Running a fashion PR showroom is a labor of love. It’s countless hours unpacking new collections, logging them in the system, tracking shipments and making sure your precious cargo is received at shoots. Nevertheless, the hard work pays off when you see one of your clients draped on a celebrity or better yet, on the cover of a magazine. A showroom gives you the opportunity to easily schedule in-person stylist, editor and celebrity pulls and fittings, as well as the ability to merchandise your client’s products in a boutique-like setting.
Whether you are an agency owner thinking about expanding with a showroom, or simply interested in this side of the business, it all comes down to preparation. While the showroom itself should appear to run flawlessly, functionally it requires forethought and systems that support the backend.
Track all Inventory
At any given time a client may ask you to account for a specific piece and you want to be able to answer with certainty where it is located. This is why having an organizational plan in place is crucial to operating a successful showroom. If you aren’t using Fashion GPS, find a system for cataloguing merchandise that works for you and pay special attention to accessories, as those tend to be the first to go missing.
Be a Stylists’ best resource
In addition to knowing the whereabouts of all samples is keeping record of your interactions with different stylists. Keep a database of what stylists come in to pull for what clients – and what they like/dislike. Note their main location and personal details, like birthdays. Think of yourself as a personal shopper of sorts, anticipating their needs and always having just the right thing ready to go, handpicked for their aesthetic and client needs.
If you aren’t using Fashion GPS, find a system for cataloguing merchandise that works for you and pay special attention to accessories, as those tend to be the first to go missing.
Develop a process to stay in touch with everyone who stops in to the showroom, and have a seasonal outreach plan in place. Email stylists and other important contacts to check out new items and always send a note of thanks for a visit. Reward stylists when they hit a home run for you; take a page from the haute couture houses, its amazing to see all of the floral arrangements pop up on celebrity stylists’ Instagram accounts the day after the Oscars. Personal relationships are one of your most powerful tools in PR and the same rule applies to your showroom.
Lastly, you need to think about how to show the value of your showroom to your clients. Quantifying results in the form of secured coverage helps to qualify showroom retainers. Set up Google Alerts and manually check websites, magazines and the top photo sites each morning – you might not always get an email letting you know something has landed – it’s up to you to spot it first! Send clients monthly wrap reports that detail out stylist interest and pulls that occurred that month.
Don’t forget to acknowledge all the hard work that goes into keeping your showroom clean, stocked and well-merchandised (like those lovely interns who have folded and refolded your samples more times than they have opened their textbooks for finals!). With a clear plan in place, a showroom can be a great added value to your agency, or a standalone business opportunity for those with strong stylist relationships.