The fashion industry is as lively as ever these days. Despite market changes and many uncertainties surrounding the economy, people are still in the market for great fashion items, cute accessories, and trendy pieces to wear. In fact, the indie fashion market is growing at a much faster rate than before. This means there are plenty of opportunities to grab on the market.
Starting your own fashion business is something you can do right now. The risks are low and you have thousands – if not millions – of potential customers to serve. The internet acts as the perfect storefront for your new brand and manufacturing your own merchandise is easier than ever. To help you get started, here are the steps you need to take to establish your own fashion business with minimum investment.
Work on Your Product Ideas
Ideas are everything in the fashion industry. Instead of jumping into the market right away, you want to be extra certain that the product ideas you have in mind are ideas that the customers will actually love. There are many ways you can test the water too.
For example, you can produce a small amount of merchandise yourself and start marketing your products to a handful of potential customers. Forget about a big and complicated online store for a second and simply sell your products through Instagram.
Keep track of the responses you get in return. The small amount of merchandise you have in stock allows you to build the brand from scratch while maintaining exclusivity. At the same time, you are also minimizing your risks by limiting your production costs.
Based on the responses you get from customers who actually buy the products, you can determine if your ideas are ready for the bigger market. If the merchandise is sold within hours, you know you have a killer idea just waiting to be developed further.
Understand the Market
Take a moment to do market research. I know that this isn’t something you have in mind when you think about the glamorous fashion world, but getting to know the market you are entering, the customers you will be serving, and other details about the industry will help you jumpstart your business successfully.
Ask yourself a number of questions and dig deep to find the answers. Who will be your target customers? What kind of products, designs, colors, and accents are they looking for? Who are your main competitors? What are their products and how well do they do in the market?
These questions – and many others – will help you figure out the challenges you will face along the way. The more you understand the market, the better you will be at aligning your ideas with what the customers really want.
While doing market research, tease the market with your new brand and the kind of products you will be releasing. As you build a strong social media audience, you can ask for input and gain more insights about your target customers. The process itself is incredibly fun once you get started.
Nail Your Production
There are ways to outsource the production of your products to third-party manufacturers. You can turn to companies in China or Indonesia to mass-produce fashion items using your specifications and designs. However, this isn’t always the best way to enter the indie fashion scene.
You want to be in complete control of your manufacturing process and the only way you can do that is by manufacturing in-house. Take a closer look at the best brands in this market segment and you will see that they manufacture their own products.
There are added advantages to keeping your manufacturing line local too. For starters, you get to claim that every product is made to perfection at your own manufacturing facility. This is a claim that will attract a lot of authentic indie fans, growing your customer base even further.
There is also the fact that you can start a comprehensive manufacturing line without breaking the bank. Solutions are within reach for businesses who need to reduce their initial investments while developing an in-house manufacturing line. That brings us to our next step.
Calculate Your Investment
As mentioned before, developing your own manufacturing line isn’t as difficult and expensive as you think. If you don’t have enough space in your garage for a complete production line, you can actually set up your own factory using steel structures or semi-permanent buildings.
Smart Space, a leading temporary buildings construction company in the temporary and semi-permanent structure industry, has plenty of experience – 30 years of experience to be exact – in building workshops and factories for different companies. You can rely on that experience to construct an affordable workshop that suits your manufacturing needs perfectly.
Temporary buildings can be used to manufacture stock, store stock, and even provide a space to make sales to customers. They offer a flexible space solution to growing businesses.
Machines and workers are just as accessible. With the economy growing, there are a lot of companies upgrading their machines to newer models. The second-hand market is where you will find incredible deals on the machines you need to start your own manufacturing line. The rest is easy from there.
Figure Out Your Distribution Channel
Now that you know there is a market for your ideas and you have the ability to manufacture your own goods, it is time to figure out the best way to get products to customers. Distribution is an important part of starting your own fashion business. There are a number of big decisions to make in this department.
You can choose to sell directly to customers via an online storefront. This means you only need to find a shipping company that can offer you the best deal depending on the scope of your market. You don’t have to cater to international customers right away unless you know you can fulfill orders quickly.
You can also work with retailers to get more exposure for your products. A lot of online and offline retailers are actively looking for new, potential brands to work with. Your products will be displayed alongside some of the best brands on the market and you will generate sales almost immediately.
You can even choose to sell to wholesalers. This simplifies the entire distribution line since you only need to deliver to a handful of middlemen. The only downside is that your margin will be lower due to the fact that you are selling your products in bulk.
Invest in Branding
It is not a secret that your brand means everything in the fashion world. Having a strong and recognizable brand really helps with your bottom line. It also helps with keeping the business sustainable. The more customers recognize your brand, the more they will look forward to your next collection.
When it comes to online branding for artisan businesses, you can learn a lot from Dbrand. The company makes skins for smartphones and gadgets. It started with a small operation, but it is now the most recognizable brand in its industry.
The secret behind Dbrand’s success is its ability to engage the customers directly. Pay attention to how Dbrand developed its social media accounts and online presence. At every turn, you will find the company interacting with its customers directly.
You too can invest in developing a strong online presence and a recognizable brand. Setting up social media profiles and doing online marketing campaigns to raise awareness are just some of the steps you can take to start growing your brand.
Take Care of Your Customers
Another important thing to do is taking good care of the customers. You want to deliver the best customer experience from start to finish, and that finish line is well beyond the moment customers make their purchases. To really excel in a competitive market like today, you need to deliver stunning aftersales service.
Catering to customers and delivering positive customer experience are the things you can do to earn their trust. This trust, in turn, will lead to them sharing their pleasant experience with more potential customers. The compounded effects of delivering positive customer experience are too good to miss.
Once you get the ball rolling, you will find expanding your customer base to be incredibly easy. The steps you previously took also help you prepare for a rapid but sustainable growth. There is only one more challenge to tackle when you get to this stage.
The ideas you started with are great. They took you from the starting point to a company with its own manufacturing line and a strong customer base. You are officially in a comfort zone and you generate sales left and right. What next?
Many indie fashion brands stall at this stage for one crucial reason: they stop innovating. This is a mistake you have to avoid in order to capitalize on the sustainable growth you have built. Come up with new ideas. Listen to your customers and what they really want. More importantly, keep taking care of the customers.
You have all you need to succeed. With the support of a strong team, a capable manufacturing line, and a well-maintained online presence, every new innovation can easily turn into more success for the business.