Fashion Business RESET: Questions for Reflection

After the breakdown comes the breakthrough.

photo @coyanstudio

In limitless ways, I am fortunate. In relation to others, my breakdown came early on, after the Forty Five Ten stores closed on March 17, I was furloughed shortly after. I took time to grieve, feel the loss and transition into a mindset of rest and rejuvenation without the pressure to work. Next, something unexpected happened. I felt inspired to think creatively about the future.

People are grieving, going through a breakdown, or struggling to save their company on different timelines. From speaking with designers and fashion business owners in the last few weeks, I am hearing two categories of conversation: what needs to happen now to survive and/or what comes next.

Many are in crisis mode, all-consumed with salvaging their businesses and saving their livelihoods. Others have taken dramatic steps and with some time behind them, they are starting to reflect on how they will transform their business in the post-pandemic future.

My personal + career coach, Megan Hellerer, taught me the time between the breakdown and the breakthrough is called Day Zero. This is where we find ourselves after we have had everything taken away and we have let go, or have been forced to let go of it all. In the process of releasing the past, we have space from which to rebuild and relaunch.

On the breakthrough side of Day Zero, I am considering what an incredible gift we have been given as fashion professionals to get off the high-speed rollercoaster of the fashion calendar and stop. Pause, reflect, reset, and FANTASIZE about what our industry can look like in brighter days ahead.

Here are some questions that have come up for me, that I feel may be helpful for designers, retailers, and other industry professionals to explore:

  • What is your passion + the truest expression of your art and vision?
  • What will make you the most fulfilled creatively?
  • What do you want to create + why?
  • What do you want to put out into the world?
  • How will it be made?
  • Who is it for?
  • When will you present a collection? How? Where?
  • When will you deliver + recommend markdowns?
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • Can you expand your client audience to be more inclusive? Can you expand your size offering? Price range?
  • How will you reach + speak to this audience?
  • Do you want to adopt a fewer, better things philosophy? Beautiful! Create some financial models to determine if you can build or maintain a viable business with fewer products, deliveries, and markdowns.
  • Can you expand your product offering to gain higher margins on high-priced, luxurious hyper-exclusives, and grow volume and gain new customers with lower priced products?
  • Can you develop more high margin, core, no-markdown styles?

Once you feel ready, excited and energized about what your business may look like, you may consider taking a step forward now. Take any action that may bring you closer to your new goals.

Perhaps you want to communicate with your customers in a way that doesn’t feel product-pushy during a time when people are sick, dying and losing their jobs. Smart! What feels good to talk about?

  • What inspires you?
  • The process of your craft and creation?
  • The artisans who create your products?
  • The materials you use and where they come from?
  • Why you create and do what you do?

The designers and stores that have successfully cultivated authentic, loyal followers will be in a strong position to begin selling to these people when the time is right. Collections and stores that are exciting, unique, and necessary for our new time will flourish. I cannot wait to see the beauty that emerges.

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