Meet the Founders: Joshua Williams

Joshua wht.jpg

 

Shifting Retail

Joshua’s background is unique in that it closely aligns with the major shift that’s happening in fashion branding, communications and retail. Joshua started in entertainment sales and marketing just as the first wave of e-commerce and social media platforms were launched, offering new ways to engage and communicate with customers. As he shifted his career into the fashion industry and retailing specifically, the second wave of e-commerce was in full swing.  "At that moment, there was a realization that the web was more than just a marketing tool, it was a whole new retail channel that a company could use to scale their business, build their customer base and even mitigate risk," Joshua comments.  He continues, "the web was perceived as an 'added value' to brick and mortar business and was often relegated to the marketing department, but as sales continued to increase, companies started to also increase their budgets and find ways to better incorporate their businesses across channels with a focus on sales. New products that helped to analyze data, develop products, as well as target and engage customers became de rigeur, in order to successfully compete in what was becoming a crowded market. What’s more, brands that were traditionally wholesale were now selling direct to the consumer, competing against their retail partners, causing major market disruptions.   Brands were forced to restructure the core of their business to include retail, while retailers were scrambling to stay relevant with a wave of new competitors."  For Joshua, it was clear that the very way that customers shopped was now being influenced by new technologies, particularly mobile, forcing companies to reorganize business operations and fully provide an omni-channel experience to expectant customers. 

According to Joshua, "this 'omni-channel' experience," as he calls it, "is more than simply providing goods in multiple channels, it is essentially giving the customer ability to experience and interact with the brand on their own terms using a variety of channels, but with experience overlap. For example, when a customer uses their mobile device to get product information or pricing while in a store, or when a customer returns an online purchase to a store, this is omni-channel, and it accounts for 60-65% of total purchases."  He concludes, '"the future of omni is more transparency, personalization and brand authenticity, going beyond the standard template now in place."  

Intersection of Retail & Academic Expertise

After five years of hands-on learning, including three years as a VP of Marketing and E-Commerce at Lindsay Phillips, Joshua decided to form his own consultancy practice, Fashion Consort.  The goal of his practice was to specifically support and grow fashion brands who were shifting from wholesale to retail with omni-channel business strategies.  He worked closely with his clients, including JM, Anne Valerie Hash and ShopToko to restructure their business, optimize operations, coordinate communications and build sales.  

Around the same time, Joshua was also invited to teach classes and workshops at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), on direct marketing and retail, at the undergraduate and graduate levels.  There was a clear need to educate both industry professionals and students alike in the areas of e-commerce, social media, analytics and omni-channel retailing.  

Over time, Joshua’s area of focus shifted to developing courses, workshops and events to train individuals and companies on the topic of omni-channel.  In 2011, he became the host of the Faces & Places in Fashion lecture series at FIT, focusing on fashion industry current issues and special topics, and featuring industry icons such as Ozwald Boateng, Fern Mallis, Simon Doonan, Andrew Rosen and the Fashion Service Network. That same year, he also developed a special online retailing course for Parsons School of Design that he still teaches online.  In 2013, Joshua was hired as chair of the Fashion Merchandising Management program at Berkeley College to redevelop their program to focus on omni-channel retail and new technologies, with the goal of better preparing students for jobs of the future.  In 2014, he built a new fashion design curriculum for Bergen Community College, connecting traditional design training methods with new PLM and CAD technologies. In addition, he created and taught an Interactive Marketing course for LIM’s graduate program and then for FIT’s Global Fashion Management graduate program, focusing on the connection of e-commerce and social media with traditional marketing and retail practices. This fall he is teaching a business overview course he created for the new MFA Fashion Design program at FIT.  Joshua has been a guest lecturer at EAFIT University in Colombia and ISEM in Spain.

The Big Idea

With the major disruption now happening in retail, the intersection between science, technology and research is more important than ever.  What’s more, these changes are happening at a breakneck pace, and necessitate brands finding a balance between being tech savvy as well as authentic in their interactions with customers. “I am so interested in building brands in niche markets wherein there is a direct link between a company’s service and their customers. Customers want to feel like they’re having a one-on-one experience with brand and the products they offer,” concludes Joshua. He continues, “and there is such a need in retail to connect more authentically with the queer community specifically, to truly understand the LGBT perspective and not presume gender binaries. That’s where the idea for QueerCut emerged, and I am so excited to be part of such an important venture at this point in my career.”

—Adrian Gray, Chief Blogging Officer

See Joshua's own Queer Style Story.

To learn more about Joshua, visit is personal website.