I’ve been in the fashion business for years and recently started a new venture that is based on the fashion design and manufacturing side, so from that experience, here are a few things you may want to consider when looking to open your own retail fashion business:
1. Research, research, research. Then, more research!
It’s not uncommon to put together a brand book when looking to start out your new fashion business. The key here is to get a very clear idea of what you want to deliver and offer to your customers as well as how the business will be built, funded, operated, marketing, etc. It is not unlike a business plan, but just remember to really focus on the needs of your customers, how they will find you and almost more important than everything else, who will you be competing against. Now that Amazon is even in the fashion business, you really need to focus on what’s truly viable.
2. Location, Location, Location (or online)
Location is a major consideration if you plan on having a retail store – and that means not only being able for customers to find (and see) you easily, but the cost per square foot, if there’s potential for you to be kicked out for an unforeseen reason (or nearby retailers moving that currently may be a draw for your planned location), parking, etc. If you just don’t have the budget to go with a brick and mortar location, then look to going online as well as leasing (or going consignment) within other stores. Talk to other retailers and find out what they may need or consider – talking to enough people will end up getting you a handful of great contacts that will help you build your brand.
3. Get Online and Get Social
You must get in front of people both online and IP (In Person). Utilize the many free resources through websites, business associations, trade associations, friends and family. Create some mock-up designs and get feedback. Find a few simple products that really ring true to potential customers and start getting them out there. If budget is limited, instead of create a top that you’ll need three or more sizes, go with jewelry or accessories that can be “one offs” and easily sell and continually produce to get started. There are also some great websites where you can sell the fashion that you created, so hit those and then spend as much of your waking hours building your business and your brand! Remember that once you have something to actually sell (and even before), you can hit the crowd funding sites like Kickstarter.com, Indiegogo.com and RocketHub.com. The more people can see, feel and touch your goods, the better chance you’ll have of getting funding and continuing to make your venture a successful one.