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Starting up a new company in the fashion industry is no mean feat. It requires vision, planning, foresight, leadership, effort and (of course) a little luck in the market.
Fashion entrepreneurs who are starting out have some common misconceptions about the business. These myths limit entrepreneurs and lead them to make the same old mistakes. We at Fashinza want to set the record straight! Let’s discuss (and bust) 10 myths so that new brands can succeed in the market.
1. Fashion Entrepreneurship is Easy? Says Who?!
We start with the most obvious myth: fashion entrepreneurship is easy! Many people, some of whom are new to the fashion world, have this common misconception. They feel that starting a new clothing company is easy. Ask our founders: nothing could be further from the truth!
For your startup, you must have a pre-production package at hand. This will help you get things done. Such a package should (at the very least) contain a tech pack, fabric standard, prototype samples, target costs and a line sheet. Without these components, it is difficult to get that crucial head start. (Also having these components requires some knowledge of the fashion industry.)
2. It’s Best to Go it Alone (i.e, Solo Entrepreneurship)
You can create and run a clothing startup alone. But we at Fashinza advise against it. Getting things done alone is a tiresome task and not sustainable for most entrepreneurs. Face it: you suck at some things so delegate!
You need people who are experts in their field. This saves time as you do the things you love and/or have the skillset for. Pro tip: if you have hired someone for a task, don’t micromanage them! A hands-off approach can elevate your clothing startup to the next level.
3. Great Startup Ideas
You have a great startup idea (no really)! You build your clothing brand around that great idea. Then you watch as your company grows into the next clothing giant! That’s great…if only it were true! Things (almost always) don’t work out as you expect. Think ideas matter? Think again!
Idealab founder Bill Gross gave an insightful TED Talk on why startups succeed and fail. Gross identifies timing as “accounting for 42 percent of the difference between [startup] success and failure.” A good team and proper execution comes in at second place. What about ideas? Gross states that “the differentiability. . .the uniqueness of the idea. . . actually came in third.”
As timing is crucial (if not everything), market research is your friend. It is important to understand the target market and identify current (and future) trends. Market research can also help you identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.
Bottom line: look before you leap. Do your research, generate ideas and THEN build your startup around those ideas.
4. Have a Good Business Plan
A good business plan is a crucial part of your arsenal. Note that having a full-fledged business plan is not necessary. In those initial startup stages, you are welcome to improvise. Thus a short one page business plan is useful to get things off the ground.
Lastly, always make sure to pivot your business. Change your business plan if things aren’t working out.
5. Having a Lot of Money Is Important
No. Money gives you the privilege of being sad and crying in a Ferrari! But more money won’t define your clothing startup’s success out there. Yes, you need the requisite funds to keep the lights on. And yes, you will notice that well-funded entrepreneurs have more of a head start. But, for any startup, a great entrepreneur will always matter more than a rich entrepreneur.
If you are hurting for cash, you can cut business costs in addition to seeking angel investors. For example, you can eliminate expensive products, raw materials etc. that are eating into your budget.
6. Designing Takes Up Nearly All Your Time
A good fashion designer does not spend all his time designing for his startup. That’s a disastrous misconception that spells doom for your clothing brand.
In the initial stages, a designer should only invest 5% of his time designing items. The rest of your time should go into managing, hiring and accounting. Working less but producing more is a useful motto in the initial startup phases.
7. More (Styles) Is Better
Many fashion entrepreneurs feel that producing more styles is better for a startup. Your startup will not only appear more established but also give more options to your customers. We at Fashinza disagree with this philosophy.
More is not necessarily better. Too many style options can confuse your customers. Thus your customers may fall into a state of analysis paralysis. This in turn can discourage customers from making purchase decisions.
More styles also means more investment and planning. This can eat into your budget. You may end up having less resources to dedicate to crucial areas of your startup.
8. You Need to Have a Sales Background
This one is half true and half untrue. No you don’t need a deep background in sales to succeed in fashion. But it is useful to have some knowledge about sales. Also, being a good salesperson doesn’t hurt. It can help create buzz around your designs and boost profits.
9. You Need to Have a Degree in Fashion
Just like a sales background, a degree in fashion is not a must. Many successful designers did not start out in the industry with a background in fashion. Our favorite example is Tom Ford. The young Ford had no experience in fashion at all. He had studied art history and architecture along with acting in television commercials. It was only after working at Chloé that Tom Ford became interested in fashion.
Having a fashion degree is not necessary but good knowledge of current fashion trends is. Your fashion startup will (needless to say) not succeed without that knowledge.
10. Cheaper Products Sell More
We blame Chinese manufacturers for this myth. Here’s our (counter) mantra: a cheaper product is harder to sell. We have identified three factors behind this. Firstly, algorithms for ecommerce platforms are devaluing cheap and low-quality products. Quality control is also becoming stricter in the current market. Lastly, competitors can offer better products which eat away at your market share.
To sum up, customers may not consider your cheaper prices when purchasing products. Of course, nothing is set in stone. It is possible that cheaper products can succeed in a given context. This is where market research matters. Know your competitors and target audience well and you can succeed with cheaper clothing products.
So don’t ever fall for such myths and stay back, instead take your fate into your hands and work hard to make your business successful. What are you waiting for when all your myths are busted. Get back your work and never look back!