Starting an independent clothing line can be a rewarding way to work from home and manage your own business, although it won't always be fun and games.
- Skill level:
Decide what kinds of clothes you intend to produce. You'll probably want to start small, choosing a limited number of designs to begin with, so that you can keep up with demand. If you're selling T-shirts, for example, start with five designs rather than 500. Similarly, don't try to do everything at once. Even if your ultimate goal is to produce a full line of fashions for both men and women, limit yourself to a few pieces that are either gender neutral, or create a few items for each gender.
What will you name your company? Think about the kinds of clothes you want to make, and then do some brainstorming to come up with a catchy company name for your products. Once you've got a few good ideas, hit the Internet to see if they've already been taken by another company or website. If your desired name is available, you may want to consider purchasing the domain name so that you can eventually set up a website for your product. Alternately, you can set up a free blog in your company's name, to cut costs.
Buy the necessary supplies to create a sample line of clothing to show potential buyers. Make a small run of each product you intend to sell, so you'll have a few of each item in stock, and take note of how long it takes you to make each item. This may influence your decisions later on, as you expand your product line and choose which pieces to continue producing.
Market your line. How do you get your name out there? For a small independent business, consignment services may be the best option. Talk to local boutique owners and see if they will agree to carry your clothing in their stores. With consignment sales, the stores will not pay you in advance for your product, but will give you the agreed price once any items have sold. It is your responsibility to check in with the store(s) to see how well (or poorly) your items are selling, and to keep track of how many items you've given to which stores. Usually managers will opt for a trial period of a month or two to see how well your items sell, and if they are happy with the way things go (or if they sell out quickly), they will ask you to bring in more items. If your clothes don't sell, they will be returned to you at the end of the trial period.
Another great option for small clothing lines is online sales. You can list your items on websites like eBay or Etsy, depending on whether you prefer to auction them off or sell them at set prices. You can also set up your own website and enable online ordering. Each site offers different advantages, so think about how you would prefer to make money and what the costs of listing at each will be.
Should you bother with advertising, and if so, how should you go about doing so? For new businesses, advertising in magazines or newspapers is often prohibitively expensive. Word of mouth is often a better way to go, as are other free methods of advertising. Tell your friends about your new project, and see if they would be interested in purchasing your wares! Write posts about your clothes on your website or blog. If you are creating designs that tie in with local events and can get a space to sell your wares at that event, or can afford to donate some of your items to be worn by hosts or participants, this can be great free advertising. Know any journalists? Pitch them a story about your independent company, and see if they want to write an article about your work. Work whatever contacts you have, and see if anything sticks.
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