Entrepreneurs Talk the Business of Fashion at NYC Fashion Career Week
New York-based designer Joseph Singh became an entrepreneur because it meant creative freedom while menswear designer Marlon Gobel felt that there was a segment of the male population that wasn't being addressed when he started his namesake label. Retailer Of-A-Kind wanted to tell a story of emerging designers that hadn't been told. This was the topic that kicked off the panel on fashion and entrepreneurship at NYC Fashion Career Week, a program developed by Parsons and the NYCEDC.
Characteristics of a an entrepreneur
All entrepreneurs were passionate about their endeavors and while most noted that it could be a roller coaster ride, they agreed that there are certain characteristics that shaped them. There's got to be a willingness to do everything and know that nothing is beneath you. And, to not give up on yourself. What organically came out is the 4H's of entrepreneurship: honesty, be humble, hard-working and hustle.
Jamal Motlagh said that his tech-based company Acustom Apparel went with traditional fundraising and continues to raise capital. Joseph Singh showed his senior thesis to gain interest from others and also reached out on social media to acquire customers, even reaching out to celebrities to sell product.
One key thing is to know what you need in terms of financing and be up front about it. At the same time, "know that you don't have to play like the big dogs. You don't have to be Ralph Lauren or throw a Ralph Lauren fashion show. It's okay to have a nice presentation and editors know that" said Gobel. He also suggested to be resourceful and partner with brands to help subsidize projects, collections and fashion shows.
The key to success
While they all agreed that there was no true secret to success, there were some guiding principles. First, befriend others and learn how the industry works. You can also form an advisory board of experts and mentors that will help you. And, most importantly, if you need help, ask for it. Before you make the move, work for someone else because you will learn a lot on their dime. You can walk away with a nice rolodex, names of editors, knowledge of how a company works and of course, relationships because fashion is a small world. And, always remember whether it's your dream job or not, you're always learning.
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