A clothing business can be just about supplying all kinds of clothes for the average consumer, or it can be a very personal journey. It’s one of the most complex yet visually rewarding types of business in the world. You’re actually seeing people wear and share your products. Unlike other industries, your products will have an immediate effect on the culture of your nation and hopefully, the world. It’s not like a kitchen appliance like a blender, which you will never see being used. It’s not even like a banking app that may be used in public but the collective will never show it in unison. A fashion brand is visual, it’s able to be seen in the rest of the world. But do you need to hitch your wagon to a fashion brand? Do you need to beg and plead for the partnership of a multinational clothing line? No! You don’t have to do anything except being motivated to start your own fashion brand from home. You’ll need multiple skills but you can outsource much of your work. Be prepared to do a lot of business administration but never take your eye off the ball when it comes to the end product.
Who are you?
The single most important question you need to ask yourself, is who are you? Clothes are incredibly expressive. They capture a mood, a feeling, a movement and a cultural phenomenon all in one. It’s vital that you’re able to decipher who you are into your clothing brand. In other words, what’s your niche? What kind of things are you interested in and how do they apply to your business? Maybe you would like to make a brand that captivates your personality in color schemes. Maybe you have always wanted to wear clothing that was a little more practical. It could even be that you want to design clothes for your body type and give women a similar figure more options.
You need not follow the conventional route either. Maybe you don’t want to make clothes for women, perhaps you want to make clothes for men, babies or even pets. What inspires you? Look deep within yourself to find out why you want to start a fashion brand. The biggest concern for new brands is, not having a consistent and fully evolved narrative. So many young brands fade away because they set the tone and then don’t follow through on it. Knowing who you are, why you’re doing this and what kinds of designs you will have, will give your narrative firm grounding. In other words, you’ll find a niche and have enough substance to stick to it.
A budget justifies a plan
A business plan has to be costed. In other words, your plan is only valid when you have the funds to implement it. If you cannot financially justify your business plan, it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. Hence, you must value your budget over your plan. It’s difficult to accept this because your vision might be bigger than your bank account. On the other hand, Rome was not built in one day. You must start modest, and then slowly work your way up. Look on the bright side, you won’t become sidetracked and squander your money on things that cannot be fully developed. Instead, focus on what you need to begin.
What is your budget for materials? How much are you willing to pay independent textile workers or factories? Will you save any money by doing things at home, such as sewing? What is your budget for marketing? Creating a budget will help you realize which constrains you. When you know what you can’t do, you’re better able to focus on the things that you can do.
What’s the financial upside?
A business plan is something that can be long-winded or kept short and sweet. Some of the biggest businesses in the world started off with a business plan that only took into consideration, what the first year would be like. However, the financial upsides are perhaps the brightest candle on the cake In essence, what will the profits be for the first year? Many business plans openly admit that the cost of starting the business will mean that you will either lose money or just about break even. Many business plans will only claim profits in the 3rd or 4th year. This is why many small businesses die out before the fifth year even ends. They bit off more than they can chew and decided to walk before they could crawl.
The return on investment (ROI) is the most important factor. For the amount of money you put into the business, what kinds of returns will you see for each financial quarter? The common line is, you’ll break even for the first two financial quarters and then make a profit during the festive season in the final 6 months. Adaptive production of your products is, therefore, highly crucial for your success. The more products you order from a manufacturing facility, the lower the overall costs will be. Thus, can you make more money by increasing prices during seasonal times together with lower material and production costs?
Laying the foundations of infrastructure
Every business has to have a solid internal foundation. Without proper infrastructure, your actions will be scattered and far from organized. Hence why you should immediately look for an IT Support Partner who can work on IT problems within 10 minutes of the error or fault occurring. No matter what kind of software for task management, inventory management or invoice payment you’re using, an IT support company is vital for making sure everything runs as expected. They will keep an eye out for all kinds of updates and patches for the software you’re using. They’ll also work with you, to improve the efficiency of the programs your business currently utilizes.
Then you must consider what the building blocks for your infrastructure will be. Will you use Microsoft Office Suite? Adobe software packages? Perhaps you’ll want to integrate most of your office by using G Suite. It’s vital that you have a software infrastructure than can link all your departments and or areas of the business. Marketing should be linked with design, your manufacturing should be linked with logistics and your accounting should be linked back to your financial plan. When you have this level of integration, you can swap and compare the information of all kinds quickly and clearly.
Sourcing the materials
When you’ve completed your infrastructure design, sourcing materials is your next job. It’s not going to be a tough task because you will have a range of domestic suppliers to choose from. That’s the thing about the fashion industry, there is never a shortage of options for materials. Unlike the metal industry that might suffer from this, the choice of quality materials is never a big concern. Whether your business is in the UK, US or France, to name a few, you’ll never have to worry about the overall quality of materials like cotton, wool, leather, etc. However, it’s the pricing and contracts that are the difficult part to nail down.
It’s in your best interest to attend an industry event to see what kind of options you have. Bring a simple pen and pad, to write down all the details you require. For each category what kind of materials do you need? For cotton, what kind of quality are you looking for and how much? What’s the price of cotton fabric per square meter? Will you be using synthetic materials? Would it be best to go to a synthetic textile plant or a trade show? Synthetics are of a lower quality to wool and cotton, but if they’re the mainstay of your products then you should inspect the material face-to-face.
Styling and outsourcing
Bear in mind, most of your business will be home-based. So you need to be sure that you’re able to design and create your clothes. Every fashion brand will run into the challenge of designing, cutting, fitting and sizing for the general consumer. Thus, you must style your products in a way that will fit the national small, medium and large size categories. It’s best to hire an artist to draw the designs of your clothes as well as a fashion adviser that can label the materials used and the inspiration behind the design.
Outsourcing from home has never been as easy as it is these days. However, you must be willing to meet your production company in person. There are lots of pros and cons of outsourcing in the fashion industry. The main thing you need to watch out for is communication problems. When something goes wrong, you need a relationship with the company so you can effectively communicate with them to correct errors.
Becoming a home-based fashion brand is not easy but it’s not as high a mountain as it once was. There used to be a time when you had to go to fashion and or design school to work in the industry. These days, however, with good infrastructure, a great plan, and costed budget, all you need to focus on is design and production.