What to prepare ahead of a fashion consultant appointment?
This advice stands for any type of appointment. Coming prepared will save you time and money and deliver a faster result.
As a fashion consultant, the minimum we will need to know is:
- What is your product?
- What does your brand stand for?
- What is your goal?
- What is your budget?
I would encourage you, the brand, to work through the below topics to ensure firstly that you are clear on exactly what you want so that you can convey this clear message to the fashion consultant.
Topic 1. What is your brand famous for?
Complete this task – I challenge you to stand up, speak out loud, and tell me about your brand. You have 1 minute, Go!
This is a fantastic challenge, to ensure you select the right words, and not too many words in which to inform a stranger about your brand and product. The aim of this task is to concisely sell your brand vision, purpose and product. Practise and practise this again, and this should be something that you can naturally do as the brand owner.
When meeting a fashion consultant for the first time, you need to sell your brand’s vision to them, for the reason that they will in return be selling this on to other businesses. Above all you need to ensure that they fully see what you see. To do this answer:
- What is your brand’s purpose?
- What is your brand famous for?
Topic 2. What is the desired outcome?
Ahead of the initial appointment, you need to ask your brand – why are you seeking a fashion consultant help? What is the desired result from this partnership?
This may seem like an obvious question but trust the expert, it is best to have this clearly defined in bullet point form as opposed to, ‘ummm I just need help, I’m not sure..’.
By knowing what result you want for your brand, you can set the goals in which to get there, along with clear guidelines. Furthemore I encourage you to be as specific as possible. An example being:
My desired result from working with a fashion consultant is to launch into wholesale in Europe.
- The consultant’s role is to proactively seek new business in Europe.
- The brand needs the consultant to give strategic advise covering competitors, opportunities and price only, in Europe.
- We have a PR agency, so no social media, marketing advice needed.
- The brand wants the consultant to focus on eCommerce only.
- The brand wants the consultant to focus on selling only the apparel collection.
- Non-apparel to be discussed Yr+1.
- The brand wants the consultant to cover all communications regarding wholesale, internally and externally.
- No interruption to happen with current team structure and focus, BAU.
- All decisions will be run past (insert name), as the sole point of contact.
- The consultant to update the brand weekly, set day to be agreed.
- To launch on 2 eCommerce sites within the first year of the agreement.
- To secure wholesale operating deals. Secondary option is dropship.
Topic 3. What is Your Budget?
In my career, I have conducted many first consultancy appointments, and I would strongly encourage you as a brand to openly discuss your budget in that first appointment. Being open, stating how much you have set aside for this project is a good and honest approach. As a result the fashion consultant knows your budget, they should be able to adapt to it and offer you a service to meet your budget. Furthermore, by discussing your budget in the first appointment this speeds up the negotiation process.
Factors to consider when deciding what your budget is. Ask your brand; how big is the fashion consultant’s goal (point 2), and how long will it take them to achieve this? What is the going rate for fashion consultants? – do your research. Are you happy to work with a set fee or commission base?
I would strongly encourage any brand to run these numbers into your cash flow, looking at a minimum 1-year view. Consequently, this will clearly tell you what you can afford and for how long the project will be able to run based on your cash flow.
"Complete this task - I challenge you to stand up, speak out loud, and tell me about your brand. You have 1 minute, Go!"
Topic 4. Organisational Structure.
It is important for the success of any business relationship for a fashion consultant to understand your business structure. This includes team members and their roles, both contract and full-time; any members of the board, or people who need to be consulted upon decision-making. Also, any other key factor for example; if your business is grant-funded or if you are a public company. Even more within sharing this information it is best to define the reporting line for the fashion consultant.
Topic 5. The Product.
I would encourage brands to bring samples to the first appointment if it is face to face or to share your work in progress (WIP) documents. Fashion consultants are visual people, and this will really help them to understand more about your brand (point 1). I would encourage the brand to talk through the key selling features and the best sellers. As a result by bringing your collection to the fashion consultant, they will no doubt already have feedback and furthermore it will start them thinking about opportunities for your brand, building your strategy.
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I hope now you are feeling ready for that first appointment?
A reminder, preparation will save you time and money. Be clear on your brand’s goals before speaking to anyone else.