Fashion Business Tip: Use Compelling Images

Fashion Business Tip: Use Compelling Images

⁣The best way to sell products is to let them sell themselves.  How do you do that? With great photos!


The Importance of Product Photography

The Importance of Product Photography

Photography can make or break your business.  Regardless of if you are selling a physical product or a service, the pictures you use to communicate both are extremely important. Now while we understand that great photography or visuals may be expensive, you also need to understand that poor photography will hurt your business and sales in the short and long run.  With the advent of smartphone cameras which can take amazing photos, an entrepreneur has to make out the time to create stunning visual images of their products in order to attract customers.

First it communicates what the brand is to the customer or even promoter of your business. Be it an e-banner or a physical shoot,  your pictures tells us the mind behind the brand and if customers want to relate with the brand or not.

importance of photography

Image from stock.adobe.com

 For example, I see a lot of pictures of items, such as fabrics, taken on the floor.  I personally will not buy fabrics taken on the floor no matter how amazing the fabric or print is. I have written about this before on Instagram.  Because for me, the following questions immediately spring to mind:

  •  was the floor cleaned before taking the picture;
  • how many people have walked on that floor;
  • will they wash the fabric afterwards - even though I know that is a no;
  • will I react to the dirt on the floor;
  • how can this person even put this on the floor;
  • how hygienic is the person selling this to me; and the questions go on and on.


The other day, I saw a caterer who with a large food order posting a video with the food order lined on the floor.  That to me is a no no.  You simply cannot put food on the floor and if I was the client, the health and hygiene of my staff comes first.  I will reject the order and probably never do business with you again.

 

Personal photography can be excused but definitely not pictures for business.  Taking pictures of fabrics on the floor (with the tiles or carpet showing in the background), shots in bad lighting, poor looking flyers and e-banners should not be used to promote your brand.


What Exactly is a Brand?

A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organization.”

- Marty Neumeier, Branding Expert

Ashley Friedlein, CEO and co-founder of Econsultancy, has a similar take:

“Brand is the sum total of how someone perceives a particular organization.”


Ignyte explains it further:


"A brand is the way in which a company, organization, or individual is perceived by those who experience it. Because it’s intangible, a brand isn’t as easily defined as, say, a fish.  But how they’re defined is very similar indeed.  You’ll probably agree that the most basic defining characteristic of a fish is where it lives. Fish live in water. That’s what makes a fish a fish.  The same fundamental criterion applies to brands.


The answer to the question “what is a brand?” starts with where a brand lives. So where do brands live?

Brands live in the mind. They live in the minds of everyone who experiences them: employees, investors, the media, and, perhaps most importantly, consumers.  Simply put, brands are perceptions.


Product Photography & Sales

photography and sales

Humans are very visual people.  It is easier to sell an item when people SEE what it looks like than hear you explaining it through words and text.  It is that simple.  These days, Smartphone cameras can take amazing photos.

'Most Customers Use Mobile Devices To Shop For Products. ...showcasing good photography to prospective customers who are the go is essential. Online shoppers who use mobile phones want quick and straightforward content and do not have the time to read lengthy content, so you need to allow the product photography to do the talking.⠀ ⠀

- Pic-Up, -

If you want to boost your sales and increase your income, then you should take your product photos and presentation seriously.  Showcasing your products with high-quality images can be the difference between a conversion and no sale at all.⠀


Recommended Resources

Why Product Photography is Important

Importance of Good Photography to Drive Sales

The Importance of Product Photography in ECommerce

Stats & Facts on the Importance of Good Photography

Warning? Are you making these 7 common mistakes in your clothing and apparel photography?

About Me

Tope Williams-Adewunmi

Tope Williams-Adewunmi

A fashion entrepreneur passionate giving power through fashion

by sharing knowledge guaranteed to help fashion lovers

turn their love for fashion into a viable business.

Someone you know needs this article.  

Help them out by sharing this article on social media.

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Fashion Business Ideas – Tambour Beading

Fashion Business Ideas – Tambour Beading

Do you watch haute couture fashion shows, and see breathtaking embroidery designs that combine thread, sequins and beads to create fantastic elaborate designs that decorate evening dresses, necklines, sleeves, etc?  Those intricated patterns are created by hand.  When you question how those are made, the answer is often Tambour Beading.

Uploaded on pinterest by Cherie Gilmore-Forczak

 

What is Tambour Beading or Tambour Embroidery?

Tambour bead embroidery is an amazingly creative and absorbing style of embroidery.  With a mesmerizing array of beads, sequins, embroidery threads and metallic threads available, the design possibilities for tambour beading and tambour embroidery are limitless.⠀ ⠀

Chanel FW2014 Haute Couture

Chanel FW2014 Haute Couture

Tambour beading evolved from tambour thread embroidery and is named from the drum shaped frame originally used – ‘tambour’ is the French word for drum. It was considered an exotic and exciting craft, and became a very popular pass time amongst women.”

According to the Textile Research Center,

 "Tambour embroidery or tambour work is a technique whereby a chain stitch is worked with a fine hook (a tambour hook) on a fine, slightly open-weave cloth that is stretched over a frame. This type of work may have originated in India, where it is known as ari work or ari embroidery. For tensioning, sometimes a circular frame is used.”

Uploaded by Cherie Gilmore-Forczak

Close up: The Wish Gown from the Catherine Deane AW14 collection

Uploaded by Cherie Gilmore-Forczak

Guo Pei Spring 2016 Couture - EE

It is high fashion and couture technique widely used in ateliers and couture houses and is a highly sought after skill.  It takes the concept of beading and embellishment to a different level.

Tambour Beading and Embroidery

Recommended Resources

Tips for Starting Your Fashion Business on a Lean Budget

Specialization in the Fashion Industry

Finding Your Fashion Brand Niche

Fashion Growth Tip: Develop Your Unique Selling Proposition

Getting your fashion business ready for 2020

Sneak Peak at our Upcoming Online Course

About Me

Tope Williams-Adewunmi

Tope Williams-Adewunmi

A fashion entrepreneur passionate giving power through fashion

by sharing knowledge guaranteed to help fashion lovers

turn their love for fashion into a viable business.

Someone you know needs this article.  

Help them out by sharing this article on social media.

To get notified about our articles, please sign up below:

You too could learn to produce stunningly glamorous tambour bead embroidery with our Tambour Beading and Embroidery Online Course.  Simply call 08097876075 or click the link for more information.

Do you watch haute couture fashion shows, and see breathtaking embroidery designs that combine thread, sequins and beads to create fantastic elaborate designs that decorate evening dresses, necklines, sleeves, etc?  Those intricated patterns are created by hand.  When you question how those are made, the answer is often Tambour Beading.

 

What is Tambour Beading or Tambour Embroidery?

Tambour bead embroidery is an amazingly creative and absorbing style of embroidery.  With a mesmerizing array of beads, sequins, embroidery threads and metallic threads available, the design possibilities for tambour beading and tambour embroidery are limitless.⠀ ⠀

 

According to the Textile Research Center,

 

“Tambour embroidery or tambour work is a technique whereby a chain stitch is worked with a fine hook (a tambour hook) on a fine, slightly open-weave cloth that is stretched over a frame. This type of work may have originated in India, where it is known as ari work or ari embroidery. For tensioning, sometimes a circular frame is used.”

 

According to the London Embroidery School,

“Tambour beading evolved from tambour thread embroidery and is named from the drum shaped frame originally used – ‘tambour’ is the French word for drum. It was considered an exotic and exciting craft, and became a very popular pass time amongst women.”

 

It is high fashion and couture technique widely used in ateliers and couture houses and is a highly sought after skill.  It takes the concept of beading and embellishment to a different level.

You too could learn to produce stunningly glamorous tambour bead embroidery with our Tambour Beading and Embroidery Online Course.  Simply call 08097876075 or click the link for more information.⠀⠀

Fashion Business Tip: Commission vs Salary… Which is the Better Option for Your Tailors?! (Updated 2019)

Fashion Business Tip: Commission vs Salary… Which is the Better Option for Your Tailors?! (Updated 2019)


This question is one many designers always have a headache about as it deals with money matters.  While many of us shy away from it, it is one major problem everyone has. I’ll limit what I have to say to the one question most designers who run production units ask at every event, every seminar and pretty much at every opportunity:

 

“Should I pay my workers per piece or should I put them on a salary?”

 

THAT is the million-dollar question and here is my take on it even though when I revisited the subject of producing for designers, we have a policy which I will share at the end of the post.

Naira exchange

edited from http://3.bp.blogspot.com/–sbGZ0lpdEg/Ui01xntdosI/AAAAAAABeHU/K_w-RApHe9c/s1600/naira-dollar.jpg


Before I begin, first let me say there is no right or wrong answer to this question.  What is more important is knowing which option works for you and your operations.  I’ll point out the pros and cons and use my experience as an example.

When I first ran a production unit, I had no clue what the going rate for anything was.  So like everything else in my entrepreneurial journey, I learnt the hard way.   When I started, I was advised to pay per piece… which of course is what everyone means when they say “commission”.  “That’s what everyone does around here” I was told.  So I went with the “norm” against my better judgement.  Why did I say against my better judgement?  

Well… I knew the obvious structure that worked was a type of “division of labour” system where one person on a production line sewed a a portion of the garment rather than the whole garment.  But how would a commission payment work if I wanted to run a production line?  How would I calculate the pay per person?  And would it be fair to punish everyone else for the incompetence of one person in the line?  (Which is actually what I do now even though I don't do commission...)

But anywayz, since I knew this was what the general consensus, I chose to try out the commission structure.  After all… that is what seemed to work around here, and I thought those running that option were doing pretty well… or so it seemed…

Did it work for me?  NOPE!  Far from it.  In fact, that was a HUGE mistake!

Not only did the machinists keep ruining my work, getting them to redo bad work was like asking them to jump in a lake!  Not only could the looks melt wires, the “inner” grumbling and their attitudes were so bad, it was completely discouraging for me as a business owner.

And to be honest, could I really blame them?  Nope.  In their minds, who cared if the stitches were not straight?  To them, the customers would not notice.  All they were interested in was churning out the work and getting paid so all my complaints fell on blank looks and deaf ears.  And to be fair… they did have families to feed… No that is not an excuse… but to them what they had done was good enough, the customer could wear it so what’s my stress?  To them, as long as we delivered the clothes, all those stories of straight stitches and perfect zips were all just a bunch of grammar.

So what was the “real” implication or opportunity cost of their bad work and my commission payment?  

Simple!  All my personal hours which could have been better spent on more productive work, marketing or simply relaxing was spent working late into the night unpicking bad stitching and zips and repeating the clothes.  This also meant I was burning more of my resources, mostly my fuel, redoing work that should have been delivered.  So the payment to the tailors and the petrol burnt earlier that day was a total waste of my money!  I might as well have have fired them and sewn the clothes from scratch.  

SO when this didn’t work, I switched to salary payments.


And yes!  The image pretty much captured how I felt at the end of every month when I started salary payments.  I faced a different kind of headache.  Well I must say the quality of work was a bit better… and yes the “bit better” in the tiniest text possible is intentional.  The work was better but blimey…  short of stopping work and snoring right at the machine… each garment took at least 3 days to complete… some a week!  It was just ridiculous!  

To them, well… she wants good work, we’ll spend 3 days giving her what she wants.  After all we get paid at the end of every month.  But guess who was incurring all the costs!  The costs of delayed delivery to the client, disappointments, the costs of petrol, the salary payments and of course, not mentioning the opportunity costs.  So I traded a bad situation for another one.

BUT one thing I must say was at least, I didn’t have to unpick and redo the clothes as much which was better but I had to sit and think about which option worked better for me.

Eventually, I settled for the salary payment.  Only later when I stopped sewing for people did I realise that it should have been a blend of both… i.e. a basic salary which would ensure you don’t cry to the bank at the end of every month and some commission as a reward for good work.  And I tried it and it worked for the few jobs I did.

Shame I had to learn this the hard way…

Since then, I have advised people to opt for a bit of both.  Though some ask me for actual figures, truth is, it really is difficult to say since we do not have a standard pay structure in the industry.  But whatever system you choose needs to be based on an agreement which the employee will sign before s/he commences work.

For example, when you employ a machinist, you can agree on a certain figure say N30,000 but split the N30,000 into 2 parts – a basic say N20,000 monthly pay and the additional N10,000 spread over the number of days.  If you expect him/her to complete a garment in a day, he loses that portion of the extra N10,000.  That way, you don’t feel cheated, and he works hard to complete the work so he gets the extra N10k.  BUT note that late-coming should come out of the N20k basic because there is no reason why s/he should come late to work.

It might be easier said than done but when I tried it, it worked and I was able to breathe easier.

Truth is, the subject of dealing with employees and salary payments is a tough one, and you will constantly be faced with the scenario below:

http://www.businesscartoonshop.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/350×350/185c2993af677842ae94e5dda12f0e6e/t/h/this_is_file_name_2767.jpg


…but you ultimately have to decide which option works for you.

Before I sign off, I’d like to address the issue of “Oga ta, oga o ta, ise alaru a pe”.  The first time I heard this phrase, I had no clue what it meant until my assistant explained it to me.  To those who do not speak Yoruba, it basically means “either the business makes money or not, the employee gets paid”.   The implication of this statement?  Well, it simply means if there is no business, the employee does not get paid.

I hear some designers have this policy with some of their workers.  Personally, I think this is pretty unfair if the machinist is not involved in marketing or sourcing for work.  I know that I personally will never agree to these terms if getting the business in is not part of my job description….which I guess would explain why those who include this in their policies will have issues with their machinists leaving.

For me, I have found that salary payments make me work harder when I know people are dependent on me at the end of the month to feed their families and pay their bills.  It challenges me to get my act together because I now I have to pay salaries.  Granted at the end of the month they are smiling to the bank and I am crying to the bank, but at least it forces me to work harder and hustle, even if for nothing else, to pay my staff.

Honestly, designers should not make their employees suffer or put them on a commission payment simply because it minimises their risk.  If you cannot afford to keep someone on permanently due to shortfalls in revenue, then please vary their employment terms and make them come in once or twice a week.  They lose out both ways if they have to come to work and yet don’t get paid because you haven’t done the needful.  And honestly, they will keep leaving or even opt for other production units.

And please respect your staff.  You cannot deduct their money or not pay them for unfinished work if they spent half of their day washing your clothes or picking your child up from school.  I have heard some designers do this and I am completely shocked!  There really should be a distinction between work and your personal errands.  And if you merge the 2, then please put them on a salary.  You really can’t eat your cake and have it!

tip


POST UPDATE:


So when I revisited the subject of starting a production unit for ready to wear designers, Garment Production House, I decided on, not only a monthly salary, but also getting accommodation for my staff not too far away. Yes it still has its challenges but here are 2 things I do that perhaps help you as well save some money in the event of the tailor leaving unceremoniously.


1.  During the interview process, I inform them that for the first 3 months I will deduct a certain amount of their salary.  If they stay for one year, they get it back in full, if they leave they forfeit it.  Has it helped?  In a way.  Those who left during the year (and I did have some people leave), forfeited the amount and honestly, I did not feel as burnt.  At least there was some financial savings to me.


2.  I have recently implemented a policy that everyone in the production house bears the costs of someone's error or lateness.  This refers to unpicking clothes, not our own set deadlines, etc.  At the end of the month I take out these amount which also results to some form of cost savings.  Truth be told, I don't deduct as much as I should because really, these people have families but I deduct just enough for them to feel the pinch and it seems to work.  Plus now that everyone's pay is deducted, they all now act as a check on each other to minimize errors. 


Great!  That’s all I have to say.  Hope this helped.  Let me know what you think in the comments section.

Recommended Resources

A Passionate Plea to Fashion Designers Part 1

A Passionate Plea to Fashion Designers Part 2

Growth Tip: Outsource to grow your fashion business

About Me

Tope Williams-Adewunmi

Tope Williams-Adewunmi

A fashion entrepreneur passionate giving power through fashion

by sharing knowledge guaranteed to help fashion lovers

turn their love for fashion into a viable business.

Someone you know needs this article.  

If this helped you, help them out by sharing this article on social media.

To get notified about our articles, please sign up below:


Fashion Business: Tips for Starting Your Fashion Business on a Lean Budget

Fashion Business: Tips for Starting Your Fashion Business on a Lean Budget

Starting a fashion business with very little capital is very challenging, but it can be done.⁠  Sometimes having too much starting capital can be a bad thing, it gives the early illusion of success and leads to wasteful processes and business practices. ⁠


I remember when I first started out.  Many people believed in my vision and of course I had lots of support from friends and family who wanted to support my dream.  A year down the line, I was out of cash!  When I thought back to what I spent the money on, it seemed to be on things that did not directly relate to revenue. It was more about 'branding' - and I use the word very loosely.  I spent money on things that, in hindsight, did not seem to matter then such as having the perfect website, employing staff I did not need, spending money on business cards that cost so much but was never delivered and other things.  ​

broke and desperate


When I was about to start over, I cried to my parents for help (well not literally) and asked them not to give me the money but to loan me the money.  That was the best thing I could have done for myself.  And luckily for me, my parents were quite shrewd.  I had to pay the money back in instalments when it was due. 


It made me 'hustle' because I knew I had to pay back money at a certain time.  It made me think, strategize, spend money only when it was necessary and create new products and services.  Lucky for me, all the excess staff I had left for one reason or the other.  The interns went back to school, the Corps member completed her service, the tailor who was misbehaving then got suspended and never showed up at the end of his suspension, and little by little it all paid off.  I watched my costs like a hawk, spending money only when absolutely necessary, bargained like there was no tomorrow and learnt to prioritize my spending. Little by little, it all paid off.

start up with no money


By starting lean, you'll be more likely to maintain disciplined financial practices as your business grows. Here are six tips that’ll help you start your fashion business on a lean budget.⁠

1. Don't spend money without thinking about how that money is going to grow your business.⁠
2. Keep your business and personal account separate.⁠
3. Don't assume you have to buy everything for your business, rent or lease if possible.⁠
4. Hold off on opening a physical space unless you absolutely have to.⁠
5. Don’t hire unless absolutely necessary.⁠
6. Outsource.⁠

suggestion

One other thing I would add is that financial help from friends and family does not have to be financial in nature.  You can ask for a donation of physical assets instead.  I remember when setting up the office, my father gave me some office chairs, 2 desks (which I thought was old-school then but looked absolutely fabulous when I ran out of cash) and he also gave me a generator which I really needed, my mother donated 2 ACs when she noticed I did not default on my repayments, my friend also donated an AC, I was vocal on Facebook about things I needed and people who had these gave them to me.  Money, at the end of the day is only useful for its intrinsic value so if I could get the things I needed, then chances of spending the money on things that did not really matter were really slim.


My advise to you is that if you're going to start with very little capital or start a business at all, you need to plan carefully and conserve all the cash you can.⁠  Cash is the lifeblood of every business.  Without it, your business will crumble because you will be unable to pay for goods, services or even your utility bills like electricity or staff salaries, if you have any.

 

Did you start your fashion business on a lean budget?  Share your experiences in the comment section, we’ll love to hear from you.⁠

Recommended Resources

How to Start a Fashion Business with No Money

Commission vs Salary... which is the better option for your tailors?

Want to Earn extra income sharing valuable knowledge? 

What to start a fashion business?

About Me

Tope Williams-Adewunmi

Tope Williams-Adewunmi

A fashion entrepreneur passionate giving power through fashion

by sharing knowledge guaranteed to help fashion lovers

turn their love for fashion into a viable business.

Someone you know needs this article.  

If this helped you, help them out by sharing this article on social media.

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