Business Idea Success Creativity Entrepreneur Start-Up

What type of business should I open?
I want to go into fashion, what are my options?
How do I know a business idea will succeed?

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My answer to all of these questions is always the same and it will never change . . .

First and foremost, you have to figure out what you love to do. Because the great news is if you are working at what you love to do, you will never have to work a day in your life. Your work becomes your playground, your vacation. It’s almost like your work defines who you are and what you stand for.
Second: When you do find something you love to do, chances are you’ll get pretty good at it and people will naturally take notice. So by naturally I mean they start to seek out your advice on this topic and somehow people like the press manage to find you. And this all happens because you found something you loved to do.


So ask yourself, “What are you passionate about?”

I was lucky, I knew I wanted to open up a chain of stores. That chain of stores led me to determine in order to be more profitable, I needed to cut my margins, which led me to design my own line of dresses. Once I had 3 stores, this made it possible to reach the high minimums needed to buy in bulk for manufacturing my own line of dresses. Becoming a fashion designer and designing my own line of dresses was my dream and one that I never thought possible for a small-town girl from Minnesota so I never gave it a second thought. However, opening up my own chain of stores seemed doable. And so, my plan was just to open up one store at a time, and if it was successful, then use that money to put into the next store, then use that money to put into the next one until I had developed a chain of stores.
You see I truly believe that if you follow your heart, and do what you love to do, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else. And when you are thriving, doing what you love to do, people take notice, and you get to reap the rewards. For me, it was reaping what I sewed . . . literally.

Instead of buying a dress at wholesale and keystoning the dress. Keystoning is doubling the price. (That’s a typical markup in retail). Instead of buying at wholesale and keystoning the dress if I manufactured the dress myself, I would add another 25% to my margins. It was a win-win. I already knew how to sew, I don’t ever remember not knowing how to sew. I just knew sewing, and fashion was my passion.

By manufacturing my own line of dresses, it woke up the press who started to call me for my ‘expert opinion’ on fashion. It was just a natural progression of doing what I loved to do and it never felt like work. Here’s the thing: if you are doing what you love to do, people automatically start to pay attention. I didn’t have to work to receive the attention, it was just a natural progression and happened automatically.

When you love what you do, you also learn how to figure things out along the way. By owning a store, I was working face-to-face with my customers so, I knew what they wanted. I asked them questions when I was in doubt.

It still frustrates me when I see designers only design clothing that they like without keeping their target market in mind. Then they wonder why their dresses are not selling. The term ‘target market‘ refers to the people you plan to sell your product to.

For my prom dresses, my target market was girls ages 14-18. And for my evening gowns, my target market was a little bit older, women and celebrities ages 18-45. I knew who my target market was and I knew their likes and their dislikes in fashion because I was communicating with them on a daily basis, and my dresses sold. You see some designers don’t realize that they need to specify their target market then satisfy their target market’s wants and needs, not their own. Even when I outgrew working with my customers in my retail stores, I contacted them direct, with the use of surveys and our email list. That is what helped me to succeed.

That’s not to say I never designed anything I just had the urge to design. There were very few dresses that I ever made that I didn’t like. Every season, I would design something that stuck out, something unusual that I just wanted to or had the urge to design. I would do that just to have an image enhancer. Image enhancers actually attract the press and your customers because they are not your typical dress or your typical product.

Customers typically don’t buy these image enhancers but they capture their attention to see your other gowns. Image enhancers actually make you money because they attract the eyes of the press and your customers. So their uniqueness is what gets them into the magazines and gets your customers to think, “Say – who is designing this crazy dress I have to look them up?”

I put a photo of one of my image enhancers on my website next to this podcast. It was a black and white dress with feathers on the skirt that made it poofed out almost like a ball gown yet it wasn’t floor length.  This dress was actually picked up by 4+ magazines because it was so different from everyone else.

It ended up being in a feature editorial in Seventeen Magazine and it was worn by Ashely Tisdale in CosmoGirl Magazine. An editor even asked me to wear it in a business magazine where they did a feature on my life in the fashion industry.  It was also seen on Cheyenne Kimball, who had her own show at the time and that was shown in Prom Magazine. So it received a ton of mileage.

Think about it, at that time a one-page full-color advertisement in Seventeen Magazine cost about $72,000 back then. So when the press decides they’re going to put your dress into their feature article, you don’t have to pay them for that. Feature articles are free. So for a designer, it’s like saving $72,000 for an ad in a Seventeen Magazine. That’s huge! That’s money you could be putting towards more inventory. So, the problem some designers have is when they only make designs that are like image enhancers, that are really out there, but not necessarily what their customers will be wearing or buying. Making too many image enhancers can pretty much lead to their demise. As such was the fate of famous designer, Paul Poiret.

I talk about designers a lot when it comes to business because I feel there is really a lot we can learn from past designers. So looking at
Paul Poiret . . .

Paul Poiret opened his fashion house in 1903 at the age of 24. That was about the same age I was when I opened my first store. His claim to fame was liberating women by first getting rid of all the petticoats, then ridding women of their corsets. You know those bustiers that are tied up tight to cinch in the waist and raise the bust. Yeah, he got rid of them for us. You can thank him for that.  He replaced these with looser fabric on the top similar to the lines of a Japanese kimono. The guy was a genius.

He was the first designer to ever have his own fragrance, he also opened up his own design house. He photographed his designs like they were works of art. Not just those that went into a garment index. Paul Poiret was a brand expert. So after he became a well-known recognized name, from freeing women from their corsets, he was recruited to serve in the war. And once the war ended, he didn’t realize just how liberated women really became. And he didn’t change his design style to fit their wants and needs. He tried so hard to get them back to buying the products that he drove up lavish bills trying to get his customers to take notice. He ended up driving himself into debt. His wife left him and he died desolate. All because he designed what he wanted to design and he didn’t see that his world had changed and his customer’s wants and needs had changed. So you have to pay attention to your customer and listen to what they have to say, take surveys, get in touch with them on social media, use newsletters, create a blog, or simply just go pick up the phone. It’s important, you have to keep in touch with your customer’s needs and wants. When you do, you’ll find out they will remain loyal to you and they will keep giving you their business.

So now getting a little off track from the question of, “How do you know which business you should go into?” The answer is simply: figure out what you love to do. And by doing so, you will never actually have to work a day in your life. My work was my vacation and when I actually took a vacation, I really just wanted to get back to work. So what if you still cannot figure out what you love to do?

Start with your hobbies, do you like to fiddle with rocks and stones? I know one girl who loved to collect rocks and since she had so many rocks lying around she started making them into jewelry. Which led to her opening up her own jewelry line. My uncle Penti liked to sit and widdle. He started to widdle spoons and then people started to ask him if they could purchase his spoons. So that became his business. His wife Hannah loved to weave rugs, so she ended up with a rug business. If you don’t currently have a hobby, think about what you like to do. Do you love talking? Believe it or not, this is a talent. My son would never be caught dead up on stage talking to an audience, I, on the other hand, put a microphone in my hand and I’m all over it. Probably one of the reasons why I’m doing this podcast. I actually always thought everyone loved to be up on stage until I had a son and found out that not everyone likes to do what I like to do. So if you like being up on stage what about being a speaker or actor or a sales representative? Maybe you love a good party, what about being an event planner? Do you love to travel? You could be a travel planner or travel writer. Perhaps you love to cook what about a career as a caterer, a chef, or a food truck operator?

There are so many possibilities out there. You just have to find out what you love to do.

If fashion is your passion, there are many roads you can follow.

As a business owner in fashion, I pretty much held every position you can think of in the field of fashion. Business owners, wear many hats. So, if you want to start your own business, just know, you’ll have to spread yourself thin between various fields that go into making a business. I had to know my accounting to read the bottom line. I was a salesperson so I could teach my staff how to sell my goods; a fashion and product designer, a real estate developer, a retail store layout designer. You name it, I did it. 

Let’s take a look at just what positions are available in fashion. I want you to see that within a certain field, there are many available.  So, if you like a certain field, but you don’t necessarily like a certain position within that field, keep looking because there are plenty of other jobs out there within that same field. For instance, in the fashion field, you have fashion models, boutique owners, chain store owners, sales consultants, trend forecasters, stylists, digital media fashion specialists, data analysts, product developers, fashion writers, style show coordinators, fashion photographers, CAD designers, technical designers, print designers, fabric researchers, sustainability officers, authenticity experts, fashion psychologists, merchandise planners, creative directors, fashion pubic relation coordinators, retail buyers, fashion designers, pattern makers, graphic designers, art directors, market researchers, window display visual merchandisers, sourcing specialists, costume designers . . . I could go on forever. If you don’t like a certain position but you like the field that it is in, there are so many more opportunities . . . so keep looking. If I just mentioned a fashion career that you liked and you would like to look more into what it entails, I will put a link on my website that will tell you more about it. Click here for more information on these various fields of fashion.

So start with what you love and then decide where you want to take your passion. That’s the best way to make sure you will be successful.

And sometimes you won’t get it right the first time. You may try something and figure out,  this really isn’t me. At that time, it’s time to move on. After I sold my company in the fashion industry, once my non-compete clause was over, I thought I would  jump right back into the fashion industry. Then I thought, maybe I should try something new. I was having trouble getting my bed sheets to stay on my bed, and thought “AHA! I’m a designer, I can make bed sheets that actually stay on your bed!”  So I did and I even got a patent for them. Then I started researching fabrics. If you knew what you were sleeping in, you would have nightmares. Most bed sheets contain toxins. If they say things like, non-iron, permanent press, or non-wrinkle, that’s formaldehyde in your bed sheets. Formaldehyde is a cancer-causing carcinogen. So I decided to only make bed sheets that contain NO harmful chemicals. Then I found a place in Xinjiang (located next to Tibet) that handpicks cotton. When you handpick cotton, you end up with extra long fibers. When you have bed sheets with extra long fibers in them, there are fewer connections in the fibers, which means less pilling. Also, extra-long-staple cotton fabric breathes keeping you cool when you need it and warm when you don’t.

So there you have it, I now have bed sheets that contain no toxins (whereas 75% of other manufacturers put toxins in their bed sheets). DeBora Rachelle bed sheets actually stay on your bed. And they are one of the most luxurious fabrics in 100% cotton on the market today. If you’d like a set, check out Use coupon code BFT15 and you’ll receive 15% off your first order just for listening.

I also designed a patented duvet cover (called Zip Zip Flip). I’ll talk about this in future podcasts. With these products, I learned a lot during the process and had fun doing it. But believe me, once I designed a sheet set, I wasn’t totally in love with the idea of staying with bed sheets all my life. After all, it is just a square piece of fabric. And I missed the draping, design, the creativity that goes into making evening gowns. So I pursued licensing the bed sheets to another company that does have a passion for bed sheets. It’s a win-win for both of us.

You have to love what you do. You have to have a passion for it in order to be successful in it. Then have the confidence in yourself to go after it. If you don’t believe in yourself and go for it, it will never happen. No one else can do this for you. You have to do this yourself. There will always be nay-sayers. If I would have listened to what other people said, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Granted some people will offer sound advice, but just know everyone is different, what works for one person may not work for another. If a person has a passion for what they are doing that eliminates half the battle of being able to succeed in what they are doing. There were plenty of times I didn’t listen to my own intuitions and I could just kick myself for all the opportunities I lost out on.

I’ll never forget the first time I decided to invest in stock. I went into a stockbroker thinking ‘he knows what he’s doing.’ However, when I got there he talked me out of investing in the eBay stock I wanted to invest in. I figured he was the expert and so I purchased the Dell stock he was so adamant about. Well, the Dell company fell apart and tanked. The original owner, Michael Dell, took back the company buying the stock that I had invested in for pennies on the dollar. Meanwhile, the eBay stock doubled, then tripled, then split — it was one of the highest performing stocks that year. Do I regret investing with that stockbroker? No, not really, it taught me a very valuable lesson, to go with my own gut, believe in myself, because if you don’t, it very rarely ends up good. And, this set me up for my next win.

Right after that, I wanted to invest in some residential land that I thought one day would go commercial. My husband was very adamant that I don’t do that. I did it anyway. That’s another nice thing about having your own company, you have your own money to spend the way you want to spend it. So I had my company buy the real estate. My husband kept saying, if you make anything on that house, I’ll kiss your butt in public. I put renters in that house and never spent one penny. The tenants paid for the mortgage payments and anything that went wrong with the house (such as changing out the water heater). The property did eventually go commercial, and I put it on the market. I got back 4x what I had paid for it. On top of that, it only took one day to sell. My husband still owes me that kiss. It’s definitely not the biggest transaction that I have ever done, but it’s the one that gave me the most glory because it was the one that others said I would not be successful in.

You are what you believe you are. If you believe in yourself and see yourself in a positive light, others will see that emotion come through and see you in a positive light also. If on the other hand you constantly put yourself down, others will see that as well. They will think if you hate yourself, then must not be worthy and chances are, they’ll treat you like you treat yourself. If you’re positive about yourself and what’s going on around you, you’ll begin to see your surroundings as a better place and in a different light. Everything rubs off. An ancient Chinese philosopher and writer named Lao Zhu once said, “ Change your thoughts change your life.” I’m a firm believer in this —- if you can change your thoughts, even if it’s about yourself, your life can take a whole new direction . . . change your thoughts, change your life.

And I’ll be right here every week trying to help you achieve your dream. I want you to be successful in what you do because if we all get to lead the lives we want to live, enjoying our work like its a vacation, imagine what a wonderful world this would be. Everyone happy, everyone loving life, everyone doing what they love to do. I cannot think of anything better — can you? So get out there and make your dreams happen by doing what you love. And I’ll be right here with Business Fashion Tips, trying to cheer you on. publishes a new podcast on the first Tuesday of every month before 5 am. So you have time to download it before you commute to work or while you’re getting ready to start your day.

The Business Fashion Tips podcast is designed to be informational and motivational. It’s directed towards entrepreneurs, small business owners and college business, management, and fashion students. It’s meant to inspire, educate, and empower others to take the plunge into business and thrive.

I’ll be tossing in important points about fashion designers, what they contributed to the business and fashion world and why they’re important. If you think about it, nothing reveals more about a person than their mood, their attitude, and their personality than what they are wearing. Everyone is involved in the fashion business from one aspect or another. From a business standpoint, some of the world’s most coveted brands are fashion designers and I don’t know of one business that doesn’t want to become a coveted brand. That’s what business is all about. Establishing your brand, making yourself known and trusted to the world, so they buy your products and become loyal followers. So whether you’re into technology, food products, a service, or clothing, our podcast in some fashion will pertain to all of these in some way, shape, or form. Fashion designers are visionary brand makers.

They are original thinkers who left an incredible mark on our world. And they all use the same template; which is our body. Can you think of a harder product to design for than that of a moving form like the body? Fashion designers have to create a garment that moves with us. Whether our body is running, sitting, or standing, fashion designers have to deal with it all. What can be harder than a moving template?

I have to admit, I’m amazed at many products, like flash drives for instance. Look at how small technology is getting. These products don’t run walk or move or make it difficult to work with, but they sure are incredible.

For fun, I made a little 4 question quiz for you to take. It’s on our website at either Each question is worth 3 points. Collect up to 130 points under one email address by December 15,  2022 and I’ll send you a free gift by the end of the year. Feel free just to take the quizzes for fun. Just to see what you’ve learned from that podcast. 

If you have any questions you’d like me to answer regarding business or fashion, leave a voice message at the end of the episode notes below, and I’ll be happy to answer as many questions as I can. Who knows you may even be on my next podcast. Thanks for listening, I’ll talk to you next week.

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