If you have ever watched the ABC reality series, Shark Tank, you may have noticed how cutthroat and intense pitching to investors can be, regardless of the quality of the product being presented. While every situation in life won’t have the same high drama of a reality show, pitching to a potential investor can still be a daunting and high-stakes task. Fashion designers should regularly practice and update their pitch with some key elements to impress potential investors and win the funding they need to finance the production and marketing of their fashion label.
Investors hear pitches regularly, so it is inherently challenging to stand out. Some elements of a pitch that are expected by essentially all investors include:
Once you identify the above for yourself, you’ll need to outline these elements in an effective way to impress investors.
Offering a pitch deck to fashion investors helps them follow along with your pitch visually – something especially important in this industry. It is critical that this deck is professionally made, nice to look at, contains pertinent information, and is easy to read. For fashion designers, the pitch deck is a good place to showcase the designs of which you are most proud, the quality of the manufacturers who produce them, and how your products appeal to customers who have strong and consistent buying power in a way that stands out from competing brands.
In an email, this would be your subject line. When speaking on the phone or in person, this is what you say to draw your investors in. You could ask them a question that leads to the unique problem in apparel you’re aiming to solve or say a statement that leads into the brief story you want to tell. Keep a tone of confidence and determination throughout the pitch. It is a good idea to practice it many times before speaking to investors.
Throughout the presentation, keep the focus on what benefits your products provide. During this stage, designers should show off their knowledge of their product category and the fashion industry.
Whether your products use a certain type of unique fabric or aim to fulfill the needs of an underserved demographic, it is crucial to give adequate details on your unique selling point. This is also where you should bring up any competitors you have and mention what makes you stand above them and what you do differently.
Any investor will want to see if you have made money on your products yet. The reality is, if you haven’t reached a breakeven or point of profit, it likely will be very difficult to convince an investor to hop on board.
Another valuable point to address here is the longevity of your target consumer segment's buying power. Are you serving the mass market which can be volatile and flux with the economy or crash in times of global crises? Or do your products' price points and quality land them in the luxury space, which often has customers with more consistent buying power?
After getting through why your designs are unique and how your business has performed so far, you will have to show your investors how and when you plan to grow the business. Have a well-thought-out marketing strategy planned depending on your primary goal, whether that’s to promote certain designs, reach more retail fashion buyers and customers, or something else.
Having a memorable slogan or tagline for your brand can help you to stand out. However, what’s most important in your closing is that you sum up the key points from your pitch and make it clear what you are asking for from the investor and set the stage for negotiation. It also helps to remind the investors of your timeline and what they can expect in return here. Remember: you aren't asking for a loan. Your investors will mostly likely expect something back, whether that's reimbursement with interest, a stake in your fashion company, or something else.
Innovations happen every day and pitching the next big thing in an industry as populated as the fashion world will continue to be challenging. However, if designers follow the above guidelines when preparing a pitch, and really think about each aspect of it in depth, it can increase the chances that investors will choose to invest in their fashion business.