Is it possible to market and grow your brand using only social media? How do you make smart financial decisions related to the profit and loss of your business? Where do fashion designers draw inspiration when creating collections?
In today’s episode, I am joined by Andrew Kwon, the founder and designer of Andrew Kwon, a couture bridal and evening wear brand based in New York City. His gowns are available directly through his showroom and at Bergdorf Goodman, the window to the world of luxury retail, and he and his collections have been featured in Forbes and The New York Times.
His design aesthetic empowers women, highlighting the strength and beauty of nature. Each collection takes cues from Kwon’s surroundings and builds upon this concept with femininity, bridging the ethereal with the every day.
Andrew and I first met through the Luxury Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging the next generation of leaders within the luxury space through educational programs. We are also both Parsons alumnus.
The featured finance term in today’s episode is profit and loss statement, which focuses on income and expenses in your business and can be tailored and customized to help you answer critical questions about your business on a rolling basis — all which help you drive forward toward greater profitability, clarity in your business finances, and overall efficiency as you plan for growth.
Read more finance tips and tricks HERE.
Andrew’s Underwater Garden Collection from his thesis at Parsons got a lot of attention and, in many ways, was the starting point of his career. He says the inspiration for the collection came from trying to create beauty from a dark place in his life. His dad had recently passed away and he vividly remembers friends and family putting flowers over his casket. They laid his father to rest in Colorado Springs near a waterfall.
He wanted to create something that was meaningful to this pivotal moment in his life, and his collection did just that. He says the collection represents a journey from the darkest depths of the ocean to the beautiful florals from his dad’s casket. The lesson behind it is that it is possible to come out of a dark time and turn it into a beautiful moment.
It was incredible to see how far one dress could go. From starting as a piece in his thesis collection to being pulled for the Neiman Marcus Hudson Yards Exhibition Window and worn by several well-known women.
Social media has always been huge in fashion, but Andrew had a feeling it would be crucial to growing his business. He used his personal Instagram page to showcase his thesis work and eventually transitioned it into his name brand page.
When he first launched, he was unsure how to get clients. However, he knew he could use Instagram to tell his brand story in a very elegant way. That resonated with many women and connected them to the brand. He grew organically by being genuine, authentic, and truthful, and he never had to pay for PR and showrooms.
Evening wear was the spotlight of his thesis collection. However, he put his brand together during the pandemic when he knew women were not going to events or walking the red carpet. Despite the massive shutdowns in NYC, women were still planning their weddings and marrying in small intimate settings, which is how his bridal collection evolved.
He knew that the one time a woman was open to spending money on a dress was for their walk down the aisle. He also understood from a business model that collections in bridal could be timeless. Andrew launched his bridal collection in February 2021 through Instagram and then officially launched his evening wear collection under his own name in September 2022.
Deciding how and when to add new pieces or lines to his collection from a financial standpoint takes a lot of thought and practice. He tries to make very smart decisions and predictions about what he will need based on reactions from people, who attend his shows or email requests he gets.
Andrew shares how he does make time to review his company’s financial statements, and he speaks to how using a profit and loss statements to track your income and expenses is so important in business. You must track your fabric through every step of the construction process. From inventory, to finished inventory, sales inventory, direct to consumer- it’s a lot to keep track of. While Parsons was an amazing fashion design school, he feels they were not taught anything related to the details of business. Because of that, he had to learn on the job — like so many creative entrepreneurs do.
For even more insight into Andrew’s life as a designer, the process he follows when constructing his pieces, and how he transitioned from marketing on Instagram to hired PR, be sure to listen to the full episode above or download it wherever you get your podcasts.