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N17 Creative Callings The Design Cycle Series: How to Start a Fashion Brand


On the 2nd April 2020, Fashion-Enter CEO and Fashion-Enter Production Director Caroline Ash presented an online employer engagement session titled The Design Cycle Series: How to Start a Fashion Brand.

Due to the restrictions on individuals gathering at this time all of the N17 Creative Callings seminars have been made accessible online via Zoom. The agenda included:

1. Overview of Fashion-Enter and the N17 Creative Callings programme with Jenny Holloway

2. Meet and greet the team

3. Introduction to participants – short review of business and aims of the seminar

4. Overview of the Fashion Industry today – winners and losers – Covid implications

5. Current help and support available for creatives

6. Creating a Business Plan

7. Market Research and identifying your customer

8. How to plan a range

9. Scenario setting

• Never quote a price to a buyer until…

• Would you let a buyer photograph your range at a show

• How do you cost effectively – golden rules

10. Next steps – next seminar

11. Overview and Summary

Jenny Holloway commented:

“This was the first time we used Zoom for our N17 Creative Callings events and surprisingly all went well without any technical hitches!

“We had 12 people online for the three hour masterclass and the engagement was superb – we encouraged people to ask questions as we went along to try to generate a relaxed and informal environment and we were absolutely delighted with the interaction!

“After each person introduced themselves and explained where they were with their business Caroline Ash (Production Director and N17 Creative Callings mentor) and I were able to ascertain specific objectives for each of the participants. Many of the attendees had an idea and just really need the encouragement to start. 

“So we started at the beginning! We explained how the garment life cycle works and what the pitfalls are. We always find that there are copious amount of books out there, online tutorials, podcasts and videos but the truth is any new brand, start-up or even scale up brand needs hard hitting pertinent advice that is honest and with us there is no catch to it!  As a hard working social enterprise your success is our success and that’s what this programme is all about.

“One of the easiest mistakes to make with brands today is thinking that there has to be a minimum of two ranges a year for Spring/Summer and then Autumn/Winter. This is so out of touch.  The way for small brands to succeed today is to develop their own handwriting and style.  To then ensure that the styles, silhouettes, fabrications and in particular the fit are then perfect for what you want to convey to your target market. Then once the blocks are confirmed, the fabrication has continuation and the  omni-channels are ready you can go. 

“We always recommend that you make-to-order and that way you protect your precious cash flow. We can support on fits and grading but we do encourage all would-be brands to learn first yourself on stitching and patterns so you can keep costs to a minimum and then you can be independent – make your own patterns and your own samples. I know this sounds a little home dressmaking but by learning how patterns work you will save a fortune in the long run – no manufacturer will be pulling the wool over your eyes! 

“There were eight hand-outs available including a downloadable confidentiality agreement that cost us £750 years ago!  This alone was worth attending the Employer Engagement session!  One of the hand-outs was also an in-depth 20-page handout on how to write a business plan fit for a bank! We also had a much simpler 10 point plan to which covered key areas such as point number 5) what exactly is your offer and point number 7) what is the market potential for your business. 

“One of the most discussed documents was the range plan. Having been a senior buyer for Arcadia I used the range plan document that was used for buying soft separates and tailoring and to this day this simple document is spot on.  Those questions of ratios of tops to bottoms, long sleeve v short sleeve, plain v print are so pertinent for today.

“At first I think both Caroline and I were concerned that three hours was a long time for an online seminar but the time flew by! The Q&A session at the end could have gone on for longer in fact! 

“So thank you to all the participants today for your time and your rigorous questioning!”

The next seminars are: 

Fabric Appreciation Taster with Deborah Shulton – 8th April 2020

How to Sell Your Brand with Jenny Holloway – 17th April 2020

Trend Analysis with Lauren Morrison – 23rd April 2020

The Design Cycle Series:

Part 2 Sampling & Production – 15th April 2020

Part 3 Budgeting, Finance & IP – 30th April 2020

Part 4 How to Sell Your Brand – 6th May 2020

Thank you too for the feedback!

If you have just started or are looking to grow a small business in the Tottenham CEZ area, then please get in touch and we will advise on how N17 Creative Callings, supported by the Mayor of London and the European Union, can help you and your business. Contact Esme: esme@fashion-enter.comTo find out more visit www.n17creativecallings.com 

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