I’m often asked about what it takes to be a successful fashion designer and how I’ve become recognized in my field in Denver. Here are my thoughts. I believe these answers can pertain to anyone planning to “rise above” and who wants to differentiate themselves in any industry and any city.
- Be passionate and obsessed about what you do. Are you intrigued every day about the work you’re doing? Do you contemplate what it’s about, do you read about the latest technology? Do you network with others in your field? With passion and work comes success.
- Understand every aspect of how your industry works. This is not always taught in schools or sometimes even at work. Learn this from the school of hard knocks, take seminars, ask your co-workers and bosses questions, and do your research.
- Don’t give importance to “lip service” and stay humble. Fans will rave about your work, especially on social media, but the biggest compliment is when someone pays for your product or service – and they return for more.
- What you do or create eventually should have meaning in people’s lives. As a fashion designer, I believe it’s vital that people buy and use my designs and listen to my fashion advice.
- Remember your customer. Customers look to you as an expert, but they also have their ideas of what they want or need. It’s essential to listen to your customer.
- Not everyone is your customer. Chasing every sale when your customer wants something completely different could end up in a dissatisfied customer and potential loss in revenue for you.
- Choose the right forums for marketing what you do. Do those forums translate to sales? How do you reach your end customer? Please make sure they’re your primary target.
- Prepare ahead for PR that may come your way. Have a current bio ready. You’ll need a short version, medium version, and more extended version, and often you may be asked for a specific version according to the project at hand. Typically, this can be anywhere from 75 to 200 words. Run it by different people for ideas, be accurate, and try not to be too humble. PR experts can help you with this, if necessary. Also, make sure you have a few polished-looking headshots and full-body photos of yourself at the ready.
- Know your strengths and weaknesses. Your career and business will reflect both. Always work on improving yourself.
- Ask for help. If you don’t understand specific things, find an expert. Don’t avoid difficult advice. Assess if what they’re saying is true. If it is, go with it.
- Pace yourself. Create a business plan for at least 3 to 5 years. We always love to hear about the latest star in one’s industry, but true success stories are made of those who have stayed in their careers for the long haul.
- Stay inspired. Keep up with what successful people in your field are doing – locally, nationally, and internationally. This will keep you humble and inspire you to do better.
Finally, don’t forget to evaluate where you are periodically and assess if your strategies are working! Remember that the process is as important as the end goal. If you’re enjoying the process and working efficiently, you’ll get great results!
Bonus tip: Record your process. Hold onto important notes, writings, videotapes of yourself, old photos. You never know when previous ideas turn out to be the ones that are relevant for you to use today.