After reviewing lots of PR pitches about terrific products and highly-successful founders…
I got an awesome e-mail from Sarah Doheny, a former retailer, with 15 years of experience in that end of the business, rising to a District Manager. She has an AS in Retail Merchandising, has owned a brick and mortar business. She also ran cut-and-sew plants in Philadelphia and had to close them when the market declined. She’s done everything from quality control to buying, sourcing, and operations management and has worked in both men’s and women’s apparel. In short, she knows her stuff.
She now ends up Your Unfinished Business, a marketing and PR company that consults to start-ups in the fashion and beauty world.
Here is her wisdom for female founders who are launching or growing businesses in these sectors.
- Know your market. Reality TV shows won’t prepare you for the business. Hone your craft in the real world.
- Understand the importance of proper funding. Sarah believes 98% of business start-ups are underfunded.
- Make sure your branding and packaging really stands out. Especially in the beauty world, shelf space is at a premium. What makes your brush, lipstick, or moisturizer so fabulous and better than someone else’s? Make sure your product pops on the shelves and that is displayed at eye level in big box stores. If you’re only selling online, breakthrough branding is super-important too!
- As you scale your business, sourcing is key. Cost of goods and where you are sourcing them have a direct impact on your profit margins and your ability to fulfill orders. If you’re in the fashion business, be relentless in your research to find quality sewers. Share space to save money and gain efficiencies. (Knowing how to sew yourself really helps in being able to manage the manufacturing process.)
- Never overlook your marketing budget. This aspect of your business is critical. Learn to delegate, as being too controlling will stunt your growth.
- Make sure you’re protecting your brand with patents and trademarks. The process can take a while, but it pays off in the end.
Above all, stay the course, believe in yourself, and use the resources that are available to you!