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BoF LIVE: Who Needs Investors? Tips for Bootstrapping Your Fashion Business

For cash-strapped designers, going it alone can seem daunting. Check out the latest BoF Live Event for tips on building a brand from scratch from the people that have been there.
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NEW YORK, United States — For the latest in our series of #BoFLIVE events, Executive Editor Lauren Sherman and Senior Correspondent Chantal Fernandez sat down with Sharifa Murdock, partner at Liberty Fashion and Lifestyle Fairs; Reuben Reuel, creative director and designer at Demestik by Reuben Reuel and Abe Burmeister, founder of Outlier for a virtual panel discussion, reflecting on how to build a brand without outside help.

“I see tons of brands come through… [and] a lot of them aren’t looking for that VC money. A lot of them want to do it on their own until they can get to a certain level,” Murdock said.

From in-depth research to leveraging social media, the panel lifts the lid on what it takes to bootstrap your business.

Know Your Customer and Your Product: You need to understand who you're marketing to, Murdock said. The best way to do this is to ask yourself who's buying the collection? What kind of store do you see it in? What's the pricing strategy? "Really know your customer, really speak to them, understand what their needs are and make things specifically for them," Reuel said.

Ask For Help: Knowing when to ask for help is vital, especially when you identify knowledge gaps. "I've seen designers… reach out to each other, especially younger designers, it's kind of like 'who are you using for banking?'... They're all starting to come together [to] collaborate and have those conversations," Murdock said.

Build Relationships: "[Building relationships] is so important because those relationships, that's currency now," Fernandez said. That's exactly what Reuel did when he first started out, and it's what gave him the "opportunity to grow and grow faster," he said.

Leverage Social Media: It goes without saying that social media is possibly one of the most effective tools for reaching consumers directly. "Facebook, Instagram… Twitter, any of those communications platforms I feel like [are] the best way to sell product at this point because everyone is on it all day long," Murdock said.

To participate in #BoFLive, BoF’s digital events series offering insight, advice and inspiration, visit our calendar where you can find details of upcoming digital events.

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Inside the $7 Billion Dior Phenomenon