For those of you following Staci's blog, you should be well familiar with the theme of Going Hard or Going Home. And it's not about luck, it's about good old fashioned hard work. Arlene is the human embodiment of these principles. I heard her speak at a panel a few weeks ago, and she made a tremendous impression on me. You truly have to hear her in person in order to understand her incredible energy, drive, warmth, and savviness.
Knowing that Arlene would be there turned my mood around completely. I realized that the only way to nip my funk in the bud was to surround myself with people like her, people that I could be inspired by and learn something from. I made time in what seemed like an impossibly busy schedule for something I knew would serve me well. There are days that you feel overwhelmed, over-worked, and over-tired, but you can't let that stop you. Sometimes you don't actually feel "tougher than a lion," but to get yourself back on track you have to seek mentors and role models. You get in touch with your perseverance and determination when you seek the company of those that will elevate you to that place. I'm delighted to say that a little over two hours spent in such fine company, and I was beyond being back on top of my game, I was strategizing bigger and better ways to make my goals a reality.
The venue, Blue Velvet, was sleek yet welcoming, the perfect setting for the crowd within. After appetizers and conversation, I had the pleasure of sitting next to John Arguelles, President of Lloyd Klein and Foundation Co-Chair of Fashion Group International LA during the panel. I also introduced myself afterward, as I was so impressed with what he contributed to the discussion. And it truly was a discussion, robust with audience questions (and advice!) to one another and the panelists. I learned a lot about the business just by listening to these fashion industry players exchange ideas and recommendations.
Arlene Battishill, of course, inspired me all over again. She shared her experience as President and CEO of GoGo Gear, the line she developed in order to give bike and scooter riding women a chic alternative to the traditional gear, "so that they don't have to look like men." Her collection is the first of its kind, offering feminine design coupled with serious armor engineering. Her company has seen incredible success, the line was selected as a finalist for the Top 10 Products of 2010. I'd really recommend reading her blog to get a greater sense of how hard she's worked and her resulting accomplishments. Staci is Arlene's number one fan, but I promise, I come in at a close second! It was wonderful to hear her speak again and share her insight. I also had the opportunity to meet her beforehand, and spent some time after the panel talking with her and her intern. I can't tell you how exciting that was!
Gary Fineman shared his expertise as co-managing partner of Fineman West & Company LLP, one of the largest CPA and business advisory firms in LA specializing in apparel and manufacturing. He offered financial advice and practical guidance for managing a fashion business.
Sharooz Kohan, CTO of Aims Technology Solutions, Inc., had a lot of insight about one of the evening's major themes--social networking and branding on the internet. He's an expert on generating website business and he explained his theories.
Ilse Metchek, President of the California Fashion Association, moderated the discussion, asking the panelists some very probing questions that led to some truly informative answers.
All in all, I must say that it was one of the best panels I've ever attended, a real success. For someone like myself, who is just starting to enter the fashion world from a business and legal perspective, I couldn't have asked for a better taste of the industry. It was inspiring, energizing, and enlightening to be a part of.
Staci is always reminding us of the importance of in-person networking, and I'm going to echo her advice. Nothing compares to saying hello, shaking hands, and exchanging business cards. You learn a lot in the mean time, and you never know how things will turn out. Keep hustling and working hard, and you'll see the payoff (Arlene and Staci are living proof!). It's also just plain exciting to be in the midst of a fashion business discussion.
And with that, I hope to see you all at the upcoming panel on the Design Piracy Prohibition Act, Tuesday at 12 at the California Market Center. I actually wrote my paper on the bill, and because I argue for copyright protection for fashion designs, I end up recommending a modified version of the DPPA. The panel should be pretty interesting, as I know that there is quite a bit of opposition in the industry as well. I'm looking forward to getting a better understanding of the issues, and I hope you all will join me in learning more about the industry!
Until next time,
*Jackie is a 2nd year student at Loyola Law School, and in addition to being Chief Articles Editor of the Entertainment Law review, she is the school's resident Fashionista. Jackie contacted me after writing her soon-to-be published article about extending copyright protection to fashion designs, looking to learn more about the business of fashion.