Portland Craves the Unusual
by Amelia Gray
Fashion Career Center Columnist
Dana Herbert started her home-based small business with the modest goal of supporting herself and her family. Nine years later, her unusual accessories are sold in shops and boutiques coast to coast.
For Dana, the first step to success was gaining knowledge about her craft and the industry. She needed to learn about patternmaking and other design essentials, along with the fashion management and product sales skills one might learn in a fashion design school.
In an interview with the Portland Business Journal, Dana talks about the inspiration to go into business. "I needed to support myself and two girls, and continue to be home with them," she says. "I knew I could run a business if I could find the right product."
That drive to succeed kept Dana grounded. Another detail working in her favor was her location; Portland thrives on art and small businesses, and the fashionable women of the city were immediately receptive to Dana's one-of-a-kind pieces. "I love giving Oregon-made gifts because they have a bit of a story," gushes Oregonian fashion columnist--and Dana Herbert fan--Vivian McInerny.
A Receptive Climate
Portland's fashion scene appreciates a distinctive style in their designers. The fashion climate is often militantly anti-mass-production, and students in Portland's many fashion design schools have the added challenge of taking existing styles and reinventing them for their clients. That emphasis on unique style works for Dana, who has broadened her velvet scarf line to include handbags, shawls, and sashes she makes from unique fabrics she finds in New York, Los Angeles, and Paris.
Dana's secret to success is slow growth. "I've always grown my business at a pace that I could manage," she says. "I think a lot of businesses fail because they grow too quickly or the manager lacks business management skills." Designers who want to run their own business need to know how to bridge the gap between artist and salesperson. Fashion design schools offering classes in fashion merchandising and management are often an ideal place to learn how to make it work.
About the Author
Amelia Gray is a teacher and freelance writer in San Marcos, TX. Amelia earned a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature from Arizona State University.