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  • Suzy Wakefield

Fashion Forward:

Insider Insights into Swim & Lingerie Design Consulting

Welcome to our series on the ins and outs of building a consulting business in the world of fashion design and development. Here we will share what we have learned from years of making some smart decisions as well as some unbelievably large mistakes. Often on the same day. Hopefully, you can learn from both. Plus you will get a window into how I have been lucky enough to build a 2.0 to a successful career outside of corporate.

All you have to remember is that if I can do it you can too! I have no trust fund, and yes we even have kids we are putting through college. What I have from Day 1 is a focus that I was dying to follow my passion for being hands-on in mentorship, creating concepts, and designs, and fitting all of them to build volume for our clients.

We get called often from people going into consulting or at least considering it as an alternative to taking a position within a company. Since we are such evangelists of being your boss and more importantly continuing to create product designs for a myriad of brands, friends and colleagues are always pointing others in our direction. While I certainly don’t know it all, what I do know is that living my dream to be a creative entrepreneur has been a great one. On a winding road filled with learning and development, I wouldn't trade it for anything else. Even with the inevitable ups and downs of owning your own business, I believe you will too.

Here are 3 top  insights I've gathered along the way:

𝐄𝐦𝐛𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐓𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐏𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐚𝐤𝐞: 

Transitioning from leading design teams to going solo is like flipping pancakes without a spatula. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to design apparel and get it produced. Our best advice-Streamline your processes, create templates, and refine your methods to keep your focus on what truly matters – your brand and your client’s brand. Every time you create something whether it is a concept board, competitive analysis, or even a tech pack, think about how you can make a template out of it to use again for the next one. This way you are working smarter, not harder. And can take your time to think about the ideas and not the format. This is what your clients are paying you for. Time is money when that time is your own so use it wisely.

𝐏𝐡𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐚 𝐅𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐝 (𝐨𝐫 𝐌𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐎𝐧𝐞):

Networking isn't just about swapping business cards and LinkedIn connections. Spread the word about your venture authentically. Be the bridge that connects people, fostering a community beyond mere transactions. We have built ours by letting anyone and everyone know we are happy to support them in their pursuits. And as often as possible we simply want more people to know who we are and what we do. The world is small and conversations abound. Give your people the kindness of letting them spread the word about your passions and pledge to do the same. You never know where it will lead. And get super curious about your friend’s neighbors, etc. No joy is quite like that of being able to connect others for the sake of enhancing their worlds.

𝐍𝐢𝐜𝐡𝐞 𝐃𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐁𝐮𝐢𝐥𝐝 𝐔𝐩:

Seven years ago, when I began the studio, my biggest worry was that my niche was too narrow. Now, I know it's my secret sauce. Specialization isn't just strategic; it's crucial for standing out in a crowded market. Start small, then expand methodically. We began with lingerie and swimwear, and through word of mouth, we've diversified into towels, apparel, and even children's fashion too. Keep in mind that anything you add you need to truly understand how to do it or don’t take the job until you do. And it needs to be a through line to the core of your business. Think about any brand you love. I bet they are known for one specific item, or classification even if they are now much more than that. 

So, there you have it – 3 tips down, a mountain of advice to go. Enjoy your glimpse into the captivating world of fashion entrepreneurship.  Have more questions about a specific quandary in your own fashion design or product development consulting journey? We are happy to help.  Need to supercharge that knowledge into easy-to-apply wisdom? We're here to lend a helping hand. Reach out to us and we will be happy to schedule a complimentary 30-minute chat. And if you like what you are reading and want to learn more? Follow us on Instagram or LinkedIn.

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