Meet the Designers at the AFC Paris Fashion Week Showroom, March 2016: Bianca Spender

The Australian Fashion Chamber's Australian Designer's Abroad program was launched in Paris in 2015 to connect the best emerging Australian brands with international media & buyers.

This March seven designers will present their collections as part of Paris Fall 16 Ready-To-Wear Fashion Week. The line-up includes: Bianca Spender, Christopher Esber, Ginger & Smart, Rebecca Vallance, Romance Was Born, Tome and STRATEAS CARLUCCI.

Introducing: Bianca Spender.

Sydney-based Bianca Spender was born into fashion. The daughter of legendary Carla Zampatti, Spender cut her teeth by working at her mother's label in her early teens but soon set out to forge a course of her own. After completing a commerce degree from the University of New South Wales, Spender returned to the fashion world and began seamlessly blending her innate sense of textile design with the mathematical precision she honed in business school.

Originally emerging under the Carla Zampatti brand, the Bianca Spender label soon became its own entity and came to be renowned for its sculptured and tailored designs, from sharply cut suits to uniquely draped gowns. 

The label successfully balances structure with fluidity, resulting in a signature look which is both sophisticated and spirited. Spender has stayed true to her Aussie roots and maintains a strong focus on craftsmanship and local industry by producing all its garments in Australia, employing a local workforce, and has earned an accreditation by Ethical Clothing Australia as a result.

Supporting her home country has paid off for Bianca Spender, the label has developed a large and loyal Australian customer base supported by two standalone stores in Sydney and Melbourne, seven concept stores within department store David Jones, and a growing online business.


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Meet the Designers at the AFC Paris Fashion Week Showroom, March 2016: Tome

The Australian Fashion Chamber's Australian Designer's Abroad program was launched in Paris in 2015 to connect the best emerging Australian brands with international media & buyers.

The selection criteria is tough and applications are judged by a panel of industry professionals including AFC Deputy Chair and Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s BAZAAR Kellie Hush, industry veteran Carla Zampatti and Tiffany’s Vice President & Managing Director of Australia Glen Schlehuber.

This March the chosen designers will present their collections as part of Paris Fall 16 Ready-To-Wear Fashion Week. The line-up includes: Bianca Spender, Christopher Esber, Ginger & Smart, Rebecca Vallance, Romance Was Born, Tome and STRATEAS CARLUCCI.

Introducing: Tome.

2011 saw the birth of Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin’s label Tome. Based in New York, Tome sees the pair’s collective design experience expressed in a range that is practical and straightforward – this is clear cut, essential dressing.

After meeting at age 19 in a Sydney fashion school, Lobo and Martin branched out to follow careers as a fashion buyer and on design posts with labels such as Gaultier and Derek Lam, respectively. After accumulating 28 years in the fashion industry between them, the two came together to create Tome - innovative collections of simple, luxe, and precisely draped pieces. 

To keep the essential nature of women at the heart of their label, each season of Tome is inspired by a different woman – past muses include sculptor Louise Bourgeois, painter Georgia O’Keeffe, and Cuban artist Ana Mendieta.

Purity is the cornerstone of this ‘every woman’ brand. Tome eschews excess, and instead form follows function, every Tome piece is infinitely wearable with luxurious but pared back fabric choices.


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What is a 'Media Kit' & what should I put in it?

A media kit is a tool to make it really easy for the media to quickly learn about your brand and access photos and marketing materials they can use to talk about you.

Way back in the olden-days, (okay, it was the nineties) designers were known to toil for hours curating huge boxes full of expensive printed documents, images, and product samples. Next, I assume they mortgaged their homes to cover the costs of shipping their kits off into the wide blue yonder, resulting (hopefully) in a bit of  media coverage.

Here in the 21st century, we’ve got it much easier. Whilst some still argue the merits of a physical media kit for special occasions, most media outlets actually find it easier to learn about your brand in a digital format (thank you, internet!)

But what makes a stellar digital media kit?

Key Elements:

  1. A bio/your story: A brief document detailing who you are, where you came from, and what you’re doing (not to mention why you’re doing it!)
  2. Your team: If it’s more than just you, talk about your team, their backgrounds and how they got involved with your brand.
  3. Company facts: How long has your brand been around? How many pieces do you produce? Where are you located? Where are your products manufactured and sold? Any other interesting facts and figures you can provide are great too.
  4. Your contact details and social media profiles: It sounds obvious, but some people forget!
  5. High res images of your collections & logos, as well as samples of articles & press coverage by other journalists

Pro Tip: While it’s tempting to talk up your achievements to look more established than you actually are, journalists are looking for honesty! It’s their reputation on the line if they publish facts about you that are embellished in your media kit.  Never underestimate the power of being an emerging designer either, every media professional out there wants to discover the Next Big Thing!

How to Deliver:
Rather than fighting with large emails and USBs, a more professional method of delivering your press kit is to use your Flaunter account! You can upload your bio and supporting documents alongside your high res images for easy download by media contacts.  Not only that, but you’ll be able to track the number of times content has been downloaded, and  by whom.  Doesn’t that  sound so much better than struggling at the post office?

Flaunter Profile:

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Photo Activity Report:

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Title photo credit: Qiu Yang


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How to tailor your content to multiple social media networks

You’ve heard it said before: What works on one social media platform most likely won't work across all platforms. Each channel is designed for a different demographic and requires a specific style of content. There’s an art to tailoring your posts so that they can be as effective as possible without creating a tonne of extra work.

Here’s a crash course in making the most of your posts across the social networks most commonly used by brands like yours:

Twitter

Key terms: Constant, Speedy, Hashtags

Because Twitter’s feed moves at lightning speed, very regular posting is a necessity to keep your message visible.  Research also shows that if they tweet to a business,  72% of Twitter users expect  a response within an hour or two, which is much faster than other social media networks. Twitter users are also looking for links to articles and shared images (these also tend to drive more likes and retweets).

Don’t be afraid of the humble hashtag, it’s a necessity for Twitter users who tend to search based on trending topics to cut through the sheer volume of information on the site. Engage with trending hashtags at your own risk, however, especially those dealing with serious or tragic events. Many a business has come under fire for appearing to  market their brand  on the back of a serious news event.

Facebook

Key terms: Informal, Friendly, Shareable

The best post on Facebook is one that is personable and warm in tone, triggering an emotional response from the reader (such as a desire to like or share), as this in turn allows your post to be seen by a wider audience. Because of the casual and personal nature of the network, Facebook is the ideal platform on which to directly ask your followers questions or invite them to share their experiences with you. You also have the ability to to post your longer tales on Facebook, but you should still aim keep your text to one small paragraph or less.

Imagery is your friend on Facebook! Images and videos drive approximately 95% more engagement than word-only posts. Remember to keep those images clean and of the best quality, the last thing anybody want to see is a messy, unprofessional page.

Instagram

Key terms: Aesthetics, Consistency, Hashtags

It probably goes without saying, but image is key on Instagram.  Make sure your content is crisp, clear, and PLEASE don’t over-filter (personally we’d recommend avoiding filters altogether). This isn’t the place for long winded captions or storytelling, research suggests that Instagram users only read captions sometimes anyway!

Hashtags like #igers and #tagforlikes might be the most used and interacted with on Instagram, but think carefully about their value to your business specifically. You’re better off sticking to a small number of carefully considered hashtags per image, as you’re more likely to connect with followers within your target market, not just Instagramers hoping to receive a reciprocal like from you.

LinkedIn

Key terms: Professional, Leadership, Achievements

Do you consider yourself a thought leader? Do you enjoy engaging in professional conversations and debates with your professional network? LinkedIn is the most serious of the social networks we’ve discussed here.  Users here are seeking a professional tone and discussions about current industry events and ideas. It’s also a great place to share your professional accomplishments, goals, and skills in more explicit terms than you can do on other social networks.

YouTube & Vimeo

Key Terms: Quality, Engagement, Accessibility

Unlike a photo, a few lines of text and a hashtag, a video is a much harder piece of content to tailor to different social networks. In this case, considering your end game is important when deciding where to share your pre-prepared content.

Hoping to drive a higher number of views? YouTube is the place to go. Vimeo’s user base is less than 20% of the size of YouTube, so you’re less likely to have somebody stumble onto your content by posting it there.

Hoping to earn money from your video?  YouTube is your only choice here. Tread carefully though, because even though it’s tempting to want to see those dollars rolling in every time someone watches your video, you might be annoying your viewers with ad content.  Vimeo has a zero ad policy and actually charges a usage fee for businesses to upload content, which means the quality of content being uploaded tends to be of higher quality than on YouTube.  So, consider whether the company you keep is more important to you than some ad revenue.

Looking for a more specialised viewer experience? This one is all Vimeo. Instead of “Public/Private/Hidden” video sharing offered on YouTube, Vimeo allows you to share your videos publically, to followers only, by invitation only, with a password, or just for yourself. When we talk about social media being all about individuals, what better way to make your followers feel special than to have the ability to offer them special content the general public can’t see?

 

Photo credit: Rodrigo Braga (Maltchique)


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How To Identify (And Prevent!) Mistakes Made By Almost Every New Creative Business

Let’s get one thing straight: We think you’re great. Seriously.

However, we’re also pretty sure you’re going to make some mistakes along your journey to creative glory, we’ve all been there! Which is why  we’ve complied this list of mistakes almost every young creative business makes. Have a read (and a good look at your current processes) and with any luck, we’ll have helped you avoid a few of the most common stumbling blocks...

 

  1. Ignoring non-creative tasks

Did you know that around 90% of the workload for a creative business is non-design related? Crazy, right?! And waaaay too easy to put off - after all, you didn’t become a designer to do administrative work!   

Unfortunately, a lot of those ‘the opposite of exciting’ day-to-day things like invoicing, liaising with suppliers, and maintaining your website are necessary to avoid negatively affecting your cash flow (read: the dollars you need to be able to do more creating). Letting them get too far behind leaves you with some pretty serious financial risk.

Our recommendation is to create an ideal day, blocking out periods of time to just power through those awful admin tasks. You’ll be surprised to find it far more efficient than ignoring tasks and just putting out administrative fires as they start.

Still can’t even? Try some of these helpful productivity platforms:

TradeGecko: Real-time inventory and e-commerce management

Trello: To-do lists and task boards in an easy to see visual format

LastPass: Remembers all of your passwords so you don’t have to

Evernote & Google Docs: Sync your docs, notes, pictures (and virtually anything else) online.

Remember the Milk: A simple task manager with SMS/IM reminders to keep you on track

 

  1. Not understanding pricing strategy

Do you feel like nobody will buy your products unless your prices can compete directly with inexpensive mass production labels? Or are you on the opposite end of the spectrum, feeling as though your (currently) low sales volume means you need to mark up every product within an inch of its life to survive?

Either way, pricing strategy is critical to your business - not only to ensure you make a profit but also to entice customers into buying your products.

Some things to consider when pricing your products:

  • What is your cost to produce?
  • How much do your competitors charge?
  • What is the lifecycle of your product?
  • Have you factored in GST?

Want a more in-depth guide?  Business Victoria runs through several price strategy options on their website.

Failing to consider pricing strategy can cause your overheads to strip all of the profit from your brand, or alternately, leave you relying on having customers  feel as though they can only afford to purchase your products on sale.

 

  1. Not setting (realistic) goals

Setting goals that are too small (or too big) is an easy way to lose direction and let your business flounder. Just as important as goal-setting is to actually check up on your progress and re-centre yourself to make sure you’re always moving forward and hitting the milestones you wanted to.

Not sure how to go about this? We don’t blame you.  The hardest thing about setting goals is doing so in such a way that makes sense to you personally, and is measurable and achievable (with a little elbow grease, of course).

There are heaps of great goal-setting strategies hereWe’re certain you’ll find one that suits you perfectly.

 

  1. Waiting for perfect when good will do

As a creative, it’s only natural to want to only the very best work to be attached to our names, but when you’re working the equivalent of 3 or 4 different jobs just to get your business off the ground,  you may not always  have everything completed to your exacting standards, all the time.

Standards are vital. But timing and momentum are just as important to your business. For example: getting a basic online store up in time for Christmas shopping is better than trying to make it absolutely perfect and missing that huge shopping period altogether.

When you’re holding back, ask yourself:

  • Is the issue a matter of functionality/practicality?
  • Will this issue stop people purchasing my products?
  • Will anyone really notice this issue or is it just me?

As a side note: Many emerging creatives will feel the need to appear perfect at all times in order to compete with their more established (and heavily staffed) competitors. But you should never underestimate the value of being an emerging brand. People love feeling like they’ve discovered the next big thing before anybody else, and they’re usually prepared to help you navigate your way to success. Own your emerging status and don’t be afraid to ask a million questions - you'll find you’ll get all the answers you need from experts who love to share their knowledge!

 

  1. Skimping on business setup

Most emerging creative businesses are running with a budget of what feels like  - $37. With this in mind, it’s hardly surprising that so many bury expenses  like accountants and lawyers deep in the “when I’m already successful” pile.

We  hate to be the bearers of costly news, but an uncomfortable investment now is really rather important, especially if you intend to involve others in your business in the capacity of employee/contractor/supplier.  Speak to the experts in order to get all your compliance ducks in a row  so you avoid unnecessary stresses down the road - like needing to pay more tax than you expected, or having no legal pathway to chase an unpaid invoice. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

 

Photo credit: Pinterest