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The truth about running a fashion business

What does it take to run your own business in the UK fashion industry?

Our latest event, The Fashion Founders asked founder of clothing brand You People (YP), Emmy Dayal and fashion and portrait photographer Katt Webster to share what it takes to run your own thing. YP has turned the classic denim jacket into a detachable contemporary product, celebrating individualism; while Katt Webster threw herself into full time photography, she gives a fresh, fun vibe. We sat down on a panel at WeWork Tower Hill, these ladies were so chilled and easy to speak to, we went from marketing your brand without losing your message to how loud loneliness and self doubt can be when you work for yourself.

Here is what they had to say:

“When people see your story and background they connect with it”

Find a business that works and represent yourself

Finding the balance between the perfect idea and a business that works can be tricky. One thing we took away from this talk was does your business have a need? Have you tested how useful it is to others? Once you have found something that people want to buy into, be faithful to that thing that makes you unique then be persistent with it. Define who you are and your purpose and why you are doing it?

During the talk Emmy and Katt gave some pointers on how to keep your brand authentic:

  • – Make the effort to meet people face to face – have a human connection and get people to believe your story
  • – Show that you care about what you do. When people see your story and background they connect with it  
  • – Interact with the holidays and relevant industry events and get involved in what is happening in the culture.

Get the word out – Marketing tips

Don’t get into the trap of saying you have this fantastic thing without knowing how to market it. Between them they shared a few hacks:   

  • – Have a good and consistent website and social media accounts
  • – Use social scheduling apps such as Hootsuite
  • – Make sure everything speaks to who you are and your brand, especially if you are selling yourself as a brand
  • – Limit the hashtags – use them but make sure they are focused
  • – Target your audience and really think about who they are, what does your client look like, what are they interested in? Are they into Vogue? Or GQ? Be specific. Hash out your clients, and find out what the common threads are, e.g. what they earn, where they live etc
  • – Use Instagram stories, make sure you are always doing something, and reach out to people who use your hashtags
  • – Put your images into context and find out what works for your brand, does your audience connect more with video? Do they prefer it when the models look chilled or static and traditional

“Don’t be embarrassed about what you do and what you love.”

It’s hard, so look after yourself

If you are the main player in your business, what do you do when your body gives up? When your health isn’t 100% and you don’t want to get out of bed?

Emmy opened up to how important it is to remind yourself that you cannot do everything and there will be moments where you need to bring in assistance to grow your business. However embrace the quiet periods too, running a business takes so much patience and hard work – nobody became a success overnight. There is a time and place to be aggressive with pushing your product, don’t be embarrassed about what you do and what you love.

“you’ve got this! You are capable!”

Katt chuckled as if she had been here before. During hard times have a bath, maybe a pint! With all jokes aside, Katt echoed that self doubt can easily creep in when running a business and so can imposter syndrome. Find a way to get rid of the negative voices. Even though it gets quiet, and you might spend a week in your PJs watching TV with your cat, things can change so quickly, the next month suddenly brings in a flood of clients and you find yourself back on the roller-coaster.

Remember – if you got to this point and you have a business and your brand then you are more than capable of pushing through –  don’t let anyone tell you otherwise – you’ve got this! You are capable!

“Nothing has to be perfect before you set off.”

We couldn’t end a talk without asking the classic question – what advice would you give to a newbie?

From Emmy:

You don’t need to know everything or everyone when you start up. Don’t think that you need to be super cool and trendy, sometimes you are more interesting because you are not so influenced by the latest trends, and that gives you space to reflect yourself in your work. Nothing has to be perfect before you set off.

From Katt:

Be kind and approachable, be open to new experiences. Always remember that you are always learning. Keep practicing and look back at what you’ve done.

While creating a new business is exciting, this talk opened up the area that isn’t always glamourised on social media, running a business is hard work, but rewarding. So if you have an idea or product you want to produce, or a talent like photography, you can make it happen but remember to think about what your brand is and what does it represent? Keep pushing it out to clients and meeting people; take care of yourself and smile – be a nice person!

Keep an eye out for Emmy and Katt online!

Emmy Dayal
Founder, You People

Katt Webster
Portrait and fashion photographer

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