Happy New Year!
Well, it has been a while (almost a year in fact) since I last blogged.
My blog was started mainly as a place to keep track of my masters degree and a place to write ideas and keep my research in one place. However, towards the end of my masters and with my deadline looming for my final masters project, my blog got a little (ok, a lot) neglected.
I miss blogging, in fact over seven years ago I used to have a relativity successful fashion blog that I deleted on a whim when I became pregnant (I didn’t have the foresight to see that Mummy bloggers are big business – ha!), and I’ve decided it’s time to start blogging again – my blog is going to mostly be about all the things I enjoy such as fashion, design and business.
Looking back on 2018 there were some great achievements, I graduated from my masters degree and my son got to come and see me graduate which was wonderful. I have continued to build my kidswear brand www.totoandfifi.com and it is finally turning into a “proper” business.
Let’s see what 2019 has in store – Sarah
As part of the Be Inspired program at Staffordshire University we are required to attend monthly business clubs. These clubs consist of talks from inspirational business professionals. The talk this month was from Petra Foster, Petra was talking to us about personal branding and how to become competition proof.
Petra is an entrepreneur and creator of the U-Brand blueprint which is the process of helping you to stand out and create an authentic brand that is undeniably you. The talk covered:
• how to stand out in a saturated marketplace
• how to use the power of your authentic voice to presell your services
• how to focus on your “zone of genius” and create your personal brand around it
• set up systems so that you are working less and living more
Up until a few years ago Petra was working in a low paid job and her and her husband struggled to get by. Petra told us how a near life or death experience pushed her to start her own business, she told us how her husband worked endless hours and fell asleep at the wheel when he was driving home from work because he was that exhausted. Petra realise that they couldn’t carry on the way they were – working all hours and still only just getting by. Petra also said about how we shouldn’t be working to make somebody else’s dreams and business a success we should be doing that for ourselves instead – I could really relate to this statement because one of the main factors in me going back to university and doing my masters and launch my own business is because I was fed up of working so hard to make other people’s businesses a success.
Petra’s top tips for creating a personal brand are:
• create a buzz and get people to talk about you
• don’t be afraid to show off your personality
• be known for being a “genius of your zone” – tell people what you are an expert in
• don’t be scared to put yourself online and make people notice you
• you must accept who you are and show off your uniqueness
I aim to put Petra’s teachings into practice; I am a prolific user of social media however, sometimes I feel I am slightly too guarded with it and don’t let my true personality show. I am going to try and take the advice of being unashamedly me. I also struggle with considering myself an expert but this is something I want to work on to because I do have considerable knowledge about fashion, retail, brands, marketing, and printing – so I need to show this more.
Petra’s final words which I fought with lovely and I will try to remember them were “you are the only choice, no one is better than you”.
I recently attended a lecture by Wayne Hemingway at Staffordshire University. I remember Wayne Hemingway from when I was younger for being the designer of Red or Dead and also for being on the Big Breakfast! I found the talk very interesting and finding out his story of how he started a fashion brand with little resources much like I am trying to currently achieve with my childrenswear brand Toto and Fifi.
The key points I took away from this lecture were:
• Wayne used the phrase “see the whites of your customers eyes”. In his earlier days of creating Red or Dead he spoke about how important it was to see people’s reaction to your clothes because you can pick up feelings towards your clothing from seeing customers face. Because my brand Toto and Fifi is a online store I will not see people’s faces or “the whites of people’s eyes” to gauge if they like my product. This lecture made me realise that I need to get in front of my customer to see how they feel about my product, from this I have decided that I should attend more craft fairs to gain feedback on my product.
• Don’t be afraid to have a point of view and an opinion, and don’t be scared to share your opinions. I have always been very conscious on social media to not voice my private opinions too much to not offend people. However, after hearing Wayne Hemingway discuss his political leanings (the lecture happened to fall the night before the recent general election) I have learnt that it’s okay to share my beliefs and share my opinions on things I feel strongly about – I’m Labour btw.
Today I visited the Betty Smithers Design Collection in Staffordshire University’s library. The collection is made up of everything from telephones to textiles. Students are allowed to not only view the collection, but also handle the items to really get a feel for the product. You are even allowed to take items out on loan if you wanted to use it for a fashion shoot or a film.
Here is Betty’s daughter being interviewed about the collection. I have also found this interview by Betty herself in The Guardian from 2006. Betty taught fashion at Canterbury college and Stoke-on-Trent college for 20 years and collected vintage clothes that were donated to Staffordshire University.
As I am in the process of launching a childrenswear business I was very interested to see the children’s clothing in the collection, and I wasn’t disappointed. Below are a few of the images I took of some the wonderful items:
Cream Layered Dress (Silk, Edwardian).
Green Dungarees, utilitywear from WWII. Label “British Healthwear”.
Gold Pyjama Top, age 8 (fabric and date unknown).
Nylon Christening Dress (date unknown).