Since launching in 2012, Fashion Equipped has guided hundreds of start-ups through the intricate process of establishing a fashion brand.
Fashion Equipped’s Founder, Elizabeth Formosa, knows the industry inside and out after working in fashion buying, retail, marketing, sourcing and wholesale over the past two decades.
From an early age, Elizabeth was interested in fashion, and now, it’s second nature to her. Understanding what makes Elizabeth tick, is easy too; just ask her about her passions, her drive and her goals, and she’ll happily talk about Fashion Equipped for hours…
Did you study in your field or are you self-taught?
I didn’t study fashion in a traditional academic environment; everything I learnt in the early days was first-hand experience on the job. I completed an intensive programme as a Trainee Buyer, which led me to become an Apparel Retail Buyer and beyond that, to working in wholesale. The learnings in those days were instrumental in giving me the confidence to eventually own and run my wholesale business and today, my fashion consulting agency, Fashion Equipped.
Was there a pivotal moment that made you want to launch your own business?
I was invited to do a guest lecture at The Melbourne School of Fashion, and before I knew it, I had accepted a role teaching Fashion Design students the business side of fashion. As such, I had to develop all of the content for the curriculum. Once I started pulling everything together for the curriculum, I had a real ‘ah ha’ moment; the realisation of just how much knowledge I had acquired during a long and diverse career. I was in a position where I was being asked to reflect back on all of my industry experience and package that up into an academic format that would be palatable for creatives to embrace. As professionals, we don’t often take the time to value the knowledge that we have to pass on to others. The icing on the cake was that I had so many students asking me who they could reach out to when they graduated and wanted to, ‘launch their own label’. There were many business consultants out there, but no one specialising in fashion. I saw a big gap in the market, and I just knew I had to launch a business supporting the fashion industry.
What does a week in your shoes look like?
I start every morning with exercise, whether it’s a run, a personal training session or Pilates; exercise keeps my energy levels up and keeps me sane. Once I arrive at the office my schedule is varied but can include client consultancy and mentoring sessions, business development consultations with new clients, answering the many enquiries that land in my inbox every day from people wanting to launch or grow a fashion business and determining what the best support plan would be for them. There are lots of phone calls involved in this one! I also prepare consultancy and mentoring programmes for new clients, liaising with my team on current projects such product and tech development, sourcing, marketing, web development or photo shoots. I also head out of the office regularly for client studio visits, meeting suppliers, attending photo shoots, retail appointments or meeting with my team. At the moment, a high percentage of my focus is dedicated to the ‘Start Your Fashion Business Online Programme’ we’ve developed and launched for fashion start-ups. We actively support our SYFB clients through fortnightly coaching calls and our Private Facebook group, so myself and my team are very hands on. I do try and keep as active as possible at industry events, so I try to get out for social and networking time when I can, including the all-important runway shows!
What exactly is Fashion Equipped?
In a nutshell, we’re a fashion business consultancy agency. We work with businesses at all stages; from fashion start-ups to emerging designers to established businesses. Fashion Equipped will assess a client’s position and recommend the consultancy method to suit their situation, including business planning, branding, product development, sourcing, sales, marketing and financial analysis. The whole process begins with a one-on-one business development consultation, and we typically spend a few hours focused on our clients and their business goals. The consultation is tailored to their specific needs and will take a top-level view of business objectives, product, price, customer, competitors, sourcing strategy, sales and distribution plan, as well as marketing needs and finances. We provide our clients with industry-specific advice and feedback throughout the entire consultation process. We will then ‘equip’ them with an all-important action plan, allowing them to take their business to the next level. Beyond that first consultation, we offer ongoing consultancy and mentoring programmes too. It’s incredibly satisfying to watch our clients gain confidence, experience and make their dreams a reality!
Why are you passionate about what you do?
I know just how hard it is to start, run and grow a business from my own first-hand experience, and I know how many times I just wanted to give up; the pressure, the crazy hours, and at times, the tears – it can all be overwhelming. There are so many challenges behind the scenes in the fashion industry, and I support and empower my clients to get through them. I give them the benefit of my long-term industry experience to improve their outcomes.
How does Fashion Equipped contribute to the success of the Australian fashion industry?
Fashion Equipped provides the service, support and connections that most businesses otherwise don’t have; we help businesses get off the ground and make it through the first few years – which is usually the hardest. Fashion Equipped is committed to reducing the failure rate of start-ups and small business owners in the fashion sector. We want to see more people pursue their passion of launching a business that can flourish and create a sustainable future while still enjoying it along the way.
To learn more about Elizabeth’s journey in the fashion industry or to book a discovery call to discuss joining the ‘Start Your Fashion Business’ Online Programme, contact Fashion Equipped today.
Let’s make the Fashion Business YOUR Business!