"My vision is to merge art in our daily lives through fashion by crossing traditional boundaries of design to present accessories as engaging, atmospheric art." - Azand Shokohi
Azhand Shokohi is a Persian born U.S. based fashion designer, illustrator, and artist who first became inspired to create clothing at age 10, when her mother, a biology teacher, showed young Axhand her knitting, crocheting and sewing. During her teen years in Frankfurt, Germany, she learned more about design and decided to pursue a full-time career in fashion design.
"I am trying to accomplish a dream without a loan or grant. I design and hand make every piece myself."
Azhand currently handles all of her own PR and marketing efforts. This month, she had her first fashion show wiewing and recently had her designs featured in the celebrity magazine DStripped and is currently working on her Spring/Summer 2012 Couture line. Azhand designs for a 25-35 female who "shops for a few special original pieces at independent boutiques that focus on avant-garde labels," as well as a slightly older, 35-55 demographic committed to high fashion from high-end department stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Saks.
"I have a website, twitter, and Facebook. I send out emails to bloggers, magazines and when I have any extra time, I knock on the doors of boutiques which may be suited for my line. I also reach out to other online companies."
Azhand received her BS from the University of Cincinnati, DAAP College in 2002 with a double major in Fashion Design and Product Development, and has worked for companies like Rampage in LA, American Eagle Outfitters and Warnaco, Chaps® Ralph Lauren in New York City. In October 2009, Ashand designed her first jewelery collection as a "conceptual brand, inspired by mediums other than metals, evoking an aesthetic that is bold, chic, luxurious, and sophisticated, yet edgy." A year later, she introduced her first first made-to-order line for Spring 2011 which has been wildly covered by top European fashion blogs.
"Which three online public relations strategies would you recommend that I can do myself? For instance, should I be sending out mass emails?"
Azhand posed the above question to PR Couture and we asked Gerard Bush, Co-Founder/Chief Creative Director at The brpr Group to share his fashion marketing insights.
I would recommend setting up a blog, not necessarily a custom blog or even wordpress; both of which still prove effective platforms, but specifically for fashion, Tumblr is the absolute best choice. We have been utilizing the platform at both The brpr Group and for our clients for a while now and have enjoyed great success and feedback. W Magazine, among some of the most prestigious publications in the world, use Tumblr as their blogging platform of choice. I think this can be largely attributed to the fact Tumblr is visually stunning and mimics a slick glossy, that implies a custom aesthetic, without having to build out a custom blog. It is a wonderful vehicle to showcase new pieces while integrating inspiration and sharing the designers perspective of their creative process with the consumer and provides yet another opportunity for sharing content with media outlets and customers. At The brpr Group we are dedicated to simplicity. In fact we see simplicity as an art form. You must however strike a balance, there is a difference between minimalist and sparse, the latter of the two is most certainly not the visual you want to convey. I always think as a creative director what can I take away from an image not what can I add. Clutter does not look expensive unless executed flawlessly and for a specific purpose. Tumblr is the epitome of simplicity done right.
Twitter is compulsory for any designer. All of the magazines and blogs that you have an interest in being profiled by are extremely active in the space and are still amenable to helping those aggressive enough to get their attention (and in possession of real talent obviously). Follow all of the magazines, editors, stylists and bloggers that are respected in the industry and interact by sharing tidbits helpful to them. Blatant self promotion is not effective and appears trite. Twitter revolves around a spirit of a collaborative effort in sharing information as a collective. Keep that tenet in mind and you will find Twitter to be an amazing marketing tool. Twitter may be free to participate but it is expensive in time, if you do not have the time to dedicate or you are sloppy or crass with your tweets, you will do more harm than good. Remember social media is a commitment, not a campaign.
Lastly, I would suggest demonstrating the same level of creativity reflected in the actual design of your brand in your online marketing efforts. This may sound a bit vague, let me clarify with an example. I love the photo sharing camera app Instagram. A designer can shoot an entire look-book or editorial utilizing the different photo filters (some of filters look as good as Steven Miesel’s work) of Instagram, post on their blog and Facebook, promote via Twitter, Facebook, etc. The point is to always look for an inherent PR hook that makes for an interesting story that bloggers and editors will find interesting and unexpected. We call it surprise and delight. You should think of your brand as a total equation not just separate pieces. Every single thing that you do should be consistent with spirit of the personality of that brand. Another example is to create a video web series, perhaps chronicling the designers creation process, from mood boards to sketch, to sewing and fittings. Post on Vimeo as the hub and capitalize on all of your other branded social media platforms in your cross promotion efforts. Again, it is not expensive, but it does take time to do this correctly.
PR Couture has partnered with FadMashion to highlight their independent fashion designers and provide fashion PR & marketing advice