7 Simple Lessons Designers Can Learn From My Event Mistakes

Over the last couple of months, I've been working on a fashion event for Nashville rising brands. As I am completing my plan and getting my idea's situated I been thinking of my past mistakes I've learned from and how designers can also learn from them.  

Planning an event is exciting but can also be overwhelming. Without proper planning at the beginning stages the event become less beneficial for all involved.  

As emerging designers the excitement being a part of an event makes for less questions and focus on how the event will help your brand growth but stepping back and analyzing event participation can be a smart move. Brand experience is so important in events you take part in and if you understand the importance of having the right audience you will know which events to invest in and which to not.

Here are 7 mistakes you can learn:


Mistake 1| No specific purpose nor details defined for the event  

The fashion show I planned for Boys and Girls club was very specific with a target audience and purpose of the show. From the specific age groups, to the audience expectations and was one of the best. 

For many of us we just "want to plan an event," but it's important for your event to have a "Strategy" plan, a reason why? Why are you having this event? To raise awareness, to raise sales, to gain press, to show off a new collection or to simply connect with your customers. 

A particular event I planned for a local gallery was for a Christmas party, there was no set idea for the event. Just bring in designers and showcase, when it came time to plan how the show would take place, it was disorganized with no direction. Letting the owner of the art gallery decide on event plans as she goes really hurt the event overall, we didn't have the right audience, nor the proper space for the event. The overall lack of presentation could have been prevented with more planning, understanding and preparation.  

Designer lesson: Always ask "what is this particular event purpose and how do you see the designs being presented?  

Mistake 2| Not having a specific audience  

When you don't have a specific purpose for your event you don't have a specific audience. I've learned over the years that audience is so important to an event and the audience you target can make or break an event. During a Christmas event, the designers were more young, college style clothing and a few "high fashion" style brands. The audience ended up being a much older crowd that didn't fit the demographics of the brand. I've learned over the years that promoting to the correct demographics is really important. Instead of trying to have a big fashion show, with lots of people in attendance the focus should have been more focused on college campuses and young entrepreneurs who attend big functions.  

Designer Lesson: For designers when you decide to be apart of a fashion event you want to know that the audience aligns with your brand. It's so important to know these audience members are people who want to purchase from your brand, check out your brand and truly interested in the style of clothing you have.  

Mistake 3| Not putting a proper plan in place

Just like the purpose and audience strategy a proper plan should be in place! I've taking on a few projects that definitely were all over the place because the lack of planning, the overall event didn't measure where you would hope. I truly believe that the initial meetings need to consist of all the idea's, estimate of budget, type of event and participation guidelines. The concept of the whole event needs to be pre-planned before reaching out to designers and others.  

Designer Lesson: As a designer you want to make sure you align with the concept. When there is no proper plan things change constantly that more than likely the day of the event original plans will fall through and you will have to wing it. Keep in mind winging it doesn't always work out in the end for the designers. Make sure the event planning have all the planning completed upfront, it's ok to tell them to reach out when the strategy is complete. 

Mistake 4| Picking designers that styles align

Ah, this is something that is often overlooked but a cohesive fashion event works when the designers brands align. You do have fashion events where different styles can come together but for beneficial purposes a cohesive show between brands and event purpose comes together much easier.

The issue typically with showcasing many different styles usually lands on marketing and audience. If the marketing team is much more established with a streetwear audience, a high fashion designer showcasing their clothing will be a waste of time for the event. It's like taking Barney's clothes to a Forever 21 shopping event, it just doesn't work. One of my fashion shows had so many different styles of clothing and it just didn't fit, the theme didn't come together because designer styles were so different. One my best was a children's clothing show where many of the styles from Belk and Old Navy all focused on the fall theme and kid styles worn for school, many of the looks sold immediately after the show.  

Designer Lesson: Designers know the brands you are showcasing with and if your potential buyers will be apart of that audience. Talk to the event planning about their marketing demographics to make sure your potential customers will be apart of the event. 

Mistake 5| Not going with professional models  

When searching for models working with friends and family or old models that worked in your portfolio pictures that you love usually doesn't work and as an event planner we must draw a line! You want models who show up to rehearsals, fittings and on time for event day.  

Designer Lessons: Designers listen to event planners, you want models that won't bail and models that are fitted and ready for the big day. Trying to find a model at last minute or complete a fitting just puts a show behind and the audience hate that. 

Mistake 6| Learn to limit vendor participation + understand needs of vendors upfront

Every since I got more into Public Relations I have not been a fan of vendor participation. Event planners are so hung up on wanting to take money for the show that any vendor becomes a part of an event and 90% of them are not making their money back or selling because they have nothing to do with the purpose and style of the show. It's important to know every detail of the show, it's also important to know how vendors will play into the events. I now refuse to do vendors at fashion shows that don't fit the overall purpose and concept. Over the years I've found that many are there to see the show and vendors do not belong at the show to sale. Sponsorship's are great,  I've known one style of fashion show event that had vendors that had the perfect balance, vendors took place hours before the show and it was more of a VIP lounge event before the actual event.  

One of my events had so many vendors and many that didn't have anything to do with the concept. These vendors wanted to be a part of an event and I wanted vendors, that didn't end well when maybe 3 made great sales and others barely made their money back. I realized I must focus on vendors that fit with the brands showcasing and the audience that is coming in. 

Designer Lesson: If you are going to be a vendor for an event make sure that "Shopping" is a big part of the event and not something that is just held while audience is sitting. Many attendees have already paid for a fashion show ticket and are there simply for the show. Know what types of audience will be in attendance, along with other vendors. I've gone to events where 3-4 vendors are selling the same things, most likely they all lost money.  

Mistake 7| Not having a great marketing strategy

The why is so important here, why are you hosting this fashion show? Do not limit your marketing to a few Facebook posts, there must be a great marketing plan in place and your fashion event should be treated with high regard. When you know the purpose and audience it makes marketing easier. You will know if you should be marketing on college campuses, if you are doing a kids fashion show you should be marketing to places mothers go or attend, and what websites should you market on? For past events I've relied on just Social Media without a direct person I am targeting, like many people we think, "This is for anyone who wants to come to an event." That's a sure way to get all the wrong people!

Designer Lesson: Know that there is a marketing plan in place from the event planner but also include your own marketing plan! This is a great time to invite your shoppers or that media editor you have been following for quite some time. No matter the overall event marketing, you should always have a plan in place. Many freelance event planners are focused on everything and are to busy to sit down and get a plan together for each individual designer, they will have a marketing plan for the overall event, but as the designer you know who you would love to sit front row to see your pieces, maybe that boutique owner you've been trying to get to purchase wholesale from you?