You might have seen me talk about a discovery call and you may be wondering what it is, how it can help you and if you need it, so here's an overview and answers to a lot of questions I get asked.




What Exactly Is A Discovery Call?

A discovery call is an initial chat. It's called a discovery call as it gives us both a chance to discover more about each other. I love finding out about your ideas, where you're at just now and where you want to be.

I'll tell you about the ways I can help you get there and map out a plan of action with your next steps. You can then decide if you like the sound of that.

I don't just work with everyone and I want to make sure I'm a great fit for your brand and where you are at in your business journey, so I'll never recommend something you don't need or that won't suit your individual situation. The discovery call is free of charge and you're under no obligation to go ahead with any services or products.


How does it work?

You can choose a time that suits you from my calendar and once you've selected a slot you'll be asked to fill in a quick questionnaire. This gives me some background information about the collection you want to launch and which stage you're at. I ask you for this because I want to tailor the information I give you to your individual situation and product. It's not a one size fits all approach here, so getting to know you a little before our call allows me to gauge whether you're a complete newbie or if you have some experience in fashion.

You'll get confirmation by email with a link to follow on the day, as well as a couple of reminders closer to the time. If you need to reschedule the call you can do this online too.


Can I ask questions?

You sure can although this is not an in-depth advice session. The discovery call will identify what you need help with. You've probably heard about tech packs and samples but you're not quite sure how it all works or how much it costs so I'll walk you through some of this on the call.

You'll have tons of other questions you need answers to, and there is no way we can go over that on a 15-minute call, so if it's advice and guidance you're after then you may be better suited to a Power Hour where we thrash out questions you have in far more detail. Find out more about that here.


I'm new to this and feeling a bit out of my comfort zone.

90% of my clients have never had anything to do with the fashion industry prior to embarking on their journey to launch a fashion brand, so it's natural to feel a bit weird about meeting a stranger online to talk about something you know little about.

Don't be nervous, I'm super friendly and will put you at ease. There are no silly questions and everything you say to me on the call is confidential. I can guarantee the questions you ask me, or the areas you are feeling unsure about, are the same as everyone else, and everything you're perplexed about is totally valid.

By the end of the call, you'll feel supercharged and ready to take the next steps in your business, I promise you.


Why Use Zoom?

I want to get to know you and I believe you should know me too. If we are to collaborate on your collection then I want to put a face to a name and I want you to feel relaxed working with me. Zoom gives us the freedom to meet online from any location and it works well if we need to share information or visuals. I was even using Zoom before it was cool ;-)


Will you try to sell me something?

I hate pushy sales too! You're booking this call because you feel like you need some help so I'd be doing you an injustice if I didn't talk about how I can help. I will tell you what services I offer, but there's absolutely no pressure to go ahead with any of it. You're in control.


How do I book?

Just choose a time from the calendar below or click on this link.




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Starting a fashion brand can feel both exciting and overwhelming - first up where do you even start?


In this post, I'm sharing the areas you need to master to do it successfully. Consider which of these you can do yourself and which you need some further help with.




Ideas & Inspiration.

It all starts with an idea. Whether that comes from a need you've identified in your life such as a product you think could be better, a gap in the market for a product you can't buy or simply masses of creativity you can no longer contain, without inspiration you'll struggle to get past the start line. Think deeply about why you want to do this and channel that "why" into the next phases.


Research.

THE BIGGEST AREA STARTUPS NEGLECT!

I'm really not sure why, but there seems to be a tendency to body swerve any kind of research before diving into design. To put it bluntly, avoiding this is insanity! If you're going to pursue a business idea, make sure you know there's a market for it, you understand that market, you know your customer you're trying to sell to and also your competitors.

You need this considered information prior to the design stage because the decisions you make from this point on will be influenced by this research. If not then you're designing for vanity's sake.

Get your season right, research trends and make sure you're falling into the fashion calendar along with the rest of the industry.



Design.

Once you have these amazing ideas you'll want to start refining these into a collection and getting your ideas onto paper. I say paper, but I really mean in a digital format.

First, you'll need to create a comprehensive range plan of your products to make sure your collection is commercial, balanced, the right size and is best suited to your customers.

From there you'll want to create your designs in a suitable technical format that a factory will understand commonly known as tech packs.

Your designs are not just pretty pictures, they are the blueprint to manufacture a garment so you'll need all the technical details of fabrics, construction, application and fit. It's a how-to for your manufacturer to calculate costs, understand the complexity of production and implement every detail that is needed to turn the idea into a physical product.

Scrimping on design, especially if you do not have the technical knowledge can be disastrous so if you're new to all this make sure the designer you use is not. You'll need the backing and reassurance of an experienced professional so watch out for seemingly cheaper graduates who have never set foot in a factory. If they don't have the knowledge either it's like the blind leading the blind. Designs may look good on the surface but missing or incorrect technical information for the factory costs megabucks in sampling, so be savvy where you invest your cash. Preparation is key.



Supply Partners.

The supply chain is everything, without it, you have no product. So it's not unsurprising that most startup brands find the prospect of working with a manufacturer intimidating, to say the least.

It's not as simple as picking a supplier online and this is another area you'll want to invest in some research or help into getting it right.

Explore the options of the different types of manufacturing available from the different methods and make sure the one you select is most appropriate for your products, collection and business model.

Consider all pros and cons of both near and offshore production factoring in timescales, unit costs and travel logistics.

Have everything in place that manufacturers will expect from you and understand how and where to find suitable partners. Define which partners are required for example will you need a designer, pattern cutter, sample machinist, manufacturer, fabric mill or wholesaler and a consultant to guide you etc?


Sampling, Development & Production.

Once you're ready to work with manufacturers you'll need a level of knowledge as to what happens next. Manufacturers do not have the time nor the inclination to hold your hand throughout the process, that is the job of a designer & consultant like me, so prepare yourself in advance and know what to expect next.

Be ready with a timeline for the different types of samples you'll receive and have everything in order that will be expected during the sampling process.

Once samples are received make sure you understand your responsibilities in auditing these and relaying the results and amendments to the factory.




Finances.

Some people find business finances intimidating and boring, but not getting on top of this is a sure-fire way to fail.

Most startup brands launch with a budget of £10k plus, anything under £5k becomes extremely tough. It's not impossible, but be realistic with what you are trying to achieve.

Consider where you will source this capital from and explore the various different options out there to help with this if you are not able to fully self-fund.

Work out cost versus retail prices and ensure these are profitable, if they are not something needs to change whether that be your supplier, your MOQs, your profit margin or your retail price.

Consider your other running costs for your business and drill down what you really need at this point in time.


Marketing.

The subject everyone loves to leave till last! Marketing starts day 1 in your business, not day 1 post-launch. You're not Tom Hanks in Field Of Dreams and if you build it they will only come if you shout about it.

Build your audience while you're building your business and don't stop once you hit live on your website. Your marketing activities are a continuous cycle reflective of your goals and strategies for your business. Plan ahead, mark out the seasons and key selling dates and create campaigns to target these throughout the year.


Mindset & Personal Development.

Launching any business takes resilience, dedication, passion and a lot of hard work. It may look like a breeze when you see Insta-brands popping up with overnight success but trust me, it really doesn't happen like that.

There will be struggles along the way and roadblocks that you come up against that you'll have to overcome.

Being armed with the right information and surrounding yourself with a key support system that can help you solve problems as they arise, or even better foresee them before they happen, can really take the stress out of the difficult stuff.


Which of these areas do you feel confident about and which are feeling a little overwhelming? Let's chat about this in a free, no-pressure discovery call where you can find out what help is available to move your business idea forward.




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We've all been there...that feeling when we lack the motivation to drive forward with something that's important to us. When we have taken a break from something like our business it can be hard to get back into the swing of things. We often feel a whole mix of emotions like guilt, doubt and laziness which leads us to ask ourselves are we really cut out for this?


The good news is this is completely normal and to be expected. The even better news is you can turn these thoughts around to get past this roadblock and here I share my top tips to move you forward.





Accept Perfect Doesn't Exist


So many fashion startups are waiting for that "perfect time" when things will be quieter, you'll be richer, the kids will be older, your 9-5 is less hectic and you've lost that extra stone (OK maybe that one is just me!). But guess what? That perfect time just doesn't exist because there will always be something new to come along and fill that time gap, to spend your money on, eat your attention etc. The best fashion startups I have seen flourish are the ones run by parents with full-time jobs because they get shit done. They accept it's full-on and hectic but they do it anyway and make it work. So if you're sitting there waiting ask yourself this - how will you feel in 6 months time if someone else launches your idea? Gutted right? Accept this won't be easy but it will be worth it.


Remember Your "Why"


It can be hard to stay motivated 24/7 so in times you're feeling a bit "meh" remember why you started this. Imagine it's a year from now and you've launched, how will you feel? What will life look like to have brought that amazing idea to market? How will you feel seeing people wearing your collection? How many lives will you improve by bringing your innovative idea to life? How will building a legacy for your future make you and your family feel?

Remembering the bigger picture really helps put the day to day tribulations in perspective and refocus your attention on the reasons you are pursuing this. If you need some further help thinking bout your why then I recommend you read "Start With Why" by Simon Sinek https://simonsinek.com/product/start-with-why/





Go Easy On Yourself


It's so easy to forget that life happens and can often get in the way of our best-laid plans. Acknowledge that sometimes you need to take some time out from your business. That may be due to illness, perhaps your family needs you, maybe your job is super busy or maybe you're just exhausted and need to take some time off. This is OK and it's important to give yourself permission. The main thing is to put a time limit on it and understand you'll get back on it by a specific date.


Make A Commitment


Have you heard the saying "what get's measured gets done"? If you make a commitment to yourself and write down goals which you then regularly review, you're far more likely to achieve them than if you're really vague about your plans. Think about your week and decide if there is any regular time slot where you can carve out some time to work on your business. Be vocal about this activity with friends or family so they know you have something important to do during that time slot and try to stick to it.

Using a planner can be a great way to do this and keep track of goals. I personally love the planner from Carrie & Co. https://carrie.co/product/perfectly-planned-2022/




Be Realistic


We only have 24 hours in the day so work out when you can realistically work on your business. Setting goals is great but if we constantly strive for perfection then this can feel really demotivating. Instead, look at your time and plan what you can realistically achieve in the day or week. Be the tortoise, not the hare and chip away at things one task at a time. Break larger tasks into smaller bite-sized chunks that you can work on when you have a spare hour. In a few weeks, you will have achieved far more than trying to tackle impossible large tasks.


Hopefully you can use these tips to stay motivated with your fashion brand. If you ned any further help then why not book in for a power hour to discuss your fashion brand and get help with anything you may be struggling with. You can see more about this here https://www.thefashionexpert.com/product-page/tailored-consultation-1-hour


Michelle Ramsay - The Fashion Expert®




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