How do I go about learning how to start a clothing line business with no money? How much does it cost to start a clothing line from scratch? Where do I learn how to start a retail clothing company? Do you need a sample clothing line business plan template or feasibility study? Then i advice you read on because this article is for you.
N.B-: This article was culled from: “The Complete Guide to Starting a Clothing Line from Scratch.”
In elementary school, we were taught that the three basic needs of every human being are food, shelter and clothing. And indeed, these are things that every normal human being must have whether they like or yes! No one likes to run around naked. You may be able to do that on the beach but i can bet my last penny that a normal person with all screws tightly knotted would definitely want to wear clothes around town- to business meetings, on a shopping spree or to wherever.
There is more to starting a business from scratch than just having a great idea. So in this article, I will be outlining what it takes to start a clothing company for kids, women or men. But before I proceed, I want you to understand the fact that this article does not in any way replace the need for you to do your own feasibility study and write a business plan. Having made this point clear, let’s move on.
Clothing business is a very lucrative one but sadly, a lot of people are not aware of how easy it is to start their own clothing line. Instead, everyone wants to retail clothes and sell other brands which they consider as established and popular brands with easy sell- ability, forgetting that those so-called ‘designer’ brands started from somewhere. You can be the next designer brand with people struggling to pay top-dollar for your pieces but how do you go about starting your own clothing line?
Building a successful clothing business means great work and dedication. In order for a business to be successful, you need to have a systematic plan, creative ways in which to promote it and make your products loved by your target clients. There is so much to learn when it comes to starting a clothing business that will yield profit. So therefore, it’s my intention to use this article as a medium to help budding entrepreneurs learn how to start a clothing line business in the best and most organized manner.
A fashion based business is one business that would always survive regardless of what is happening in the economy. It doesn’t matter if there is an economic downturn or a galloping inflation, people would always wear clothes and sadly enough (for the buyer) but good enough (for you) clothes do not last forever. They are susceptible to wear and tear so you people have to keep on buying clothes for as long as they live.
You are on the right path by deciding to set up your own clothing line instead of just being a retailer of other people’s brands, but there are some things you need to consider very carefully before you start your own clothing line. Some of these factors include-:
a. Your niche-: The first factor to consider is the type of clothes you want to start making. Clothing business is very broad, there are maternity clothes, women’s clothes, children’s clothes and men’s wear. And even under the categories mentioned, there are several sub-categories.
For instance there is men’s casual wear, men’s business wear, accessories, sportswear to mention a few. You would also find several sub-categories under the women’s wear category too, so you have to first decide on a niche before you can forge ahead with your plan to launch a clothing line.
b. Employees-: Next, you have to decide on how you would be producing your clothes. Would you outsource to another company or would you employ tailors to sew them for you? Would you hire designers to create unique designs for you? What about marketing, how would you market your designs? Would you have to employ marketers and sales assistants? All of these are some of the things you need to carefully consider before you start your clothing line.
c. Funding-: How much will it cost you to start a clothing line? How would you get funding for your business. Do you have all the capital you need to start your clothing line? If you don’t, how do you plan to raise the needed funds? Do you have a good credit rating to be able to borrow money from financial institutions and if you don’t, what is your back up plan?
d. Location-: You also have to carefully consider the location where you intend to set up your business to determine if it’s the right one for your business. Before deciding on a location, you have to consider factors like-:
Competition-: Do you have what it takes to compete with the existing brands in your area?
Taxes-: Are the tax laws in that area favorable for your business?
Government incentives-: Would there be any financial assistance or incentives from the government?
Labor laws-: Would you have access to employees at reasonable wage rates? What are the labor laws in that area like?
Rents-: Are costs of renting a business premises in that place generally higher than other places?
Suppliers and customers-: How close are you to your suppliers and customers?
Future potentials-: Would your current business allow for future growth?
When you have figured out all of these, then you are more than 70% ready to launch a successful clothing line.
Starting a Clothing Line With No Money – Sample Business Plan Template
1. Get in the right mindset
The principles of building a successful business is the same all over the world; so regardless of the business opportunity or idea you are pursuing, you will never find success if you lack the right mindset. Why do you want to start a clothing line? Are you doing it for the passion, money, fame, etc? Having the right mindset entails that you understand that success is not an overnight venture. You must also be prepared to face business challenges and stiff competition of the fashion industry.
2. Understand the fashion industry
The fashion industry is a rapidly changing one; trend come and go just as the sun rise and sets. For you to succeed in the clothing line business, you must thoroughly understand your customers and their taste. You must possess the ability to foresee trends, months before it hits the market. Most importantly, you must be creative and flexible in your tactics.
You would also need to conduct a market research to understand your potential customer’s tastes, preferences and expectations. Because the fashion industry is seasonal in nature and changes are made everyday. You have to be able to keep up with trends in the fashion industry. You don’t want to turn out spring designs when it’s already summer. So you have to be fashion forward and keep up with trends to know what designs are hot and what other designers are doing.
3. Write a business plan
In every starting business, a plan of action is important. For your clothing line to be successful, you need to identify your target market and learn the kind of products that they buy. It will be good to have a part-time job in a clothing store that caters to these individuals to see what sells and what does not. Here is a sample clothing line business plan template to help you get started.
Also, you need to ask questions from different stores and customers regarding products, the price and the quality. Make a list of materials and other things that you need for the business together with the projected cost of operations within the year.
Consult experts on your plans and seek advice from entrepreneurs in the fashion industry. Take note of the legal requirements and prepare all the necessary documents. Decide and define the kind of company you wish to create. Analyze your manpower needs to see if you need employees and if you do, how many will you hire? Organize your plans and identify possible constraints. Compile all this in one report, so that you will have a guide to follow.
4. Build a Brand
What every clothing line need is a brand. Make sure that the name of your line is creative, unique and catchy. You can put your own name as a brand name like Calvin Klein or Kenneth Cole or you can think of other names like Mango or Gap. After that, you need to create a logo. Make sure that your logo reflects the philosophy and nature of the brand. Be reminded that the name of the company can be different from the name of the clothing line itself, which you need to register for legalities.
5. Register your trademark-: Most importantly, you must not forget to trademark your brand name and copyright your clothing designs. This is to help mitigate against piracy, intellectual theft and brand infringement. This would cost you about $400 in the US. You should consider registering your trademark to protect your business and your designs from copycats.
6. Create a bank account for your business-: You should also create a separate bank account for your business, so that your personal expenses can be separated from your business expenses. You may have to register your business legally before you can open a business bank account.
7. Design your Clothes
The most exciting part of the process is designing the clothes. Make sketches of clothes and choose which will go into your collection. Identify items that sell and appeal to your target customers as a guide for the collection. This is one tip on how to start a clothing line. Also make sure that the clothes are trendy and capture the right look for the season in which you are going to release it. If you have no design skills, i advice you seek the services of a professional clothing designer.
Next, you should test the potentials of your business by showing them to your friends and family for constructive criticisms. For those criticisms to really be constructive, you have to ensure that the people you show your pieces are fashion savvy and understand garment construction and design.
8. Find a Manufacturer
Where will you get raw materials from? You need to figure out where and how you are going to get your fabrics and other items that you would need. To get started, you need to find a manufacturer who will be creating your clothes. Provide all the needed details to make sure that you are going to get desired results. Be aware of terminologies for different garments and weights or how thick the fabric must be. This is essential information you must note when launching your clothing line. You can do a search online for manufacturers and then contact them. A good place to cheaply import clothing materials is China.
9. Advertise your clothing line
Who are your customers and who are those that you would sell your products too and how do you plan to reach them? If you plan to start supplying boutiques and online stores, how would you achieve this? You need to carefully strategize how to break into the market and get customers to patronize you especially since you are a new entrant into the business. You should also consider having your own retail store to carry your brand too.
An important requisite for launching your advertising campaign is a marketing plan. You can start promoting your clothing line by creating a page for it in social media sites. Here, there will be a lot of people who will definitely see your product. Have your clothes or products advertised by celebrities by giving them some of the clothes for free. Pay for advertisements on the pages of papers and magazines that your target clients are reading. Better still, wear the clothes you made. This will help in promoting your brand and gaining feedback about it in order for you to make improvements.
10. Register a domain name and create a website
You can’t do without the internet in any business in this age. Which means you would need a website for your business but you don’t have forever to do this. If you are not fast and smart about this, someone else would steal your domain name and you will have a hard time searching for a relevant name for your brand.
A good way to start a clothing line that sells is to create a website and sell your clothes online. Make sure that the site is professionally done and mirrors the philosophy of the brand. In this way, a lot of people will learn about it. There are also some great places to sell your clothes online like eBay, Amazon or Etsy, so you should check them out. Once the above steps are done, you are now set to launch and build your clothing line business. As a final note, I believe the question of how to start a clothing line business from scratch has been well answered; so it’s up to you to take action.
11. Talk to retailers-: Retailers like boutique owners and online store owners can help you sell your designs faster, so you should search for some of them and talk to them about carrying your products in their stores.
12. Develop affiliate programs-: Affiliate programs have been helping designers and clothing retailers increase sales for years. A simple blog post from a fashion blogger can have your designs sold-out within a couple of hours. You should create an affiliate program so that people can earn commissions from marketing your goods.
13. Manage your business-: Continue to create unique designs and unique pieces and keep your customers happy and you won’t have a problem retaining them.
14. Network-: In fashion business, the competitor is not your enemy but your friend. The fashion business is based on a whole lot of networking, so you would need to know as many people as possible to help you make more sales. You should consider attending industry events, fashion shows and meeting as many people as you can in the industry. People who have been in the business longer than you may be able to offer you some few tips and tricks to help you survive in the business.
How to Write a Clothing Line Business Plan
Every savvy fashion entrepreneur knows that building a successful clothing line business does not happen out of sheer luck or overnight. Hard work and perseverance are required to achieve it. In this regard, every fashion house must have a concrete and organized business plan.
It is key in order to decide on your course of action, manage your finances, raise capital from investors, identify competitors and many others. Since having a business plan is a critical element of success, guidelines on how to write a clothing line business plan must be learned by starting entrepreneurs. So if you are ready to learn, then let’s ride.
A Sample Clothing Line Business Plan Template
Prepare your Business Plan Outline
A good way to write a clothing line business plan is to begin by outlining its contents. This will enable you put the ideas in your head into writing; and help you ensure that your ideas and strategies don’t get lost. Decide on what will be the areas that the plan will cover and reflect on what it will contain. Take notes of important factors that you would want to include as a reminder.
Write about the objectives of the company. Always be specific in writing this because it is important you have a clear view of your target customers; which will be a main element of your objectives. Look for tips from sample clothing line business plans and templates, so as to get an idea on how to state your company philosophy and goals as clearly and concisely as possible.
Market and Competitors
Almost every manual about how to write a clothing line business plan talks about describing the market and your competitors. This will help you in identifying if the market that you want to enter is new or if it is growing fast. This is where a marketing plan comes into play? Here is a sample clothing line marketing plan template you can use.
Determine your competitors and make entries on the kind of product that they are selling. Include plans and tactics on how you will address such competition and your niche among these competitors. It is important to keep track of strong competition so that you will not be last in the race. Also, i firmly believe that you can learn and adopt the characteristics of successful clothing brands in your region.
Plan Implementation Strategies
Make an account of your implementation plans. This is important so as reach your target goals; after all, what’s the essence of planning without taking the needed action to implement. So in this part of your plan, you should include descriptions about the production, design, marketing strategies, human resource, sales and retail. In simple terms, this is where the necessary factors needed to run the clothing business is contained.
A description of the finances of the company should also be included in the business plan. More than writing a clothing line business plan, recording the company’s finances is much crucial. A record of cash flows is very important in order to make sure that operations will run smoothly. Seek the expertise of accounting professionals and consultants while making the financial report in order to be exact and detailed.
An executive summary of the contents of the business plan should also be made at the last chapter. This is necessary so that you will have a bird’s eye view of the contents of the plan which will help in creating reports about it. In learning how to write a clothing line business plan, it is of vital importance to have the ability to write about important points of the plan in a clear and short manner.
List of Equipment and Tools Needed to Start a Clothing Line
Industrial machines-: If you will be manufacturing the clothes yourself, you will need industrial machines to sew them.
Pattern makers for crafting designs.
Women and men dress forms used for garment building.
Straight and curved rulers
Notchers for marking seams.
Dotted pattern paper.
Sewing machine needles
Hand sewing needles.
Dressmaking Stick pins
Soft lead pencil
Pattern making software.
CAD tools for designs
Digital drawing tools
Digitizer board for pattern scanning.
Heat transfer machines for T-shirts.
For marketing and selling your designs, you would need-:
Racks-: There are different types of racks that you can use to display your products in a boutique or at home. The type you need depends on how much space you have as well as number of clothes you have to display.
Slat wall-: You can use this to hang clothes on the wall to save space.
Mannequins-: Mannequins are better for displaying clothes and attract buyers better than hangers and racks because buyers are able to see, to an extent how the clothes would look on them.
Hangers-: You would find several kinds of hangers in the market. So that you don’t make your designs look cheap, you must make sure you select high quality hangers. Do not go for a flimsy cheap-looking plastic hanger. You can consider investing in customized hangers with your brand name on it as a way to promote your business.
Labels and Tags-: You would also need labels with your brand name on it and price tags or product identification number.
Packaging materials-: Lastly, You would also need materials to package your clothing items for buyers. A good idea is a branded paper bag.