Fashion Law – tips for the fashion entrepreneur

Fashion Law – tips for the fashion entrepreneur

I was super chuffed when I was approached by Sara from Axis Legal to feature in her ‘5 Minutes With’ fashion entrepreneurs for their new destination online for all things fashion business and law.

You can sign up for free to unlock a wealth of legal/business tips specifically tailored to the fashion profession. You can also access interviews with current industry professionals, just like moi, with an area where you can ask advice from one of their fashion lawyers.

A brilliant resource for all questions from the every day legalities of contracts to sticky international law situations, this is a great portal for fashion entrepreneurs starting in a whole new world of dos and don’ts.

Read on for ‘5 Minutes With’ myself and some of my learnings to date.

What kind of legal issues do you face as a designer?

Starting a company can be very daunting. When I started my accessories label Hills & West last year, I was lucky to have some experience in different types of businesses and start-ups, however I still had to do a lot of research for the intricacies of the fashion industry. Like in any business, there are many legal areas that need to be considered such as intellectual property, trademarks, patents, copy write, privacy, business and finance transactions. Also depending on the size and nature of your business, you need to be across employment and labour laws, public liability for bricks and mortar, online regulations for an e-store, international trade for importing and exporting, and any government regulations around running a business.There is a lot to be aware of so it is always good to know the basics and then call on the professionals for anything more complicated.

Have you had to take measures to protect (either proactively or reactively) your brand/designs (e.g. registering a design, trade mark or dealing with copycats)

No, not yet. I looked into patenting my designs, early on, however discovered that once your designs are on social media you could no longer patent or register a trademark on your design. This is a risk, especially since my business is a pure online play. Unfortunately with lead times for production and the need to build brand awareness, I really don’t have the luxury of going through the patent or trademark process prior to launching each new design. I am in the process of trademarking Hills & West, which is a must.

“…once your designs are on social media you can no longer patent or register a trademark on your design”

Have you ever done any educational courses on the business/legal side of the fashion industry? Did you find them helpful?

I do a lot of research online. There is not much available for fashion specific advice. I also attended an information night, called Business 101, hosted by my local council, which was very useful. This is where I learnt the information about patents and trademarking.Education is key however it is often reactive; this is why I think it is so important to get advice from professionals.

Do you have a business mentor?

I don’t have a business mentor specifically, however I learnt a lot from previous bosses and am always learning from the people I collaborate with. I also like to follow entrepreneurs such as Tim Ferris, Seth Godin, Richard Branson, Pharrell Williams, Sean Combs, Vera Wang, and the late Steve Jobs and Coco Chanel, to mention a few. I always love reading up on what is the latest and greatest in the fashion and tech worlds.

“Education is key however it is often reactive; this is why I think it is so important to get advice from professionals.”

3D printing and wearables: the future of fashion design – do you agree and why?

Agree. I come from a tech background so am a little biased. I also run an agency called Digital & Agile Consulting, advising businesses on how to grow their profile through digital, so absolutely love how technology and fashion are merging. Jobs showed us that technology could be beautiful. With technology improving our lives in so many ways, such as health, ways of working and facilitating activities previously not possible, I am certain we are going to see a lot more innovation in this area. As 3D printers become more accessible and wearables more intuitive and functional this is a space to watch.

What percentage of a normal day would you attribute to dealing with the business side vs. the creative side of your label?

I absolutely love the creative side so would do a lot in this space. Probably about 70 percent, 6-7 days a week. However I would class designing, manufacturing, researching, meetings, collaborations and writing all under the ‘creative’ banner.

What is the biggest mistake you have made and lesson you learned from running your label?

The biggest lesson I have learnt is that all mistakes help us grow. If I fail at something, then I need to fail fast, stick to my vision and keep perusing my dreams. If you are passionate and take things one-step at a time it will always go in the right direction.

What is the number one business tip you would provide to up-and-coming designers?

Don’t be afraid to try anything once. My favourite quote that I try to share is “You miss 100% of the goals you never take”. I read this when I was 15 and it has been my motivation ever since. I took a leap of faith and have never looked back. It hasn’t been easy but it is so fulfilling. Take that leap of faith, and if it fails, it doesn’t matter. At least you’ve tried.

Another tip, I know you said only one, but this is so important too, is always say thank you. I am so appreciative of the people I meet and work with that I can’t thank them enough.

Check out the Fashion Law site with lots of tips and fact sheets for you to review.

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