumer via the Project 104 website. Since the launch they have secured both national and international stockists, so she is well on her way to making her dream a reality…..


See how a Start Up Loan and FREE mentoring from Fashion Angel can help make your business dream happen.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Watch out for London’s emerging designers!

                                                                                                       Sister by Sibling AW 13

It’s the exciting time of the year again – 1 month to go until London’s most popular designers will show their SS/14 collections at London Fashion Week starting on Friday, 13th September.

How about looking at the capital’s emerging designers?

Looking back on last season’s AW/13 shows in February, Sister by Sibling, Simone Rocha, Marques Almeida, J.JS Lee and Lucas Nascimento are the 5 winners of the BFC/NEWGEN catwalk sponsorship. They will all be showing their SS/14 collections at LFW starting with Sister by Sibling on Day 1 who are undoubtedly the ones to watch - we can't wait to see how their designs have evolved last season.

Some wise words from the Sister by Sibling team Joe Bates, Sid Bryan and Cozette McCreery ‘It is never as easy as it looks and most importantly that invaluable lesson in how not to do something. Also if all else fails: have a cup of tea, a nice biscuit and laugh!’ 

That’s an attitude we love!

By Katja Widder

Source: British Fashion Council

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Which are the right sales channels for your fashion business?

                                                 Image courtesy of Stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Choosing the right sales channels from the beginning contributes significantly to the success of your business.
There are plenty of opportunities on how to bring your products to your target customer. The first thing to decide is do you intend to retail your products yourself or sell them to a wholesaler? Or do you choose a combination of both?

B2C – Business to Customer (Retail)

The Advantages

  • There is no intermediary, which means you will make a higher profit.
  • Gain brand loyalty – buying directly from your brand will generate a more personal shopping experience for your customers and if they like your products, they will certainly come back to you.
  • Improve your cashflow. Cashflow is the difference in amount of cash in your account at the beginning of a period and the amount at the end of the period. Selling your products directly to the customer means that money will go into your account as soon as you make a sale, while in wholesale in can take up to 120 days until you receive the payments for your products. Especially if you have just started your business it is important to have sufficient cashflow in order to pay your expenses.

B2B – Business to Business(Wholesale)

Wholesale involves selling your products to retail stores. Here are 3 facts on wholesale which are good to know:

  •  Wholesale can be an effective way to grow an emerging brand as you will have larger orders on your products.
  •  It is lower risk as you will manufacture according to the orders you receive from the retailers. However, as the retailer has to also make their (larger) profit margin, your profits will be lower than when selling directly to your customers.
  • Having your product in the right stores can be an effective and quicker way of building your brand especially if you are a new brand and want to gain press coverage.

Do you want to learn more about how to determine the right sales channels for your business? Check out our Routes to Market workshop on 2nd October. 

More info on our upcoming events and workshops here.

By Katja Widder

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Digital Innovation in Fashion Contest launches

Announcing the launch of the ‘Digital Innovation Contest – Fashion’ in association with the British Fashion Council (BFC) and the Tech City Investment Organisation (TCIO), to encourage digital innovations that can be applied in the fashion and retail industry.

Offering four businesses the opportunity to develop innovative commercial prototypes that meet the broad objectives that have been set out, together with industry partners BOXPARK, Holition, the London College of Fashion’s Centre for Fashion Enterprise (CFE) and Designer-Manufacturer Innovation Support Centre (DISC), and Bauer Media/Grazia.

This contest is offering four awards of up to £25K to develop innovative solutions

Theme one: Design

  • One award of up to £25k for the development of a prototype service or application for the “mass personalisation and customisation” challenge supported by London College of Fashion – DISC & CFE. 
  • One award of up to £25k for the development of a prototype service or application for the “intelligent clothing and accessories” challenge supported by Holition. 

Theme two: Retail

  • One award of up to £25k for the development of a prototype service or application for the “the mall of the future” challenge supported by BOXPARK. Read more.

Theme three: Media

  • One award of up to £25k for the development of a prototype service or application for the “creating a communal and responsive experience through mobile technology” challenge supported by Bauer Media/ Grazia.

The contest is open to any company or developer; it is not necessary to have an existing app or service to apply, or to be currently active in the challenge sector. Applications will be judged on the level of innovation of the proposed prototype, which should meet the specific category challenge and show wider commercial potential and applicability. The applicants must also have a clear idea of the revenue earning potential/business model of their proposed solution.

In addition to the funding, winners of the ‘Digital Innovation Contest – Fashion’ will retain their intellectual property and benefit from the valuable opportunity to establish an early customer for their new technology, by running a minimum three-month trial with the relevant contest partner.

Deadline for submissions to the contest is 12 noon, Wednesday 12 July.

Full contest and application details are available here.