Industry Spotlight: Fashion Business Consultant Shares How to Grow a Fashion Business

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When it comes to the fashion and creative worlds, Andrea Rosenfeld has done it all. She’s a fine artist, maker, designer, educator and consultant, and has worked in various areas of the industry. With her bountiful knowledge, we couldn’t wait to pick her brain on the business of fashion.

Tell us about yourself and your history in the creative industries.

Firstly, I’d like to thank DG3 for this opportunity to discuss how I support our creative community. I admire your mission and am thrilled to be working with all of you!

After studying fine art at the University of Michigan School of Art & Design, undergrad, on a whim I transferred to the Fashion Institute of Technology in NY and into fashion design. I graduated in 1986 and while working with a large, dress company as an assistant designer for their urban collection, I noticed people working on computers in a back room, asked their purpose and was told, “merchandising.” Remember, this was the ‘80s and computers weren’t prevalent, so I was intrigued. In fact, while in fashion school, we did everything by hand. Everything.

I researched “merchandising” and realized that I HAD to learn it if I was going to begin my own label. I dove in and the next thing I knew I was the Assistant Merchandiser for Perry Ellis Portfolio Menswear! I moved from illustrating clothing, designing fabric and sourcing findings to designing spreadsheets and detailed formulas to track materials and create costs. I was in heaven. I didn’t realize how much I truly ENJOYED the organized, left brain business end of a creative business. After being there for a few years, a colleague referred me to a newer designer, Isaac Mizrahi, and I became his director of merchandising and operations. There were five of us when I started and we did everything necessary, including sweep the floors. My role was to maintain internal order and communication between the different departments as well as oversee our computer hardware and software orders and installs, specific to the fashion industry and our particular company needs. It was an incredible way to view almost every aspect of this innovative, growing design company and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity.

I got married while working for Isaac and a few years later left the fashion world to raise my family and continue with my fine art development. Once my children were old enough that I could find the time to commit more heavily to my art, my work was accepted into galleries, museums and private collections. Then as an experimental artist, I moved onto jewelry design, off-loom weaving, beading, silver soldering and gem setting. I attended small to large wholesale shows in NY, PA and NV, and Henri Bendel and Bloomingdales were the first retailers to offer me trunk shows, however I preferred galleries as my jewelry is geared more towards the art market. In addition to managing and growing my art business while raising my children as a newly, single mother, I began consulting other creative business owners to help them learn from not only my merchandising and operations background but from my OWN failures and successes, as a small, creative business owner.

Now that I’m back home in Michigan, I want to be involved in something bigger than myself, than selling my art. I desire to add my own style of value to the redevelopment of Detroit and support my creative community.

What exactly do you do now as a business specialist and consultant?

Through Detroit Art & Business Institute, it’s my absolute goal to uplift my client’s self-esteem and increase the value of artists and entrepreneurs using Mind Your Art Business relationship and business building education and consulting. I combine basic life coaching with best business practices and help my clients “grow from the inside out.”

Building a new or existing business, especially a creative business, can be extremely daunting if you don’t have targeted education and committed guidance. Add the fact that it’s YOUR business, which is quite personal, and that every one of us makes daily choices based upon emotion, and you get a number of entrepreneurs too fearful to take steps forward or constantly making the wrong choices. Some jump in emotion-first, wasting time and money because they’ve never been taught strategic steps to become profitable. They alienate potential customers from lack of healthy relationship education or they are taken advantage of because they chase dollars instead of honoring themselves, their relationships and their integrity.

Through my private, targeted one-on-one consulting and group workshops, I teach entrepreneurs how to identify with and connect to their passion, their “why” and their mission, which is the backbone of a strong company. From there we detail “who they are” in business and what type of business they want to grow, based upon how they live their personal lives. I ask them to “see” themselves honestly and I request vulnerability from my students and clients.

Actually, each workshop or session, while focusing on different aspects of best business practices, even one’s specific to fashion, design, retail, fine art, etc., is tethered to mindfulness and asks the client to connect to their integrity and truth. That may sound wishy-washy but it’s incredibly brave to expose yourself to yourself and bravery is necessary while growing a small business. My type of coaching isn’t for every business owner but I find many, many clients who are looking for balance while grasping the various detailed and sometimes exhaustive aspects of a creative venture.

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For someone in the fine arts and fashion industries looking to start a business, what's the one thing they should dedicate of their time?

Figuring out what they want to produce as well as WHO they want to produce it for. I see many artists/designers following too many different artistic paths, creating for the sake of creation or because it “feels” right or they “love leather.” They put no thought into their ideal client, how much their client is willing to pay for their art products and if they can make a profit from producing such products at the target prices. Please don’t mistake my request to plan and research as a comment against artistic integrity and creating from one’s soul, but there has to be a s