Welcome to the first post of our Entrepreneurial Influencer Series! People of Leisure is not only a huge advocate in ethical and fair trade fashion, but we also believe in the spirited, trailblazing woman. This series will highlight some of the key female entrepreneurs that have supported our brand through the years.
This week, we're highlighting fashion expert, Frances Harder. Harder is a huge player in the apparel business. She is the Founder and President of Fashion Business Incorporated, which provides important resources, education, and consulting to fashion entrepreneurs. She is also the author of Fa$hion for Profit!
Check out our Q+A below to learn more about this well respected entrepreneur!
What do you think sets a successful fashion brand apart in today's shopping landscape?
Consistent quality, fit, design/styling and merchandising that will create a brand identity. Know your demographics. Mothers and daughters shop together and fathers and sons wear the same brands. It's important to understand life style and geography.
How did you discover your passion for design, branding, and fashion?
My mother was a fashion/dress designer in Nottingham. My Uncle had his own dress factory in Nottingham. My aunt had a dress making shop and my father was a textile chemist. That was my introduction and then I had a good art teacher who introduced me to the art College I went to in Manchester. I graduated with honors and was offered a scholarship to St. Martins but decided to take the job offer as a designer for a knit wear company where I had been interning. Plus, I had just been asked to teach part time at the college I had graduated from. So I launched both my design and teaching path, which I have always enjoyed.
What is your best advice for aspiring fashion brand-builders?
Prepare wisely and understand where your funding will come from and how much will be needed.
What is the best entrepreneurial advice you've ever received?
It takes money to make money!
Aside from building a profitable business, what do you think is the role of fashion leaders today?
I think anyone starting a new business these days should also include social give back in anyway possible, from a % give back to a charity of their choice to producing with recycled products.
In your experience, what is one of the biggest mistakes that new brands make?
They underestimate the funds needed to grow a new business.
What role do you think the rise of socially conscious shopping plays in brand-building?
I think there are a number of reasons that clothing sales have declined. The main one being the lack of true trends. What we wear today is more about merchandising our own brand. We can wear anything, from wide pants to hot pants, long skirts and short skirts. Most women buy clothing to feel a reward and relax from the demands of their work and family. If the price is right they may buy on an impulse. Not because they need a new top but because it makes them feel good!
What are some of the most exciting changes you've seen in the realm of online shopping?
I think the new body scanning system used by some stores is very interesting. You can now choose your style and the patterns while customizing the clothing to your fit. I think that in the next few years we will see more and more 3D printing from shoes to even clothing. Maybe sewing garments will soon be old news!
For more information on Frances Harder and her collection of fashion resources, check out Fa$hion for Profit!