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N17 Creative Callings: Fabric Appreciation & How to Sell to Buyers


On Wednesday 8th April 2020 Fashion-Enter Ltd hosted two N17 Creative Callings employer engagement seminars, supported by the Greater London Authority and the European Union…

First up Fabric Technologist Deborah Shulton gave a 2-hour ‘Fabric Appreciation’ session. Aimed at fashion start-ups and designers Deborah gave an overview of a variety of fabrics, natural and manmade, and their various properties. She explained that by having a solid understanding of how fabrics behave will ultimately affect what they are used for when it comes to the design process. Deborah discussed cotton, wool, staple and filament fibres, knitted fabrics, wefts, dyeing and printing and more.

Due to the current lockdown situation Deborah gave her seminar online via Zoom. Over thirty participants were signed in to the session ready with their own questions ranging from the importance of sustainability, where to source in the UK to ordering in small quantities.

Deborah commented: “Running an online training session is something that I’d always planned on doing – but the current situation gave me the ideal opportunity to run one sooner rather than later! I always make my sessions as interactive as possible – with samples used to illustrate certain techniques – and I was able to incorporate these into the session with the use of some high definition close up photos that I’d taken. Using the chat feature on Zoom also enabled attendees to ask questions – although with 30 attending it was fairly challenging to keep an eye out for questions throughout – but luckily I was able to revisit them at the end of the session. There were some interesting questions regarding the impact of Covid-19 on the supply chain as well as a number of questions regarding sustainable options – something that is becoming more and more asked for as consumers become more aware and environmentally conscious and start to look for more sustainable buying options.”

Deborah’s session was followed by ‘How to Sell to Buyers’ with Fashion-Enter’s CEO Jenny Holloway.

Jenny (pictured right) explained: “I have been in buying for over 20-years before starting my own business and brand. I have during that time come across incredibly impressive buyers and some that are just seriously hard work, some that are actually incapable of making a decision and others are just down right rude! Just keep remembering that time is money and you can’t afford to waste your precious time on the wrong person.

“Most buyers have challenges and you need to identify how your product, production or service is going to succeed in making that buyers life easier.

“So first of all remember that a buyer…

1. Has to buy to fulfil the employment contract and

2. They want to buy

“…but you need to prove that this is an easy process via you, that your unique product and service is superior and you are utterly reliable and good quality. 

“So how are you going to get to the top of the queue with your product? When you are not priority?

The key to moving up on a buyer’s priority list are desire and ownership:

Perhaps the most overlooked strategy for creating buyer desire and ownership is getting them involved in the selling process by inviting their collaboration.

Jenny discussed the importance of OTB and that is ‘Open to Buy’ and that means buying in-season. The notion of Spring / Summer and Autumn / Winter has become out-dated now with the immergence of rolling ranges and newness becoming more prevalent.

Participants were also given hand-outs available to download full of top tips, advice, buyer personalities and important information on contracts and terms & conditions and what they should include. Jenny spoke from personal experience having run her own labels and made those costly mistakes in the past. She also gave examples of current brands she has mentored and how they have managed to get their foot in the door. She also touched on social media, press and omni-channels – which will be covered more in the ‘How to Sell Your Brand’ seminar.

Feedback from the sessions included:

“I learnt about different fabrics in this session.”

“Most useful information was fabric compositions and the different wefts and designs.”

“Found out about Buyer personas and how to approach meetings.”

“How to negotiate with a buyer, I enjoyed the part about the different kinds of weaving and the patterns/effects you can create.”

“Fab! Thank-you.”

“This was very important at this time and also would be good whilst doing live tutorials classroom sessions whilst teaching.”

“Very informative session regarding fabrics and how to approach a buyer, how to present yourself and how to go ahead.”

“Thanks very much for putting this on.”

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.com To find out more click here.

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