Friday, 18 June 2010

Column inches

Time to look seriously into PR representation

So as the work load increases I have decided that I need to get in some outside, professional help with getting the label into magazines and publications. It is also a necessity due to my studio being on the Island, which in turn adds time to any samples being sent out/ returned.

Over the past few months I have been approached by a few PR agencies offering their services. Sometimes for free, sometimes not. I have asked people to come up with proposed ideas of how they would push the brand and sell it to magazines but so far I have not found my lobster. I figure why would I pay someone who is not passionate about the brand, someone who does not get what it is about to sell it when I can probably do a better job with 1/10 the amount of time. Hence I wait and the search continues.

My research so far has been through looking at who other young designers' use, looking at Mission Statements (although these are often wooly), client lists and trying to get a general feel of the company through its website. This all sounds a bit vague, but you have to start somewhere.

Felicities PR

This came to my attention as many of the Vauxhall Fashion Scout designers are here. Their website is under construction / revamp but their blog is going so take a look.
Some of their designers include:
Ada Zanditon, Alice Palmer and Viking Wong.

Goodley PR

They represent William Tempest, Louis Gray, Antipodium and Holly Fulton amongst others.
Website is nice and you can get hold of them via email: or phone: +44 (0)20 7493 9600

Blow PR

They have previously spoken at a Vauxhall Fashion Scout before.
+44 (0)20 7436 9449
Belle Sauvage, Georgia Hardage, Craig Lawrence, Gemma Slack

Luchford APM

+44 (0)207 631 1000
Clients: Pringle, Graeme Black

I Public Relations

+44 (0)207 390 272
Clients: Julien J Smith, Eudon Choi

So now to make appointments to see them and see if we are MFEO (made for each other FYI (for you information)). Also many of these agencies will not take youngsters like me on so the courting works both ways...

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Listening, learning, absorbing, implementing, developing and growing from advice, tips, errors made and knowledge learned from season 1.

So you work day in day out, sweating and dribbling over sewing machines into the depths of the moonlit hours putting every ounce of effort and creative "flair" you possess into your collection and business. How are you ever going to be able to accept criticism on your "baby" when every stitch tells a story and every zip, button and press stud has a name...each jab feels like a personal vendetta.. how can they be so rude?

"What do you mean they don't like Penguins!! who doesn't like Penguins? eh?! what?! humph..."

So as an adult (technically) this "rejection" thing is something that I have to deal with and take it on the chin. It is also important that I take whatever criticisms that have been thrown my way on board and see if by developing the label in a different way or removing certain aspects I can use the comments in a constructive way and improve as a result of them.

I am always actively asking people their opinions and it's tough to get honest opinions as no one who is remotely nice is going to turn around and say "Charlotte, seriously, don't know why you bothered..." Well, lets hope not, hey.

Here are a few honest feedback sources I have found:

- I have a few friends who I know I can always rely on for an honest opinion. They're the ones that tell me I look rough when I clearly do, would NEVER tell me I look good unless I did and frankly just say it like it is. Us Northern lasses do NOT beat around the bush.

- My dad. Although not into his fashion will always give me an honest opinion, sometimes too honest. Last season I came down in one of my creations and he was beside himself he hated it so much. "errrrrggggghhhh that's DISgusting Charlotte - yuck, really don't like that no...horrible. Take it off"..."ok dad I GET THE PICTURE!" Honest but harsh.

- You guys. It has been really useful to see feedback from the collection on the blog and on other blogs and websites. I am definitely going to get an honest post from someone else's article on a blog and it is instant, priceless feedback.

- Other designers. You can get a good idea from other designers as they won't approach you and say they like your stuff unless they REALLY mean it.

- Vauxhall Fashion Scout (or the like) Once you build up a relationship with organizations like this it is useful to know their honest feedback on what they thought went well and how they think you could grow in seasons to come. They should be honest with you as they'd be shooting themselves in the foot if they told you it was wonderful and fabulous and were secretly cringing in the corner.

- Clients and potential clients. When people are looking at you collection they are usually in a team and will discuss with their colleague what they think. Try and get them to elaborate and ask them what they would change and how they would improve it from a buyers perspective.

Key comments and feedback I got were:

1. More pockets. Everyone loves a pocket.
2. Less selection. I had too many pieces for a premiere collection (30 ish items) but this has been debated.
3. Good use of zips. Clients have liked that I use expensive, quality zips and finishings as it gives a polished look.
4. Unusual mix of fabrics.
5. Great print. A strong part of the collection. Maybe look to develop more prints in the future.

- Press. Obviously. If they want to shoot your stuff and write about it then it has to be a good sign, right? If they don't, not so much.

- Mentors, business advisers etc. They can give you advice on your products effectiveness in terms of business, development and profitability.

So moving forward, designing SS'11 has become an even more considered practice. I have always designed for a customer in mind, but its the insider tips and criticism that can set you apart. Buyers know what their customers want so rinse their knowledge and rack their brains and listen, learn and move forward.