The following are excerpts from a variety of business articles I’ve written on the subject of starting and running a children’s clothing company. Click on the links to read the articles in their entirety.

Treating Your Fashion Business Like a Team Sport

Recently I brought my intern along to a client meeting. When we left, she expressed amazement at the scope of our discussion, which had included product, production, sales, marketing, public relations, customer relations and branding. “There’s so much to think about,” she said. And, she’s right, it is sometimes staggering to think about what goes into running a successful label. So it’s not surprising when designers become overwhelmed by the many decisions and tasks they must perform each day. Even for seasoned veterans and talented multitaskers, the fact is, you can’t do it alone. In the spirit of adding value and removing headaches, I’ve recently teamed with industry veteran Christine McCarthy to form the Children’s Apparel Consulting Group (CACG).

Dissecting the Elements of a Fashion Brand

In chemistry, if you want to get a particular result, you have to start with the right elements. If you’re simply pulling substances from the Periodic table on a whim, your experiment could fall flat or literally blow up in your face. While determining who you are as a brand isn’t a science, it does draw on the same principles. Having the wrong mix of characteristics could result in a lackluster collection, while blending the right art styles, silhouettes, fabrics, colors and influences could spark legions of lifelong fans.

Growth Through Collaboration

You can’t get through the doors of a mass shop without bumping into a name that regularly lights up the runways like Stella McCartney for H&M and Rodarte for Target. Likewise, specialty kid brands are going mass, with labels like Appaman, Zutano and Trumpette fighting for shelf space at wallet-friendly big-boxes. And now retailers are bridging the high/low chasm.

Claiming Victory Over Your 2013 Business Resolutions

If I had to guess, I’d say you probably already have a good idea of what it will take to trounce your competition this year. You’ve probably been carrying around tons of plans in the back of your head for weeks, months, maybe years. Any of these sound familiar? Gain more press exposure, entice more customers, promote your e-commerce store, stoke the fires of your brand ambassadors, drive excitement through social media, launch new product categories and forge alliances with complementary businesses. If so, it’s not ideas you’re lacking; it’s execution.

5 Steps for Cooking Up Products That Sell Like Hotcakes

Cupcakes in particular are a personal favorite. And clearly I’m not alone. The cupcake business continues to boom with new bakeshops popping up on every street corner. We certainly don’t need them to survive, so why are we consuming them at such a high rate? Obviously we’re addicted to the sugar rush, but there’s more to it. It seems the bakery industry has developed the perfect recipe for cooking up demand.

And it’s time for other industries — ours included — to take note. Because let’s face it, no one needs anything brands are selling. Even if your product category is a necessity — diapers, clothes, or shoes, for instance — there are a glut of options from other companies that could easily feed that consumer need. So it’s up to you to create a line that’s rich in just the right ingredients for sales success.

Grand Opportunity

Grandparents are the gifts that keep on giving to the children’s industry year after year.

Land of Opportunity: The New Normal in the USA

Children’s wear is often touted as recession proof but following the tsunami that hit the U.S. financial markets in 2008, the industry struggled to remain even remotely recession resistant. And today, consumer confidence remains anchored by lingering economic turmoil. But the news is not all bad. Industry insiders report signs of a rebound like new store openings and healthier wholesale orders.

Transforming Your Company with First-Class Branding

Before I start working with a company, I’ll sometimes give them a quick questionnaire that, among other things, basically asks them what it is they think they do. This might seem odd at first. I consult with children’s apparel companies, so most likely these brands make kids clothes, right? But it’s important for me to find out how the owner or designer sees their collection. And to determine if there’s a clear point of view or if that’s the first thing we’ll need to work on.

Would-be entrepreneurs are often stuck on a product rather than an overall company vision. You might have a great concept but ultimately consumers connect with ideas and emotions more than things. Sure, you may buy something simply because you like it, but you keep coming back for how it makes you feel or what it says about you.

Baby Boom

Whether they’re in the market for pink or blue, one thing is increasingly true: consumers are going for green when shopping for new arrivals. As a result, eco stores are starting to learn what traditional shop owners have always known: Baby products are the true rainmakers at retail.

Moms—and the gift-givers looking to shower them—see sustainable fibers, pure ingredients and upcycled materials as the healthiest choice for their children.

Drumming Up Sales by Combining Marketing Efforts

Too often in this industry, businesses are isolated, and their marketing and sales efforts become one note. Whether you’re humming along nicely or hopelessly out of tune with new ways to attract customers, your company could probably benefit from a few strategic alliances. Just think, the same kid who rocks your swimwear is probably in need of a monogrammed beach towel, a protective hat, some chemical-free sunscreen and fashionable flip-flops. If these aren’t product categories you offer, working in concert with the purveyors of those goods could help you expand your fan base. By leveraging these relationships, you could really amp up your visibility to the trade community, consumers or both.

Boosting Your Brand with Ads That Score Big

Placement, content and timing are the MVPs for making the most out of your ad dollars. Which is why before you decide to dive headlong into print advertising, you should take a timeout to consider where to run those spots. Before you begin, think of the combined effect your copy and image are shooting for to score. Just like a smart franchise builds a team around a key player, everything in your ad should be built around a single message.

Making Your Business Future-Proof with a Little Detective Work

As valuable as it is to really know your customer, the reality is, sniffing around your own backyard will only uncover part of the story. The most important undercover operatives your business has are your friends and peers in the industry. This network of reps, retailers and designers are your eyes and ears. You need them to provide a broader picture of what’s going on in other tiers, categories and regions because those same forces might impact you in the future.

Tips for Helping Your Sell-Throughs Take Off

Despite the importance of sell-throughs, it seems vendors sometimes forget the role they have in ensuring their lines take off at retail. Without you, your products are left to fly solo in the face of whatever headwinds come their way, threatening both sales and reorders. Though you can’t possibly hover over your collection in every store, offering a sales pitch to each consumer who comes through the door, you can help move your own merch.

Goosing Sales Through Consumer Engagement

Engagement is also a result of involvement with your brand. Whoever first said “absence makes the heart grow fonder” certainly wasn’t in retail. While you don’t want to badger your customers, you do want to remain top of mind by solving their problems, entertaining them and piquing their interests. If your target customer only thinks of your goods or shop when they need something, ultimately your company will be toast.

Tapping Into the Magic of Social Shopping

These days, many would-be consumers are actually consuming a lot less because we’ve grown wary of advertising, we’re too busy to shop or we’ve vowed to shake off the curse of overspending. But that doesn’t mean we’re immune to the near-supernatural charms of the perfect shoes, bags, jackets or coats.

It does mean that you will need to learn how to pull a new rabbit out of your hat in order to gain our attention. These days, you have to meet your customers where they are and engage them in interesting ways. Unfortunately, there’s no magic wand for this. But there is “social shopping,” the term used to describe the fairy dust that makes products look 10 times better just because a friend recommends it.

Need a Sales Barometer? Check the Retail Climate.

Whether you’re on the wholesale or retail side of our business, participating in a little retail therapy could be just the thing to lift the fog that comes from focusing solely on your collection or store. Visiting a variety of retailers — whether it’s places you’ve never shopped or long-forgotten old haunts — and taking note of brands, merchandising, displays and customer service can provide you with the customer’s view of our industry, your products and your competitors’.

Identifying the Tools Your Business Needs to Shift into High Gear

Ultimately, as the business owner, you are the creative engine for the company, keeping it moving in interesting and profitable directions. But if you’re constantly distracted and depleted by everyday tasks, rather than navigating your way to increased sales, you could be veering into trouble.

Playing It Safe: The new directions in the toy industry

Thanks to updates on proven performers, a deluge of innovation and a focus on key consumers, the toy market was strong heading into 2011. The industry made $21.87 billion in sales in 2010, posting a 2 percent uptick over the previous year, according to Port Washington, NY-based market research firm The NPD Group.

Putting Relationships at the Heart of Your Sales Strategy

Think about the store you avoid because the sales help is so frosty or the restaurant you bypass where the service is glacial. Then take a moment to reflect on how you treat your customers, and ask yourself, would you date you? Are your booth, displays, demeanor and wardrobe wooing new customers or shooing them away?

Spreading the Gospel of Your Brand through Brand Advocates

Short of divine intervention, it’s not enough to simply hope online tribes will emerge to champion your brand. You must add your voice to the choir.

Using Storytelling to Differentiate Your Brand

Take a page from established designers and ensure your branding, marketing collateral and Web site all interrelate. Everything you create should support your branding.

Giving Your Business A Reality Check

Though the formats vary, each of these new reality shows focus on an individual with an idea or startup operation who is looking for the investment or expertise they need to launch or grow. The edutainment factor makes the lessons palatable and much easier to absorb than all those business tomes gathering dust on the nightstand.

Event: Parsons Children’s Wear Panel Discussion

On March 9th 2011, Caletha Crawford and Francesca Sammaritano gathered industry insiders at the Parson School of design and asked them to speak about what consumers want now. The panel of industry professionals represented all facets of the market, including recruiting (represented by Polo Ralph Lauren); design (Ralph Lauren, J Crew’s Crewcuts and Tawil Associates); retail (Yoyamart) and sales (Thread showroom and Playtime trade shows). Throughout the hour-long discussion, the panel provided valuable information on how to break into the industry but one of the most interesting aspects of the conversation centered around defining who today’s customer is and discussing how she ultimately determines what ends up in stores.

The secret for starting a successful children’s apparel line

It’s disheartening to turn up at a trade show, step into the booth of a first-time exhibitor and realize immediately that this poor soul—who has plunked down lots of good money to travel and exhibit there—is ill equipped to make their dream a reality. I might see them at another show or two but often, that’s it for them. Why? Usually they’ve put the cart before the horse. Sadly, it happens all the time. Just ask a trade show organizer how much of his floor turns over in a two year period, and if he or she is being honest, the percentage will surprise you and hopefully serve as a cautionary tale.