How to start a fashion business
Thinking of starting a fashion business? Whether you plan to design your own pieces or resell other people’s designs, the road to success is paved with obstacles and opportunities.
Before you launch you need to decide on your sales channels – how you will get sales in. It’s important to run the numbers before you launch anything, to see if this business can be profitable.
Many designers I speak with plan to sell via their online store and most don’t realise that while this can be rewarding, it’s not easy. Being successful online is tricky; it’s a mix of desirability, functionality and customer satisfaction. For micro or small businesses this can be hard to achieve because each of these areas needs to be nurtured and managed properly, and when you’re a one-man or one-woman band this can be overwhelming.
Compared to renting out a physical space, the cost of setting up an online store is relatively small, but can be costly if you don’t know what you’re doing. Selling online is also a great way to validate your business and check what your customers think about your designs but know that you will need to work hard to get traffic to your site, that the site needs to be usable, needs to be able to convert (make sales) and needs to be error free.
If you plan to go wholesale know that you need to have a desirable brand, a high quality product, you need to catch the right selling season (this is important as buyers have an allocated budget for each season and if you’re late you miss out). This channel also comes with its own challenges but it can bring in a constant stream of sales.
If you are looking to launch a fashion business here is what you need to consider:
Define your target market
A full understanding of your target is important because it will help you improve your products according to the preferences of your target customers. Whether you specialise in bridal gowns, kids wear, womens wear or jewellery, you have to consider your target market and their preferences.
Create a business plan
You need to set goals, budgets, priorities, timelines, and break down tasks because you may stumble along the way and you need to stay on course. Think of a business plan as your road map. Without it, you will get lost in all the possibilities and ideas.
Set up shop
Your website is your storefront. Make it speak your purpose, convey your vision, be easy to use and error free – and you are on your way of acquiring sales. Do the opposite of the above and your customers will come bouncing off your site within seconds.
If you are not an expert in web design, OUTSOURCE. I believe in delegating tasks to professionals so you can free up your time and your headspace. This will save you a great amount of stress – you will have plenty to manage, don’t worry!
Market your business
You need to create desire in order to get customers interested in your products. Your marketing strategy should explain how you will convince your audience to buy, and how to retain them once they become customers.
Clear and consisting marketing efforts will help establish your brand. Marketing and advertising are not just another business expense, they are a must when you need to create a strong brand image.
These are the initial steps in creating a fashion business that is profitable. I did summarise these sections greatly, but it’s important that you get the general idea.
I cover each step comprehensively in my fashion marketing course so if you are interested in learning how to apply these to your own business (plus other topic areas such as business operations, staff management, outsourcing etc.), view the course page.
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