Many people dream of being a fashion designer. The good news is you don't have to go to fashion design school to start your own clothing line successfully. However, you do need a marketable vision and financing to back your venture, and you have to be business savvy. Study trends in the fashion industry carefully and surround yourself with talented designers and seamstresses. Like many industries, succeeding in fashion depends on who you know, but it also depends on your willingness to experiment, be flexible and work hard.
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Choose a name for your clothing line. It should be something catchy, whether it includes your own name or describes the style of clothing you plan to sell. Check to see if the name is trademarked, and if it is available, register it.
Register your business name, open a business account and write a business plan. These steps are necessary no matter what type of business you plan to start, but they are essential if you want your clothing line to be successful. Also, evaluate your finances and determine how much money you will need to start your own clothing line. You may have savings, someone who is willing to back you or you may need to apply for a small business loan from a local bank.
Decide what type of clothing you want to design and sell. You may choose to do T-shirts with graphic logos or high-end couture fashion. Consider your target audience, how much they will be willing to spend and what looks will appeal to them. Hopefully you already have a repository of sketches and ideas, or you have a designer in mind you can hire to come up with your initial designs.
Take your clothing designs to a seamstress to produce a few samples. Before you can market your designs to stores, you should have some samples that showcase the range of the line. Based on the cost of material and labour, as well as the profit you must make to keep your business afloat, price each piece accordingly.
Set up appointments with local store owners to show them your designs so they can consider selling them in their stores. Another option is to rent a booth at festivals and fairs and sell your clothing to those shoppers. This will help you gauge which items are most popular with customers, as well as those that aren't as successful.
Market your clothing line. Purchase a domain name and create a website to legitimise your clothing line and showcase your designs for sale. Connect with members of the fashion press, advertise in magazines that are popular with your target audience and create postcards or other mailers to distribute and attract potential customers.
Connect with manufacturers and distributors in the fashion industry and attend trade shows and other events. As the buzz surrounding your clothing line grows, you can ramp up production and reach a wider audience by selling your designs to larger retailers and national chains.
Tips and warnings
- Before you start your own line, talk with others who have successfully started their own similar business. Their advice can save you money and plenty of potential headaches.
- Many clothing lines aren't successful. Protect yourself from large amounts of debt by starting small and expanding slowly. You don't want to end up with a room full of clothing samples that you can't sell.
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