What You Need to Know if You Want to Start a Fashion Business

The fashion industry is notoriously difficult to crack. Designers and fashion stores come and go. Some are more successful than others and go the distance, but many fashion startups fail. But, what’s good to know is that this is an industry you can get a foothold in. Creativity is purely optional, and you don’t need to be a designer to achieve success. Here is some helpful guidance if you want to start your own fashion business.

Choosing the Right Startup Idea

There are many different ways to enter the fashion industry and most of them don’t require creativity. Of course, if you have a flair for design and you want to be the next Alexander McQueen, a fashion degree is a good place to start. But if your interest is purely making money, you will find more success in opening a store.
The internet has made it incredibly easy to go into retail, fashion or otherwise. It’s very easy to buy a domain and create an online store. Content Management Platforms such as WordPress, Shopify, and Magento are all geared to e-commerce and you don’t need to be an experienced coder to build an online store.
However, until you have a recognisable brand, your best bet is to start selling on eBay, Etsy, or a similar online platform. Sites like these are perfect for fashion startups. It costs nothing to create listings and until you actually sell something, you won’t pay any fees.
Choose a niche within the fashion industry. For example, if you are interested in accessories, buy some belts, ties, hats, etc., and start listing them. Men’s fashion is a good place to start, but there is no reason why you can’t target women’s fashion too. Women’s fashion is a much bigger market, but it’s also saturated with sellers. Your best chance of success is to find an underserved niche and make it your own.
There is a big market for second-hand goods, especially fashion items. Used designer goods always sell well online. If you know your designers and can source some good quality designer goods, there is money to be made.

Funding a Startup

There are many ways to fund a startup. The most obvious – and cheapest – one is to use your own savings. If you don’t have any spare cash, ask family and friends to help out. You probably won’t need a huge sum of money, to begin with, unless you are jumping in feet first and plan on opening a retail unit on the high street. If this is the case, or you need to invest in more expensive stock, consider taking out a business loan or using a credit card.
Don’t worry too much if your credit rating is less than stellar. There are loan companies who specialise in bad credit loans. Look for a specialist bad credit loan provider with good reviews and fill out an application form. Online loan companies are often more competitive than high street banks and building societies.

Buying Stock

For new items, the best place to source stock is overseas, specifically China. Thanks to sites like Alibaba, you can chat with suppliers and order samples from your armchair. Start small until you know there is a market for your goods. Expect to pay higher prices for items until you can place larger orders. Always check samples before you place an order and remember to factor in shipping costs/taxes when ordering stock from overseas.

Dropshipping

If you don’t have space to store stock, look at Dropshipping. The dropshipping model has become popular in recent years. It’s very simple. You act as the middleman between the supplier and the customer. When the customer places an order on your site, you order direct from the supplier and arrange for the goods to be shipped straight to the customer. The difference between the price the customer pays and the price you pay the supplier is your gross profit. Deduct any cost and you are left with the net profit.

Marketing

It takes time to build a brand, so you will need to do some marketing to find customers. Working via a site like eBay is easy, as the site takes care of all the SEO for you. As long as you set your prices at the optimum level, use the right keywords, and provide good customer service, you are good to go. Once you leave these sites behind, you need to put more effort in.
Start with social media. Create a social media presence and try selling through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. PPC ads are also effective, as well as economical. If you want your fashion website to be more visible, hire an expert to plan an online marketing campaign, but for a high street store, more traditional marketing methods still apply.

If you have a burning desire to be an entrepreneur, fashion is a fun business to get into, so give it a try!