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Clothing Company Business Idea

If you’re wondering how to start a clothing company, there are a couple of key questions you need to answer before you get too far into this business. To get started, you must first decide whether you plan to design and make your own clothing or source your clothes from other designers or wholesalers. You also must determine whether you plan to operate entirely online, out of a physical retail store, or a combination of both – known as a “brick and click.”

Planning For How To Start A Clothing Company

Most people want to learn how to start a clothing company because they have a passion for fashion and would like to pursue their passion full-time. Like any other business, learning how to start a clothing company begins with a business plan. Your clothing company business plan will address, in detail, questions such as:

  • Will I design and make my own clothes, source my inventory from others, or a combination of both?
  • Am I going to run my business solely online or will I sell my clothes out of a retail store?
  • What’s the legal structure for my clothing company? Am I going to start as a sole proprietor, a corporation, a partnership, etc?
  • How much money do I need to start my clothing store? Do I need funding and, if so, where do I find it? How much money do I need to keep my business running?
  • What is my customer demographic? How old are they? Where do they live? What interests do they share?
  • How will I compete in the fashion marketplace? How will I differentiate my clothing line from my competitors? Who are my competitors?
  • Who else will help me with my business? Do I need to hire employees? How much will I pay them? What role will they serve in the clothing company?
  • What channels will I use to stay current with fashion trends?
  • How will I advertise my clothing line? How much will this cost?

Many people find that writing a business plan is a difficult activity at best. However, the more thought you put into planning your clothing company, the easier it will be to spot risk areas up-front and address these risks before they have a chance to sneak up on you.

Getting Your Clothing Company Started

Once you have all the business planning requirements in place, it’s time to get your clothing company started! While this is a simplified list, the following key activities will form your general startup timeline…

  1. Finalize the products you plan to sell for the first two seasons. Whether you design your own clothes or will be a reseller, you’ll need ample lead-time to build up your inventory before you open your doors. Remember that there’s a shelf-life for fashion so don’t go overboard on your inventory until you get a better feeling for demand.
  2. Line up retail space if you plan to sell out of a physical store. Don’t underestimate the time and cost it takes to locate and build out a retail outlet.
  3. Build your website. Work with a company that specializes in website design to help you. To help narrow down your pick, look for design firms that have built other fashion-related sites. You should also line up a professional photographer who can help you take model shots with your products.
  4. Start advertising and building a buzz. Start advertising early to get the word out about your clothing company. Ask for help from friends and family to help spread the word about your fashion line. If you’re only operating online then you need to wait until your website is “live” before you start any online advertising.
  5. Interview and hire employees if you need them. Your employees are the face of your business so hire wisely!
  6. Open your doors and start selling! Pay close attention to what your customers are buying. You’ll start to notice trends that you can use in your future fashion designs. Don’t become attached to your designs. Just because you think a fashion will sell doesn’t make it so.
  7. Attend fashion shows and other related industry events. You need to stay current on fashion trends so you can plan your designs and manufacturing accordingly. In most cases you’ll want to keep a 12-month outlook so you have enough time to design, make, or source your inventory for upcoming seasons.

Key Success Factors For Your Clothing Company

To be successful in your new business, it’s not enough to know just how to start a clothing company. Success comes from also knowing how to manage daily operations and how to expand your business over time. Even if you begin as an online clothing company you may eventually expand into a physical storefront or even a series of stores. Here are some key success factors to keep in mind when learning how to start a clothing company…

  • Pricing is often a challenge for fashion-related businesses, especially when just starting out. To help establish prices, check out your competition and price accordingly. Remember that in fashion, the lowest price isn’t always the best price.
  • Excellent customer service is vital regardless of whether you are selling your clothing online or in a store. Clearly specify your return and exchange policy and stand by the quality of your products. Strive to make every customer interaction a memorable one. Word of mouth can literally make or break your company.
  • Stay current on fashion trends and listen to feedback from your customers.
  • Don’t lose site of your passion for fashion! It’s easy to get caught up in all of the daily requirements of managing a clothing store. But make sure to save time to do what you love. If you lose interest in fashion because of burnout with the business, this will show in your products and you’ll start to lose customers.

Expanding Your Clothing Business

Once you learn how to start a clothing company and your business is succeeding, you may want to think of ways to expand. Here are a couple of ideas:

  • If you’re just selling online, consider opening a physical retail store.
  • Add additional product lines such as jewelry, hats, or shoes.
  • Open additional retail stores in neighboring cities.
  • Sell your clothing online if you’re not already doing so.
  • Sell your design services to other clothing labels.

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