Last updated on September 26th, 2017
Many fashion designers who think of starting a fashion business make some mistakes and end up closing their shops. You may be a talented clothing line designer but that does not automatically make you a successful businessperson. When starting a business, you should stick to some basics to run your venture successfully.
You may be planning to start a clothing business that designs and markets apparel merchandise such as shirts, t-shirts, skirts, dresses, pants, and accessories like jewelry, gloves, and socks. But you should pay attention to the basics of running your apparel line business successfully. For instance, as a skillful graphic designer, you create amazing t-shirt designs. But to sell your t-shirts, you need to learn some business skills as well.
If you have no or little experience of doing a business, pay attention to some basics to avoid the mistakes others made. An overwhelming number of businesses fail simply because they do not abide by some basic things required to run a company successfully. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 50% of small businesses fail in their fifth year, while 20% fail in their first year. You would not like to see your fashion startup to be in this list of failed businesses.
Here Are Top 10 Things You Need To Know About Starting A Fashion Business
1. Know Your Niche Well
First, determine your field of expertise in the fashion industry. For example, if you have an experience of creating bag & tote design, focus on selling these items only. Similarly, if people appreciate your t-shirt design, start your business by manufacturing, marketing and selling such design merchandise. Avoid marketing those clothing and apparel fashion items you have not design before, when starting a clothing business. This is because you may be designing most of the fashion products in the initial days of your small business.
2. Identify Your Target Audience
Many startups fail because they do not know much about their target customers. Avoid making this mistake. Research your target customers social, financial, educational, and other backgrounds. This information will help you in designing and producing your clothing line as per the choice and needs of your customers. Do not try to sell one product to every section of the population. For example, if you identify teenagers as your target consumers, then you should create fashion items as per their choice of colors, trends, etc.
Knowing your target audience is also important from the marketing point of view. For example, if you identify college students as your primary customers, you will think of placing an advertisement in college newspapers. If middle-age people are target buyers of your fashion products, you will use a different advertisement strategy. Similarly, you will adopt different graphic design strategies as well. For example, in case your fashion business targets young people, your brochure design will have trendy colors and other elements. So, know your customers well.
3. Find Out The Exact Cost
According to a study by a U.S bank, 82% of small business fail because of their cash flow problem. Lack of funding is surely one of the reasons for many businesses closing early without realizing their full potential. To avoid such a situation when starting a fashion business, have a realistic account of how much finance you need to set and run your company.
Write down all of your essential expenditures such as payment of employee salaries, purchasing of office furniture and equipment, raw material and other supplies, and postage.
Do not forget the expenditure you need to make for creating marketing materials such as business cards that you will distribute to your clients. Moreover, your company may not be able to start earning right away. Clients may also delay your payment. Keep some funds aside to meet unforeseen expenses.
So, find out the ways to have funds for your fashion enterprise. You should consider applying for a bank loan. You can also think of getting financial help from investors or angels.
4. Set Your Pricing Right
To make your fashion startup profitable, make sure that pricing of your fashion items is right. You will earn a profit when you generate more revenue than your fixed and variable expenditures. You have already made a one-time investment on fixed items such as office furniture. But other expenditures such as salary payments and buying your raw material will be made regularly. Keep these costs in mind when determining the prices of your fashion items.
Generally, business owners set their wholesale and retail rates way higher than their expenses. You can think of fixing your prices at such high level that you earn a profit margin of 30-50% over your total expenses on running the business.
5. Create A Memorable Business Logo
Your potential customers will get a first impression of your fashion business by looking at your company’s logo. A logo is not just a business symbol of a company, but it’s an identity mark. A professionally designed logo has the power to drive customers. This is because people react emotionally to the colors, typefaces, tagline, images etc. elements of a logo.
Fashion logo of a company should have vibrant colors depending on the type of fashion products it makes and sells. A well-designed logo conveys a brand message of the company. So, create your fashion logo design considering your business message for the customers and incorporate colors, typefaces etc. elements accordingly.
There are crowdsourcing sites like Designhill that will create a professional fashion logo as per your design brief. Designhill is a leading graphic design marketplace where clients launch their design contests such as logo design contest. Hundreds of graphic designers work on these design projects to win the contests. But ensure that your company has a unique logo that stands out from the crowd.
6. Ensure An Online Presence Of Your Business
Another major requirement for starting a fashion business successfully is to put it on the web. Most of your consumers make search for fashion products online. A good online presence of your fashion business is therefore essential to do business.
However, a basic requirement to do online business is to create a website for your fashion company. Your e-commerce website should provide consumers all information such as your fashion products or services, pricing, images of products, product descriptions, and contact information etc. So, have a user-friendly website for your business to drive online traffic toward your company’s site.
7. Find A Business Partner
A way to run your business smoothly is to find someone who can work side by side with you. In other words, get some business partner who can share your burden of running a company. The partner should have some experience of a fashion business. Find someone whom you can trust.
8. Build Your Brand
One of the things to consider for attracting a consistent stream of customers is to build your fashion brand. You will need to devote a lot of time for your brand building exercise. A business becomes a brand when people start trusting its products or services. Spread a good word about your company’s fashion products by using all platforms such as fashion events. Talk to the clients personally about your new fashion venture and tell how it stands out from other similar ventures in the market.
9. Create A Marketing Strategy
You cannot hope of building a business without first having a sound marketing strategy in place. Your fashion business will largely depend on your plans for reaching out to your target audience. To create a marketing plan, consider exploring all the platforms as fashion events taking place in your locality. Meet the clients and invite them to have a look at your new fashion products.
You should think of using some of the well-known fashion designers to your advantage. Send them your clothing apparel and other products for their review. A favorable word by them for your fashion brand will enhance the reach of your business in the market.
Think of building a social media marketing strategy as well. Your potential consumers are on social channels like Twitter and Facebook. Your business must be visible to the consumers on major social channels. Make a strategy to engage them with your fashion products on different social media platforms.
10. Learn From Mistakes Quickly
You will make mistakes while building your company. Learn from those mistakes quickly and do not repeat. If some of your business strategies are not yielding results, then discard them and make new plans. Quick learners will always be ahead of their competitors in a market.
For example, many small companies and individuals make the mistake of spending their cash too quickly on too many things when starting a fashion business. You may need money for an urgent buying of raw material to meet some orders from clients. If you are a supplier of fashion design products, ask the manufacturers and wholesalers for deposits in advance. So, be a quick learner.
To conclude, when starting a fashion business, research your niche, market, and consumers, make an effective marketing plan, get a memorable logo, ensure the online presence of your fashion products and learn fast from your mistakes.