Syama Meagher [pronounced: Sha-ma] is a retail strategist and a social entrepreneur. An expert on the business side of the fashion industry from previous gigs at Barney’s, Gucci, Ann Taylor, and Macy’s, Syama now runs a merchandising consultancy Scaling Retail. She also teaches Fashion Merchandising at FIDM. Syama loves working with social enterprises and wants to make it possible for the little guys to learn from the big dogs. She makes a series of videos offering tools, insights, and resources in a really accessible way to fashion startups. Check out some of her videos here and below the jump! Recently, Syama was selected to lead a roundtable discussion for Women CEOs at an American Express Open Forum CEO BootCamp. I caught up with Syama to ask her about the awesome work she’s churning out.
You wear a bunch of [presumably super cute and fashionable] different hats - professor, consultant, CEO mentor - can you elaborate on what you do in your various roles?
The best way to describe what I do is boss people around, and I mean that in both the way that made you smile right now when I said that, and seriously. All of these roles distill down to taking my years of experience in fashion, retail and business and helping people make the best decisions for their business. Some clients call me their secret weapon, my students at FIDM call me a pain in the butt. After all, it takes a particular kind of mind to take a $50M business and turn it into $100M, and I am proud to say I have that mind, at least brands like Gucci, Barneys and the brands I have worked with think so!
What impact do you hope to make through your work?
The Big guys / Big Brands know how to make money. I want to help those creatives and small business peeps learn from the big guys and create sustainable businesses in holistic ways (big guys don’t do this one very well). Simply put I promote non exploitive business models, and see that as the future.
What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to someone who has an idea for a startup (fashion or not)?
Your product may evolve over time, you may think you know your customer, but in reality what you think you know will change and evolve. Keep an open mind, and remember when you create a business you are taking on the responsibility to be an expert in your customer.
Syama posts regular “Retail Roundups.” You can subscribe to her YouTube channel to learn her take on interesting news and trends in the fashion industry.
What brought you to the Hub? What’s your favorite thing about the Hub?
I needed community and nice people to work around. Long days at home, nerding in front of a computer, in my pajamas werent cutting it. I had been in LA for 4 months - from NY- and knew I needed to snap out of it. I asked myself “where could I find smart, intellectually curious people in LA that had a good heart?” A few calls later to some friends of friends and I found myself a home at the Hub.
Who have you worked with since you joined? What other kinds of collaborations are you looking for?
I have made friends with some great people. Shot out to Michael Kass! I always enjoy chatting it up, and can often be found talking to someone. Another shot out to Ami Howard- who has helped me with my digital marketing, and to Carla Teran whom I have had the pleasure of working with on her collection- Fifth Dimension.