Wow, big decision! Starting your own fashion business. You have dreamed of this almost your whole life. Or, maybe you didn’t but you got an idea for something that you think the market needs. Whoever you are you made the choice to do it. If you haven’t had a fashion business before, starting one can seem daunting. But, if you are prepared to do the work it can be a fabulous business. Just know that the industry is not as glamorous as it seems from movies, tv shows, and magazines. It is hard and it is demanding and sometimes you find yourself doing very unglamorous things. Like rolling large trunks of samples through the street to bring them to buyers or steaming dresses to make sure they look good in the showroom. There are magic moments though, when a magazine editor chooses one of your pieces for an article, or you see someone on the street wearing your stuff, or a store you shipped product to sells it out in the first week. Those are the times we live for.
So what three things you should know before you start?
How well does your product compete? You have an idea for your product and you of course think it is amazing. How do you know that it is? Research, research, research!! I have a client who had a cool idea for an apparel line. He felt it was something unique and something customers would like. After shopping the stores and on-line retailers he found that what he wanted to do was not as unique as he thought and decided not to do it. Money and time saved. Another of one of my clients who researched for her product found there was definitely a market but the prices needed to be much lower. You can see the value in research.
What is your business plan? Business plans are very valuable. They force you to answer questions that help you develop the blueprint for your company. With a blue print you can focus your energy and keep your company on track. You create benchmarks you can use to track your performance and make midcourse corrections. A roadmap and timetable for achieving your goals and objectives. You can also use it to get funding. Which brings me to the next thing.
How are you going to fund your business? Now we get down to the nitty gritty. Where do you find the money to run your company? This is why your business plan is important. It will help you figure out how much money you need to start the business and to run the business till it earns enough to run without cash infusion. Running out of money in the middle of developing your business with no idea of how to get more is one of the major reasons why new companies do not make it.
Maria Pesin knows fashion, especially the business side of the fashion industry. Do you know how Manolo Blahnik got his start in the industry? How he leveraged a paltry 3 grand into one of the world’s most famous luxury brands? While she doesn’t take credit for Manolo’s success, Maria has walked a similar path on numerous occasions. The world of fashion is not silicon valley, and it has nothing to do with Madison Avenue marketing. In this industry there is ALWAYS room for something new and exciting, but you have to have your ducks in a row. If that’s what you need, believe me, Maria is the General Patton of fashion ducks!
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