Starting a fashion business is no easy feat. Between finding sources of funding marketing your startup, and handling day-to-day business operations, you may realize doing everything on your own is just not sustainable in the long run. That’s where a talented, hardworking, and passionate team comes into play.
Building a fashion brand is not just having the right designers, but also the team which takes the products to market establishes partnerships, and publishes what a brand does. These teams typically consist of many members who possess dedication, loyalty, and passion for the industry and may serve in roles as designers, marketers, assistants, or top-level management once you’re fully operating.
In this post, we’re going to cover the essential members you need to have on your startup team, the desirable skills, how to find qualified team members, and more importantly, how to retain valuable team members.
Let’s get started!
- Who Should Be on Your Team?
- What Skills Should Your Fashion Startup Team Possess?
- Finding the Perfect Fashion Startup Team
- Tips for Building & Retaining a Cohesive Team
1. Who Should Be on Your Team?
So who should you bring on your team first? You certainly aren’t ready to add top management positions, especially if you’re still working with a small budget
- Designer: If your business is both your brand and your name, consider keeping your position as the designer form the association between your image to the brand as a whole. If your brand targets different markets, you may want to hire other designers that mesh well with your design vision and are able to maintain aspects of the brand.
- Administrative Assistant: When starting out, you may not be ready to add top management positions. An administrative assistant can handle all of the tasks that bog down your workload as the founder. This person will be your right-hand employee, so look for someone you can trust. You want to be able to mold this employee into a good representation of who you are. Ideally, they’re going to be someone who shares your enthusiasm and commitment to the brand. An individual who is well-rounded and a fast learner is ideal for this job.
- President/CEO: As you may know, being the owner of the business is a full-time job. The collection alone-not including maintaining the entire brand image and direction-can be an overload to your daily checklist. Hiring someone to oversee your employees, partnerships and collaborations, finances, and contracts will maintain the business aspect of your line while you maintain the vision. This position may not be required until later on after your business grows.
- Stylist: A stylist edits the vision and decides on the music, the environment, the looks, and the accessories. Stylists also give a second opinion on behalf of customers and buyers. They contribute ideas to make the overall vision purchasable. This is a powerful position in every fashion brand so you should choose this team member with great care.
- Digital Marketer: It is important to give priority to cultivating an online presence when you join the fashion sector and the industry. You must prioritize engaging with your brand ‘s online audience through social media, blogs, and websites. By concentrating on these factors in public relations, you can see higher profits and a more regular influx of customers. This role is one of the most important for a startup, so make sure you find a person who understands the brand and can represent it well.
- Account Manager/Customer Service Representative: Account managers operate as the point of contact for assigned customers, generate sales among customer accounts, makes sure the customer receives products in agreed upon deadlines, and communicates the customers need to the company.
Other Important People Outside of In-House Team
When you have a distinct vision of what the company is meant to be like and who the target client is, you need to find out how you’re going to accomplish the vision. If you’re an artistic person, you’re likely going to concentrate on the product and everything relevant to it — but of course, the other side needs consideration, too: the commercial side.
Here is a list of other people who are also on your “team”:
- Financial Advisor: A financial advisor has the skills and knowledge to help you make the most of your initial capital investment in your brand. He or she will help you determine the feasibility of your business plan and outline plans and deadlines for the path to profitability.
- Accountant: Accountants can help you manage growth transitions, such as hiring employees or acquiring more office space. They will take care of the details (payroll, payroll tax management, property tax, other operating transactions), leaving you free to look at a larger picture of how your business is growing.
- Attorney: Attorneys can help you navigate the many forms and legal documents that are involved with starting a business. They will ensure the business is properly licensed and titled, and support you with tasks like trademarking names, reviewing documents, and discussing legal items to be mindful of. With an attorney, you can focus on other parts of the business without spending time learning legal processes.
In the next section, we’re going to discuss the valuable skills people in the positions listed above should possess if you are looking to form a cohesive and hard-working team.
2. What Skills Should Your Fashion Startup Team Possess?
Creativity alone is not enough to develop a line of clothes or a brand. It fosters your passions but does not consider the implications of starting a business. That means you and your team need to be able to reflect, plan, and make decisions like an entrepreneurs.
More than 50% of today’s startups fail in the first four years after launching. This is often because many of today’s entrepreneurs lack the essential skills to face challenges and setbacks during their first years as a startup. With the proper attitude, knowledge, and skillsets on your team, you’ll soon be on your way to launching a successful fashion business.
Here is a list of critical skills fashion entrepreneurs need to start, manage, and scale their entrepreneurship journey to achieve business excellence:
- Effective Communication/Visualization Skills: Effective Communication / Visualization Skills: Designers, but really all team members need to make their expectations and goals apparent to all keen on making the brand concept a reality. In the case of a designer, a talented one knows how to imagine a clothing piece and convey that vision to others.
- Sense of Current Creative Style: Having an eye for which materials and colors will compliment a garment is a talent all designers need. Even those not directly involved with the buying or design process should be thinking about original and creative ways to make the clothing they buy/create stand apart from competitors.
- Artistic Abilities & Computer Skills: Fashion designers need to know how to use computer-aided design (CAD) programs and be familiar with any graphics editing software that could help them improve their designs. In order to effectively convey their ideas designers must be accomplished sketch artists. Designers need to be able to properly construct the garments they create.
- Be Detail-Oriented: Paying attention to details can make all the difference between a harmless mistake and an impactful disaster. You want to find team members who care about their positions and pay attention to details because they ultimately want the best for the company. Paying attention to details is something that will attract potential customers as well.
- Good Sense of Business: Your startup team needs to foundational business knowledge and skills in order to stay within the budget, make savvy decisions, and properly advertise the products and services. Knowing how to make the right changes and choices regarding your product offering and business partnerships will be critical to your success.
- Competitive Spirit: Since the fashion world is extremely competitive, brands must be willing to push themselves and continually strive to stay one-step-ahead of their competition. Conducting market research to anticipate what the latest trends in fashion will be will help keep any fashion business at the top of their game. For some, market research and trend analysis can be tedious, so you want to find someone with experience and who enjoys finding innovative ways to improve competitive advantage.
- Team Player: A successful team member is one who knows how to collaborate with every other member of their research, design, marketing, or management team. Business just starting out are inevitably going to encounter boring tasks. Although they may not be the most exciting, they are crucial to the success. It is important for every single task or issue at hand to be addressed by the team, as a team. Solving problems together works best in a team with people who are understanding and collaborative.
3. Finding the Perfect Fashion Startup Team
Now that we covered the essential skills your team needs to have, you may be wondering where you can find the right personnel who possess these skills.
Here are four different ways to find talented candidates to join your fashion startup team:
- Networking: Always forge relationships with peers and colleagues that are successful or demonstrate a drive to succeed. High performers are good to keep in mind to join your future startup or to reach out for recommendations on others that will enrich your team.
- Social Media: Search for similar fashion brands on social media. Check to see if they list their team members, and then research their career backgrounds. You may even reach out to see if they have any possible recommendations. Another option is to post position advertisements directly on your platforms! While this isn’t the most traditional form of recruitment, you never know what talent is interested in bringing value to your startup.
- College Recruitment: Newly graduated college students are always looking for positions. They can be great candidates, as they offer a fresh perspective and recent background experience. Search for candidates who have completed fashion, business, marketing, or design internships. You’ll also want to look for students who have been in leadership positions, so you know they have experience in working well with teams. Often times, universities have job recruitment portals directly linked to their website where businesses can connect with students.
- Job Advertisement Sites: Post a listing on general platforms like Indeed, Upwork, Fiverr or on a more fashion-specific site. People who search these platforms are usually ready to start work right away, and you should have a number of responses within 48 hours. Make sure you post a detailed listing that covers all your requirements in order to get your hands on the best candidates.Once you have brought on all of your team members, the team formation does not end there. Read ahead for some tips forming and keeping your team together throughout a potentially hectic process.
4.Tips for Building & Retaining a Cohesive Team
Having team members with a domain of knowledge and expertise allow you, the owner, to take a step a back and handle more pressing duties. How can you create an environment that allows your team members to thrive?
Overall, team cohesion is critical in the workplace as it contributes to greater performance, better employee loyalty and enhanced motivation. Team cohesion can be learned, but teams need to treat the process organically. Having clearly defined roles are the first step.
Below are some tips for building and retaining a successful team!
- Stick to an Ideal Hiring/Partnership Model: It is critical early on to create an ideal hiring/partnership model and never compromise. Always consider experience, but also look for good qualities. People are frequently hired for experience and even more frequently fired for qualities. Never compromise on honesty, integrity, or intellect that can be applied to finding paths through complex problems. As long as someone has those qualities, they will be able to learn along the way.
- Create Cloud-Based Workstations: Launching a fashion brand without investing in operational systems can be a big mistake. Platforms like G Suite gives you access to Google Sheets, Docs, Drive, and Calendar. Having communication and workspaces based in one space helps teams work cohesively and stay on the same page. It also gives you ownership. If a team member leaves your startup, you will still have access to their company emails and files. Having these systems in place will help boost your productivity and streamline systems when you bring on your first team member.
- Communicate Value: Create an environment team members will want to work in. Communicating the value of each team member’s talent and role and rewarding and celebrating success will help maintain morale.
- Encourage Teamwork: Teamwork does not always come naturally to a person or to a group of people. Since the fashion industry relies on creative talent, it becomes necessary to help team members work together. This goal can be accomplished by making certain each team member understands the importance of working together to fulfill a common goal of the business.
When forming your final team. there may be challenges and difficulties along the way, but it will all be worth it in the end. A combination of having the right attitude, hard work, determination, passion, and undying desire to invest your team will get you to the success you are longing for.
To recap, these are the positions you will most likely need team members to fill…
- Administrative Assistant
- Digital Marketer
- Account Manager/Customer Service Representative
- In the future, possibly top-level management positions like a President, or CEO
Team members in the positions should have…
- Design skills
- Communication skills
- A sense of detail
- A sense of current creative style
- An understanding of business practices
- A competitive spirit
- A desire to work with a team
You can find potential team members through networking, social media platforms, posting on job advertisement sites, or recruit programs from universities. Finally, to build and retain a good team, we encourage you to keep communication flowing, organize workspaces, define roles clearly, and motivate by celebrating successes accordingly.
We hope you enjoyed reading this guide for creating the perfect team for your fashion startup. Good luck!