Starting your own clothing line can be one of the most exciting, daunting and exhausting, yet rewarding times of your life.
No matter how fantastic your initial idea or how beautiful your designs might be, there are certain pitfalls and mistakes many entrepreneurs make when launching their own brand. Here, we take a look at our top 10 things to avoid when starting your own fashion business.
1 Underestimating the Need to Plan
“Winging it” is a dangerous game when it comes to business . The need to plan ahead and research everything about your business and the industry is mammoth to ensure you are never left unprepared.
From in-depth research into your competitors to a full and detailed digital marketing strategy, business plans are there for a reason and to help you evolve and build your business without the interruption of costly surprises and mistakes.
2 Starting Too Big
One problem many fashion entrepreneurs face when starting their own clothing line is trying to start too big. Either launching with far too many product lines or attempting to appeal to too broader a target customer can mean the brand feels unfocused and the identity becomes lost.
Starting small and niche doesn’t mean your business will stay that way . Focusing and perfecting a small range of products, aimed at a defined, specific target customer enables you to create a strong base to build and grow your brand.
3 Rushing Your Branding
Branding is one of the most important aspects of your business as it tells your customers who you are and the story of the company, which in turn engages them and encourages them to become a loyal customer.
Rushing through this process is a risk because not only do you gamble with making mistakes but you also chance creating a flaky brand identity, which fails to really connect your customers with your products.
4 Not Getting Professional Tech Packs Made
When we asked Boris Hodakel what his number one tip is for starting a clothing line, the founder of Sewport , a digital platform connecting designers and factories , the answer was all about tech packs; “Have a tech pack for every item before even going into sampling”. This helps to prevent wasted time and money trying to create samples without any accuracy.
The fee of tech pack creation is much smaller than the money you’ll waste having to re-sample multiple times due to easily avoidable errors in trims, stitching or even lining details just because you haven’t provided the factory with specific instructions.
Having a clear and detailed tech pack ready for each and every piece in the collection also gives you reassurance that if your samples arrive with a problem, you have proof of your original instruction to the factory. If you’re unsure how to begin building your collection of tech packs, find the perfect professional to assist through the Sewport platform.
Tech packs can also be used to save you money when doing your initial clothing manufacturer research according to Belinda Jacobs from TechPacks.co . By sending your detailed tech packs to several production factories, you can source the very best deal for your brand.
5 Thinking You Can Do It Alone
An entrepreneur often starts out their journey solo. Having formed an initial idea, when you start to build a business around it, you’ll see that you really do need to work with close and trusted partners to bring the brand to life.
Trying to take on every aspect of the brand from designs to logistics to manufacturing will not be possible on a professional scale, so the thought that you can do it alone must be evolved into building strong relationships with other like-minded professionals and creatives.
6 Picking the Wrong People
Linking closely to number 5, once you’ve realised the need to add a partner or supplier to your team, picking the wrong people can quickly lead to disaster and disappointment.
Choosing the right people to help build your business will require in-depth research and great communication. The Sewport platform can help to make this easier for you by connecting you with verified professionals, who you can communicate with and conduct payments with through the website itself, helping you with security during the first few phases of your business.
Reaching out to unverified suppliers yourself is possible, but without contacts and security, there are many worrying issues that can arise without the help of a platform, such as Sewport.
7 Focusing Only on The Product
Because your idea is the initial spark of your business, it’s easy to get lost, focusing solely on the product itself, becoming obsessed with detail and not being able to see the bigger picture .
Although the product is absolutely crucial, you need to see the brand as a business, looking at it on a bigger scale and remember to focus also on everything else that comes with building and launching a successful business.
8 Not Having Enough Capital
Trying to start your business incredibly small, without much capital at all can lead to problems and waste down the road. Through your extensive planning, before you began to build your business, you should have realistically budgeted for all of the business’s needs, including marketing and the launch.
If your financial forecasting isn’t going to plan when starting your own fashion line, try not to cut corners by launching a sub-standard product too soon . Rather than launching hastily, try to raise some money through various routes to help you get back on track. If you don’t have your own savings, you could:
- Get a business loan from the bank
- Get a personal loan from the bank
- Seek professional investors
- Ask family to invest (with a contract of returns once the business is launched)
9 Misjudging the Price of Marketing
It’s often the case that new, small businesses assume by using free social media profiles they can create a totally free digital marketing plan that will sky-rocket their products to success.
However, where just a few years ago your easy-to-grow social media platform would be a fantastic way to engage with your customers, times have changed. Scary statistics such as “only about 4% of your Facebook followers are seeing your brand’s organic posts” ( Forbes 2017 ), means that the world of social media for business is now very much a paid advertising platform.
Misjudging the price of marketing and not allocating enough budget towards your digital marketing spend before, during and after your launch could leave you with a collection of products and no traffic for sales.
10 Leaving Your Launch Until Last
Getting distracted by your products and the excitement of seeing your designs come to life can sometimes mean you only start to plan your launch when you’re ready to go. Not only does this mean your launch could be delayed, it could also mean you end up launching without the impact you might have had with a planned, well-thought-out launch in place.
Once your designs are in production and you are certain that you will launch, you can start to plan for this day from the start. You’ll have social media platforms and a website, which you can drive traffic to before you even launch, allowing you start collecting email data for your database and giving you customers to update along the way.
Starting your own clothing line requires dedication, hard work and patience. By avoiding these 10 pitfalls and common mistakes made by fashion entrepreneurs, you can give yourself the best possible chance of success with your new brand.