The question every business wants to know is will they achieve success, and that's no different for fashion startups. During my consultations and mentoring sessions, I get asked a lot if I think a client's idea is a good one, so here are my tips on success for fashion startups.

1. Have Belief.

First and foremost, you need to believe in your idea, brand and product. If you're feeling half-hearted about it then it's not the road for you. The clients who have most success are those who relate to a passion in their life. You might be a gym buff who's dream is to see your brand worn in an athletic setting. Or how about your passion for yoga? Do you live in your studio apparel and want to launch your own line?

Starting up a new fashion business takes courage, determination and commitment, so make sure you're choosing something that will spur you to keep going.

2. Understand Your USP.

In business circles you'll hear that you need a U.S.P. to become successful. But what is that and how does it relate to fashion? A unique selling point is something that sets your brand apart from the rest of the world.

This U.S.P. can come in lots of different formats and relate to both the product and the business. Some examples of what can make a business unique are:

  • your products fill a gap in the market

  • your prices bridge a gap in the market 

  • the way you sell is different

  • the types of fabrics you use are unique

  • your brand supports a charity

  • your brand is ethical in trade and manufacturing processes

  • your brand is eco-friendly, organic or fair trade

3. Innovate.

I'm always amazed by my clients when they come to me with an idea for something totally new, that's never been seen before.

Innovation is a great way to boost your success. If you've tried to buy a product and couldn't find it, then you've identified a gap in the market to fill, and that's half the battle. Chances are, you're not the only person looking for that product, and there is an untapped marketshare waiting to buy it. You just have to get it out there!

  • Clothing that includes new technology or fabric development

  • Garments that perform a function

  • Apparel that is for a certain age, size, body type

  • Clothing that solves a problem

4. Be an improver.

Another set of clients that do well with their startups are those who take an existing idea but make it better. Perhaps you love a particular type of apparel but wish there was more choice on offer. Maybe you feel certain brands or markets are lacklustre and need a boost or refresh. You might already use a type of product and realise it doesn't quite perform how it should. These are all things you can improve upon by:

  • Making garments fit better

  • Manufacturing with more premium fabrics

  • Offering a better choice in styles

  • Improving how a product performs eg. in the gym or outdoors

  • Giving customers more accessible price points

  • Injecting fashion into a stale market

If you have an idea for a fashion startup, and want to chat with an expert or get help starting, just get in touch for an initial consultation here or drop me a line

Michelle Ramsay

The Fashion Expert®

#freelancefashiondesigner #fashionconsultant #startupspecialist #fashionstartup #fashionmentor #fashiondesigner #clothingdesigner #thefashionexpert #thefashionexpertuk #launchafashionbrand #newfashionbrand #emergingdesigners #newtalent #clothingdesigner #appareldesigner #designer

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One of my most favourite ways to relax is to watch films, whether that's at the cinema or at home. As most of us are staying at home just now, I thought I'd share with you my top 10 fashion films to help inspire you and your fashion brand or help channel your inner fashionista.

I have to admit my real love lies in the real-life footage of couture ateliers and so 9 of the 10 recommendations are documentaries, but I really think you'll love these, whether you're into fashion or not.

It's worth noting that these are listed in no particular order (OK number one is my actual favourite!), and all have their own merits and unique points. I've tried not to give too much away but revealed the reason I've chosen each film.

1. Valentino - The Last Emperor.

This documentary follows the last season of Valentino Garavani and tells the story of his life and career in fashion. I adore everything about this documentary from the work at the atelier to his relationship with his pugs and (former) partner Giancarlo Giammetti. It also shows the changing environment of the industry for a fashion house, and the respect Valentino holds from some of the other fashion industry legends. Expect emotion by the bucket-full!

2. Bill Cunningham - New York.

The story of The New York Times photographer who for decades documented street and society style. You'll wish you had sat with Bill at a dinner party by the end of this film, who was renowned for travelling around on his bike with his camera, always on the lookout for his next shot. "We all get dressed for Bill", Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

3. Lagerfeld Confidential

I love the whole insight into Karl Lagerfeld as a person in this film. His life, his dress, his aloof personality are absolutely fascinating to me, not mention his love and talent as an artist and photographer. And then we see him at work with the house of Chanel! It's got it all.

4. The September Issue.

This documentary chronicles the effort that goes into producing Vogue, and not least of all the September issue, which in the industry is the most important of the year. We get to see the symbiotic relationship of Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington, and how both their talents are needed to make this work.

5. Diana Vreeland - The Eye Needs To Travel.

Diana's life is a journey through the fabulous, from Paris during The Belle Epoque, New York in the 1920's, her pre-war time in London and back to New York. There isn't a dull moment in this documentary which charters her career at Harper's Bazaar, Vogue and The Costume Institute at The Met.

6. Marc Jacobs & Louis Vuitton.

If there's one thing that shines through in this film is the tendency for the fashion industry to attract workaholics. It's a chicken and egg scenario. Marc Jacobs tirelessly creates and works throughout, but the results are stunning and you won't be disappointed.

7. Dior & I.

Raf Simons' debut season at Dior is captured on camera in this film, in an intense pressure-driven timeline of 8 weeks. Star-studded with celebrity cameos we see behind the scenes in both the atelier world and awards circuit.

8. McQueen.

The genius of Alexander McQueen is a great loss to the fashion industry but this documentary shows a genuine biographical insight into why his legacy lives on through his incredible art today. It's filled with passion, emotion and tragedy and I can't watch this without shedding a tear every time.

9. Coco Before Chanel.

Sometimes to understand something we must first look at the past, and this film is the perfect example. Audrey Tatou portrays the early years of Gabrielle Chanel, and the somewhat sad circumstances of her life that ultimately shaped her future and who she became.

10. Iris.

Iris Apfel is one of those people who it truly individual and to understand this you need to watch this documentary. I love everything about her maximalist style and to see her clothing and jewellery collection is insane. High points are witnessing her shopping trips and her love for Carl her husband.

I'd love to know how many of these you've already seen and which ones are new to you. Did you love them? Let me know.

If you have any questions, comments or feel you need help launching your fashion brand then get in touch and we can discuss your requirements -

Michelle Ramsay - The Fashion Expert®

#freelance #fashiondesigner #thefashionexpert #thefashionexpertuk #michelleramsaydesign #fashionbusiness #fashionconsultant #fashiondesign #startupfashion #thatsfashiondarling #startupconsultant #fashionpreneur #fashionstartup #startupspecialist #launchyourbrand #clothingline #fashionmentor #businessoffashion #fashionbusinesscoach #techpackdesigner #fashioncads #techpacks #businessadvice #emergingfashion #sustainablefashion #startafashionbrand #launchaclothingline #fashionfilms #vogue #stayathome

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Until recently working from home was mostly reserved for freelancers, the self-employed or those cheeky Fridays when you "must" be at home to take in that important delivery - read early finish to get a head start on the roads for that weekend away!

But in all seriousness, we now find ourselves in a time where self-isolation and social distancing is dictating that a large percentage of the population, who wouldn't usually, are now working from home.

Although the idea of working in your onesie or skype sessions on your sofa sounds like the dream, there are a lot of drawbacks to WFH, and without some self-control, you could find that reality a lot harder then you thought. It's actually not for everyone. Some of you will love it but some of you will find it a very difficult situation, especially if you relish the company of others or lack self-discipline.

As I head into my sixth year of self-employment I thought I'd share my top tips that will hopefully help you stay on top of this situation and how you can use it to your advantage.

1. Set A Routine.

It sounds boring but this will be the backbone that stops you melting into a pool of self-indulgence. Get up the time you would normally get up and make sure you're ready to start work on time. Define clear working hours so you're not chained to your laptop all evening and remember to schedule things into your day like breaks and lunchtime. Try to stick to these working hours. You might also want to try to stick to those eating, drinking and snacking times too, depending on how much willpower you have!

2. Get Dressed For Business.

There are two schools of thought on this, but I firmly believe in getting dressed for work, and often will do hair and makeup too. For me it sets the tone, it helps me put my professional head on, and as I'm often video-calling clients I like to dress appropriately. I have friends that work in their PJs, but I prefer to save relaxing loungewear for my downtime. This helps me mentally separate the two parts of my day.

3. Use Your Time Wisely.

Flexibility is the number one advantage of working from home. In theory, you can pick and choose your hours and as long as you get the work done it shouldn't be an issue. But don't be fooled. It's so easy to be tempted by household chores and jobs that "will only take a minute!" Save these tasks for your breaks or personal time. If you struggle with keeping on track or productivity then do the hardest job first. Break it down into bitesize chunks and use a timer to get through tasks you're not enjoying.

Set your timer for 25 minutes work, then take a 5 minute break where you get up from your desk and do something else. Walk away from your desk and make a drink, stretch your legs and back, look out the window for a few minutes or fuss your pet, then return to your desk. Repeat 4 times rewarding yourself with a 30 minute break on the fourth cycle.

4. Limit Distractions.

TV, social media and your personal phone will suck time from your day. If it's too tempting not to look at these then put them in a separate room and check them on break times. This can also apply to pets too! My cat has an annoying tendency to want to be involved with client skype sessions, so I do have to lock him away until they are over!

5. Decide Where You Are Going To Work.

Having a specific work area stops your work life spilling into your home life. While you may not have the luxury of a home office, your dining room table or similar will help you mentally separate relaxing spaces like your bed or sofa, from working or more formal space in your home.

6. Put Work Away On An Evening.

I'm lucky enough to have a separate work studio on which I can close the door at night and switch off. Putting away paperwork, that report you're working on and your laptop on an evening can really help your mental wellbeing. If you're constantly looking at work during your downtime you won't fully tune out.

7. Go Outside.

If you stay cooped up at home every day you'll go stir crazy. Take 20 minutes from your lunchbreak and go outside. Sit in your garden, walk into town or your nearest park. Even a stroll around the block will do. Seeing daylight will lift your mood, even if the weather isn't great, and your afternoon will be far more productive after that break from your desk.

8. Exercise.

Working from home makes you lazy! You no longer have that 10 minute walk to the train station. Your walk downstairs to the kettle is significantly smaller than heading to the staff canteen. Your usual trip to the deli for lunch may not happen anymore. Trust me, your average step count will reduce drastically so make time on an evening or morning to schedule in some exercise. If you're no longer able to attend a gym then do a home video or set up some circuits in your garden.

9. Socialise Online.

Just because you're not heading down the pub tonight doesn't mean you need to miss out on all social contact. Schedule time to speak to friends and family via video after work. During the day call colleagues about queries rather than just emailing. Working from home can feel isolated, so maximise time where you can have virtual contact with others. Your mental health will thank you for it.

10. Take Advantage Of The Extra Time At Home.

Most Britons spend 58 minutes on their commute. If you're working from home you could be gaining back 2 hours per day - 10 hours per week. Think of what you could do with that commute time now. That side project you've been thinking about for years. That startup idea you've sat on for months. That business you want to start but you're always saying you can't because you don't have the time. One of the biggest positives to come out of WFH is the time you could potentially gain back. This scenario won't last forever so use that time wisely now.

I'd love to know how you get on with these tips and if you are working from home.

If you have any questions, comments or feel you need help launching your fashion brand then get in touch and we can discuss your requirements -

Michelle Ramsay - The Fashion Expert®

#freelance #fashiondesigner #thefashionexpert #thefashionexpertuk #michelleramsaydesign #fashionbusiness #fashionconsultant #fashiondesign #startupfashion #thatsfashiondarling #startupconsultant #fashionpreneur #fashionstartup #startupspecialist #launchyourbrand #clothingline #fashionmentor #businessoffashion #fashionbusinesscoach #techpackdesigner #fashioncads #techpacks #businessadvice #emergingfashion #sustainablefashion #startafashionbrand #launchaclothingline

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Launching a fashion brand is not a quick process and many startups enter into this with rose-tinted spectacles, only to be met with the minefield that is the Fashion Industry.

Common complaints include the fact that everything seems to take twice as long as you’d thought! Combine that with a 9-5 day job, family commitments and a social life and suddenly what you‘d naively expected to be a 6-month job, rolls into a year or perhaps 18 months to launch your collection.

So how do you keep going? How do you stay resilient and full of motivation when things seem tough?

I Believe It All Lies In Reflection.

A technique I use with my clients as part of my goal setting and planning workshop is to review the previous year, quarter and month to reflect on what has gone before. Taking stock of how far you’ve come, what you’ve achieved so far and where you are still to venture really puts things into perspective.

Being an entrepreneur and running your own business is so very different from being employed. In your average 9-5, you’ll often have a manager, supervisor or boss who will hopefully give you a level of praise or recognition for a job well done. Some achievements might even be rewarded with a bonus or salary review.

As entrepreneurs, we all too often hit those achievements but immediately move on to the next goal. Our happiness and sense of pride is invariably short-lived and pales over the coming days and weeks. Perhaps that business goal is now being implemented in the day to day running, so whilst we are actually living it constantly, the accomplishment can often be absorbed into the background.

Our to-do list is never going to be done, so what’s left is a continuous cycle of striving to the next goal and an ongoing road of things that are yet to be accomplished.

Taking stock to recognise how far you’ve come is what will keep you sane - trust me!

It's tough to remain positive if you come up against knockbacks. If you've had demands from other areas in your life and have neglected your business for a while. It can sometimes feel like it's taking an age to move forward at all.

But if you look back at where you were 6 months ago or a year you suddenly realise how far you've come already.

When was the last time you sat back for ten minutes and gave yourself the credit you deserve for getting to the stage you're at today? Just because you might not be at that launch stage yet doesn’t mean you’re not headed in the right direction.

Getting rid of the hierarchy.

Why do we assume that some achievements or goals are better than others? During mentoring sessions, a common theme with my clients is to only consider the ‘big’ achievements as worth discussing.

The focus is always upon things like sampling or production but little thought is given to what went prior to this stage. The research, the ideas, the inspiration, the design and perfecting this with a designer. Business admin such as registering your company, choosing a name, creating a logo securing a domain name and social media accounts seem trivial to some but they are certainly not. And let's not forget the decision to be your own boss, to start up something unique, to chase that entrepreneurial spirit inside.

Those baby steps you take each day, each week, each month, soon start paving the way for greater things. The cumulative effect they have should not be ignored, for those longer-term goals could never be achieved without the small stuff.

Do something for yourself today.

Set aside some time away from your phone, desk and computer. Allow yourself 30 minutes with a pen and paper and start brainstorming what you've achieved this last year. Don't overthink things, and don't try to put things in any order, just jot down what comes to mind. Remember to sideline that hierarchy and write down things that were both easy and hard to achieve.

And then take some time to review that list, bask in it's glory and remind yourself that you are moving forward.

Sometimes it may not be as fast as you'd like but nothing worthwhile is ever easy!

I'd love to know how you get on with this exercise and if you find this useful.

If you have any questions, comments or feel you need help launching your fashion brand then get in touch and we can discuss your requirements -

Michelle Ramsay - The Fashion Expert®

#freelance #fashiondesigner #thefashionexpert #thefashionexpertuk #michelleramsaydesign #fashionbusiness #fashionconsultant #fashiondesign #startupfashion #thatsfashiondarling #startupconsultant #fashionpreneur #fashionstartup #startupspecialist #launchyourbrand #clothingline #fashionmentor #businessoffashion #fashionbusinesscoach #techpackdesigner #fashioncads #techpacks #businessadvice #emergingfashion #sustainablefashion #startafashionbrand #launchaclothingline

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Updated: Mar 19, 2020

5 issues factories have with fashion startups.

There's no doubt that launching a clothing line is tough. It takes dedication, knowledge and time. Many of my clients find dealing with manufacturers the hardest part. It can take a while to find a good fit for your product, and the sampling process can feel laborious, so making sure you've got your process streamlined will help.

Make yourself a desirable startup client.

Often start-ups take an unconventional approach with factories, because they don't know any better and this sometimes leads to frustrations from potential suppliers. In turn the startup can feel deflated, deterred and not sure how to move forward. Learn the processes involved and educate yourself in the stages of manufacture.

I've put together the top 5 issues factories have with fashion startups and some tips to help you avoid these.

1. Lack Of Design Information

One of the biggest time wasting approaches I see amongst start-ups is contacting a prospective manufacturer without any tangible information in the form of completed CAD designs, tech packs and size specs. You might know what you want to launch in your fashion range, however a collection of photos, rough ideas and a vision is not going to cut it with a factory.

At best you'll end up with some cobbled together samples that don't represent your ideas. At worst you'll come across as unprofessional, a newbie they'll have to hand-hold and probably someone they don't have time to coach.

This raw information is what you should discuss with someone like myself - a designer, not a factory. It's tempting to be pro-active and find a factory early on, but you have a much better chance of striking a professional relationship with a potential supplier if you can hand over factory packs for each style.

2. You Don't Speak The Fashion Language

Understanding the correct fashion terminology will help you extensively when discussing your designs with a factory. Take some time to find out the relevant vocabulary that describes your styles, whether that be the fabric quality, the types of trims being used and any special details that make up your design. This information should be itemised in your factory packs from your designer, but make sure you can converse with your supplier in the language of the industry and understand the details. If you can't then use a fashion consultant who will have your back every step of the way.

3. Unrealistic Expectations

Being aware of minimum order quantities versus price per unit is incredibly important. It's great to have target prices that you hope to produce something for, but if you only want to produce something small like 50 pieces per style then the price is going to reflect that small order.

Equally so, your small MOQ may have an affect on how many colours you can order per style, how specific you can be with base fabrics and how much it will cost to produce anything specific to your brand such as branded hardware.

4. Unworkable Timelines

When you hand over your designs for manufacture, the samples won't appear instantly. Your prototypes will take less time than your bulk production, however you should always allow enough time for re-sampling, allowing for your factory's workload and general turn around time. Each factory will have a different lead time, often booked up weeks to months in advance depending on the time of year. Just because you're ready to go doesn't mean you can dictate timescales for your suppliers. Utilise a realistic fashion calendar to plan your critical path.

Be realistic with times and expectations

5. Unwillingness To Compromise

It's great to aim for that gold standard with your collection but sometimes a little compromise goes a long way. It may be your factory can't source the exact composition of fabric specified in your tech pack, however if they have an alternative does it also do the same job? Sometimes your need for small MOQ's might dictate what you can do in terms of design for branded items like buttons, badges, labels and trims. You may have a better chance at getting what you're looking for by using an available quality and branding that.

Understand where to compromise.

In summary the main takeaways here are:

1. Prepare your designs in a professional manner with all technical and sizing information in place.

2. Do your homework and liaise with your designer to understand what it is you're asking for.

3. Research MOQs.

4. Be realistic with your timeline.

5. Compromising will get you a long way.

If you need help launching your fashion brand then get in touch and we can discuss your needs -

Michelle Ramsay - The Fashion Expert®

#freelance #fashiondesigner #thefashionexpert #thefashionexpertuk #michelleramsaydesign #fashionbusiness #fashionconsultant #fashiondesign #startupfashion #thatsfashiondarling #startupconsultant #fashionpreneur #fashionstartup #startupspecialist #launchyourbrand #clothingline #fashionmentor #businessoffashion #fashionbusinesscoach #techpackdesigner #fashioncads #techpacks #businessadvice #emergingfashion #sustainablefashion #startafashionbrand #launchaclothingline

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Earlier this year I had the pleasure of working with Aurore Martins, CEO of LIA M.W on a womens' polo shirt range tailored exclusively by women.

Copyright LIA M.W

Aurore is originally from France but now resides in Ireland, and wanted to create a label with a subtle combination of traditional clothing and new fashion trends.

The whole process was really fun for me to work on, right from our initial consultation where we discussed the design ideas, the viability of the brand, and Aurore's concerns and questions regarding launching a fashion brand.

Next came the design stage, creating colourful prints ( which are still to come) as well as feminine yet colourful polo styles which were different with their cut and sew panel detailing, contrast details and trims.

With further consultations we prepared for dealing with factories, sampling and production.

I recently interviewed Aurore on what it's like to set up a clothing line and here is an overview.

Can you introduce yourself, your position and your brand

My name is Aurore Martins and I’m the company director of LIA M.W clothing label.

I’ve recently launched this label that I’ve imagined and created with three amazingly skilled women : Michelle Ramsay, a 15 years experienced fashion designer;

Violaine Malie, who is a very talented web designer; and Trazanne Norwood, an award-winning professional photographer.

This fashion label is a subtle combination between traditional clothing and new fashion trends.

Our first summer collection features four elegant and very girly polo shirts.

Copyright LIA M.W

What do you sell and who are your customers?

LIA MW. polo shirt range has been tailored exclusively by women and for women.

We specialise in women polo shirts. All our designs are unique, timeless and elegant.

Our polo shirts have been designed to be comfortable to wear and to last for decades in your wardrobes.

And our future collections will also feature more items to complete your looks (such as jumper, chinos…).

As mentioned earlier, LIA M.W celebrates women as creative team members, but also celebrates women around the world.

Indeed we will donate a considerable amount of our net profits to a charity, which helps women accessing to education.

What was your background prior to launching in the fashion industry?

I have been working in sales for years before creating my own marketing company three years ago.

What I love the most about my job is the fact I am now able to create/offer services and customer experiences I truly believe in.

What drove you to set up your brand?

I have always been interested in fashion. I also love creating, being able to see my ideas come to life.

I have been thinking about launching my own brand for a couple of years. However, I was too busy to really work on it.

But last year, something triggered in my mind. After giving birth to my son Leo, I suddenly felt the need to focus on what makes me truly happy. I was finally ready to take up this new challenge !

How long did the launch take from concept to product?

It has been a long process!

First, I took some time to gather all my ideas, to create a business plan and set up the business.

Once I knew exactly which direction I wanted to take (and aware of the fact I am not an expert), I have hired skilled professionals to help me in this process.

We have worked hard on every single before seeing this concept come to life!

To sum up, I would say it takes some time, hard work and determination to launch a new brand.

Copyright LIA M.W

What have been your main challenges with regard to being new to the fashion industry?

To my mind, the hardest part is to get some visibility.

Being new to the fashion industry means starting from zero, and building brand awareness is not an easy task.  

Which of my services have helped the most and why?

Fashion design : Launching a brand wouldn’t be possible without and skilled fashion designer.

Michelle is very talented and she has been very patient to bring my ideas to life.  

Mentoring : our sessions covered different subjects such as project timelines, manufacturer selection, sampling, visibility / brand awareness.

This mentoring  helped me having a better understanding of the fashion industry, and to prioritise tasks.

What are your plans for the brand in 2019?

My plans are to build brand awareness by focusing on social medias and marketing, and sell the first stocks.

Then if everything goes well, I would like to launch a wider range of products for the Autumn / Winter collection.

You can see more online at

and follow the label here

#freelance #fashion #fashiondesigner #fashionconsultant #apparel #cads #techpacks #sizespecs #fashionexpert #thefashionexpertuk #fashionbusiness #fashionstartup #fashionblog #style #fashioncoach #fashionmentor #fashionstartupspecialist #launchyourbrand #clothingdesigner

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I recently worked with Rose Bay, premium men's swimwear brand providing consultation, factory packs and general guidance on the manufacture process. Joe and the team were great to work with and had such a refreshing business model.

Can you introduce yourself and the brand?

I’m Joe Viner, the co-founder and CEO of Rose Bay, the tailored swim short brand offering customers a high-quality product at a fraction of the cost of our competitors.

Rose Bay was conceived to help guys look better on the beach. While living in Australia, I would see first-hand how bad some of the swim shorts being worn were. After looking into the industry, a few boutique brands we’re trying to sell a high-end product that would mean men look good on the beach and transition into a bar or restaurant without looking out of place. The problem was that these limited options were priced incredibly high at around £150-£200 – hardly accessible pricing.

With that in mind myself and two others (Harry Simonis and Charles Kedwards) set up Rose Bay with the goal of creating a tailored swim-short taking inspiration from the Sydney beach culture and lifestyle. Using exactly the same materials as the brands charging £150+ but with a fresh innovative design.

Part of this mission was to incorporate price transparency so the consumer could see exactly where their money was going.

What was your background prior to launching in the fashion industry?

I worked in Wine and Champagne importation in the UK and Australia.

What drove you to set up your brand?

A gap that we saw in the market for a brand of tailored swim shorts that could transition from beach to a bar without a 5-7 x markup that had become common place.

How long did the launch take from concept to product?

11 months. It took so long due to the sampling phase of the process and making sure the factory suited the company and quality the product needed.

What have been your main challenges with regard to being new to the fashion industry?

Both of my partners are a lot more experienced in the industry than myself. So with any issues that encountered or questions I had I would refer to either of them or you.

The main challenge that Rose Bay has encountered is finding a factory/ manufacture that could bring our vision to reality. This was the most time consuming and also frustrating part of the 11 months from concept to launch.

If you could go back in time knowing what you know now, are there any changes you would have made to how you started out with the brand or launch?

We’ve made a fair few mistakes on the way and taken a bit longer than we’ve wanted but that’s all part of the process. I do wish we’d come to you sooner but apart from that I wouldn’t change a thing.

Which of my services have helped the most and why?

Your help with the design and in depth technical packs allowed us to begin seriously sampling our vision in a way we had struggled to beforehand. Not only that but your willingness to answer questions and queries that you thought were probably a bit silly.

Is there a top piece of advice you’d give other startups considering launching a brand?

Do it!

The one thing I hear all the time from people when discussing Rose Bay is their own idea and vision for a startup. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these people don’t go through with it.

We now live in a time where brands are born out of bedrooms. Brands like Gymshark using Shopify are taking on some of the most established brands in the world like Nike and Adidas. All you need is an internet connection and an idea.

What are your plans for the brand in 2019?

We have various new colours and products in the pipeline.

We plan on taking the formula and brand behind redesigning tailored swim shorts and applying it to other summer products becoming a store that specialises in summer fashion wear for men.

You can shop with Rosebay and find more about their brand values here:

#freelance #fashion #fashiondesigner #fashionconsultant #apparel #cads #techpacks #sizespecs #fashionexpert #thefashionexpertuk #fashionbusiness #fashionstartup #fashionblog #justforfun #style #fashionstartup #fashioncoach #fashionmentor #fashionstartupspecialist #launchyourbrand #clothingdesigner

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So what exactly goes on in a Consultation with The Fashion Expert®, and how will it help you and your fashion start-up business?

How does it work?

We can condust the consultation via Skype, FaceTime, Whatsapp or just good old fashioned telephone. A lot of clients like a video call because they get to "meet" me a little more, they feel it helps them get to know me and enhances the whole experience.

On the other hand some clients are quite shy to appear in front of a stranger online, so if audio is more your thing then that is perfectly fine.

I always check in with a client on purchase to find out their preferred method of consultation, so we can work that out in the beginning.

Takeaway 1

Choose a consultation method you feel comfortable with - this will help out you at ease if you're feeling nervous.

How long will it last?

A consultation usually last for around 1 hour and that's the time you're booked in for. I'm based in the UK therefore work on London time. I have calls with clients in USA and Australia most weeks, so plan in advance when you can fit in an early morning or late evening call and we can tie up our diaries. It's a good idea to be on time as the hour you've booked starts without you if you're late.

Takeaway 2

Maximise the time you've paid for by turning up as agreed and making sure you have little or no interruptions. It's always a good idea to clear your diary of commitments to focus on you for the hour.

What will I ask you?

In advance of our call I'll request you to send me a brief outline of your business idea, your brand and the types of products you are hoping to launch. This gives me a background into which direction you are hoping to take, and which information might be specialist to you.

It's also great to learn how far you've gotten on your journey into the fashion industry even if that's not far at all.

Don't worry if you're just setting out - most clients are. If you've perhaps gotten further and have hit a stumbling block such as unresponsive factories or poor samples, these are things we can review and make a plan as to how we can get you moving again.

Takeaway 3

A little introduction to your start-up clothing line will go a long way to help me help you. Spend ten minutes putting together some info prior to the call.

What should you ask me?

My approach with clients is professional but very friendly. I want you to feel relaxed with me to discuss your ideas, and also flag which areas you need help with most. It's a good idea to make a list of things you hope to cover in the session, or indeed questions you want to remember to ask me. You can even send this to me before the call if you wish.

Sometimes clients worry they may ask silly questions. In my experience most start-ups want to know the same core information, with some specifics for their business. You've contacted an industry professional to tap into my experience and knowledge, so all questions are both relevant and important. I don't expect you to know much about the whole process and that's completely usual.

Takeaway 4

Ask me all the little things that are troubling you, worrying you or you're just not sure of. Having a list always helps as during calls your mind can go blank. You might also want to remember to take notes - there will be a lot to learn!

What's next?

During the call we will talk about designs, after-all you can't create a clothing line without them. I'll walk you through the design process and explain to you what will happen if you choose to have your range designed by myself. You're under no obligation to do so, and it's certainly not a hard sales pitch, but some of the questions involved will include design and development so it's good to be in the know.

If you'd like to book an initial consultation with me to talk about your ideas, my services and how we can make a plan together to get your fashion brand launched this year then you can do so here.

You can also email me at any time

#freelance #fashion #fashiondesigner #fashionconsultant #apparel #cads #techpacks #sizespecs #fashionexpert #thefashionexpertuk #fashionbusiness #fashionstartup #fashionblog #justforfun #style #fashionstartup #fashioncoach #fashionmentor #fashionstartupspecialist #launchyourbrand #clothingdesigner

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My second client spotlight is Lucy from Chico Jack's. Although not a brand new start-up, Lucy like many of my clients jumped into the fashion industry from a different career. I've worked with Chico Jack's now on a couple of projects and have been excited to work with the brand as Lucy's enthusiasm always shines through.

This client already had a supplier in place but needed me to design some new products, delivering full factory packs that could be taken to the manufacture for production.

Can you introduce yourself, your position and your brand?

Hi! I’m Lucy and I’m the founder of the award-winning breastfeeding clothing brand, Chico Jack’s.

What do you sell and who are your customers?

We sell breastfeeding specific clothing to Mothers. Our clothing is designed to make breastfeeding journeys that little bit easier by offering clothes that are comfortable, practical and fashionable. Our brand launched 2 years ago and since then has built an incredibly strong community of Mums that support each other as we all make our efforts to #normalisebreastfeeding

What was your background prior to launching in the fashion industry?

Entirely unrelated to what I do now!! I have worked in a variety of backgrounds from childcare, pensions and finance to working in the police force.

What drove you to set up your brand?

When starting my first breastfeeding journey in 2016 I really struggled. Not just with establishing breastfeeding which was hard enough, but with not feeling myself in the big whirlwind of being a new Mum. I didn’t feel like ‘me’ anymore and a big part of that was because I couldn’t wear the clothes that I used to – I was faced with a ‘mum uniform’ of unflattering and non-stylish clothing so that I could breastfeed my baby. Obviously, this was a far from acceptable excuse for me to stop breastfeeding but I’ll be honest, it did put me off because of how it made me feel.

How long did the launch take from concept to product?

About 3 months roughly. I got some samples and launched those to see how things took off and to see if there were any other Mums ‘in my boat’. I took to social media firstly to ‘reach out’ and in the 4th month launched the website.

What have been your main challenges with regard to being new to the fashion industry?

The amount of work that goes into a single design! I have learnt so much about the fashion industry in 2 years, but each day I’m learning more. There are so many more components to working in the fashion industry to what I imagined, but with the right people alongside and professionals to reach out to they have guided me considerably!

If you could go back in time knowing what you know now, are there any changes you would have made to how you started out with the brand or launch? 

I don’t actually think there is. I probably would have dived in deeper at the beginning as I now know how high the demands are.

Which of my services have helped the most and why?

Michelle has helped considerably with our brand. We have actually only worked with her on 2 of our new designs and one print but that in itself goes to show the impact she has had. The whole process has ran that much more smoothly thanks to her professional input and we look forward to working on new designs with her.

Is there a top piece of advice you’d give other startups considering launching a brand?

I really would say that when planning, think of where you want to be a year, in 5 years time and the future. This really helps to get action plans in place and to dictate what you need to do to get there and meet your goals.

What are your plans for the brand in 2019?

We’ve got some really exciting projects coming up this year and we’re looking forward to opening up opportunities for Mums to join us. Alongside these projects, we’ll also be growing our brand with new collections and designs – we’re very excited for this year!

You can find out more about Chico Jack's at their links below

#fashiondesigner #fashionconsultant #clothingdesigner #freelancefashiondesigner #thefashionexpert #thefashionexpertuk #clothingline

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Updated: Mar 28, 2019

One of my main goals in 2019 is to share more about myself. Who is The Fashion Expert and why should you work with me?

I'm not an avid a selfie taker, or one to publish my whole life online, however I realise that clients like to get to know me before working with me so I'll be sharing more of this type of content with you.

One question I'm always asked is what my day looks like, so I've written a blog post about a typical day in my UK studio. My days really vary, and are often dictated by what work I have on that week or how quickly clients get back to me about projects. Some days are intensive design and others are very interactive with different clients. But what never fails is the variety of exciting projects and passionate clients. I wouldn't change it for the world.

Michelle Ramsay - The Fashion Expert®


I set my alarm early as I'm definitely a morning person, and getting a head start on the day seems to set me up well. I've never been a night owl and wake up early even at weekends. Even if I'm working from home or not seeing clients I'm up early and dressed for the day ahead. PJs work for some people but I need to be in my work mode to feel professional.


Breakfast with my other half. From our dining room we can see out over some local stables, and we are often visited at the bottom of our garden by a horse looking for carrots. It's a relaxing start listening to the birds and discussing our day ahead.


Admin in the studio with Radio 6. I like to set the early morning aside to answer emails and queries from new clients. I find a lot come in overnight due to clients using their evening for their startup brand side hustle. If I answer them early in the morning they can reply during their commute or morning break.

I check my diary and wall planner to see which clients are booked in that day, schedule the calls and consultations and of course the design work for current ranges and projects. I always need to check timezones to make sure I can speak to clients at appropriate times of day depending where they are in the world.

Finally I check financial tasks such as invoices, and if time permits, head over to see what is happening on social media and read any interesting newsletters.

Getting organised


Design work. Today I am working on a range of mens activewear for a new client so I am taking a few hours this morning to get a good run at designing.


I usually get deliveries around this time, which are often samples from clients, samples for sizing, fabric swatches or anything else related to their design project. I'll receive new fashion magazines such as Vogue and Elle and any new books I may have ordered.


At lunchtime I like to multi-task so often combine my "lunch break" with a podcast or training event. If its a nice day I'll take a walk around the lake in our local park which is very pretty in the sunshine. Today I'm taking part in a social media webinar, as I feel it's always good to keep learning, developing my business skills and staying up to date with improvements I can make.


I have a video consultation with a new client who is launching a luxury womenswear range of dresses and jumpsuits. Having bought my E-Book she's now ready to discuss her ideas and gain some one to one guidance. Working in a completely different sector she is new to the fashion industry. I talk her through a range of things from how to gather her inspiration ideas, how we will work together to plan her range, the design process, the sampling process and how to work with a manufacturer. I love these sessions as every client is different. The best part is the end, when clients feel energised with confidence to take their idea forward and work with me as on their clothing line.


I have a catch up call with one of my clients to go over the designs I created for his mens urbanwear brand. All is good and the designs are approved to take forward to tech packs and sizing specs.


Deign work continues for my menswear activewear client.


Pilates class. Sitting at a computer all day is awful for posture so I try to schedule in some yoga and pilates into the week to undo the hunch and stretch out. It's also an incredible way to switch off as you can't balance on one leg and think about your to-do list!


I do an hours research on trends, catwalk shows and colour in preparation for some trend reports and childrenswear mood boards I'm curating for a regular client.



After dinner I do a little admin or social media but this evening I write this blog post and book tickets for a forthcoming tradeshow in London.


The rest of the evening will be spent relaxing with my other half, some chilled music and perhaps a small Malbec.

If you'd like to connect with me on social media you can do so via the links at the top of this page.

Michelle - The Fashion Expert®

#freelance #fashion #fashiondesigner #fashionconsultant #apparel #cads #techpacks #sizespecs #fashionexpert #thefashionexpertuk #fashionbusiness #fashionstartup #fashionblog #justforfun #style #fashionstartup #fashioncoach #fashionmentor #fashionstartupspecialist #launchyourbrand #clothingdesigner

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This new feature will shine the spotlight on some of the amazing entrepreneurs I'm lucky enough to count as my clients. Working with apparel start-ups is my favourite part of the job and I hope these posts will shed some light on what it's really like to launch your own clothing brand, especially if you're new to the industry.

Copyright Alphapparel

The first interview is with Andrew Clark, the founder of Alphapparel, a startup activewear brand.

Andrew approached me having tried to navigate the fashion industry himself with a couple of unsuccessful sample attempts. This is a scenario I see often and admire the entrepreneurial spirit to give things a go. Unfortunately though, this approach can lead to expensive mistakes, take up a lot of valuable time and frustrate startups.

We stripped things back to the start and reworked ideas in a methodical way, through designs, tech packs and accurate specs, as well as consultancy regarding manufacturing and next steps. This really armed Andrew with the correct information he needed to approach manufacturers and create his collection.

Copyright Alphapparel

In Andrew's words "It’s been a very long time in the making, but finally the brand is live and doing well!"

Has it been worth it? Read on to find out.

What do you sell and who are your customers?

We sell comfortable, performance activewear that’s suited for both the gym and daily use. We focus on kitting out and connecting fitness enthusiasts, giving them the opportunity and means to grow their own brand in the fitness industry.

Whether this is through our up and coming ambassador program, or just with a simple connection over facebook or instagram, we strive to help our customers grow.

Copyright Alphapparel

What was your background prior to launching in the fashion industry?

I graduated with a Masters in engineering, but the innovative, fast pace of the fitness industry drew me to changing career path.

What drove you to set up your brand?

I’ve always loved the fitness industry and started going to the gym about 7 years ago. I become an ambassador for another brand about 3 years ago, and thought there were a few things that I could do better. I just wanted a piece of the fitness industry lifestyle. The 9-5 life sitting at a desk all day is doable, but I’m not as passionate about it where I want to rush into work every morning. Launching a brand is totally different from a normal job, but unique in the sense that you feel more of a commitment to your own project.

How long did the launch take from concept to product?

A long time. A very long time. Did I initially underestimate how long it would take at the beginning? You bet I did. But now I’m finally selling the clothing, it’s definitely going in the right direction.

Which of my services have helped the most and why?

Designing techpacks and explaining the fitness industry to me. Unique, well fitting designs were important and the pieces Michelle designed are fan favourites of our brand.

Is there a top piece of advice you’d give other startups considering launching a brand?

Take a month to plan everything out, research research research. Pay a designer like Michelle to help find a suitable manufacturer and source suitable fabric and fits you like. The more preparation you do will save you month and months when it comes to the later stages.

Copyright Alphapparel

What are your plans for the brand in 2019?

Restock our collection and create variations of the same pieces.

Bring out a much wider range of products that cater to all of the fitness industries needs.

Become a millionaire, retire at the age of 23 and live in a mansion by the beach…Too much? Well it is a plan of mine... whether I make it a reality or not is dependent.

You can buy the full range of Alphapparel here

#fashiondesigner #fashionconsultant #clothingdesigner #activewear #gymapparel #freelancefashiondesigner #thefashionexpert #thefashionexpertuk

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Updated: Jan 15, 2019

January and February mark the start of the fashion calendar in lots of ways. Firstly the Menswear collections will show AW 2019/20 on 11th January swiftly followed with Haute Couture SS 2019 in Paris.

8th February will see the offerings of Women's A/W RTW 2019/20 starting in New York followed by London and giving way to Milan and Paris.

Image Copyright Magic

These dates will be punctuated with pre-collections and cruise collections and if that wasn't enough to keep you going, all this in conjunction with the season's influx of fashion tradeshows.

Tradeshows can be really exciting, inspirational and informative events to attend, and whether you're an established fashion brand, or a startup entrepreneur you should be attending these shows for a whole host of reasons.

Image Copyright Sourcing At Magic

As well as great places to gain new contacts, suppliers and manufacturers these events give you an opportunity to get really hands on. You can touch and handle fabric samples, ask for cuttings, have swatches mailed to you and explore trims in close detail.

On the flip side of these sourcing based shows come the product based shows, where brands and retailers present their new and up-coming collections. This is a perfect chance to gain inspiration from some of the more established retailers, and a chance to learn from the professionals.

Image Copyright The London Textile Fair

There are too many shows worldwide to mention in this post, however I have put together a list of my top 10 recommendations for January and February in the UK.

9-10th January

The London Textile Fair

Olympia London

15-16th January

Fashion SVP

Olympia London

23rd-24th January

Jacket Required

Old Truman Brewery

27-28th January

London Edge

Business Box London

3rd - 7th February

Spring Fair

Birmingham NEC

10-12th February

Pure | Pure Origin | Pure Man | Bubble

Olympia London

10-12th February

Scoop International

Saatchi Gallery

15th -19th February

London Fashion Week

15th -19th February

London Fashion Week Festival

17-19th February


Birmingham NEC

If you are one of my international based clients, or you'd like a recommendation on a specific type of show to visit you can drop me an email here with your questions and I'll try to help.

For further reading on making the most of a tadeshow ready my post 10 TipsTo Ace A Fashion Tradeshow here.

Let me know which tradeshows you are considering this year in the comments below.

Michelle Ramsay

The Fashion Expert®

#freelancefashiondesigner #fashionconsultant #startupspecialist #fashionstartup #fashionmentor #fashiondesigner #clothingdesigner #thefashionexpert #thefashionexpertuk #launchafashionbrand #newfashionbrand #emergingdesigners #newtalent #clothingdesigner #appareldesigner #designer #fashiontradeshow #fashionsourcing #fabricsourcing

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January signals new beginnings and fresh starts. Its a great window of opportunity to reflect upon last year, what you achieved and perhaps consider what you didn't. But more importantly, it's the perfect time to plan and set goals.

If you're considering launching a new fashion startup brand then this blog post should help you plan a strategy by giving you some pointers of what to bear in mind. You can also download my free Launch Plan For Fashion Startups here.

Have a plan

It may sound obvious but you'd be amazed at how many people don't form a plan. A haphazard approach can hinder your progress, so start mapping out how you will launch your fashion collection. In very basic terms, you should think about what you want to achieve, when you want to achieve it and form a strategy of how you are going to get there. These key stages of the strategy should have a rough timeline, so you can breakdown what you will do and when.

Do your research

Most of my clients are new to the fashion industry, with a day job in a non related sector. Setting up a clothing line is their side hustle, and finding out how to launch a clothing range can be a steep learning curve. You'll need to know how to design your raw ideas into cads, tech packs and size specs. You will also need to consider what happens in sampling and production and how to source factories, fabrics and trims. If you'd like to know the in depth stages involved in setting up a fashion brand there is a wealth of information in my e-book Fashion Startup's Guide To Manufacture.

Invest in experts

We all have skills and talents in particular areas and we play to these strengths in our careers. Launching a fashion brand requires a plethora of skills, and if you don't have them you need to find someone who is an expert in that field. You'll need an experienced designer who can translate your raw ideas into professional fashion drawings, in addition to having the knowledge that can make or break your fashion collection's launch.

Stay realistic

When having consultations with clients I aways say it's better to have too many ideas which you can expand into later than having very little in the beginning. You can't do everything all at once so it makes good business sense to concentrate on one road to begin with. Perhaps you wish to launch a fitness apparel brand for both men and women. In this example it might be good to start with one gender first EG menswear. Once the clothing line is established then you'll be in a better position to expand into womenswear.

Be a tortoise not a hare

In today's world we expect everything instantly. Launching a fashion brand is not a quick process so let's just be clear on that straight away. Although enthusiasm and determination are qualities required in bucketloads, rushing into snap decisions will cost money and time in the long-run. Take your time, do your research and you'll do it correctly.

Hopefully this information has given you food for thought and a starting point for launching your fashion brand.

I'd love to hear about your idea for a fashion start-up! If you would like to talk over your ideas with The Fashion Expert® then you can book in for a consultation here.

Michelle Ramsay

The Fashion Expert®

#freelance #fashion #fashiondesigner #fashionconsultant #apparel #cads #techpacks #sizespecs #fashionexpert #thefashionexpertuk #fashionbusiness #fashionstartup #fashionblog #justforfun #style #fashionstartup #fashioncoach #fashionmentor #fashionstartupspecialist #launchyourbrand #clothingdesigner

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Updated: Dec 1, 2018

One of the most important requirements of a fashion brand, and any fashion designer worth their salt, is to be aware of upcoming fashion trends. Not only to understand them, but to be ahead of them.

Just how do fashion designers know what is going to be in fashion next? Where do you find fashion trends?

We do this through Fashion Forecasting and Trend Intel, working ahead of season often two to four seasons ahead which is around two years in advance.

Most of the big players in trend intel require an expensive membership or subscription, so if you are a start-up brand or a company with a smaller budget then it can be a big advantage to employ a Fashion Designer who has access to this already.

Below are my top 10 go to resources in no particular order, with what we consider to be their most useful aspects.

  1. WGSN

Best for working up to 2 to 4 seasons in advance. Covers fashion and interiors.


2. Fashion Snoops

Best for covering a wide range of products as well as working far in advance. Interactive features and amazing webinars.


Image Copyright Fashion Snoops

3. Trendstop

Best for giving different membership options and packages and easy to use interface.


4. Pantone

Best for colour of the year reports and updates across fashion and interiors.

£ Free online

5. Vogue

Best for catwalk coverage and couture designers.

£ Free online

Image Copyright Vogue

6. Elle

Best for their high street takes on couture looks.

£ Free online

7. Pattern Prints Journal

Best for colour and pattern / textile coverage.

£ Free online

8. Print and Pattern

Best for print, surface pattern and childrenswear.

£ Free online

9. The Fashion Spot

Best for Celeb style and runway coverage. Close to season information.

£ Free online

10. Who What Wear

Best for Celeb style and current trends, what everyone wants just now.

£ Free online

I invest in the best fashion resources for Michelle Ramsay Design Studio so you don’t have to, and I can advise you on catwalk/ runway reports, seasonal colours, new fabrics, must have silhouettes, print / graphic trends and developments which are relevant to your individual brand.

I can compile this information for you to help you design the best product for your brand and can advise you on new aspects to set you apart from the competition. I can create mood boards, colour palettes, silhouette boards and fabric and trim inspiration. I also offer this type of advice and guidance in our consultation services.

I cover menswear, womenswear, urban and streetwear, childrenswear as well as athletic wear and soft accessories.

If you are launching a new range today and would benefit from gaining some inside industry knowledge, then get in touch with the studio today.

#fashion #fashiondesign #fashiontrends #fashionconsultant #fashiondesigner #freelancefashiondesigner #fashionblog #thefashionexpertuk #thefashionexpert #fashionpreneur #fashionstartup

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© Michelle Ramsay Design Limited 2020  |  Registered In England Number 11252084

Registered company address 10 Stadium Court, Stadium Road, Wirral, Bromborough, CH62 3RP  |  Tel: +44 (0) 7528 659 583

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