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Less Is More: Fashion Wholesale 101 With Haus Agency

Getting a garment from a designer’s sewing room to your neighborhood clothing boutique is a process that often happens under the radar. We don’t hear about fashion wholesale, but we rely on it—without the tireless work of agencies like Haus (which represents favorites like Hannah Kristina Metz, Reike Nen, and Nicole Saldana), access to these brands would be much more limited. It goes without saying that there’s a lot going on behind the scenes; today, we’re demystifying the process with Haus Agency founder Karina de Jesus.

A decade ago, de Jesus was a style blogger analyzing trends and reacting to new designs; now, she’s on the other end of the spectrum, helping to develop and market those trends with the designers themselves. Her advice to aspiring wholesale agents? “Never think that a task is beneath you, treat every person and job with honor and respect, and give people more than what they asked for.” Words to live by.

Tell us about the origins of Haus Agency. How did you get started in fashion wholesale?

Well, like everyone else, I tried blogging in 2010. In 2013 I moved to New York and started thinking about what I’d like to do as a job. That September I went to a trade show as a “blogger” and that was the first time I learned about wholesale sales. I liked the idea of working closely with designers and growing their business, so I applied for an internship at a showroom that I had discovered at the trade show and the rest is history!

For those who might not know, what is Market?

Market is the time frame when buyers from stores meet with brands and showrooms, review collections and place orders for the next season. This happens four times a year as there are four seasons – Pre and Main Spring and Pre and Main Fall. This time aligns with all major fashion weeks.

What does a typical Market look like for you?

Sleepless. No, it’s really exhilarating, actually. I get to know so many amazing people every season so it’s exciting to catch up with now old friends as well as make new ones.

In the beginning of market I receive all collections at my showroom and merchandise them. Then the meetings start. We can have as many as 15 meetings a day, I think a record is 20. Since I am based in New York, we show there the longest – almost a month. After we’re done with New York market, we bring the collections to Paris and meet with international buyers there. I’m usually in Paris for about a week. After the meetings are over, we collect orders, submit them to the designers and market is over. In between markets, it’s all about supporting our retailers with marketing efforts and anything else they may need as well as plotting the next season with the designers.

With the cyclical nature of fashion, how do you keep things fresh with your brands season after season? 

I really trust my designers and know that they are on top of it and will bring a fresh and beautiful perspective each season. However, there also needs to be consistency as the business side of fashion doesn’t develop over night and a strong point of view is essential when trying to build successful partnerships. 

How would you define style?

To me, good styles is personal and consistent some aspects. It’s fun to be inspired by trends but a person that possesses good style, doesn’t actually need a large closet. It’s about having staple pieces that can be worn over and over again and not feel out dated. A lot of my closet consists of pieces I’ve had for years.

How does fashion influence your life outside of work?

I’m sure it does in many ways, but honestly my passion for entrepreneurship is what influences my life more. My friend recently pointed out to me that she hears me talk about business much more than fashion and I have to admit, that is correct. I like to dress well, and I’m inspired by beautiful design in fashion, interior, and architecture but my day to day decisions are quite pragmatic and goal oriented.

What are you excited about this season? Any new brands or trends we should look out for?

Yes, you should follow along all the brands that Haus Agency represents ;) Of course, I’m bias but I do think that they all possess amazing talent and their perspectives are quite unique.

What advice would you give to someone who’s looking to start their own business? 

Your passion has to be about something bigger than you. You will quickly realize that being in business is not easy and if the main motivation is personal gain, disappointment is inevitable. There will be set backs, the process will be slower than you would wish, and sometimes you will want to quit. In those moments, the only thing that will keep you going is the bigger picture because if it’s about you, your glory and comfort – your own business will not offer that. Of course, there are so many amazing benefits – you have more flexibility over your time and often location, if the business is successful, you can pay yourself well. Each win is extremely rewarding as you feel it all very personal. However, the responsibility that comes with it all is only worth it if you really, really care about something else more than your own comfort. I am reminding myself of this, as I say it.

Never think that a task is beneath you, treat every person and job with honor and respect, and give people more than what they asked for.

Images courtesy of Either And

Stay tuned to Milk for more behind-the-scenes fashion.

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