Modeling is not just for catwalks

How many managers understand what drives their business and how it is financed? And how many clip_image001understand the laws of return on investment or breakeven analysis and critical mass.

Last year in December, at the Crown Casino Ballroom in Melbourne, I had a night to remember.  Our daughter Kate, now 28, graduated from the Melbourne School of Fashion. There she had completed a Fashion Management & Design degree after 6 years of part and full time effort.

With 16 design graduates, it was a gala event with professional models  parading their creations before industry icons who had come to assess the new release of talent.

Unlike many industries, fashion design is brutal on all who participate, as it ruthlessly starts at the top. Needless to say the show was world class.

Having got to this milestone, is potentially one who can lay claim for a place in the crowded fashion world to create and deliver something that the elite and masses alike will use.

And supposedly, through her study, she was also given skills to run a fashion based business to make money. So this year she is pounding the beat like the rest of us, trying to put substance to the value she brings.

She has for some time also worked in the industry, and run a small business herself. Last moths she returned from a fashion buying expedition to India, which is an annual cycle she tackles for procurement and production arrangements for her fickle business for yet another season.

Fortunately she has her feet on the ground as she follows the elusive KPI to deliver something different each season. In a business driven by a daunting critical success factor, she is very mindful of watching for what works and what does not. and what is needed to maintain the ongoing attention of customer’s capricious buying habits.

As a graduate Kate is also now well armed with the theory of execution. And being a practicing buyer with end to end skill at the sharp end of retail focus, she is also becoming astute to balance priorities and behaviors of the fashion business..

Last month I met here in Asia I was able to get really close to some of the inner workings of how young people now think. We spent some quality time together and I learned a great deal. Like many of her peers her youthful insights and ideas resonate well. Even as one who is in business of advising others it was a rare chance for me to be so close to the real world of fashion and see what many see as unreal.

One thing she consistently speaks of is her numbers and how to finesses plans and take action to make them look better at the close of the season. Key things on her mind were  things like category management and cash flow.

As one who likes to quickly deal with the fundamentals of vision and mission and execution models she cuts to the chase very well to look forward. Her youthful experience and outlook gives me great confidence our investment in out children is paying off.

Her business ideas and experience so far make useful case study for others so I suggested she share this. The outcome was an interview,  the transcript of which I will post in this blog as soon as it’s done.

One thing I noted that had changed in her since she graduated  last year is,  there is no longer much mention of catwalks and the only model that is rating for her now  is her business model.

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