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Fashion Institute of Technology offers Hot Topics Gift Cards

Still in search of the perfect gift or maybe feel that it’s time to give yourself something good this season? Well, we wholeheartedly believe in self-gifting and, if one of your goals for 2012 is to truly focus on your business, or learn more about a specific fashion topic you may not be familiar with, then the Hot Topics gift cards from FIT, may just need to go on your gift list. In the spirit of motivational posts, especially with the new year upon us, here are a couple of reasons, you may want to grab yourself one:
Continuing education:  You’ve probably said to yourself, I’m going to take a class to learn more about x, or I need to learn more about y, and wonder if there’s a class for it. In our previous post, we mentioned all of the wonderful programs that F.I.T offers for people that are new to the fashion industry. I believe that continually educating yourself is the smartest thing a designer and entrepreneur can do to stay relevant and smart.

Budget: One big benefit to the continuing education program is that it won’t break the bank and will fit in to all types of budgets. Gift cards can be purchased in several denominations and start at $60 and go up to $300. They can be used to pay for one or two classes or even an entire program.

Time commitment:  Perhaps you’re hectic the first part of the year or your day job may not allow you to commit in advance. Well, some Hot Topics courses last just one day or even a couple of weeks. Gift cards are also available for use during the winter, spring summer and fall semesters.

A variety of topics: Hot Topics cover a wide range of course from business, marketing, technology and trade courses. Some of our picks include:

  • Creative Enterprise Ownership: The CEO courses are in-depth four-session classes that have specific areas of focus for those that want to get at the nuts and bolts of a topic. Sessions include topics such as Setting A Course for Your Business, Legal Basics for Business Start-Ups and Building Your Business Brand. 
  • Tools of the Trade Courses:  A series of classes that can be taken alone at $35 or purchased together. They are specific to your needs as a designer with topics that include: Assessing Your Market, Sales Marketing and Public Relations and What Tradeshows do I Participate In? along with several others.
  • Sustainable Design Entrepreneurs: This four-session course focuses on product development and design while also showing students how to make a line “beautiful, commercial and sustainable.”
  • Knitting, Sewing and Alterations: These multi-session courses will provide you with a good understanding of the trade in each area of expertise. Session topics include: Learn to Sew like a Pro,Hand Sewing, Mending and Alteration Essentials and Knitting for Novices.

Whatever your niche or area of specialization, these programs cater to your needs, schedule and budget. We love them because they are affordable and taught by professionals working in the industry that can give you new perspective business.

You can purchase gift cards here and learn more about the latest Hot Topics programs and 2012 schedule.

3 Resources to Help Optimize Your Email Signature

I’m guessing that most of your communication is done via email. Now, there may be some of you that decide to contact a buyer, editor or resource the old fashioned way by picking up the phone, and I applaud you for doing that, but chances are, email still reigns supreme.

I decided to write this article because I receive a lot of email with signatures that don’t tell me enough information about the brand. When you’re communicating with your network, especially if it’s a pitch or a first time inquiry, most people will want to learn a little more about your brand.

Think about how often we use Google or Facebook to investigate a person or a company. Giving your contact all the information they need to learn more about your business so they won’t have to search for it is key. For example, I like to look at a website to see a designer’s product line, but I also understand that a website may not be updated as frequently as social media sites and I’d like to get a complete understanding of the brand.

With that said, I check Twitter to understand a brand’s outward personality and Facebook to see what you are communicating to your followers, and of course, for photos.

If you make your recipient do additional work by searching for more details, they may get distracted by a call, email, text or stumble on to another website which could prevent them from making it to yours. Providing as much information as you can (without listing too much) is important because you want your reader to fully engage with your brand.

Adding your title, phone number, website and social media links to your signature is key. The most common way to do this is through a hyperlink that can be found in just about any email service such as Outlook, Gmail or through Apple’s mail service. If you decide to link your company’s information, you may want to consider using your colors to drive home branding and to also make your information pop on screen.

Here are 3 resources you can use to bring out your brand’s signature:

1. Wise Stamp allows you to bring “your online personality” to life. You can add your social media activity, quotes and social icons such as LinkedIn, which can be a valuable tool when connecting on a professional level. They have free and paid options depending on your needs.

2. Email Signature Pro is an iPhone app that provides your reader with a comprehensive signature which includes: a photo, two fields of text, a footnote, a customer banner for your logo and links to your social media accounts.

3. Sig Buzz is a free service that provides various signature templates, social media integration andanalytics to see click-thorough rates.

No matter which route you choose take, make sure your signature is concise, yet comprehensive and takes your reader through a journey through your brand.

Using Spreecast to Enhance Your Fashion Business

We’re big fans of online workshops, discussions, classes, and any other educational medium that we can participate in from the comfort of our offices/studios/homes.  So you won’t be surprised to hear that we’ve really taken to the new platform Spreecast.

What is Spreecast?

Spreecast is a video sharing platform that anyone can use to connect with people and businesses around the world.

Spreecast connects you with people through video conversation.

We discovered the platform a few months ago when we received notice about a Wall Street Journal Spreecast interview with Rebecca Minkoff, Mara Hoffman, and Dannijo called “How to Make it as a Fashion Designer”. We immediately knew we wanted to use this platform to offer you all this same kind of useful content.

How do we use Spreecast?

So far we’ve done two free Spreecasts.  One is called “Fashion law 101“, a discussion about what you need to know before starting your fashion business.

The other is “How to Develop Your Fashion Collection the Right Way“, which you can watch here:

You can learn about and register for our upcoming Spreecasts.  They are:

How can you use Spreecast?

  • Spend some time discovering the platform and all the cool discussion, interviews, and workshops it has to offer.  You can follow channels and explore topics of your interest, both business and personal.
  • You can use it as a platform for engaging customers through fun, educational, or inspirational online events.
  • Even consider holding business meetings or conferences with the platform.

The capabilities with Spreecast are pretty open.  With video being such a important component of content creation these days, we’re pretty excited about the possibilities.

Your Tech Guide to Staying in the Know for NYFW 2013

This year, New York Fashion Week is broadening its scope and expanding its reach via social media, bringing extensive coverage of the week’s shows and events to a much wider-audience.

In honor of one of the industry’s most celebrated events of the year, we are giving you a helpful online guide to following all things Fashion Week.

Your Tech Guide to Staying in the Know for NYFW 2013

  1. The Mercedes Benz Live Stream: The wait is over. This year Mercedes Benz is offering a universallive stream so that you do not have to wait for images and videos to be uploaded to an external site. While the live stream is certainly something for emerging designers and others not in attendance of the event to celebrate, it also raises serious questions about the necessity of editors attending events and shows in person and NYFW as the industry knows it.
  2. Pinterest: The popular image and product sharing social channel is offering it’s own fashion week hub, featuring images that are a combination of professional shots and those snapped backstage. Users can also explore inspiration boards from top designers like Kate Spade, Michael Kors, and Oscar de la Renta. Throughout the week, users can also access exclusive behind-the-scenes shots from brands like Nordstrom and fashion publications like Elle and WWD.
  3. Twitter: This year, brands and designers are collectively promoting the use of hashtags such as #NYFW, #MBFW, and #OnlyOnTwitter. A larger number of designers will also be live tweeting from their individual accounts making it easier than ever to follow your favorites throughout the week. There’s also always @FashionweekNYC, for general, curated coverage of the events and shows.
    Milk Studios’ MADE Fashion Week will be hosting Twitter Q&A sessions with up-and-coming designers to further engage with followers. In addition, some Twitter handles are integrating Vine videos into their Twitter coverage, like the  #fashioninmotion initiative, with insights from the CFDA, Lucky Editor Eva Chen, and Tim Gunn. The campaign will feature short videos from designers including Rebecca Minkoff, Oscar de la Renta, and Kenneth Cole, which will outline how their shows came together for a #behindthefashion series.
  4. Tumblr: According to Mashable, Tumblr has partnered 20 New York-based fashion bloggers with 18 designers and 2 organizations for what they are calling “apprenticeships”. You can already access this commentary, which these bloggers began posting in the two weeks leading up to Fashion Week.
  5. Instagram: For general searching, try #NYFW as well as #MBFW and #SS14. We also suggest taking a look at a recent post by Into the Gloss, with a rundown on some of the best models and stylists to follow. Fashion Week is also sponsoring a “Day in the Life” initiative to give followers additional insights where various designers will upload photos and videos from their respective show using the hashtag #dayinthelife.

We and your fellow readers would love to hear about any additional helpful online resources that you’ve found! Feel free to share your favorites!

6 Must Read Business Books for Fashion Designers

I don’t believe that you have to go to school for something in order to be great at it. But I do believe that if you want to be great at something you have to commit to learning about it.

I went to school for textile design. I have built a business on coaching fashion designers about how to succeed in business.  I feel qualified to do this because I know that I have spent the whole of the last decade (plus!), diving in, rolling my sleeve up, getting dirty, and whatever other goofy cliche term you would like to use in order to convey that I worked really hard and taught myself everything I needed to know in order to be great at what I do.

Actually, I’m still teaching myself. I have made it a habit to always be reading a book that will educate me and improve that way I do my work. Whether its inspirational or factual, constant learning about not just fashion, but also business, politics, the economy, is very important.

When it comes to politics and the economy, I usually stick to online news.  But when it comes to business, I not only read the news and magazines but I scoop up book after book on all kinds of topics like customer service, startup methods, content creation, the list goes on.

Why am I telling you all this?  Well, I’m hoping to inspire you to do the same. Or, if you’re already doing the same, I’ thought I’d share a few of my favorite business books with you, in case you haven’t read them yet.  I plan to update this list as I read new books, but will only add books that I find to be truly helpful.

Check Out 6 Must Read Business Books Right Here!

How To Be An Effective Communicator in Your Fashion Business

As the head of your company, being an effective communicator is a key skill.  Whether you’re communicating with your team, your vendors, or your customers, it is your job to motivate and inspire. You can’t do that if you’re a poor communicator.

While attending the CEO Bootcamp a few weeks ago, I received a great piece of literature on effective communication.  Here is an outlined version of what I think is the most valuable information.

What are some things that you’ll need to communicate?

  • Your bottom line during negotiations with vendors
  • Unacceptable behavior from your team
  • Appreciation for your team
  • Launches of new collections
  • Your brand’s mission, purpose, and story
  • Your company plans and direction to your team

What are some ways to communicate effectively?

  • Display confidence in your well thought out decision (even if you’re secretly nervous about the potential risk)
  • Don’t feel the need to over-explain
  • Remember that silence is very powerful
  • Know your objective and your desired outcome before you speak
  • Recognize that being nice is not a weakness
  • Approach situations with a feeling of collaboration rather than dictation
  • Embrace constructive criticism

What are some words and phrases that you should use?

  • Because. If you share your rationale behind something, people have a better understanding of the why.
  • The person’s name. People like to hear their name.
  • You. Makes things personal.
  • Thank you.
  • We/our. Team work!

What are some words and phrases that you should avoid?

  • I’m sorry. Only use it when you’ve truly done something wrong and need to apologize.
  • I may be wrong about this. This invites debate.
  • I think/ I guess.
  • Buzzwords and industry jargon. Especially when dealing with customers who might not identify with these words.

Great communication comes with practice.  If you start to implement some of these lessons, you’ll notice that over time, they become second nature.

4 Resources for a Fashion Business on a Budget

Here are some tools that we’ve written about in the past that you can use to help with building your fashion business on a budget. While not all are free, they all are unique concepts and companies that keep emerging designers’ needs in mind.

Using Spreecast to Enhance Your Fashion Business

We’re big fans of online workshops, discussions, classes, and any other educational medium that we can participate in from the comfort of our offices/studios/homes.

Read more…

How to Make Your Fashion Images Shoppable with Stipple

How can emerging designers sell their products, capture new interest, and drive revenue all through the power of product images?

Read more…

Solve the Headache of Fashion Inventory Management with LightSpeed

One of the most daunting aspects of having your own fashion business is inventory and sales management.

Read more…

Create the Perfect Finishing Touches for Your Fashion Collection with TrimLab

When it comes to creating your products, sourcing all of the important pieces (from fabric to zipper) can be one of the most challenging things you do.

Read more…
Image: Kris Kesiak Photography

4 Not-To-Be-Missed NYC Fashion Business Seminars

When it comes to education, your job is never done. Yes, you’re a business owner and very busy (to put it mildly) but a commitment to staying on top of industry trends and business best practices is a sign of a true entrepreneur.

Business changes fast and fashion changes even faster. Make sure that you spend time every month educating yourself. It’s one of the keys to business success.

So, where do fashion designers find relevant seminars and workshops to attend? From July 22nd to 24th Texworld USA and The International Apparel Sourcing Show, ApparelSourcingwill be offering a series of amazing and informative panels and discussions for fashion designers and brands.

Since we’re pretty sure you are already convinced of the importance of attending these shows, we’ll jump right into some of the great seminars that are being offered.

Oh, and as side note, the seminars are free for registered show attendees! Pretty sweet.

Texworld USA and ApparelSourcing Fashion Business Education Seminars

  1. THE WHAT, WHERE AND HOW OF GARMENT PRODUCTION– Are your materials really what you ordered? Do you know where your product has been? Do you know how your product was really made? Do they meet government regulations? Join our panel to learn how to insure your product is made responsibly and in compliance with industry regulations.
  2. HOW TO MARKET YOUR FASHION BUSINESS IN TODAY’S CLUTTERED WORLD- Marketing your fashion business is vital to your brand’s success. Learn about online and offline ideas that emerging fashion designers can use that will help break through the clutter. The presentation will include include examples, tactics and best practices that brands can execute.
  3. HOW NOT TO START A FASHION BRAND- Covering the 5 top common mistakes that new designers make that will put you out of business before you even get started. Learn how to avoid these mistakes and how to cost effectively start your business.
  4. PREFERRED FIBERS, MAKING THE RIGHT FIBER CHOICES- The market is on its way to a more sustainable future. To get there, you need to choose the right raw materials. Learn which fibers are preferred for their proven environmental credentials and leave this seminar with a new understanding of which fibers can take us to a better future and what you need to do to get us there.

And so many more…

Check out and register for the complete list of fashion business seminars here >>

Show Dates: July 22nd – 24th
Javits Center
New York, NY


Though Texworld USA commissioned us to share this cool new resource with you, we never agree to write about anything we don’t think is really awesome. Promise.

Image via Cedpics

A New Pattern Design Tool That Will Seriously Improve The Way You Create Your Collections

You know how sometimes you have this vision of your next collection before you’ve even started the design process? You’re sitting somewhere, inspired by something you saw, you snap a pic, grab a latte, and rush to your studio for some serious design work. You often wind up with something you’re really excited about and anxiously start planning your sourcing trips. It’s great.

Until it’s not. You hit up all your usual spots looking for just the right print for the skirt or blouse or handbag lining or whatever masterpiece you’re working on and, damn it, nothing feels right. You don’t get the “yes!” feeling. So you return to your studio and plop down at your computer to start playing around with a pattern-making software that you have yet to fully figure out. It’s technical and involved and there goes your excitement and inspiration.

Not too long ago, we met the founder of company called Genue. It’s a new iPad app that makes it possible for independent designers to {incredibly easily} create custom prints and pattern design for your collections from absolutely anything. When we heard this, we were very intrigued. 

What Does Genue Actually Do?

Honestly, designers, we can’t figure out what it doesn’t do.

First, you can be anywhere, find yourself inspired, and whip out your iPad and start designing. You can take a picture of something and turn that picture into a pattern. You can play with scale, direction, color, repeat, and so much more. You can apply your designs to a figure to see what the print will look like on a garment. And you can do it all, really easily.

editor screen with girl sketch showing design modes

Why Do We Like Genue?

  1. Any resource that puts the power in the hands of the designer, is OK in our book. As with everything else about building a fashion business, we are always drawn to resources and companies that have obviously thought a lot about the needs of independent designers and have created a solution that is attainable for brands that don’t have an endless budget.
  2. It’s such a powerful app, we’re always surprised by some new cool feature that we didn’t know was there before.  A recent discovery was the ability to draw a line using a pattern or texture or even an image. It was so cool.
  3. Every time you pick it up, you get lost in a world of design. Honestly, it’s the perfect balance between technology and creativity. Using it, we felt in control of our design direction, we felt inspired and creative but at the same time efficient and in-the-know, like we had come upon something that will drastically improve how to run the design side of a business. Which it will.
  4. It’s only 99 bucks for a year!

How Can Independent Designers Use Genue?

  1. You can design prints and patterns for your collections, starting with anything from a picture to a simply drawn straight line. Your design options are endless obviously, but more importantly these endless options are incredibly easy to create. It’s not fancy technical stuff that requires months of lessons. It’s intuitive and  there to help your vision come to life. It’s not there to cause frustration or lots of googling “how to….”.
  2. You can crowd source your customer’s interest before going into sampling. See what designs resonate most. The money-saving component is major.
  3. You can quickly edit your collection based on customer feedback. Change the color, scale, direction, whatever really quickly.
  4. You can use it as an internal tool for visually communicating design ideas to your team. It doesn’t just have to be your collection designs. Think about how you could create mock-ups for your web designer or send your custom patterns to a stationary designer to make branded invitations to a presentation. You could quickly show your graphic designer what it’s in your head, rather than trying to communicate through words that never seem to get your point across.


What Can You Expect to See Soon?

We were excited to learn that Genue is working on partnerships with fabric mills, leather printers, trim companies, shoe manufacturers, and other important resources. Hopefully 2015 will bring a list of resources that will present you with a start to finish option for your designing and sourcing process.

We’re hoping to see the app available on tablets, not just ipads, in the near future.

We’re really excited to share this tool with you, designers, because we honestly think this has the power to change how you run your business, on so many levels.


Though Genue commissioned us to share this cool new resource with you, we never agree to write about anything we don’t think is really awesome. Promise.