Small-business owners got some pointers from fashion-industry insiders at The Hom Store on Nov. 11. Bloggers and fashion editors from across the city trekked to Bay Ridge to help local retailers refine their online presence and sharpen their marketing strategies.
But it also helped foster a support network among local women in business, said one attendee.
“Support starts with the neighborhood and I think it’s great that women in business are coming together to get the tools they need to grow,” said Julia Abasova, co-owner of Bandelettes, which produces thigh bands that are intended as comfortable and stylish protection against chafing. “From my experience, working with bloggers really helps grow the business so I think connecting with writers and learning how to promote yourself will really help people step up their game.”
Bay Ridgite Mila Sohn, owner of the silk scarf company Mila & Such, hosted the event at the cafe-boutique with the goal of helping local merchants expand their presence beyond the nabe and onto the web.
Writers and editors delved into the nitty-gritty of what piques their interest when it comes to working with brands and how those looking to expand their presence into the digital age can get a foothold in the highly-competitive industry. Knowing your audience is the key, said one blogger.
“Whether you’re a business owner or a blogger, you must know your niche,” said fashion writer Nataliya Ogle, a former model who runs the blog Style Tomes and has more than 15,000 followers on photo-sharing social media platform Instagram. “It needs to be one defined goal that you are reaching. You have to know what your passion is and who you’re helping. And it’s that intersection that needs to be your focus.”
Speakers emphasized the importance of businesses arming themselves with digital tools that set them apart or define their voice — such as experimenting with new technology, including social media platforms and smartphone apps. But one editor cautioned that copy and pasting content from one platform to another won’t cut it.
“It’s important that you have a voice for each platform because the person that’s on Facebook is not the same person on Instagram and they’re not the same that’s on Twitter,” said Lashauna Williams, an editor for a national fashion publication that this paper is withholding because she was not authorized to be there on the magazine’s behalf. “Translating your business for each platform is crucial. Just like with everything you do, it has to be geared toward your audience.”
The event boosted local business owners’ confidence, and several left feeling they could tackle ambitious projects, according to one neighborhood shopkeep who wants to start a web service helping people identify and evaluate high-end vintage threads.
“I came here wanting to create a platform to help people authenticate high-end merchandise, something useful for community, and this will help me express that,” said Alexandra Gerros, who owns the local consignment story Consign Connection. “It’s a great resource.”