Starting a collaboration project with another fashion industry professional is a beneficial way to promote your business. When collaborating with another designer, you get to showcase your brand to their audience and, vice versa, the collaborator’s talent is showcased to yours. Collaboration also shows that you have the ability to network and work well with other designers and businesses.
Collaborating with another person may seem intimidating. When done well, it can be the start of a great business relationship. When you collaborate on a project, it’s much more interesting than working alone because you get to plan a project, work with others, and share ideas. You will work as a team, piecing together a much better end result than what you would have showcased on your own.
Read my tips for fashion designers who want to push themselves to network and meet talented people to partner with.
How To Collaborate With Fellow Creative Professionals
- Find the Best of the Best: Since you are partnering with another talent, you are associated with them. If they are not at the same level of talent as you, it will be harder to bounce ideas off of each other. Attend local fashion events and push yourself to meet some new people and pass out business cards.
- There is No Leader: It’s a well-known fact that fashion designers are team leaders. Be sure not to let your ability to lead override your partner. Keep the collaboration on equal leadership terms for both parties. When you do put yourself above your partner, the dynamic is no longer a partnership, but a “you-work-for-me” project. You may be the leader in your fashion business, but avoid the impulse to take over when partnering with other leading names in your local industry.
- Have Good Listening Ears: You may have heard this since grade school, but it applies to more than the classroom. You may think, “I don’t have to be the leader, but I can come up with all of the ideas”. This is a big no-no as well. Being open to the opposite talent’s ideas is essential. Learning to keep your mouth closed and ears listening will be an important skill if you want to become better at your craft and successful in your industry.
- Map Out a Plan: Any time you participate in a labor-intensive collaboration, you should always have a solid plan before diving in. This may be anything from face-to-face meetings with your partner for a year, to emailing them for three months. Be sure to ask each other questions about everything, from budget to deadlines to aesthetics, and make sure to answer them.
- Do Not Keep Quiet: If something doesn’t look good to you, or the collaborator’s suggestions will not represent your business well, stand up and give your honest opinion! Don’t shut out every one of your partner’s ideas, but don’t lie about your opinion. It will represent your company poorly, and you will leave the collaboration with regrets because you were too frightened to be honest.
This post was inspired by the collaboration with my Austin Fashion Week Mash Up Team, a collection of multi-talented fashion industry professionals, that competed in the 6th Annual Austin Fashion Awards in April 2014.
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