So, you dream of starting your own trendy clothing line?
To be successful, you’ll have to learn how to run a business, market your products, and keep your customers happy. Here are some basics on getting started in the clothing and fashion business.
Part 1 of 4: Getting Your House in Order
Business Plan – How to start a brand.
Create a solid and clear business plan. Your business plan needs to lay out how you intend to manage your clothing line. Try to be as realistic as possible when you write this. Remember, it’s better to underestimate your profits and be pleasantly surprised than to overestimate your abilities and be disappointed. Think about these aspects in particular:
- Executive summary — An executive summary is both a description of your company’s mission statement and future plans, as well as a way to lure in potential investors. Necessary for all businesses, but especially for clothing lines, which often require outside funding.
- Company description. The company description gives people an idea of what your clothing line is about, what differentiates you from your competitors, and the markets you want to gain a foothold in.
Funding – do you have the money or where can you get it from?
Put top priority on your company’s projected financials. Your funding is the lifeblood of your company in its early stages. Even if you don’t have outside funding yet, it’s important to get your financial ship in order and master certain basics. Here’s what you’ll need to know starting out:
- How much money will you need in order to launch your clothing line? Do you have money saved up for this, or will you need a bank loan? Consider a Small Start Up Loan (available from many high street banks), or another type of loan to get your business started. To get a loan, you might need to have collateral.
- What are your costs? Read through the rest of this article, then make a list of all of your anticipated costs (materials, manufacturing, supplies, equipment, advertisement, marketing, overheads, etc.). Add up how much it would cost to run your business for a year. Will your available revenue offset these costs?
How long can you live without taking a salary?
Try to imagine how long you can personally go without pulling down a salary.
Do you want to do this clothing line full-time? If so, how many years are you willing to wait before this company starts turning a profit, thereby giving you a chance to earn a salary? Or do you want it to be a sideline? If it makes money, it’s a bonus, but you value expression more than profitability. Try to gauge your level of involvement. At the same time, bet on not giving yourself a salary for about the first year of operations unless you’re incredibly lucky.
- You’ll probably spend more money than you earn for the first year. Once you’re established, however, you might be able to expand with funding from investors, celebrities, and pre-orders with store accounts.
Know your market, who, what, where and how much?
Do research on the rest of the market. Who is your current and likely future competition? Who is your target market? How much do you think you can sell your designs for at the retail and wholesale levels? Ask around. Get feedback. Talk to store owners and potential customers alike.
- It can be a good idea to get a part-time retail job at a store that caters to your target market. See what the store is buying and what the customers are buying.
- Find examples of clothing that is similar to what you’re going to design, and learn where and for how much they sell. This will give you a leg up when you need to build your own.
Make sure you know what your legal requirements are.
Know your legal obligations. First of all, decide on your business structure (Ltd, partnership, corporation, etc.). Decide whether you are to register the business (for example with Companies House in the UK). Different countries have different rules and regulations that govern business – speaking to a specialist in this field may be your best option.
There are a endless list of websites around which should be able to point you in the right direction such as smallbusiness.co.uk
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↑ Jay Arrington, The Official Step-by-step Guide to Starting a Clothing Line, ISBN 0976416107.