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Thanks to the support and encouragement of our readers, the Fuel4Fashion blog now has a growing tribe of followers on various social media platforms, from across the world. We have tried to keep giving all of you insights into what is trending in the industry and build up Fuel4Fashion as the go-to place for getting an idea of emerging global fashion trends as well as insightful information about the fashion industry.  In order to bring more quality content from the fashion industry to the community, we are now re-starting our guest blog section. This will feature articles on topics similar to the ones we have been bringing you, but from a variety of authors from the field of fashion. Today we bring you this interesting article from NewThread. – Supriya

Starting a fashion business seems all glamorous from the outside but generally, it’s just time-consuming sessions of never-ending work.

Take for example launching your own private label clothing brand.

Your first inclination would be to find a custom clothing manufacturer overseas. You need to find a reliable factory, and send thousands of dollars halfway across the world. You need to find a shipping agent if the factory is too small to help you in that regard. You need to find relevant quality inspection people as well.

The challenge of sourcing clothes is even more exacerbated when your budget doesn’t cover traveling a few thousand miles away. Just take a look at all the processes involved when you’re planning on manufacturing your apparel:

Many entrepreneurs think that the right amount of passion is enough to fuel their business into being successful but that’s hardly the case. So, to guide you through this journey, here are some tips that will help you create a successful fashion business.

  • Discover your passion

The key to any successful business is definitely patience and dedication. But in order to find that will, you’ll have to first be sure of what you really want to do. It is essential to keep in mind that the world of fashion and apparel is extremely competitive, and at times merciless. Know the ins and outs of the industry and only get going if you’re sure about what you want to do.

  • Education and Research

The apparel industry is huge and as days pass by, its branches seemed to have grown out even more. There are several different ways of sourcing, manufacturing, selling and what not.

I’d suggest you to first find out about the types of business within this industry. For example; you could be a wholesale clothing supplier, an online private clothing brand, a t-shirt printer, the possibilities are endless.

Read articles about your favorite fashion brands and apparel companies online and get to know about what’s in trend nowadays by reaching out to Fashion Design Studios like Fuel4Fashion. If you already have proper knowledge though through online courses or maybe even your college degree, then you’re already a step ahead!

It is essential to decide what you want to pursue choose the one that fits perfectly with your plans and skills.

  • Understand the demand in the market

Innovation is greatly appreciated when it comes to fashion. The more unique your products are, the more customers you lure in. Otherwise, why would they bother buying your products when there might be hundreds of other potential sellers out there?

Since fashion is diverse, it’s better if you target a certain niche. Think about what age group you are more comfortable with. It could also be just catered towards one gender or the other. There are a lot of aspects to keep in mind when choosing your target customers. Consider the socio-economic and psychological aspects as well when deciding on a target market.

Along with your customers, you’ll also have to pay attention to your products. Be thorough when it comes to the product. Ensure that your product is both comfortable and trendy while being reasonable in price. If your product doesn’t stand out or is of poor quality, your business is less likely to not gain any profit. It is very crucial to understand the competition of the industry and also the importance of marketing throughout your business.

  • Determine your skills and contacts in the fashion industry

It is almost impossible to run a business alone. If you want to a successful entrepreneur, you’re expected to have strong relationships with influential people in the fashion industry. Aside from that, some traits and skills are also needed to turn you into the perfect businessman. 

Note down your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to business. This will help you figure out where you need additional help and where you don’t. A degree in fashion might provide you the knowledge but it isn’t enough to run a company. Time management, financial management, leadership qualities etc. these all are very important skills that complete a business owner. Thus, before starting a business, it’s essential to assess your skills.

As mentioned above, you can’t run a company alone. There are many sectors in a company and if you feel overwhelmed, take advice from someone who is already in the clothing business. If possible, make someone more experienced, your partner who can guide you through the common mistakes.

Slowly but steadily branch out your departments: PR, stylists, photographers, accountants, etc. Don’t worry if you don’t have these contacts, you can visit fashion events to collect more information.

  • Make a business plan

A business plan is mainly a statement that records your business goals. This is the most important part of your business. Estimate your total expenses and sales per year through costing and create a minimum budget that would be required in order to get the business running.

A good business plan not only helps the entrepreneur to set a target and take the necessary steps in order to make it possible, but it also aids in achieving both the long term and short term objectives of a business that makes it successful.

There are many ways you can fund your company. Few of them are mentioned below-

  1. Money from investors (also known as venture capitalists). They will also become owners of your business and get some percentage of your profit.
  2. Long term loan from a bank which is considered as non-current liabilities. These types of loans can be paid after a year or more (with interest). Taking long term loans will not decrease your current ratio (current assets/current liabilities)
  3. Short term loans. You’ll have to repay these loans with interest within a year or less.
  4. Money from family and friends.

However, keep in mind that it is important to keep a balance between your debts and incomes. Taking too much loans can drive your business to bankruptcy.

  • Making your product

If you’re going for private label business or want to manufacture your own products, you’ll have to look for a manufacturer first. If you’re just starting out, find a manufacturer who has a low MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity) since it’s not a very good idea to start off with a huge manufacturing order when starting your business. Here’s an infographic to make it easy for you to understand how the process will work.

Once you’re ready to start sourcing, here are five ways you can source your clothing.

  • Selling your products

This is another aspect that depends truly upon what sort of business you have. If you want to e-commerce seller, you’ll have to make sure your products stand out among all the others. You can also look for distributors that are interested in selling your products and are perfect for your clothes and fashion. Look into what is popular in the country you will be selling. Blank t-shirts for example, are universally popular for the most part.

You have a whole lot of opportunities when it comes to a fashion business, make sure to use these wisely and make the most of it. Attending events or trade shows might help you to promote and sell your products. Other than that, take orders from distributors or clothing stores and print catalogs for them.

It is also essential to establish a good rapport with bloggers and influencers that can bring attention to your brand.

The fashion and apparel industry has more to it than it lets on so beware of the challenges that it throws your way. This is where marketing comes in. A good marketing technique can allow your sales to go sky high.

Research your target market and conduct surveys to understand how you would attract a fair amount of customers. Listen to what your customers say. Reviews are very important and do not hesitate to ask for your customers’ feedbacks before making any major changes to your products.

A successful fashion business consists of the perfect balance between passion, skills and knowledge. It is very crucial to plan out your every step and know that there’ll be a lot of challenges to overcome. Let your passion and determination lead your way into a successful fashion business!

Writer Bio: Yusuf Ahmed is the chief supply strategist at NewThread. NewThread helps businesses establish an apparel supply chain here in Bangladesh, by sourcing the right factory for the product from our network of certified factories, following up with inspection and shipment.