Photo courtesy Nicole Giordano
Interview

Nicole Giordano

05.23.13

Nicole Giordano is the founder of StartUp FASHION, the leading online resource and educational platform for independent fashion brands. Giordano’s expertise stems from the many hats she has worn in the fashion industry, some of which include running her own accessories brand, Nicole Giordano Textiles, consulting on the textile direction and raw materials sourcing for labels such as Jill Stuart and Prabal Gurung, and heading marketing and PR for creative entrepreneurs. Through StartUp FASHION, Giordano uses her knowledge of the industry to help make the process of starting, maintaining, and growing a business easier for fashion brands on a small budget.

Interview

Where are you from? Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I was born and raised in Philly, PA. I went to college in Philly for Textile Design, with a concentration in wovens. I’ve spent that past decade moving to places like Los Angeles, Charleston SC, Singapore, and New York. My background is diverse but all within the fashion industry. I started by running my own textiles and accessories design business. Then I co-founded a boutique public relations firm for creative professionals. I did some freelance writing on topics like fashion trends, sustainable fashion, and textiles. I spent some time sourcing fabrics for the collections of some major labels in NYC, and eventually started consulting on digital content creation for the fashion industry.

What made you decide to launch StartUp FASHION as a resource for fashion businesses?

In my decade of doing all those things mentioned above, I learned a lot and I want to share it. I also feel like there are so many talented designers out there but they really don’t have a place to turn to find helpful, useful guidance for succeeding in this industry. I wanted to help aspiring independent fashion businesses know that it is possible to do this and I wanted to give them a place to get the answers they need.

Are you able to track businesses and brands that utilize your services and measure their success?

At this point, not really. For the past few years, StartUp FASHION has been mainly an editorial resource–a place to search for answers. We also offer budget friendly StartUp SESSIONS to help designers with website content and social. So far, the only measuring we’ve been able to do is when designers have emailed us thanking us for the helpful articles or sent us a link to their updated websites and social media platforms after having a session.

In the next two weeks, we will be adding a new opportunities and more in-depth resources for our community. At that point, it will be something we can measure a bit more.

What have you found is the greatest type of support new designers need when launching their business?

Time management and organization! The first step in the work I do with most designers is helping them get a handle on their goals and creating a daily plan to allow them to reach those goals. No more spinning their wheels! Some other biggies are assistance with DIY marketing, because budgets are always tight.

Do you think certain areas of the industry could do more to help designers starting out?

You know, that’s a tough question. The thing is, no matter what the industry, starting out is difficult. It requires a deep-rooted commitment and perseverance through many ups and downs. The fact that it’s not easy allows those who are totally committed and unbelievably passionate to rise to the top. Now, with that said, I absolutely think there could be more out there to help new designers…so I founded StartUp FASHION.

Does the current structure of the industry, (four full seasons, production costs, retail markets), make it even more difficult for young brands to succeed?

In my opinion, yes. But I think there’s hope. More and more, the designers I’m meeting are pushing the boundaries and creating their own practices. The fashion calendar is becoming less important, they’re finding innovative ways to produce their collections, and they’re focusing their time and energy on creating a strong brand to bolster direct to consumer sales. I think it’s awesome.

What sort of conferences or workshops do you host?

The most recent workshop was something I co-produced with colleagues who also work with independent designers. It was a full DIY marketing workshop that brought together some of the most amazing and accomplished women in the industry (from design and PR to community management and marketing) to share their expertise with a group of emerging designers. It was a really great day.

There has been some commentary on whether or not there is just too much fashion. Do you advise anyone with an idea for a clothing line or do you have a quality control measure?

While I believe that everyone has the right to pursue their dreams, regardless of anyone’s feelings about the state of the industry, I do advise designers that they need to have a purpose behind what they’re doing. Stand for something and have a positive impact on the world. Without that, you’re just another designer making more clothes. As for who I advise, I can’t work with every designer who reaches out to me, simply because of time restraints. So I tend to gravitate towards those who have a project I really believe in.

How do you think brick and mortar retailers have had to adjust their marketing strategy to compete in an online world?

Ah, this is a hot topic right now. I think showrooming is something that most boutiques deal with on a regular basis and, unfortunately, there’s not much they can do to stop it completely. However, some basic advice I have given in the past is make sure your own e-commerce site is something great that makes customers want to return regularly and buy. Offer things like in-store pickup, which makes the locals feel special and builds foot traffic, host more events perhaps with in-store only exclusives, focus on the things that online can’t offer at your events: treats and face to face interaction, offer styling services in the boutique helping guests put looks together…Just a few ideas.

Are you involved in Fashion Week?

I’m not. To be honest, the traditional Fashion Week hoopla bores me. Sort of been there, done that. My real interest in fashion lies with the emerging designers out there and putting on expensive runway shows is not a smart use of a young designer’s time, money, or resources. There are some emerging designer presentations that I like to attend but overall, Fashion Week has lost its sense of intrigue, for me at least.

Where do you see StartUp FASHION in the next 3 to 5 years?

We are really excited about his upcoming community launch, and in 3 to 5 years I see StartUp FASHION as a thriving community; a destination for the independent fashion industry to visit daily, get help with startup issues, having their questions answered, accessing the resources they need to build and grow a business the right way.

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