I don't know all the answers but I’m definitely learning quick and fast in the process of launching my own label. I dream big and have a goal for how successful I want Featherstone London to be – but as a start up company where do you begin?
Image is everything and it all centres around having a clear vision and knowing your 'why'? That's the foundational question I come back to always. Also knowing what you are selling. The more passionate you are about your brand, the more people will believe in it.
Take time to learn. If there’s something you don’t know about, find out. There’s so much resource available online. I had no idea how to build a website or social media campaign but I asked a lot of questions to find people who did and gratefully welcomed their advice.
People want to help! So far I haven’t had a straight no from anyone, whether it be sourcing a million pound car for a photo shoot (true story) or help from a family member who’s a spreadsheet expert. No one becomes successful alone, we all need help and are stronger for it. Join a Facebook group for entrepreneurs and use it as a support network.
A great description goes a long way. Do we really buy into soul-less items? No – we buy into the story behind them. Is it recycled? Is there a greater purpose as to why you have created the product? These details actually have a bigger impact than you could ever imagine. We don’t purchase from robots (ok there’s the web) but we buy from people essentially, who have meaning and a message. What is it that you want to say? Your brand depends on that. For me it’s about making quality luxury, sustainable and ethical clothing that makes people really look and feel their best.
Create your identity and keep it synonymous with your brand. Every decision you make must reflect that – stay focused on your purpose don’t lose sight of what your trying to achieve.
Sometimes even with the best intentions, you have to say no. Saying no often makes you more appealing. There will be a lot of opportunities that come your way and people wanting to collaborate. I had 3 offers of investment in the first week of announcing Featherstone London. Don't jump at the first offer. Instinct is crucial, listen to it. Only you know what you are trying to create, keep some control over it.
Be strategic – If you have something worth investing in then money can be found from various avenues but finance that comes with additional knowledge is invaluable. all successful brands need investment at some stage to grow but make sure it brings extra ticks to fill the void for things you don’t know. A friend with just a big bank balance isn’t going to help increase your marketing if they haven’t a clue either. Get the right people doing the right jobs. Think dragons den and choose wisely.
How do I market myself?
There are so many free ways to do this with social media. I have spent the last year trying to tell my story through my blog.
"You are who you say you are". People will automatically associate you with what you tell them. I have had a lot of people question why I created this blog. One, because it’s a free way to let people know what I do. In this day and age we are all our own marketers, photographers and PR agents. Two, It’s great for building my brand identity and showcasing the things that I like. At the end of the day it has my name on it and reflects my tastes.
I have spent 24 years perfecting every element of my craft so it's a joy to share my journey with others. When it comes to tailoring I pride myself on my knowledge, that’s what makes me a Master Tailor. My goal is to create posts that contain relevant information on my trade that I think people would be interested to know.
There are no new inventions in tailoring, just different styling. Suits have been around for centuries and the concept has remained because it obviously works for society but the way we style ourselves evolves. I chose bespoke because I simply can’t find much on the high street and I usually have a very clear idea in my mind of what I am looking for.
Blogs are great for gathering advice. There are so many people who go out and just buy the best of everything but don’t have a clue how to create a look with any of those items. Personal shoppers and stylists can help but the internet is free and provides huge inspiration.
The shops are so full of merchandise. Big brands are saturating the market so where do you even start? How do you stand out amongst the big hitters? Offer something niche – something that you specialise in and have perfected that even the big labels will come knocking to find out why your product is so good.
Make sure your Instagram page has a distinct look and feel. Don’t post pictures that aren’t in line with your overall image. Create a mood board so that new customers can instantly see what you're all about. I use UNUM to plan my posts, its a great previewing tool enabling you to reposition and shuffle images before they actually go live.
Taking a risk and step of faith only means that there will be challenges and setbacks. Things won’t always go to plan but I'm more scared of not trying than if I were to fail. And it's never a failure if you learn something from it.
Featherstone bespoke is now active and my new online shop will follow later this summer. I look forward to sharing the journey with you. I’d also be interested to hear your thoughts and if PR is your forte, I might just need you! Craig
If you have any great brand building advice please feel free to comment on this post!