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Ready for the Runway? (Pt. 1): Catwalk, Don’t Run

Ready for the Runway? (Pt. 1): Catwalk, Don’t Run

It finally happened… you’re looking at that rack and it’s full. Your life’s work, your first collection, is ready for the world to see. It’s time to plan your first fashion show!

Or is it?

I’m Benji, the founder of kayneLIVE. With 15+ years in the event production and lighting/audio/visual/design industries, I’m going to share some of the lessons I’ve learned the hard way about planning a successful first fashion show, and how to do it on a tight budget. But first, we need to decide if it’s really time for a fashion show. I’ve seen countless designers get overeager and throw their first fashion shows too soon, only to find themselves with no audience or a poorly presented line, damaging their brand potential.

A fashion show is loosely defined as any event to showcase a designer’s collection. More specifically, the goal of a fashion show is to showcase your collection of clothes, shoes, or accessories to three key audiences: fashion editors, fashion photographers and fashion buyers. It’s tempting to throw a fashion show to finally show your friends your years of hard work, but that’s just called throwing a party.

  • Is your line ready and complete? Do you absolutely love it and want it to represent you to the world indefinitely?
  • Do you have connections to the fashion PR world?
  • Do you know if editors or bloggers will come?
  • Is there anyone who buys what you’ve designed on a wholesale basis that you know is interested in seeing your collection presented?
  • Can you pack the house, in addition to the editors and buyers, with supportive friends and fellow fashion industry professionals?

If the answer is yes, then it’s quite possibly time to start planning your first fashion show. We’ll talk about that in the next column. But if you’ve hesitated on the answer to any of those questions, you need to do some networking and PR first. Some ideas include:

  • Reach out to a small fashion PR agency or professional freelance publicist and set up an initial consultation. If your vibes match, and you have a little money to spend, they will be your key to bringing the right audience. Take as many of these meetings as you can, listen carefully, take notes, and ask tons of questions; the knowledge you will gain is priceless.
  • Team up with an established designer to do a “secondary” show, perhaps in their venue before their show. Or collaborate to integrate your clothing with an accessory designer’s presentation. Lots of established designers remember what it was like to be just starting out, and perhaps you can barter some of your services in exchange for the help.
  • Beef up your social media presence, and begin connecting with the right audience on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as on specialized sites such as OSFashion. Get out there and network. Go to parties, go to bars, go to clubs. Go to small fashion shows, trunk sales, and designer showcases. Take classes at your closest fashion institute and pick the brains of the guest speakers.

Once you’re confident you’ll be able to get the press and buyers to your show, it’s time to start planning. Get your credit card ready (fashion shows cost money to throw!) and we’ll chat about the different ways to showcase your collection and begin pre-production.

Original image created by Jason Hargrove.

Posted in: Public Relations

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Fast Fashion Finds – February 2013, Pt. 1

Fast Fashion Finds – February 2013, Pt. 1

Open Source Fashion is all about connecting people and making information and resources more easily available to those starting out in the fashion business. These resources include the latest fashion business news and valuable insights for designers and fashion start-ups. Twice a month, OSF Magazine will bring you Fast Fashion Finds, a collection of articles, lists and op-eds curated by OSFashion Founder, Pavan Bahl and Content Coordinator, Alex J. Tunney. For more great articles check us out on Twitter – @osfashion.

Third Wave Fashion || IFBcon: Blogs, Brands and the Business of It All by Kellie Friedman

Founded in 2007, Independent Fashion Bloggers (IFB) is a self-funded organization that cultivates a community for fashion bloggers to share their experiences. With over 55,000 active members, IFB has become the go-to source for insider tips and industry information.

For the past couple of years, founder Jennine Jacob and the IFB team have been hosting a twice-yearly conference for bloggers. IFBcon is a two-day event, scheduled around New York Fashion Week, that brings together bloggers from around the world to network and learn from the best. Expert panels, brand presentations, and sponsor demos, are just a few of the exciting events that take place during the conference.

Since TWF is lucky enough to have bloggers on the team, we were able to attend the event and soak it all up. With six different panels of experts, there was a lot of advice and memorable information presented. We’ve narrowed down the day’s events to give you an all-encompassing recap.

Third Wave Fashion || NYFW Fall 2013: 5 Tech Things You Should Expect to See by Cyndi Ramirez

here’s nothing more exciting – and exhausting – for a fashionista than fashion week (or month if you’re a sought-after editor, blogger, or buyer that has to attend every show under the sun). As things kick off here in NYC, we thought it’d be a good idea to share some predictions that we believe (and already know) will happen this #NYFW.

Now, as many of you know, we don’t report on fashion trends per se, but we are all about predicting what digital trends — especially the ones we see emerging as the models strut down the runway. Here are just a few that we predict will be happening during NYFW Fall 2013.

The Emerging Designer || 6 Insider Tips for Your DIY Public Relations Campaign by Melissa Hall

Sabina Ptacin, President of Red Branch PR and Co-Founder of ‘Preneur and Danika Daly, Founder of Danika Daly PR, know a thing or two about public relations. As publicists, they work with emerging designers to not only pitch their business in hopes of media placement, but to also grow their band. At The Emerging Designer Meetup, they shared their best PR 101 tips to make the process easier and manageable for those doing their own DIY PR efforts.

Business of Fashion || India Inc. | Following the Thread of India’s Artisans by Bandana Tewari

Living in India, it’s not difficult to see the magic that lies in the country’s artisanal crafts and textiles. From the foothills of the Himalayas to the tip of Kanyakumari, there is tremendous variation. We wear them with ease, in a terrific mix of drapes and silhouettes. And we wear them everywhere: to family get-togethers and grand dinners alike.Indeed, the Indian thread is something of an arterial lifeline that connects the spirit of this vast nation. And though the “Made in India” brand hasn’t been cultivated, protected or promoted nearly as much as “Made in France” or “Made in Italy,” it’s no secret that many of the top international fashion brands use Indian craftsmen.

StartUp Fashion || 4 Ways a Fashion Designer Can Build a Relationship with a Retailer by Dominique Leger

Sometimes it’s just as difficult to be noticed by a retailer as it is to find a needle in a haystack or a lucky four leaf clover. You need to be different and stand out from the rest but you don’t want to risk being brushed off for shouting ‘pick me pick me pick me!’ over and over again.

LinkedIn || Will Software Eliminate Physical Retail? Not Quite by Reid Hoffman

Software will not replace all offline retail, but will be used instead to transform certain offline retail experiences. Software can bring more customers to the stores, increase conversion in the store, reduce overall costs for the retailer via better analytics on supply and demand, and– for the customer– create a radically better real life shopping experience.

Retail Minded || Optimizing Your Online Outreach by Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle

Let’s face it, most consumers are online in some way or another. Many are online more than anywhere else – such as in your physical stores. Third parties across the nation can help support you in your online goals, but sometimes that simply is not in the budget– and we get that. Here are a few tips you can apply to your business today that can help your online existence thrive.

Tweak Your Biz || Email Marketing Has The Nut Hand At The Marketing Poker Table by Lindsey Harper Mac

In email marketing, less is more. Sending unwanted, too-frequent emails is the quickest way to lose subscribers. Email marketing is the most personal venue for online business communication and you shouldn’t impose on a subscriber’s interest in your business. They signed up for your subscription somewhat attracted to your business or something you offered. That doesn’t mean you can have free reign. Practice restraint. But, more importantly, give subscribers an easy way out.

Inc. || Tech Trends: New Ways to Connect by John Brandon

When I hand out business cards at trade shows and other events, I always wonder if they’ll end up on the bottom of someone’s bag–or, worse, in the trash. Over the years, I’ve tried several smartphone apps designed to exchange contact information, but many of them work only if both people have the software installed. Recently, I tried out two promising alternatives, near-field communication and QR codes, at the L.A. Auto Show.

Original Image created by Ben Sutherland.

Posted in: -OS Fashion-

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Design Your Collection With the Bigger Picture in Mind

Design Your Collection With the Bigger Picture in Mind

When I think of designers, I marvel at their creativity, their innovation, dedication to hard work, and the persistence to overcome challenges and adversity. I admire their tenaciousness for life, art, and the desire to help people identify through fashion. I resonate with their vulnerability to showcase their designs before the world, and share their inspiration behind their collection.

While all of this intrigues me, it is when I come across a designer who creates a collection with the bigger picture in mind that I become empowered by their story. What does it mean to “be mindful of the bigger picture?” It is simply seeing the world through a different lens, a transformed perspective where it’s not “me,” rather “we.” If designers choose to use the “bigger picture” lens when designing their collection, then they can build an even deeper story allowing the customer to connect on a more meaningful level.

As the designer thinks about choosing their cause partner, they must first ask the question, why? Why is the idea of giving back and helping society important to me? What drives me to become part of the solution in someone else’s story? Once one understands the “why” then one needs to evaluate “where” they can be of help. The where is determined by our experiences, the discovering of real needs in the world or that simple tug at the heart. When we can have these conversations with ourselves and discover the calling, then we can bridge the gap between our company and our cause.

Here are 5 tips to designing your collection with the bigger picture in mind:

  1. Choose a cause you are passionate about. Think about your upbringing, your family, your values, and be honest about what is important to you.
  2. Look for synergy between your cause and your company. What similarities do you have in common? Compare audiences, age groups, interests, location, etc.
  3. Write down ideas on how your collection and cause partner can have a united voice, and how you can reach people in creative and innovative ways.
  4. Decide your “give back” approach. Will you focus on eco-friendly or sustainable materials? Will you donate a portion of your sales or work with artisans from remote villages and teach them new skills? Will you dedicate a specific piece from your collection to a cause or consider only using local materials?
  5. Share your story. Be vulnerable. Be real. Genuinely express the “why” behind your devotion to a cause.

As Editor-in-Chief at Lifestyle + Charity Magazine, I am always eager to discover these stories and share with our readers in hopes to inspire and empower them.

Posted in: Public Relations

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My Breakup Letter To (Some) VCs

My Breakup Letter To (Some) VCs

[Opinions held by the contributor do not necessarily reflect the opinions of OS Fashion and its members.]

“The game taught me the game. And it didn’t spare the rod while teaching.”  - Jesse Livermore

There’s a new bully in town. And I guess that’s me at least according to a VC who emailed me last week to complain about my blog post. He wrote that it was unfair of me to write such an article. He even told me that I should delete it and all the tweets related to it. I can’t do that. There are just way too many tweets about it that aren’t even mine. The post trended on Hacker News, got over 50,000 uniques and blew away the peak of the domain. A few publications even asked if they could republish it or do a story on me. When I wrote it, I wasn’t worried about it creating polarity because the article wasn’t about VCs in an absolute context. Not all VCs engage in cronyism, invest in stupid startups or perform shallow assessments of start-ups. Moreover, I doubt that smart VCs with balls – the ones I want to partner with – would be even mildly bothered by my last blog post; they are smart enough to use this as an opportunity to really stand out during this Series A Crunch while most other VCs are running away from consumer investments.

At the risk of sounding like a bitchy girlfriend during a breakup, I’d like to tell you that the problem is you, not me. It really is you. In fact, I’d like to propose my issues and solutions for you VCs who are screwing up the start-up ecosystem. There are five primary issues:

  1. Your treatment of non-crony founders
  2. Your obvious lack of guidance
  3. Your herd mentality
  4. Your lack of domain expertise (and)
  5. Your flawed method of assessing consumer start-ups.

VCs who rely on old school-hustle and instinct cannot deliver sufficient returns anymore. Today’s VCs need to grow a pair, gain vision, get domain expertise and adapt their methodologies.

Treatment of Non-Crony Founders
Often non-crony founders are treated like desperate street beggars. Not all non-crony founders are crazy for seeking a Seed or Series A investment from VCs. Founders with compelling business models and domain expertise should be treated with respect and viewed as potential partnership opportunities to build a business and make money. Often VCs pass on these founders without even seeing or hearing a pitch. Check to see if there is a link between the founder’s start-up and his or her background and education. Is the founder an industry superstar? Does the founder have domain expertise relevant to her start-up? If so, it is probably worthwhile to explore the opportunity. Even if you don’t end up investing in his or her start-up, you can connect with an industry superstar or someone with a lot of domain expertise.

Lack of Guidance
Start-up funding shouldn’t be a charitable donation for cronies. It should be about making an investment with returns. When I asked some of the VCs who invested in the start-ups mentioned in my last post, they immediately mentioned that the founders were friends of theirs – no other reason. When a business model isn’t compelling, should friendship be a safety net? Being a crony and having a compelling business model are not mutually exclusive. Can’t VCs find real charities to donate to? How can you let start-ups with flawed business models launch? It’s like letting a friend drive drunk. At least sober him up. At least VCs could help these crony founders come up with a proper business model or help them create a better team. If they are real friends with the founder, they should properly guide him or her and give honest, constructive feedback. At least that way they wouldn’t be wasting their LP’s money.

Isn’t the professional relationship between two co-founders important too? In my last post, one of the start-ups that I mentioned is suffering because the founders broke up after working together less than 6 months. I’m not surprised since they barely knew each other when their company launched.

Herd Mentality
The start-up ecosystem is like junior high. There are a few cool cliques that everyone wants to follow, trends are created by them, and the net effect is a herd mentality. A few VC funds are deemed cool and when they lead a first round of funding, they attract a herd of others. Meanwhile, some VCs will follow and fund any start-up that already that has a committed VC. Often it’s a case of the blind leading the blind, particularly when the leading VC doesn’t go over the business model. Regardless, other VCs follow like flies buzzing around curdled milk in a bowl of Series A Crunch Cereal. Except they are VCs, and there’s no upside to investing in a crappy start-up. If they want to give to a charity, try Charity Water.

A lot of VCs don’t have balls. Just as big balls are an absolute must for a successful entrepreneur, they are absolutely necessary for VCs. Having balls is more than aggression and risk taking, it is the ability to dare to “THINK DIFFERENT,” the desire to build something from scratch, not listen to the peanut gallery and develop independent thoughts. It takes effort and vision, let’s face it-– it’s hard. Maybe the reason why many VCs don’t bother is because they are lazy and blind.

Lack of Domain Expertise
VCs often act like bouncers. Their assessment time of whom to allow “in” is about the same (and as shallow) and lacks domain expertise. Domain expertise can take the form of some or all of the following: deep understanding of the industry, a track record of success in that industry, a history of building superstar products and creating innovations within the sector, and constant self-education. The acquisition of domain expertise is important for (business) survival and definitely for domination. It involves constant evolution and adaptation. Our greatest tool for survival is our ability to think, learn, connect dots and evolve – whether you’re a founder or VC, you have a responsibility to continue to do so. Domain expertise is what separates weak start-ups like Dollar Shave Club and True & Co. from great companies like Nasty Gal, Spanx, and Zappos.

Flawed Method of Assessment
I’ve noticed during my fundraising journey that I prefer VCs who were former bankers or former entrepreneurs. These VCs tend to have vision, balls and domain expertise. The VCs who were former entrepreneurs tend to be more sincere. What I like about bankers is that before making a move, they do research and perform comprehensive competitive analysis in addition to studying industry trends. If they are not experts in the industry, they source the most up-to-date data and research from analysts, pundits and expert networks. VC firms should take a cue from bankers. By contrast, VCs often barely skim a 15-page deck with the least amount of text and most pictures as possible. Heck, Cliff Notes summaries have more meat than the decks VCs like to look at. As a founder of a consumer start-up, I have 2 decks: one for people who understand my industry and one for the VCs who do not.

A new trend in the VC world is that firms are hiring PR firms. Instead of focusing on closing the best deals and making the most money, these VC funds are more preoccupied with their own image while most barely understand “brand” in the consumer world — even though some market themselves as VCs who invest in consumer. Ironic. Instead of worrying about creating their own brand, they should focus on what they are supposed to excel at. Or at least do both, and learn consumer better.

I don’t understand why many VCs hate bankers. Unlike bankers, too many VCs run around town with arrogance and attitude disproportionate to their success. Moreover, VCs often take credit for deals at their firm that they have nothing to do with. Many VCs are clowns, ahem… characters, in the Series A Crunch Clown Show that’s currently playing in Silicon Alley and Silicon Valley. Usually when bankers act arrogant, it’s backed up by a successful record since they are results driven. On the other hand, as Matt Oguz, a venture capitalist and Founding Partner of Palo Alto Venture Science, said, “Traditional VC takes way too much credit for successes, and doesn’t accept its failures.”  It’s time for VCs to grow some balls and take a cue from bankers (several of whom are now launching their own VC funds). If VCs don’t evolve on their own, the game will teach them without sparing the rod. Life is about kicking ass, not kissing ass.


Previously by Sindhya:
VCs Think My Boobs Need An Algorithm
The Naked Truth about Subscription Startups

Original image created by fractured-fairytales.

Posted in: Vision & Opinion

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5 Must Have Event-Planning Apps

5 Must Have Event-Planning Apps

As a planner being organized and taking care of every single detail of an event all while being efficient and on the go is every event planners dream. Now with the functionality of a smart phone it makes this all doable to condense as much functionality as possible while being on the go.

I thought I would share with you some of my secrets– a.k.a.– iPhone apps that will help you plan your next event.

During the years B.A. (Before Apps), we would have to keep all our event information including pics, notes and files in a binder with the possibility of losing it. Now with Evernote, you can keep everything virtually and in one location. Evernote allows you to store everything from pics (storyboards/inspirations), notes and audio recordings. It also gives you the functionality of sharing it with others via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail.

HoursTracker –  4.99
Tracking your time can be very confusing and tedious. Not to mention, the worst case scenario: You’re keeping track via notepad and then  it happens to go M.I.A. What do you do now? What you do now is: download Hours Tracker! Hours Tracker allows you to plug in all of your clients and keep track of how much time you are spending on their event. This app will help you add up all your time, keep track of how long you are spending on projects and will also help you bill your clients correctly.

The Seating Planner+ –  4.99
Seating your guests at a wedding, gala or any event is one of the hardest things to do as well it can make or break your guests experience.  Seating Planner allows you to organize a seating chart and allows you to pull guests from your contact list as well as Facebook.

Managing your event guest list and check in can be quiet a headache. As planners, we always want to know who and how many guests showed up. With Eventbrite, it allows you to setup and customize your event online and have guests RSVP and purchase tickets.  Now that’s great and all, but now how will you manage the guests once they show up? Eventbrite has gone mobile and allows you to check guests in via your mobile phone by simply punching in their name. Once your event is over you can print out a list of attendees, making managing the list a lot more accurate and efficient.

Wedding BudgetFREE
Planning a wedding requires you to be very detail-oriented and on track with the client’s budget. Wedding Budget has taken the hassle out of figuring out your budgets allocation for each category of your wedding. It allows you to input your budget and it will provide you with a detailed list, in dollar value, of how much you should spend for each category of the wedding. It also allows you to input items within each category to help you stay on track. It also allows you to input how much was paid towards each category to see whether you are under or over budget.

Original image created by photosteve01

Posted in: Public Relations

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