Melissa Hall - Founder of The Emerging Designer
As small business owners ourselves, we truly appreciate people like Melissa Hall. She has dedicated her career to helping independent designers strategically grow their businesses with The Emerging Designer. She started out in advertising, pivoted into fashion, and hasn’t looked back. If you’ve just started your own fashion business (or any business for that matter!) or you’ve been in the game but are unsure how to move your brand forward, then you won’t want to miss out on her advice below!
Where are you from and how long have you lived in NYC?
I’m from Wheaton, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, and I’ve lived in New York for 11 years now.
What did you do prior to starting The Emerging Designer?
Prior to The Emerging Designer I lived in Chicago and worked at an advertising agency. I was in account management and realized that I wanted to do something creative so I moved to New York to go back to school at Parsons The New School of Design for fashion design.
What prompted you to launch The Emerging Designer? What is the mission behind it?
After graduating from Parsons I walked away with a few insights about designers and the industry. The first is that most designers don’t know how to market or position themselves. There also wasn’t a destination for people to get exposure or find brand building information. I started The Emerging Designer for this reason.
Our mission is to educate, inspire and provide opportunity to others while putting creativity first. We do this with brand building content, open calls, events, resources and consulting. We highlight designers through profiles and storytelling which is one of my favorite parts of the job!
What are the biggest challenges of being an entrepreneur? What do you do to combat the stresses of running your own business?
For me, it’s managing it all. Managing content, managing clients and seeking out new work. A good portion of my business is consulting and the reality is that people don’t pay you, pay you on time or try to negotiate rates, so I constantly have to manage this and continue to value my worth and years of experience.
My health has become my number one priority. I make sure I don’t compromise it and surround myself with people that have similar values. I eat extremely well, exercise, go to acupuncture, smile, practice gratitude and breathe.
What advice can you share to those who are starting their own brands?
Oh! So many things.
1. The first thing to ask yourself is why are you doing this venture. The answer should ideally be a personal pursuit combined with a business need. I would also say that designers don’t need to follow tradition. There are so many ways to sell, targets to tap into and ways to find success. The key is asking yourself what does success look like in the short and long term. I’ve seen so many brands try to keep up with the fashion cycle producing new collections twice a year or more without sales. There’s no reason to do this anymore and one of the fastest ways to go out of business.
2. Take the time to create a good product. Keep refining it and make sure people will buy it.
3. Invest in content. You can't sell a dream without beautiful content to back up your story.
4. Do things strategically. I recently wrote a story about the 5 Things You Should Ask Yourself Before Making Any Decision after years of horror stories from designers, witnessing a lot of tears and hearing about brands being taken advantage of by others.
5. Be nice and take care of yourself. You’re not going to be able to run a business if you don’t sleep, eat, learn and indulge in some self care. Being nice in this industry gets you a long way too.
What or who inspires your style?
NYC has always inspired my style. I see so much creativity on the streets that I am empowered to do my own thing.
Other than Pause :) are there any emerging brands we need to know about right now?
I love what Vanessa Lianne Jewelry is doing with her mantra rings and Angie, the founder Diaboli Kill has a sleek and sultry point-of-view. Reali New York makes cozy, sustainable sweaters and I discovered Chelsea Bravo on Instagram and the brand is doing some refreshing work.
To learn more, follow The Emerging Designer.