The Challenges of Production
The demands of business ownership, especially for a one-person design business, proved to be very challenging for Alison. “Everything in the Alison Beth collection is handmade,” Alison said, “so initially, I was making every piece on my own and trying to come up with new concepts for the next season.” She did everything in the beginning – from the selection of yarns and materials to actual knitting of the product. The process, though, proved to be rewarding: “I would become so excited to see the finished product that I couldn’t put my knitting needles down.”
Hand-knitting every single product was tedious and left her little time to market and to grow her business. Alison explained, “Over time it became impossible for me to run a one woman show and I had to outsource the manufacturing. One person alone could not keep up with the volume and the orders. I still, however, do all of the designing and fabric selection, but I don’t always knit the prototypes. On certain occasions, when I see a particularly beautiful yarn or a strong inspiration comes to me, I still will pick up my knitting needles.”
As the business grew, Alison enlisted the help of outside companies to manufacture her knitwear products, though it took her awhile to find the right manufacturer. Alison said, “Since everything is done by hand I had to approve of the quality of the workmanship, and my standards are particularly high. I did investigate leads outside of the United States, but eventually I found excellent sources in both New York and California.” Aside from quality of workmanship, she considered timeliness in the delivery of goods and cost of production in her choice of her manufacturing partner.
Reaching the Market
The Alison Beth knitwear collection targets predominantly affluent women, ages 15-45, who enjoy making strong fashion statements and who are attracted to bright, bold colors. They are women with an appreciation for quality, since this is not a mass produced line and the subtle variations from piece to piece reflect this process.
To reach this market, Alison first ensures that her products are made of the finest materials, often imported from Italy. She also creates products that are unique, durable and will make a fashion statement about the wearer. Alison explained her philosophy: “I do not believe in putting a product on the market that will not last a number of seasons. I also take into account my consumer. I want my customers to feel like they are wearing something special, something that you cannot simply buy on any corner in New York City.”
To get ahead of her competition, she tries to continuously “think out of the box to come up with unique styles that women will feel comfortable wearing, whether they are going out for a business meeting or out for a night on the town.”
She is actively using the power of both traditional marketing strategies and the Web to reach her market. She has recently started to send out a Press Kit and Sales Books to editors and stores all over the United States. On the Web, she contacted a variety of online boutiques, providing them with a select amount of pictures and description of her company.
As a result of marketing campaign, Alison’s collection is presently available in her website http://www.alisonbeth.com and is featured in a number of boutiques and online stores including the following: www.purplepeach.us; www.lyricalbeauty.com; www.funkyutopia.com; www.bagadoodle.com; www.belinastyle.com; www.Handbagheaven; www.creationsbywoman.com; Lola Luvs; Sugar Boutique; and Jennifer Kaufman
She has also started a monthly email newsletter to friends, family, editors and buyers from all over the country to let them know what is new with the Alison Beth Company and give them a teaser of what will be coming in the season ahead.
Creating a Balanced Life
Alison’s current focus is her business. She explained, “I am 100% dedicated to my company and my customers. I know the entire future of my company rests on my shoulders and I want to know that whatever comes out of this, it will be because I gave it everything I could.”
The responsibilities of a business owner can be tremendous, and Alison is no different from other small business entrepreneurs with a full to-do list each day. “I have an unlimited amount of responsibility… designing and updating the Website, designing my accessories and communicating with manufacturers, ordering supplies. The list is endless,” she explained.
She is working from home, and loves it. “You set your own hours and have to be a full time planner” though warning that “you need to be careful not to be distracted by everything else that is going on in your life because it is very easy to be distracted when you are in your own home/office.”
But Alison knows the importance of balancing her career with other aspects of her life. As she said, “I am well organized within my work and my social life. I keep notes on everything that has to be done and keep my calendar updated to make sure I have time for everything I want to accomplish. It’s all a job and you need to work at everything.”
The Future is Bright
Alison has big plans ahead for her fashion business. She wants to design unique products, things that are unexpected. “I like to be a trendsetter, not necessarily to follow the current trends,” Alison said. “I want to be viewed as a designer who is always thinking outside the box, a designer who is not afraid to try something different.”
Her goal at the moment is to continue to develop press for her company through online magazines and fashion magazines. She wants to create additional buzz so her products can continue to be featured in small boutiques and ultimately in Department Stores and Cold Climate Resorts.
So what is Alison’s signature product? “The Heart Hat – this piece is one of my personal favorites because it most closely resembles my character. It is simple, unique and bold. Whereas most people “wear their hearts on their sleeve” the whimsical heart hat rises to a whole new level.”
To aspiring fashion designers, Alison’s advice is to: “Be unique. Be patient. Believe in yourself!” And these are the qualities that are propelling Alison to success.