Starting a fashion business can be really exciting.
At the same time, it can get you to spend a few sleepless nights thinking about some of the risks you will have to take on.
As you leave your day job and embark on a new adventure, there are many things to think about.
Being prepared is really your number one priority so that you can maximize your chances of success.
Starting a business, in fact, can be a make-it-or-break-it scenario for many entrepreneurs and it’s really important to take it slow and make sure you have all of the necessary building blocks to start a successful venture.
In this post, we’re listing 5 items you should make sure to have in your satchel, before taking the big leap.
With no further ado, let’s jump right into it!
#1 A Community
Building a new fashion business is not simply about having something to sell.
Building a business is more about building a community around a problem you are wishing to solve.
This applies to any business, but it is especially relevant for fashion, which is a competitive industry.
More than that, as it is a manufacturing industry, the costs necessary to create your collections are high, and it’s important to have a ready and “hungry” market before launching your designs.
Building a community will help you avoid the #1 mistakes entrepreneurs can make, which is locking themself up in a studio and risk developing a product nobody wants to buy.
The good news is that developing a community or some type of online following is very cheap.
All it costs really is your time.
This is why you should start developing an audience as early as possible, engaging in meaningful conversations with your followers to understand what are some unserved gaps in the market and how you can use your entrepreneurial spirit to tackle their challenges.
In the context of digital marketing, we need to acknowledge that the cost of your promotional campaigns will revolve around the extent of your marketing communications.
This is why by developing a community around yourself and your project you’ll gain two distinct benefits:
In the first place, you’ll be able to collect raw market insights that will help you develop a product people need and are looking to buy.
Moreover, as you promote your products, you won’t be obliged to spend money on paid advertising as your community will be your “chamber of resonance” to get customers through the door.
This is why building a community should be your #1 priority.
It may be worth waiting to develop your business further until you have gained traction, so to help you manage risks as you develop your value proposition.
Great, now that that’s covered let’s move on to the next item.
#2 A Voice
Engaging with your audience and using them as a sounding board will give you an additional advantage, connected to building your brand.
As you develop threads and conversations with your followers, you’ll discuss a series of concepts and values that revolve around the products customers want to find in the market and how they connect with big picture ideas.
Where does your brand stand in terms of sustainability, labor, identity, gender? These are very important topics in contemporary fashion and customers expect brands to have unambiguous stances when it comes to the values of the brands they buy from.
A strong value system and a clear mission have now become an essential part of a fashion brand, capable of connecting your products to broader social and environmental issues.
By actively engaging in conversations with your community you’ll have an opportunity to dive deep into these subjects and develop a brand that you are proud of, reflecting your values as an individual as well as the positive changes you want to inspire in the world.
You should not go to market until you have developed a strong understanding of these concepts and ideas, as customers are now expecting to buy more than a product.
What customers want is to co-create value by using their shopping votes to impact the broader fashion industry.
It’s now time to talk about product development.
#3 A Minimum Viable Product
Now that we’ve developed a community and created a brand, we can move to the product we’ll be actually selling.
In this stage, you want to avoid spending too much time refining a product in the atelier. What you need to do is spend time testing it with your customers.
In a startup environment what we want to do is to “go to market” and test the product as soon as possible to make sure we can achieve a good product-market fit.
Only by seeking out customer feedback, we can answer the following questions:
What is the value we’re providing to our clients? What is the job they need to get done?
Only by interacting with the market do we have a chance of addressing these questions and refining our business model to better serve our customers.
In this stage, we need to get something out that has the essential features and characteristics we want to bring to our clients, knowing that there’s always time to fix things once we’ve tested the reaction of our audience.
At this stage, if we have actually developed and tested our minimum viable product we can move ahead and double down on both communication and product development through the wonderful tool of crowdfunding.
More on this, in the next section of our post.
#4 A Crowdfunding Campaign
Now that you’ve tested the market, it’s time to build a buzz.
This is something that a crowdfunding campaign can help you do very effectively.
In crowdfunding, a business is able to pre-sell its products to collect funding that can help fund full-scale production.
Founders put products for sale on a crowdfunding platform.
“Backers” give money in return for the product’s pre-sale and to access some additional perks that founders mix into the sale to “sweeten the deal”.
Crowdfunding is a complex fund-raising operation, but it is a way to cut to the chase and grow your company fast by raising money and getting some vibrant press coverage.
On our blog, you’ll find many articles that cover the topic in more detail.
If you’re interested in learning more, here’s an article from our blog that dives into the subject in greater detail.
If your crowdfunding campaign is successful your business will now have a series of competitive and valuable assets: an engaged community, a strong brand, and a product that has been tested and validated.
That’s impressive already.
If you get to this stage, it’s now time to make it official, forming a legal entity.
#5 A Legal Entity
Here we are making your company official.
Of course, in many cases, you want to start running the business in the leanest way possible, but the reason why you may want to create a company is that it can allow you to start collecting funding.
Also, a legal entity makes the business official and allows you to operate the business as it takes shape and grows its operations.
Moreover, when looking for opportunities, investors always compare the benefits of an investment with the risks it entails.
In this sense, by following these steps you are positioning yourself very attractively towards potential funders.
In fact, as a result of our approach, your business has strong elements of validation and has developed a brand that already holds market value.
As a result, you will be presenting yourself with a very persuasive offer, for those who believe in your vision.
If you’d like to get started looking for ways to attract capital, in this post we share a few ideas to get started.
Great, now that we’ve covered all 5 items, it’s time to draw some conclusive remarks.
There you have it! In this post, we’ve listed 5 key items you need to work on before taking “the leap” with your fashion business.
Of course, you can skip any advice and get right into it, but considering the amount of time, money, and effort you’re going to put into developing a fashion business, it’s really important that you increase your chances of success as much as possible, by being prepared.
Hopefully, our 5 steps will help you get started and focus on activities that will draw your business to success.
If you’d like to read up more about the challenges and opportunities connected to starting a business in fashion, we’ve got an additional resource for you entitled Starting a Fashion Business: A Comprehensive Reality Check.
Don’t hesitate to explore our blog and read through the wealth of information available at your fingertips through 440 Industries. Enjoy!