Posts tagged: startups

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!

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.

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.

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.

Are you a successful business?

By , March 8, 2014 9:26 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 1 – gaining customers is something that many startups and small businesses don’t focus on. They fall into my Lie #1 – If I build it, they will come.  Investors (and actually the company owners should feel this way too) are looking to see where your market is – are you marketing?  And startups, even marketing startups, often get lost in this space.  Ask yourself:  Would I invest in a company that can’t show me their market?  The customers lined up to buy the product as soon as it’s available?  A list of beta-testers?  ANY INTEREST AT ALL?

More and more I’m seeing startups and small businesses flounder in this area.  Forget for the moment Michael Moore’s crossing the chasm…these businesses aren’t even getting the early adopters.  Take heed and show the market interest.

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.

Business Startup Basics

By , January 11, 2014 8:24 am

Okay so it’s still January and below is a link to another list –  this one is good for all times.  The 20 points are all business startup basics. Great post.

I’ll add one point to the list:  21. Protect your intellectual property. Trademark, patent, copyright, trade dress and protect your trade secrets.  Make sure you own your name (Prince vs. the artist formerly known as Prince; Bistro Laurent Tourondal/BLT vs. Café Ruhlmann are just two examples of an artist and chef respectively who have had to fight to keep their name).

http://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2014/01/07/20-business-lessons-you-dont-want-to-learn-the-hard-way/#!

 

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

When technology intersects with fashion – you benefit.

By , November 9, 2013 8:17 am

There’s a new tech idea/website that’s been specifically developed for fashion designers (although other businesses can certainly use it).  It seems to be a cross between crowdfunding/sourcing and market testing.  Here’s how it works: A designer posts several new items from their upcoming collection – or variations on one item – for instance the designer could post one item in multiple colors to see which color is the most appealing. The customer, if interested in the item, makes a commitment to purchase it.  When orders reach a minimum number designated by the designer, then the customer is charged and the designer starts production.  If the orders don’t reach that minimum, then the customer is refunded their money and the designer doesn’t produce it.  It’s a fashion variation on the crowdfunding theme.  But this idea goes one step further.

In crowdfunding, you go to a designated crowdfunding website and put up your idea.  Then there’s a huge hurdle which people rarely discuss – marketing. You have to market like hell to get people to go to the crowdfunding site. So you are essentially doing double marketing – first for your own website (assuming you have one) and second to the crowdfunding site.  With this product, you actually overlay the crowdfunding program onto your own website, thus driving people to your website only, which I think is a much more organic way to market yourself (although you will lose the crowdfunding site surfers who might be a source of revenue).

The concept sounds like a total win-win for the customer and for the designer.  It’s a great way for the customer to be not only ahead of the trend but to actually influence the trend – and to be the first wearing a new style.   Customers order their clothes in advance, and designers don’t risk wasting materials and manufacture for a product that isn’t going to sell well, thus avoiding excess inventory and cash flow difficulties among other issues.

So far, Voy-voy, a NY based clothing company, Feit, a shoe and accessories company, and Gustin, a jeans company are all using this new concept.

It’s called Mimoona – to learn more and hear testimonials, visit the site and see if it’s something that will work for you.  http://www.we.mimoona.com/Projects/1443?share=true&reffID=4299.

 

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

Your corporate identity…get it right the first time

By , October 5, 2013 10:13 am

Part 1: Focus on your logo

Every company should start out with minimal corporate IDs or branding – logo, name, tag line (value proposition), design templates and color palettes. There should be a template developed that shows how these items are used (in larger companies, a brand book is created that spells out exactly how sizes, placements, colors etc. are to be used ).

This is the core of your company’s identity. Like a skeleton, it supports your body.  Do it early, and do it correctly. And especially don’t skimp on the fees to get it done.  It’s a lot more difficult to correct a brand identity mistake or direction than to establish it the first time – to make a correction, you will have to re-ID your company, and then spend countless dollars and time on PR to explain why the company has changed its basic identity and to overcome confusion created by this change.

I’ve seen a lot of results from websites where designers bid for the logo work.  Some of it is okay.  Okay is not good enough for your company.  A lot of the results are derivative of other logos, and leftover designs an artist hasn’t sold. Remember, you are going to pay for the result.  Pay one time and get it right and it won’t cost you dollars and time down the road.

So invest the money into a designer or firm who gets you.

When it’s my money, I look for someone who is intuitive about what my client or my company is and what they are trying to do/say to the marketplace (how do you know they are intuitive?  Check out what they’ve done for other people…you’ll get a feel for if they have a feel for their clients).  My designer is one of my company’s secret weapons to success.

An interesting take on designers is expressed in this link:
http://www.manta.com/TOTD/marketing/20131004?referid=16483&su=MT1000787066&uu=511dac7431f24625b3909f94

 

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

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