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The Biggest Sin is Falling for Your Own PR

Know that PR is just sizzle, else you will fizzle. From an entrepreneur in the fashion industry, here are 5 things even Gucci did to become a superstar fashion label.

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Carol Hanlon is city councillor for the city of Belmont in Australia and is an acknowledged champion of small business owners with local, state and national awards since 1970’s. Carol started as an owner and designer of her own fashion manufacturing, wholesale, retail, and export business for 20 years following which in 1994, then established two not-for-profit community organizations, Belmont Business Enterprise Centre Inc. (BEC) and Textile Clothing Footwear Resource Centre Western Australia Inc. (TCFWA) in 1998. Carol’s NFP projects have assisted over 25,000 small businesses across Australia and many more globally.

Her work has helped designers all over from Australia, Cambodia to India, who dream of becoming the next Christian Dior to get the business aspect of their fashion label right. Because if you don’t have the business smarts then your fashion house will die before you can say, ‘Michael Kors’.

“Marketing on a budget, pricing and costing, understanding intellectual property laws, trademarking laws in different countries and how to deal with the media needs to be done right. It’s critical to success of a fashion designer,” Carol said.

The 5 areas upcoming designers go wrong the most are:

1. Cash flow

It’s a cash-pour industry. All your profit goes back into manufacturing more clothes and to make the next collection before you have been paid for the collection you have just made. Handle cash flow wisely else you will be out of money to make your next fashion collection (and most small time designer don’t have investors as such)

2. Believing you own PR

Always remember to keep your feet grounded. Too much growth too quickly goes your head. Be practical and don’t believe your own publicity. Publicity and the sizzle is meant to lure in customers only – not you or your team.

3. Managing timing of supply chain

If the buyer wants your product in June, there’s no point in you getting things ready by July. Your order will be cancelled and your buyer will remember your tardiness and will not work with you anymore. It doesn’t matter if you’re front page of every magazine.

4. Quality control

Never assume other people will do this for you. Designer need to have enough checks and balances along the way to ensure all the specification to export to your target countries are met. Also be smart enough to know your legal claims against a manufacturer if they don’t stick to the quality specifications agreed to – things like putting the label on correct, measurements are right, volume of units is right and delivered on time. If you’re making for Australia for example and your stock has the wrong label with no mention of country and washing label it will not be accepted in the country. You will have to then pay 650 dollars a week to undo the labels and put it on right. It’s a costly mistake and could send you broke.

5. Know what manufacturing country is right for you

Chinese makers will have the discipline to follow through on high volume if you’re dealing with genuine garment manufacturers. Vietnam is becoming the most cost efficient, even Chinese companies are going there for garment manufacturing. Sri Lanka is rather aimed at the larger corporations and small designers can’t afford the expense of labor and importing the textiles. India is rather on the low side of quality assurance but is the best for embellished work – China has tried to replicate the kind of embellished designs India does but it just doesn’t look as good.

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