Hey Royal Fam!
Last week I had the incredible opportunity to take part in an amazing event hosted by none other, UK fashion giant, Topshop and Fashion insider "The Business of Fashion." Taking place at the legendary Parson’s School of Fashion Design here in New York City, the premise of the event was to provide up -and - coming bloggers, fashion designers, and e-commerce entrepreneurs insider tips on ways to succeed in an ever-changing fashion industry, particularly in the age of social media.
In attendance? Fashion girl-bosses for this event included Aurora James of @brothervellies .. Iris Alonzo & Carolina Crespo of @everybody.world ... Jennifer Rubio of @away .. And Eva Chen, Head of Fashion Partnerships for @instagram .. Hosted by Lauren Sherman of @bof (Business of Fashion)
Talk about a powerhouses right!? While I won’t bore you with the minute by minute details of the entire event, I did want to share a few important key points that literally anyone can use to level up their online presencse, including fellow small business entrepreneurs like myself.
Start where you are!
What I loved about this panel? For the most part, they weren't afraid to be fully transparent. Aurora of Brother Vellis, made a point to mention that she started her business with just $5,000, despite her accountant joking with her that is was more like $2,000. LOL! That's a far cry from what many businesses start with and for super small start-up owner like myself (growing from my NYC apt), this was so heartwarming and inspiring ... Particularly since starting her brand of quirky, globally sourced shoes, she has gone on to win the 2015 CFDA Fashion Award and is currently participating in their business incubator program ... Did I mention she's also on a 1st name basis with the Anna Wintour!? Again .. INSPO! What also resonated with me was her insistence she herself is still learning at this phase of her creative career and that for beginners? We "should put ourself out there" and start ... Somewhere.
How many times have we talked ourselves out of an idea, because we were waiting on the perfect moment. I’m part of an amazing entrepreneurial Facebook group which ranges from small start-ups to men and women making millions. And you know what's amazing? The folks in that Facebook group and the ladies on the Topshop panel echo the exact same sentiments … Work with the resources you have .. Right here .. Right now. Just start! Even if that means starting small and mastering just one product. All the research and idea hatching in the world means nothing if you aren't executing. And I mean let's be honest, no one wants to be that guy or girl that has grand idea “stolen” by the next person who wasn't afraid to dive right in! This of course leads to the next point ...
According to our Topshop panel, while it may be very daunting, one of the biggest skill sets fashion creatives and entrepreneurs should have is the ability to look fear in the eye and proceed anyway. In my confessions post some time ago, you guys might recall me telling my family (for the 2nd time in life LOL! ) I’m passing up on chasing med-school dreams, this time? To travel and start the Q.A.C webstore. As you can imagine my family was definitely confused LOL! They didn’t understand my passions at the time, although thankfully they do now. Ultimately, however, until your loved ones come around or until that lottery ticket hits ... There will be a time when you have to trust your gut and dream-chase alone! Are you comfortable with that?
Below is just a few more insights on what Eva of Instagram tells a great story about the advice Vogue Magazine legend Anna Wintour, gave about failure and the blessing that comes with “messing up.”
The Power of Social Media
By now, unless you’ve been living under a rock ... Or stuck in the dial-up era 1990’s, you now see the power of the internet and how it can literally change lives. We now know it's not “just twitter” anymore. Increasingly, we’re seeing dreams come true with the just a few key strokes. And while it might appear pretty straight forward, to those utilizing social media as a business tool, know it's more that just posting a great pic to your favorite platform and then forgetting about it. Like many of us already know, there's a thoughtfulness behind each post. In creating a unique brand on social media, Eva Chen, Head of Fashion Partnerships at Instagram, offered the following advice:
Are you over thinking your posts? If you're noticing that posting to your favorite platform(s) has become more "work" than fun, it's time to rethink your content and post concepts that ring true to your everyday life and brand. Have a favorite pair of shoes? Post them .. Than snack in your purse that you can't live with out? Share it with your audience. In short, post what you love rather than what you think people will love.
You become better at what you practice daily. Posting once per / day, particularly on Instagram, is not enough to have your content seen. It takes at least 3 posts daily to boost visibility and increase engagement grow your audience. She recommended 5 times daily. I'm currently managing to post twice a day consistently.
Working to build your social media platform organically is how all brands and businesses start out. However, in order to grow to the next level, nearly all of the panelists agreed that there will come a time when you have to spend a bit of your own money to get the word out about your creative endeavors ... Sadly, organic "word of mouth" will only get you and your business but so far ... Cue? Marketing. According to Jennifer from "Away," a widely under utilized tool on most social media platforms is the ad functioning. She shares her thoughts below ...
According to the panel (and my awesome Facebook group I might add) .. Spending a few coins to market your business / brand in a beautiful, yet clear (and simple way) will connect you with a wider audience that might appreciate for unique take on fashion, but not have know to find you otherwise. That said, the days of fashion creatives only focusing on their style / art is over! Every last panelist agreed that learning the business side of fashion is now an absolute must if you want to get and stay head of the game! Even just a 1-2 business courses a a year can make a huge difference in knowing how to position your brand in an increasingly crowded online space.
Case in point, Aurora asked the audience if they knew what the acronym "R.T.Vs" stood for in the fashion industry. As hands went up around me, I realized I had no idea ... Don't be like me yall. LOL! .. PS: I pride myself on "learning my craft" so after the event? I Googled my butt off to learn what others around me already seemed to know (if you own a fashion business, you should too) .. There's no shame in not knowing, only in not seeking out the answer.
In short, the general panel synopsis was this ...
"It's NICE to have a great product ... It's even BETTER to have a great story behind it" ~ Eva Chen, Head of Fashion Partnerships at Instagram
Ultimately, I my takeaway challenge for myself (as well as my fashion peers) is to work harder to define just that ... What exactly is my story? How is my personal and QAC related content different than the billions already on these various platforms posting photos of their latest "outfit of the day" or latest e-commerce creation? With my love of fashion and history, as I grow in my creative and entrepreneurial abilities, I hope I am doing just that ... Sharing bit of my journey and that of my cultural artisans in my travels. As always ... The Journey Continues!
PS: Thanks Topshop for this awesome swag bag of makeup goodies!