The finalists in the British Fashion Startup Awards will be competing for a coveted title this Friday in London.

The competition will see one of them being crowned the 2016 winner and will receive the title, a trophy and a support package to help them move their business forward.

The competition was created and funded by fashion business mentor and consultant Ben Muis, who believes that the process of going through the rounds brings small businesses together, encourages new entrepreneurs and stimulates a healthy future for these new British fashion brands.

When asked why the awards were established he said that “it is incredibly important to our international future success in this time of change and emerging economies elsewhere in the world that we support and stimulate British creative startups in their business ventures, starting from the ground level.”

He pointed out that in his experience as a mentor to many startups the journey at the early stages is fraught with lonely challenges and insecurities, and that those who work hard to find their way to their first successes “should be encouraged and celebrated”.

The candidates are as diverse as the industry itself. You may prefer the fashion outsider Stacy Chan or the mature Vassi8 brand owner Vassily Skinner’s bag collections. You may be attracted by the footwear from Taylor & Blake or the eclectic mix of cultures represented in the Kites and Bites collections. The 10 finalists have however not been selected on their collections, but rather on their business journey and actions. The one thing they all have in common is how impressive their journey has been sofar and how hard they have worked to get to the point where they are now nominated for the finals of the awards.

The judges who will be questioning the nominees at the show are from different parts of the industry and will be looking at many aspects of each business before voting independently on who the winner should be.

The final and winners presentation are both taking place at Going Global, an event which fittingly supports the export efforts of British companies and which is run in association with the government department of Trade and Industry.

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Final of British Fashion Startup Awards to take place at Going Global in Olympia, London

The ten fashion startup finalists will be making their appearance on the 18th of November in the final round of the FASHIONbasecamp British Fashion Startup Awards at the Going Global event in London’s Olympia Exhibition Centre.

This is the event where the finalists will be presenting the business aspect of their startup to a panel of expert judges and where one of the finalists will be receiving the award and prizes.

The Going Global event is run in association with the Department for International Trade. The show is a great backdrop for the awards as most of the candidates have recently started exporting or are aspire to export in the next year. Tickets to the event are free and available here:

The ten finalists (in no particular order) are:

Stacy ChanMaison de ChoupLittle Wardrobe LondonKites and BitesLily & CarterGVYNFariba SoltaniJulia McLearonTaylor BlakeVassi8.

Ben Muis, the fashion business consultant from London based Conceptable who created and funded the awards, made it clear that “it is incredibly important to our international future success in this time of rapidly emerging economies elsewhere in the world that we support and stimulate British creative startups in their business ventures, starting from the ground level.”

He pointed out that in his experience as a mentor to many startups the journey at the early stages is fraught with lonely challenges and the unknown, and that those who work hard to find their way to their first successes “should be encouraged and celebrated”.

Alongside the opportunity to be seen at this large London business show and getting hold of a great looking trophy the winner will also receive expert fashion business mentoring from Ben Muis, a promotional video and a winners PR package. All of this is aimed to help further the success of the business. Further benefits may be offered by the team or the independent judges depending on the type of business that wins or further sponsors that may wish to encourage these new entrepreneurs.

We wish all the candidates the best of luck on the day!

Why creative fashion entrepreneurs need business advice

The world of fashion is extremely competitive. With new and enthusiastic graduates being thrust into the industry every year, it can be extremely hard to stand out from the extensive competition. Arming yourself with a good knowledge of how the fashion business actually operates is one of the best ways you can future-proof and give yourself the best possible chance of succeeding in the expansive industry.

Most fashion graduates and entrepreneurs go into the industry due to their love of fashion and creativity. Yet the business side can seem a million miles away from the creative fashion world you thought you were entering. It’s extremely rare for people to be creative and businesses-minded naturally; in most cases, you either fall into one category or the other.

Business advice - Mentoring - FashionRunning a business is not easy by any means. It takes time, effort, knowledge, a network, experience… And despite many courses offering placements and industry time, most fresh graduates or creative geniuses do not possess the experience needed to flourish in the highly competitive fashion world.

Business practices are not something that can simply be learned overnight from a book. The ins and outs of a business are technical and require in-depth knowledge. And more often than not, an experienced hand to guide you and keep you on the right path.

Fashion courses and degrees are perfect for learning the principles, finding individual style and for bringing out the creative flair nestled inside a person. However, most fashion courses don’t cover the practical ins and outs of business that will allow you to thrive outside of a learning environment. And as such, if you are looking into starting up your own clothing line or fashion-oriented business, you should look into getting solid business advice.

Designers are also required to keep on top of trends, foresee arising trends and are tasked with developing new ones. That is a full-time job in itself. It can be a hard balancing act to nail both in the fast-paced fashion sector – especially when you are still learning on the job. The majority of successful designers work closely with a trusted business person who is there to give them professional advice based on many years’ experience and knowledge about the sector. But when you first start out, they can be hard to come across.

FASHIONbasecamp is designed specifically for creative fashion entrepreneurs. Giving expert advice based on many years’ experience in the fashion industry, we know exactly what it takes to succeed. So if you’re alive with a passion for fashion yet are still developing your business flair, then we are here to help you turn your ideas and talent into a successful endeavour.

Feature Image Copyright: diego_cervo / 123RF

British Fashion Startups to be praised for their achievements in a celebration with Award nominations

Whilst London goes into a fashion frenzy this week, the industry’s start up community has something to look forward to itself, as the FASHIONbasecamp British Fashion Start-up Awards celebration starts.

Fashion entrepreneurs, industry professionals, fashion education specialists, journalists and bloggers are getting together at a celebration in SOHO where the first five nominees in the awards will be announced.

The focus of the competition is on the achievements of the candidate in the process of starting up and running a new fashion business rather than the content of collections or creativity shown.

FASHIONbasecamp’s Head of Mentoring, Ben Muis, explains, “We find during the mentoring process that start-ups don’t just need knowledge, they also need encouragement to carry on and succeed.  These awards are meant to do two things; the first is to celebrate and recognise those fashion start-ups that have managed to create a viable business which now has real potential to succeed. The second is to highlight these businesses as good examples for those who are still at a more preliminary stage so they can take courage from that and follow in their footsteps.”

A further five nominees are set to be announced mid-October, with the 10 chosen businesses  invited to a final round which takes place in the Excel exhibition centre at the London Fashion Startup Expo in November.

The awards are judged by professionals who have the combination of skill-sets to understand and guide entrepreneurs who are going through the early stages of their business development. The judging panel includes Startup Direct CEO James Pattison, marketing and luxury retail specialist Celine Guillaume, entrepreneur and Kirk & Kirk managing director Jason Kirk, Lecturer of Fashion Business Management at Nottingham Trent University, Caroline Travell, and international fashion business consultant and mentor Ben Muis.

Ben Muis added, “The fashion industry is really important to British exports. It is crucial that we look at British fashion entrepreneurs in the early startup stages with a broader vision to further the international success of our industry. We want to encourage and stimulate these nominees, no matter how small their business is, to succeed at the next level. These start-ups can in turn give others the confidence that with the right guidance and determination they can achieve this too. The outcome of this can only help the competitive edge of British fashion become sharper and gain more international appeal as these new brands grow up.”


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British Fashion Startups stimulated by their own Award thanks to FASHIONbasecamp

The fashion world is full of style and flair. Bursting with seasoned experts complete with years’ of experience under their belt, as well as new talent ready to rise up and become a fashion force to be reckoned with. However for those just starting out, it can be difficult to get noticed and stand out from the stylish crowd. Now one of the country’s finest platforms for fashion entrepreneurs and rapidly growing startups has taken the initiative to reward the massive efforts of those trying to break through in the fashion world with the FASHIONbasecamp British Fashion Startup Awards.

Ben Muis, Director of Fashion Basecamp, said, “As a business mentoring service for fashion startups, we completely understand the challenges fashion entrepreneurs face throughout their journey, as well as the level of determination that is required to get their business started. We created this award to recognise and celebrate the fashion startup community and encourage them to continue growing their business and learning new skills.”

FASHIONbasecamp, the unique mentoring platform that guides fashion entrepreneurs as they make the leap from startup designer to established fashion house, is reaffirming its commitment to the fashion world by awarding up and coming talent with a dedicated award. Celebrating the success of emerging fashion in Britain, the Fashion Startup Awards 2016 will recognise the inspiring work undertaken by some of the country’s potential future fashion leaders.

The competition has now opened for entries. With a nominations party in Soho during London Fashion Week and the finals taking place on Wednesday 16thof November during the London Fashion Startup Expo at the ExCel Exhibition Centre in London, the Awards will bring together both seasoned experts as well as some of the industry’s finest new faces.

The official nominations are set to be announced at FASHIONbasecamp’s British Fashion Startup Awards nominations party during London Fashion Week, which is fittingly complimented by live music from up an coming talent.

Those shortlisted are certain to be catapulted into to spotlight. Ben, continued, “The FASHIONbasecamp British Fashion Startup Awards are certain to highlight those small fashion businesses that deserve to be noticed, not just in the UK but internationally. We are looking for the awards to provide an invaluable platform for talented individuals that are still under the radar, sparking the interest of the ever-evolving fashion industry as it looks for new inspiration and fresh ideas from inspiring new designers and brands.”

To find out more about the Awards, visit:

For more information about FASHIONbasecamp, and how the experts can help fashion startups make the leap to fully-fledged business owners, visit the website:

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Business experts provide fashion entrepreneurs with invaluable advice

The fashion industry is one of the most competitive in the world. Thousands of graduates leave university ready to launch their way into the fashion world and establish themselves as fashion aficionados. However for many, the practicalities of launching into the stylish world are a million miles away from what they’ve learnt sat behind a desk, or what they envision when making a career change.

FASHIONbasecamp, the unique platform for fashion entrepreneurs, is on hand to guide ambitious start-ups as they make their way into the fashion world. Offering exclusive, practical and tailored workshops and boot camps run by expert mentors who really understand the industry and recognise where people are on their individual journey, up-and-coming fashion businesses owners are able to get some of the tricks of the trade and receive practical advice that they can implement into their business plan.

Ben Muis, Head of Mentoring at Fashion Basecamp, said, “The creative fashion world and the straight-talking business world are two completely separate entities. Many established industry experts find that when they are launched into fashion they know the creative side and are on top of upcoming trends unique fashions, but they’re not aware of the other side of fashion – the business side.”

Utilising video resources, case studies and even personalised mentoring and camps, FASHIONbasecamp provides the ideal solution for budding fashion designers and stylish entrepreneurs. Offering unique and practical insight into the ins and outs of the fashion world, the sessions provide guidance, knowledge and expertise that will allow talented individuals to progress in their career. The platform also provides invaluable mentoring sessions that point them in the right direction for their own business, making sure it suits their own individual needs.

Ben, continues, “Fashion graduates are often not taught practical procedures or practices during courses, and they often find that when they go into the industry, they are held back because of their lack of knowledge. Our series of programs and workshops are all specially designed to arm budding fashion moguls with the skills needed to thrive in the competitive world.”

Drawing on a plethora of experience, knowledge and consultancy expertise around the fashion industry, the experts know exactly what it takes to make a fashion business succeed, and put all their effort into helping talented individuals continue the success of the UK fashion landscape.

Further cementing their commitment to encouraging and recognising new talent, FASHIONbasecamp are also the proud hosts of the British Fashion Startup Awards 2016. Set to showcase some of the finest emerging talent Britain has to offer, the Awards will celebrate the industry and propel those shortlisted into the view of international fashion observers.

To find out more about FASHIONbasecamp, visit the website:

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The fashion technology dilemma: do you need your own ERP or do you actually need a more manageable business?

It can be a scary moment. Do we sign off this ERP* project? How much is it really going to cost? How long will it actually take before it works? Will it save or kill my future business plans?

In reality, these should be concerns for a number of reasons. First of all, an ERP implementation is a big thing. There is a serious impact on a business during an implementation both in financial and human resource terms. Also, you are making a choice that can affect how you are going to have to run your business going forward. The ERP will want to know how you do each bit of your trade. If your market changes, client demands alter or you add brands or processes the system may actually restrict you for quite some time. This is all considered normal by the average ERP provider but as we live in a fast changing world it should not be.

Unfortunately there is a habit in the industry to paint a pretty picture during the sales cycle, and then to go over budget and beyond promised timelines (I am sure there will be some that disagree, especially those who work for ERP vendors or those who are just better than at project management than the average ERP provider). Perhaps several ERP vendors just underestimate the complexity of the fashion industry and the dramatic impact their work can have on the health or even survival of their client’s business.

To ERP or not to ERP?

I have actually seen several companies implode under the weight of their ERP implementation. The costs spiral beyond what the business can cope with and cash flow becomes the stuff of nightmares.

In the fashion industry, where I spend most of my time helping leaders and teams in small and large companies, there are plenty of CEO’s and MD’s sitting on the fence. Holding up the sign off of a new or replacement ERP projects because there is something about it that could seriously damage their business if it does not go to plan.

What if you did not need an ERP but a structure change to win?

But what is the alternative? It seems such a given path…. You start doing business, you live off spreadsheets, you get an accounting system, if you are clever you also get a PLM system, your business grows, your staff can’t cope anymore under the burden the volume of transactions in and out create…. and you take an ERP system. As scary as it seems, it also seems unavoidable.

Fortunately, the world does not stand still. Not even the fashion world stands still, where style seems to change but the technology used to dye, sew and run our business does not appear to change all that much.


FASHIONbasecamp to sponsor Breakthrough in Fashion event, London

We are pleased to announce to be the mentoring sponsor of Breakthrough in Fashion, an event for designers looking to establish a fashion brand with takes place in Whitechapel, London on the 21st of March.

Our team will be on-site during the full-day event to answer any questions attending designers may have about the amazing benefits of having a mentor on their journey to success.

With speaker including designer Paul Costelloe, WGSN’s Lauretta RobertsFrancesca Hodge (Lulu Guinness) and Tamsin Lejeune (Ethical Fashion Forum) this event should ad good value to a designer on a journey. This is why we decided to sponsor and support the initiative.

When is it time for your fashion business to consider PLM?

When a fashion business should consider a Product Lifecycle Management system (PLM)

Heading up a fashion business is demanding – maintaining a consistent vision whilst keeping track of Return On Investment (ROI), producing multiple collections a year whilst ensuring consistency in production – the idea of taking time out from managing process to look at strategy can seem impossible. But there’s another way of looking at things. If any of these challenges are confronting your fashion brand, PLM could be your solution.

It’s time to consider PLM when …

Key stakeholders are urging PLM on you

From financial backers to suppliers, partners who are used to PLM are likely to start telling you that your fashion enterprise needs to be run as a successful business, not a successful vision.

As fashion brands grow, the demands on them become greater – more collections, more trade shows, more buyers demanding more product, more editorial leading to more enquiries … and without PLM it’s difficult to upscale your activity and be flexible enough to cope with opportunities.

Internal support is not delivering on the design and production process

When your own team start telling you that your design and production processes are falling down, through information errors and they can’t get enough internal support to keep pace with data. One of the key features of PLM is its flexibility.

Unlike spreadsheet based systems PLM is data-responsive, meaning you can integrate new information into your decision-making, giving you real time market sensitivity so you can benefit from opportunities and adjust delivery, supplier information and production to ensure maximum success.

You can no longer quantify results

Return on Investment is an essential part of running any sustainable business, but in a world as fast moving as fashion, ROI can be hard to focus on. The identification of key metrics isn’t so difficult, but staying on top of them in real time is tough.

This is where PLM really kicks in – tracking business performance is inbuilt into sophisticated PLM systems so that the design and production phases of a fashion business provide their own metrics, as do all other aspects of the enterprise. Without the ability to focus on ROI, many organisations simply run out of steam because they put too much energy into low return or high risk areas, whilst neglecting those lines or areas that were generating the best ROI.

You’re succeeding and becoming exhausted

There’s no way of knowing how many viable fashion brands failed through founder exhaustion, but everybody knows that industry burn-out is commonplace. Recognising how much of your vision needs to remain in your hands is one thing – being able to rely on responsive PLM to handle aspects of the business that aren’t reliant on your personal creativity is quite another.

WFX PLM for Fashion Industry, Cloud Technology

WFX has provided PLM for Fashion Industry, using Cloud Technology, for over 10 years. With over 15000 fashion users they are a good solution to check out.

Many fashion visionaries build small enthusiastic teams who are completely committed to the brand, but as the business grows, it extends beyond their capacities. Integrating PLM can bring confidence back to your team and free you to focus on what nobody but you can do – deliver the vision of your brand.

If any of these elements are starting to feature in your business life, it’s time to start exploring how PLM can help you stay on top of your burgeoning fashion business.

PLM implementations can be time-consuming and resource intensive. True Cloud PLM systems negate this as they have central updates that improve the system for all clients simultaneously. Check out the true Cloud providers first so you get a good idea of pricing and can head towards a swift implementation.

Build Your Brand In An Online Retail Environment

Brand building online is a complex but rewarding task. New designers ask a range of questions from ‘where do I start?” through to “who is best to work with?” but rarely do they ask the really useful questions like “what went wrong for those who failed?”

A few fashion startups every year succeed magnificently. Many others make do and get by, but many many more fail because they failed to build brand identity whilst taking care of business.

Where to start
Create your own site or sell your creations via a site that also sells other designers? What about crowd selling sites? There are many ways to begin the brand building via an online retail platform, but picking what’s right for you can be a business minefield.

Building your own retail site
If you’re going to have your own retail site, plan for it to be professional. One of the main reasons for failure is that potential customers don’t like to pay substantial amounts of money to a site that anybody could build in ten minutes. Such approaches don’t only fail to build a brand, they actually tear it down, because whatever brand identity you’re aiming for, you want it to be a trusted brand and yet you’re selling through a mechanism that is regularly used by counterfeiters and scamsters.

If you’re willing and able to put in the time and money to build your own site, you do have the advantage of getting it to look just as you wish … defining your brand without competition from others can be a good choice.

Retail sites that offer a range of designers
Websites that aggregate independent designers can be a great option, although there are both costs and benefits. On the downside, you will be expected to pay a merchant’s fee to the site for every sale, also on the downside, potential customers are likely to get into comparison shopping which can lead to them hunting for the cheapest deal rather than the garment they really love. Merchant sites like Etsy make this a specific benefit of their offering, allowing customers to shortlist and compare similar items before choosing just one.

The upside is that if such a site is well curated it will represent brands like yours, which means that the target audience are likely to be receptive to what they see. Places to consider include Farfetch which has recently received massive investor funding from investors like Condé Nast International. An alternative approach might be a site like Girl Meets Dress which offers customers the chance to rent high end clothing for as long as they wish. Girl Meets Dress claims that 98% of its customers try clothing brands completely new to them because rental is lower risk – this could be make or break for new brands trying to gain traction.

Blended approach
Some brands deliberately define their approach as starting with a site that carries many brands and move forward into a individual site. One example is Finchittida Finch – the brainchild of twin designers Lisa and Tida Finch who began their process with online marketplaces like ASOS and Etsy to gather customer feedback and get experience in online retailing but then moved to a solo site with the support of their business mentors.

Crowd selling fashion brands
Crowdfunding has its good and bad points too. Everybody dreams of the kind of success story experienced by Barbell Denim – which met its $15,000 goal in just 45 minutes and went on to over-raise to a total of nearly half a million dollars. But what’s the reality? In part Kickstarter and Indiegogo work well for businesses that already have a target, captive, audience. For Barbell Denim that was the weightlifting/body-building/CrossFit community – a significant sector of the population of the USA (and small but high spending in the UK) that automatically buys and makes choices based on being an ‘alternative lifestyle’. As a result, their offering was eagerly awaited. Other things they got right were having models who looked like the target audience (building identification and aspiration), offering a great reward for early investors (jeans that would accommodate big quads small waists for $99) and getting their product out quickly enough to keep the buzz going.

Whichever route you take, being able to test your ideas on skilled mentors and access the experience of others will enable you to avoid the pitfalls of building a brand online whilst selling your designs.