3 Creative Ways to Take Your Fashion Business Online During Lockdown
The world is currently fighting a seemingly invisible but very real war against the Covid-19, also known as the Coronavirus. Many countries across Europe and the USA have already gone on lockdown in a bid to fight the further spread of this pandemic. Last night, South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, announced they too are preparing for lockdown, as cases there are rising. This is a great time of uncertainty, the kind we have never experienced before, and it is weighing heavily on the collective psyche.
Not only are we worried for our health and the wellbeing of our loved ones, those of us who are self-employed fear losing the businesses we worked so hard to build. While governments are putting plans into place in support of workers across all industries, the self-employed typically face a greater struggle. Do not panic or allow yourself to fall into a depression – this is a time to make the best of a strange and frightening situation by using all your creative energy and ideas to keep your mind occupied and your business alive.
If you are having to close your fashion business to the public for the foreseeable future, consider one of these three creative ways to keep it thriving online during lockdown. You may have to adjust your selling-points somewhat, but that doesn’t matter – you have to find the positives in every situation now, and this one will be a great practice in flexibility.
Host Lectures Online
Do you specialize in a specific field in fashion? Are you an expert on the origins and practices of the Bògòlanfini cotton fabric found in Malian culture? Have you studied the ins and outs of Xhosa aesthetics or the latest upcycling techniques for plastics? Then share your knowledge with your existing customer base and the rest of the world by hosting online lectures.
Forget about prior experience – this is a time to wing it! Check out YouTube videos about presentation techniques and how to write a good lecture/lesson plan, take a deep breath and just do it. The most important aspect of presenting lectures is delivering the information in an engaging and educative way, one that will keep people listening and interested and will inspire many questions at the end. If you’re passionate about your subject of choice, you’ll pass the same excitement on to your students. Platforms like Zoom, Google Hangouts and even Skype are great tools for setting up online lectures.
Start a Podcast
Can you spend hours and hours on end talking all things fashion, designers, accessories, cuts and new trends? Instead of saving all these juicy topics for your nightly phone calls with your girlfriends, share your thoughts and tips with your followers by ways of a podcast. This is a great way to get the name of your brand and/or fashion business out there and build personal relationships with your customers. Potential as well as existing customers like to feel a personal connection with the people they buy or get their services from – it creates trust and a sense of community that will serve your customer relationships and your business.
You don’t need much to get started on a podcast – a good microphone and a quiet space to work from will suffice, there’s no need to invest in professional equipment and you won’t have to soundproof your bedroom with egg-cartons either. As long as the sound is clear and not muffled, you’re good to go. It’s always best to create a rough outline of what you want to say and how you’d like to communicate it, instead of jumping right in without a clear direction. You can also use your podcast platform to cross-promote by inviting other designers, influencers etc. onto your show for fun discussions or interviews.
Offer Online Lessons
Put your talented self out there and share the many skills you have honed over the years by ways of online lessons. Show teens how to upcycle old clothes into new creations in a few simple steps, teach mamas-to-be how to make cute little onesies for their newborns using scraps of material, get into the ins and outs of different sewing techniques or show aspiring designer kiddos how to go about no-sew projects. Remember: sharing is caring, especially during times of uncertainty and adversity – you could be making someone’s day by giving them something positive and creative to focus on!
If you’re camera-shy, not to worry – there are many video formats to choose from, so if you’d rather keep your pretty face off camera, that’s fine too: just focus it on your hands and what they’re creating. If you’re a natural and the camera loves you, who knows – you might decide to ditch your existing business and become a full-time fashion design teacher. You’ll never know if you don’t try! This is a time to experiment with different ideas and projects and you might even find a new passion in the process.
For online lesson videos, it’s always best to choose a neutral, bright background without too much clutter – a plain white wall or a minimalist room is a great option. Make sure the sound is clear and the camera is focused without blur, and use a tri-pod if you can, to keep the image as steady as possible. You don’t need a fancy camera for online videos, most smartphones have a high enough quality with which to create great videos. Upload your video lessons directly to your social media channels or website or create an account on a new platform such as YouTube or even Udemy, an online academy that offers video lessons and tutorials at a fair price.
Yes, things might be tough for us all right now, but it’s important to stay focused on the silver linings. We’re healthy, we’re safe and we have access to all the technologies we need to keep in touch with our friends and family, and to keep our businesses going online.