The Fashion Business Club (FBC) is a private members networking club, founded by Courtney Blackman and myself in January 2006.
Built on an ethos of sharing ideas, information and experience in an informal and professional environment, thus far, there has been no organisation quite like it. Word of the new networking club has spread like wild fire, and the response from new member applicants with impressive fashion-business backgrounds is inspiring.
Over the years, our members have been comprised mostly of designers, photographers, stylists, journalists, CEO’s, PR professionals, editors, recruitment consultants and marketing directors. But the FBC list of “who’s who” has drastically changed.
Recently, FBC has had a swarm of new applicants. Initially, we thought this was entirely due to our historic Vogue-on-Vogue scoop ofAlexandraShulman (Editor British Vogue) interviewed by Dolly Jones (Editor Vogue.com and FBC Board Member.)
On closer investigation we saw that the majority of our new members were buyers – cleverly exploring the value of a private networking club specifically set up for the fashion industry. When asked about the value of FBC, one smart E-tail buyer quipped ‘Our travel budgets have been slashed and targets remain the same – networking here keeps me sane.’ Buyers are natural connectors and networkers, using our private bi-monthly meetings and membership directory to optimum effect. After months of dead ends using traditional methods, it’s great to see our members splashed across E-tail sites and breaking into department stores.
We all know there is nothing new about networking – however these are new economic times and joining a specialised networking club like FBC is now considered a cost-effective new business tool for large and small businesses alike.
We firmly believe networking is a skill – some members are content to turn up, listen to the speaker and chat to friends. Others (buyers and our American cousins) come armed with business cards, hit the attendance list with vigour, line up pre-talk meetings, and slip the speaker a question for good measure. FBC provides the opportunity, and each member will respond to it differently, learning more with each meeting they attend.
It’s a simple formula – franchised the world over.
Last Thursday of the month, 3-4.30pm, 6 meetings a year, inspirational industry speaker with time set aside for member questions and networking. Speakers in the past have included:
Harold Tillman, Chairman of the British Fashion Council
Alex Shulman, Editor of British Vogue
Michael Herz, Head of Womenswear, Aquascutum
Lauretta Roberts, Editor, Drapers
The next FBC meeting is on Thursday 28th May, 3-4.30pm at the ICA, and presents edgy Berlin design twins Felder Felder interviewed by ‘Queen of Cool’ Daisy de Villeneuve. Annual membership is £150 at www.fashionbussinessclub,net. Definitely one for the buyers.
Alison Whelan is co-founder of the Fashion Business Club and Creative Director of AWL, a creative agency for fashion and beauty brands.