Starting your own company can not only give you the option of employing yourself, it also means setting your own hours, your own schedule, reporting only to yourself, setting your own targets, reaping all the profits yourself without having to share, taking holidays whenever you need/want!
Assuming that you have decided to open your own clothing store, let us try to figure out how to proceed from this vague idea, flesh it out, and finally, implement it. So, here we go.
Establishing your own Clothing Line
Establishing your own clothing line is not as simple as designing clothes! A lot of other work goes into opening your own store and selling the clothes you have designed. The main areas that need to be addressed are:
As in any other field, in this field too, experience is of utmost importance. The more experience you gain, the lesser mistakes you make when you start on your own. Before starting your own venture, spend some time working with designers you look up to for inspiration and see how they work, first hand.
Also, you could try working in a store to gain some knowledge about the efficient running of a store. Most established designers had as many as 8 to 10 years of experience under their belt before they started their own labels. So don't think of it a waste of precious time. Instead, think of the ways in which it will help you when you venture out on your own.
Market Research and Analysis
It is always better to know the current trend of the market and in the market. People will buy clothes all year round. But there are going to be certain times of the year when the sale of clothes will see a spike. You can capitalize on this trend by opening your store around these optimal times so that your sales are good, and you get a decent take off.
Trends in the market alludes to keeping abreast with the latest in fashion and what's hot and what's not currently. Some classic outfits never go out of style, but there are trends that come and go, so if there is a hot trend in the market currently that everybody is going gaga over, you may want to include that in your collection.
Picking a Niche
This is very important if you want to carve an identity for yourself. Also, it makes sense to start with some signature items in the initial stages, and once the business settles and becomes more stable, you can expand your horizon.
So pick something specific, for example, do you want to do sports apparel or corporate clothing, casual or dressy or formal, winter wear or summer wear, swimwear, lingerie, working-out clothes? Think, think, and pick the one you can design and are comfortable with.
Planning a Collection
Planning a collection may save you a lot of grief later on. One of the main mistakes that new designers make is that they design a huge collection right at the onset. This could incur losses, since the public needs some time to get used to your style and fashion.
The tendency of buying in bulk from new designers is pretty low. Instead, design 4 - 5 signature pieces in all sizes, to allow the people to get used to your personal and novel style.
Once you see that your designs and patterns are selling well, introduce new designs 1 - 2 at a time. While it is true that no variety will ensure that people don't visit again, it is also equally true that too much variety will end up confusing your customers unnecessarily.
Designing the Clothes
Designing the clothes is a task in itself! Sketch out your designs in detail, show them to professionals as well as non professionals, get as much feedback as you can, choose cost-effective and appropriate fabrics and patterns and colors.
Find out which patterns can be printed in which colors on which fabric and which combinations are not possible, find a manufacturer, get a few sample pieces made and see if they are exactly how you want them to be.
That done, you need to time your collection precisely. For example, if you are planning a summer collection, it has to be present in your store a little before summer actually begins! That will require you to plan way ahead of time. Time management is very, very important!
There are a few issues to sort out before you establish your own line. You will need to obtain a business license from your state authorities, and establish the structure of your business. You need to find a trademark for your line. You need a name that is not already registered, as well as an available domain name.
Designing a logo is another important aspect, as well as patenting all that you have created. You will have to fill DBA forms at local banks to inform them of your business, so that checks written out in your store's name can be encashed by you.
Apart from this, you may also want to hire a lawyer to make sure that all the deals you make/contracts you sign, are foolproof and without any loopholes. All these things are necessary in order to avoid legal hassles later on.
You need to work out ways of financing your clothing line business. The finance that you'll need will depend on factors like the creation and purchase prices of the materials.
Advertising also requires a lot of money, so you will have to include those costs as well in your plan. A plethora of banks offer easy loans to fresh entrepreneurs, which is a good way of raising capital.
An important thing to keep in mind before you approach any investors, banks, sponsors, etc., is that you must have a solid business plan ready, with graphs and statistics and numbers explaining the projected costs, sales, margins, profits, etc.
If your business plan is vague, funding will remain a distant dream. Besides banks, you can also approach investors, celebrities, and sponsors, or if you have the capital, fund your clothing line yourself.
Marketing and Promotion
Now that you have everything in order, you need to have a marketing strategy. A marketing strategy will decide how and where are you going to launch your product. A good marketing strategy is offering good samples.
Good samples are the signature of your business, which will authenticate the quality, craftsmanship and originality. You can rope in a minor celebrity to model for your brand by offering them free samples!
Next comes blogging, which can help advertise your products for potential online customers. Blogging is much cheaper than making your own website, but if you can set up your own website, great! Conceptualize the business plan template for people to associate with. Devising strategies will help mark your presence in the market and increase your customer base.
Clothing line business requires a lot of planning and dedicated effort. It demands full-fledged commitment and time. The most important factor of running a successful apparel business, is to carve a space for yourself in the highly competitive market with signature clothing items.
For example, just as Ralph Lauren started with a tie collection, you too can start with your own trademark clothing item. This will help you gain expertise of the product and help the public with brand association. It should not be over-priced, so workout your costs and see where you can save.
The mantra for making your clothes line a success, is never to lose your personal element in designing!