Q&A: Talking Fashion360 with Jenna McManus
Despite the importance of brick and mortar stores, in recent years, we have witnessed transformational change to the fashion industry with developments in eCommerce.
Fashion products represent a major category within eCommerce and have forged a “new” form of online marketing. With the industry’s pace of change, it is important that Australian labels remain relevant to their customers by adopting a combination of new and traditional marketing tools. While most can access this information by doing a quick Google search, it is difficult for designers to find advice on how to apply and personalise these tools to their own business’. We caught up with Digital Marketing and eCommerce specialist, Jenna McManus, who does exactly this for designers in our Fashion360 Accelerator Program.
Follow on as we dig a little deeper into her background and understand the challenges that Australian designers are currently facing — and how we can help them.
Tell us a bit about your background in Fashion and Marketing?
“I had always dreamt of working in the industry, mainly in PR, marketing or as a journalist. Reading fashion magazines from a young age stirred that desire, but as the shift to digital happened during my University years, I channelled this into a fashion blog where I shared all of my musings. From fashion PR in Sydney to supporting the Lifestyle Editor of the Gold Coast Bulletin, I finally got my break as a bright-eyed intern for Lorna Jane in 2010. This then catapulted me to a five-year stint working in a very driven and colourful marketing team that took the much-loved Aussie brand to global heights. It was fun, exhilarating and very, very full on but I learnt a lot, and fell in love with digital and social marketing along the way. I have since worked across global businesses and local startups in fashion and lifestyle, in both London and Brisbane. I am now a brand strategist for a global skincare company, and whilst it might not be fashion, I can assure you a lot of the principles applied are the same; that’s the beauty of marketing.”
So, what is the Fashion360 Accelerator?
Taking founders from concept to national and international success, the CEA Fashion360 Accelerator is a six-month intensive program delivered by the QUT Creative Enterprise Australia (CEA).
The Program helps founders of startup fashion labels transform them into commercial, sustainable enterprises, with support for their passion from leading minds in the business of fashion.
Fashion360 gives you what you need to follow your passion with cutting-edge facilities and technical services, and, more importantly, networking with creative entrepreneurs like yourself.
Why did you want to become involved as a mentor in Fashion360?
“I was excited at the opportunity to provide value, inspiration, and be a shoulder to lean on for these emerging designers. Having supported designers myself, as well as having close friends start out in business, I know firsthand how daunting it can be. You essentially have to be a designer, sourcer, marketer, accountant, seller and customer care all-in-one; the list goes on.
When it comes to branding and marketing, everything I have learnt has come from simply being on the tools day-in-day out, reading, watching and constantly asking questions. I wanted to pass on the things I felt needed to be understood about the industry and answer the questions that wanted (or were yet) to be asked.”
What has your experience as a mentor in the Fashion360 Accelerator been like?
“My experience has been so rewarding. An inquisitive type myself, I really enjoyed getting to know the 2019 designers, their backgrounds and their visions. Then being able to share all of my own personal learnings as well as guide them through social media workshops to branding 101, meant I was truly able to support them on their journeys in launching a brand to market.”
Do you have any favourite moments from working with the designers in Fashion360?
“There were so many fun and inspirational moments. One namely was when I got to sit down with Colleen Johnson of Buluuy Mirrii to learn about her road to Fashion360 and the story of her designs. Then in another I was showing her how easy it is to create content on an iPhone while she was talking through a new design and the inner workings of the collection’s hero print.”
What challenges do designers face in Australia and why is a Program like Fashion360 so important to consider?
“Fashion has and will continually change. Designers are under pressure to pivot and improve diversity across assortments while addressing the growing demand of sustainability, and more so, how this is presented to market. The growth of social media and eCommerce means we have access to more consumers at any given time. The rise of the millennial spender will drive this, and I believe future designers need to utilise a platform like Fashion360 to listen, learn and truly understand where they can play their part in this changing retail climate.”
Applications for the 2020 Fashion360 Accelerator close 16 December 2019, find out more about the Program.