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How to Start a Clothing Line

Starting your own business is an exciting endeavor no matter what industry you are working in. But working in the fashion industry presents its own unique set of challenges. If you fell in love with fashion and are interested in starting your own clothing line, there are tons of rewards to look forward to and the eventual outcome of owning a successful fashion brand. You might not end up showing your clothes at Paris Fashion Week or selling to Bergdorf within the first couple of months, but over time, the sky is the limit! All it takes is a smart vision, some early research and a little startup capital. Here are some tips for any entrepreneur who is wondering how to start a clothing line.

Research the Market

The key to success in any business venture is knowing the market. Before you start out, it’s important to learn everything you can about the market that you’re getting into, who your competitors will be and who your target customers are. There are all sorts of ways to glean info and knowledge about your market. You can read informative materials like articles and interviews, talk to people in the industry, and find out what experience other people have had starting their own lines in the past. Deciding on key factors like where to produce the clothing line is super important, because the quality of your clothing will be the first thing that people use to judge you — so it’s important not to skimp on big factors like these.

Have a Unique Idea

The fashion world is so saturated with different forms of clothing that you really need to make sure your brand stands out. More than most industries, you have to set yourself apart from a crowd with something that’s going to appeal to audiences — it is a reflection of their personal style, after all. The success of small clothing lines depends on producing something that adds to the market instead of just replicating what is already out there. Bring something new to the table, and you’ll be more likely to experience success over time. Knowing what your personal tastes are and what types of clothes you are drawn to is a great place to start in creating a unique idea — there's only one person in the world who thinks exactly the way you do.

Take Out a Small Business Loan

It’s no secret that building a business takes money. In order to get your clothing line off the ground, you’re going to need some startup funds that you can apply to your initial overhead costs, manufacturing, staff and more. A small business loan is a great way to cover these costs up front and then repay the money over time. It makes sense, because you need more cash right when you are starting out and before your business has started to bring in a profit. Once you have put money into the company and it begins making money, you’ll have more flexibility to pay off a loan.

Figure Out Your Pricing Model

How much will your clothes cost? You need to take into account how much the cost of production will be, along with overhead costs associated with making and selling the clothing. In order to ensure a profit, you want to make sure to establish wholesale and retail prices that have a profit margin of 30 to 50 percent higher than your expenses. Many companies make the mistake of running their profit margin too low, which means you lose out, or too high, which can turn customers away.

Find a Manufacturer

Many clothing lines start out with the owner or staff making the clothes themselves. But if you expect your business to grow, you will need to outsource help with manufacturing in order to make sure that you can meet demand. Chances are there are plenty of local manufacturers you can reach out to in order to find out about prices and factor that into your business model. Small business loans are a great way to cover these costs up front.

Figure Out Where to Sell

Once your clothes have been produced, you’ll have to get them into stores. Are you planning on opening a brick-and-mortar store? Selling online on your website? Linking up with Etsy or other existing shops? There are so many ways to start selling your clothing — you might want to choose just one or find a combination of a few different ones.

Reinvest in Your Company

Once the profits start rolling in, it may be tempting to spend some of the cash on improving your quality of life (dream vacations, new apartment, etc.). But the smartest thing you can do is to take care of your basic expenses and then reinvest the rest, or as much as you can, back into the company. The more you water a plant, the more it grows, right? Do some smart analysis on which parts of your business could use improvement or benefit from expansion and invest the money there. If you have a good business model, it will pay off.

Starting a clothing line is an awesome way to put your love of fashion and your business savvy to work. Just make sure to take the right steps before you get started to ensure the success of your business.

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