OCTOBER 2018 | ISSUE #3

FASHION ENTREPRENEUR 101

How do you start your own clothing line and other such stories…

by Runway kit

Sometimes that one great collection is just not enough. So what does it take to go big?

It takes believing in your Idea and then following that vision with a single minded focus no matter what, and a little nudge in the right direction. So let’s nudge you a little.

What’s your story? Find a niche

If we look at a cross section of successful designers and their young brands, you’ll find they stand upon a memorable and marketable story. Let’s take Jenny Wang of Petite Studio, who found inspiration shopping for herself in a Gap Kids store.

She realized it was time someone offered her, and her similarly shaped petit friends, a fashionable solution. And the solution became her story. Wang’s story and brand resonated with the right audience and her label is selling out. Your brand story, similarly, can arise organically or by finding gaps in the market and plugging it the right way.

"Your brand story, similarly, can arise organically or by finding gaps in the market and plugging it the right way"

Know thyself, Know thy competition

Ok we may have slightly misquoted ‘The Art of War’, but business schools call it ‘Competitor Analysis’. Learn to benchmark against successful competitors. Study their business model and analyse the traffic their website gets. It’s a great way to learn what works and what doesn’t, without having to make the mistake yourself. It’ll also give you a good understanding about how to position your brand.

"Learn to benchmark against successful competitors"

Whether you are designing swimwear or activewear, it is very important to know who you plan to market to. Narrow down your target audience in terms of psychographics and sociographics. Who they are, where they hang (digitally and in the real world), how much they are looking to spend, and even who their favourite band was when they were growing up. It’ll all help you build your brand and connect with your customers.

Customer is King,

Queen and everything in between

Brand. Market.

And then market some more

How you package it and subsequently promote it becomes as important as your story. Your brand will be your biggest asset, and your marketing prowess will determine your label’s awareness as a designer. So make an investment in branding and marketing accordingly, because a great brand will only appreciate over time. Use channels like PR or social media liberally depending on your TG and budgets, and do it on loop.

Once you make a connection with your customers or potential customers, stay in touch. Stay relevant in their eyes.

Understand the circular economy

Know that sustainability starts within your vision as a fashion entrepreneur, and ends much after your clothes have been worn and discarded. Make it part of your DNA, so everything you do ensures you and the clothes you release into the world leave the smallest eco-footprint possible. Design with great materials, work with ethical garment factories and with the end in mind. Which means make sure your clothes are not just another piece that is contributing to the ‘fast fashion’ landfill.

Find the right partners

Surround yourself with the right people, even if it’s just two people for starters – make sure they are the two best, most positive people you can find, who share your passion. From fashion business consultants to ethical manufacturers, spend time finalizing your partners to ensure all your stakeholders understand your working style and your vision. Most importantly don’t compromise on quality. A good product and trustworthy partners are worth more in the long run.

A good product and trustworthy partners are worth more in the long run

Small’s ok

Every so often you’ll hear about CEOs getting involved on the shop floor, actually taking customer calls or helping with the physical packaging. That’s part of the fun, and being lean means reserving your resources for other stuff, like a bigger marketing budget (not new Jimmy Choos).

Lean also means small order manufacturing or lower MOQs (Minimum Order Quantities) and less bureaucracy. You can be quick on your feet, and respond faster to situations. Yes, it can get hectic. But no one said it’d be easy.

Know the business end of things

No industry is easy to break into, but while most industries enjoy a 50% chance of success after being in business for 4 years, fashion businesses have a 53% chance of closing in their fourth year! One major reason is of course growing competition – but a major hiccup is the business side of fashion itself. As a potential fashion entrepreneur, you must understand marketing and digital marketing, money and time management – all while continuously looking to reinvent your creativity every season. So understand bottom lines, economies of scale and most importantly learn on the job. Simple!

Introspect. Re-invent. Re-strategize

Finally, the world you operate in doesn’t stay still and neither should you. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Play to your strengths and work towards easing out your weaknesses. Look for new ‘best-practices’ and working styles. And most importantly save some time to work on your designs. A lot of young designers get so over-whelmed with the business side of things, they forget why customers came to them in the first place – and that’s for their designs.

Know your strengths and weaknesses. Play to your strengths and work towards easing out your weaknesses.