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How to Grow your Fashion Business by Stepping Outside the Box

To grow your fashion business you need to not only be visually creative but also be creative with how you conduct business, your strategy, marketing and all aspects that cumulatively contribute to the success of a business. Following “tried and tested” methodology is no longer a guarantee for success. So what now then?

Too many fashion entrepreneurs put their best creative thinking into an idea and believe that the business implementation simply requires following tried-and-true business practices.

But, in today’s internet savvy day and age, nothing could be further from the truth.

To win, you need to think outside the box to deliver a better customer experience, business model, and new positioning.

Present Day Scenario

It isn’t something that comes naturally to most creative people, especially the ones that are small brands or a “one man band” brand. Few creatives are taught business at college, yet they are encouraged to think BIG. They often leave education eager to start their own brand, high on adulation from teachers and peers and low on any sort of business skills.

Their business strategy relies entirely on getting press and marketing their brand/products – often confusing both for the same thing. Oh! and social media ties ups with so-called famous bloggers and influencers, of course.

While they are taught how to search for creative inspiration, they never get encouraged to do the same for business knowledge. Yet, it is the business activities that make it possible for the creativity to exist.

If like me you have a versatile circle of friends who work outside the fashion industry and you are curious to know what goes on in other industries, you’ll have noticed how much more evolution has taken place in the world around us. You would have no doubt noticed how much more rounded other business owners and startup founders are compared to fashionistas.

There are entirely new industries created and possibilities opened up to creating wealth and livelihood for many, that only 20 years back, would not have been even dreamt of.

So it is with great sadness to note that, as always, fashion is dragging its feet to catch up and evolve.

Change is slow and painful. “This is how we have always done it” is the prevalent thinking.

Any potential advancements in technology are initially met with great distrust and unwillingness to embrace. Those who have the patience and depth of pockets usually win at the end.

This short-sighted attitude stops them from learning from others and by applying their creativity to thinking, applying new ideas to an old industry.

Let me give you an example. When I first started working in fashion, pre-internet days, promotions were hard to come by because people hiring from outside, the competitor companies was the strategy. They were valuable as they brought in knowledge and contacts from the competitors. One company I worked earlier on, at that time only hired ex Prada, employees.

Years later, a team I had put together entirely one by one ended up working for another competitor brand.

Designer or not, the minute you set up your own brand you are no longer just the creative. You become the Chief of Everything!

So, if you’re a fashion business owner and trying to grow a product or service brand – how do you learn what and how to improve?

How do you learn what to measure and how your metrics compare to other businesses and industries?

Grow Your Fashion Business by Taking Inspired Actions

There aren’t many or any exclusive fashion business events one can go to. Not in London and not anywhere around the world. Nothing regularly inspiring and impactful. Nothing amazing or noteworthy.

Most events, mostly focus on inviting famous designers and fashion personalities to speak to an interview and therefore just about scratching the surface of useful information. No deep conversations, no real knowledge, no actionable advice.

Perhaps it is because it is not the designers who actually build their business after all.

Or is it that they don’t want to share and reveal their business success” secrets”?

Or is it that learning business is boring and not creative enough….?

Whatever the reason may be, the fact remains that in today’s day and age, it is NOT getting any easier to grow a fashion business.

The opposite, in fact, is true.

So looking outside the proverbial fashion box is essential, now more than ever.

1. Step Outside The Fashion Industry

Going to conferences that focus on marketing, business, sales, technology…etc is an essential pre-requisite for business growth.

Meeting people from outside the fashion pond is imperative.

No, they won’t be trendy and awesome looking to take selfies with and brag about. And when you say you are “in fashion”, the conversation will be hard going for a while, but so what….?

It is those hard going conversations that sometimes open our eyes and mind and teach you/us stuff that we don’t get taught in fashion.

It is my personal opinion, that the fashion industry is backward compared to other industries.

It is full of people who pretend to know and teach “how to…” theory, but are NOT practitioners.

So – STOP settling for mediocre and wondering why your brands and businesses are not where you envisioned them to be!

Stop counting likes and followers and focusing on vanity metrics!

Step out once a quarter and attend an event that will stretch you and teach you something new that you can apply to your business.

2. Widen Your Filter

If you widen the filter – there is so much online and offline, near and far. Some people from other industries travel across the world just for a few days to attend conferences and hear thought leaders and industry practitioners speak and share valuable content, actionable advice and fearlessly share the latest trends and tips of what works and what doesn’t. So much of it applies to fashion and running a fashion business.

YES, some events will cost money.

The good ones usually do!

But ask yourself – how much money do you waste on vanity “must have’s” and bad advise that you don’t get a return on that “investment”.

When was the last time you went to a free or paid workshop/conference/talk?

When was the last time you learnt something new you couldn’t wait to apply to your business?

When was the last time you looked outside the fashion industry for knowledge and didn’t just sit and read glossy magazines and wish you get featured in them?

When was the last time you tried to do things differently?

Q1 is over! 3 Qs left!

Just do it!


3. Try Something New

Here is a short and very non-exhaustive list of noteworthy conferences you should consider attending.

Not only will you learn valuable, actionable and practical knowledge that can help grow your business, but you will walk out inspired to take action, make an impact and above all – do it your way!

Legacy 2019 – 6-7th June 2019, London

Legacy is for purpose-driven business builders who want to unlock their next step in business and get crystal clear on how to get there. In 2 days you will do the work that will ensure the last 6 months of 2019 are your most successful yet; financially, physically, mentally, and spiritually, so that you are 100% confident in your action taking without wavering, feeling frustrated and second-guessing yourself.

Many business owners are struggling, unclear and overwhelmed. Trying to figure it all out alone and relying on Google, free downloads, and yet another webinar to save the day. Only to end up even more confused and discouraged. We are determined to ensure this is not your story!

Expert Empires Business Conference, June 2019, London

Discover Cutting-Edge Ways to Build Your Own Community of Raving Fans, Serve Them with World-Class Content, and (Most Importantly) Convert Them Into Paying Clients!

Build Your Audience, June 27-28th, London 

At Build Your Audience Live you’ll learn how to build your audience to 10 or 15 times the size you need, so that you always have enough customer/clients coming your way.

Yourpeneur Summit 2019, 9-11th November 2019, London

This conference will give you everything you need to know to take your business (regardless of whether you’re just starting, or if you’re already well established!) to the next level!

Amongst other things, by the time you leave the event, you’ll be equipped with new skills and tactics that’ll help you with everything from creating high-value online content to establishing your business and brand, through to all the marketing strategies you need to get in front of your ideal customers.

But we won’t stop there! Our expert speakers will also share with you all the different ways you can monetise your passions and business ideas, so you can ultimately build a powerful, profitable business that’s future-proof.

CMA Live 2019 5th &6th June 2019, Edinburgh, Scotland

The whole purpose of CMA Live is to get business owners, entrepreneurs and marketers FIRED UP by incorporating the latest developments and trends within content marketing, social media and business growth.
We do this by sourcing our speakers from a worldwide platform giving access to stars such as Chris Brogan and Ann Handley.
We hold the event in Scotland’s capital city for 2 days, with 300 people who all want you to be the absolute best you can be.
With such a range of knowledge and expertise all in one sitting, there is not one past delegate that hasn’t benefited directly as a result of turning up, putting themselves forward and truly embracing the CMA way.

Start-Up Summit Edinburgh
Recognised over the last seven years as one of the UK’s leading events for entrepreneurship, Startup Summit provides a true immersion into the world of business and beyond.
In the centre of one of the world’s most innovative cities, they invite the next generation of entrepreneurs to engage with experts, build a network and gain valuable tools for long-term success.

Startup Grind  12 – 13 February 2019, Silicon Valley, California

Startup Grind is the largest independent startup community, actively educating and connecting 400,000 founders in over 200 cities. The Startup Grind summit features successful local founders, innovators, educators, and investors who share lessons learned on the road to building great small businesses and companies.

Social Media Marketing World 2019  March 2020, San Diego, California

The world’s leading social media experts as you discover actionable tips and strategies that will improve your small business’s social media marketing efforts.

South By Southwest  March 2020, Austin, Texas

The SXSW Conference provides an opportunity for global professionals and small business owners at every level to participate, learn, and network in the film, music, and art industry. SXSW is a great small business convention that you will never forget.

Through all of these events, you will be able to find different improvements in all fields that feed into your small business and allow you to strengthen and grow your small business.

How do you think out of the box? What drives you? Comment below.