INTERVIEW: StartUp FASHION founder Nicole Giordano
Here at MODAGRID we like to talk with emerging designers about fashion, style, inspiration and everything in between.
But as inspiring as fashion can be, it is also a very demanding industry that requires a lot of hard work. We feel it is also important to recognize what goes into succeeding and growing an independent fashion business.
It varies, but many young designers wear many hats when starting their own brand: designer, stylist, buyer, merchandiser and production manager, business strategist, marketing manager, PR person, online and social media person and more. Naturally, many need help and guidance to navigate this overwhelming set of responsibilities.
“StartUp FASHION” – is an online community dedicated to independent fashion brands and talks about many aspects of running a fashion business.
We asked Nicole Giordano, the founder of StartUp FASHION, to tell us more about it:
Please tell us a little bit about the StartUp FASHION.
StartUp FASHION is an online Community and support system for independent fashion designers. We know how difficult it is to run a successful business in this industry so we created a place where designers can help one another, form friendships, collaborate, let off steam, share victories, learn from each other, and belong to a network of people who get it because they’re doing it too.
What made you decide to found “ StartUp FASHION”?
I created StartUp FASHION because I too was an independent designer and I really didn’t like having nowhere to turn when I needed help.
In addition, I was also consulting; I didn’t want to continue working with large, faceless brands. I wanted to help my fellow emerging brands. But emerging brands generally don’t have a budget to hire a consultant. So I thought, I’ll create a Community for designers that is full of information and resources and encouragement; this will be a great way to share all the knowledge and expertise I have with a large group of designers globally and at the same time create a close-knit community where we can help and support one another.
What is the most favorite part of your job?
Virtually hanging out with our Community members. I absolutely love logging into the Community every day and talking to our members, answering questions, giving feedback, learning about what’s going on with them. I wish I didn’t have to also, you know, run the business.
Financials, marketing, business development…these are OK but not nearly as much fun as hanging out with my designers.
Please tell us a little bit about your team.
We’re a small, virtual team. I manage the Community, handle a lot of the operations, and do all of the creative marketing. We have Jim who handles all the tech stuff – building the websites, SEO, SEM, eCommerce. We have Jamie who supports me with social media, and Rebecca who is my right hand, the best assistant ever. We also have Pam and Jessica, two regular contributing writers to our blog who write about fashion marketing and textiles respectively.
What are the most common issues emerging designers are facing?
Building brand awareness, becoming better sales people, reliable small batch production, and low minimum (re-orderable) fabric sourcing.
Can you tell us about success stories of designers you work with, that you got to witness?
I’ve seen all kinds of successes, the most exciting being the everyday successes that enable designers to spend their days doing what they love. Getting new wholesale accounts, launching updated websites to sell ecommerce, getting mentioned in their favorite blogs, hiring an assistant, finally getting their Quickbooks set up!
These successes are the most exciting to me. These are things that start to happen once you have moved beyond dreaming of running a business you love to actually running a business you love. These successes mean you’re living the life you want to live, you have the freedom to spend your days doing the things that make you happy. I can’t think of anything better.
What is the most important thing to consider when starting your fashion brand?
Why you’re doing it.
And last, your advice to emerging fashion designers.
Focus first on what you want your life to be, then decide on what kind of business you will build to support that life. The fashion industry is full of rules; you don’t have to follow them if you don’t want to. You can do this your way.