Not to burst your bubble, but, unfortunately, fashion design does not simply involve brainstorming and creating designs. There is another important marathon emerging designers must run – landing their clothes in stores and in the hands of consumers. In order to do this, it is important to know how to network effectively. Networking is not simply having one phone conversation and calling it a day – it involves strategy and commitment. Keep reading to learn about some of our strategies for networking to land more of your designs in high-end clothing stores.
Create Your Elevator Pitch
In a short amount of time, you need to prove yourself as an invaluable asset and convince business professionals to take a look at your design portfolio – this is why this is called an elevator pitch. Most of them don’t have a ton of time to listen to proposals from people they don’t know. Hence, it is critical to be clear, concise, and quick.
If you are speaking to professionals in person, edit your pitch to between 30 to 60 seconds. During this time, make sure to introduce yourself, state your intentions, what you can offer, and what is unique about your designs. It should not be a reading of your resume but rather an engaging summary of your professional work and more importantly, its value. If they seem interested, casually offer to email them your portfolio or set up a time to look at it together. Don’t be afraid to share your accomplishments – be confident and make a lasting impression.
If you are emailing, make sure that your message is no more than around five sentences in length. Be brief and to the point. Whether you are delivering your pitch via email or in person, professionals will not invest a lot of time in-taking your message, which is why it is important to be concise.
Strategically, it is not always a good idea to directly ask for your designs to be featured, so you should communicate in a manner that establishes the idea of connecting in the future. This could include asking to learn more about the fashion company or about how this specific individual got started in the fashion industry. Through these conversations, find a common connection and build on that to eventually ask about opportunities to feature your designs in their company’s inventory or store.
While this may seem like an inauthentic or fake friendship, networking is a necessity. It doesn’t need to be looked at as an uncomfortable activity – look at it as a learning opportunity to meet and connect with people in the fashion industry. When networking is driven by these reasons and finding similar connections, it will feel more authentic.
Attend Local Fashion Events
To deliver an elevator pitch, you’ll need to first find professionals to connect with. One simple way to do this is through attending fashion-related events such as fashion shows, networking panels, and pop up shops.
With the current COVID-19 global health pandemic, attending these events in person is difficult. However, it is still possible to take part in these opportunities virtually. Platforms like Eventbrite list a variety of fashion-related events available globally that anyone can join. In fact, with the current state of lockdown to semi-quarantine, it is possible to attend more types of fashion-related events from different parts of the globe – all from the comfort of your living room.
Use these events to introduce yourself to new people and connect with them on platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook. Feel free to message them after the event – applying your elevator pitch networking strategies – and remember to stay in touch with them!
Utilize Social Media as One of Your Primary Sources of Fashion Networking
Social media is one of the most powerful tools society possesses, in terms of communicating with a wide variety of people. Use it to your advantage, and connect with professionals and fashion-affiliated individuals through platforms like LinkedIn, emerging designer Facebook groups, Instagram, and individuals on Facebook.
Message them your elevator pitch briefly, and stay connected with them. Sometimes individuals may not respond, so make sure to reach out to multiple people for the best results. Remember to learn from them, offer them your help, and stay in touch to build a real, personal connection.
Networking is one of the most important skills to master as a designer. Without it, it is difficult to gain more exposure and grow your brand. By utilizing these strategies, you will have ease in navigating communication with business professionals and, eventually, be able to land your designs in recognizable stores and in the hands of consumers.
Amulya Agrawal is a student from Missouri who is passionate about writing and creating creative content. She is currently a Content Marketing Intern for MakersValley and hopes to inspire designers with her content. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and advocating in her community.