When we started our fashion line adventure, we were just two friends who wanted to be our own bosses. With almost a decade each of experience in the fashion industry, we felt that we were ready to tackle the world of entrepreneurship! Here is a spoiler: we were NOT.
Even with all the experience in the world, it is pretty much impossible to be 100% ready and we are still learning everyday! We love sharing and learning from others, so if you are considering taking the jump to launch your own business or to work for yourself, here is a list of things we wish we would have known before getting started:
1. It will take a long time to be ready before your launch: at least a year. Yes, we know that’s a lot, but it is normal. There is a crazy amount of work to do on the back end including development of the product, lots of paperwork to set up the business, finding your voice as a brand and starting to network. Keep in mind that your business will probably be a side gig in the beginning, so if you can only give it your evenings or weekends, it’s already great.
2. No need to start with a full collection, or to stress about following a classic calendar in the beginning, especially if you are self-funded. Find your star product, the one that represents the essence of your brand, and push it. You need a strong POV (point of view) to help your target customer understand and recognize your brand.
3. Designing a collection or finding the perfect product idea will probably be the quickest part of the whole process. Establishing a solid supply chain, marketing your brand, handling social media and customer service, and taking care of shipping your orders will take up the most of your time.
4. You will never be fully ready! So take your time to launch, put your dominos in order, do you research, but don’t make it an excuse to delay yourself too much. If you wait to be ready, you will never launch. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and jump. Besides, launching is just the beginning of the work!
5. Reaching out to future business partners, stores and potential customers will be time consuming, and it can get discouraging. You might find yourself sitting in front of your screen all day hoping to get an answer. And if you get one, it will probably be a “No”. Don’t be afraid of rejection. Building a presence for your business is important, no matter how many rejections you will get. All it takes is one “yes” and you can be sure that it will come eventually.
6. It will take a few years before you start making money. And that’s totally normal! Yes, even brands with a big financial backing usually do not make money in the early stages, let alone the first year. Don’t take this as a sign that you failed, but be prepared so that those first few years do not stop you.
7. An online following is obviously important, but not as much as you might think. What you need is not an audience, but a community of people feeling excited about your product and your work. Your Instagram followers won’t be the ones driving your sales, so make sure to spend the time building your mailing list! That’s a much more efficient and personal way to make a sale. And don’t forget to build a relationship with your customer IRL as well: nothing beats a one-on-one conversation at a pop-up to turn someone into a lifelong fan of your product.
There a million things to know before launching a brand, but this is a good start.
Having your own business is WORK and you should never forget that this is a long game! You will have to do everything on your own, so be kind with yourself and find help where you can. It helps to be organized, and there are a lot of tools available to help with social media, like posts schedulers and newsletter templates. Use all of these tools! They’re here to help.
And be flexible! It’s ok to not be able to control everything and you have to be ready to pivot quickly when needed. Trust us, you will need to change your plans often.
We hope this list is a helpful tool as well, so get ready to jump and enjoy the ride!