Be honest, how many of you intended to start your fashion business in 2018, but didn’t get around to it? Or perhaps you had good intentions, but weren’t sure where to start? Or maybe you let the fear creep in? Whatever the reason you didn’t make a start, I’d love to help you launch your fashion business next year. In this post I cover how steps you can take to start your fashion business in 2019. If you already have a business, this post will help those of you with an established brand to prepare your company for 2019.
As with any new business, preparation is key and 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. Don’t panic though, this doesn’t have to be a professional business plan with thousands of words. You’ll only need one of those if you’re planning on getting a loan or investment. Here's some tips for what to consider and decide upon before you start your business, so that you can plan accordingly;
What purpose will your brand serve, or what problem will it solve? You need to have a specific target customer in mind so that you can design specially for them, create a brand they’ll love and ultimately, sell to them. For help choosing a target customer, you can click here to read an article on this topic.
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? Will you produce your designs made to order, or perhaps create small collections and release once or twice a year?
There's lots of different ways to start a business and you need to pick one that will work for both your business aims and situation. For instance, if your fashion brand is a side business and 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 and take longer to produce than someone who is committing to the business full time.
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 usually takes between 6 and 18 months to go from zero to launching your fashion brand. Making sure you're aware of each of the steps is really important and 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 time planning, my 'Quick Start Guide to Planning and 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 and put in more time and 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 and you can read the full post by clicking here.
Costs to consider - a lot of startups miss costs they need to factor in, for example it's not often I see new entrepreneurs budgeting for insurance and electricity, but you really need to! There’s a blog post on this topic which you can read by clicking here. There’s also a free download to help you think about costs, which you can access via the free resource library. All mailing list subscribers have access to this. If you’re not already subscribed you can sign up via the box below. As a subscriber you’ll receive news, free articles to help your business and the occasional offer and 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.
You may decide that starting your fashion brand requires some travel. This might be to attend seminars, trade shows, trend presentations, visit suppliers….there’s lot’s of benefits to travel and I regularly visit different cities for networking, checking on suppliers and also to be aware of new developments within the industry. 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. Some travel that you might want to consider as a startup is;
Trade shows can be really helpful for making contacts, especially for fabrics. However, many of the fabric shows are only every 6 months, so 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 and some fairs are tailored to fabrics, some for manufacturing and 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 and small networking events happening within the industry and it's often beneficial to go to some if you can. Not only for the opportunity to make contacts, but also to keep your finger on the pulse and 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 seminars and networking events, try to learn about any speakers or important guests so that you don't embarrass 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 different processes when it comes to setting up a fashion business and it’s important to know all of the steps in order to save time and money. You don’t want to end up wasting lots of money on trial and error. As well as the general process to learn about, there’s also a lot of things that you'll need to source for your business and 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
Courier company, for the sample process, receiving the main order and sending orders to customers
Hangers and signage if you're planning to have a store or pop up
Business cards/advertising fliers/posters/etc
If you're really serious about having a fashion brand in 2019, 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 make a start with the steps above you're already well on your way to starting your business and most importantly, you've taken the leap and not given in to procrastination! If you feel that you’d like some help step by step through the fashion process, you might want to consider my Fashion Startup Online Course, which has 8 modules which explain the key steps when going from idea through to having your fashion range produced and sold. You can click here for more information on the programme.
Have a wonderful New Year and 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.