As of 2021, there are around over 100,000 clothing boutiques across the United States. Revenue generated by the apparel market is over $310,000m in 2021. It is projected to grow by 2.83% per year. Looking at statistics, starting a business in the apparel industry seems like a good idea.
Just like any business, starting a clothing and shoe line requires hard work, determination, and solid capital to enable the company to jumpstart. It does not mean that you have to invest a humongous amount of money when starting an apparel business. Every successful business story is different.
While you may have a knack for fashion and you want to share it with the world, starting a clothing or shoe line means learning the basics of running a business. So, to guide you, outlined are the basic steps you need to consider when starting a business in the apparel industry.
Checklist in Starting an Apparel Business
Step 1: Pick Your Niche
Venturing a business in the apparel industry is somewhat a very personal journey. Most individuals who venture into the clothing business are creative individuals who have something unique to offer in the fat-moving market. You may have seen a gap in the current apparel market, or you have an innovative design in mind fit for a specific group.
Regardless of what inspired you to realize this business, defining your niche from the start is crucial. Are you hoping to start an athleisure brand? Or are you enthusiastic about selling clothes for children such as Spyder toddler jackets and other kids’ clothing? Or did you want a clothing line that uses organic, cruelty-free materials?
Identifying your niche early on helps pave the way to the future of your apparel business. While you may branch out and introduce more designs in the future, you always have a vision mission to guide you.
Step 2: Create Your Business Plan and Budget
If you want to start small, you may not need a full-on business plan to begin your apparel business. However, it would not hurt to be prepared if your idea takes off and you need to scale up quickly. So, it pays to have a plan in mind, even if it is just a rough one.
The fashion industry is unpredictable. With that in mind, it is best to keep your plans as flexible as possible to meet the challenges ahead. One of the top-most things you need to consider is the budget. For the first few months of your business, it is best to keep it simple. Focus on only a few designs you love, learn how to manufacture or buy them, and get a handful of feedback. This is much simpler rather than going through the whole length of mass-producing at once.
Apart from that, tackle your budgeting. It is best to have a fixed figure in mind. But you should leave room for flexibility since the prices of materials may fluctuate at any time.
Involved in the second step is your business plan. You may not need it if it is only a shoestring idea. But if you need some financial support, it is essential to lay out a good business plan. It should include a summary of your business, the details on how you will start it, and how you plan to scale.
Step 3: Build Your Brand and Designs
Product development is the most exciting stage when it comes to the apparel business. If you have a design concept in mind, do not hesitate to sketch it on paper or screen. When you are ready, you can easily turn your rough sketches into polished digital designs. Inkscape, Adobe Illustrator, and Sketch can help you nail down your design ideas.
Once you are done with the sketches, it is also necessary to develop the “tech pack.” This refers to the essential information you need to provide to the manufacturer. This information includes the product details, technical specifications, design and measurements, and any features or accessories.
Step 4: Manufacture and Test the Product
If you are planning on taking on the whole task to yourself or with a handful of people, you may skip the part of selecting the proper manufacturer for your business. The manufacturing aspect is the most crucial part of the business because this is where you make your dream designs come to reality. So, finding the right person or team to do the job is significant.
Step 5: Market Your Product
Testing your product is crucial before you do your first product run. Make your sample run designs and try them on a selected small market, like fairs or online platforms, like Facebook Marketplace. Ask for customer feedback all the time to get a better grasp as to what to improve, keep up, and do away with your product.
Once you feel like you are ready to commit to a full-on product run, give time planning how to start selling your product. These are the things you need to consider:
- Brand marketing
- Promotions or deals to offer
- Customer issues and returns
These things may already be in your business plans, but improving the details before you scale up is good.
Step 6: Expand Your Business
Your apparel business is launched. You have refined the processes. You have done it, and the company is thriving. Of course, you would want to expand. But before jumping ahead and scaling up, take time to reflect on how you want to take your business to the next level. Stay realistic and flexible.
No one is born with the skills when it comes to running a successful business. It is always trial and error. So, be patient with yourself and keep thriving. Hopefully, the things mentioned above helps you realize your goal.