Every designer wants the same thing… for a buyer from a large department store to miraculously appear and order their latest collection. Unfortunately, that’s a goal most designers spend years trying to reach. In the meantime, you’ve got to make some sales so you can grow your brand and afford to create new collections.
So how can you find new customers without the high cost of a PR agency or large ad campaign? We’ve asked four independent designers to give us their best advice for creative ways they have promoted their collections and signed new clients:
Collaborate with Brands to Host a Fashion-themed Party
Bridal designer, Jessica Ciarla says that hosting an event with brands that complement her specialty brings together a wide variety of consumers she may not have met otherwise. Jessica collaborated with a millinery designer, Lana Chu Collections, and a bridal boutique, Bella Bridesmaid, to complement her own Ciarla Bride dress collection by hosting a party during Austin Fashion Week. “We were able to collaborate with vendors that worked with brides, including wine and champagne sponsors, caterers, accessory designers and pastry chefs”. Collaborating with multiple fashion brands and vendors insured maximum social media promotion to drive turnout for the event. The designers styled models to showcase their collection which created a more interactive and artistic atmosphere. Jessica was pleased with the result, “It was a fun party that brought a lot of creativity together to make it a successful event.”
Participate in Events that Attract Your Target Audience
Michelle Pajak-Reynolds is a couture jewelry designer whose collections are truly a work of art, which is why participating in Cleveland’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) annual ArtScape Holiday Sale was a perfect fit. The curated event showcases the work of local and national artists and designers which exposed her to an audience who appreciates fine art and is more likely to be her target customer. “I’ve been invited back to the show for several years which has increased my sales and referrals for new business opportunities” says Michelle. Appearing at the event every year has allowed her to build long term relationships with new customers and strengthen the relationships with my existing customers who also enjoy attending the event.
Partner with a Boutique to Host a Trunk Show
Fashion designer Dina Chavez of Sixchel believes you must be prepared to explore a variety of promotional opportunities to promote your brand. As a trunk show veteran, Dina enjoys creating an inviting, relaxed environment for the customer. A trunk show can be a great way for a designer to meet one-on-one with customers, get feedback on your designs and fine-tune your sales pitch. Boutiques like to host designer trunk shows so they can test new products before making a commitment, so Dina suggests using models or mannequins to display your clothing so the boutique owner can see how customers respond. To make a trunk show successful, publicity is important. “Whether the designer/design team or a PR firm is creating the buzz, make sure you are sharing product samples with the public over social media” says Chavez.
Keep In Touch with Boutique Owners and New Customers
Boutique owner Jackie Adams often hosts trunk shows for emerging designers and agrees that the feedback from customers and the merchandising experience a designer gains when having an event in a boutique is invaluable. Melodrama Boutique typically charges the designer 20-30% of the sales and encourages designers to keep the boutique updated with new line sheets and images of their collection. “The designer should follow-up with the people who attended the event with a thank you card and any information about special orders” says Jackie.
Always Say Yes to New Opportunities!
Amy Holton got really lucky when the retail director of a local resort found her brand new website and asked her to show her jewelry designs at the Barton Creek Country Club. Amy was thrilled and accepted immediately even though she had no idea how to prepare for her first trunk show. Through that first event Amy Holton Designs gained a loyal following. She now has the resort as a wholesale account and has built relationships with many of the resort’s high profile and influential guests. Amy always preaches the importance of having an online presence. “It’s so important to have your own website. If I didn’t have my work online, they never would have found me. What a huge missed opportunity that would have been!” says Amy. To prepare for her first event, Amy did a lot of research before she started asking questions about the event. Amy says that she was terrified of looking like an amateur. “After hours of quality time with the the internet, I held my breath, closed my eyes and winged it!”
Work With Bloggers to Promote Your Event
One of the best ways to stretch your promotional dollars is to promote your events with bloggers instead of traditional media outlets. Houston fashion blogger, Shalanda “Shasie” Turner of Live Life in Style is often asked to promote products and events for fashion designers. Shalanda says that when you’re working with bloggers, you’re already working with someone who is enthusiastic about fashion, style, and the fashion industry. “Coverage is written in a personal voice that readers relate to and a blogger’s reach can be local, national, and even international, providing even more exposure for your brand.” she says.
Our Ultimate Guide for Planning a Trunk Show
Want a step-by-step plan for hosting your trunk show? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Planning a Trunk Show for Your Fashion Brand on Startup Fashion to learn how to plan and promote a successful trunk show for your fashion business. We help you decide what kind of trunk show to have, important tips for planning, and the most cost-effective ways to promote your trunk show.
Be sure and post photos of your trunk show and tag them with #JustGotMingled so we can share your success!
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