Archive for April, 2012

Niche Brands Might Prove Interesting, Battling B2B’s, Female Entrepreneurs…

By | Monday April 30th, 2012 | 04:30 pm | Comments

Retailers Need to Allocate Shelf Space to “Niche Brands” (ezinearticles)

What if, in this present sales environment (or lack of sales), some maverick retail executive came in and said, “Let’s try this niche thing for six months as a pilot program in six of our chain stores in a certain region and see what happens.” The results (and sales) might prove interesting.

B2B Sales Choose Your Battles Wisely (business2community)

There is no doubt B2B sales is in many cases, a battlefield.  Sales reps must become sales warriors and learn to train and strategize like that of Sun Tzu’s soldiers.

As most experienced sales professionals know, buyers are busy and getting hit from all different angles addressing the needs of their company as well as being contacted by other sales people. If your buyer is not responding or continuing to blow you off, step back and reevaluate. Don’t be pushy. When you do enough of the right things, in time, the math will add up and the desired results will chase you.

The Technology Industry is only 25 percent female  (bostinno)

According to the online jobs website, “Female entrepreneurs begin with about 1/8th of the funding of male-owned ventures” even though “women-operated, venture-backed companies have 12% higher revenues.” As you can see, something clearly doesn’t add up.

Betsey Johnson LLC has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy (ibtimes)

Fashion designer Betsey Johnson’s licensing company, Betsey Johnson LLC has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Almost all of the designer’s boutiques are expected to close, with estimated 350 staff members losing their jobs.

 

Noblivity Adds U.S. Boutique to the Brazilian Caboclo Brand Line-up

By | Monday April 30th, 2012 | 04:20 pm | Comments

Another successful blitz…Noblivity® opened a new door for Caboclo.  Beautiful tire sole leather sandals made in the Brazilian Amazon landed in the USA!

Fast Fashion Driving Retailers Toward Short Lead Times, Selling to Stores…

By | Monday April 23rd, 2012 | 07:47 pm | Comments

Changing Sales Forever (pcbdesign007)

The new world embraces the idea that if you have some information that the potential customer finds helps him or her in their professional lives, they will want to hear more, and opt in to do so. You then can build credibility with them, and establish yourself as a leading voice on the content you deliver to them. This increases the likelihood that they will turn to you when they have a requirement for products or services that you offer.

AmazonSupply goes B2B (foxbusiness)

The categories go way beyond Office Depot or Staples and likely will compete against other online or catalog-based suppliers. Inventory includes hand dryers, drill bits, printer paper, cash registers and more obscure products.

Fast Fashion is Driving Inventory Changes (orlandosentinel)

Over the past few years, U.S. clothiers have shrunk their typical concept-to-store times down to about six to nine months, from a previously glacial 12 months. How much further U.S. fashion retailers can go, or should go, in the quest for speed is a question that involves everything from margins to corporate culture and a reliance on cheap but distant Asian manufacturers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VIDEO – What’s Important when Selling to Boutiques

By | Sunday April 22nd, 2012 | 05:26 pm | Comments

Check out Jane Hamill’s VIDEO! http://janehamill.com/blog

Selling to Businesses – Flashcards

By | Sunday April 22nd, 2012 | 11:04 am | Comments

Selling to Boutiques – Try Using these  B2B Flashcards (flashcarddb)

Buyers are professional and are informed – be more straightforward.

Start-Up Lessons for a 9 Year Old…hold true for a 90 Year Old (builtinchicago)

Having no customers and minimal traffic is tough, but that’s the way almost everyone starts.

 

 

 

Interview: Brazilian Jewelry Designer Bruna Seve Patkó and LOKALWEAR

By | Saturday April 21st, 2012 | 11:35 am | Comments

Company/Designer Name: LOKALWEAR / Bruna Seve Patkó

Designer Background Summary:

How did you get started?

I explored a lot of different areas in the fashion industry in my native Rio de Janeiro, NY and Budapest. After working in marketing for many years I decided to follow my instincts and start LOKALWEAR. All the inspirations that Hungary had to offer over the eleven plus years I’ve been visiting and living in Budapest could no longer be ignored. So LOKALWEAR was born out a passion to combine culture and fashion.

Why did you join Noblivity®?

Why not? It’s a great initiative to facilitate the introduction and dialogue between independent designers and retailers. It gives both parties a lot of flexibility, dynamism and opportunities to reach different market needs independently from the international fashion standard calendar.

How would you describe your design style, design signature and who is your targeted customer?

LOKALWEAR designs are strongly influenced by local cultural elements and folk art. We play with traditional elements and give them a fresh contemporary look. Our target customer is modern, international minded, sensitive to authenticity and in the search of new things.

What inspires you?

Cultural diversity, traditional folk art, craft, architecture and the beauty you can find in unexpected places. I find myself constantly looking into the subtlety of details and imaging how to transform these shapes into wearable pieces.

What obstacles did you have to overcome to get to where you are?

I had to learn how to filter through the many “this is not possible to be done, this wont work” feedbacks and quickly learn skills, which I didn’t have. Everyday I’m learning something new.

How did you overcome the obstacles along the way?

I got a very valuable one-word advice from a very dear and successful Brazilian designer friend – Persistence. Believe in yourself and your vision, be brave and do not give up after the initial nos. The satisfaction that comes after these challenges are overcome is incredible!

What has been your greatest moment on your journey so far?

Luckily there has been a few; to see our earrings featured in the cover of a leading Hungarian women’s fashion magazine and to be invited to be the guest of honor at the 20th Anniversary festival of the Folk-Art Association of the town from where the Matyo Collection derived from. To meet the people and hear their genuine appreciation for our work was extremely emotional and rewarding.

What has been the biggest change in your designs so far?

I’m always trying to experiment with different materials and every new collection has a different cultural background to it so this directly reflects on the final designs.

What’s next for your brand?

We are introducing new collections, growing the current product line and will be expanding into different inspiration countries as well, moving beyond Hungary.

If money were no object what would you do right now to promote your brand?

I’d participate in some international tradeshows, do a lot more online marketing activities and be more aggressive with our international expansion.

What are the best and worst things about bringing a product to market?

The best is to see customer’s reaction to the collection, to see people wearing it on the streets and the satisfaction in the team’s eyes when a product is finished. The hardest comes with being a small brand, which is logistics and distribution, which is why a platform like Noblivity is so exciting.

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

I would introduce a lot more products to our portfolio and start collaboration with other like minded brands and artisans immediately.

What is your philosophy of life?

Be a sponge, learn and absorb as much as you can, be open minded to new things, talk to people there is always an interesting story to be heard, walk with your eyes and ears wide open because beauty and inspiration are all around us. Be humble and nice and remember to smile cause life is very very good!

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I’d follow my instincts and react faster to them, but learning from past experiences is crucial in moving forward successfully.

When will you know you have made it?

When LOKALWEAR becomes synonymous with cultural cool wear and I feel that we had a genuine impact in bettering the different communities around us. That would be a fantastic feeling of accomplishment.

 

 

Interview: Turkish Womenswear Designer Asu Aksu

By | Tuesday April 17th, 2012 | 02:28 pm | Comments

Company/Designer Name: Asu Aksu

Designer Background Summary:

How did you get started?

In 2003, I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Istanbul University. After 6 years of experience in the world of marketing & advertising -in a well known PR agency, an international advertising agency, a multi-channel TV broadcasting company and eventually in a music organization company- I decided to follow my dreams…

I left my promising career behind and studied fashion design at Fashion Academy of Istanbul (a collaboration of London School of Fashion and EU Fund). With the help of my experience and expertise I was aspiring to work in the “trend forecasting” business. Instead of that, I launched into an unexpected venture two years ago and started my own fashion label.

Why did you join Noblivity®?

To build a network and to establish my brand overseas

How would you describe your design style, design signature and who is your targeted customer?

I describe my style as casual and uncomplicated, but unique. Every collection has a story lying underneath and I prefer to transfer that with the colors and the details. It is important for me to design practical but stylish outfits, so I emphasize the cuts. I try to use cotton and natural fiber based fabrics as often as I can.

Imagine a female coworker of yours; she is wearing the same things as you, a skirt and a shirt. But you always sense that something is different about her. Somehow, she is always unique and interesting. She is the woman I would like to reach.

What inspires you?

Almost everything! How can someone claim that she is inspired from this, but not from that. I’ll never know what will inspire me next. Sometimes it’s a stone, sometimes a color, sometimes a piece of fabric, sometimes a city, sometimes a name. But surely my next step would be to look around on the Internet after conceiving the main idea.

What obstacles did you have to overcome to get to where you are?

My background was the first obstacle. It was hard to persuade people that I am a designer. I was really lucky to find IMA (Istanbul Moda Academy) and convince them to believe in me. The other thing is probably a problem of every developing country. “Design” is an emerging market here and it is still hard to make people to wear “designer labels” in their daily life. The old notion of designer’s pieces being overpriced and unnecessary is changing, along with other outdated notions, albeit slowly. More boutiques are opening, more suppliers are getting used to the small-scale orders of designers and the business is generally beginning to accept up-and-coming designers.

How did you overcome the obstacles along the way?

By having a solid faith in my work. I believe in constant change and dreams coming true. My family’s support also kept me going through the worst of it.

What has been your greatest moment on your journey so far?

I was so proud when I saw my first collection at the exhibition organized by the Italian consulate, here in Istanbul. And also when I saw my designs for the first time at a boutique abroad.

What has been the biggest change in your designs so far?

It’s constantly changing. But I’m trying to be more and more “eco” and sustainable with every collection.

What’s next for your brand?

A small boutique on my own and a collective atelier for new brands and young designers.

If money were no object what would you do right now to promote your brand?

I would like to have a few of my favorite actresses wear my designs on the red carpet at the Academy Awards. I would also do a catwalk at London Fashion Week. I would also certainly employ WOMM. Working with a PR agency, which specializes in fashion, would also be a step I would take.

What are the best and worst things about bringing a product to market?

You have to shoulder all the responsibility from the beginning to the end. That kind of responsibility is hard. You don’t have any space to tolerate the mistakes. You are expected to explore new horizons all the time and any resemblance to other designers’ works will immediately be interpreted as “copying”. But when you see someone on the street, wearing your designs… That is the best part of it.

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

To make my brand globally more available without compromising its spirit.

What is your philosophy of life?

I try to lead a calm and peaceful life. I try to be a part of the solution and not the problem. This usually manifests in my work as an effort to use more eco-friendly materials and a will to produce in a way that will cause as little harm to the environment as possible.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

Probably nothing because I am very lucky to have my experiences so I can do everything myself for my brand. Like PR, marketing, even the logo and the web site. But I would love to go abroad for studying design if I could.

When will you know you have made it?

I am living my dream. Working at something that makes me so happy and earning my keep, and maybe being able to afford a few indulgences along the way, is my goal. Money is a means to an end for me. So what I’m after is not a multi-billion dollar fashion empire, but just to keep doing what feels natural and see where life will take me.

 

 

Interview: Canadian Womenswear Designer Carrie Hayes and The Paddock

By | Saturday April 14th, 2012 | 09:02 am | Comments

Company/Designer Name: The Paddock/Carrie Hayes

Designer Background Summary:

How did you get started?

I graduated from fashion school in 2001 and worked in the industry for 5 years before launching my namesake label. My career as a designer took off in 2007 when I was awarded Best New Designer by the Toronto Fashion Incubator. More recently I launched The Paddock as an affordable alternative to my luxury collection.

Why did you join Noblivity®?

I joined Noblivity because I liked that they use a website to bring products to buyers wherever they are.

How would you describe your design style, design signature and who is your targeted customer?

I started The Paddock to bring sharply tailored styles to more customers by making them affordable and comfortable – 90% of our styles are made of knit fabrics. The Paddock is sophisticated and fashionable but it’s easy to wear. I design for the woman who wants to look pulled together, but wants to feel like she’s wearing her favourite pair of yoga pants. The Paddock provides the best of both worlds.

What inspires you?

The collection draws inspiration from equestrian influences. Personally I’m inspired by architecture, travel and graphic art. Every time I see a customer’s face light up when they’ve tried on a piece and see how it’s improved their look I’m inspired. That’s what keeps me energized season after season.

What obstacles did you have to overcome to get to where you are?

The obstacles change every day. In the beginning it was getting manufacturing running smoothly. Now that sales have increased I’ve had to learn how to be an owner and a manager. Packaging the things I used to do so that someone else can take over is a challenge.

How did you overcome the obstacles along the way?

Bringing positivity and a true love for my profession to work every day has helped me overcome many challenges. When people see that you take their business seriously and you’re here to stay the whole world opens up to you.

What has been your greatest moment on your journey so far?

My greatest moment has been seeing The Paddock’s first retailer double their order every season. The Paddock is now their top selling collection. Seeing that makes me very proud.

What has been the biggest change in your designs so far?

The biggest change has been going from designing a luxury collection, to designing The Paddock as well. The two lines are quite different.

What’s next for your brand?

Noblivity is next! I’m excited about expanding in to the US market using the Noblivity platform.

If money were no object what would you do right now to promote your brand?

I would increase our advertising budget and invest in additional talent for the marketing team.

What are the best and worst things about bringing a product to market?

Best: Doing what I love every day. Making people happy while doing it.

Worst: Whenever a style is misunderstood. It’s back to the drawing board.

What is your philosophy of life?

If you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. I can attest to this being true!

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

Life is a learning experience and a journey. I wouldn’t change a thing!

When will you know you have made it?

Every new customer is a success. Each time I see that I’ve improved someone’s life I feel I’ve done my job.

 

 

Interview: Canadian Womenswear Designer Lara Presber

By | Friday April 13th, 2012 | 05:02 am | Comments

Company/Designer Name: Lara Presber

Designer Background Summary:

Lara Presber is a womenswear line designed and manufactured in Canada. Lara started her design career in the field of architecture earning her B.Arch from a small atelier based school in Boston. After working as an architect for a number of years she found that it lacked the intimacy she wanted from her design projects and took advantage of a scholarship to study fashion in Milan where she earned her MA degree in Fashion Design. She remained in Italy after graduating to gain valuable experience by interning with Rosa Aiuto for Bruno Magli. Upon returning to Canada, Lara launched her womenswear line with her Fall 2007 collection merging both architecture and fashion by using ‘inhabitable’ spaces to inspire ‘wearable’ pieces. She is conscientious when selecting materials to incorporate sustainable ones as often as possible and minimizes the shipping impact by producing each collection in Canada. Lara approaches the design of each individual piece as one would for a building: designing for a sustained period of use.

Why did you join Noblivity®?

I thought that it would be a good opportunity to reach smaller boutiques that might not be found in traditional ways such as at trade shows or online searches.

How did you get started?

I started my fashion career by designing shoes and handbags for a luxury brand in Milan and then moved into womenswear upon my return to North America.

How would you describe your design style, design signature and who is your targeted customer?

My design aesthetic is clean and structured as I believe it’s important that garments accentuate the women that we are and not overpower. The structured component appeals greatly to my age demographic as it helps to create a smooth silhouette regardless of whether she is a size 2 or size 16. . The collections typically include a lot of cocktail dresses that in the summer that are appreciated by mothers of brides and grooms looking for something more contemporary and then a wide variety of ages in the winter for holiday parties. My most common proven target client is a professional woman, 45+/- who demands a lot from her wardrobe as she’s active, travels a great deal and has children at home. She is typically a size 4 or a size 12.

What inspires you?

Each season I use my architectural background to translate a building that inspires me into a collection. This might be based on its outward appearance such as materiality, massing, construction method or sometimes it is the hidden story of it being designed by a woman-led firm or has achieved notoriety for its sustainable features.  

What obstacles did you have to overcome to get to where you are?

The greatest obstacle that I’ve faced is being based in a city that doesn’t have a large fashion community for support, mentorship and commiseration for when things are not going so well! It’s taken a few years, but I have now found a great group of individuals and we all support one another.

What has been your greatest moment on your journey so far?

I have had a lot of great moments, but they usually stem from the direct contact that I have with my retail clients. I opened my studio to the public 2 years ago as a retail location and I try to spend as much time with a client as possible to ensure that they are leaving with something that they love and that fits them perfectly. The letters of gratitude and the looks on their faces when they feel really great in something of mine is so rewarding.

What has been the biggest change in your designs so far?

The biggest changes in my line have all come about from the retail component. In the beginning when I was only selling wholesale, it was really difficult to get direct feedback from the public and wouldn’t have know that the demand was so great for larger sizes so increased my offering up to size 16. The other change is designing with ‘alterability’ in mind. I have learned how to build in subtle seams so that the pieces can fit a greater variety of body types with simple changes.

What’s next for your brand?

I find that there has been an increase in demand for clothes that cross-over better between seasons as we travel so much more than we used to and can be frustrating trying to pack for a week of either business or vacation where you might be waking up in Toronto and going to bed in Miami. I am trying to address this through more versatile fabrics as well as pieces that can be hand-washed as opposed to dry-clean only.

If money were no object what would you do right now to promote your brand?

I would like to attend more trade shows that are outside of the fashion realm – I believe that there are a lot of places that women shop that aren’t always targeted by designers like hotels, professional conferences etc.

What are the best and worst things about bringing a product to market?

Initial funding always seems to be a difficult obstacle to overcome for many designers, but once this has been secured seeing your line on a runway for the first time is really exhilarating.

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

I am a true believer in that if you genuinely want to accomplish something that there is always a way to make it work, even if there are minor setbacks along the way. Failure to me is being afraid to try.

What is your philosophy of life?

My philosophy is that I have to remember to be true to who I am and that if this my guiding principle, I will always have an authentic and successful product.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would have spent more time working in North America in the womenswear sector for someone else. A lot of the mistakes I made in the beginning could have been avoided if I had more exposure to the specifics of this market before starting.

When will you know you have made it?

Each season there are always improvements to be made so I don’t think that I will ever feel like it’s a complete success. I suppose that it one of the large fashion groups such as LVMH wanted to buy the line I might be able to step back and feel like I had accomplished something grand!

 

Interview: Chicago Jewelry Designer Catherine Borzym and Kiwi Avenue

By | Thursday April 12th, 2012 | 12:11 pm | Comments

Designer/Company: Catherine Borzym/Kiwi Avenue Jewelry

How did you get started?

I have always been passionate about art- living, breathing and creating art during almost every moment of my day. Learning the techniques from both my mother and my aunt helped me on my creative journey.  I never would have thought that a handful of beads I received as a 13th birthday present would have had such a profound impact on my life. By the age of 16, I started selling my creations to friends and family, and continued to casually design jewelry all through high school.  My freshman year of college would prove to be one full of many opportunities for my burgeoning business.  Through connections my family had established through another business venture, I was able to sell my work at the National Art Education Association. The National Art Education Association is an event consisting of over 1,500 art teachers ready to critique my work. To my surprise, the art educators loved my work and were very impressed with my design skills, as well as my branding and sales abilities.  This wonderful boost of encouragement resulted in my decision to declare a double major in both Small Business Entrepreneurship and Marketing. My professors at North Central College really inspired me to continue with my passion and to continually challenge myself. I learned the ins and outs of running a company and infused Kiwi Avenue into my class work- market research project, business plans, new product development etc.

Why did you join Noblivity®?

Joining Noblivity provided me with an opportunity to expose my passion and love for the art that I create.  Noblivity not only allows me to showcase my Kiwi Avenue designs, but it also provides me with the opportunity to connect with boutiques from all over the world.  I think a major obstacle to a business is exposure and finding a foothold, and Noblivity offers entrepreneurs an effective alternative to traditional promotion. 

How would you describe your design style, design signature and who is your targeted customer?

Design Style: I enjoy creating an eccentric collection by combining various colors and textures into a multitude of different styles.  My Kiwi Avenue designs incorporate semi-precious stones that come from all over the world.  One fantastic element that distinguishes my designs are the various pewter elements that are incorporated into each of the designs.  Our designs incorporate bold color schemes and inspiring designs, perfect for women of all ages.

Design Signature: Our current signature design is the long loop necklace.  This asymmetrical piece perfectly embodies the spirit of Kiwi Avenue.  Our goal is to provide jewelry that is fun, and a little bit wild, but also meshes well with a formal and professional environment. This particular style necklace seems to be very popular with our customers because it looks wonderful to layer with other pieces, making it both versatile and functional.

Target Customer: Our target customer is a trendy, middle or upper income, sophisticated, environmentally conscious woman.  She also recognizes quality, style and value.

What inspires you? I have been collecting magazine articles and fabric scraps for years and have compiled these treasures into an idea book.  The pages consist of various architectural elements, natural fibers, bold graphic patterns, fantastic color palettes and animal print home décor.  Every season I add to my design book for inspiration. I have archived photos I have taken over the past years into a folder on my desktop called “Inspire Me.”  Photos of tiny animals, wildflowers, insects, antique barns, are a few of the categories within this folder.  My favorite thing to photograph is a donkey that I call Jack.  His coat is made of so many wonderful earth tones.  Whenever I design a new piece, I look at the many wonderful photos I saved and create jewelry that encompasses those elements.  In order to create any type of jewelry I must have my music playing in the background.  With my music playing loudly, and sometimes singing along, I am able to relax, and not overthink the design process.  I find that if I think too hard about designing the jewelry it tends to turn out bland and uninspired.

How did you overcome the obstacles along the way?

1. My age makes some people believe that I do not have what it takes to effectively and efficiently run a business.
I believe that my business acumen, product design and marketing materials really impress the people when they see my work.  The conversation then turns into what a wonderful job I am doing, and to continue the good work.  I have worked hard to learn as much as I possibly can in college which has created many opportunities, such as joining Noblivity. I have poured my heart and soul into my brand and am constantly researching and learning new techniques to take Kiwi Avenue to the next level.

2. Being a woman and not being taken seriously.

Especially when I tell people that I have started a jewelry business, the word “craft” will normally come into play.  They will then proceed with, so what will your full time career be young lady?  In order to overcome this I dress professionally and when I talk about all of the technological aspects I wish to integrate into my Kiwi Avenue business model, people seem to change their thoughts about me. I have successfully created a wholesale catalog and LookBook and both can be added to my repertoire.

3. Trade secrets came into play when a close friend of mine decided to duplicate my business model.
Long story short, my friend duplicating my business has really helped me become a strong business woman.  I now keep all of my trade secrets private, just as they should be.

What has been your greatest moment on your journey so far?

Walking across the stage at North Central College graduating with a double degree with my logo proudly displayed on the top of my graduation hat, and my Kiwi Avenue jewelry worn over my gown.  I walked down that stage with great pride in my kiwi green high heels.   I had created a brand, designed a logo, created business cards, designed and created a website, wrote a business plan, developed a market research survey, developed product people seemed to love, sold my work in over 65 events, and debuted in two boutiques all by the time I had walked across that stage at age 22.  

What has been the biggest change in your designs so far?

My brand originally began with glass beads and base metal components purchased at local craft stores.  I used to hand cut my jewelry tags and I didn’t have a brand. Now my Kiwi Avenue designs not only use higher quality materials such as semi-precious stones, sterling silver, pewter, and fabric.  I have also developed a few unique styles I have stuck to.  My designs have a more polished look and style to them.

What’s next for your brand?

My goal is to build an online community through social media for both my blog and my website.  The goal is to create a fun and interactive environment for my customers.  Introducing a Kiwi Avenue Wedding Line is in the near future.  I have actually already helped create jewelry for a handful of brides already including bridesmaids gifts, jewelry for the bride, coordinating jewelry for the bridesmaids and wedding favors.  Coinciding with that our plan is to create more items for gifts- wine glass charms, bookmarks etc.  We will also be adding new textural elements to our designs as well- fabric. Fabric has so many wonderful textures and colors and will look wonderful on headbands, necklaces, and possibly even wine glass charms. Last but not least, customizable stamped pendants will be introduced to necklaces, charm bracelets, custom earrings etc.  We have test marketed the product on a small group of individuals and it seems to be a real success so far!

If money were no object what would you do right now to promote your brand?

I would promote Kiwi Avenue through more traditional avenues such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and Google AdWords to start with.  I would then take a unique approach and move through to QR codes, Moving Billboards, Blog Sponsors, sponsor an event and give away a free tote bag and a pair of earrings, and finally I would love to create a Kiwi Avenue themed jewelry truck.  This would provide people on the street the opportunity to interact with our brand in a unique and exciting way.  Creating a memorable experience that will make them want to spread the word of Kiwi Avenue to their friends and family.

What are the best and worst things about bringing a product to market?

Best: Gaining ideas from my idea book that then turn into scribbles on a sheet of paper which then turn into a tangible product is just such an amazing feeling.  I am able to do everything from start to finish.  Design, create, finish, add marketing materials, price, create gift packaging, and top it off with a folded business card featuring my kiwi avenue logo, examples of my work and contact information.

Worst: Kiwi Avenue is constantly on my mind, which can be bittersweet.  Every time I am out shopping my wheels are always turning and discovering how the elements can be used for designing, organizing, packaging, or promoting Kiwi Avenue.  So my brand has essentially seeped into my everyday life.  It’s sometimes a real challenge to separate my personal and business life.

Describe your typical day?

I try to make the everyday tasks I have to accomplish more interesting by writing them on decorated papers or drawing pictures on them.  I feel I am more likely to do something more efficiently if it is neatly organized, color coordinated and pretty.  The nice part about owning a creative business is that my days do not have to be a print of the day before.  I can create some wonderful new pieces of jewelry one day, the next day visit a couple local boutiques, and the following day, attend a social media conference.

I try to interact with my Twitter and Facebook friends for a bit everyday, but I am still getting in the habit of doing that.  Other daily events include: ordering supplies, photographing my work, emailing a customer, calling previous clients, contacting an event coordinator, redesigning my website or researching about the jewelry market and business.

What is your philosophy of life?

I try to find the beauty in the mundane in life.  I find just as much inspiration in Jack the donkey as I do in a sunset.  The majority of life is made up of the simple things, not the exceptional, and I find it more rewarding to bring out the beauty in those often overlooked things.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

While I don’t have many regrets, trying to start a business and attain a double degree in college was a near insurmountable challenge.  Often times I would skip schoolwork or social events, sacrificing friendships and my education.  If I could go back I would try to find a more effective balance.  I think that if I had settled on one degree, or maybe dialed back my business a bit, I would have had an easier time of it.  But I am very happy with where Kiwi Avenue is today, so in the end, I don’t think I would change too much.

When will you know you have made it?

While I am selling my jewelry, at art shows, farmers markets, or other exhibitions, occasionally I will encounter a repeat customer.  When I see them walk up with jewelry they had previously purchased from me, it is an altogether surreal experience.  At some point I hope I can walk down a busy street and see strangers wearing my designs.  Then I will truly know I have ‘made it’.  That kind of recognition is the best reward an artist could ask for.

 

Interview: South African Designer Annette Smuts for Sliva Fashion

By | Wednesday April 11th, 2012 | 07:12 am | Comments

Company/Designer Name: SLIVA –Fashion Suits & Separates/ Annette Smuts

Designer Background Summary:

*”a sliva” i.e. A small piece of something.

A small piece of something wonderful, we believe. Designed by South African fashion designer, Annette Smuts, and manufactured locally in Johannesburg, South Africa. This label seeks to redefine the shape and fit of ladies’ suits. Powerful women want to feel beautiful, and elegant. We seek to meet that need.

How did you get started?

I started doing couture & bridal wear, but always had a yearning for tailoring and eventually left the bridal & couture industry to follow my passion for suits & tailoring. I created SLIVA and started selling to Johannesburg based boutique stores and over the last 4 years has slowly worked my way to creating a recognizable and noteworthy brand trademarked by my passion for fit!
Why did you join Noblivity®?

I like the concept and I believe they are able to deliver on their promises.

How would you describe your design style, design signature and who is your targeted customer?

Classic pieces that make a statement and get you a lot of compliments while still giving you a lot of wear! Suits that are designed for women… to flatter, shape and accentuate everything that makes us powerful and strong.

Our designs are ageless, and can work on any woman with the right attitude and confidence.

What inspires you?

Strong women that know who they are and what they want. Confident ladies with a joy for life! That moment when someone enters a room and instinctively the crowd knows they should be paying attention to her.

What obstacles did you have to overcome to get to where you are?

I’ve had to overcome the lack of recourse, infrastructure and fashion related services in Africa. It makes it challenging to build a successful career in the South African fashion industry. Not always having access to a variety of fabrics and trims it teaches one to become very inventive and creative to make do with what resources you do have access to, count! The emotional roller coaster of being a designer, manufacturer, teacher, charity and an entrepreneur does take its toll, but the results are always worth it.

How did you overcome the obstacles along the way?

Through not giving up. By believing in what I do. By changing and growing and learning and constantly improving.

What has been your greatest moment on your journey so far?

There have been many moments of joy! One of those was the opportunity to make my label available in the United States.

Another such moment was being involved in the charity fundraiser for the Cape Town Red Cross Children’s Hospital, it was a wonderful event where designers created fabulous dresses for SA celebrities, worn by the Celeb on the evening, to be auctioned off to the highest bidder, in aid of improvements to the hospital.

Another smaller, but no less important joy, is each time a customer calls/ emails me to tell me how many compliments they get from wearing my clothing and how much joy it brings them!

What has been the biggest change in your designs so far?

The changes in my designs have been small and constant. I’m perpetually refining and re-inventing. Perfecting fit and function.

What’s next for your brand?

After becoming recognized in America, I would love to open a flag-ship store in NY.

If money were no object what would you do right now to promote your brand?

Open a flag-ship store in NY, and do NY Fashion Week.

What are the best and worst things about bringing a product to market?

Having to sometimes deal with disappointment of not being successful in achieving your goals. Having the chance to try again tomorrow! Getting positive and reassuring feedback .

Describe your typical day?

Over-seeing the manufacturing of our clothing. Planning photo shoots and the next season’s range. Pattern making (I like being personally involved with creating our fit), liaising with buyers. Searching for more buyers and new ways to expand our market. Trend research. Improving our classic items. Testing new styles and fabrics.

What is your philosophy of life?

Enjoy the little things. Try to see that there is something wonderful in everyone. Believe in yourself. Don’t give up… ever. Be careful with your trust, it should be earned not given away freely. Ask for help. Never stop learning. Treat others with respect, and insist on being treated the same way. Aim for the stars, learn to fly and never look down!

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would’ve started building systems into my business sooner. I would’ve taken bigger risks. But I live without regret and the solution is to act on these things and address them once you become aware of them.

When will you know you have made it?

When I can afford to open my flagship store in NY.

 

 

Interview: Canadian Designer Fernanda Lazzaro and Fitlips

By | Tuesday April 10th, 2012 | 01:58 pm | Comments

Company/Designer Name: Fitlips/Fernanda Lazzaro

Designer Background Summary:

How did you get started?

When I was working in television I hired a talent manager who introduced me to a turnkey “mineral” cosmetics line, for which I just had to add my name.  I liked running my new small business, but I did not believe in the product because the ingredients were synthetic and the packaging was plastic and not unique.  I realized how important it was for me to believe in what I sell.  I’m a terrible liar.  And so I began research and development for Fitlips.

Why did you join Noblivity®?

I want to expand my company into the United States and Noblivity seemed like the best avenue.  It has many boutique shops on its roster, and I like the person to person contact.  Noblivity seems to really care about its clients.

How would you describe your design style, design signature and who is your targeted customer?

I would not consider myself a designer, but my products reflect who I am.  I try to live a natural life. I try not to waste too much.  I reuse as much as possible.  My target market is the boutique shop where ma and pa still work. Its customer is the independent female who is happy with her body, takes care of her health, and respects her environment.

What inspires you?

This may sound quirky, but nature inspires me.  I was born and raised in Toronto, a concrete jungle.  I now live in the countryside and I fell in love with the fresh air, trees, the sound of goats and chickens… I appreciate my surroundings and I want to make sure I create a product that will not deplete what nature has to offer.  

What obstacles did you have to overcome to get to where you are?

It was interesting how easy it is to make any product, but it’s not easy to make a 100% natural product with eco responsible packaging.  It took me two years to find all the necessary outlets that would allow me to create only the best.  I wanted to be true to myself and it was worth the effort.

How did you overcome the obstacles along the way?

I overcame the obstacles with lots of patience and research, research, research.  I asked a lot of questions along the way and made sure I covered all angles. 

What has been your greatest moment on your journey so far?

The greatest moment was getting Fitlips in my first stores, but another great moment was when the stores re-ordered!

What has been the biggest change in your designs so far?

My first tins were rounder and sleeker, but I found them difficult to open at times.  I now use screw-top tins, which fit the same amount of product, but are much easier to open and close.

What’s next for your brand?

I love lips.  I may add more flavours, or just create more lip-related products.

If money were no object what would you do right now to promote your brand?

I tried to think of ways that cost little or no money to promote: Facebook, gift bags and blogger reviews, for example; however, if money were no object, I would create a traditional campaign with print ads and TV commercials.

What are the best and worst things about bringing a product to market?

The best is when my clients are pleased and in turn their customers are happy.  The worst is not being prepared.  I once had a few stores waiting for product and I had none in stock, not anticipating the demand.

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

Fail?  What’s that? J

What is your philosophy of life?

I wish it were Live in the Moment. I try…I really do.  So, my motto is to appreciate everything I have, even those nasty spiders because even they serve a purpose. (Okay, maybe not the spiders.)

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I wouldn’t change a thing.  All the confusion and questions, sleepless nights, terrible business plan…all lead me exactly to where I want to be.

When will you know you have made it?

I am so happy.  I believe I have made it.  I just want to hear more and more people tell me how great their lips feel because of Fitlips.

 

Interview: Meet New York Designer Jennifer Ouellette

By | Tuesday April 10th, 2012 | 09:23 am | Comments

Company/Designer Name: Jennifer Ouellette

Designer Background Summary:

In October 1996, after working with milliners in London and New York, Jennifer Ouellette created a company in which she is now proud.  Today, the beautiful and meticulous details that set Jennifer Ouellette’s designs apart are responsibly produced in her private studios located in New York City and Santiago, Dominican Republic.

Jennifer’s sense of design began during childhood days spent in her mother’s vintage clothing store in St. Louis, Missouri.   She continues to combine her passion for vintage fashion with her modern New York City style.  Using her needle and thread as an artist uses pencil and paint, she applies her manual sewing techniques to her millinery sculptures with loving detail.

In 1999, she was granted a US patent for the development of a unique headband design and construction, which greatly increases comfort and value.

Her sustainable approach to her design proves she is a recycling artist. “I get creative when I start to clean my studio, reinventing our scraps is my expertise.  I am content when we have zero waste.”

In February 2008, her City Scape Headpiece was selected by her mentor to be included in his exhibit, Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones, which opened at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.    The V&A touring exhibit will open in New York City September 2011 at Bard Graduate Center.  Jennifer Ouellette is also the inspiration for the character in the upcoming feature Half the Perfect World” to be released Sept 2011.

Jennifer Ouellette’s work is included fashion’s best periodicals around the world and her loyal customers demand more than shallow trends to compliment their style.  Her designs are full of vitality and innovation, with inspirations from history, science and nature.

How did you get started?

With 20 bucks and a photo booth I modeled my own creations for my first photo shoot. After a few years of working in fashion in NYC and London I decided try things my way.

Why did you join Noblivity®?

Nobilivity is building a new future for fashion retail on the internet.  Its perfect for my business because of its focus showcasing small designers for special boutiques.  I am interested in collaborating with Noblivity in order to share my art with more US clients.

How would you describe your design style, design signature and who is your targeted customer?

My signature style is new but nostalgic, witty and smart, clever and useful.  My designs are tastefully pretty with modern turbans, girly bows, petite toque silhouettes, cozy earmuffs, big brims for sunning.  For the guys it’s sophisticated class with vintage appeal.

What inspires you?

People who follow their dreams and never give up.

What obstacles did you have to overcome to get to where you are?

Obstacles usually require change. I have learned to embrace change.  Its hard to do but life is always changing.   Quick acceptance of the challenges of change opens more doors to positive experiences.

How did you overcome the obstacles along the way?

When I think I’m out of patience I look for more!!

What has been your greatest moment on your journey so far?

Seeing how my product makes people happy across the globe!!

What has been the biggest change in your designs so far?

My customers are very loyal and their taste has become more sophisticated each season.  They love the styles with handwork and details!  They already own our basics and prefer to continue collecting our more detailed styles.

What’s next for your brand?

I would like to have many of my own stores and include a line of bags, shoes, and dresses

If money were no object what would you do right now to promote your brand?

1. Graffiti Times Square with mosaics of headwear.

2. Make a documentary on the millinery craft and my journey to keep it alive!

What is your philosophy of life?

Creativity is a magical gift.  Do everything with a positive mind and spirit. Do what you love, love what you make.

When will you know you have made it?

I am making it ~ a way of life!

 

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