The Fashionably Lean Story

Rewind 6 years ago.  I was just re-entering the fashion and accessories space with a new brand.  I was ready to take on the world. Sales reps in the major markets (LA, Atlanta, NY) – check!  A booth in the prime tradeshows (Magic, Accessories the Show, etc.) – check!  A fancy website full of gorgeous photos to showcase our kick ass jewelry line – check!  Linesheets, printed catalogs, and collateral galore for wholesale sales – check, check, and check!  I was ready to rock. Only something interesting happened…

While I was busy designing our 1st jewelry collection and getting ready to launch, the market shifted.  Dramatically and quickly.

Retailers started going out of business in droves.  Those that remained open tightened their spending.  Many stopped traveling to the trade shows.  Many more stopped investing in new brands and chose to play it safe with the tried and true products they knew would sell through.  At the same time, the middle of the market completely disappeared.  Moderately priced brands (which we were) really struggled as customers were either looking for high end or low end (mostly low end).  It was a tough time to be a new brand, and sadly many didn’t make it.

We almost didn’t make it!

We were told repeatedly – by our sales reps, showrooms, mentors – that the only way to make it was to cut our prices and move production to China.  We were told to take some of our higher priced pieces that customers loved and “knock ourselves off” with a cheaper version made in China.

I wouldn’t do it.

I took great pride in the quality of our pieces and in making every piece of jewelry in the USA.  While I fully support companies who choose to ethically manufacture their products overseas, I wanted to keep production in the USA to stay true to my personal and brand values.  At the same time, I knew that we needed to cut our prices in order to be competitive and have a chance of survival.

The challenge – build a profitable business model, while reducing our prices, WITHOUT compromising on quality or moving production overseas to China.

I know, it sounds crazy.  I was certainly told I was crazy enough times!  But needless to say, I figured it out.

I have always been someone with multiple passions.  In addition to running accessory businesses, I also spent nearly 2 decades helping companies cut costs and improve time to market by optimizing their business systems and how they worked.   I decided it was time to blend my passions and incorporate everything I knew from consulting into our jewelry brand.  What I discovered was shocking!  Even with my consulting background, we were wasting SO MUCH time and $$.

That got me thinking.  If my business was wasting that much time and money with my background and depth of experience with running a lean business…  imagine how much time and $$ businesses without that background are wasting?!?  This realization is what ignited the Fashionably Lean business model.

I am now on a personal mission to help as many fashion and accessory brands as possible to survive and thrive in this wildly unpredictable and shifting fashion market.

Our business operations have evolved significantly from where they started.  Today, our quality is better than ever, our prices are right in the sweet spot, and every piece of jewelry is still made right here in the USA.  The secret to our success – being fashionably lean.

Infusing lean manufacturing, lean start up, and lean agile values into our business model, all built upon a solid strategy…  Doing less with more…  (No, that’s not a typo, that’s the core of our business model.)  Making every minute and dollar count by eliminating waste and reducing lead times…

We are a lean mean jewelry production machine, and we keep manufacturing and systems sexy and FUN!

There have been many shifts in the market since we launched.  From the way retailers and customers shop for new jewelry, to stores expecting immediates rather than pre-ordering seasonal collections.  Who knows what shifts are coming next, but one thing is for sure – the market will shift again and when it does, we’re ready!   With a solid foundation and fashionably lean business model, we can pivot on demand and be ready for whatever madness (good or bad) the market throws our way.

Will you be ready?

I would love to help you get there and #befashionablylean!

xx, Crista