Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Peter Shankman's (with HARO) Speech at New York Entrepreneur Week

This week is New York Entrepreneur Week, which is a week long event filled with different influential speakers and panel discussions every day. This morning I attended Peter Shankman's speech. It was amazing and he is HILARIOUS!!! Love a guy who can make you laugh at 9:00am! And the whole room was laughing with me! Peter Shankman is the founder of HARO (Help a Reporter Out), which he formed to connect journalists to entrepreneurs and designers, by using a system of sending 3 emails out a day that lists different categories such as; Urgent, Business and Finance, General, Health and Fitness, Lifestyle, Technology and Travel. So as you can see there are many different categories from where many different types of reporters, bloggers, editors and designers, experts and all different types of entrepreneurs can benefit from, simply by being connected! If you fit the bill for the story, you apply and you have the potential to get press. And it's free! I was introduced to HARO months ago and since then read every email he sends out and have gotten a few different write ups on Di Manno Designs from it! It works! Peter has been successful in building HARO. What he built for fun in the beginning, now has over 100,000 members. Congrats Peter!
In his speech he shared 4 rules which he lives and operates HARO by:
#1 Transparency
This is the idea that you shouldn't be afraid to let your audience know when you screw up. If you really listen to your audience, your customers, you can make valuable changes when needed to help your company grow in a positive way.
#2"Ask Them"
Don't be hesitant to ask your audience HOW they would like to receive their information. This is effective because they will get your information in a form they are most comfortable receiving it and it could save you money. For example, if someone prefers email over mail, you save yourself postage that would be wasted since that item would be tossed out if it went to a customer who doesn't read his/her mail.
#Learn to Write
This is key because in today's world everyone is so busy and getting information from so many different mediums, it is important when trying to get a person's attention to be concise and clear with what you write. If you have a question, don't beat around the bush, ask it, or maybe it is a clever title to use in the subject line of your email to assure that that person will not only open it, but read it. Peter says, "Brevity equals good writing."
#4 Be Present in People's Minds
This concept is to stay in touch with people through Facebook and Twitter etc, but not just when you want or need something. This can turn a person off, who may be someone you could potentially be doing business with. Make it a point to reach out to them JUST BECAUSE and it will build your relationship with them in a way that just by staying in touch, you will be remembered, which is key, because being memorable can definitely bring more business to you!
I loved what he said in the beginning, "If you strive for mediocracy, you become just like everyone else." So inspiring, because I think behind every great company, is a strong leader, a risk taker who likes to go against the norm, and by doing so, he or she can be very well rewarded. And hopefully that person is also a good person, with a good heart to also touch and inspire the lives of those around him or her through their journey.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fashion Group International's Presentation and Panel Discussion with Donna Karan as Moderator

Today I attended Fashion Group International's presentation and panel discussion on Spring/Summer 2010 Trend Overview with Sabina Les, (a fabulous silk scarf designer), my new buddy, who is my neighbor and also a member of Collective-E. Donna Karan was the special guest moderator and on the panel was Lincoln Moore, VP of Handbags and Accessories at Saks Fifth Avenue, Linda Fargo, SVP of Bergdorf Goodman, Jane Larkworthy, Beauty Director at W Magazine, Ikram Goldman of Ikram boutique in Chicago, (who also dresses Michelle Obama) and Candy Pratts Price, Executive Fashion Director of
To start, Donna asked the question, "What is the designer's role in retail stores?" Lincoln said that what helps his Saks customers are designers that are active and go to the store and speak to their customers. It makes the customer feel better when he/she has that personal relationship with the designer and also understands the value of what he/she is buying.
Ikram also added that it is important when the designer (if they are present) and sales staff talk about the fabrics and the cost and help the customer understand and learn why he/she is spending the money they are on one outfit and to also remind them it is a "buy now, wear forever!"
Donna also addressed the problems designers are facing with all the mark downs at the stores and the impact it is having on the luxury goods market. Linda said that what they have been doing at Bergdorf is buying less of each item, "less is more," she said. This helps to put the value back into luxury, if there aren't so many items, it makes the item appear more special and it will cut down the mark downs. Candy also agreed that less is more and she also added that it helps when the stores "entertain their customers." Customers want to hear the story and want that personal relationship. I completely agree with this. I am more likely to buy at places where I either know the designer, or believe and/or admire his/her story or have a relationship with a salesperson at a store. It is pleasant and it feels good, I think everyone wants to do what makes them feel good... Why not?
Donna also touched base on how there is too much information out there and how it is affecting the customers and the stores. Ikram agreed with Donna that there is a downside to "too much information" because an item loses it's luster when it is spoken about and seen too much in the press and in turn, the customer doesn't want to buy it, because he/she is over the item!
She says she gives her customers "surprises" to combat this problem. Surprises like offering items that weren't shown on the runway. She also mentions she has been very fortunate in this aspect because designers have been willing to work with her to create these pieces for her customers. Lincoln added that he agrees with Ikram and it is harder for Saks to have that kind of relationship with their customer because they are bigger and have a wider range of customers. Lincoln said "it is a double-edged sword because customers want what is on the runway that second and they can't get it." So this can be troublesome with sales because the customer wants what they saw in the fashion show and not what is out on the floor. He combats this problem by "re training" his staff to speak to customers on the value of the product rather than focusing on the brand.
Linda pointed out one advantage of having "too much information" is that it has brought in people globally all over the world to her store. Linda also said she doesn't think it is going to change, but on a positive note said that about 70% of their business is done on pre collections, meaning that they buy and sell pieces from designers that are not in the fashion shows. She says these items have a natural sell through, don't have to go on sale and she is happy that the designers don't have the pressure of performance on the pre collection items, as they do with the runway pieces. Donna, of course, mentioned she loved selling pre collection for this very reason! Donna said the pre collection items have a longer shelf life and sell more because people aren't sick of it!
The overall consensus for the Spring/Summer 2010 lines is that they are going to do very well. Linda felt there were enough compelling trends to discuss with customers, Lincoln was thrilled with it and Ikram feels that there is a "notion of a dream with the lines, no longer dressing to kill, but dressing to be beautiful."
One key point that Jane Lankworthy mentioned, (when Donna asked about how are "we" supposed to feel good about wearing these clothes we see on the runway, when we are not those models on the runway) is that beauty comes from within, no matter what outfit we have on. It is the way we feel about ourselves. I completely agree with this, I think WE wear the outfit. No matter what fabric, style or designer you may be wearing, if your attitude and energy isn't exuding goodness, the outfit alone doesn't have the power to make you shine.
So, as you can see, I learned a lot today from this panel discussion, which was very insightful!
Great presentation by FGI and great questions from Donna and candid answers from everyone on the panel. Thanks to everyone for another educational and inspiring day!:)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Saks Fifth Avenue Event, Live the Life You Love

Yesterday evening I went to the Live the Life You Love Event at Saks Fifth Avenue, NYC, presented by and Spark Networks. It was fun, complimentary cocktails (even though the wait staff did not know what liquor it was, they were tasty and refreshing! lol), manicures, makeup applications by Estee Lauder, seaweed soap and coupons to Vitamin Shoppe and gift bags!

Beth Schoenfeldt, one of the owners of Collective-E spoke as the business and start up advisor, hence the reason I was there! The other speakers were Alyson D'Anna as a career coach, Karine Bakhoum as the entertaining and food expert and Brad Berkowitz as the love and relationship expert.

The theme was for single women , encouraging them that they can start up a business alone, they can cook gourmet meals for themselves, a reminder of what to be careful of in the work place as a single woman and advice on where to go if you are single to meet a guy.

Beth spoke about taking advantage of the extra time you have when you are single, because once you have children, if you intend to do so, your life changes and you will not have the extra time off to get more work in. She also reminded us to "start with the end in mind," meaning to know where you want your business to end up, even if you don't have a a business plan, and to start thinking of whether selling your business may or may not be an option, but just knowing gives you peace of mind and will help you to grow your business effectively with that strategy, whatever that may be. She also said it helps when an entrepreneur is "hungry," which translates to not waiting or depending on a man to come along and start or support your business. We women can do it on our own! And from what she has seen, entrepreneurs end up being more successful when they are "hungry!"

Alyson spoke about being single in the workplace and being conscious of the consequences of getting romantically involved with your boss and/or co workers. She also spoke about the importance of having a mentor. She sees that men tend to have mentors more than women and she encourages women to go out and find a mentor because they can be very instrumental in the success of your business.

Karine spoke about a few different delicious recipes that don't take long to make, but reminded us that frozen dinners aren't the best thing for us to be putting into our bodies! She encouraged us to treat our self and that we can buy single portions at the grocery store, so if we feel like a filet mignon, buy a filet mignon, stick a potato in the oven, make a simple salad on the side and have a gourmet meal, even if it is only you eating! We should be cooking gourmet for ourselves while single, because we are number one! She also commented, if you have a dinner party, maybe you will not want to go with the filet mignon for a party of 8!

Brad spoke about trying new things, not to become creature of habits, because that sometimes is the reason of why single women are not meeting men. Don't always go to the same restaurant and if a guy doesn't call within a few days, he is not interested, move on, don't dwell and analyze! He reminded us, if there is a game in the evening, good guess that a lot of men will be there watching the game, find a friend, go to a bar to watch the game and your chances of meeting Mr. Right will be better than you just staying in watching TV by yourself!

In the picture above is Sherri Langburt, founder of Single Edition, Beth Schoenfeldt, owner of Collective-E, Sabina Ptacin, also owner of Collective-E and Red Branch PR and me. By the way, I am wearing a Black Brass Studded Di Manno Designs Wrist Cuff with the outfit, even though you can't see it in the picture, it is on the other wrist!