Explore Your Audience
This can all seem a little overwhelming and intimidating, especially because everybody will be at a different place so you know, maybe you know emily has a student, you might think okay, this is a long time down the road and I don't have to think about that yet or or it's just seems too big but it's a really key thing to do o r at least to pose these questions to yourself so they become so that it becomes not about the answers to these questions because the answer is going to change as you grow as a designer and as you develop the the answer is my change but it's about posing this question so that your thinking about it and asking yourself how I'm thinking about it, how do I solve these problems? Because it doesn't say problems how do I solve these challenges and those that process is good for for you, wherever you are in the process and that goes for everything that goes for, you know, the the creation of finding the inspiration that goes for the actual making of garments but but very...
important here because this all feels like it's after, you know it feels like a lot at the end of the cycle, but I had a great feedback from a student once we have this professional development class that's all about this and we usually offer it to seniors you know where they're about to graduate, and we're getting them ready for the for the industry, and we had one sort of freshmen take the class, and she was so excited about it because she suggested that every student take it at the beginning of their academic career so that they have a framework so it's, almost like you're building shelves, and you're putting on in volumes of, you know, of your work as you go along, but you're doing it within the context of something. So think about these questions don't let them feel like, you know, they're they don't apply to you, like, try to think about in your give it a little fantasy, you know, give it about who you'd want, tohave because that's at the heart of who you're going to go after anyway. So it's, good to start thinking about that early. So now let's, get to the questions I'm gonna propose to two guys who do you think is the audience for your work? And I'm going teo, after you answer, I'm going to kind of sort of tease out maybe mohr information in terms of expanding the definition. So, emily, do you want to start just real quick? I want to say thank you for that last comment, because I know for me personally, it's, so easy to get hung up on one issue and say, well, I don't have an answer for that right now, so just save it all until I figure that one out and I think what you're saying is like having your answer be it should be evolving as you're growing as a designer's, that's, super helpful that's going to stick with me, but anyways, a ce faras audience from my work goes, I kind of hoped to have a fairly large audience, a fairly wide group of people, you know, like I was saying yesterday, the attendance for conventions is just expanding every year now, even at our local convention, emerald city comic con, they sold out for the first time, I like to think it was last year or the year before and there, you know, they're expanding it to four days now and trying to get more people, and so, you know, I'm hoping to have people are getting started, you know what? They're children, you know, bringing them the convention's, having them and costume and there's people, you know, even who are more elderly, who are, you know, still passionate about about their hobbies. So I know that's really ambitious, but I don't I don't I don't want to be in a position where I turn anyone away, right, I guess. I think that's really good because you're open to a lot of stuff and I think in the beginning it's it's really important to be open so that you can cut really narrow it down and find your niche who you want teo share these your talents with I would ask you kind of just as a little follow up when you're thinking about this audience you definitely narrowed it down to an audience who has a particular interest but maybe I guess at what level do you think you would have most fun because you could definitely be serving a broad audience but you know at what place in the process of someone who is doing this do you think you'd have the most fun in terms of is that that new person who's doing a costume for the first time in their nervous? Is it that diehard who has to have everything you know absolutely perfect representing, you know, whatever the theme is where in that process are you most excited right now? Probably with the die hard because, like when I'm making stuff for myself, I'm finding you know, a ton of reference photos and like, you know, just like scoping around on the internet trying to find you know, this one little class to see, you know, what does that look like? How does that attach eso definitely that that kind of audience and one other thing I I really love about this community is that everyone is so helpful to each other and there's so much information that is just freely given, so I think what I what could be really cool would be teo sell my finnish patterns for people who still want to do stuff at home on their own but don't exactly know where to start or to be making, you know, one or two key accessories for, like, a certain character that is hard to do on your own and maybe just specialize in that and make it easily accessible to people. The those two things are incredible strategies, I mean, in terms of thinking about your customer and serving your customer because you're thinking about you your production, right? But then you've extended the whole experience and figuring out a way to connect with another customer who made may not be able to take advantage of your resources, and designers do that all the time think about all the the levels of stores for the big designers. You know, you have giorgio armani, and you have employees or mine and it's that doorway into the process, so you're cultivating a whole new audience by saying, I'm going to make some of my patterns available. So that's and you're making money off the patterns as well because you're selling those but but you're you're giving that entry level and we're going to talk a little bit more about that later today so okay, so marco who do you think is your customer? My area of focus basically is costuming for theater and and even perhaps um some uh movies or television shows that are done in seattle pretty much local and um my passion for these costumes is I like things that I can create I'm not but I would do it but I'm not particularly interested in contemporary costuming some more period yeah, I mean, I would happy I would be happy to do the contemporary but that's really not where my interests lie eyes um so it would be theatre, you know, small productions will even some larger productions uh but that would be my area of focus. Oh, I heard two things in there that I think are really key about your customer again we're open to work as it comes because you know how leading that khun b sometimes but but thinking about your customer in terms of you being the go to person locally and I mean and that would serve not only local productions but production's coming in and you wanna position yourself as that go to person so that customer is that person who's looking for the local connection so playing up your local niss, you know, is one way to attract a customer that's looking for that thea other thing is that's a real speciality is again, you would take on any project, you know, in terms of whether it's, contemporary or not, but but that your niche is maybe the period and fantasy and things like that where there may be a sense of less representational of, you know, like what's happening today, right? But where you're you're you're sharing with this customer, they're going to appreciate your research, your flair, thie special things that are about interpreting history or interpreting fantasy. So right then that kind of helps you narrow it down and again, we're not talking about not taking work, you know, saying, okay, I'm not going, I'm going to turn that down, but I think the best way to look at it is age ranges if you're looking for a customer looking to serve a customer and yes, I want a dress the whole age range of women you want to have a single target sort of in the middle of the zone that you want to go for. So instead of saying I want to dress women from twenty two, sixty, all right, you're going to say I want to dress women in like, twenty five to thirty five they are, you know, sort of building their careers at that point, let's say they're starting to get a little bit sort of mme or higher, higher position that is a certain point in a person's life, and you want to do that very, very well, the nice thing about that if you focus on just that target, is that you're going to get the aspirational customer, the customer who was aspiring to that, the one who's going, oh, I'm not there yet, but I'm getting there, so I want to start dressing the part, and then you're going to get a client who maybe has passed through that who maybe wants to recapture some of the energy of that. But you have to do that very well. Rather than saying I want to please all three groups. So how would you translate that into into a theater type setting or a fool question? I can't I can't go in there say I'm only going to dress people between twenty five and thirty five. Well, I think it comes from your specialty, you know, like what you like to do, so maybe and it doesn't have to be a hole. Career thing it could be in times like it could be that you're known for right now I'm really into eighteen hundreds and I'm going to be doing things that will attract customers that you know because that's my passion at the moment but a lot of people also feel after a while you can feel stuck, you know, because I've committed to this but I'm a big advocate of thinking in terms of project project based careers where a project could last, you know, a month or it could last three years and you want to like block oftime and saying, you know what? I'm going to give this a few months because it's just kind of a fun little thing or I'm going to think about, you know, I'm going to invest five years in this process and really delve into it and then maybe I'm going to move on to another another idea so that's kind of a way to create a focus because you'll get other people who go well, I'm not doing something in that period, but I like the approach or I like how focus and how thorough and all those kinds of things they're going to respond to you in those different ways I like thie suggestion about uh kind of offering a service that that nobody else can dio and prior to you saying that I was thinking I don't know what that is but you know, I'm very knowledgeable in the history of costuming and fabrics and that kind of thing, so I could use that as a start of my my portfolio, right? Yeah, and again, it's speaking to that particular customer that's really key because you need to imagine them just like when we do a sketch, we want to interpret our customer when we you know, even when we're creating a pattern, we wantto think about how she feels is she comfortable there's there's a lot of ease or is it just you want to feel very contained? All those things are about your customers? So that's why this is so important because it's it's at the very beginning and a cz I've mentioned before the it's less of a monologue and more of a dialogue when you come when it comes to fashion design, so who do you think is your customer? I'm sorry, I'm a little torn because I think it kind of depends on what I'm what I'm doing like if I'm helping out with fine art chute or something like that, I think it's definitely more pushing the limits unlike ethereal and like a little more out there and just pushing people outside of their comfort zone a little bit okay, but as faras like when it comes to more, you know, daily clothing or like styling helping style people I I don't know if it's a cliche answer or not, but I kind of think it's someone pretty similar to me justus faras like liking liking to push to push the fashion aspect of it and have it be a little more unique but definitely more doable for like a day to day whatever will I hurt in a big way? The whole idea of push and I like I like that it's someone who's almost challenging themselves you know to try new things so you as a designer are going to be creating things that that you almost like exploring things and bring them back you know and saying I'm going to go figure out what the latest adventure is going to be in fashion or the latest thing so that people have these choices that are are not the ordinary choices you know they're going to be able to again push their comfort, push themselves out of their comfort zone and express themselves in a really unique way so this is going to be about you know, the spark you know that you want a customer who's looking they're hungry for that spark. So when we talk about all the ways to engage with um we're going to need to figure out what that means, you know, like how what are you going to do for them that's goingto attract them and then keep them? I think I've definitely seen that look tricky little balance in I realized that I don't know sometimes like pushing the boundaries for like something I would wear it seems a lot less extreme to me that it would be like, you know, someone else that I'm helping with still like incorporating their style a little bit but still having it be well, I I think this speaks to the zone thing, you know, like we were talking about, you know, targets and I think maybe you want to think about, you know, volume of your idea like, you know, when you're thinking about okay, I'm gonna push people out of their comfort zone, you know, where is the volume on that? So is is it really low where you're doing it in a soft, gentle way to kind of cultivate a customer kind of like with the patterns you know, you're cultivating a customer by giving them maybe it's you focus on accessories with people who are kind of new to your world and then, you know, and then you pump up the volume a little bit and then, you know, you incorporate clothing and then you move on to the the drama you know, the theater of fashion where people can experience it and adopt some pieces and really have a lot of flair with it, so I think again targeting the customer, knowing that that's the the ideal customer, that person who wants to be pushed out of their comfort zone but at different places at different levels something that's getting it like that so my target customer has spent in the past mothers of the bride, mothers of the groom and brides and the I found that most women who like fashion and are engaged with fashion don't lose that engagement over their years as they age, but they have a very difficult time increasingly finding age appropriate clothing that fits their body that's not the body that was when they were twenty five years old, so the fit for me the fit of the garment is always the most important thing and it's, what is the need that I've been meeting to this point? But I'm starting to see that one of the passions that I've really had the whole time I've been doing this kind of work has been with the textiles, the fabrics and I'm really interested in repurpose ing bringing back all the textiles that are out there lying around in people's linen closet and in their stash, their fabric stash. A lot of people have traveled have collected fabric that justice there and never gets used because somehow they're saving it for something, but I'm not sure what they don't know what you do that so I like to bring ah whole new level of engagement with using textiles that already exist in new ways and inventive ways and creative ways everything from embroidered pillowcases that are just again lying around and people save them and save them and save them to mom's wedding dress it's been under the bed for fifty years and is lovely fabric and if I can bring it back in a new way I would like to I'd like to do that and I've done some of it and really really I find that's what I'm bringing passion too so there's some great things in there I think the first thing that I would say is that that experience of the fit and the fabric is key because it's very very physical it's about that experience of the where they know they want to feel a certain way they want to be able to touch you know what they're wearing and feel that it's special or or see this great pattern on their body so it almost seems like it's really about their body in terms of how they want experiencing things but how they want experienced things but then that's at the core I think that's a core value for your customer in terms of she's not going to go out there and be in an ill fitting dress are or something that doesn't have something special about it but then on the creative side I think the flare where it narrows down that customer a little bit is from your idea of re perp missing fabrics of, you know, explode like hunting for fabrics that could be a whole other process and then I think you know for her is because you have a lot of experience much in the way that you would share your patterns maybe like ideas I could see you promoting your yourself, you know, like to that customer by offering them ways teo do similar things you know, to do sylmar things with the fabrics that they have at home more so that you know you wonder is like what are you saving it for, you know, like so give them a reason to and then all of a sudden you become that the answer to their question, you know, like our you give them a sense of purpose for something that they already engaged with because they're already love the fabrics and they're saving them they may not know why but their special so you're making that the special thing come to life for them so we both both and you're designing but maybe giving them some skills or some tips or whatever whatever it is, they take a lot of forms. So so you guys all have a really clear definition of your customer I just wanted to chime in with one from online wonderful great great so we have can t j and candy is starting a street where brand with a demographic of eighteen thirty the group of people are into live music art, or at least are open minded to it. They care to the downtown scene, but most importantly, are a generation of people who identify as an equal humanity no matter what you identify as just catering to people, whether it's g p tio que straight pin sexual, the clothing will be unisex sizes. So sounds like candy does pretty sounds like it's very I mean, I felt as you were reading that it's just very powerful it's about that message is about community, but it had a cause feeling to it, you know, like the couture with a cause, you know, sort of like that has a real feel and that person, I mean, that customer seems to me just from hearing that, like, they know how to have fun, you know, they love the music scene and want to be involved, but they're they're not just out there partying, you know, they believe in things, and I think that that's a very definite customer and a growing customer, too. I think more and more people are becoming aware of, you know, whatever it is, where the environment or causes. So I think that's really well described candy lives in new york city, so that makes it easier on dh, but has also collected images of what they look like and you know, just engaging in that community as well. Excellent. So thank you for sharing candy and everybody else please keep joining us in those chat rooms so so let's move on to these and these will be a little easier and I think after we spent some good amount of time with your customer we can kind of maybe each take a turn with these so what is one way you can collect information about your customer like the customer that you want to approach? Does anybody can anybody think of one way they can connect with, um or to get information any ideas? Yeah, well, the way I would do it is I would start out by talking to people who know people and, um and what would that mean in the case of the theatre or film like, you know, would it be people in the design process or or just in any area around around theatre? Well, I've had the experience of I know several people that aaron various positions in the art community where I've reached out to them over the years and you know, when I wanted to get get into doing costumes and said, hey, do you know of anything that's going on right now? I mean, this is a little bit vague but anything that's going on right now let me know if you know of anybody that needs help in their production and so forth and it's actually paid off a couple of times where I've got names and I've gotten contacts and you know, so it's worked out well, I mean for me that's where I would begin it's uh I mean, I think that is definitely probably the most direct approach and especially if you've built up some time in the industry where you have at least a baseline of people you've worked with that you can share it with because it may not be, you know, the producer, the director it might be the makeup person you know and they're they're brought in I know that theater and film are very, you know, team based like team comes together for a special project so you know, thinking about who's out there doing the kind of makeup that you like reaching out to them building a relationship and sort of keeping in touch and being on people's radar is half the battle sometimes well and the thing too is that some of these people you know, I went directly to, uh in terms of uh saying, do you know anybody who's doing costumes or whatever? But I guess this would apply to the makeup person to I've also talked to people that are not directly involved in that field but no people right who in that wire in that field so it's, kind of the butt of the roundabout there, but, you know, it's, like, but just knowing that is really key part maybe just knowing those people, knowing that those people are connected and that just means keeping informed. E and I have found that most people are, you know, they won't kill themselves. Look, you know, looking for you, but there's, they're very happy to pass on a name or a suggestion, whatever. So that's, just one of the things that I've done, um, and so I'm gonna does anybody have any strong feelings about how they might reach? Well, it's not directly reaching out to us specific person, but I find when you're like, when you find someone who's kind of in your demographic, I think it's interesting toe like you can't do this with everyone, but like, picking through their closet, if you can or, like, even seeing like, pinterest boards, like a lot of people are on things like that, and just usually you can find some sort of theme or something that, like, peaks, interest in them. And I I guess even if it doesn't specifically translate into something that you would make it's it's just interesting to know, like, like you're saying, like keeping up with trends and just like seeing what else is out there and like pulling ideas from it and how to, like, incorporate that and that that's a great point, and I think just short of cyber stalking, you want teo, there is so much information that's being really shared, so to follow someone on pinterest is a great tool for exploring what their interests are and how they're looking at the world, because they may have a board that says, you know, modern fashion, what does that mean to them? You know, that could go in a lot of different ways on dh, then also, just even social media, you know, what do they tweet? What do they post on facebook? Like, what are the things that interest them? And I think that works really well in terms of knowing your single customer, you know, in terms, or or a customer who may be representative of community, sort of a leader and an influence on the community, so targeting those people and sort of seeing, you know, following them in a really nice way where you're I have an active interest in them just the way we would wear the celebrity, so I think it's also nice, because I feel like in those settings, a lot of times, people put things out there that they're interested in, but maybe don't know howto, like incorporate into whatever for me with, like, trying to push people that's worked nicely, and just one little tip before we went out to the next one, a really simple tool, especially because of social media, you can post something that's, a call to action that will help you not just identify those people like have them, you know, actually pop up on driss pond, but get very useful information, and that is to think sort of the old school focus groups, except you're not going to convene a focus group, probably in your design studio, but online, if you're thinking I'm going to, uh, I'm going to be working on pants, right? You're focusing on a pant and you want to go, what challenges are you? Have you found when your, uh, when you're shopping for pants? Because I know they're issues with pants? You know, long waisted short, wasted all these kinds of different issues, but then also asking them what brands are solving those problems because you want to figure out you know who your competition is and who you can learn from. So so how would you how would you approach these people? Would you do it on your face book, eh? Yeah, that could be it could be very passive I mean because sometimes like you know, surveys and focus groups khun b you really have to have an audience that's already engaged but to tweet out a question you know, almost like we're doing here with are you know, online audience to just put something out there and see who gives you feedback and I find that when you do that you get really unexpected feedback sometimes but on dh it's as you start to build your audience, you can get some very useful information not just for marketing to these people but even for your design process. So yes, um uh I think this would apply here, but one of the things that I had found over the years to be really very successful if you're in a position to be able to do it is I have actually gotten some, uh some, you know, opportunities through volunteering oh, definitely I started out by volunteering and volunteering making costumes and then I got some other leads because people saw what I did and volunteering is a really great tool for showing people to things that your skills you know, because you're volunteering, you're providing ah value to the experience but then also your personality because we all know that that plays a big part in it and it doesn't mean changing your personality but it's saying finding kindred spirits you know people who who approach a problem the same way that's also a great entree two people who who are maybe a little bit timid about going out and uh you know, for lack of a better word, you know, pushing or promoting their their product and this is kind of a nice little segway because you're building on relationships, you know, no, no monetary pressure definitely air and I just found that to be very useful so this week kind of reference is a little bit earlier how would you boil down your bio into one hundred forty characters? So if you had to just do one tweet that said everything that's important to you about you it's a big challenge but it also cleans up cleans thing cleans things up because a lot of times you are in a situation where you might be at a party or at a meeting and how do you tell people what you do? You know, people call it an elevator pitch or things like that, but I think it should shouldn't feel like it's too uh staged it should be these bullet points that that you can riff on in a different way depending on the setting and you can contract them and make them very short, brief or making them very large and I won't challenge you all to do that right now because that's that's that's hard work but but it's also you know it could be a simple that people have a hard time writing their own bios if you create a list and think about bullet points about your life that are the key points then that could be a starting point for that I also think we have the opportunity because we're working in the medium of clothing that what we wear, how we put ourselves together is the strongest statement we can make almost above anything that we would say yes because we're saying a lot about ourselves and we present ourselves I can use myself as an example you know, I am probably not what you think about when you think fashionable I wear a work shirt, I wear jeans, I wear sneakers in all different combinations and I love my shirts I try to pick cool colors and cool sneakers but that's kind of how I can convey to people that when I'm in the room we're going to be at ease we don't have to be all gussied up we can if we want to but it's a comfortable environment whether I'm teaching or presenting or even during fashion shows I'm the I want to make myself it's approachable is possible so that's that's a great point um okay, what makes you feel like there's a connection between you and someone you follow on social media? Little bit worthy question but but the idea is why do you follow certain people online? So does anybody follow celebrity that they just are very faithful to on social media any or or just somebody in your field I have a feeling you might yes oh man like you thought fashion who's the first person in mind that you follow um fashion would probably be carl I filled okay all right, so tell me why? Because I mean people can connect with karl lagerfeld in a lot of different ways what's the idea to use one word what would be the one that describes when why you know is he this is nie that, um I think just riel or honest yes sometimes brutally yes really honest if we could put into words and no no and that's a really important thing you want to understand who you respond to and why you respond to them because I for instance, you know, like if I'll follow someone and if I'm not getting this vibe off of what they're sharing, I kind of willen follow, you know, stop following that person because it's just not it's not doing it for me and I don't want to follow someone just because they're a big celebrity or a big fashion designer, so you want to find the ones that really speak teo and that could help because it will help you define again with your customer you'll you'll find kindred spirits, somebody who wants that dry wit, you know, his boldness, he'll say, you know, sometimes rude things, and and they're ok because they're coming from carl, so okay. And finally, in terms of what we talked about, the pivot, if you couldn't do this with the skills you have right now, right, and you still wanted to use your skills, what could you do and it's a hard question, because sometimes we get very focused and we say, ok, what I this is what I do. I'm I make dresses, or I make suits or make costumes, but ask yourself, andi, explore what are other industries, areas that you can apply these skills. Where do they need someone who, khun. So where do they need someone who can conceive of a pattern? All these kind of things are very important. We'll talk a little bit more about it as we go through.