“In the past, it was possible, to begin with, an idea or creative point of view. Now you have to find the niche or need in the market and create a solution” says Joanne Yulan Jong
Over the last five years, I’ve been working with entrepreneurs who are looking to create fashion businesses. Initially, they approach me looking for a creative consultant to help with the design. After reviewing their journey, it is very clear that they are inexperienced with no fashion training or understanding of the business.
To help these enthusiastic entrepreneurs, I’ve developed accelerator workshops to offer guidance on the fashion business market. I believe that these potential brand owners need to understand the many key skills on how to run a company and I pride myself in helping them fast-track to that insight.
The workshops are very intense and there is a lot they learn during the course of just a few days of one to one consultancy. Having had spent time delivering workshops in London as well as internationally, it’s become obvious that to the inexperienced entrepreneurs in fashion, setting up a brand might look easy. However that’s far from reality, and much of what we cover comes as a complete surprise, even though they may have qualified with fashion degrees and had previous training.
When I work with these entrepreneurs I make it a priority to give them all the information they need in a quick and clear way so they can make educated decisions towards pushing their brand forward.
It costs a lot of money and investment of personal time and energy to and takes time to set up a brand from scratch, therefore knowing about processes and how fashion businesses function is vital from the start.
Earlier on this year, I had a great experience with two sisters, entrepreneurs living in Dubai who were looking to launch a contemporary brand inspired by their Russian heritage. I travelled to the beautiful city to provide them with a two-day workshop, which also gave me time to exercise some research and understand the market in this part of the world a bit better. I’ve met some wonderful contacts there and will be talking at the Dubai Fashion Week next year.
Another recent client an entrepreneur from Slovenia contacted me after completing a year’s fashion course at Condé Nast. Although she had formed her concept she was looking for advice on how to start her tailoring company. She wanted to know how to start production, work with suppliers, meet manufacturers etc. but couldn’t find anyone to point her in the right direction until we crossed paths. We had an exciting couple of days working together. She has a really interesting point of view on her brand with a unique aesthetic of what she’s trying to achieve and she gained a lot from the information we covered in a short time.
I enjoy working with people all over the world because it exposes me to the different ways in which the market works in different countries. It allows me to adapt and expand my own knowledge on how to create value around what I teach them.
Thought processes and how I work when researching, creating designing and developing brands all comes so naturally to me – but I realise it’s not what you get taught at any college. It comes from many many years of working on a wide range of businesses, from international fashion powerhouses to small E-Commerce startups. The knowledge also that comes from the personal journey, the painful mistakes and the great success stories too. Over the past twenty years, I’ve gathered a lot of experience and a formidable network of contacts that up and coming brand owners find that invaluable.
Covering subjects, for example, like brand position, examining competitors, detailed design process, explaining production calendars or how one must plan around the business comes as a bit of shock. The complexity and how it all fits together, all comes as an eye opener for the entrepreneurs. However, in being very matter of fact, as a grounded creative consultant in fashion, I’ve helped a lot of people think through whether or not they are cut out for the fashion business world.
If what they learn makes them take a step back and look at their venture with an objective eye then that makes me very happy indeed.
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Joanne Yulan Jong a Creative Director, Fashion Writer, and Author of the bestselling book THE FASHION SWITCH ‘The new rules if the fashion business’. She has been invited to be a regular columnist for WWD magazine.