The Do’s and Don’ts of Selling Apparel
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The Do’s and Don’ts of Selling Apparel

Confession: I am not a fan of selling apparel.

That is a dangerous statement in an industry where selling apparel is kind of the backbone of success. The problem is – there are so many options that are unexplored, so many terms, and SO many trends and I find it next to impossible to keep up with everything I should know to become an expert at it, and that is frustrating to me.  I obviously have my favorites and my styles, but there are a lot of people who don’t want to wear bright rainbows of colors every day….although I will never understand why that is. 🙂

Anyways, over the years of being in the industry, I’ve tried to find ways to combat this struggle.  Here are some of the tips I try to continuously give myself when confronted with an apparel project.

  1. Ask too many questions – Knowledge is power.   Especially when dealing in an area with as many variables as apparel has.
  2. Samples are a wonderful, powerful tool.  They can be a pain to get in and slow down an already putzy process, but will win every day compared to looking at pictures.  Especially for ladies – we are much pickier than men. 🙂
  3. Make sure to inform your customer about new trends.  Whether it is decoration methods, trendy colors, new styles – make sure they are informed prior to the order being placed.  You don’t want them to hear about it else where after something else has been started.  Be 1 step ahead.
  4. Never, ever, EVER finalize an order in writing or by voice.  Once a decision has been made, email the customer and don’t proceed until you have a confirmed response.  Along with this, send an art proof to confirm imprint colors and imprint position, if it’s something you can simply type.
  5. Be informed.  Even with as many different crazy terms there are, try to have a basic knowledge of what they mean.  If you don’t know, don’t be afraid to say so and make sure you look into it and get back to your customer with an answer.  Don’t make stuff up.
  6. Follow through.  Check and double check.  You want the final order to be what you talked about.

I find that if I try to go through these mental steps, the project will usually turn out to be a success.  Obviously there isn’t always time to be this thorough, but when it’s possible, it’s important.  The good part about a successful apparel project is that it will usually open the door to re-orders and additional projects.  Plus, if you pull it off as good or better than the expectations, you’ve more than likely earned a really trusting customer and built a solid foundation to work together from.

The moral of the story is, on a sandwich, pepper jack cheese is the best kind of cheese.  Oh wait, that’s a different story…. I’ll save that for a later date.

– Shannon Kirby

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