Cat Turner has more than 20 years’ experience in marketing and business. Two months ago she took the leap and launched her own fashion business, selling responsibly made, environmentally friendly clothing. She shares her tips on launching your own business.
Name: Cat Turner
Company: Cat Turner
What is your job? Fashion entrepreneur / business founder
How long have you been doing this job? Two months
Modern languages, University of Oxford
A-levels: French and Spanish (German and history A/S levels)
1. What was your very first job?
2. What did you want to do when you were at school?
I absolutely love animals and so I wanted to become a vet. I went off the idea when I realised I had to be able to put them down – which I didn’t think I could do. I also needed to be good at physics, chemistry and biology – which I wasn’t!
3. How did you find out about the industry?
Through past work experience, reading (there are a lot of books and websites available explaining how to develop a fashion brand), attending industry and factory events — plus a whole lot of learning on the job!
4. How did you get there?
It helps to have a strong school record and a degree from a good university. It helps to get you through the door for interviews. However, to really get on at work and in life, you also need an excellent work ethic, good interpersonal skills, determination and passion, combined with the ability to think creatively out of the box and make bold moves when necessary.
I have over 20 years’ experience in marketing and business development. Marketing is at the core of every single product or service. At its most basic, it is all about understanding the market and developing the right product at the right price for your target customer and then promoting it in the right place, at the right time and in the right way. Once you have experienced that marketing process across a few brands, you can use those same basic skills to launch and manage any product or service.
Want to know where business could lead you? Check out our Business Subject Guide
5. What is a typical day like?
It’s hard to say, as my fashion business is still very new. Every day is different depending on what stage you’re at in the business’ life, what period of the year it is and what priorities and goals you have at that particular time. If I had to make up a typical day, it would be a mixture of; continual website improvements, range developments, fulfilling customers’ orders, driving brand awareness online and offline through PR, social media and newsletters, looking for potential collaborations, keeping on top of the more boring but critical administration of finances, keeping up to date with any industry news or business learning that can help you develop the brand further.
6. What’s the best thing about your job?
Seeing people wear my brand is a fantastic feeling!
Also - that I’m doing something that I am passionate about, whilst also making a small difference in the world. The Cat Turner collection of holiday dresses is ethically made in London and I am mindful of sustainability. These days there is a lot of throwaway fashion made in China, using cheap, synthetic fabrics, I wanted to create a beautifully made collection that embraced British craftsmanship on the production side, as well as European craftsmanship by using quality summer fabrics.
7. What is the most challenging thing about your job?
Not having enough hours in the day!
8. What advice do you have for people who want to do what you do?
Most definitely get some work experience before you ever consider launching your own business. That way you’ll make the usual mistakes and learn the skills needed before investing any of your own money. There is SO much to learn across all aspects of a business, before you take the plunge and launch one yourself.
Never turn your nose up at a work experience opportunity - even if it’s just in your local fashion shop or in the offices of a local fashion related company, or if it’s unpaid. Get a feel for the collections, the fabrics, the styles, ask questions, make the right impressions, meet other people within that organisation that might help you in our ambitions, and see if it’s possible to get experience across departments.
Read books, articles, join groups – keep learning and be interested by industry news. There is so much free information online! All of this will show any future employer how enthusiastic, resourceful and knowledgeable you are vs. others who haven’t bothered.
Once you’ve got a little experience and know-how, why not try something small like a side hustle in your spare time? Start selling something on Amazon or EBay. This will teach you a lot. But always test the water step by step before doing anything on a larger scale.
Don’t forget fashion is not all about the glitz and glamour. Fashion is a business like any other and to be successful you need to understand not only how to create and develop the brand, but also how to run the business, which means an understanding of marketing, sales, operations, finance, people management etc.
9. What things do you wish you’d known before starting your career?
The ability to read people, to understand what their words, tone and gestures mean at a deeper level and the ability to adapt how you relate to them in various situations. It is at the heart of how well you communicate with and how well you come across to others.
10. Where would you like to be in 5 years?
I want my brand to grow and develop into other product or service areas and be an experience - a brand customers are excited about - not just a standard fashion brand. Once I have hit certain financial milestones, I want to start supporting a charity. I will also continue to look at sustainable fabric options. Oh and of course, I dream for the likes of Meghan Markle, Amal Clooney and Emma Watson to wear a Cat Turner summer dress!
Main image via Pexels