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Time to realize it’s not all about you

Tis the season for love, but I’m not that into “like.” Coming from a journalism background, I’m kind of a word person, but that’s one word I purposely try not to use when talking to clients. First, their lines are not about me, so who cares what I like? Second, getting caught up in what you like can be bad for business. Solely focusing on what you would buy can give you a skewed view of the market. While your line no doubt reflects you in general, operating a thriving business means knowing your customers. And like it or not, you may not always be your target customer.

And here are a few other, like it or not scenarios

The market may not move at your pace. I once had a rep tell me she dropped a line because the owner pulled the top selling looks because she was tired of them—not because sales had flagged. Sound like a good idea? Better to face facts: like it or not, you might be making that same duck print or moto jacket for seasons to come because customers can’t get enough. Case in point: chevron. At the January ENK Children’s Club show several brand managers mentioned how tired they were of the pattern. But they were savvy enough to keep it in the line despite their own zigzag fatigue because it still sells.

We live in a big country and tastes vary. Speaking of chevron, over the summer I was secretly bemused when visiting a friend’s boutique in North Carolina. The shop was very nice, and I even snapped up a few cute things for myself. But I couldn’t help but notice the difference between that store and the ones in my NYC home. The colors were bright, the patterns were bold and there was no shortage of chevron. In short, it was a store filled with non-NYC product. It was southern which fit its clientele perfectly. This was a great reminder that it’s easy to get stuck in your own little bubble. If I created a line based only on New Yorkers, I’d have an all black collection long on cool and short on embellishments. And guess what, I’d have a tough time growing my sales outside the city and a few select locations. If you want a line that will sell across the country, you have to know the tastes of each region and spike the collection with pieces that will work there.

Not everyone chooses to spend their money the way you do. While you might be willing to pay any price to amass an enviable wardrobe, not everyone likes to keep their money in their closet (to paraphrase Carrie Bradshaw from “Sex and the City”). Our cross shopping society proves that: we shop high for some things and low for others, according to our own values and interests. If your consumer doesn’t value vintage lace, organic cotton, hand beading or American production like you do, they certainly won’t pay top dollar for it. If you can find likeminded people (and there are enough of them to support a growing business), great. If not, it’s time to find ways to produce a product that sells at a price customers are willing to pay.

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