How to Start Your Own Clothing Brand: 8 Things for Entrepreneurs to Consider When Starting a Fashion Clothing Business by 30Seconds Mom
Starting your own business can be a thrilling experience, and a very demanding one. It is essential to have a plan in place and understand the steps you need to take. Although most business startups are fundamentally the same, as in they need a budget, a business plan, marketing, and a clear idea of where they are going, there are also differences depending on the industry they are in.
The fashion and clothing industry has its own unique areas that differ from other types of businesses. If you are looking to start your own clothing brand, you should be aware of what steps are needed to get to where you want to be.
Why Start Your Own Clothing Brand?
The reason for starting any business can come from a long-seated passion or desire, or it could be from necessity, or perhaps because the time is right to push forward on one’s own.
Over the last year because of the pandemic, many people have found financial hardship due to lack of employment, social distancing resulting in businesses not being sustainable, and being locked down for periods of time. This has pushed many people to consider other avenues of employment. The most obvious of these is to find ways to work from home as a freelancer or to start your own company. Starting your own brand could be the chance you have always wanted to showcase your talents to the world and take total control over your creations.
The First Steps to Starting Your Clothing Line
There are some initial steps you need to take before you will be able to start manufacturing and selling your designs. You need to look at finances and budgets, investment (if required) and a business plan or strategy.
1. Financing Your Venture
One of the first things to look at is how you will be financing your new business. If you have access to a suitable amount of savings, you can fund the venture yourself. The advantage of this is that you will not owe anyone and you will own your own company outright. The downside is that you could lose everything.
Putting all the finances in place yourself through cash, loans or re-mortgages means you are putting yourself out on a limb. If the business fails, you will be left with loans to cover or, at best, with an empty bank balance. To counteract this you could look at investment.
In the UK there is a government initiative called Start Up Loans, which is a way for a new business to borrow up to £25,000 per partner in the business, up to a maximum of 100K. In the U.S., however, businesses need to find their own funding. There are three ways you may look at achieving this.
- Angel Investors: These are individuals or companies that invest in new start-ups. They will give you cash to invest in your venture and, in return, they will gain a stake in the business. For this to occur, you will need to be able to present a solid business plan. Investors put money into companies for one main reason – to make more money later. No one likes to throw cash away and these investors are no different. If having an outsider owning a share of your company feels uncomfortable to start with, you could consider asking relatives or friends instead.
- Crowdfunding: This can be a good way to raise funds without losing any equity. You retain 100 percent of your business and, if your crowdfunding campaign works, you will get the money needed. There are many online platforms available for this type of funding such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. You will need to create a comprehensive campaign and advertise it as much as possible. In exchange for giving you money, your donors will expect something in return. You will need to think of something suitable to attract donors, such as limited edition garments and exclusive items.
- Small Business Loans: The third way is to take out a loan, which means that if everything goes wrong, you will be left with debt. If you decide to go this way then using the U.S. Small Business Administration to find lenders is a good idea. The SBA can guarantee your loan and make it easier to find lenders for your new business.
2. Look for a Niche and Set Your Goals
Presumably, you already have a love of fashion or you wouldn’t be considering making a clothing line. One way to make your business work is to find a niche. Perhaps you want to concentrate on skate wear, or you might only want to make women’s clothing. To be successful you need to have something that attracts people or that they need. Kids' clothing, for instance, is a good market. According to the Independent Retailer, children outgrow their clothing every six months. This means there is an endless need for clothing for children.
Once you have your niche, you can look at your intended market and where you want to go. Are you looking at large department stores or small boutiques? Perhaps you want to sell online only.
3. Design and Manufacture
The designing part is presumably the area that you enjoy the most and why you started the business. Now is the time to get creative, but with your business head on. You will need to know that your design can be made to the quality levels you require along with room to make a profit.
You will also need a manufacturer. Unless you are making tie-dyed T-shirts with your logo on or similarly simple designs, you will need someone to make your clothing. For small businesses, you may be able to conduct a lot of this through communication channels such as telephone and emails, but you may well want to visit the manufacturer itself. Be prepared that local costs may lead you to use companies outside of the U.S. This may necessitate a need for overseas travel.
4. Choose a Name and Logo
The name should reflect what your clothing is all about. If you are a famous designer then you can simply use your own name, like Marc Jacobs or Karl Lagerfeld, but as you are just starting, you may need to come up with something else.
Once you have your catchy new name, you will want a logo, too. You can use a design agency to make your logo and then look at companies to make labeling and any other printed products you might need.
5. Build Your Brand
Depending on your budget, you can use a marketing agency or employ someone to run your campaign digitally. This would mean having someone to use social media to engage your potential buyers, run ads on Facebook, create offers and online awareness.
6. Labeling and Legal Requirements
You won’t just need to design and make your clothes, there are also other aspects to your garments that you may not have thought of. All clothing has to carry a fixed, permanent set of information. Iron-on labels or sewn-in versions must show the country of manufacture or if the materials were imported. They must also show other details such as care instructions.
7. Set Your Pricing and Sales Goals
Be realistic with your pricing. You must make a profit, but you also want people to purchase your garments. This is an area that will take some consideration to get right. When you look at sales and distribution, set yourself realistic targets. It is unlikely that the big department stores will stock you right away, so start small and steady.
8. Other Ways to Advertise
Marketing is not just limited to ads on Facebook or in magazines. Use creative hang tags with your garments, too. Hang tags are the card labels that are tied or pinned onto clothing items. These are handy because you can make them colorful and include your logo to grab a customer’s attention in a shop.
You are only limited to your imagination what you include on a hang tag. Although there is no legal requirement for clothes size labels, you can put the sizing on the tag so it is easy to see. Also, you can include any company statements or ethical beliefs you have so you can attract buyers who are shopping sustainably. You can also put a web address for your site and help to get visitors.
There are many more areas to consider including staffing and laws regarding running companies, but these are some basic areas you need to consider. Budget, plan, design, manufacture, build your brand and then sell.
The content on 30Seconds.com is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be considered financial advice. The opinions or views expressed on 30Seconds.com do not necessarily represent those of 30Seconds or any of its employees, corporate partners or affiliates.
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