Posts tagged: Small Business

Design Entrepreneurs NYC Mini-MBA program — year 3 and gaining momentum!

By , June 14, 2014 9:57 am
DrJoyceBrown DENYC14

Dr. Joyce Brown, President of FIT, welcoming the new designers! Jeannette Nostra, on the Board of GIII & Morris Goldfarb, President, Chairman & CEO of GIII in the background.

The DENYC just had its kick off weekends with intense all-day sessions (you can set your beach calendar to this — it’s always the first two best weekends of perfect weather of the summer — and these dedicated 32 designers are indoors without windows the whole time) — and guess what?
They love it!

ChrisHelm DENYC14

Christine Helm, Coordinator, Enterprise Center, FIT

Each year the faculty adjust the program to customize it to the class and each year the incoming class is further along in their business at the start than the year before. I co-teach growth strategies (with some marketing thrown in).

This year’s group is great. Every designer has a clearly defined niche and their styles are so appealing! I’ll be mentoring bexnyc.com and lalaandsasi.com.

I’m particularly excited about the first fashion tech designer to participate in DENYC!  A handbag that charges your cell phone!  Wait til you see the rest!   On second thought, don’t wait http://www.designentrepreneursnyc.com/participants.html

Look for pop-up shops featuring the alumni especially as the holidays approach.

Check out the program, it’s current students and alumni, http://blog.fitnyc.edu/denyc/

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Namaste NYC

By , June 13, 2014 8:24 am

I would like to congratulate Ritu Jadwani, one of our ESL/Fashion Business certificate students from 2008, on starting her own business! I’ve seen these in person and my personal favorites are the bracelets, they are beautiful. Congrats Ritu! 

 

Namaste NYC is a fair trade brand that creates beautifully hand-crafted products in India for a global audience. We incorporate crafts like hand embroideries, block prints, hand tie-dye, metal work and punch work to design interesting textures. With an aim to revive the dying craft industry of India, we support khadi and mashru hand woven fabrics that are going into extinction due to lack of skilled weavers and industrialization. We collaborate with globally renowned non-profit organizations in India, which focus towards women empowerment and sustainable rural development through crafts and embroideries. All our products are made in sweat free women operated ethical workshops. Fairly traded, crafted with love.

(Founder and designer Ritu Jadwani) I am inspired by Indian craftsmanship and age-old embroidery techniques with a modern touch.

 I grew up in India and came to FIT to learn about the international fashion scene. With an undergrad fashion degree and Master of global innovation business degree I combine my skills and love towards hand crafted products.

Coming to FIT for the ESL Fashion Business Certificate Program was the best decisions I made in July 2008. It gave me immense exposure by attending a world-renowned institute and living in a fashion capital city, New York. The knowledgeable faculty mentors, resourceful library, world-class museum and its tours, extra seminars, graduation fashion shows, fashion and museum tours in the city, and my diverse fashionista classmates have been of great influence in starting my business. Fortunately, I got a chance to return to FIT in Summer 2013 for more courses and I hope I return again and again!

After finishing my studies at FIT and gaining some industry experience, I returned back to my country, India. Inspired by the local artisan’s hand crafting skills, I decided to launch my accessory and apparel brand to promote fair trade items and support the dying cottage industries of my town. We launched as a wholesale company at the NY NOW fair in New York, in February 2014. Soon we started supplying to stores that appreciated hand crafted colorful items. We hope to reach out to museums, hotels and more hand made stores by the end of this year. Recently we launched our online retail store on Etsy with worldwide shipping at nominal/free costs. Check out our new collection at NY NOW in the Global Handmade section in New York City from Aug 16th – 21st 2014.

We hope you enjoy our colorful products as much as we enjoy hand crafting them for you.
Namaste
www.namaste-nyc.com
https://www.etsy.com/shop/NamasteNycIndia
Thank you FIT!

You’re a lifestyle company. Who are your champions?

By , June 7, 2014 11:16 am

Silver Lining is one champion. I met Carissa Reiniger, CEO and President, about three years ago. She has dedicated Silver Lining to helping lifestyle businesses grow.  Simple.  It’s a one year, mostly on line, program designed to grow your business. It’s not a business plan but rather an action plan that relies on some of the same things in a business plan.  There’s nothing wrong with business plans…they are great for determining what direction you want to take your company in.  Business plans are primarily used to raise capital however.  The philosophy at Silver Lining is that action plans are a better way for lifestyle businesses to grow. Their action plan is called SLAP: Silver Lining Action Plan.  It’s a simple (because once you fill in the blanks, the plan program does all the calculations for you).  Even if you’re self motivated, sometimes taking care of your own business gets pushed to the side by you – like the shoemaker with barefoot kids.   If  you can relate to this, then maybe you should check Silver Lining out.  www.Silverlininglimited.com

CARISSA REINIGER

Carissa in action at WIX Lounge recently.

GALE BREWER

Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President who stopped by cheer SLAP in the City on. http://www.galebrewer.com/

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Also, check out this event with NY Fashion Tech Lab Workshop

Human Resources “A Smoother Road to Growth”
How to Avoid the Top Ten Most Common Employment Mistakes Made by Startups
w/ Mintz Levin
Monday, June 9, 2014 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM (EDT)
New York, NY

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Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Lifestyle companies…are we the 99%?

By , May 24, 2014 9:39 am
Lifestyle companies are, as partially defined by Wikipedia, businesses that are established and run by their founders with the primary aim of sustaining the founder and, secondarily, those who work for the founder.  Wikipedia says that the lifestyle owner wants to sustain a specific level of income that will give the owner a basis on which to live a particular lifestyle.  I think the definition is broader than that though.  A New York Times article offers other definitions: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/24/is-the-term-lifestyle-business-an-insult/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0.  And here’s another question: at what point is a lifestyle company called a privately held company (one that does not have shareholders, or does an IPO)?   Mary Sullivan, a blogger, offers still another point of view on the subject:  http://www.allbusiness.com/business-planning-structures/starting-a-business/3878259-1.html
I also believe that lifestyle companies make up a large percentage of the tax base…after all, lifestyle companies don’t have lobbyists or have the kind of money it takes to wield enough power to get tax breaks for themselves.
As I’ve written about Natori, lifestyle, or privately held, companies have the advantage of being able to dictate exactly what the owners want to do with it.  This includes sustaining a high level of quality, ethics, etc. For fashion designers and others, this is important – it’s directly related to the owner’s vision.  I’ve seen lifestyle owners customize their products for clients – still another advantage.  Lifestyle companies also offer the owner the potential for a lot of individual freedom and flexibility in their lives.  Most companies who I come in contact with at the entrepreneur and other courses  I’m involved with (Fast Trac at Levin Institute, Licensing and Design Entrepreneurs NYC Mini-MBA program at FIT) and mentoring (Lang School of Entrepreneurship at Columbia University and Philadelphia Fashion Incubator), are lifestyle companies.
So while lifestyle companies are portrayed as “unglamourous” in the press and in certain communities, like Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley and the Route 128 corridor, they can often be a wise business decision and a road to success for the entrepreneur.  Here are some other opinions along the same lines.
What’s your opinion?
#lifestylecompany #startups #entrepreneurs #lifestylebusiness

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Natori: A Continuation of an Appealing Apparel Story

By , May 17, 2014 9:58 am

Continuing from the last entry on Ken Natori’s visit to my licensing class (CEO 035), here are more traits that distinguish Natori.

One is customer service.  I emphasize this in all my entrepreneur classes and to my clients. Customer service is the most cost-effective, and probably least expensive way to differentiate your company from your competition.  It is so important, and like marketing, often an afterthought to everything else a busy entrepreneur or business is focused on.  But here’s the big secret: Customers remember customer-service!  Often customer service tips the scales in favor of the company providing it. Whether it’s a sole proprietor or a Fortune 500 company.

Natori has multiple licensees but when a customer calls customer service, they do not know which product has been licensed – nor should they.  This is due to keeping a unified brand within the fashion house. Customer service at Natori is trained to answer all questions about all products, irrelevant of the source (licensed or in-house).  This makes for a seamless experience for the customer – how it should be.

Another distinguishing characteristic at Natori, is that Josie, the founder, came out of a Wall Street background, as does Ken.  The result is that they understand first and foremost that fashion is a business.  And they treat the company as a business.  Ken emphasized this point when he spoke to my licensing class, in order to separate Natori from  typical fashion houses which are often known for high drama.  The culture at Natori, while still high fashion, is much more sedate and drama-free. Sounds like a nice place to work.

Which leads me to my closing point:  Natori is currently looking for a junior person to work in their licensing department.  Know anyone?  Are you that person?  If so, Ken wants to hear from you:  ken.natori@natori.com

Ken Natori


Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.

She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

In Praise of Creative Entrepreneurs

By , May 14, 2014 2:39 pm

Written by:
David L. Colby, Esq., Managing Director of Colby Law Office, PC

When creative people start a business, interesting things happen. Cool things, Inspired things, game changing things. But sadly, also tragic, bad things. The users of this world prey on creative people far too often.

As an attorney who helps creative entrepreneurs, I will be the first one to say that creative people and business frequently are at odds. It is sometimes complicated for creative entrepreneurs to maintain control of their own companies. Indeed there are special challenges and disconnects that are almost directly proportionate to the level of originality and creativity in the entrepreneur.

I remind my clients of what Andy Warhol said: “being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art.” With that clever mindset, a creative entrepreneur can maintain their creative integrity and still have a head for business. Moreover, you can learn to harness creativity to structure deals, work out complex business relationships, and offer up creative solutions during negotiations.

No doubt creativity really what its all about. After all, what is a business without creativity? Its not difficult to find examples: uninspired copy-cats, knock-off agents, struggling plagiarists, copy-cats, soulless hacks pushing their way into the market with profit as its primary motive; design a secondary concern at best. A noteworthy hallmark of these types is that in the long run, they are limited in their potential. They lack authenticity… an original core… a deep well to keep going back to for inspiration.

The opposite of this is a business founded and controlled by the original creative person or team. The designer, the artist, being at the center is actually the engine, the heart of the beast, to what truly matters in the long run.

But as important as creativity and originality is, we cannot escape the fact that business is business. To level the playing field, it is imperative to have a plan and a relationship with the right kind of lawyer. If you are looking to start or grow a fashion-based business—whether as a designer or in some other related way– it is of the highest importance to organize your business and protect your interests to succeed.

In short, creative entrepreneurs require special care. And they deserve to get it. It isn’t just looking out for their interests, a lot of time it is just actually listening to them, encouraging them, and reminding them that their creativity is the secret ingredient and the most valuable asset they have.

David Colby
David L. Colby, Esq. is the Managing Director of Colby Law Office, PC, a law firm in NYC that represents many up and coming designers and their businesses worldwide. Colby Law Office works particularly with business formation and governance, intellectual property and contracts.

Colby Law Office is doing the second of their free legal clinics at FIT on May 19th from 5:30-7:30pm. Only RSVP’s may attend https://legalsalon-may.eventbrite.com. If no more space is available, David can be reached at dcolby@colbylaw.com to set up a free consultation.

Natori: An Appealing Apparel Story

By , May 10, 2014 9:18 am

On Monday, May 5, Ken Natori guest spoke at my Licensing class (CEO 035).  He generously spent an hour and a half talking about his company, founded by his mother, Josie Natori, and answering questions on all aspects of licensing posed by the class.

Natori2
First – what is the Natori brand:

Natori uses its brand equity to build East-meets-West lifestyle brands including ready-to-wear, accessories, bedding, towels, fragrance, home fragrance, swim, eyewear, and more

Their three-pronged brand strategy includes:
•       Josie Natori / Natori http://www.natori.com/  (luxury, heritage)
•       Josie http://www.natori.com/JosieByNatori  (contemporary)
•       N Natori http://www.natori.com/NByNatori  (accessible to all women)

photo3
Natori is one of the few companies that has retained its ownership in a world of mergers, buyouts, etc. This has allowed them, among other things, to maintain their own vision and control over their products and licensing procedures.

There were two things Ken brought up that really left a strong impression on me and the class.  The first was related to his business ethics. When asked about who his licensees are and how he selects them, Ken brought up a simple, but powerful, equation: Partner over Product. This means the people he does business with are the most important element of licensing. By choosing the right partner, Natori is establishing a long term relationship with each licensee. This philosophy is similar to putting together a management team:  licensing is like a marriage.  You are in it for the long-term. Licensing is an ongoing dynamic relationship that, if done well, and Natori does it well, goes on for years. Translation: a win-win relationship that grows business (for both the licensee and licensor) while maintaining the brand.

Because of Natori’s relationship with their licensees (win-win and long term), the licensees have an in-depth understanding of both the company and the brand. This fosters on-target contributions for new product ideas as well as new vertical opportunities.

The other thing Ken brought up that left an equally strong impression was also related to business ethics.  Natori built and owns its own manufacturing plant overseas. Not only does this make business sense and allow the company to keep control over the quality of the manufacture of many of their products, but equally, and some would say more importantly, Natori controls the circumstances and pay of their overseas employees. This methodology completely sidesteps the human rights issues (aka sweatshops) commonly found in overseas garment manufacturing. As a result, Natori’s stance makes them a green company by virtue of their humane treatment of their employees.

My next post will cover more elements that distinguish Natori from its competitors.

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Bidding for Services Online

By , April 5, 2014 9:23 am

Well, I finally have a teensy bit of confirmation (one case history) about my theory that all those cheap websites offering marketing solutions aren’t always worth it.  An entrepreneur I know went to a bidding site for logos.  He went three times.  The first two times he got back garbage – or results that were unusable and totally unsalvageable.  The third time was a charm – he was happy with the logo he received and is going to register it as his trademark.  The whole process cost him some time (close to three months in total) and some money (he didn’t share how much with me).  With no guarantees that each time he threw the line back in the water (or the credit card back on the website), that what he would reel in would be of any value to him.

And this is a savvy entrepreneur.  He had some background in marketing and was capable of judging the quality of the work he bought.

So, should you bid for marketing services online?  Well, ultimately that’s a decision up to you.


Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.

She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Are you a successful business?

By , March 22, 2014 9:15 am

Three of the most important things startups need to focus on / demonstrate if they are raising money, want to grow or just plain want to be successful:
 
1.       Gaining customers (or if no proof of concept then a list of qualified customers)

2.       Showing they know how to grow their business

3.       Demonstrating profitability and ROI

These points may sound easy to achieve and you may be saying to yourself, ho hum, I don’t need to read further.
 
Point number 3 – Demonstrating profitability and ROI. A lot of startups get lost here.  They don’t realize that you have to invest/spend money in order to make money – Lie #4 – I have to show a profit before I can market.  Investors (and actually the company owners should feel this way too) are looking to see if you’re profitable or when you are predicting profitability (break even and beyond).  And tossing some money out willy-nilly at marketing efforts will never bring ROI into your company…you have to be strategic in how you market.

Here’s some definitions and formulas for calculating ROI and profitability:
http://www.dbmarketing.com/articles/Art129.htm


Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.

She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Are you a successful business?

By , March 15, 2014 8:33 am

Three of the most important things startups need to focus on / demonstrate if they are raising money, want to grow or just plain want to be successful:

1. Gaining customers (or if no proof of concept then a list of qualified customers)

2. Showing they know how to grow their business

3. Demonstrating profitability and ROI

These points may sound easy to achieve and you may be saying to yourself, ho hum, I don’t need to read further.

Point number 2 – showing you know how to grow your business is key to not only getting funding but to keeping your business healthy. This is something that many startups and small businesses don’t focus on. They say cash is king and “they” are right. Sometimes companies become very successful very quickly and can’t handle it. Prepared for growth. By managing your cash flow you can set goals to grow your business, manage cash on a monthly basis and get a clear picture of what’s going on in your business. Make sure you understand all the financing options available to you – traditional as well as alternative and invoice factoring.

Don’t put your entire business at risk because of something that’s easy to plan for and track.

Here’s some interesting related points:

http://www.alleywatch.com/2014/02/5-red-flags-of-startups/?utm_source=AlleyWatch+Daily+Pulse&utm_campaign=c1ae92d926-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e01c347085-c1ae92d926-62886025


Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.

She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

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