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Start Your Business Success Stories

Transferable Skills: How I Left the Fashion World for Publishing

Jane Tabachnick Credit: Elly Meeks

While working in fashion for many years, I learned that the best way to feature a new line of clothing is to tell a story about it. My form of storytelling helped me to intrigue consumers, engage the media and gain more publicity for my brand.

In 1992, however, the fashion house where I worked went bankrupt. Feeling burnt out after 15 years working long hours and releasing multiple collections a year, I decided it was time for a change. I took stock of my skills, experience and interests, and realized that the marketing and PR I had done for my own collections could be used to help other brands tell their stories to grow their businesses.

I left the fashion industry and started working for a small ad agency. I went from creating narratives with fabric, to forming marketing and brand stories with words for new clients.  Our brains are wired to hear stories better than facts, and brand engagement is deeper when story telling is used in a company's marketing.

A year into my stint at the ad agency, I began using the internet. I was so excited about its potential as a marketing and storytelling tool that I could hardly sleep. But I couldn't convince the ad agency owner to offer web development and marketing services, so I left to join an interactive ad agency, where I spent a lot of time learning from the web developers.

I then opened my first digital agency, where we recounted stories on the web, via email and on social media. I was recognized as one of the Top 100 People Online by FastCompany.

When I was asked to participate in an online marketing summit, I found it as the perfect opportunity to leverage my ambition of becoming an author. The event organizers suggested I put together a resource guide on publicity as a giveaway. I loved the idea, and once I started writing, all the years of experience doing marketing and PR came flowing out of me.

The result was "Plain Jane's Promotional Planner: The Ultimate Resource for Marketers, Retailers, Ezine Publishers, Fundraisers" (Jane Tabachnick Emarketing, 2004). The book was a game changer for me, garnering reviews and features in publications like Houston Magazine and Spa Magazine.

I attempted to write two other books, but struggled to finish them both. They got shelved, and I realized that other entrepreneurs and business owners like me, ones who didn't think of themselves as writers, would probably face the same struggle in the endeavor.

I didn't see a way to help our clients tell their stories in the most powerful format I knew – the published book. We weren't ghostwriters, after all. But I still recognized that books had become the new business card.

At a marketing conference, while chatting with another attendee, I realized that the interview method we used to create content marketing pieces could work well to create books for clients. It would offer the best of both worlds as it creates a book "in their own words" without requiring them to sit down to write or taking the time away from business. It's a quicker, more fun and efficient method, typically taking 60 to 90 days.

I didn't set out to be a publisher, yet my love of storytelling and helping others led me to start my publishing firm, Simply Good Press. To date, we have helped more than 150 experts, entrepreneurs and business owners become bestselling authors without writing a word.

Books don't automatically find their audiences, so I also get to use my PR and marketing skills to help mentor my authors. I teach them how to promote their book and leverage it to grow their brand.

I get to spend time interviewing some of the most interesting entrepreneurs and experts, so that they can share their story with more people. It doesn't get much better.

About the author: Jane Tabachnick is founder of Simply Good Press, a content marketing, book coaching and publicity firm.

Edited for brevity and clarity by Sammi Caramela.