Top 10 short cut links
- Start with the WHY, not the WHAT
- Check with your friends and your close network first if you are on to something
- Consult with a credible expert in the fashion space on how to bring your collection to life
- Get very clear on the process behind building a fashion garment and key steps involved
- Contract out roles that you feel would move the needle the most, do the rest your self
- Focus on the goal of creating a beautiful, market viable prototype for each style
- Understand what drives the numbers behind the brand from dollar amounts to inventory counts
- Review your sales channels and have a clear idea of your distribution options
- Be ready to pivot on the fly, carefully review customer feedback & performing sales channels
- Reflect on the business success and decide if you want to double down or close down
Start with the WHY, not the WHAT
Reflect on all the possible ways you can spend your hard earned savings/investment dollars and ask your self “WHY” commit to fashion venture over any other business opportunity.
Check with your friends and your close network first if you are on to something
Validate your idea by speaking with others and gather feedback from a variety of sources.
Consult with a credible expert in the fashion space on how to bring your collection to life
Having an experienced mentor is an invaluable asset in your journey through the fashion world.
Some of the most commonly addressed topics during this phase include:
- Have you landed on a brand name?
- Have you looked into securing digital assets such as URL, IG name, Corporate Name?
- Have you considered your branding elements (logo, colors, etc)
- Are you aligned on the type of garments you want to make?
- Do you a plan for raising capital or securing an appropriate budget for the brand?
- Are you clear on the number of styles you want to make?
- Have you considered the # of units you may need?
- Have you thought through your sales and distribution strategy?
The more prepared you are with your business plan the smoother the path to success as your assembled team can get to executing the steps right away with clear direction and clarity.
Get very clear on the process behind building a fashion garment and key steps involved
Time is money, by having a core understanding of the apparel garment life cycle can be crucial to the success of your business venture.
The more aware you are of what it takes to take an idea, a dream or a possibility of a conceptualized garment through digital design, material sourcing, techpack building, vendor enrollment, prototyping and production management the easier you can make a call on which stages you need most help in.
At Apparelmark we offer services that directly compliment any fashion start-up process with the following deliverables:
- Hand Draw & Digital sketches of every style in the collection
- Comprehensive material and trim sourcing round
- Complete Technical Package creation (CADs, BOMs, Grade Chart, Pre-Fit)
- Vendor selection and placement
- Prototyping and sampling creation
- Pre-Production review and P.O. negotiations
- Labels, care tags + post-production planning
Once you are clear on the steps now it is time to decide on who you plan to handle each of the steps above.
Contract out roles that you feel would move the needle the most, do the rest your self
Try to draw from your own skill set to determine what areas of the business you can make the biggest impact in and which ones you need to hire for.
Your biggest asset as a budding entrepreneur is and always will be your time, anything and everything you can do to save time during your brand establishment stage is critical for a number of reasons. First it helps you assess what areas you can maximize in for the lowest opportunity cost, second it helps move your idea to market at a steady pace allowing you to stay ahead of potential competitors, third it allows for the type of attention to quality and credibility that comes with hiring the right people for each task to move the needle forward.
Over the years we heard many client stories of how they started out their brand trying to do everything on their own: they bought HTML books from Costco to learn web site development, they watched Youtube videos on design, they attended trade shows for fabric, they practiced technical sketches on their computer, they attempted to sew their own prototypes and took chances with unverified vendors. They felt it was their duty to attempt to learn every process along the way by doing everything on their own and not realizing the opportunity costs associated with each and every step – ultimately causing them to realize this was the least efficient way to build a thriving company.
Focus on the goal of creating a beautiful, market viable prototype for each style
Work with a professional agency to design, develop, and prototype your collection to an optimum state.
By working with a contract fashion design agency like Apparelmark you help reduce risk in all areas of the project when it comes down to industry leading design, material sourcing, techpack construction and vendor placement. Each step in the apparel product cycle is heavily dependant on the previous component being executed correctly as each step in the process are linked in a flowing chain of development. The goal of any successful fashion brand is to physically develop and produce a collection as close to the ideal vision as possible to ensure that end consumers are getting an accurate representation of the feel and the vibe of your brand.
This means that specific attention needs to be placed on the entirety of the process, from the design elements, to the materials sourced, to the techpack construction, to the type of vendor selected all the way through multiple rounds of prototyping until you are confident that the product is ready to be placed on market. (Tip, takes about 6 months to get here).
Understand what drives the numbers behind the brand from dollar amounts to inventory counts
Brands that strategically allocate funds to proper channels will always be ahead of the competition.
By the time you are several months into your collection you will come to realize that building any business requires capital, how you go about A) securing that capital and B) how you allocate those funds will be a huge determining factor in your success. As with any investment there are always risks involved, you can minimize those risks by working with a credible freelance design agency but you should always have a keen understanding of the numbers in the fashion space. Here is a rough break down of the things to know:
- Know your origin unit price ($/unit) at factory source
- Look into the duty rate % and/or duty $ cost per unit for each garment for export purposes
- Look into freight costs associated with various shipment sizes from different countries
- Understand the MOQ (minimum commitment quantities) for your collection and how they are derived
- Understand the difference between fabric minimums and production minimums
- Look into packaging costs and shipping costs to your end customer
- Have a clear budget set aside for website development and optimization
- Have a clear budget for your initiate photoshoot and product placement
- Have a clear goal for your launch strategy and how you plan to maximize your impact
- Marketing, PR, Digital Ad Spend and SEO are all completely different costs and having a core understanding of each segment is of significant value
- Have an excel sheet with optimistic, pessimistic and expected sales figures to review budgets
Review your sales channels and have a clear idea of your distribution options
Try to use research and surveys to appropriate the right channels for your audience.
Now that you have a beautiful product created through a credible freelance design agency your next priority will be on creating a scalable sales funnel. Running a brand requires strategic direction from you as the owner and there are several ways that you can go about selling your product. Let’s look at some of the options available to you:
Whole-sale (20-30% margins from your landed costs)
- Research independent boutiques in your specific market segment and book a meeting with the owners to show case your products and pitch them on a buying plan
- Attend industry trade shows and carry your product with you hitting up individual booths (or should funds permit have your own booth in appropriate shows to get wholesale orders
- Contact online selling sites like https://carbon38.com to try to get picked up by them
- Approach larger retailers in your market and see if they are willing to collaborate with you or pick up your collection
- Approach businesses that operate outside fashion but directly supporting your target market to see if they are willing to carry your products as apparel
Direct to Consumer (40-60%+ margins)
- Build out a functional, easy to navigate and well designed website (Shopify, or other platform)
- Ensure the site has appropriate plug ins (save to cart, abandoned cart, easy shipping etc)
- Ensure your site has been populated with the right content, pictures and prices
- Ensure that your site has been vetted by a SEO specialist or plug in like https://yoast.com/
- Dedicate funds towards Google Ads using keywords strategy
- Dedicate funds towards Facebook/Instagram ads (need content write up + imagery)
- Dedicate funds towards influencer campaign (independent, micro or strategic)
- Dedicate funds towards PR as needed (this is different than marketing)
Be ready to pivot on the fly, carefully review customer feedback & performing sales channels
Keep highly convertible sales channels and focus on customer experience.
This stage is all about connecting with your customers and carefully reviewing your incoming sales data. Once customers start buying they will be vocal about things they like, don’t like, colors they want, don’t want etc, the key is to be decisive on your customer needs and action off a plan of execution.
Taking data from your customers and applying them to your sales funnels will become a crucial way to tighten your marketing budgets and the overall cost per/customer acquisition. To do this effectively we advise to look into hiring a reputable media buyer who has direct experience in the field of your choice (i.e. fashion). This individual will be responsible for working together with you to create, manage, review and optimize digital sales campaigns to convert the highest number of customers to your site. Having a basic understanding of how online sales channels work, what different lingo means for online advertisement, what the expected dollar spends are and how to optimize your sales channels is highly encouraged for any brand owner serious about growing their online business.
Reflect on the business success and decide if you want to double down or close down
First 6 months will be a great indicator if your product is a hit with the market.
As you start selling it will become apparent within a few months of how well the market is receiving your idea. Reflecting on the feedback you will have a clear insight into what is working and what is not – is it the product that needs tweeking, is your marketing channels that need tweeking, is it that you need to dedicate more time to your brand, is it the fact that your pricing is too high or too low etc.
Review the snap-shot of the business and decide if it achieved even the most “pessimistic” sales output you decided back in Step 7, as long as there is encouraging growth in the sales process you should consider doubling down on the opportunity to keep it going. Alternatively, if you aren’t seeing the type of success that you hoped you should always consider cutting your losses and starting fresh, for many brands the experience of getting started, going through the stages and testing the waters is well worth the journey even if it doesn’t succeed on the first try.
Now that you have done your preliminary research, the next step is to engage with a plan of action and to talk to someone who can answer any further questions you may have.