At some point in our business journey, most of us in the fashion industry could benefit from hiring a consultant.
Whether you’re a designer just preparing to launch your designs or an established fashion brand that’s planning a growth initiative, there are many points in the life cycle of a business when the need for a consultant may arise. Regardless of the industry or size of the business, there comes a time when external expertise is required. Essentially, a consultant is your personal business resource, guide, and strategy partner; an external expert with highly specialized skills and knowledge.
Of course, some business owners do eventually get where they want to go. But a consultant can help you find solutions much faster, saving you time and avoiding costly errors and setbacks that can challenge and lengthen your entrepreneurial journey. In some ways, a consultant functions in a quasi-mentorship role, providing expertise, guiding, and challenging you in the best way just as a good mentor would; but also tackling tasks and finding solutions, and generally coming alongside with focus, support, insights, and strategies to help you reach your goals.
Some of the benefits of hiring a consultant:
1. You’ll get objective feedback. Many new designers lack the connections and support of knowledgeable industry insiders. And they don’t necessarily have a group of peers or employees within their own businesses who are able to provide wise counsel. And yet, this is exactly what’s needed, particularly when the business is young or when it’s having specific problems or growing pains. A consultant is an impartial outsider whose only goal is to help you move forward in the best way possible, avoiding pitfalls, problems, or traps that you might otherwise fall into. As a fashion industry consultant, one of the comments I hear most frequently from my clients is that the impartiality and fresh eyes of an objective external expert are worth gold.
2. Consultants are problem-solvers. A good consultant has the ability to see problems or bottlenecks and find solutions, backed by in-depth industry knowledge and hands-on practical experience. For example, one of my clients, head of a formerly well-known leather goods label, found that the business was experiencing a serious drop-off in sales. At one point, business nearly ground to a halt as the goods simply were not selling. After some research and analysis, I was able to determine what was happening. As it turned out, this company hadn’t changed to keep its styles current, banking instead on their formerly reliable classic looks. Yet their market, its clientele, and their needs were evolving, and competitors were providing up-to-date styling. And so my client embarked upon a course correction, updating styles and adding a women’s line to the product offering. Sometimes you’re just too close to the issue or have too much emotionally invested in a certain product, direction, or marketing concept to recognize the problem and find a solution.
3. A consultant will help you speedily navigate through transitions and trends. A transition to a new business model or a move to capture and capitalize on a particular trend can be complex, chaotic, and time-consuming, and this is where a consultant can really help, bringing hyper-focus and attention to the issue. While you likely need to concentrate on the day-to-day details of your business, such as design, payroll, or administration, the consultant is free to direct all her time and energies on the project she’s been hired for.
Right now, for example, sustainability is of primary interest to the fashion industry, and many brands, from fast fashion to haute couture, are looking to transition to a sustainable model. Purchasers of all ages are becoming more thoughtful about their clothing: what’s in it, where did it come from, is there transparency in the supply chain, are the garments made to last, are processes, materials, and chemicals used that are harmful to the environment? In my own consultancy, I’ve worked with designers seeking sustainability for many years now, and I see that the fashion world’s emphasis on sustainability is only increasing. So this is an area where a consultant’s experience and guidance can assist—from sourcing sustainable materials and fabrics to knowing exactly how to monitor the supply chain, a knowledgeable consultant can help you transition your way to the sustainable model.
Simply put, whether for a move to sustainability or for any major transition, consultants are very effective agents of change.
Whatever your fashion-industry needs, from building your brand when you’re starting at ground zero, to finding the perfect name for your brand, to creating a sample collection, to locating or introducing you to the best manufacturer for your particular needs, to sourcing the most suitable materials, or determining how to reduce costs while keeping quality high, an expert fashion-industry consultant can partner with you to accomplish your goals.
At Moda Métiers, we combine both in-depth theory and practice in our consultancy: academic credentials in business, management, and entrepreneurship, paired with knowledge and skills gained through building and growing our own global luxury Italian leather-goods label, combined with years of experience consulting for some of the best-known emerging and established brands in fashion. We’re here as an expert resource who will be with you every step of the way, unlocking opportunities and helping you nurture and grow your brand.
Feel free to reach out to us here for a no-obligation chat about your needs.