We Asked 9 Pros For Advice On How to Start A Clothing Business
Do you have a dream to start your own clothing business? It’s a daunting task, but with the right support and guidance you can really make a name for yourself, and build a successful business along the way.
One of the biggest pieces of advice you hear across the board when you’re looking to start any new project is to get a mentor; someone that can provide valuable advice to you as you navigate the murky waters of the world you’re embarking into. So, we asked nine established clothing business entrepreneurs for the advice they would pass on to someone looking to start their own business to get the inside scoop for you!
Read on to hear the advice these 9 entrepreneurs have for anyone wishing to start a clothing company of their own!
Mary Young, Founder of Lingerie/Loungewear Brand Mary Young
Starting a business, in any industry, is much harder than you’ll ever imagine – but it is also the most rewarding experience. The clothing industry is a very saturated space so it really is a battle to stand out and receive recognition for what your brand is doing differently. Finding a creative approach and marketing angle is extremely important in order to reach your consumer and build the community to help support a growing brand. Being agile and quick thinking in regards to problem solving is a very valuable skill to have – so often things don’t go to plan so finding plan b, plan c or even plan d is necessary to keep moving forward.
Brady Shaw, Founder of Permanent Vacation
When starting out I think it’s very important to write yourself a business plan. This is something we struggled with at first, however; having a plan of action on paper helps to give us the guidance we often need to achieve our goals.
Tabia Charles-Collins, Founder of Anisah by Tabia Charles
When starting a clothing business there are a few key things you want to keep in mind. It’s extremely important to have start-up funds that will not only go towards the materials and/or production of your clothing line but a sufficient amount of funds for marketing your brand. You can have the most amazing clothing line, but if no one has seen it, it doesn’t matter how awesome they are. Be sure to do sufficient research on manufacturers. I truly believe having a local manufacturer is one of the best things for your business. Although it’s more expensive, you can always have eyes on your production and follow along closely with the process. Most importantly, be confident with your brand, believe in what you’re doing and invest in yourself.
Adrienne Butikofer, Founder of OKAYOK
First, make a few major decisions about your brand- will it be product focussed or collection based? Product is less expensive to launch as you don’t need to produce a costly sample collection every six months, you can just build on and adapt your catalogue. But if fashion is your soul and the ideas flow out of you like lightning then just find a way to make those collections.
Determine if you’re selling direct to consumers or if you’re building a wholesale brand. This will decide your timelines for launching products and collections, and other factors like mark-up, lead times, and delivery dates. When you’re making things- calculate how long everything will take and then double that time. That’s realistic.
Chelsea Chen, Founder of luxury resort-wear brand CIAO SEA
It’s one thing to start a clothing business, it’s another thing to keep the momentum going. With fashion you are constantly releasing new collections. Each collection is inspired by an idea. For example, our Le Jardin Madame Cezanne collection is inspired by Paul Cezanne and his line of works – Madame Cezanne. We wanted our print and campaign shoots to embody and portray this style of artwork. This background story gives a collection substance and connects with the consumer.
Hilary MacMillan, Founder of Hilary MacMillan
“Research! Research! Research! I always stress to aspiring designers that starting your own label is a money sucking endeavor and if you haven’t done your research on suppliers, manufacturers, retailers, e-commerce platforms, marketing tactics, etc. then you will waste a lot of financial resources figuring those out as you go. Running a fashion label is 50% creation, and 50% managing a small business and being a creative person we sometimes push off the nitty-gritty of running a small business to focus on the design. Things you don’t always worry about in the beginning when you are trying to build a collection can be as simple as have you registered your business license? Have you applied for an import/export number? Do you have a CA identification number and are all your items up to code for labelling laws in Canada? Are you educated on how to get a carnet? These little details can easily bog you down when you are starting out. My advice? Find a mentor: pick their brain, and make a list of all the details that you need to do so that if a retailer picks you up – your collection is ready to ship.”
Paul Garcia, Founder of Pabillon Blvd
“One of the greatest concept of starting a clothing brand that often gets overlooked is the fact that a clothing brand is a business. Creating a budget sheet is so important because it acts a necessary boundary on your artistic creativity. For example, a designer may have the best idea for fashion show but the idea will cost $2000 to follow through. According to the designers inventory and price, if sold out, can only make $1000. The designer should scale back the fashion show below a $1000 cost price to make a profit from selling inventory. However, as creatives we tend to get caught up in the artistry no matter the cost. Many famous fashion houses have gone bankrupt because they spent more on creating the brand then they were receiving from selling their garments. So a valuable tip I would give to designers is to handle the (financial) books and create a budget sheet before you start creating.”
Amanda McLean-Doman, Founder of BaoLyfe
“For someone considering starting their own clothing business, I would tell them to just start and start small. It does not have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to be big, it could just be one piece, but get it out there and see how it goes, this is when you really start to learn what works and what doesn’t . Its also important to keep things simple. Us creatives have a tendency to complicate designs, set ups, photoshoots, but trust me you can move mountains with about half of what you think you need. Also, to creatives, if you think you do not like the aspect of selling things, or keeping up with social media, find someone to do it. You cannot do everything yourself, even if you work 24 hours a day. Lastly, consider the environmental and human factor, maintain good quality while trying to make it as affordable as possible- I think this is going to be a major factor going forward in any industry.”
Sophia Chan, Founder of Liberty Line Clothing
“Starting your own clothing business will be the most rewarding and tough experience. There will be times where the light will be dim, but always keep the fire alive. Keep your mission, vision and values close because your passion will be your fuel.”
Featured Image: Pixabay
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