Fashion Manufacturing for Entrepreneurs - Tips, Tricks, Know How and Inspiration

Maristella Colombo: Helping Women launch their Fashion Businesses

Launching your own fashion business is not a piece of cake, as we have said many times. You cannot and shouldn’t have to do it alone. Maristella Colombo, with her business Ebooks4Fashion, helps women to become independent and have their own fashion business. This, she calls her’s as well as their dream. We get candid with the Italian Jewellery Designer as she talks about challenges with young fashion startups, the importance of marketing to remain financially viable and learning by experience.

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How would you describe what you do?

I help women to start, grow and market their small fashion business and create the life they dream.

How did you get into fashion marketing?

I studied at college in the field of advertising and fashion design, but my love and passion for marketing came later. It came as a necessity to market and sell my jewellery collections for my brand Maiden-Art. I come from a creative family, so I was not so much into the marketing and financial side of my business. I required help in financing a fashion startup business. However, I really needed to understand better that part if I wanted to sell my jewellery since in 2010 I was in debt, from wrong marketing and selling decisions and strategies.

That’s why I started to learn as much as I can on how to market my jewellery brand in the right way and with the right strategies to get out of my debt. And honestly, in only 1 year after investing in myself first, I made a profit.

I started Ebooks4fashion.com with the mission to help other women like me to start or market their small fashion business, being satisfied with what they do and be economically independent, so they can have the life they dream of.

You are also a jeweller – how did you start making jewellery? Do you make it yourself?

I’m a jewellery designer for my brand Maiden-Art rock-mantic jewellery. I design and create my jewellery as unique and one of a kind pieces.

What came first – the jewellery or marketing?

The jewellery came first. Marketing followed as it was a need I had in order to sell my jewellery.

Do you find the two connected and feeding off each other?

Absolutely! If I didn’t have the problem of getting rid of my debt, (which was a very big problem for me in 2010, with lots of night spent in tears), I probably wouldn’t be so passionate on learning self-improvement and marketing to sell my jewellery line.

That very painful time was a very important and big learning experience for me. It really changed the way I was looking at things and how I could change my life.

I made a very big shift in my mindset, learning from the best and understanding that If I really wanted to turn things in the right way, I had to invest in myself first and then create the right strategies for my fashion business.

There’s ONE big mistake I see all the time and it’s the same I made myself too in the past: fashionpreneurs don’t understand their DREAM CUSTOMERS.

What is the biggest mistake you see small fashion business make?

There’s ONE big mistake I see all the time and it’s the same I made myself too in the past: fashionpreneurs don’t understand their DREAM CUSTOMERS. Actually, they don’t know exactly who their dream or perfect customers are, to begin with. So before selling everything, you need to know who your Perfect Customer is, and most importantly, what problems you are solving for them. Only then you can create your offer.

People always ask me “how do I make money with my Fashion Business?” and the answer is very simple and it’s only one:  Once you know how to solve the problems of your perfect customers, you know how to satisfy their needs. Offering them the benefits of your offer, you will make money in your small fashion business. Hence, creating your Perfect Customer Profile is very important.

What would you advise someone wanting to start a fashion brand, but who don’t think their product is solving a problem?

I think that every brand with their offer is always solving a problem or they are satisfying a certain need! People can think that they may not be solving a problem because they don’t see the problem, or they don’t see the need straight away, but there is always a need to satisfy some want or desire.

For example, you say that people don’t need another pair of shoes or another bag, but why are they buying those products? Because they like them and because those products satisfy their needs to feel beautiful or feel sexy or feel just good…

Wouldn’t you agree?

With so much information on how to do marketing, why do you think people make such fundamental mistakes? 

Because, as I said before, they don’t know their perfect customers and their problems well enough.

What do you think is the biggest barrier to success for fashion startups today?

Startups in fashion must think in a different way, out of the box if they want to succeed. They must understand their dream customer’s problems and understand exactly how to solve them and where to find their dream customers.

How are you trying to help solve this problem?

What I teach in my online course Fashion4Profit is that you can create a successful fashion business without a big budget and without a big investment, if only you know the right strategies and you make a shift in the way you are thinking; a mindset shift.

What do you think is the secret sauce that makes a successful fashion brand?

The secret sauce is definitely knowing the right language to speak to your dream customers for your small fashion business.

You are based in Italy but work with many international clients. Do you see the problems across different countries to be the same or different? And if different – how so?

As said before, the problem is the same. People always want to make money in their fashion business, but they don’t know what problems they are solving. Unfortunately, I see the same thing with all of my clients.

For a start-up struggling with their marketing – what would be the one thing, you advise them to do that will make a noticeable difference?

I usually advise them to build their email list first. People think of social media as their only fashion marketing strategy, but it’s only one part of it. If you want to be successful with your fashion business, you need to create a strong relationship with your customers and email marketing is the best way to do that.

What would happen if your Instagram account gets banned or closed down? How would you connect with your audience?

Why do you stress about entrepreneurs creating a mailing list? When should a start-up or a fashionpreneur start to do this?

I emphasize to grow an email list because I honestly think email marketing is the most powerful way to connect with your audience or a potential one. If you are a startup or a small fashion business, you need to build a strong relationship with your audience and how would you do that? How would you connect with your audience in a deeper way?

Social media is not enough. It is just a part of your fashion marketing strategy. You don’t own the social media platforms you are using but you own your email list.

What would happen if your Instagram account gets banned or closed down? How would you connect with your audience?

Another important thing to understand is that if you are a startup or a small fashion business, you probably don’t have a big budget to use for advertising. So the best way to connect with your potential audience is to offer them something valuable (so you get positioned as the expert in your niche) in exchange for their email address.

In this way, you can create a relationship with your potential audience and educate them on what you have to offer.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to the future fashionpreneurs and startups?

Before you create any kind of offer and put lots of money in your fashion business, buy large inventories or produce collections, think first of what problems are you solving, who is your perfect customer, where you can find him or her and how to build a relationship with him or her through creating an email list for your fashion business.

Most irritating aspect of the fashion industry – the superficiality and arrogance of people.

QUICK 5 Questions

Ambition or talent – which is more important and matters more to success?

In my opinion, it is definitely ambition.

What drives you?

Ambition and Passion.

What do you find most irritating in the fashion industry?

The superficiality and arrogance of people in the fashion industry.

What do you think is the greatest challenge that the fashion industry faces today?

In my opinion, it is definitely the change of approaching customers. Especially the changing of the customer experience, the way the customers buy in store and online.

What does success means to you?

Success for me is having freedom of working from wherever I want and having the free time to spend with my boyfriend and my daughter, while my fashion businesses make money in an automated way even while I sleep.

 

If you want a downloadable presentation about launching your own fashion business then you can download the same from Slideshare.

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