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“They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn't. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.” ― Frida Kahlo

Month: June, 2016

In the Spirit of an Entrepreneur

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The entrepreneurial spirit is called upon, it seems, for the ‘call-to-action’.

We are creative. We are different. We are innovative. 

So what does it mean to be an innovator and how can brand [you] follow real trends, help real people and make real money? There are many sites dedicated to real-time market share knowledge, giving young start-up and entrepreneurs a wealth of information on the nitty-gritty of business. Having said that, there is no point gnawing at the numbers if you haven’t got the content; and furthermore, the vision.

According to The Business of Fashion, ‘Running a small fashion business is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week commitment requiring militant self-discipline. You will need to think of yourself as a CEO first and will likely spend less than 10 percent of your time designing. You will have to oversee all aspects of the business, not just the creative parts. It is an exciting, exhilarating experience, but not a decision that should be taken lightly.’

There are fundamental questions that need to be asked of yourself and your audience before moving onto potential investors. Having your USP (unique selling proposition) locked down will instill personal confidence and allow Michael Jackson Moonwalk ease to the next level.

1. #WhoMadeYourClothes? (Know your makers. Let your tribe know you.) 

There are many ways to get in front of your audience and let them see you. By narrating a dialogue for your brand (Everlane is a good example) through honest talking point interactions – what does your brand stand for? What is important to you? What do you want your customers to remember about your product; when backed with timely action (getting an email list – MailChimp is great for that – or staying sharp on your social media) your consumers will trust the image you present them.

Building a business is about creating a space for a need to be fulfilled. What you say to others is just as important as whom you are saying it to. Business requires networking, and networking requires preparation. Getting in front of potential advisers, mentors, investors is paramount to gaining traction and trust. Let others see you but make sure you are presenting yourself as you wish to be seen and then exceeding expectations with how you actually are.

2. What are we responding to? (The laws of attraction) 

Consumers are curious folk. They want so they feel. They feel so they see. We are visually driven people attuning to pleasure senses. What we love about products is the thing we love about humans, in a strange sort of way. Our progress in the world consists of building relationships. We do this by gaining trust. The way to gain people’s trust is to be transparent; meaning to be visible and accountable. This can be done in many ways. Social media is a great way to have an ear on the ground.

Hosting mini events relating to your business is a definite way of attracting customers. Pop-up stores, q and a with another contemporary, guest speaking at a university or event, and even Periscoping your workday or a pivotal moment in your career. Keeping your audience’s attention is paramount in this competitive sport of entrepreneurship. Be mindful of the content or product you are offering. Positivity does breed positivity but a saucy product can have both sides attracted to your business. As they say in the dating game; it’s not you, it’s me.

3. Be money minded. (How much/How long?) 

The information highway is a click away. Knowing how, when, why and where is a mandatory for navigating through this world of social interaction. BoF shares; ‘Too many designers have been in the situation where they have orders to fill, but insufficient cash to buy the raw materials to produce and deliver those orders. To stretch the time you are able to survive with limited cash, ask manufacturers for longer payment terms, and wholesale customers for deposits in advance.’ 

Are your services priced properly? Do they justify the production/retail costs? In a world where bigger is better, one can easily assume higher price = better product. The consumers are the ones who should be debating this issue – not the brand owner.  As an entrepreneur it is your job to know the value of something – the true value; the real and perceived.

Then all you need is leverage.

4. Introduction test. (Would you recommend publicly?) 

Remember introducing your partner to your parents? How daunting. What if they don’t like each other? What if someone says something inappropriate? What if it’s me? Sharing things that you love can be an overwhelming experience. If whatever you are selling is not worth telling someone about, possibly every chance you get – where appropriate – then perhaps it’s time to re-approach the context of the product. The trick is to have two things happen – how and what. It is as much how you promote, as what you promote. Consider this with care and rationality. If you’ve created a sustainable, organic condom line your not going to introduce it on your personal Facebook page; but would your friends? Would your contemporaries publicly announce it as well? The reality is that people love talking about what they love. The goal is to introduce your product in a way that produces the same effect.

Easier said than done? Definitely. It takes research, trial and error, understanding your product and your consumers. But most of all, delivering on your promise. ‘The key to content marketing success is to add value. That’s the secret.’ If you are adding value to society, there will always be a place for growth in your business, which can lead to financial and personal gain.

So taking all of these fundamental points into account your road to entrepreneurial success is just around the corner; or should I say in the spirit.

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This article was written by Margretta Sowah; a freelance writer and Fashion Marketer based in Sydney. All opinions expressed are her own. She cannot be held liable for bad taste. She also likes to spin yarn from time to time.  Read more at: Fashion Capital.

More Issues (Than Vogue)

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By Margretta Sowah


I like clichés. I find there is a certain ambiance about them. I’m sure we’ve heard the usual ones like; you don’t know what you have til it’s gone, time heals all wounds, and my personal favourite, it is better to be safe than sorry.

My father is a Buddhist and I am a woman of faith, strengthened by my holistic household. This does not necessarily have any philosophical or religious relation to cliches; or why he insists on calling me Yoko even though I don’t look anything like the Japanese artist. What I remember about my childhood was my father reminding me ‘all that glitters is not gold’.  We had a story time ritual. He would tell me tales with meaning – issues that were relevant at the time told in African folklore. I understood the fundamental basics of his statement. Not everything is as it appears. Don’t trust everything you see. Even salt looks like sugar, read one meme.

All that Glitters is Not Gold: “Not everything that is shiny and superficially attractive is valuable.”

I have always loved fashion because of the story showcased through form, function and fantasy. At any given moment the narrative can change – have dramatic flairs, emotional frills and surprising reactions. Going back to younger years I’ve always found myself drawn to bold and bright colours. But like most impressionable teenagers it took a few summers before I began ‘feelin myself’ #Formation. For this to happen I had to trust the process of growth and creative expression. So what does this have to do with glitter not being gold? To quote my other article Brand Perception; what we perceive, we believe.

When considering brands I lust for, only a few come to mind. As a Fashion Marketing graduate the career options are endless as you develop skill-sets. Internships are one of them. I have done my fair share of internships – one was at this very publication #shamelessworkplug. The previous ones were at established fashion houses. There was one particular brand (I will not name for privacy reasons) that was a personal achievement for me – to be in their head office, at their studio and flagship store. To sit with the ladies and see the concepts I had proudly promoted by spending many (many!) a penny on their whimsical yet fierce attire… with love. I was convinced we, brand C and I, had a deep emotional connection. I thought the concept matched my confidence. Brand C would represent me as classy and sassy. They fulfilled their promise. I felt great as a consumer but not as an industry insider. The marketing mix done well is almost as potent as a wish on a star – undeniable but unexplainable.

It seemed to me the problem was simple: I took too much stock in the emotional connection and perceived benefits I received through their clothing. This is not to say my appreciation was misplaced but in terms of basing my professional opinion in comparison to my personal opinion, yes. It was unsustainable. I remember a teacher of mine (lets affectionately call her S) explaining the process of a ‘marketing mix’ with this quote:

“Consumers don’t buy products or product attributes. They purchase benefits and emotional meaning.” -Theodore Levitt

This was my experience when referring to brand C. I wonder how many of us do this unconsciously. I wonder how many of us do this consciously. The Fashion industry feeds off social structures and cultural norms – they break rules but are fully aware of the rules. They hold them in high regard as a reference point (as do I); no matter if Fast Fashion, Mid-Range, High-End, Luxury, Couture and all the channels between. The industry values its ambassadors – the ‘it girl’, the trendsetter, the model on the runway. This industry needs relatable representation to sell the dream.

When I read articles on skinny-shaming, fat-shaming, gender-shaming, financial-shaming (oh yes, you know when you walk in a store and there are no price tags on any items? As if to say, ‘if you are not prepared for the prices we are not prepared for the service.’), I wonder if Vogue, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar or Marie Claire will ever run out of content.

The industry and society is riddled with the issue of COMPARISON and PERFECTION. We all strive for a state of control where we are pleased with our efforts – perfection; and we all fall into the trap of praising other people’s blessings instead of honestly focusing on our own – comparison. These two issues make for a mean feast of insecurity. Is this what we want fashion to be thought of? I remember catching up with my then-partner and his old friends. I got to chatting with a woman in her mid/late 30s. She asked me what I did. I excitedly explained I was studying Fashion Marketing. She freely scoffed before saying; “fashion is so fickle and self-absorbed. I think it’s fake and frivolous”. I remember staring at her for several moments. Self-absorbed? Fake? Did I mention she was wearing a BRIGHT fluro yellow body-con KOOKAI dress? Girl bye.

This is the problem. Fashion has the power to transform like no other commodity. It has the ability to be political, radical, severe, soft whimsical, poetic but never unimportant. It has the ability to change lives and societies. It is a reflection of souls and cultures and should never be apologetic. We can’t deny it is a mirror to society, serving to show us how we can be democratic and inclusive (in terms of different styles and subcultures) yet highly selective and haughty. It is frustrating when society tends to agree with the glitz and slits of fashion but will not extend those thoughts to value the concept or vision. It is definitely challenging to be a creative of any kind as we progress into the future. I began to ask myself, can you love the story but hate the message?

To sum up my ‘open letter’: it is easy to place products, people or places on a pedestal in our emotional psyche because they evoke a mood within us. Is there anything wrong with that? No, but we definitely shouldn’t base our decisions on subjective feelings or ‘perceived benefit’ (confidence, connection, security of identity, approval) of a product, service, advertisement or slogan. At the end of the day Fashion is here to fulfill a need and, like any other industry, this is implemented through discourses by discretion and influence.

We need this industry. We need representation. We need fantasy. We need form and function. We need issues to dissect and discover again and again with new eyes. There is a tangible goal that needs to be achieved – image positivity and self-love, with products and services being a means to an end.

They say fortune favours the bold, but does glitter give you gold? No, but it will definitely give you something pretty to look at. And hey, that’s worth a bit of a nibble of the carrot.

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This article was written by Margretta Sowah; a freelance writer and Fashion Marketer based in Sydney. All opinions expressed are her own. She cannot be held liable for bad taste. She also likes to spin yarn from time to time. Read more: http://www.allmyfriendsaremodels.com/open-letter-to-the-fashion-industry/#ixzz4CYh1pZQu

The ‘Me’ In Meaning | #AdviceToWriters

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Words Are But Vague Shadows

Words are but the vague shadows of the volumes we mean.  Little audible links, they are, chaining together great inaudible feelings and purposes.

THEODORE DREISER

#AdviceToWriters