Diligent readers will remember that while I was in America, I applied and was accepted onto the Centre for Fashion Enterprises Market Entry Program. This was a little unexpected because one of the conditions for entry onto this program was that you had already to have been trading. I have blatantly not been trading I was delighted.
The Market Entry Program is made up of two one-to-one reviews of the business model and offer separated by a series of lectures held over four months. So it was on Monday 29th November that I taxied to the Centre for Fashion Enterprise’s premises on Mare Street in Hackney for my appointment with Toby Meadows (yes, he of the book). I was very anxious about my presentation but I had a great driver. I paid for the taxi, but what I got in addition was a brilliant run through of my entire pitch and a heart-to-heart conversation with a complete stranger about what it means to be disabled in the way that I am. I was fairly indiscreet about issues around being doubly incontinent. Yes incredibly indiscreet. But why am I compounding this indiscretion here? I am hoping that by revealing this I may be able to help others to see that life doesn’t come to an end when you find yourself in a similar position to mine. Get out of that depression anyway you can, use pharmaceuticals to the utmost of their ability and unaccountably you will find that you can still cope. An unintended consequence, however is the effect that all this caring has on your partner and the inevitable strains that this puts on your relationship. I already have prosthetic plumbing and a colostomy is not the end of the world either.
I am always early for appointments but this was ridiculous. I arrived an hour early. Students/designers, tapes draped around their necks scurried across the hall, many carrying garment carriers in lieu of the portfolios found in my world. We had to meet in the students lounge (wheelchair access) and be as discreet as possible with regard to issues of confidentiality. I think Toby liked my garments. However he thought that the main ideas would inevitably be ripped off. It remains to be seen how quickly. He also thought that I should probably buy some help in with regard to sourcing fabrics. With regard to PR, I had been favouring traditional media and interest group media above social media, he turned it all around. I will now concentrate on social and interest group media above traditional. Thanks for a great crit Toby.
For the whole of Saturday 3rd December, I and about 40 other start-up entrepreneurs were given a series of three lectures. The title of the series was all-encompassing, sales, range planning, costing and pricing, export strategy, marketing and PR brand development. In the morning, Angela Quaintrell and Sally Heale dealt mostly with where to show collections to attract buyers, what you should be charging, terms for carriage, pitfalls, etc this dealt with the usual fashion cycle which unfortunately did not apply to me. However, after lunch, Kate Green’s presentation on manufacturing, was just what I needed. I have a plethora of questions for her, and have set up a Skype call next week.
A week or so before I saw Toby, confronted by the expense of a PR campaign (estimated at £11,000 or so). I had a marketing e-mail from HELO offering UCL student help. I reviewed my marketing plan and thought that this is a fantastic project for students. Unfortunately, HELO was not able to help me but I had now embarked on this course. I googled fashion marketing courses in London and I found that there was an MA course in Strategic Fashion Marketing at LCF. I e-mailed Dr Anna Watson the course director on Sunday. On Tuesday, she got back to me. She was interested either in having her students work as interns or even possibly as part of their course. So it was on 6th December, that Helen and I met with her and two lovely students Magdalena and Renata, Magdalena from Poland and Renata from Brazil. We discussed the full range of media and decided to embark on social media immediately, parallel to me holding the photo shoot.We would then embark on interest group and traditional media in the New Year once we had the images in hand. We also discussed the name of the company XENI. It now more than ever encompasses the idea of foreigners/economic migrants doing the best they can in their new home to put something back into that society. They are both going home for Christmas so we arranged to meet again at the beginning of January to start the final push.
I gave Ingrid the go-ahead for the photo shoot………………