Make a Fashion Statement! 7 Tips for Starting a Successful Clothing Business
Are you passionate about fashion? Are you thinking about starting a clothing brand?
If so, you’re in good company. Experts estimate the US clothing market will be worth over $145 billion by 2023–and that’s just for online stores!
But whether you dream of an online fashion boutique or a brick-and-mortar store, there’s a lot to consider when you start an apparel business.
To get your clothing business off to a great start, here are 7 tips to keep in mind.
1. Think Like an Entrepreneur
If you’re passionate about clothing design, you’re likely an artistic type. You have no problem being creative and coming up with unique ideas for your next item of apparel.
But passion and creativity alone won’t be enough to build a successful clothing business. You’ll need to understand the ins and outs of how a business works–the clothing business in particular.
For example, what type of business model will work best for your idea? Will you do print-on-demand, private label, cut-and-sew, or drop shipping? If you don’t understand the differences between these models, it’s time to start learning.
Research how other brands became successful and consider a similar model for your own endeavor. Be prepared to write a detailed business plan and learn about marketing and advertising.
This might involve meeting with an accountant or taking some business classes at a local college.
2. Find Your Niche
No matter how awesome your clothes are, you can’t design something that will appeal to everyone.
Rather than trying to make all clothes for all people, focus in on one or two items you feel especially passionate about. It might be silk scarves, silly t-shirts, wrap dresses, or custom bowties. The more specific your niche, the more effectively you can identify and reach your target customers.
Whether it’s pop culture, zodiac signs, or 1940s vintage, try to be as unique as possible. Remember–there’s a lot of competition in the fashion world, so your designs have to stand out from the crowd.
This site is a good example of a fashion brand that stands out as unique.
3. Study Your Competition
Speaking of competition, there’s a lot you can learn from established brands.
If you’re hoping to sell Star Wars t-shirts, check out other companies that already sell them. What type of design variety do they have? Are their designs funny, serious, realistic, sarcastic?
Try to identify any holes in the market where you could develop your own take on existing ideas. At the same time, make sure your ideas are something marketable–something customers actually want to buy and wear.
While you’re examining the competition, study their pricing models, discounts, and promotional items. Sign up for their newsletters and read their blogs to see what’s working (or what isn’t).
4. Do the Math
Sales and profits are important to any company, but there’s a lot more that goes into building a successful business.
To get your startup off the ground, you’ll likely need to pay for:
- A logo and website
- Business cards
- Licensing fees or permits
- Deposits and rent for a physical workshop or storefront
- Advertising and marketing budget
- Material, tools, and equipment to make clothing
- Hourly wages for any employees
If necessary, you may need to apply for a business loan or other type of financing. Once you have the money you need, you need to learn to manage your cash flow effectively.
Remember that it takes a lot of time, effort, and determination to get a business going. Don’t be discouraged if sales are slow at first. Tweak your marketing efforts and make sure you have enough cash in reserve until things pick up.
5. Promote Yourself
You’ve got your first collection ready to go–congratulations! How will you spread the word about your awesome new designs?
Whether you have a digital or physical storefront, a professionally designed website is a must. 97% of people research brands online before they make a purchase, so make sure your business is easy to find.
Next, get active on social media. If you haven’t already, open business accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and other relevant channels. This is also a great time to start networking with influencers and commenting on popular fashion blogs.
You might consider a press release, email marketing, and some PPC (pay per click) advertisements to get the word out about your brand. As your business and your budget grow, you can focus in on other paid advertising methods.
6. Set Specific Goals
Do you have specific business goals you hope to achieve? Where do you want your business to be in one month, twelve months, or ten years?
Some new entrepreneurs fail to set goals because they lack motivation. Others avoid goals because they’re afraid they won’t meet them. For your clothing business to be a success, you’ve got to become goal-oriented.
It’s okay to start small. Your first goal could be to sell 10 t-shirts a week or add 20 new names to your email marketing list. Whatever goals you set, you’ll be that much more determined to work hard until you meet them.
7. Network, Network, Network
We said it three times because it’s that important. Even if your clothing store is 100% online, you’ve still got to get out there and establish connections.
Are there influencers whose brand aligns well with your own? Contact them to see if they’re interested in partnering with you.
Are there fashion boutiques in your city that support local designers? See if they’ll carry a few of your designs to help you establish yourself in your own community.
How to Start a Clothing Business: Now You Know
As you can see, there are many factors to carefully consider when starting a clothing business.
Keep the above tips in mind as you begin the process, and you’ll soon be on your way to building a successful clothing brand.
To get ahead in the world of fashion design, you’ve got to stay on top of the latest trends. Click here to see what’s trending now.