When you’re just starting out with your fashion label, it can feel overwhelming! We know; we’ve been there too! Most young labels assume that the design and creation of the product will be the most challenging part. That’s a common assumption, but unfortunately, it’s not the reality. These fashion startup tips are intended to help you with this transition and set you on the path to success!
Tip 1) Prepare Yourself
As any good house painter will tell you, the biggest part of the job is the prep work. Masking, taping, drop cloths… All that annoying stuff that’s not fun is the part that keeps your lines straight, avoids the drips and keeps you from tracking paint all over your house. You don't want to be this guy...
The same is true with any type of project. The more thorough you are in your early process - the preparation - the better quality you can expect your results to be. It’s tedious sometimes and can be expensive, but you have to go through all the steps to get to the finish, even the boring ones.
So, take your time in the beginning to gather all the information you can. Interview other people who’ve been through the process, meet with consultants online, and learn as much as you can about the process. Trust me, taking the time to plan things out can make all the difference in achieving your goals. By putting together a solid plan, you can identify any potential issues that might crop up and come up with solutions to overcome them. Plus, you'll be able to set realistic goals, manage your resources efficiently, and create a timeline for getting things done. Skipping this step might lead to wasted time, energy, and resources, so make sure to prep properly to increase your chances of success.
Tip 2) Get Organized
A big part of starting any type of business is learning what to do with all the knowledge and information that you learn along the way. It’s easier said than done, as it turns out! It’s easy to get lost in handwritten memos, emails and even spreadsheets. What you need is a SYSTEM. And for that, you'll need an easy tool to help you manage all the tasks on your plate.
There are several great software tools that can help you organize information that you've learned and are also easy to use and learn. Here are a couple of options:
Evernote and Google Keep: These popular note-taking apps allow you to easily capture and organize information in a variety of formats, such as text, images, audio, and web clippings. They offer powerful search capabilities, tagging, and syncing across devices, making them ideal tools for keeping track of your notes and ideas.
Trello and Asana are visual collaboration tools that use boards, lists, and cards to help you organize and prioritize your tasks and projects. You can create boards for different subjects or topics, and then add cards with notes, links, attachments, and due dates. They integrate with other apps like Google Drive, Slack, and Dropbox, making them versatile tools for managing your work and personal projects.
One of our favorite software tools is using Monday.com to manage your projects and tasks. With this tool, you can easily collaborate with other members of your team or even outsiders who may not have a lot of experience with tools like it. We use Monday.com every day to communicate with all of our Black Label service clients.
Get outta email, get into an organizational system. You’ll never look back!
Tip 3) Understand Your Market
"What you sell is not as impactful to your brand as how you sell it.— Richard Gregory, Founder // CEO
Though it’s tempting to focus first on your exciting product ideas, the truth is that what you sell is not as impactful to your brand as how you sell it. Before you decide exactly what you’re going to sell, and LONG before you actually have anything manufactured, you’re going to have to figure out exactly how you’re going to sell the stuff.
Selling the first 10 pieces is the hardest, then the first 100, then the first 1000. Once you can figure out how to get the first few items legitimately sold, then you’ll have plenty of time to focus on how to scale your business.
It doesn’t really matter how much profit you’re making at first. In fact, if you’re making any profit at all in your fashion startup, then either you’re a wizard and none of this applies to you or, um… no.... actually that’s about it: the only way you’ll make profits in your earliest efforts is through magical powers.
The point of this fashion startup tip is that you shouldn't worry about the financial rewards and how much money you're going to make until you have a firm understanding of just how the heck you’re going to get these things moving to begin with. Focus on understanding your customer, the market, and what the demand looks like for the product you're planning to sell.
Tip 4) Learn to Use a Spreadsheet
If there’s one thing we’ve learned above all, it’s that money matters in a business. Good control over your finances (and your sanity!) is one of the most important things you can do for your business.
So, for that reason, one of our favorite fashion startup tips is: Learn to use a spreadsheet. No matter how much we wish sometimes that we could say goodbye to spreadsheets forever, it’s just not going to happen. Spreadsheets are a vital tool for any fashion label, big or small. They can be nerdy and annoying, I know, but you just have to tough it out and get used to them.
Learning to use spreadsheet software will be incredibly useful, especially if you're starting a fashion brand! Spreadsheets can provide you with an easy way to organize and track important business information, such as inventory, expenses, and sales. Plus, once you get the hang of using them, you'll be able to make informed decisions and monitor your progress over time.
To get started, I recommend keeping things simple and starting with the basics. There are tons of templates out there that can help you get started with minimal fuss, and as you become more comfortable, you can begin to add more complex formulas and features. Don't forget to update your spreadsheets regularly and use charts and graphs to help you visualize your data and identify trends.
Templates are great and a really good shortcut, but I also recommend building your spreadsheets from scratch whenever you can. You'll encounter some nice little brain teasers when you're starting your business. Even though your particular challenge might have many factors in common with other businesses, it can be SUPER helpful to build the solution yourself so that you'll know exactly what goes into it. You'll be better able to solve your unique challenges if you built the solution yourself. Something to think about!
Using spreadsheets to organize your business data is a fantastic way to stay on top of things and keep your fashion brand running smoothly. So, embrace the power of spreadsheets and watch your business thrive!
Tip 5) Practice Makes Perfect
Patience is the unsung hero of any successful entrepreneur’s success story. It doesn’t make for bold headlines, but it can make all the difference between success and failure in a fashion startup. The fashion product development process is just that… a process. So is building a brand. It would be nice if we could all just succeed the first time or even the 10th time we try something. But the reality is that starting a business is crazy difficult, failure rates are high and getting through it requires a good deal of practice.
Working with us here at Prototype will save you a great deal of stress and give you something of a shortcut, but there’s a whole lotta learning that just won’t be able to come from anywhere other than your own experiences. And, that’s a good thing! If it was super easy, the competition would be ridiculous. The struggle is what tempers your resolve and allows you to compete in this challenging field. Don’t fret about your early performance; practice instead. Give it a little time and more than a little patience and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!
A Final Bonus Fashion Startup Tip…
No matter how scared or worried you might feel…
Just remember that everyone who walked the path before you faced similar challenges and similar fears. There IS a successful path. You just have to find what it is for YOU.