Apparel Sales are Increasing Due to FAM and Here’s Why
For the last decade, Bruce Braden, owner at Austin, TX-based Kong Screenprinting and Design, says his decorated-apparel shop deliberately eschewed an apparel sales process. “Instead, we listen to what our customers need, and then we educate them on the best way to achieve their goals,” he says. “Since their goals are typically brand or product promotion, the best way they can do this is to select a garment that people will want to wear.”
However, when Braden enrolled in BELLA+CANVAS’s online Fashion Apparel Masterclass (FAM), he quickly learned that the information and tools presented dovetailed with his shop’s principles. “FAM reinforced our driving vision of providing the best decorated-apparel for our clients’ needs,” he says. “The masterclass has been an invaluable tool to educate our sales team on specific ways we can talk about the quality, fit and feel of garments—down to the fibers. It’s a level of knowledge we didn’t have before that we can now pass onto our customers.”
Learning About Apparel Sales with FAM
With FAM’s launch, BELLA+CANVAS’s goal was to educate its apparel-selling customers at a much deeper level about apparel sales in the current, and always evolving, marketplace. This free six-hour online educational series includes 12 interactive video lessons and various downloadable resources to help distributors and decorators of all experience levels turn into apparel-selling machines.
Case in point: Braden, who has a production background, got really hooked on FAM’s value when he dove into the module on printing. “The section on matching a design and print technique to the garment was great,” he says. “It’s not something a lot of people think about, but it’s always a little heartbreaking to see a soft shirt with a huge flat of ink printed on it. Seeing that module was a big signal to me that FAM aligned with our approach—and would be a great tool to educate our team.”
The Anatomy of a Fashion Apparel Masterclass
The Fashion Apparel Masterclass is housed in an easy-to-navigate online portal. The multi-part course consists of a series of three modules, varying from three to six lessons per module. These modules cover essential topics such as selling to millennial buyers, navigating the digital landscape, mastering creative decoration, becoming a fabric expert and more.
“As a supplier, our commitment to our customers goes beyond just online learning,” says Summer Barry, creative and marketing director at BELLA+CANVAS. “At the core, FAM is a community. Sharing ideas, making connections, asking questions and getting the support you need is just as important as the learning process itself. Participants have access to an online place to connect with other students and also the BELLA+CANVAS leadership team.”
Along with the educational tools, FAM features engaging activities and online quizzes as participants move through the modules at their own pace. FAM also provides access to a points-based store where you can redeem points earned for prizes and tickets to in-person events to meet up with other FAMers. Plus, when you’ve completed the masterclass, you’re deemed “FAM-Certified.” That means you can add a Fashion Apparel Master logo to your email signature, social media profiles and business cards.
Barry notes that BELLA+CANVAS accepts FAM applications from anyone in the promotional products industry. “Many companies that have sent participants through the masterclass found it so engaging and helpful that they’re encouraging their entire apparel sales teams to take the course,” she says.
Thousands of FAM-Certified Fans
More than 2,000 industry professionals have signed up for the masterclass, and one by one, FAM does indeed seem to be changing the face of an ever-evolving industry. “I felt like I was in a graduate-level class in marketing, sales and innovation,” says Donna Bender, owner of Plano, TX-based Donna Bender Co. “I’m always looking to be different, stand out and bring value to my clients to help them grow their businesses. I’m confident that anyone who goes through this free program will feel the same way.”
Bender is just one of many decorated-apparel professionals who say taking the Fashion Apparel Masterclass has changed the way they sell, and even increased their apparel sales. In fact, in a BELLA+CANVAS survey of FAM-certified members, 75% reported an increase in apparel sales after taking the masterclass. In addition, 80% say FAM has helped them upgrade customers from a COE (carded open-ended garment) to a premium garment.
Thirty-year industry veteran Matthew Mason, vice president of business development at Seattle-based PromoShop, says that FAM helped him articulate the value proposition of pitching quality T-shirts and cutting-edge printing techniques with price-resistant clients. “Understanding cost per impression and how to calculate that for my clients helped a lot,” he says. “Selling premium tees increases the sizes of each order and gives my clients a better overall value proposition than selling inexpensive card cotton tees that don’t fit well or feel great. I learned a lot of new ways to communicate tees on a simpler, more effective level.”
Sandra Bandel, account executive at PromoShop, agrees with Mason, saying FAM’s cost-per-impression calculator was a powerful tool when you’re working with analytical buyers. “I learned how to dial down into the ‘why’ of a particular garment when clients are watching their dollars,” she says.
For Bandel, FAM’s why-buy-this-particular-garment ammunition extends into getting creative when selecting imprint methods and locations. “FAM changed my perspective on selling, since anyone can sell a T-shirt and show some different imprint locations,” she says. “I was inspired to show and push other types of imprint methods, paired with the appropriate materials. That gave me a different package than my competitors.”
Overall, Bandel feels empowered after taking the Fashion Apparel Masterclass. “To do my job as my clients’ advocate, I have to show them the value in getting a quality, budget-friendly garment,” she says. “There are so many angles to selling—eco-friendliness, manufacturing, in-stock availability, variety of colors, innovative fashion options, budgets and quality. There’s a good angle for every client objection. FAM has made it easy for me to sell.”
BELLA+CANVAS continues to update FAM, most recently with information on current apparel industry trends and dynamics. FAM also takes a look at why all premium brands aren’t created equal. “We’re excited to make the FAM community the most educated group of expert sellers in the industry,” Barry says.
Three Apparel Sellers Explain Why FAM Works
Three decorated-apparel sellers who’ve taken BELLA+CANVAS’s Fashion Apparel Masterclass explain why they’d recommend it to other industry professionals, both newcomers and veterans.
“Anyone who sells tees should enroll in FAM, because they’ll learn something new. I’ve been in the industry for 30 years and learned a lot of new ways to communicate with clients about garments on a simpler, more effective level.” – Matthew Mason, PromoShop
“I would (and have) recommended FAM to colleagues. The FAM program is a modern, straightforward educational masterpiece that teaches you how to make more money by selling products your client will be happier with—and prefer. Plus, it’s time-effective, and you can earn a free sample kit you can use to sell more. It’s a win-win-win.” – Sandra Bendel, PromoShop
“FAM has given us specific ways that we can educate customers on the quality of BELLA+CANVAS garments and helps us explain they ‘why’ behind things. It’s not just that we recommend this garment because it’s soft and will last—we’re able to explain why it’s soft and why it’ll last. That message has really connected with our customers. I’d definitely recommend it to colleagues—and we’re using it as part of the training for our newest sales rep.” – Bruce Braden, Kong Screenprinting and Design
If you want to know more about the Fashion Apparel Masterclass, a free online learning resource created for industry salespeople, check out famasterclass.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org and sign up to learn more than you ever did in school!
Read more about FAM on the blog here.