Category Archives: Public Relations

You’re a fashion lifestyle company…who are your champions?

#Fashion Institute of Technology and New York Economic Development – Together they are responsible for the Design Entrepreneurs NYC Mini-MBA program — year 3 and gaining momentum!

You can set your summer calendar by this program…take the best two weekends of endless sunny days and 32 dedicated and talented entrepreneurs happily spend the entire weekend indoors learning how to grow their fledgling businesses. And after the two weekends, they have 10 weeks to write a business plan. At the end of the summer they will compete to present their business to panels of fashion industry heavies in the hopes of winning a cash prize. But just participating in this program makes everyone a winner. Each designer has a clearly defined niche and their styles are so appealing! I’m particularly excited to be mentoring and And this year features the first #fashiontech designer to participate in DENYC! A handbag that charges your cell phone! Wait til you see the rest! On second thought, don’t wait

Check out the program, it’s current students and alumni,

Dr. Joyce Brown, President of FIT, welcoming the new designers! Jeannette Nostra, on the Board of GIII & Morris Goldfarb, President, Chairman & CEO of GIII in the background.

Christine Helm, Coordinator, Enterprise Center, FIT and Administrator of Design Entrepreneurs NYC.

You’re a lifestyle company. Who are your champions?

Silver Lining is one champion. I met Carissa Reiniger, CEO and President, about three years ago. She has dedicated Silver Lining to helping lifestyle businesses grow. Simple. It’s a one year, mostly on line, program designed to grow your business. It’s not a business plan but rather an action plan that relies on some of the same things in a business plan. There’s nothing wrong with business plans…they are great for determining what direction you want to take your company in. Business plans are primarily used to raise capital however. The philosophy at Silver Lining is that action plans are a better way for lifestyle businesses to grow. Their action plan is called SLAP: Silver Lining Action Plan. It’s a simple (because once you fill in the blanks, the plan program does all the calculations for you). Even if you’re self motivated, sometimes taking care of your own business gets pushed to the side by you – like the shoemaker with barefoot kids. If you can relate to this, then maybe you should check Silver Lining out.

Carissa Reiniger, CEO and President of Silver Lining

Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President who stopped by to cheer on the SLAP in the City participants.

Natori: A Continuation of an Appealing Apparel Story

Natori: A Continuation of an Appealing Apparel Story

Continuing from the last entry on Ken Natori’s visit to my licensing class (CEO 035)
, here are more traits that distinguish Natori.

One is customer service. I emphasize this in all my entrepreneur classes and to my clients. Customer service is the most cost-effective, and probably least expensive way to differentiate your company from your competition. It is so important, and like marketing, often an afterthought to everything else a busy entrepreneur or business is focused on. But here’s the big secret: Customers remember customer-service! Often customer service tips the scales in favor of the company providing it. Whether it’s a sole proprietor or a Fortune 500 company.

Natori has multiple licensees but when a customer calls customer service, they do not know which product has been licensed – nor should they. This is due to keeping a unified brand within the fashion house. Customer service at Natori is trained to answer all questions about all products, irrelevant of the source (licensed or in-house). This makes for a seamless experience for the customer – how it should be.

Another distinguishing characteristic at Natori, is that Josie, the founder, has a Wall Street background, as does Ken. The result is that they understand first and foremost that fashion is a business. And they treat the company as a business. Ken emphasized this point when he spoke to my licensing class, in order to separate Natori from typical fashion houses which are often known for high drama. The culture at Natori, while still high fashion, is much more sedate and drama-free. Sounds like a nice place to work.

Which leads me to my closing point: Natori is currently looking for a junior person to work in their licensing department. Know anyone? Are you that person? If so, Ken wants to hear from you:

Good Advice

To Start the New Year!

If you’re a start up, valuable advice from an angel investor who speaks at my Fast Trac classes!

PR is always good…you can never start too early!

What I learned from judging a $250K business plan contest… that might help you write yours

About a year ago I judged the Chase Manhattan and Living Social “Mission Small Business” contest. During that one week, I and other judges reviewed about 600 business plan concepts (about 70,000 responded.) There were 12 winners each receiving $250K.

Here’s what I learned:

First, almost all the plans fell into the middle range meaning they were good solid plans but didn’t stand out in some special way. There were a few that were just plain confusing so much so that in some cases the name of the business was never mentioned, or I was left guessing what exactly the business was/did. Those were immediately rejected.

The ones that stood out, however, made sure that they answered all the questions asked in the entry information. One of the key points that separated the winners was their passion which came across through the written word. Another was their story…storytelling is very important because it draws the reader into your world and let’s them experience it. Also important, and part of their stories, was how they overcame or were overcoming obstacles and their strength and tenacity to keep going no matter what.

One of the requirements was how the business contributed to the betterment of their community…and by that I mean not just writing a check to the local charity but actually having a positive impact on their local community. This included job creation, another very important factor. Each of the 12 winners had all of these elements. Entrepreneurs I work with incorporate all these elements into their plans as well.

A word of caution…no funder wants to hear that your use of proceeds will go to retiring debt. Unfortunately, no one cares about your past…they are funding your future.
So remember, when writing your business plan, make sure to include all these aspects – they will help you stand out from the pack.

Check out business plan startup competitions:
Most have expired but some have not and if they are yearly competitions, then contact the competition host directly for current applications.

New law protects fashion/runway models and could cost YOU

On November 20, a new New York State law will go into effect that qualifies and protects child (defined as anyone under the age of 18) print and runway models as “child performers”.
So what does this mean for a fashion designer using “young” talent?

Even if you are not paying your models a traditional fee, you are still affected by this new law. According to Wendy Stryker, who is Counsel, Executive Compensation and Employment Group at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC (a law firm who has a specialization in entertainment and media law) “I think that the new law is at odds with any practice of having models work for merchandise or experience. It makes clear that employers using print and runway models who live or work in New York must comply with the permit, trust account and other provisions. This will place additional administrative and financial burdens on all employers, and particularly on those without staff who are equipped to deal with the new paperwork. “

For a lot of you this new law will present a huge headache when planning to present new lines. When you plan for your next runway show, trunk show, catalog, look book etc. check out the age of the models you plan to use and make sure you are in compliance with the law. If you violate the law and are caught, your permit could be suspended and you could pay a fine of $1,000 for the first time you are caught, $2,000 for the second and so on. Make sure you are in compliance by checking out your specific situation with your attorney or you can ask Wendy at

Here are some more of the basic parts of this rule concerning the new law. For more information contact your attorney or Wendy.

Permits: Employers must now apply for and obtain a general Employer Certificate of Eligibility from the New York State Department of Labor before they employ any child performers. Employers must also verify that all child performers they employ have a valid employment permit from educational authorities such as a superintendent of schools as well as a certificate of physical fitness. All certificates and permits must be available at all times for inspection by authorized entities. At least two days before employing a child model, employers must also file a Notice of Use with the Department of Labor advising of their intent to employ child performers. Notice of Use forms can be found
For purposes of the new law, a “child performer’s employer” will be considered a person or entity that employs a child model either directly, or through an agency or loan-out company.

Parent or Guardian:
Child models must now have a designated responsible person on set at all times (for performers under age 16) or a nurse (for infants).

Trust Accounts: Prior to the first instance of employment, the Department of Labor requires that a child performer’s parent or guardian establish a child performer trust account. Employers must deposit at least 15% of the child’s gross earnings into this trust account. Trust accounts may be set up anywhere, so long as they meet the New York State requirements, or are a California “Coogan” type account.

Limited Work Hours: Under the existing child performer regulations, child performers are limited to restricted working hours based on age and school attendance. A chart summarizing the permitted working hours can be found

The Press Release — what works, what doesn’t

The Press Release — what works, what doesn’t

Before most start-ups will turn to advertising or other traditional forms of marketing these days, they are most likely to use PR first. Why? Because of the broad reach and cost efficiencies PR is capable of delivering.So for those of you first embarking on a PR campaign, or maybe just starting to send press releases, here’s some do’s and don’t’s.


o Waste the time of the recipient of the Press Release

o Spew of a lot of press releases just to make “noise” – they are not appreciated by editors and will not be read and when you have something that’s really important, guess what? Straight into the trash.

§ Noisy press releases include, so-and-so has just joined the firm as CFO. If so-and-so isn’t well known, it’s not newsworthy

o Meander around and tell a long story with the point, or news nugget, at the very end.

§ If I gave an example here, you’d be asleep or gone by the time you hit the third line

o Assume the recipient understands your industry’s jargon

§ Jargon-type press releases include, The CFO of LIMA is a featured speaker on the USPTO IP panel at FSLV.


· Get to the bottom line(s) quickly

· Create a catchy, SHORT, newsworthy headline which gives the bottom line in it – like a news story headline.

– LVMH Gives Middle Finger To Hermes, Acquires More Shares Despite Enormous Fine

· If you have an existing relationship with an editor, separate their press release from the rest and customize it

– Susan, I think this information will be useful to the article you’re preparing

· Make sure to put in quotes from key players in the action – it increases likelihood of the quote and point being picked up

– LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault had this to say about the situation….

For other tips, all necessary to create a powerful press release, and to increase your branding, check out the two links below.

Build your business by getting referrals from existing business

It’s so much easier than starting from scratch. That’s because the relationship is already there. Of course the foundation of any great relationship is good communications. And to maintain a great working relationship even when you’re not working together.

I have been very lucky in my business.  Almost every single client I ever had (I’ve been in business for 16 years) I’m still in touch with.  When they go on to new opportunities I’m usually the first person they contact to see if we can work together.  When I started a new company a few years back, I reached out to some of them to be on my Advisory Board.  The nice thing about these relationships is that I’m always thinking about my clients and how I can help them and likewise they are looking out for me.  This is actually true with colleagues and business associates in my network as well.

Heather Townsend put out a useful post listing 17 ways to get more referrals from existing clients (see below).  Here’s an 18th – stay in touch with my clients over the years even when you’re not working with them. Take them to breakfast or lunch when they’re in town, and find ways to help them.  Even if you don’t work together for long periods of time, stay in touch.  So when they do have a referral, you will be top of mind.

Advisory Boards — Part 2: How to attract them, who to avoid and compensation

Who you recruit to your board is critical. One overall criteria should be people you respect and are willing to listen to. You may not do what they suggest but you need to respect their opinions and be open to their advice.

HOW MANY: Aim for three to five outsiders. This is a number that will not be so cumbersome as to slow down progress and will encourage individuals to speak out. Make sure there’s no duplication in areas of expertise (for example, you don’t want two or three operations people). Bring different sets of expertise to the table.

HOW DO YOU ATTRACT THEM:*: Existing relationships may come on board with just a phone call. We brought on four advisors that way. If you are soliciting relative strangers, have some kind of short prospectus that describes the business. It needs to explain why you are putting a board together and what you are looking for. Include how the board will operate and compensation. (Boards can meet formally on a quarterly basis or through ad hoc conference calls.)

AVOID: Don’t put consultants or firms you’ve hired on your advisory board. If you bring on a professional advisor, make sure they are in your field. Usually you are looking for someone who is working full-time somewhere else or is intrigued by your company. No famous names you want to hang with. No family, friends, or anyone who has an emotional interest in the company – this last group shouldn’t be retained as professional advisors either. That’s just looking for trouble.

COMPENSATION: Board members should have some kind of contract with cash compensation, stock, equity in the company or some combination. You might start out with a nominal offer and let it grow as the business does.

*An interesting resource for sourcing board members:

Advisory Boards — Part 1: Who/What to look for

A good lineup of board members can be really helpful to your company – if you put together the right group of people. Here’ what you should look for:

 • Expertise in the area your company operates in – people with the full 360 because they’ve been there. People who know how to deal with both opportunities and obstacles that will come up…and how to help you prepare your company for the future.

 • Contacts and resources that can help your company – people, either professional or venture, who can pick up the phone and connect you.

 • Blunt honesty when it’s needed (tempered with respect) — people who can encourage your company to look at the elephant in the room issues. Whether it’s succession in a family-owned business, or an off-skewed exit tactic that can backfire, or your performance as a manager, they will bring it up for examination.

 We helped one of our clients develop a highly supportive board: Because it is a medical device, software as service (SaaS) company, we helped them bring in an advisor from big pharma with channel distribution expertise in the medical area. This expert wasn’t needed for about a year but we wanted him to be on board early. We also brought in two world-class experts who had put together a number of companies and brought them to market — one in medical devices and one in software and hardware. And we capped it off with an accountant with CFO experience to guide us once we started our growth spurt. This spread of solid expertise was there to guide the company and ask the right questions in its formative stages.

 Next blog – Part 2: How many advisors? How do you attract them? Who to avoid? Compensation.