Treating Your Fashion Business Like a Team Sport

Recently I brought my intern along to a client meeting. When we left, she expressed amazement at the scope of our discussion, which had included product, production, sales, marketing, public relations, customer relations and branding. “There’s so much to think about,” she said. And, she’s right, it is sometimes staggering to think about what goes into running a successful label. So it’s not surprising when designers become overwhelmed by the many decisions and tasks they must perform each day. Even for seasoned veterans and talented multitaskers, the fact is, you can’t do it alone.

Building a Deep Bench

This sentiment was echoed recently when I attended the third annual Fashion Campus NYC event at Parsons last month. The event is designed to introduce students to the business side of the fashion industry, so fittingly the keynote was Uri Minkoff, the CEO of his sister’s fashion label, Rebecca Minkoff.

Having launched and run several businesses spanning a wide array of industries, it’s fair to guess that Minkoff is a smart, capable, skilled guy. But even he readily admits that he doesn’t have all of the answers. In fact, he emphasized more than once, “It’s important for you to know what you don’t know.” His point: No one has all of the natural strengths, abilities and experiences that are needed to launch and grow a brand, so you have to surround yourself with knowledgeable people.

The second part to amassing a valuable team, he says, is actually empowering them and listening to their ideas. Minkoff says Rebecca Minkoff operates in a very entrepreneurial fashion, and the company is open to great ideas no matter where they come from. Like most of you, Minkoff has a company, a family and limited hours in the day. So empowering his employees in this way not only brings in fresh perspectives, but it takes tasks off his already-full plate.

Recruiting the Right Players

In the spirit of adding value and removing headaches, I’ve recently teamed with industry veteran Christine McCarthy to form the Children’s Apparel Consulting Group (CACG). The Children’s Apparel Consulting Group is a full-service, one-stop network of industry veterans that assists children’s clothing brands with every aspect of their businesses, including concept development, branding, design, merchandising, sales, marketing, production, customer service, back office, order processing, credit checks, collections, public relations, social media management and industry matchmaking.

The CACG was formed because we know not every company has the resources to build an in-house team like the one Minkoff describes. Each member of the Group operates his or her own consulting firm, which operates on a per project or retainer basis, making our services affordable and flexible for companies of all sizes. The additional advantage is that we all know one another and have either worked together in the past or have occasionally shared the same consulting clients, so we work together seamlessly.

When I started my consulting business, I did so because I had seen so many entrepreneurs launch and then almost immediately shutter their lines. Sometimes their missteps were obvious even from the outside; other times one could only guess at what went wrong. Really, it could have been any number of things. Running a fashion business is extremely involved and there are a myriad of big decisions and small tasks that culminate in a successful or lackluster season. While there’s no simple formula for ensuring stellar sell-throughs every time, certainly with the right team acting as your eyes and ears throughout the process, you can find new ways to do what you do even better.

About Caletha Crawford

Caletha Crawford operates Caletha Crawford Childrenswear Consulting. She has spent more than 10 years covering the industry, most recently as editor in chief of Earnshaw’s magazine. Caletha has a unique perspective on the concepts, designs and companies that resonate with retailers and consumers. Her services include marketing, branding and social media. In an effort to usher in the next generation of design talent, she also teaches at Parsons The New School for Design.

Read more about Caletha’s business, client updates, market insights and trade show standouts in her newsletter at

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