Ain Earle introduces the brand, The Fashion Arch to the fashion fraternity. The Fashion Arch is a brand consulting entity aimed at assisting designers with branding, quality control, promotions as well as ensuring their work is well-known and accepted by clients, buyers and retailers. The brand will also assist boutique owners with new products, store design and quality control.
Ain aims to be the leading and most reliable provider of branding services to fashion designers and creatives. Her passion and upbringing in learning to support and appreciate products and services created and sold by her fellowmen have given her the right tools to get her on her way.
An avid supporter and advocate of Trinidad and Caribbean fashion coupled with her educational background in Tourism and Hospitality Management, she thrives on attaining quality service, awareness and acceptance of local talents and products. Because of this passion and being introduced to the local fashion scene some years ago she always thought that more could be done to raise awareness of and respect for the designers around her. Hence she and two other colleagues started Racked – The Fashion Market, an inclusive shopping experience, exposing fashion and accessories designers and their unique, quality products, all 100% designed and made right here in Trinidad & Tobago, or by a Trinbagonian living abroad. This event has solidified her interest in assisting with producing new experiences for networking with clients and buyers and guaranteeing that there is continued brand profitability through her committed service. She has served on the board of the Fashion Association of Trinidad and Tobago and is currently a board member of the Caribbean Fashion Arts Feature Festival.
FA curates, creates and promotes a brand story that produces a connection between each piece/product/service and its customer. The Fashion Arch prides itself in bridging a gap for designers by enhancing their marketing and branding foothold while assisting with opportunities for new business and partnerships.
SB-C: Tell us about your journey into entrepreneurship? Where and how did it all begin? AE: I have always felt a push and pull with working for people, don't get me wrong I enjoyed most of my jobs and experiences but something was always missing. My educational background is in tourism management and events and I have worked with the local Tourism Association, the Tourism Authority, Marketing for an NGO and PR and events for a PR company. I knew I wanted to do my own thing just wasn't sure what and when to start.
I love hospitality and events and did some odd jobs over the years with and for friends and family and started a company with my boyfriend offering management services to entertainers along with marketing and hospitality services but it was always part time. I knew a couple of people coming up in the fashion scene and was always known to wear local brands like Radical designs and a friend's t-shirt brand etc. So I always had a love for culture and fashion and supporting "our own". My friends always asked me where I got some of the pieces I wore and to me it seemed elementary but it was unreachable to many.
While at work in 2014 a colleague and I were talking about this same situation and how there were markets and platforms for persons who made and sold crafts and food but nothing was totally fashion, out of this conversation and a couple weeks of brainstorming Racked was born, a totally local platform for local fashion and accessories. We had events twice per year for two years, and because of its success and awareness my last employer ensured that I was involved in any fashion client that came to the company. In 2015 after a year into Racked I saw a gap between designer and customer in the way they would present and promote themselves and their brand and I registered a business, The Fashion Arch, that could assist with this and got my fist client, I mainly did liaison and representation work for this client as she was based in the US,along with social media management.
I became heavily involved in the Fashion Association of Trinidad and Tobago and was selected on their board, with this I was a representative for various meetings and committees and was part of the CARIBexport forums to discuss the possibility of a new Creative Unit for CARICOM. At these sessions I met various regional stakeholders in fashion and the creative industries, and even through my job I was able to make connections that would assist with the fashion industry as well as my endeavours. I started getting invitations to various regional events and based on the work I was doing with my client, word started spreading. Things at work weren't going well financially and saw this as an opportunity, I took a month to decide on my next step, spoke with my parents - my Mum was very supportive, my Dad had some reservations but he would support me either way and on Aug 2nd 2016, I handed in my resignation and by September 1st I was full time in my business.
SB-C: Why did you decide to choose fashion as your niche? AE: Fashion kind of chose me! From being a founder of Racked and being involved in fashion events, I realised that more could be done for the creative sector and for designers, they were lacking basics in marketing and branding, they were awesome at what they did - creating unique products but their skill set in the business aspect of their brands were falling short, and this is why The Fashion Arch was created.
SB-C: What is some of the biggest challenges fashion entrepreneurs face with their branding? AE: Understanding who their right target audiences are, having the right resources (they sometimes think they can't afford but there are many tools and resources right at their finger tips); unable to share the right messages to their audiences.
SB-C: Creating legacies through connectivity is your motto, can you expand on this for us? AE: Our name is The Fashion Arch, our aim is to be that connection between designers, their customers, buyers and the rest of the world; this connections would be solidified through our strategies and the work put into the various brands hence sustaining their brands creating legacies for the industry.
SB-C: Today's entrepreneur is building a personal brand alongside a business. What do you believe has started this trend and is it here to stay? AE: The markets have become so saturated with so many messages, audiences want authenticity - they want real stories, they want to be engaged, feel as if messages are directly for them and they want to feel apart of a movement, the story teller's journey, they want an experience. This for sure, is here to stay!
SB-C: Can you take us through the process of how you work with your clients? AE: I create individualised packages for all my clients, it is all based on the their needs, where they are in their business and my offerings.
After pitching and doing a first consultation, an offer letter and contract is signed and confirmed
We first start with their wants and needs and their positioning
Work out and confirm strategy to reach goals, with actions for both myself and the client
We meet either bi monthly or monthly to go over outcomes and challenges
I create stories for their social media or for PR purposes, do pitches with bloggers and press
Research for retailers and shows and other collaborations (based on their need and capacity)
Assist with event launches, product launches and trunk shows
SB-C: What is the future of FA? And does it include your own fashion line? AE: Aiming to continue individual client work on a monthly basis; collaborations across the region; more workshops and e-books to reach more designers and creatives; hosting expos and trade shows to increase further awareness and connections throughout the region's industry and even to international audiences and stakeholders. May not have my own fashion line under The FA brand but maybe under another brand; also looking into platforms for increased sales and commerce opportunities for designers both locally and regionally,
SB-C: What advice do you have for those who want to start a branding services business? AE: Know who your market is, stay true and love what you do, dream big and plan smart, success comes in different forms, not everyday is going to be a bank day but put in the work and reap the rewards not only for you but for your clients and for the industry you're working in.