The fashion industry looks glamorous and sophisticated from the outside. Like most successful business ventures, however, starting a clothing business entails a lot of hard work. One of the challenges in this industry is that the market continuously changes. It is also very saturated, with new brands sprouting throughout the seasons. There is a need to establish a distinct brand to strut your way through the clutter and sell your clothes.
Being passionate about fashion is a good reason to set up a clothing business. But are you ready to hustle and conquer all aspects of starting a clothing business? Just like many small business clothing stores that started from almost nothing, it is essential to learn how to nail the process and get your business out there. In this post, you will be able to develop a strategy to succeed in the fashion industry and learn how to start a small clothing business from home.
Considerations Before Getting Started
Turning your dream into profit is no walk in the park. Creativity and business acumen are required to build a brand and make it successful. Expect to go through the trying early stages before fully growing your brand into a healthy and successful business. Let us go through the factors you need to consider when starting a fashion brand.
Be Committed to Work for It
Running a successful clothing business requires winning a wide range of hurdles. First on the list of things you need to consider is your commitment. You might think that this venture is only a side-hustle, something you can do during your free time. If the process of how to start a clothing business were easy, everyone would do it. Aside from having money to invest, time is also a crucial factor.
Fashion is notorious for being a fast-paced field. Running a clothing business can be demanding since you have to keep up with the trends. You also have to evaluate the day-to-day operations and transactions. On top of these, you must constantly try to innovate and embark on new campaigns to expand the business and improve profitability. There are too many things to do in building up this business. It would be so easy to get derailed from your goals if you do not understand and fully accept your commitment.
Calculating how long it will take to start your fashion brand is also crucial. You cannot make the same mistake as most people who underestimate the time necessary to build a clothing business. This is especially true for those unfamiliar with the laborious process of getting it done. It is essential to calculate a realistic timeline that will make you realize how long it will take from production to market.
The timeline should be the focal point of your business plan. It has to show the things you want to accomplish and the manners in which it will be done. Be specific in listing down the tasks that you need to finish according to schedule. You also have to include the time limits of each task. This is a must if you want to launch on time.
The key to avoiding any complications and delay with your project timeline is tripling your time estimate. It is critical to account for unexpected events, such as production and delivery mishaps. Tripling the time frame should be enough when anticipating unforeseen snags like these.
Registering Your Business
It is vital to have a legal structure, no matter how small a business is. Depending on your circumstances, you need to study the pros and cons of your business entity type. If you wonder what this is, it simply determines whether you register as a sole trader or a limited company. A sole proprietorship is ideal for small businesses, but you also need to be open about the possibility of expanding into a corporation later on.
It would also depend on the state you will operate your business when obtaining licenses and permits. Specific permits may still be needed even if you are only interested in how to start a clothing business at home. Applying for an employer identification number or EIN with the IRS is not required, but it would help when you need to open up a business bank account or file your taxes.
Funding any business can be challenging, especially right after a pandemic. If you do not have it yet, you have to be prepared to seek cash to get your clothing business off the ground.
But first, have a realistic idea of what the start-up costs will be. These are the non-recurring costs you will spend in setting up the business. Some examples are the money you need for business registration, website creation, office supplies, storage space, and IT hardware, among many others.
It is common for new business owners to fail due to insufficient capital to fund the initial stages. Preparing for the start-up costs ensures that you have enough capital to get you through the early steps until you launch your clothing line.
Funding Options for Start-ups
Going deep into this topic, you have a couple of options to have the needed funds to start your clothing business. Four of which are the following:
Using personal savings or debt from overdrafts and credit cards is an option to keep you from being tied to a loan agreement. It is also possible to generate cash by selling assets or mortgage properties. This method is perfect for those who want to take complete control of the business. There is no need to be cautious about investors who might pressure you to decide on things you disagree with. It also makes you mindful of your money and forces you to do due diligence on your spending.
A common way for businesses to generate funds is by pooling small amounts of money from many people. Instead of company shares, however, the “backers” are given privileges in return for their pledges. It can be exclusive discounts, freebies, and other similar incentives. This method can raise money fast since it has the potential to get a lot of social media attention. Many projects even get to raise more than they need and afford to innovate more. The only drawback is that reputations can be damaged if the business fails.
Some private or angel investors might be willing to provide the capital you need for a start-up. This type of funding offers low risks because you are not using your own money. The con, however, is that the angel investor will gain ownership equity in the business. The advantage of angel investment is that the investors usually have a business background. They have contacts and knowledge that could be beneficial to you. Prepare to impress them with a killer business presentation, as it would take a lot of convincing for them to give you their hard-earned money.
The government usually puts up programs that help individuals to grow a business. If available and qualified, you can apply for a start-up loan. Although you need to pay it back within an agreed period, it is a fast, easily accessible method to have the necessary funding and keep full brand ownership. Since this initiative is to help start-ups, the interest rates and payment terms are designed not to give you a lot of pressure. This would allow you to focus on developing your business.
It comes down to it that starting up a fashion brand does not require a remarkable degree or training. Many industry leaders had no formal experience in fashion before building their businesses. Commitment, passion, and determination to start the business will drive you to find the resources to do it.
Six Steps to Launching a Fashion Brand
Starting your fashion brand is such a rewarding yet equally challenging career. Fashion entrepreneurship is exciting because it constantly changes with the trends. There are roadblocks to be expected, especially if you do not have industry experience. It may take a long time to do it on your own, but there is no reason why you cannot fast-track your way to success. All you need is a solid knowledge of how to do it. Learn about the right strategies, and you will avoid many mistakes.
Let’s get to the fun part and learn how to start a clothing business in just six steps!
Craft a Business Plan
Writing a business plan is like outlining the path towards reaching your goals. It would help if you researched the fashion industry, particularly the market that you are aiming for. There is a need to identify the customers
who will wear your clothes. Know the essential customer demographics, such as location, age, gender identity, income, etc.
Your business plan should also include the business model you will use. Will you be making the clothes, or are you going to work with manufacturers? Will you utilize Print on Demand and outsource the production or have the dropshipping model? The pros and cons of these business models must be considered to see if they would fit your business goals.
If you are gifted with sewing skills and production expertise, then create apparel by hand. You can scale up later on by hiring additional designers and sewers when the demands go up. Working with manufacturers is also great if you want rapid production or do not have the skills to bring your designs to life.
Aside from the business model, state the details of your funding, sales, distribution targets, and goals. In short, the business plan must define all the details of starting and running your clothing company.
Develop a Unique Brand
Successful fashion empires have their design philosophy or values that speak about their brand identity and product designs. Even if you are only planning to sell clothes, building a brand that makes your clothing unique and desirable is essential.
There are a lot of elements in creating a brand, but you need to start by deciding on the name. It must be memorable and unique. Check if there are existing businesses that are using that name. It would help to learn about trademarks, intellectual rights, and domain availability to ensure the distinctiveness of the brand name. If you find it challenging to choose among a few brand name ideas, try checking which one performs well on search engine optimization, especially if you are taking the business online.
Another element to account for is the brand logo. You may use symbols to express your brand philosophy. Try to design something simple and easy to recognize.
Do not forget about picking out brand colors. These will be splashed over your marketing campaigns, website, and content. Read up about color psychology to help guide you in choosing the best colors that would best align with your brand.
Finally, decide on your tone of voice. Consider what style you will use when speaking with customers. Are you going for an enthusiastic approach, or do you want to sound formal? Be consistent in using that tone in all materials to help solidify your brand.
Design Your First Collection
One unique thing about the fashion industry is that there is always a style for everyone. If you are just starting, it would be wise to find your niche so you will not be overwhelmed. Try to catch trends before they begin by checking out style influencers, listening to fashion podcasts, and reading top fashion publications.
Be very specific about your target customers, research what clothes they need, and start designing your first collection. Write down ideas and inspiration with your customers in mind. It is easier to design clothes when you can zone in on your target market.
Prepare for Manufacturing
Clothing production is categorized into three:
- Cut, Make, Trim (CMT)
- Full Package Production (FPP)
- Print On Demand (POD)
Ideally, it would help to choose the category that would fit your requirements. CMT manufacturing, for example, only assembles the clothes according to the materials and design you will provide. CMTs are paid by the hour and usually do not have a minimum order quantity. This will work if you produce only a handful of garments, like when you are designing a limited or seasonal collection.
On the other hand, FPP is suitable if you outsource the whole production process. The manufacturer can source and purchase the raw materials, develop patterns, customize, and even do the logistics. There is a need to constantly contact the manufacturer to ensure that they understand your specifications.
With POD, your designs are to be printed when you order them. These manufacturers have “stock, pre-made” clothing that you can customize with your designs. It is cheaper this way since the clothes are bought in bulk. The downside is that it can be challenging to create a clothing brand that is unique to your brand. The composition, style, sizing, and finer details are already selected. POD manufacturers offer to relabel, but it is basically rebranding stock clothing.
Set Your Price Points
Deciding how much you will sell your items should start by knowing the production costs. This is the cost-per-unit or CPU. To sustain your business, you also need to include the cost of running the business and some profit (preferably 30%- 50% more than the costs).
An innovative and effective strategy is to determine the price points for retail and wholesale for your clothing business to scale and grow. Consider the competitor pricing, too, since the potential customers will also shop with your competitors. Add in the equation the perceived value of your clothes to set a price point that is sensible to your target market.
Develop a Marketing Strategy
Marketing is a crucial step in learning how to start a clothing business. It is a must that your target market knows that your brand exists.
Technically, it would help to begin the marketing process even before your clothing line is ready. Start by setting up a website and social media profiles for your brand. Design teaser posts and stunning content to build a strong web presence. Try and learn how to sell on Amazon FBA and other marketplaces such as Etsy, eBay, or Shopee and you check out their options for advertising and promotions.
Most customers look for products online and research first before buying. It is vital that you can compete by developing an effective online marketing strategy. Do this by having a website design that resonates with your brand. The customers should understand what your fashion brand is about by looking at the website’s visuals. These visuals must also be prominent in all marketing copy. The same quality and style should appear across all marketing channels, like social media pages.
Take note that you are building a fashion brand. Show off your flair for fashion with aesthetic visuals. Create a lookbook to showcase your styles in action. Don’t fret if your talent in design is limited to clothing and not to creating web pages. You can easily create a lookbook using online tools, like a remove bg app to prepare the images. Some of these tools are already built with photo enhancement, and collage maker features so that you can create simple projects with ease. Once you are done, share it on your socials to make the
Here are some tips for embodying brand identity in your visual designs:
- Be consistent in using your brand’s colors.
- Your logo must be prominent in the design.
- Create a marketing copy according to the target audience.
- Showcase fashion design aesthetics in all marketing campaigns.
With these suggestions, all visuals used for your marketing efforts will project your brand’s voice and identity.
What Every Fashion Brand Should Do in 2022
Success is not guaranteed even if you learn all strategies and information about how to start a clothing business. After all, it is the fashion industry, so you need to exert a lot of effort to adapt to every change in the trends.
Boosting your earnings can be done in a lot of methods, but considering these critical aspects will lead you to a rewarding course of action:
Communicate with the Audience
Instead of interacting with the customers only when they raise some concerns, why not communicate naturally? Make it a point to show your interest in knowing the customers by establishing your communication channels. Check the comments section for suggestions or remarks about your products. Ask them what they think about your current designs or collection. You can also use email marketing to send out promotions or ask for a review as part of an after-sales process.
These gestures show that your brand is concerned about how you can make your clothing line better to suit the customers’ preferences. It is an opportunity to integrate your brand into their lifestyles because your reputation grows when people see that you care enough to communicate with customers.
1. Create a Sub-Brand. Creating a brand identity that caters to a specific group of customers is beneficial. However, it can be challenging to expand your reach and gain new customers outside your target demographic. Creating a sub-brand is a good option if you want to introduce a style that fits a different set of target customers. This strategy allows you to introduce your business to a different demographic without alienating the current customers already familiar with your brand identity.
2. Boost Online Sales. It is common knowledge that eCommerce sites take a massive chunk of global online business profits. A lot of people use the internet to shop for clothes. Some of them use apps, while some visit websites. Social media sites, like Facebook and Instagram, also have shop features where users can shop for clothes without leaving the platform. This shows that now is the perfect time to boost sales by enhancing your online marketing strategies so that the customers can see you in all channels. It will be more profitable if you direct your efforts to get more online traffic than relying on foot traffic in a physical shop.
3. Leverage Modern Technology. Time wasted is like money going to the drains. Try to cut out repetitive tasks from your workflow if you want to be more efficient in managing your business. There are plenty of digital solutions to transform your business processes and make them seamless. Since you are in the fashion industry, design tools powered by AI technology will help you create stunning marketing materials that are a must-have.
It would help if you considered optimizing your site for the best shopping experience. Make your website fast, have engaging content, and set up various online payment channels. Again, modern tools can help you do these things without any problem.
With all these things cleared up, you should have a vibrant picture of what it takes to learn how to start a clothing business. It is no easy feat to build a fashion brand. This sector is doing strong, so it is natural to have many competitors. It also does not start and stop at designing and producing clothes to sell. Ongoing work is to be accomplished daily to promote and operate your business.
Success does not happen overnight, and you choose to be in a dynamic industry. But you are lucky to have that interest to create a clothing business in these times. As you can see, there are many resources to help you get a solid footing in your mission to build a fashion brand.