We recently had the pleasure of meeting Nicole Giordano, the young founder of StartUp FASHION, which seeks to provide all the support and feedback fledgling designers need to establish and grow their labels. Giordano and her team work with small, independent brands and retailers during focused, individual sessions. They also provide thoughtful, wide-ranging online editorials addressing all the components of starting a label. We picked her brain on how she began and where StartUp FASHION is going next:
The High Low: Where did the idea for StartUp Fashion come from? How did you begin?
Nicole Giordano: I have a background in textile design and had launched a small hand woven accessories label out of college. I was doing all the leg work myself, trying to source a small-run manufacturer, teaching myself marketing and proper PR practices, etc. Over a few years, I was less interested in designing and more interested in using all the knowledge I had acquired to help other young designers succeed.
StartUp FASHION began as a blog. A place where I wrote about all I had learned and was continuing to learn; everything from sourcing textiles and working with a manufacturer, to how to effectively use social media, to marketing a business and how the content of your Web site can have a huge impact on the success of your business. We have grown to a team of eight, and it’s our goal to create an all-encompassing destination for independent fashion designers to learn and grow their businesses.
HL: How many designers do you work with at the moment?
NG: Through StartUp FASHION, we work with many brands through something called StartUp SESSIONS, hour-long consulting sessions conducted through Skype, where we offer a Web site analysis, and work with the designer on a marketing plan and solid approach to social media.
I work with clients on longer term basis through my marketing consulting business, Nicole Giordano LLC.
HL: Can you tell us a favorite success story?
NG: We really enjoyed working with WWD Magic Tradeshow for a few seasons. But on the smaller scale, our favorite success stories are the emails we get on a daily basis, thanking us for creating a space that is helpful, educational, and welcoming. It makes us feel like we’re doing something that makes a difference.
HL: Can you tell us a bit about your ethical design category and your work in that field?
NG: I have a personal love for an ethical approach to design; both environmental and social. With a history in the craft of weaving, I adore all things handmade and love to promote those doing work in that realm. Additionally, I’ve done a lot of research and reading about the impact of the fashion and textile industry on the environment and I really believe that all brands should be incorporating ethical practices into their work. Therefore, we dedicate a category to ethical design in hopes of motivating those who are not yet thinking about it.
HL: We love the editorial portion of StartUp FASHION. How is it integrated with the Sessions service you provide?
NG: Thanks! It’s been our goal from the beginning to create an editorially rich environment as a means of communicating what we think designers want and need to know. We share a lot of information through our articles, as we are big believers in free-flowing, open communication. StartUp SESSIONS act as a tool to help designers apply all they have been reading and learning on our site to their own businesses.
HL: Is there anything we might have missed? What do you have coming up on the horizon?
NG: Well, we’re really excited about our upcoming event called Fashion Collab. We are co-producing this with the ladies behind Atelier36. It’s a marketing workshop created specifically with the needs and budgets of independent designers in mind. It’s our response to all the big time marketing conferences out there that talk a lot of theory, but don’t actually teach you how to apply it to your business — which is something that independent designers so badly need! It’s a full day workshop in an intimate environment in New York City, where brand owners can learn from and interactive with eight amazing women, who are all experts in different aspects of the fashion industry.
As for our online initiatives, we have some really exciting things rolling out in 2013, where we will be building on the editorial aspect of the site and introducing all kinds of additional resources. We’re so psyched!