Guest Review! “Fashion Unraveled” by Jennifer Lynne Matthews

Ruth Brown, today’s guest reviewer, has designed jewelry and sculpted for several years. She has also worked as a CNA and is currently pursuing her BA in Nursing.

Title: Fashion Unraveled: How to Start and Manage Your Own Fashion (or Craft) Design Business (second edition)
Author: Jennifer Lynne Matthews
ISBN: 9780983132806
Pages: 408
Release date: December 2010
Publisher: East Bay Fashion Resource
Genre: Nonfiction
Format: Paperback textbook
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3 out of 5


Jennifer Matthews was a budding fashion designer brimming with great ideas about clothing. However, not having paid much attention to the business aspect of her new venture, she failed to launch several lines and ended up in major debt.

After she finally began researching the business part of fashion, she realized that many of her previous ideas were wrong—and that hers were common mistakes. Finding materials on how to start a small fashion business was difficult, though, so Matthews decided to put her many years of experience and knowledge into use.

The book is broken up into many small chapters, with advice ranging from how to start producing products to how to run a cost-efficient company correctly.


This is a great book for would-be fashion designers. It explores negotiating for textiles alongside keeping good records, and its workbook-style format makes it an excellent guide for any fashion design company. Matthews provides countless interviews, examples, and real-life scenarios as she lays a firm foundation upon which to build in the fashion world.

The author speaks from her experience in what seems like an extremely competitive business world. Her ideas and explanations for running a business are grounded in the reality of her successes and failures.

The material is presented in short, organized chapters for easy reading and future reference. I’m a firm believer that in order to learn from a textbook, I need to read it in small amounts over time to best retain information. This textbook follows my philosophy well.

In short, this author knows her stuff. If I wanted to start a fashion business, this book would indeed be my Bible.

But I am not a textile designer—I am a freelance sculptor and jewelry designer—so many sections were irrelevant for my business. In fact, the only parts I found truly relevant to my industry were the more general sections on accounting, marketing, and business licensing.

However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I could have just learned all this in a business class—and perhaps learned it better.

Much of Matthews’s advice is based on common sense: from managing your time wisely and avoiding burnout to keeping an eye on your competitors and creating an online presence.

I’ve worked in sales for many years, so much of her advice seemed quite obvious to me. However, if you have zero experience in business, you will learn a lot from this book.

While this, the second edition, claims to offer advice to starting a craft as well as a fashion business, it is still far too heavy on the fashion side. Since Matthews’s experience is largely with fashion, I think she would have done better simply to update the previous edition without attempting to incorporate craft businesses as well.

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