How to Start a Fashion Business
A lot of questions must be going through your mind as you are about to dive into the fashion industry and start up a business. Questions like; am I good enough? Do I have enough money for this? Am I as talented as famous designers and people doing well in the fashion world and how do I get people to buy my products?
I have written this article to help you overcome your fears and serve as a guide as you begin your journey into the fashion business.
The Fashion Business
The fashion business involves the manufacturing, modification, importation, exportation and the sales of all forms of fashion items in state or country.
The fashion business is made up of 3 sectors, with each providing different opportunities to the established and the up and comer.
- Fashion Design Business: This is one of the most popular sectors of the fashion industry. Individuals who are creative operate in this sector, they bring their ideas into life on fabrics; using different designs. Each of the creative individuals have that one thing that makes them stand out of the crowd. For some, it’s the detail they bring to the clothing, for others it’s their choice of fabrics or the drama they bring.
- Fashion Retail Business: Commonly called fashion boutique, this is another popular sector of the fashion business. Because people always have a need to buy some sort of clothing at some point, these fashion retail stores or boutiques are widespread throughout the country. It is important to know that there are some fashion retailers that do not have physical stores but nevertheless provide services through the internet by means of social media platforms.
- Fashion Import/Export Business: This sector comprises people that manufacture locally for exports or that import from other countries. Imports are usually in large containers and are sold to market traders who then sell to the direct consumers. Fashion import and export usually requires large input of finance. However, in recent times, many low-budget entrepreneurs venture into this sector and import items from Aliexpress or Alibaba.
The Fashion Industry and You
In building your fashion business, whether as a designer brand, retail or export business, you should understand that it is important for you to have a vision for the advancement of your company; this vision may be changed or modified to suit the company’s financial abilities, trends or any other contributing factors. This would help you build a brand that is uniquely different from your competitors. To achieve this, you must follow these 5 important steps.
Understand The Fashion Business
- Research on your favorite brands and companies. Find successful brands and companies that can serve as a model for you. Research on how you may build your brand, distribute your products and make sales before you jump fully into starting the business. You may want to also consider enrolling in a business course online, especially if you do not have any prior knowledge on how manage a business.
- Access your skills as a business owner. Check your weaknesses and strengths as a business owner. Own your weaknesses and employ professionals to fill in for you. You may be a great designer but not good with balancing accounts, employ an accountant that would help you in this aspect.
- Have contacts in the fashion industry. Part of growing a fashion business is who you know. Find mentors in the sector of the fashion industry you have chosen, this would help you gain advice on how to go about your business from a professional. You may also want to consider the option of finding a business partner experienced in this field. This may be a trusted family member or friend.
- Treat your company like a business. You need to think like an entrepreneur from the very beginning; putting together realistic short term and long term goals. Be honest about your skills and limitations and do not let the difficulties encountered in the beginning cause you to give up.
Build Your Company’s Brand
- Consider your target market and think about how your company can fit in the current market: Think about what gender your product would be selling to, get in mind of your target market; ask yourself how your product will fit into their life style and if they would be wearing it for a particular event, and if they would find your product season specific; to be worn during summer or winter.
- You should pick a company’s name that is creative, unique, catchy and easy to pronounce. You may decide to use your name or any other name that represents your company and what it stands for. After picking a name, the next step is to create a logo; which is the philosophy and nature of your brand.
- Create a bank account for your business in order to separate personal funds from business funds. This would help you manage the financial sector of your business properly and mitigate possible losses.
- Register your trademark. This is important so as to help protect your designs against copy cats and help mitigate intellectual thefts and brand infringement.
- Create a prototype. Bring your design to life by sketching out on paper or iPad. Do not be afraid to show potential buyers and the mentor you have chosen. This will help you gain consumer’s reaction and professional advice.
Funding Your Company
- Create a business plan which is a plan of action. The main purpose of creating a business plan is to help you secure funding for your company and document the visions and objectives you have for your company.
- Secure investors and partners in the company. You may fund your company with money from equity investors (they invest cash into your company and also share ownership of the company with you) or money through loans from banks or any loan agency. You may also decide to ask for support from your family, friends and people who believe in and want to be part of your dreams.
Manufacturing And Distribution
- Source for materials. You need to research on what materials you would need and where best to get them at the cheapest rate.
- Find a manufacturer that is reliable and less expensive. You may be at a poor bargaining position because you would be purchasing in small quantities.
- Find distributors online or in locations that appeal to your buyers or target market. For example, you cannot distribute sweaters to a location that is extremely hot; nobody will buy them.
Promoting Your Company
- You can promote your company by using social media to your advantage. Instagram, Pinterest and twitter is a good platform for advertising fashion items. You should also think of creating ads that have links to your website and social media page. This will make the general public aware of your company and what it has to offer.
- Choose an optimal physical location to set up shop. This will make it easier for your target market to locate your business and will also ensure you have a steady flow of customers all year round.
- You should add little tweaks to your brand from time to time. During summer, products that are comfortable and allow air reach the body should be made available. During valentine celebrations, go for clothing with more red color than usual. This would make your brand more visible since you always have products to fit seasons and celebrations.
- Customers must be satisfied. This may involve making little changes in your products and services. You should know that listening to your consumers does not equate losing your originality as a designer. Find a balance.
The fashion industry is always in business all year round. Your success depends on how informed you are, your originality and your business managerial skills. Remember, Dream big, but don’t be afraid to start small.
Welcome to the fashion industry my friend!!!