Thursday, May 14, 2009

About Look Books & Line Sheets

What is a look book?
A look book is a catalog designed to show your product, its fit and feel, and to reinforce your brand image. Look books should be straightforward and should show your product on a model so that editors and customers can see the proportion of the product and how it fits.

Here are examples of successful look book images:

What is a line sheet?
A line sheet is a document that details your line for prospective buyers. It should contain the following:

• Sketches or clear photos of the styles included in your collection. Most line sheets use sketches or computer generated graphics. Show both the back and front of the garment, especially if there are important details on the back.
• Style numbers
• Wholesale prices and suggested retail prices
• Color and fabric information. Include color swatches so that there is no confusion about what the color looks like.
• Season in which the collection is being sold (for instance, Fall 2009)
• Delivery dates and order cut off dates. Show the earliest delivery on page one and the latest on the final page.
• Order minimums (i.e. 4 pcs per style; $250 per order)
• Company, PR and sales rep contact information
• Page Numbers

Here's an example of a successful line sheet:

Look books and line sheets are important image building tools for your business and should be distributed to editors as well as potential wholesale customers.

Look books and line sheets must always have page numbers and style numbers. When editors contact you to request a look or style, it is important that they are able to identify them easily. Describing a piece is much more difficult than saying “the look on page 4.”

Send out look books and line sheets seasonally. Remember that magazines work at least 3 months out, so send Fall line sheets in March and Spring line sheets in October whenever possible.

To create a mailing list of editors, stylists and costume designers, visit Subscribers may build their own lists of updated contact information and print mailing labels directly from the site. So easy!

You Have Press Coverage! What to do with it.

So, you’ve gotten some key product features in the media and some nice sales to accompany them. Now what? Well, you can continue to use your press to help you earn even more money. A few ideas:

• Post press on your website
• When you get new press, email it to your customer list to generate interest and excitement
• Hang press in your booth at trade shows to attract buyers
• Assemble a press book to take with you to sales meetings or to give to your showroom
• Create booklets or post cards showing your press placements and send them to stores so that they can show them to customers and generate sales

Here's an example of a successful press post card from beauty brand, colorescience:

Setting Up Meetings with Editors and Stylists

Meetings are an ideal way to get attention for your product. If you are not based in New York, schedule regular trips to meet with editors and show them new designs. Email or call the editor to set up the meeting.

The Conde Nast building houses titles like Vogue and Lucky.

Try something like:

“Hi Jessica. I will be in New York next week doing deskside* meetings to show my collection of luxury fashion jewelry sold in upscale boutiques like Madison, Fred Segal and Henri Bendel. I’d love to stop in for a quick 15-minute meeting to show you new product and to drop off some line sheets and look books. I have an opening Tuesday at 10am. Would that work for you? I look forward to seeing you soon.”

*Note: a “deskside” meeting or appointment is a meeting conducted at the editor’s office. At some magazines you will meet at the editor’s desk, at others, like most Conde Nast titles, you will meet in the magazine’s lobby area. At some magazines you will sit in a conference room.

Once you have set up the meeting, send a reminder email to the editor the day before your meeting. Make sure to include your cell phone number in case the editor needs to reschedule. Arrive at least 15 minutes early for your meeting so that you have time to check in with security and ride the elevator to the appropriate floor. Be sure to bring your driver's license for security check in, product samples, look books, line sheets, business cards, extra samples in case the editor wants to pull pieces for stories they are working on that day, pen and paper to record borrowed samples, and a gift for the editor if you’d like them to have something from the collection.

After the meeting send a follow up letter or email thanking them for taking the time to meet with you. You might write something like:

“Dear Amy, You were so sweet to take the time to meet with me this morning. Thank you for looking over my collection of jewelry and for pulling some styles for your upcoming story on antiqued gold. I look forward to working with you again soon. I hope you enjoy the bracelet! Best, Jamie”

Find editor names, phone numbers and email addresses at

Tips for Writing the Perfect Press Release

Press releases should be catchy, exciting and relevant. Begin by tailoring your release to your audience. For instance, a release sent to a writer at Vogue should sound luxe and should appeal to a style-savvy, high-end reader. A release sent to a writer at Women’s Wear Daily should include a business or trend angle. A release sent to US Weekly should focus on celebrity.

If you write a great press release, the writer you send it to shouldn’t have to alter it much or at all in order to put it into their publication. You know you’ve done your job well if you see own your words in print!

A few hints and tips:
1) Write the press release on your company letterhead
2) Keep the release to under one page whenever possible
3) Your writing should be quick, lively and to the point
4) The first paragraph should be concise and draw the reader in with catchy text. The subsequent paragraphs can add more detail and explanation.
5) The final paragraph should include company information and the website address

Monday, May 4, 2009

When It’s Time to Change Tactics

If you don’t receive a response from an editor after several follow up calls and emails, it’s time for one of two things to happen:

1) Assess the situation. Is your product really right for this publication? If not, your time will be better spent putting energy into publications that are a better fit for your product.

2) It’s time for a new game plan. Maybe the way you’ve been pitching your product isn’t resonating with an editor. Can you tie it into a timely news story? Can you pitch another editor at the magazine that covers different angles? Can you think of another way to position the pitch that might be a better fit for the magazine? Can you position it to fit into a specific section of the magazine? You could even try asking the editor how they think your product would best fit into the magazine and use his/her advice to position yourself differently.

Following Up

Editors, stylists and producers are busy people. Just think of all of the brands competing for their time and attention. Plus, they still have to do their jobs. If you don’t receive a response right away, simply follow up. We like to make spreadsheets of target publications, names of editors, phone numbers and email addresses and a column for the dates and times we’ve contacted them. That way we can contact them often without overwhelming or overlooking. Sometimes it’s just a case of being the “squeaky wheel.”

Sample Fields for Contact Spreadsheet:

  • Publication
  • Editor First Name
  • Editor Last Name
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Dates Contacted/Notes

Sample Emails to Editors

Emails to editors should always be friendly, conversational and to the point.

For national fashion magazines:

Hi (editor first name),

How are you? I wanted to check in to see what you were working on this week. I design a collection of (describe product) and would love to send over samples for your consideration. You can view my collection at (website) and I’ve also attached a few images of some of our most popular new styles; the price points range from $xx to $xxx. The collection is available at Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and other high-end boutiques throughout the US.

Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to have us send over. I look forward to working with you.

(your name)

For weekly magazines:

Hi (editor first name),

How are you? I wanted to check in to see what you were working on this week. I design a collection of clothing worn by celebrities like Lauren Conrad, Lindsay Lohan and Julia Roberts and would love to send over samples for your consideration. You can view my collection at (website) and I’ve also attached a few recent images of celebrities in our product; the price points range from $xx to $xxx. The collection is available at Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and other high-end boutiques throughout the US.

Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to have us send over. I look forward to working with you.

(your name)

*Note: the weekly magazines want celebrity angles. Be sure to include recent information on celebrity wardrobing successes in any correspondence with them!

For regional magazines:

Hi (editor first name),

I am a locally based designer of (describe product) and would love to set up a time to show you my collection. I am available on Thursday of this week at 10 or 12 and on Friday any time in the afternoon.

Here’s a bit of background about my brand. My clothing is inspired by (talk about the idea behind your brand) and appeals to (describe customer). We currently sell locally at (name stores in the city/state) and in other boutiques nationwide like (name other well known stores).

You can view my collection at (website); the price points range from $xx to $xxx. I’ve attached a few images of some of our most popular new styles as well as a press release about the collection (also pasted below). I look forward to meeting you soon and to working with you often.

(your name)

Scripts for Editorial or Stylist Outreach Calls

To introduce your brand and inquire about sending samples:

“Hi this is (fist name) calling from (company name). I’ve just launched my collection of (kind of product) and I think my designs would be a perfect fit for (magazine name). Your readers will love our (describe product and why it is interesting for the reader). What are you working on right now? I’d love to send over some samples for consideration.”

To ask for sample returns:

“Hi, this is (first name) from (company name). I sent samples to you on (date) and wondered when they would be returned. I need to have them back by (date) for an important sales meeting. Please send them to (address) and email a tracking number to (email address). Thank you!”

To pitch a story about your brand to a writer:

“Hi this is (fist name) calling from (company name). My Chicago-based collection of luxury handbags would be perfect fit for (magazine name)’s (name of section) section. Each bag is hand crafted using fabric from the suits of famous Chicago mobsters and lined with silk from dresses worn by Marilyn Monroe (this sentence is your argument for why you appeal specifically to this magazine and reader). They are unique and the $2000 price point will appeal to (magazine name)’s reader. We also have a diffusion collection priced between $200 and $500. I’ll send along an email with a press release and backgrounder on the collection. Would you like for me to send some samples to you for review as well?”

What Happens When Your Product is Photographed or Broadcast

Once your product has been shot, you’ll receive a call or email from a fashion assistant or credits editor with a Credit Request. A Credit Request asks for the following information:

• Correct spelling of brand name
• Description of item
• What it is made of (fabric content for clothing, metal or stones for jewelry, etc…)
• Retail Price
• Where to buy it (your branded website or a store that carries a lot of stock)
• When it will be in stores

*Hint: help your retailers do well with your brand by offering them credits in magazines. For instance, if is your largest retailer, be sure to list them in the “Where to buy it” section. Before sending in the Credit Request, ask the store what price they are selling the item for. Always call the store you credit and let them know that you’ve given them some press. Sell more product by suggesting that they order additional pieces of that style to cover demand from the magazine’s readers. You also might try calling an account you’d like to sell to and offer them a credit in a major magazine if they order some pieces from your collection.

You might say:
“Hi, this is Joann from XYZ tees. US Weekly just shot our pink short sleeve scoop neck tee for their March 15th issue. We think our product would be an excellent fit for your store and customer and we wanted to offer you the credit in US if you would order a few pieces from the collection. Our order minimum is $500.”

Editorial Stylists
If a freelance editorial stylist uses your designs for a magazine shoot you will be contacted by a fashion assistant or credits editor to obtain credit information.

Celebrity Stylists
Oftentimes stylists will call you when they’ve used your designs to let you know who they’ve put them on and what fabulous red carpet event that celebrity will be attending. However, oftentimes they won’t. It’s best to ask the stylist what they plan to use the samples when they borrow them, then monitor and to see if you can find photos of celebrities in your designs. Also monitor magazine format entertainment shows like Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood for celebrity and red carpet event coverage.

When product is highlighted on television, you will hear from a producer prior to airing to confirm purchase information. You can oftentimes ask the producer for a DVD or video clip of the show. If they are not able to send one, contact a service like VMS (Video Monitoring Service to purchase a copy of the segment.

Sample Returns: How to Get Your Products Back

How to get samples back:

1) If you have not received your samples back by the expected date, send an email to the editor and ask when to expect them. Many editors do not personally handle shipping returns, but have a staff of interns and a “Closet Assistant” who take care of them so they may pass you along to someone else when you inquire about returns.

2) Sometimes shoot dates change and editors ask to keep samples a bit longer. This typically means that they are interested in including your designs in the shoot and it is a good idea to let them hold onto them. If you need the samples back it’s alright to ask them to return them anyway, but you will risk not being included in the story and complicating the editor’s job.

3) Magazines deal with thousands of samples from hundreds of brands, so every once in a while a sample will get lost. If this happens, the magazine is responsible for the cost and you can send them an invoice for the wholesale price of the piece or pieces. Often designers will not go to the trouble to do this and will just count the price of the lost piece as a marketing expense.

4) Editors and stylists are very busy and sometimes it takes longer than expected for them to respond to return requests. Be nice but persistent and contact them via email and phone in order to get your pieces back.

A note to beauty brands: beauty products are generally sent to editors for trial and use. For this reason they are typically not returned. The exception would be makeup bags or other similar beauty accessories.