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Today I’m speaking to Michelle Ramsay, The Fashion Expert®, about creating a successful fashion brand.
It’s no secret that fashion is the top selling industry in almost all of the world. If you’ve ever thought of starting a fashion brand (and even if you haven’t!) this week’s episode takes you through how to create a successful brand, step-by-step.
Building a fashion brand is very exciting and I hope these tips will help you start on the right foot. From talking to Michelle it’s clear to see that doing your research is key to success. Take your time to, put the work in and be clear on what you want to achieve. Good luck!
Listen in to hear Michelle share:
- An introduction to her business and background (1:28)
- Why you don’t need to know about fashion to start a fashion brand (3:00)
- What she helps people with (4:20)
- The three stages to creating a successful fashion brand (6:59)
- What you might need help with – and where you can find it (10:41)
- How and where to find suppliers (14:52)
- The importance of knowing about any standards you need to comply with (27:26)
- Why you might want to start a fashion brand (30:22)
- Funding options available for fashion start ups (39:00)
- How she works with, and helps fashion brands get started (42:34)
- Her number one piece of advice for anyone wanting to start a fashion brand (44:32)
Launch your fashion brand with The Fashion Startup Academy®
How to successfully create a fashion brand - with Michelle Ramsay, The Fashion Expert®
Welcome to the, bring your product ideas to life podcast, practical advice, and inspiration to help you create and sell your own physical products. Here's your host, Vicki Weinberg.
Vicki Weinberg (00:00:21):
If you have ever considered launching any kind of fashion products, this will be the episode for you. And even if you haven't, I think you're going to find it really, really fascinating. So today we're speaking to Michelle Ramsay, Michelle helps people that are new to the fashion industry launch and grow successful fashion brands. And she does this free professional design expert mentoring. So as you're here, Michelle has lots of experience in the fashion industry. She's going to talk to us about who can create a fashion brand, how to get started, what the steps are. I'm just so, so much fascinating, useful advice. So, as I say, if you're looking to launch professional products, this is an episode you absolutely need to listen to.
Vicki Weinberg (00:01:02):
And even if not, I do think you'll find Michelle's experience and her story and her advice really, really useful. So I'm not going to introduce you to Michelle. So I'm say delighted to have Michelle on the podcast today. We haven't actually spoken to a fashion expert before and fashion products. The ones that I personally don't know too much about. And so I'm so pleased. We have Michelle here to share her knowledge and expertise with us. So welcome Michelle.
Michelle Ramsay (00:01:26):
Hi Vicki. Thank you for having me
Vicki Weinberg (00:01:29):
And thank you for being here. So could we start by you please? Just give him a list of instructions yourself and perhaps a bit about your background and how you came to be doing, what is it you're doing now?
Michelle Ramsay (00:01:40):
Yeah, definitely. So I've been in the fashion industry now for about 20 years and the last seven I've been working for myself and specialize in, in working with people that are not from the fashion industry, helping them launch, launched their fashion brands. So previous to this, I kind of always worked in design. I was a multiproduct designer, so I was very fortunate to be able to work with lots and lots of different products across men's wear women's wear children's wear, et cetera, worked for lots of high street names, Arcadia group being one of them. And then I also worked in supply for a little bit, or I'm working third party for again, lots of high street companies.
Michelle Ramsay (00:02:25):
And then yeah, just kind of took the risk one day. I'd always thought about branching out on my own and working for myself and give it a go. And I've never looked back since
Vicki Weinberg (00:02:36):
That's amazing. And so now you act for people who want to create their own fashion brand. Is that right?
Michelle Ramsay (00:02:41):
I do. Yeah. And generally it's people that are not from the fashion industry, so people that are completely new to it, maybe they have an amazing idea for a fashion brand or a fashion product that they want to launch, but they're just really unsure where to start. They have that passion, but maybe not the practical.
Vicki Weinberg (00:03:00):
Yeah. Thank you for that. And that was, it sounds very similar to what I do for brands that are looking to launch other kinds of products or fashion. Isn't something that I definitely help people with because that's an area I know little about, but yet it sounds sort of very similar that we're helping people through the process, really holding their hand through it. Yeah, that's fantastic. So I think a good place to start, cause I'm sure this is a question on people's minds is, do you need to know about fashion to launch a fashion brands? Do you have to have worked in fashion or retail or do you need design skills or do you not need any of those backgrounds?
Michelle Ramsay (00:03:35):
Yeah, I mean, obviously if you do have some experience, then it's beneficial, but it's definitely not necessarily. And like I say, most of the people that I work with, I would say probably 95% of clients that I work with don't have any previous previous experience. And then also they're not often from creative backgrounds, so they are often a little bit worried that they can't draw or, you know, they're not from that sort of general traditional creative background, et cetera. But no, I think as long as you've got that passion and that willingness to learn, and you've also got that sort of entrepreneurial side to you, I think that's much more important than your previous experience for sure.
Vicki Weinberg (00:04:20):
Hey, thank you. So do you help people with the business side as well, as well as the actual sort of design and production side?
Michelle Ramsay (00:04:29):
Yeah, I do. To a certain extent. So I'm not a business, you know, pro in that sense, but yeah, I kind of take people through things like, you know, how to price your products correctly for your actually creating a product that sells, but you're going to make some profit on that. So we'll also look at things like funding and, you know, business plans and also how to market your product. Once you've got that product in house, so to speak, what are you going to do next? How are you going to sell that product to make it into a profitable business?
Vicki Weinberg (00:05:03):
Oh, thank you. That's amazing. So it sounds like, yeah, you really do the whole end to end and it's so interesting to hear that you don't actually need any experience to do this as well. Cause I'm sure that for lots of people, that's a, that's a barrier that they feel like I don't have the experience, therefore, who am I to do there? So it's, it's really reassuring to hear you say it.
Michelle Ramsay (00:05:22):
Yeah. And I think sometimes that is a barrier that does stop people, you know? Cause one of the things that I hear a lot is when people do eventually sort of take that leap of faith as it were, you know, people say, I wish I'd done this years ago, but I think that sort of idea of you must have relevant experience can often be a barrier that people put in their own way. But yeah, I mean, there's lots of people out there, people like myself and, and you Vicki that can sort of step in and help bridge that gap where people have, you know, our lack of knowledge.
Vicki Weinberg (00:05:57):
Yeah, absolutely. I think that's the key thing is just having someone to help you figure it out. I believe the same energy that we've all capable of it wherever your background is just sometimes knowing where to start and what to do in what order. I mean, with that in mind, would you mind to actually taken us through an overview of what the steps are if you're creating a fashion brand and say, we, obviously we don't need to go into, like, we can go out, we can go into as much detail as you'd like, but it would just be really interesting to know what the stages are because I'll be honest. I don't have a clue. And I think that would be, that'd be really interesting to start there if that's okay.
Michelle Ramsay (00:06:34):
Yeah, definitely. I think, yeah. So I think there's sort of three main areas really, and I've sort of categorized that into plan design and the actual launch. So I think the plan area is something that's really worth talking about because it's actually the initial steps that a lot of people overlook. So things like doing lots of research on your ideal customer, who you're going to sell to and doing some research on your competitors and also thinking about how you're going to place yourself within the marketplace, how you're going to price your products, et cetera.
Michelle Ramsay (00:07:16):
So the prepare stage is really, really important and people always have this sort of want to kind of rush straight ahead to that design stage, you know, so taking some time to, you know, take a step back and think about these preparation stages is really the cake. Also thinking about things like, you know, registering your brand's names, thinking about your logos, thinking about your brand values, all of these things are going to be points that you're going to really build upon in the sort of next stages. So I'm thinking about this. This is really, really key. And then also having to think about things like which season you're going to want to launch in, you know, is there any kind of research that you need to do about that?
Michelle Ramsay (00:08:02):
Thinking about trends and also having a good think about, you know, writing a design brief if you're going to use a designer. So that's another thing again, not just sort of jumping straight ahead into the design stage. So sort of realization stage of, okay, you've got all of your ideas, you've done your research. How are you going to start getting this out there? So that's the point that really, you need to start thinking about getting your designs done, but getting them done in a format that a factory can understand. So if you're wanting to launch a fashion brand, it's really, really important that your products are put into what I noticed factory packs sometimes called tech packs.
Michelle Ramsay (00:08:48):
And that really consists of cats, which are professional fashion drawings of your garments, all of the technical enforce, or how is the fact you're going to put this product together for you and you know, what kinds of scenes may it have? What kind of fabrics are you going to be using if there's logos or anything like that, what are they, are they embroidered? Are they prints? And then also thinking about things like your sizing specifications. So, you know, how, how big is everything going to be? So everything is sort of drill down into lots and lots of detail and that's what your factory or your manufacturer is going to want to see from you. So that's the real key stage in this sort of implementation also.
Vicki Weinberg (00:09:33):
Is it all right if I just stop you there, Michelle, I've just got a few questions, is that okay? You while we're here. So how that sounds like it Def it sounds like an awful lot of information. So is there something, I guess what I'm trying to ask is how, how would you know all of this or how would, you know, as someone sort of, you know, you want to create something and you've got this idea for, for brands and some products, how, how would you know how it needs to be constructed and what fabric is best and how to size it? Because as you were talking, I had all these questions. I think it all should, I wouldn't know how, you know, what if we taught talking women's sizing, I wouldn't know what a size 12 was, for example, you know, measurements and I wouldn't know what, I wouldn't know March.
Vicki Weinberg (00:10:13):
So to be honest, how, how do you know all of this?
Michelle Ramsay (00:10:19):
So I think the, so there's the factory pack stage. I would definitely recommend that that's something that you should try and at least work with or alongside a professional, because it's not just about things like how the drawing looks, you know, it's all of the things that you've just touched upon. So all of that technical information about fabrics, and it does take, you know, a long time to learn all of this information. So some people do try and go about it themselves, often unsuccessfully. So a lot of it is about doing research. Again, looking at sort of competitive, you know, products that are out there.
Michelle Ramsay (00:10:59):
What are other people doing in terms of fabrications, et cetera. But knowing what to ask always is key. And unfortunately that is one of the things that sort of comes through experience. So if you're thinking about, you know, where to spend your budget, it's definitely worthwhile working with the designer that can gauge you through some of that and answer those questions for you. So when I work with my clients, what we tend to do is look at maybe samples of something else that's similar out there on the market. And then I can help advise them, you know, what kind of fabrics they might want to look into using, or, you know, things like if it's something specific that they're having designed, you know, how is that going to work in production and then being able to speak that language as well.
Michelle Ramsay (00:11:46):
So the manufacturer can understand exactly what you're, you're looking for and understand that and translate that into. So it's quite a skilled area and often one, which I think most people would probably need a helping hand with
Vicki Weinberg (00:12:03):
That. Makes sense. Thank you so much for answering that. And I'm assuming, so a designer can actually help you put the tech pack together. Can they, is that something that they would do on your behalf with your input?
Michelle Ramsay (00:12:15):
Definitely. So you would give them your ideas and you would speak to them and then they would essentially translate all of that into everything that the factory needs and they would fill in those blanks in terms of the technical side of things.
Vicki Weinberg (00:12:29):
Perfect. Thank you. And I'm say, so he's cut you off when you read mid-flight before, but I thought this was, this was something in the back of my mind. I thought, well, I really need to know this because it was getting a bit yeah. It's can seem overwhelming. Can't it, all the things that you have to know, but that's it. But no, I think just knowing that there are people that can help you with this, I think really put people's minds at rest. I mean, it sounds like it's something you possibly could do yourself, but having a designer I guess, is going to make it a lot quicker. Yeah,
Michelle Ramsay (00:12:59):
Yeah, you're right. And this stage can often be a stage where people will try and cut corners and approach manufacturers direct. And in my experience, it's often where they waste a lot of time and money because they kind of tried to cut backstage out and think, okay, I'll maybe go ahead and speak with a manufacturer. Maybe send them photographs of what I'm looking for and try and put something together in terms of, you know, things like north, etc. Try and communicate to the manufacturer, what they're looking for. And it often
just leads to really disastrous attempts to, you know, samples.
Michelle Ramsay (00:13:40):
And then people have lost maybe months trying to get something done. They've paid for samples, we don't work. And then they have to go back to the very beginning again. So it can be a difficult thing to try and navigate yourself.
Vicki Weinberg (00:13:54):
And I, yeah, the only experiments I have of this actually is I had a client who was looking for someone to make seamless leggings while seemed to sportswear. But one of the things he wants to flag and say has to be seamless. So it's only small bit of experience I had working with him as we quickly realized that not all factories have the capacity to make seamless garments and he had tech packs. So I know, I know what a tech pack is and it looks like actually, cause he did have them, which was really useful. And it did mean we were able to sort of rope boot people out really quickly because they were able to look at the tech packs and say, no, we can't do this.
Michelle Ramsay (00:14:30):
Yeah. Yeah. And you know, that's a brilliant example that you've touched upon, you know, cause certain factories will have, you know, certain machinery and technology. That's able to do certain types of garments, et cetera. So, and what sometimes you may end up finding is, you know, not one factor can make your whole collection for you. You know, you might have to split that across a couple of different factories depending on their specialism and what type of product you're using. But your, your tech packs are great to be able to identify that in, you know, a couple of emails speaking to someone, you know, they'll, they'll let you know if they can or can't do something.
Michelle Ramsay (00:15:11):
So it's, it's a good way of being able to test the water with potential suppliers.
Vicki Weinberg (00:15:15):
Thank you. And how comfortable should you feel with sending your tech pack out to suppliers as in, is there a danger that somebody is going to take your information from that and run with it or does that not happen? Yeah. How do you, how do you suggest approach in that?
Michelle Ramsay (00:15:33):
Yeah, it's a question I get asked a lot because I think people are worried about, you know, their IP and copyright issues, et cetera. Generally, people don't want to copy you until your famous in the fashion industry or you're doing something that sells really, really well. And they think, okay, that's a great idea. We should be doing that. So you can obviously cover yourself as well with things I NDAs and also making sure that you have, you know, copyright on your designs, et cetera. So there are things that you can do to try and
minimize that risk. But yeah, generally speaking, you know, factories are not, most of them are not going to run off with your, with your ideas.
Michelle Ramsay (00:16:18):
Yeah. It tends to be larger brands that unfortunately the copyright issues happen with.
Vicki Weinberg (00:16:24):
Okay. Thank you for that. And I'm so excited we taking you completely off track, so I'll let you pick up.
Michelle Ramsay (00:16:32):
So yeah, we were just talking about this sort of implementation stage and things that you might have to consider. So we've, we have actually touched upon some of that. So at this stage you want to start doing things like researching fabrics and trims. You know, if there's something very specific that you want to use in your, in your collection. So that might be relating back to some of those brand values. So let's see your creating a sustainable brand, or you have something that you want to make your garments out of that that's very specific. Then you might want to do some further research into sourcing fabrics and trims yourself. Some factories will do that for you.
Michelle Ramsay (00:17:13):
So it, again, it just depends what kind of factory you're looking to use and what kind of business model you're looking at in terms of getting things manufactured. Also thinking about, you know, doing lots of research around your manufacturers, you touched upon you the seamless leggings example. So yeah, it's really not a one size fits all. And unfortunately there's lots of like work to be done in this, you know, and there's not really a, there's not a quick solution to that. There's lots of research involved and, you know, lots of and making sure that you get a really great fit with your chosen supplier.
Michelle Ramsay (00:17:55):
And so at that stage, that's when you would be looking to obtain things like quotations for prices, for both sampling and production before you then start to go ahead. And then at that stage, I guess is where you would start to really work with factories. So first of all, you'd want to play some sample orders. You'd want to get some prototypes made and see how they work. You know, it's a good idea at this stage to have, think about sampling at a couple of different factories, you know, so having a look at what was the overall process like of working with them, what is their quality like?
Michelle Ramsay (00:18:35):
And also how does that reflect in terms of the prices? And also you might want to think about potentially looking at a couple of different manufacturers in different parts of the world as well. You know, seeing how that reflects on price as well. So yeah, once you've got your samples back, then that's up to you to kind of do things like approvals and fit sessions and go over all of the QC side of things and just make sure that your
samples are working well, and you'll have an opportunity to amend this. And the sampling process is really there to kind of pick up on things that aren't quite right. It gives you an opportunity to perfect your garments, et cetera, and you would feed back all of that information to the factory and then start getting your, getting your production done from there.
Michelle Ramsay (00:19:27):
So that's kind of like a really quick whistle-stop way of having a look at how to bring something to the production stage. And then after that, you're then looking at, you know, what, what happens now? You've got your product, how you're going to get that out there. So I guess that's where you would start to really think about all of your marketing side of things. So doing things like, you know, are you going to work with influencers or will you have brand ambassadors for your branch and will you work on social media for some of that? And so thinking about things like getting your collection photo shoot done for, you've got promotional images to send out for marketing material, you might be looking to sell third party as well.
Michelle Ramsay (00:20:15):
You might be looking to wholesale your products, getting into, you know, maybe another retailer, maybe it's a small boutique. Maybe it's a large retailer. Also having to think about, you know, are our trade shows something that you might go down to getting your product out there to a wider audience and thinking about working with them, buyers, et cetera. And then also having to think about, you know, how, how else are you going to extend that leech of your product? Your, so will you get involved in things like pop up events or retail collaborations or anything like that, it's all around building your brand awareness, 3d, and then sort of learning from what you have done in that first season.
Michelle Ramsay (00:20:57):
You know, learning from what's worked very well and reviewing what happened.
Vicki Weinberg (00:21:03):
Well, thank you so much for that. And there's a great age of you and I know you have a download available as well. It's ain't you that talks through the stages.
Michelle Ramsay (00:21:10):
Yes I do. And that's available through my website. So you can just pop over there and there's a little pop up that comes up, fill in your email address and that can get sent over to you. So yeah, it's a bit like a checklist and gives people lots of pointers. So a good understanding of what to expect if you're at the very beginning.
Vicki Weinberg (00:21:31):
That's perfect. Thank you. And so useful. So I'll make sure I link to that in the show notes for this episode, as well as people can find that really easily, just coming back to the manufacturing site, if you don't mind, Michelle, I'm just really interested in your advice on, or sort of finding factories and wherever, wherever it's
similar to other products. So, I mean, do you suggest people, you know, go to Google or are there other ways of finding manufacturers and factories and I guess, you know, part of that is how to know where to look because I I've been told, and you can tell me whether this is right or not. They were assessing countries that do certain garments very well. So I've been told that your are quite good for, I think it was Portugal.
Vicki Weinberg (00:22:11):
I was told was quite good for sportswear and I've, I've had these things sort of anecdotally, no idea if they're true or not. So I'd love your take on that please.
Michelle Ramsay (00:22:21):
Yeah, definitely. Well, you're spot on with what you're saying, Vicki about different countries being good at sort of different types of garment product areas, but also, and depending also on what your raw materials are as well. So let's say for example, if you're going to be doing something that's, you know, a cotton based range, then India is a great place for, for that type of product as well. So it's all about doing your research and working out where it's going to be the best fit for your product. So there's lots of different things that come into that for obviously prices one thing, or, you know, have a lot of clients that want to maybe work with a factory closer to home to begin with.
Michelle Ramsay (00:23:08):
But sometimes, you know, like here in the UK, manufacturing is more expensive than if you're doing offshore production, et cetera. So it's all about weighing off what your looking to achieve essentially, and then working your way back from that. So going back to what you were asking about where to find factories. So yeah, Google is a great one. What I would suggest is that you get very specific if you're Googling or, you know, don't just put in, you know, fashion, factory Portugal, you know, categorize that into what kind of product your, your manufacturing sometimes as well, factories will even specialize in gender supply.
Michelle Ramsay (00:23:51):
So some factories will only manufacture women's wear or men's wear also a great one, which is obviously a little bit difficult at the minute, June the pandemic, but going to supply at trade shows. And I actually prefer this and always recommend this to, to clients because you get so much more done in one day than you ever will, trying to Google lots and lots of different factories, you know, so you can attend trade shows where lots of buyer, sorry, lots of factories and suppliers will come and they will show different products that they all ready manufacture for other clients, et cetera.
Michelle Ramsay (00:24:34):
And you can have one-to-one time with them. You can talk about things like minimum order, quantities pricing, you know, will they work with startup brands, et cetera. That's sometimes a little bit of a sticking point. So a trade show is a brilliant place to pick up suppliers and you can get, you know, get round and, and speak to lots of different people in a very short amount of time and have answers. Whereas sometimes when
you're just firing off emails all of the time, it takes a long time for people to get back to you, et cetera. So I would definitely recommend that as your first port of call for trying to find suppliers, obviously when we, when we can do that again in person.
Michelle Ramsay (00:25:20):
But yeah, I would say being specific is key to sort of trying to do it on Google. There are also lots of different websites that have suppliers in their database. So there's a great website called make it British that, you know, showcases lots of new case suppliers, et cetera. So yeah, there's lots of different ways that you can, you can find factories, but I think the key to it is being very specific and working out what it is that you actually need in the first place. And then it just sort of saves on time. You know, you're not wasting lots of time speaking to people that are not going to be relevant to your brand.
Vicki Weinberg (00:26:03):
Thank you so much. That's really helpful. And I really liked the idea of the trade shows because I think also it kind of gives you an opportunity to meet the people and decide if they're people you want to work with. Because I think the relationship is so important, especially if you're looking for it to be a long-term thing. So that's really nice too, to actually sort of meet somebody and have a face and just see wherever you get on and you understand each other and that kind of thing.
Michelle Ramsay (00:26:25):
Definitely. Cause I think the relationship is, is really key, you know, and I always say to clients, it's definitely a two way thing, you know, you've got to want to work with the factory and vice versa and yeah, having those conversations and actually meeting people and seeing what they've produced for, for other et cetera, it's really, really useful. And also it's great, you know, afterwards, if you're following this up, you know, just to have that connection already to see, you know, we saw each other at whichever trade show, do you remember it? You know, it sort of strikes that relationship starts that relationship going. So yeah, I totally agree.
Vicki Weinberg (00:27:04):
No, thank you. So I have one more question just about the process side of things, if that's okay. Which is, are there any like regulatory things you need to be aware of if you're looking to work in fashion, you know, any like regulations or things that you just it's just worth somebody knowing?
Michelle Ramsay (00:27:23):
Yeah, there are, it's a little bit of a main field that one, cause it depends on number one way, your retailing, your product, and number two, what kind of products you're actually selling? So a great example is there are lots and lots of rules and regulations around children's wear and baby wear. So there are things that you definitely have to add here too, in terms of safety and also things like, you know, how you, how long you make draw cords and what kind of attachment things like buttons and trends have in also just making sure
that all of your products are safe. So something's not going to be a choking hazard or anything like that.
Michelle Ramsay (00:28:05):
So children's wear is probably, I would say the biggest area that there are lots of specific standards that product path to meet. If you're looking for anything to do with that type of thing, then the trading standards in the UK is a brilliant place to start and they're really, really helpful. And I think pretty much every county in the UK has their own sort of department. And yeah, they're really, really helpful in sort of giving you guidance and putting you in touch with people that you need to speak to. So that's a really great resource if people are trying to sort of navigate their way through that.
Michelle Ramsay (00:28:47):
Also there's probably an element of when you're working with a designer, they'll be able to give you some guidance and advice on general things, but then it would be up to you as a brand to do any specific testing and, and things like that. Yeah. They're all for regulations around things like what kind of chemicals are in different items in the garments. So that might be in the components like zits or Boston's trims that type of thing, paints of dyes that I've used, et cetera. And there are lots of different regulations which are specifically associated with selling in certain types of retailers.
Michelle Ramsay (00:29:34):
So say for example, if you're looking to potentially get some of your products into a supermarket, then there are lots of hoops you need to jump through, but the retailer will be able to sort of specify which standards your products have to come up to. So it's quite a complex area, but yeah, it really depends on what kind of products your you're producing and way or failing it.
Vicki Weinberg (00:29:60):
Well, thank you for that. And yeah, I had a feeling, it might be quite a big question, but thank you. That's that's great answer it. It just sounds like a lot of research is needed and also the more we speak, the more I think to having a designer to work with sounds invaluable because obviously they're going to have so much knowledge and so much experience that they can at least point you in the right direction, even if they don't necessarily have all of the answers sounds like something you definitely need. So I'm trying to think where to go from here. Michelle, how about, how about, what do you think are some great reasons to create a fashion brand? So who do you think can do it and why might somebody wants it?
Michelle Ramsay (00:30:40):
Yeah. I probably see the sort of similar patterns in clients that come to me. So one of the main reasons is people that have identified a gap in the market for something for maybe they have, you know, they wish that they could buy something specific and they can't find it. And so that spurs them on to think, okay, it's, you know what, I'm going to actually create this myself. And often that also kind of spills over into a level of innovation and improvements, or maybe again, people have specific things that they want to buy and what's
currently out there in the marketplace, just kind of isn't up to scratch or doesn't do the job that they wish it did.
Michelle Ramsay (00:31:26):
So if you have an idea for, for something like a product or a brand that centers around that, and you've identified that gap in the market, then I think you're onto a winner with something, because if you've identified that gap, then there are hundreds of thousands of people out there that are having the exact same issue. You know? So I love clients that have that sort of real drive and passion because they think, you know, I really want to be able to buy something I can't. So I'm going to do that myself. So that's one really great reason to do it. And I also think that there's probably been a bit of a shift, I would say over the last 10 years really in entrepreneurial-ism in general.
Michelle Ramsay (00:32:14):
So I don't know about you Vicki, but when I was at school self-employment I think we've always seen as this very risky move, you know, and being employed in the nine to five as being the very safe option. But I think we're kind of moving away from that and people are seeing that their options open to them to potentially change career or follow something, you know, that they've had their heart set on for long, long time, you know, and I see these with, you know, real passion projects all the time. People have been thinking about this in the background and then they've decided to take that risk, you know, and their hope and idea is that they will potentially, you know, change career direction and make this business into something that transforms the lives of, you know, themselves and their families.
Michelle Ramsay (00:33:01):
So I think that's a really amazing result to see, you know, clients that do do that and follow that to Yuma and kind of go through that experience of, you know, thinking, yeah, I'm gonna, I'm gonna take this risk and I'm going to make something that's amazing out of this. And also because of recent experiences with the pandemic, et cetera, I think a lot of people have just sort of been reassessing what's important to them in life. You know, so people have had a bit more time to think about things, whether that's their own personal situation. So a lot of people have kind of found themselves on furlough or maybe they've, you know, unfortunately lost their job or something like that be made redundant.
Michelle Ramsay (00:33:52):
So I think people are now seeing that that general nine to five being employed is maybe not the safe option after all. And this is sort of making people reassess what they really want out of life. So if there's something in the back of your main that you really want to follow and really want to explore, then I would definitely encourage you to do that. You know, and I'm seeing a lot of clients that are, that are going down that route and the pandemics kind of being the, the, the kick up the bottom that leaves needed for it, you know? So it's nice to see.
Vicki Weinberg (00:34:29):
That's so interesting. Thank you for that. I mean, it's really interesting and probably not surprisingly, it sounds like people go to you and for exactly the same reasons that I see people come to me for different kinds of products, majority of the time, it's either something they're really passionate about. And often that part of that is that it's the thing that they've wanted they need and they just don't have in their lives. So they've decided to create, it sounds really similar, I suppose, that we shouldn't be surprised by that. I focus. I think you kind of almost need a personal reason to sort of get behind something because it's not an easy thing to embark on whatever kind of product you're looking to create, whether it's a fashion products or anything else, I guess it makes complete sense that there needs to be like a real personal drive to, to push through and go on with it.
Vicki Weinberg (00:35:15):
Cause it's quite a commitment.
Michelle Ramsay (00:35:18):
It is. And yeah, that's the thing it's, you know, not only in the form of time commitments, but also financial risks as well, you know, but if you have something that you really believe in and that you're passionate about, then I think that's half the battle with, with something like this. And also it kind of gives you a bit more of an edge as well, you know, cause if you're with, I'm not sure about other industries and products, but with fashion brands, you know, if you're just sort of looking to do this because you want to be the next Esau or something like that, it's very, very
difficult to break into that type of market. But if you've got quite a unique product, but you know that there's a demand for it because it's, you know, whatever's out there as I not living up to how, you know, how it should be or it's just doesn't access then, you know, you've, you've definitely got that, you know, leg up on, on somebody.
Michelle Ramsay (00:36:13):
That's just kind of wanting to put more of the same products out there.
Vicki Weinberg (00:36:18):
I definitely find that if I have a products as well, and I always there's, there's a real difference often between the people who have a product they're passionate about and people who are selling something because they want to make money and they don't really mind what they're selling, they want to sell. Whatever's, you know, it's top of the Amazon bestseller list and often, yeah, there's a real difference to how people's, I mean, you can do very
well with that approach. And I'm not saying you can't, but often it's not the long term success. Often they then have to sort of pepper and look for a different product because maybe that product was fashionable or popular for a while, but then it becomes something else. Whereas I think if you're doing something to meet needs, then the presumed to be that needs always going to be there and you've got a product that meets that.
Michelle Ramsay (00:37:04):
Exactly. And I also think it's the difference between creating, you know, what, what I want to call a real brand, as opposed to, you know, a company that selling product it's very, very different, you know, and going back to what I was saying early on about this sort of idea of really researching your brand, researching your product and researching your competitors, all of, all of that is going to give you so much longevity, you know, in a year's time and you're still going to be doing what you do and producing products that you're really passionate about when you want to get behind, as opposed to that for a get rich quick scheme.
Vicki Weinberg (00:37:42):
Yeah. I'm nosing along because a few weeks ago I interviewed a PR expert for this podcast as well. And the ma the one thing she said that really stuck with me is about identifying sort of your why, and being able to articulate that because she was talking about how customers can resonate. If you say I had this problem. And so I created this problem, this product where it's garments or something else that was a store where you can get behind as a human interests, being the press might be interested in it. People can relate to you. Whereas if you just say, oh,
I did this because I wanted to make some money. You are unlikely to make that same connection. So yeah. I mean, I'm, I'm totally with you. I, I think I'm not saying that I'm not saying not to do it to make money because of course, you know, if, if that's what you want to do, that's fine.
Vicki Weinberg (00:38:25):
But I agree with you about longevity. Definitely. And I think it's hard to build a brand around a product that you don't have any kind of connection to. Yeah, definitely. So you touched earlier about sort of the office, as well as the time commitment, obviously the financial side of launching a fashion brands. And at the very beginning, you also mentioned funding. So I just wondered what options are there for funding when you're launching a brand.
Michelle Ramsay (00:38:55):
Yeah. So a couple of different routes that most people take. So number one, I guess there's the obvious one is self-funding so, you know, saving up the cash yourself and getting behind that that's not always possible for people. So tends to be the next step would be probably to think about a loan for whether that's a, a bank loan or an investment loan for getting somebody else on board, third party, whether that's somebody that, you know, personally or somebody like that, you know, an investment angel, something like that. And that could potentially put some capital into your business and, you know, get, get behind what you're trying to do.
Michelle Ramsay (00:39:36):
The other thing to really consider as well as crowdfunding. So that's becoming an absolutely huge at the moment and it is very popular amongst fashion brands. I think there's a way to go about it. That sort of guarantees you a bit more success than, than others. And I think with anything where you're looking to get a third party interested in any level of investment, whether that's in terms of an actual investor or some something like crowdfunding, I think first of all, you have to show that you have a level of commitment in that
to, to begin with. So the best way to get that interest is to actually self-fund the first initial processes.
Michelle Ramsay (00:40:21):
So do all of your designs and start getting into the sampling stages. So get some prototypes made. So then people can get behind your idea a bit more because I think there's a huge difference. Once people can see an actual physical product and they understand what it is that you're trying to do, whether that's in terms of
the quality or the ethics or whatever it is, that's specific and different about the product that you're trying to create. And you'll have a lot more success than with something like a crowd funding campaign. If you can show people what it is your looking to produce,
Vicki Weinberg (00:40:57):
That makes total sense. And I guess as well, they can also see your commitment. And you know, that you've put in so much work so far, but also I guess, makes it a bit more viable. Cause like, I guess something I, I sometimes feel about crowdfunding is you don't actually know whether the thing's going to make it to production. We know whatever it is, but if someone's put in, you know, so much work that they've got some holes and they've con so far, it makes it that much more likely. And I'm sure that must help with getting people to get behind you as well, because it's not just an idea they can actually see, okay, they've put some work and they're obviously committed to this.
Michelle Ramsay (00:41:31):
Definitely. And it also helps people visualize what you're trying to do, you know, because sometimes you might have that vision and if you're just at the design stage and you've got a brilliant idea, no matter how great the idea is, it can be hard to translate that for other people to see and to, to be, to get behind for. Yeah. I agree with you a hundred percent on that. You really just help people. So of having a bit more confidence in what you're doing and you know, if you don't have, if you don't have that confidence to think, okay, I'm going to take that risk and invest some money in this. Then there's sort of questions about whether you should be asking other people to make some similar risks.
Vicki Weinberg (00:42:12):
Absolutely. Thank you. So just a few questions before we finish off Michelle, I'd love to know, say in what ways can you help people and what are some of the different options people have if they listen to this and they think has showed really liked work for Michelle, I could do with some help.
Michelle Ramsay (00:42:29):
Yeah, definitely. So if you're at the very beginning and you're looking to launch a fashion brands, a program called the fashion startup academy. So it's a 12 week program where you self study through 12 modules, right? From the very beginning for all the research side of things about your brand and your customer and your products, et cetera. And then learning how to do things like choose what type of factory to work with whereabouts in the world should manufacture thinking about the sampling process and the production, and
then things like funding and the business. And then you also get one-to-one time with me on that as well. So every week we catch up and just sort of talk through, you know, how this works with your brand and make sure that you're progressing okay with that.
Michelle Ramsay (00:43:16):
So yeah, the fashion startup academy, and then also offer mentoring. So you can book in for mentor in sessions, if you want to have, you know, in depth one-to-one about your brand specifically. So that's suitable for both startups or if you're already an established brand, maybe you've just launched maybe things aren't going quite as well as you want that to be. And we can have a look at, you know, what's maybe needs addressing in your business, et cetera. And then the third we that I can help people is actually through the design process. So if you're somebody at the very beginning and you have lots of ideas and you think, okay, I really want to get some of these ideas to affect me.
Michelle Ramsay (00:43:58):
Then I can take those four ideas and put them into the tech packs for you. So get those into a format. Matter of fact, we can understand, so you can start getting things like quotations and samples.
Vicki Weinberg (00:44:10):
That's amazing. Thank you. And I'm assuming everything's available via websites. I can link to that in the show notes and people can go over and take a look. Yes, definitely. Thank you. And just one final question, Michelle, if that's okay. So what was your number one piece of advice be for somebody who's looking to start up a fashion brand?
Michelle Ramsay (00:44:30):
Yeah, so I would probably say do your homework before you leap in, because I see time and time again, people kind of just going in thinking that they can cut corners and just sort of jumping ahead of themselves. So have a plan, do your research and all slow because I think that's, that's the key kind of doing things in the right order, making sure that you've got a plan instead of just going ahead and jumping ahead and trying to do things too fast and then wasting lots of time and money.
Vicki Weinberg (00:45:06):
Okay. That's really helpful. Thank you. Well, thank you so much for everything that you've shared. Yeah, it's been brilliant. I didn't w obviously I knew there was a lot that went into it, but I think you've given us like a really good overview and made it so much more actionable and just, yeah, just take it away. Some of the fear of, I think of how on earth you would approach this and what you need to do. So thank you so much. I will link to your website and I'll link to your download as well. Cause that sounds like a great first resource for anyone wanting some help. And yeah. Thank you again.
Vicki Weinberg (00:46:02):
So as always, thank you so much listening, right to the end of this podcast, Michelle and I both really appreciate that. If you have any feedback on the episode, any questions you can always contact me. It's Vicki @tinychipmunk.com. Please do remember to leave a review for the podcast. If you have a few minutes, it literally only takes seconds to leave a star rating in whichever podcast player you're listening in. If you haven't already also please do subscribe and then you'll get every new episode as it's released. So thank you so much. I'm looking forward to sharing another amazing interview with you next week.