Christmas and New Year is almost upon us! For a lot of people the New Year is a time to look back on the previous year + make plans for the new one. If you've been considering starting a fashion label + want to make 2018 your year, here's some tips so that you can hit the ground running in January. If you already have a business, this post will help those of you with an established brand to prepare your company for 2018.
As with any new business, preparation is key + as the fashion industry is particularly difficult to succeed in, you'll want to make sure you've got a solid strategy from the start. Here's some tips for what to consider + decide upon before you start your business, so that you can plan accordingly;
- You need to ask yourself what type of business you want to create, for instance, will you sell online direct to the public, or will you wholesale to boutiques? Are your products high end designer fashion, do they serve a specific need or purpose, or do you want to appeal to the masses?
- There's lots of different ways to start a business + you need to pick one that will work for both your business aims + situation. For instance, if your fashion brand is a side business + you'll still be working at another job, you'll need to choose an approach that is suitable for someone with a limited amount of time. Therefore, your range is likely to be much smaller + take longer to produce than someone who is committing to the business full time.
- When you've got an idea about what you want to achieve, you'll need to consider your target customer - one of the most important things when setting up a business. There's a lot to cover here, so I've written a full blog post to help you, which you can read by clicking here.
Next, when you know what you want to achieve with your business, you'll need to plan to make it happen - successful businesses don't happen by accident!
- Time planning - Many entrepreneurs I work with are surprised to learn that it often takes around 6 months to get a product from initial idea through the manufacture process + ready for sale - even longer for more complicated products, or if you're working part time. Making sure you're aware of each of the steps is really important + asking the right questions to make sure you understand the time frame. I always add on a 'buffer' of 2-4 weeks to allow for any unforeseen circumstances - it's better for the stock to arrive too early rather than too late! If you're not sure where to start with this, my 'Quick Start Guide to Planning + Producing a Fashion Range' may be of interest, which you can learn more about by clicking here.
- Budgeting - a lot of people will tell you that you have to have thousands in order to run a successful fashion business, but that's not always true. You can start with a much smaller budget, but you need to plan even more efficiently + put in more time + effort yourself. If you are wanting to work with a smaller budget, you might be interested to read about how I started my fashion business with just £150. It includes tips on how you can do the same + you can read the full post by clicking here.
- Costs to consider - I've created a free download which outlines many of the costs you need to consider, many of which are forgotten by startups, for example it's not often I see new entrepreneurs budgeting for insurance + electricity, but you really need to! You can access the free Excel template via the free resource library. If you've not already got access, simply enter your email address below to sign up. You'll also receive news + free articles to help your business + you can of course unsubscribe at any time. I hate spam too - if you sign up to this email list, your details won't be sold or leased to anyone else. I will email you from time to time with helpful content and occasional offers, which you can unsubscribe from at any time.
As you're probably aware, travel is considerably cheaper if you book in advance. Therefore, it pays to organise any travel as early as you can to minimise the cost, which is especially important for businesses that are on a budget. So where might you want to travel to for your startup?
- Trade shows are a really important part of running a business + as they are usually only every 6 months, you need to plan ahead to make sure that you don't miss an important event. There's a huge amount of different shows that you can attend; there's a variety of locations + some fairs are tailored to fabrics, some for manufacturing + others for wholesale buyers (where you might want to sell your collection). Start researching events as soon as you can to make sure that you go to the one that's most relevant to your business.
- Seminars - many trade shows have great seminars, but there's also independent ones of varying scale. For instance, you might want to go to a presentation on trends, or if your interested in things like sustainability or textile technology, there's events on for that as well.
- Networking events - throughout the year there's a lot of large + small netweorking events happening within the industry + it's always good to go to some if you can. Not only for the opportunity to make contacts, but also to keep your finger on the pulse + keep up to date with what's happening in the industry.
Tip - for any events that you go to, do research in advance. For trade shows, as they are usually huge it's a good idea to map out who you want to see prior to the visit. For semiars + networking events, try to learn about any speakers or important guests so that you don't embarass yourself by asking who they are. Also be prepared to make a good impression, so try to have some background knowledge on the topic being discussed.
There's a lot of things that you'll need to source for your business + although at this stage you won't know what you need exactly, it is worth starting to do your research as early as possible. It can take a long time to source the perfect fabric, or the ideal manufacturing partner, so if you start making enquires early, you'll have some people to reach out to when you're ready with your designs. Examples of what you may need to source are;
- Trims, such as buttons, zips, thread
- Manufacturing partner
- Packaging/label supplier
- Courier company, for the sample process, receiving the main order + sending orders to customers
- Hangers + signage if you're planning to have a store or pop up
- Business cards/advertising fliers/posters/etc
If you're new to the industry I'd also take the opportunity to learn as much as you can about the process. Key things to learn about are fabrics, the sample process + clothing construction/manufacture.
If you're really serious about having a fashion brand in 2018, the most important advice I can give you is 'just start'! So many people never start their label for fear of failure, or because they feel they lack direction. If you've started with the steps above you're already well on your way to starting your business + most importantly, you've taken the leap + not given in to procrastinating! If you're new to the industry, there's a lot to learn, but you won't do it by not making a start. There's lot of free help on the blog + you can always reach out to me in the comments, or via social media.
Have a wonderful New Year + I'm looking forward to seeing some exciting new fashion businesses popping up!
I hate spam too - if you sign up to this email list, your details won't be sold or leased to anyone else. I will email you from time to time with helpful content and occasional offers, which you can unsubscribe from at any time.