The growing pains of starting a business apply to any industry you could think of, but fashion can be particularly challenging for those trying to make a name for themselves. You might have an impeccable taste in clothing, a sense of style and a stunning collection concocted and ready for the catwalk, but there are so many steps to take between envisioning an idea and turning it into a business, let alone a lucrative one.
However, not all is lost despite the growing competition and the overwhelming presence of well-established brands and their timeless collections. As long as there are fashion-lovers like yourself out there, there will be room for another stylish visionary and another authentic way to express yourself. Before you take your stylish leap into this industry, take a look at the following must-know tips for your fashion startup!
Choose your niche
The very first step you’ll need to take is looking into a very specific market you’ll tap into. Since fashion can be functional, too, you can look into market gaps and design something that addresses a particular issue in addition to being stylish! For example, brands such as Thinx and Knix provide ladies with period-proof underwear that also looks and feels feminine and comfortable. If there’s a gap, find it and fill it!
2. Build a business plan
Not even the most brilliant of ideas can move forward without a well-developed business plan. Based on your niche of choice and the research that comes with the territory, you can determine the short and long-term goals for your brand, as well as outline your mission, vision, and purpose. This should serve as your roadmap, but a flexible one to adapt on the go.
3. Budget from the get-go
A step that too many eager fashion-lovers overlook, but a necessity nonetheless, carving out the optimal budget strategy is vital for your fashion success. You’ll need to consider the costs of production, designing your online and offline presence, marketing efforts, brick-and-mortar store expenses, and of course, your employees. There are various funding options, from loans to crowdfunding platforms, so look into them before you settle on your own personal savings alone.
4. Kick-start your branding efforts
With a vision to guide you and plenty of funds to fuel your dreams, all you need now is a powerful brand image to represent your company. This is your moment to translate your mission and vision statement into every word you use on your website, and every image you choose to represent your clothing items. There is no business without a brand, hence the need to build one before you launch your first collection.
5. Stay consistent across all channels
Having a developed brand is one piece of the puzzle. The other crucial part is disseminating it properly and ensuring that your brand voice and visuals are united on all fronts. That includes your retail store interior architecture as well as your web presence – they need to be uniform so that your customers can enjoy the same look and feel across all platforms. This allows trust and loyalty to form over time, as your brand becomes a consistent entity wherever they interact with your label!
6. Refine your marketing methods
Even if you are lucky and brilliant enough to make enough noise and get enough traction in the first several months of starting your business, you should still consider refining your marketing strategies as you move forward. The initial methods such as a launch party, revealing your collection at a local event and live-streaming it via social networks, using paid ads and of course, uploading exemplary content on a regular basis are all viable, as long as you persist even when it feels as if you have enough customers.
7. Build your supply network
Do you already have an agreement in place with someone who will sell you raw materials? The people who will produce your clothes unless you plan to make unique items yourself? How about viable shipping methods and working with other brands and stores? One of the most complex segments of working in the retail industry is having a sturdy network of partners that you can rely on. Make sure to build it beforehand, and you’ll have a fair chance of success!
8. Know your target audience
You may recognize a perfect market opportunity, but how does your target audience feel about your approach to filling that gap? Their response to their fashion ideas is vital in determining just how profitable and viable in the long-term your business will be. Make sure to conduct continuous research, use analytics tools to see where you need improvements, and make changes as you go.
9. Work with influencers
As one of the newest forms of relationships that has emerged in the world, working with influencers in the fashion arena can make or break your brand. That said, work towards building long-lasting bonds with the right people who share your values and truly love your brand, and you’ll unleash a whole new potential within your brand to grow!
10. Ask for feedback and adjust
There’s always a learning curve to starting your own business. Keep your mind open, learn from those who have succeeded in this business before you just as much as you should learn from your customers. Keep mastering new skills, taking new courses, visiting events to keep an eye on trends, and remember to let your business move with the times. After all, fashion is a flexible concept, and your business should be no different.
Just like there is no one-size-fits-all in your fashion collection, the same applies to designing a profitable business concept in this industry. However, if you take these tips to heart, you will have a fair chance at succeeding and trending your way all the way to the fashion top!
About the author:
Peter is a fashion stylist and a writer from Brisbane, Australia. After graduating from Australian Institute of Creative Design he worked as a fashion stylist for few local fashion events. Beside fashion and styling, he enjoys traveling around exotic destinations and discovering new vintage stores. He’s future plans are in creating his personal styling business.